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…)
Between Sideshow and Hot Toys, this year has been an endless cascade of riches for any red-blooded Star Wars nerd, with some truly exceptional releases coming down the pike. Hot on the heels of Hot Toys’s ridiculously neat 1/6-scale Obi-Wan Kenobi comes Sideshow’s take on the Luke Skywalker: Red Five X-Wing Pilot ($239), as seen in A New Hope. The outfit itself is spot-on, with fine detailing and tailoring and plenty of little fiddley bits and tools. The real highlight, though, is Sideshow’s strongest actor portrait to date, with a pretty good take on pre-accident Mark Hamill. He looks great either helmeted or unhelmeted, and the process of swapping is pretty painless. The figure is accessories light, with the main bonus being ungloved hands and a pair of folded gloves that are a Sideshow exclusive.
While Criterion has been releasing the features that he helmed himself, a similarly wonderful and much-needed restoration of Charlie Chaplin’s earlier work at other studios has been neglected over the years, even though there have been plenty of releases of the material. Finally, though, a definitive edition of both Chaplin’s Essanay Comedies (Flicker Alley, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$59.95 SRP) and Chaplin’s Mutual Comedies (Flicker Alley, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$49.99 SRP) has been produced, remastered and lovingly restored in high definition. The results? Revelatory. The 27 films spread across the two sets chart the rise of Chaplin as an artist and the development of his most iconic character, The Tramp, after the end of his Keystone contract. Each set also contains a selection of bonus films and alternate cuts, plus the Mutual set has a documentaries on the birth of The Tramp and Chaplin’s onscreen nemesis, Eric Campbell. Yes, so… Get these sets.
The period covered in Peanuts Every Sunday: 1961-1965 (Fantagraphics, $49.99 SRP) is, arguably, the high water mark of Charles Schulz’s iconic run, as the still-protean strip of the 50s found its rhythm and began consistently hitting the beats that would define the rest of its tenure on the comics page. And it’s brilliant to see these Sunday strips printed in full color in a large, beautiful format. These volumes can’t come fast enough, especially as we come to the close of The Complete Peanuts releases.
And because this is the holiday season, and you know you want to give the gift of Peanuts, Fantagrpahics has made it very easy with a pair of perfect gifts. Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron (Fantagraphics, $24.99 SRP) collects every strip featuring the beagle’s aerial derring-do from across the comic’s 50-year history. And Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking (Fantagraphics, $9.99 SRP) reprints in a single easily stocking-stuffed volume two classic holiday tales that haven’t been in print for decades.
The 4th volume of The Dona Rosa Library, Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Last Of The Clan McDuck (Fantagraphics, $29.99 SRP), is the first installment collecting my favorite batch of Rosa duck stories, as they chronicle the history of Scrooge McDuck by expertly weaving the mythology established by Carl Barks into a cohesive narrative. As with previous volumes, there are extensive end notes and bonus material from Rosa that make this the definitive presentation of these duck tales.
Going in to the theater, I truly didn’t know what to expect from the updated though still a period piece Man From U.N.C.L.E (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$44.95 SRP), but was pleasantly surprised to find a fun, funny retro action film that recalled the best of classic Bond with an engaging trio of leads in Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, and Alicia Vikander. So, cheers Guy Ritchie. It was a hoot, and I hope there’s a sequel. Bonus materials include a clutch of featurettes.
I admit, I was underwhelmed by Ant-Man (Walt Disney, Rated PG-13, 3D Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP) when I saw it in the theater. Tonally, it just seemed all over the place, and while it didn’t leave me as cold as Thor: The Dark World or Iron Man 2, it was still a disappointment. However, I’m revising my feelings for the film up a bit after seeing it again on home, where its tonal wonkiness doesn’t quite as egregious, and the 3-D presentation of the micro world is still a hoot.. Bonus materials includes an audio commentary, deleted/extended scenes, and featurettes.
Director D.A. Pennebaker’s iconic Bob Dylan documentary Don’t Look Back (Criterion, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$39.95 SRP) gets a much-deserved and really good-looking high definition release from the folks at Criterion, which ports over the bonus features from the previous release, including an audio commentary, interviews, outtakes, short films, plus some new materials exclusive to this edition.
No additional amount of footage could make The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Extended Edition (Warner Bros., Rated R, 3D Blu-Ray-$45.38 SRP) any less of a mess than, really, the whole bloated trilogy has been. I find that I don’t really have ire for them, but instead see them as meandering visits in a world I find interesting with characters I am mostly fond of. What really is the key draw of these editions are the brilliant, ridiculously long Appendices documentaries that these editions have featured going all the way back to the Lord Of The Rings, and this set gives us a final 10 hours worth of sometimes brutally candid behind-the-scenes material.
While what does make it out and onto the silver screen is magical, there’s plenty of magic that exists solely in the early creative process that gives birth to films from Toy Story to The Good Dinosaur, and it’s a special peek into that room that fills the pages of Funny: Twenty-Five Years Of Laughter From The Pixar Story Room (Chronicle Books, $29.95 SRP).
