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…)
He’s a genius and a swell guy, so of course I’m going to recommend Terry Gilliam’s “Pre-Posthumous Memoir” Gilliamesque (HarperDesign, $40 SRP), which reasonably accurate journey through his mostly-remembered life and career, packed with photographs and art culled from his archives. So, get it. It’s wonderful.
There have been plenty of Generation 1 (y’know, proper) Transformers toys released over the years, but it takes the miracle workers at Hot Toys to strip the been there, done that of it all by crafting their own take on the Autobot leader. Their Optimus Prime (Starscream Version) ($344.99) stands a foot tall, and looks exactly like you hope he would, with the added bonus of being incredibly articulated. The unique spin I mentioned earlier comes from the fact that this Optimus has just taken down Starscream with extreme prejudice, commandeering his wings and blasters and also claiming the head of his fallen foe. Because it’s Hot Toys, the figure also has a nifty light-up feature on not only his eyes, but also the Matrix of Leadership in his chest. Is this thing cool? Yes. Yes, it is.
And speaking of Sideshow Collectibles, photographer Daniel Picard has taken several of the figures they’ve released over the years and used them to create some absolutely magical photographs by dropping them into exquisitely crafted tableaus that run the gamut from funny to poignant. Those photographs have been collected together into a hardcover coffee table book, Figure Fantasy (Insight Editions, $125), which features a foreword from Simon Pegg and an afterword by Kevin Smith. The deluxe hardcover limited collectors edition, available exclusively from Sideshow.com, sports an attractive slipcase, and includes a card of authenticity signed by Picard, as well as three digitally signed and embossed fine art photo prints.
Disney’s slow trickle home video release of their high-profile animated films has always been painful for those of us who want to own everything right now, compounded by the fact that I’ve gone through this dance with VHS, DVD, and now Blu-Ray. After what seems forever and a day, another long-awaited diamond has made it out of the rough with the high-def arrival of Aladdin (Walt Disney, Rated G, Blu-Ray-$40.99 SRP). In addition to the bonus materials found on the original DVD release, this Diamond edition adds a tribute to Robin Williams, Genie outtakes, featurettes, and more.
I had been hearing for months just how must-see wonderful the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy (Lionsgate, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$24.99 SRP) was, and I began to fear that such glowing praise was setting me up for quite a bit of disappointment. Well, my fears were unfounded, because the flick really is wonderful, with both Paul Dano and John Cusack portraying, respectively, the 60s and Landry-influenced Wilson of the 80s with aplomb. Bonus materials include an audio commentary, featurettes, and deleted scenes.
Its spin-off has faded into the sunset, so it’s the perfect time to circle back and re-experience where it all began with Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Complete Series (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP). The 16-disc set contains all 3 seasons (Books), plus a trio of bonus materials including audio commentaries, featurettes, animatics, and more.
Yeah, so, you’ve got a bunch of old NES and SNES cartridges lying around from your childhood, and you’d love to be able to play them, right? Of course you would! And how about making the ability to play portable, as well? That’s exactly what you get with the Retro Duo Portable NES/SNES Game System (Thinkgeek, $99.99), which not only allows you to play on the built-in screen, but also allows you to output the video to your TV screen. How cool is that? Now, dust off your copy of Bionic Commando and get gaming!
Not only has Shout Factory brought the long out-of-print and ridiculously priced on the secondary market Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume 1 (Shout Factory, Not Rated, DVD-$44.99 SRP) back into print, but they’ve also remastered the episodes (fixing a lot of quality issues found in the original Rhino release) and also loaded it with new bonus material, including featurettes, a Q&A with Trace and Frank, and theatrical trailers.
When most comic fans think of Donald Duck, they think of the comic book work of Carl Barks. The folks at IDW are looking to expand the appreciation of Donald’s comic adventures with the very first collection of Donald Duck: The Complete Newspaper Comics - 1938-1940 (IDW, $39.99 SRP). Featuring 750 consecutive strips by the great duck artist Al Taliaferro. It’s a beautiful addition to any library, and hopefully we’ll get the whole run.
