The weekend’s here. You’ve just been paid, and it’s burning a hole in your pocket. What’s a pop culture geek to do? In hopes of steering you in the right direction to blow some of that hard-earned cash, it’s time for the FRED Weekend Shopping Guide - your spotlight on the things you didn’t even know you wanted…
(Please support FRED by using the links below to make any impulse purchases - it helps to keep us going…)
I’m not a fan of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, and less so of Tobey Maguire’s DOA-delivery as the titular hero (and those godawaful organic webshooters). The only thing they did get right was the costume, which was just about perfect. With the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man (Sony, Rated PG-13, 3D Blu-Ray-$55.99 SRP), Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man is pretty damn good, and the story and direction are energetic, with a real nice use of 3D in the city swinging. Hell, we even get genius Peter designing his web shooters. What doesn’t work is the pointless redesign of the costume, which is overly busy and awkward, and hopefully will be ditched in the sequel. Bonus materials include an audio commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, rehearsals, pre-viz and progression reels, a second screen app, and a 3D film school.
Because you can never have enough flexibility in your mobile charging options, the fine folks at Thinkgeek have released an ultra low profile USB Car Charger ($19.99) that lies practically flush with your lighter socket (a little flippable handle allows for easy extraction), and is capable of 2.1 amps. It even has a dedicated on/off switch! So, really, you have no excuse to keep just about any USB device powered up on a long trip, or during a home power outage.
It’s been a long wait, but we’ve finally got the 3rd volume of Sesame Street Old School (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$29.87 SRP), featuring classic episodes and clips from the period between 1979-1984. By this point, the show had moved from being a phenomena to an institution, and all of the rough edges had been sanded away - while still, thankfully, operating with all of the original performers. Of course, on that front, this is also an era marked by sadness, as it was during this period that the beloved Mr. Hooper passed away, leading to a landmark episode in which the concept of death was presented to the show’s young audience. Full of bonus featurettes, clips, and rare footage, how can you not pick this up?
I was worried going in to The Campaign (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$35.99 SRP) that it would be just a goofball affair, but its tale of a North Carolina Republican primary showdown between a cocksure incumbent (Will Ferrell) and a small town challenger (Zach Galifiankis) pitted against each other by a pair of multi-billionaires (John Lithgow & Dan Aykroyd) intent on getting their way actually has some genuine bite in this election year. And it’s damn funny. Bonus materials include Deleted scenes, alternate lines, and a gag reel.
Formerly available as just a retailer exclusive, John Hughes still-brilliant Planes, Trains And Automobiles (Paramount, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$22.98 SRP) is finally available in high definition in wide release, and it’s perfect viewing for the holiday season. The Blu-Ray carries over the DVD special features, including a retrospective featurette, tributes to Hughes and John Candy, and a deleted scene.
While its had holiday episodes in the past, It’s A Spongebob Christmas! (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP) is the first truly special holiday event, as it’s a beautiful stop-motion affair that presents Bikini Bottom in widescreen for the first time since the Spongebob feature film. Also? The tunes from Tom Kenny are fantastically fun. Bonus materials include featurettes, an animatic, a Yule Log, and mp3s.
It may not be considered the best animation to come down the pike, but there’s no denying that the kids shows produced by Filmation - from Fat Albert and Star Trek to Superman and He-Man - left their mark on a few generations. The story of the studio is told by its founder in Lou Scheimer: Creating The Filmation Generation (Twomorrow’s, $29.95 SRP).
It’s not their usual stop-motion fare, but Aardman Animation’s festive holiday CG feature Arthur Christmas (Sony, Rated PG, 3D Blu-Ray-$55.99 SRP) is still an appealing, good looking little tale about Santa’s son’s desperate quest to deliver one child’s present that was left behind. Bonus materials include featurettes, an Elf Recruitment Video, and progression reels detailing the production process.
A new Disney film has come down the pike, which also means a new, beautiful, must-have Art Of book from the fine folks at Chronicle - and that’s just what The Art Of Wreck-It Ralph (Chronicle Books, $40.00 SRP). Filled with the usual copious amounts of development and production artwork, interviews with the creators, and more, it’s the definitive visual exploration of Disney’s latest CG animated offering.
Tick another classic film off the list, as an absolutely beautifully restored Sunset Boulevard (Paramount, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$26.98 SRP) makes its way to high definition, featuring a never-before-seen deleted scene, retrospective featurettes, the theatrical trailer, galleries, and more. This edition is certainly ready for its close-up.
It doesn’t hold a candle to the classic films, but Muppet Christmas Carol (Walt Disney, Rated G, Blu-Ray-$26.50 SRP) is a damn site better than the recent cinematic misfire, and the Dickensian tale makes its high definition debut just in time for the holidays. Bonus materials include commentaries, featurettes, and a blooper reel. Now if only we can get the first two Muppet films in high definition by next Christmas…
So what have we got for this week’s soundtracks? We’ve got a brand new score from the mighty John Williams for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (Sony, $9.99 SRP), and Thomas Newman’s beautifully bombastic old school score for the new Bond film, Skyfall (Sony, $9.99 SRP).
How about a pair of catalogue releases from the folks at Buena Vista? New to high definition are the Bette Midler tearjerker Beaches (Touchstone, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$20.00 SRP) and the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama (Touchstone, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$20.00 SRP). Both sport audio commentaries, featurettes, and more.
Though there are some that dismiss him, I will stand by my long-held love for the comedy of Louie Anderson, still going strong in Louie Anderson: Big Baby Boomer (Image, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP). There’s a relateable, Cosbyian quality to Anderson’s storytelling, and I’m glad he’s still creating (and, finally, releasing shows).
If you want to take an already impressive display piece - the various 12″ Iron Man figures that have been released over the last couple of years by the fine folks at Hot Toys - and plus it into ridiculously cool territory, then you’ll want to clear off a large shelf and get your very own Suit Up Gantry ($359.99), as seen at the beginning of Iron Man 2. Incredibly screen accurate and completely articulated - from pistons to clamps - and featuring a light-up base that shines on the figure details, it’s a conversation piece and a half. Get it while you can, because you’ll be kicking yourself when it’s gone.
So there you have it… my humble suggestions for what to watch, listen to, play with, or waste money on this coming weekend. See ya next week…
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