It’s been quite a long while since I took a gander at some of the wonderful little catalogue gems the Warner Archive has been carting up from the dark depths of their vault, so here’s a rundown of some of those titles you should check out. There’s the forgotten animated gem Bebe’s Kids (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, DVD-$17.99 SRP), director Richard Attenborough’s Oh! What A Lovely War (Warner Bros., Rated G, DVD-$17.99 SRP), Glenn Close & Jeremy Irons as the von Bulows in Reversal Of Fortune (Warner Bros., Rated R, DVD-$17.99 SRP), the George Lucas-produced animated feature Twice Upon A Time (Warner Bros., Rated PG, DVD-$21.99 SRP), the 5-film pre-code collection Forbidden Hollywood: Volume 9 (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$40.99 SRP), Ed Wynn in The Chief (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$21.99 SRP), Alec Guinness in Hotel Paradiso (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$21.99 SRP), Jack Benny in It’s In The Air (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$21.99 SRP), the Rankin/Bass Wind In The Willows (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$17.99 SRP), and the Adult Swim series Squidbillies: Volume 6 (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$17.99 SRP) and NTSF:SD:SUV Season 1 (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$21.99 SRP).
The real surprise, though, is how many high definition releases the Warner Archive has been delivering to fans, often for mush-requested titles that many (myself included) had given up hope of ever getting. So, now we’ve got Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys (Warner Bros., Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), Richard Donner’s Ladyhawke (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), Albert Finney in Wolfen (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), Humphrey Bogart in Passage To Marseille (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), vampire David Bowie in The Hunger (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), Thank Your Lucky Stars (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), 42nd Street (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), Jose Ferrer in Deep In My Heart (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), Dolph Lundgren & Brandon Lee in Showdown In Little Tokyo (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), and the long awaited arrival of Justice League Unlimited: The Complete Series (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$35.99 SRP).
The Warner Archive has also continued emptying the vaults of nearly everything produced by Hanna-Barbera, which now includes Clue Club: The Complete Series (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP), Galtar And The Golden Lance: The Complete Series (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$29.99 SRP), Centurions: The Original Miniseries (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$17.99 SRP), The Real Adventures Of Jonny Quest: The Complete Second Season (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$29.99 SRP), Snorks: The Complete Second Season (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$21.99 SRP), and the Hanna-Barbera Specials Collection (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP).
It’s been a long time coming, but Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All (Eagle Vision, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$29.98 SRP) is the definitive documentary on the Chairman Of The Board that fans deserve, taking an in-depth look at his history and career in a decidedly comprehensive fashion with remarkable access.
Based on the notorious titular college study, The Stanford Prison Experiment (IFC, Rated R, DVD-$24.98 SRP) dramatizes the events of 1971, when Stanford University professor Phillip Zimbardo cast 24 students as inmates and guards in a mock prison, only to see the middle-class young men degenerate into the same abusive behavior the study was created to understand. Bonus materials include an audio commentary, featurettes, and a trailer.
Zac Efron stars as an aspiring DJ who gets swept up in friendship, love, and betrayal when he crosses paths with a famous DJ (Wes Bentley) that could be the key to his success in We Are Your Friends (Warner Bros., Rated R, DVD-$29.98 SRP). The sole bonus is a featurette on Efron’s process for learning to DJ.
The first two seasons were groundbreaking, but the third season of Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central, Not Rated, DVD-$22.98 SRP) is when the comedy really began hitting some truly sublime levels, key amongst them being the epic “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” episode. Bonus materials include an unaired sketch, unaired “Amy Goes Deep” interviews, and outtakes.
The chronology of the Terminator films is a bit of a mess. And by that, I mean it’s confusing. And every installment in the franchise has made it even more confusing, full of time travel paradoxes and nonsense that make the best way to really enjoy Terminator: Genisys (Paramount, Rated PG-13, 3D Blu-Ray-$52.99 SRP) is simply sit back and get a kick out of seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the inevitable doomsday time travel equivalent of Jiffy Pop. Because it still makes very little sense. Bonus materials include a clutch of featurettes and commentaries.
Largely overlooked, unjustly so, now’s your chance to check out Nicole Kidman as the titular Grace Of Monaco (Anchor Bay, Not Rated, DVD-$19.98 SRP), which looks at Kelly as her marriage to Prince Rainier (Timk Roth) is on the rocks and Alfred Hitchcock is calling on her to take on the title role in Marnie, leaving her with a difficult decision.
The 3rd season comes to an intergalactic climactic head in the final 12-episode arc contained in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Revenge! (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$19.99 SRP), with the introduction of the Mutanimals, Mondo Gecko, dinosaurs, and some time travel along the way. Bonus materials include a dozen behind-the-scenes shorts and a season 4 preview.
Part of their Secrets Of The Dead series, PBS’s Jamestown’s Dark Winter (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP) investigates the life and attempts to riddle out the death of a young Jamestown colonist whose remains were discovered in a cellar dating back to 1609.
While the heat of the game has cooled a bit, there’s still a bit of charm and fun to be found in the animated offerings based on it, with Angry Birds Toons: Season Two Volume One, Stella: Season One, and Piggy Tales: Season One (Sony, Not Rated, DVD-$14.99 SRP each). And you know what? The trailer for the film makes it seem fun, too. Weird!
There’s quite a bit of endearingly goofball magic lost when you age Dora the Explorer up to tweenhood for Dora and Friends (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$22.98 SRP), the complete first season of which is now available, full of Dora tweening about with her friends.
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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