And because Halloween is right around the corner, Fantagraphics has used that perfect timing to release volume 13 of their marvelous Carl Barks Library, Donald Duck: Trick Or Treat (Fantagraphics, $29.99 SRP), with its lead feature being the restored version of Barks’s adaptation of the witchy 1950s Duck cartoon. As usual, the volume is packed with additional stories and supporting essays, and continues to be a must-have for fans of Barks and the Disney ducks.
If you’re looking for a pretty darn perfect way to introduce a young kid to the wonderful wonders of Carl Barks’s Disney duck tales, Fantagraphics has hit upon a handy little reformatting style for some of his classic stories, presenting them in a 5×11 style that’s perfect for carting about. Joining the already available Donald Duck: Ghost Of The Grotto (Fantagraphics, $12.99 SRP) are The Golden Helmet (Fantagraphics, $12.99 SRP) and Sheriff Of Bullet Valley (Fantagraphics, $12.99 SRP). Get them all, and hopefully they’ll keep on putting them out!
While their cinematic universe is a drab, depressing antiheroic wasteland, the DC Comics television universe as been evolving into a lovely, interconnected, heroic bastion of enjoyable tales. While the third season of Arrow (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$60.10 SRP) doubled down and expanded into a comfortable rhythm, the real gem of the new season was the wonderfully nimble first season of The Flash (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$60.10 SRP), which is everything its dour cinematic cousin is not. Which is a very, very good thing. Bonus materials on the sets include featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary, and gag reels.
I desperately wanted to love Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland (Walt Disney, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP). I love Brad Bird. I love the futurism of the past. I love Disney. But nothing quite seemed to gel into the perfect vision I had for this film, which is deeply ironic, given it’s flawed optimism and ultimately problematic message - which is, essentially, that most of us are not special, and never will be, but we have to believe in the exceptionalism of others in order to save us. So, yeah. Honestly, if this film had taken place entirely in the world Tomorrowland with the adventures of young boy genius Frank - you know, essentially the futuristic adventures of Hogarth Hughes - than I would have been giddy. Can I have that film? Bonus materials include deleted scenes, featurettes, and animated prequel short, and more.
The impending arrival of the new animated film on the big screen means we’re getting a deluge of books featuring and celebrating his creations, and one of the most beautiful is Chip Kidd’s Only What’s Necessary: Charles M. Schulz And The Art Of Peanuts (Abrams ComicArts, $40 SRP). Leave it to Kidd to craft another of his signature tomes packed with rare and beautifully shot and presented ephemera from across the strip” 50 year history, from bizarre merchandise to discarded strips.
A hearty thank you to the home video gurus at Warner Bros., who have used their mojo to shake loose and release a quartet of oft-requested catalogue titles from Paramount and get them in the hands of fans in glorious high-def. Those titles include the Harrison Ford building a barn vehicle Witness (Paramount/Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP), Clint Eastwood’s Escape From Alcatraz (Paramount/Warner Bros., Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP), Nicolas Cage & Sam Rockwell in Matchstick Men (Paramount/Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP), Matt Stone & Trey Parker’s marionation masterpiece Team America: World Police (Paramount/Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP), Morgan Freeman in both Kiss The Girls (Paramount/Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP) & Along Came A Spider (Paramount/Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP), Robert DeNiro & Ed Burns in 15 Minutes (Paramount/Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP), and James Stewart & John Wayne in the classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Paramount/Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP).
Try and avoid the increasingly creaky Modern Family and instead focus your attention on the genuinely fresh and funny Fresh Off The Boat (Fox, Not Rated, DVD-$29.98 SRP), which manages to avoid culture clash tropes and instead focuses on what’s important - smart comedy well-performed. Bonus materials include a trivia track and a gag reel.
Yeah, I was certainly one of those fans who was deeply worried that the show wouldn’t be able to stick the landing at the end of its run, but the seven episodes of Mad Men: The Final Season Part 2 (Lionsgate, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$39.97 SRP) managed to pull it off, delivering not only a fitting bit of positive closure for the deeply flawed Don Draper, but also for most of the supporting characters as well. Bonus materials include audio commentaries and a handful of featurettes.
Biding time patiently for the next full season high-def release? Partake of Adventure Time: The Enchiridion (Cartoon Network, Not Rated, DVD-$19.82 SRP), collecting 16 episodes from the current season, every one of which is full of adventure to pass the time.
Knowing that his artists, who had been toiling away on Mickey Mouse shorts and Silly Symphonies, were not quite ready to tackle something as artistically ambitious as their first feature, Snow White, Walt Disney arranged for what essentially was an in-house art school, organized by Chouinard instructor Don Graham. Featuring lecturers like Frank Lloyd Wright and Alexander Woollcott, the long-filed and rarely seen notes from those presentations have been collected together with context and copious illustrations in Before Ever After: The Lost Lectures Of Walt Disney’s Animation Studio (Disney Editions, $40 SRP), and every one is a gem.
It’s the fall and a new season has begun, which means we also get the release of the previous season with the arrival of South Park: The Complete Eighteenth Season (Comedy Central, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP). The 2-disc set contains all 10 episodes plus the regular batch of Matt & Trey mini-commentaries, deleted scenes, and #socialcommentary.
A zombie medical resident who works at the morgue, eats brains, and solves murders with the psychic information she gleans while eating those brains? From the guy who gave us Veronica Mars? Sure, I’ll watch that show. And you should watch the complete first season of iZombie (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP), because it’s all of those things. Bonus materials include deleted scenes and a Comic-Con panel.
The Peanuts gang ventures into international territory in Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP), which is newly remastered for its 35th anniversary, and finds Charlie Brown and gang spending two weeks in France as exchange students. The disc also contains a newly-produced making-of featurette.
From the work of Bill Theiss on the original series through the work of Robert Blackman and Michael Kaplan on the modern shows and films, Star Trek: Costumes (Insight Editions, $60 SRP) is a comprehensive and lovingly-crafted celebration of the art and artistry that went into clothing the not-too-distant future. Packed with photos and design artwork, it’s a lovely tome for any fan.
Tell me 20 years ago, and I never would have believed you if you’d told me that Bobcat Goldthwait would turn out to be a filmmaker crafting some deeply fascinating films, the most recent of which, Call Me Lucky (MPI, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$29.98 SRP) is a documentary about his mentor, comedian Barry Crimmins. In it, Goldthwait presents a painfully inspiring portrait of a man who transformed his childhood abuse into a rage-filled stage persona and a nurturing relationship with the next generation of comedians, one of which was Bobcat himself. Bonus materials include an audio commentary and a trailer.
As finales of NuWho go, the two-parter Doctor Who: Dark Water/Death In Heaven (BBC, Not Rated, 3D Blu-Ray-$19.98 SRP) certainly wasn’t a high water mark, but it did give us a fully realized take on a female version of The Master, and watching Peter Capaldi continues to be a joy, even if the material he’s being given still isn’t quite clicking. But the real reason to pick up this release is that they’ve gone back and made it 3D, which we’ve only seen done with Who for the 50th anniversary special. So, for novelty alone, this disc is worth a spin.
As a film San Andreas (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, 3D Blu-Ray-$44.95 SRP) is just as much a disaster as the seismic catastrophe its plot hinges upon. But we don’t watch films like this for any other reason than it’s full-on disaster porn, with oodles of special effects of things breaking and exploding. Oh, and this one adds The Rock to that mix. And who doesn’t like The Rock? Even if his actions in this film are incredibly selfish and mightily unheroic. But still. THE ROCK. And all of that crumble boomy looks snazzy in 3D. Bonus materials include audio commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, and a gag reel.
There are enough dour and depressing aspects barnacled on to the Batman universe that sometimes it takes a bit of real world joy to brighten up the impact of the Dark Knight, and that’s what we get from the documentary Batkid Begins (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$28.98 SRP), about the town of San Francisco fulfilling the wish of a 5-yerar-old boy who had fought through Leukemia, and who just wanted to be the real Batman.
As much guff as Keanu Reeves has gotten for his acting and film choices over the years, his performance in Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho (Criterion, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$39.95 SRP), as one half a hustling duo alongside River Phoenix, is unassailable. And now Criterion has done a beautiful high-def restoration, packed with a documentary, interviews, featurettes, and more.
I know my nephews, huge fans, probably would have begged to see Regular Show: The Movie (Cartoon Network, Not Rated DVD-$14.98 SRP) in the theater if it had actually gotten a theatrical release, but it didn’t, so they’ll instead enjoy this feature-length adventure at home. Which is just as good, really. Certainly cheaper and more comfortable.
While they’ve been available as separate collections of episodes, all of those separate discs have now been brought together in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete First & Second Seasons (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP). Nickelodeon’s modern take on the well-loved franchise is a truly beautiful series, which makes it that much more baffling that it can’t manage to get an equally nice high-definition release. Here’s hoping this is the first step towards that.
If you’re a fan of arthouse cinema - also known as, ya know, really good films that contain almost no CG, aliens, or superheroes - then the curated collection of 10 films put together by the award-winning team at Indiepix, running the gamut from comedy to drama to documentary, is right up your alley. The specially assembled lot includes Artois The Goat, Candyman: The David Klein Story, Evergreen, The DeVilles, All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, Frontrunner, The Axe In The Attic, Jack Taylor Of Beverly Hills, Shooting Stars, and Echotone (Indiepix, Not Rated, DVD-$24.95 SRP each).
Remember in the 1990s, when every year seemed to bring a new batch of Jackie Chan movies? Well, Warners aims tom remind you, with the high definition debut of a pair of those 90s Chan flicks - Jackie Chan’s First Strike (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$9.98 SRP) and Rumble In The Bronx (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$9.98 SRP).
What do you do when your main character left the male stripping world at the end of your first surprisingly successful film but you really, really want to make a sequel? You use the old “Getting the band back together for one last hurrah” trope, and that’s exactly what we get in Magic Mike XXL (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$44.95 SRP), which brings Mike back to what he does best when his former cohorts convince him to join them in a big finish at a competition in Myrtle Beach. Because, of course they did. Bonus materials include a pair of featurettes and an extended dance scene.
Just like the documentaries on World Wars I & II before it, there’s something undeniably fascinating in seeing history come to life merely by introducing color to what has always been black & white, and when it comes to photography, Blood & Glory: The Civil War In Color (History Channel, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$29.99 SRP) is about as far back as we can go. Bonus materials include additional interviews with historians and descendents.
We haven’t gotten a proper Christmas episode out of the current iteration of the characters, so we’ll have to go to the last series for a festive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Christmas (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$9.99 SRP). The disc sports a trio of episodes sure to put you in the holiday spirit.
A film like Skin Traffik (Alchemy, Rated R, DVD-$19.99 SRP) is exactly the kind of pulpy throwaway you’d find yourself watching at 3am on Cinemax. Starring Gary Daniels as a hitman out to liberate a woman under the control of a vicious pimp played by Mickey Rourke, it’s everything you’d expect from one of those late night action flicks.
When you’ve exhausted sequels, go back and make a prequel, which is just what Insidious: Chapter 3 (Sony, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$34.99 SRP) does, as we go back to the time before the Lambert haunting to the tale of a young teen attempting to contact her dead mother and encountering more than she bargained for. Bonus materials include featurettes and deleted scenes.
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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