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…)
Yes, I know. We’ve all learned to love again. And, of course, I mean Star Wars. For whatever issues I may have with the film, The Force Awakens re-lit my long-dormant fire for all things long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. So let’s kick off this week with a nifty high-end collectible that does what Star Wars fandom does best - which is take event the smallest of minutiae in the films and turn it into an action figure. That’s just what Hot Toys and Sideshow have done with their 1/6-scale Spacetrooper ($219.99). Don’t remember what a Spacetrooper is? Well, it’s essentially you’re basic Stormtrooper, but with a breathing hose and air pack, a pair of which were fleetingly glimpsed standing on the outside surface of the Death Star as the Millennium Flacon was tractor beamed into the hangar after arriving in the space formerly occupied by Alderaan. Yeah, so, really “blink and you’ll miss it” type stuff, but that’s why we love it, and why it’s so great to have this figure. The detailing is exquisitely screen-accurate, and in addition to the gear specified previously, he also comes with a massive heavy-duty blaster gun.
So yes, the Force has finally woken up, and the December 18th release to theaters opened the floodgates on all of the spoiler-laden materials that had been embargoed. First and foremost, of course, came the official score album from Star Wars: The Awakens (Walt Disney Records, $14.92 SRP) from maestro John Williams, featuring 23 tracks that will transport you to a galaxy… well, you know the rest.
And because it’s a Star Wars film, we also get a lovely The Art Of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Abrams, $ SRP), which is loaded with concept art, much of which explores early drafts of the story and many abandoned sequences and characters in charting the visual evolution of the various designs.
Of course, if you’re still baffled by the flurry of characters, locales, and hardware that made it into the movie, you’ll be able to fill in all of the gaping narrative holes and backstory skimmed over by the film with Star Wars: The Force Awakens - The Visual Dictionary (DK, $19.99 SRP), written by Lucasfilm Lore Gnome Pablo Hidalgo.
But if vehicles are your thing, they’ve got you covered with Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Incredible Cross Sections (DK, $19.99 SRP), which is exactly what you’d expect it to be. So, yeah, all of the major vehicles, laid bare and fully explored.
Years in the making and beyond worth the wait, modern Disney legend Andreas Deja dives deep into the art and influence of his artistic forefathers with The Nine Old Men: Lessons, Techniques, And Inspiration From Disney’s Great Animators (CRC Press, $44.95 SRP). As that equally impressive title suggests, it’s an impressive tome that artists and aficionados alike should own and devour.
Marceline the vampire takes center stage in the 8-part miniseries event Adventure Time: Stakes (Cartoon Network, Not Rated, DVD-$14.97 SRP), in which a batch of foes from her past come forward just as she decides she doesn’t want to be undead anymore. Bonus materials include animatics, song demos, and an art gallery.
If the first season was funny (and it most certainly was), the second season of Broad City (Comedy Central, Not Rated, DVD-$26.98 SRP) doubles down on the funny with twice as much fun. Did I mention it’s funny? ‘Cause it is. Bonus materials include featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes, “Body By Trey” videos, and a pop-up enhanced episode.
While, sure, the based-on-real-life tale of survival on the side of the highest mountain in the world is harrowing and all, the real treat watching Everest (Universal, Rated PG-13, 3D Blu-Ray-$49.98 SRP) in 3D is for the breathtaking visuals that threaten to put you on the side of that mountain with the snowstorm-bedeviled expeditions. Bonus features include an audio commentary and a quartet of featurettes.
Rita Hayworth remains magnificent, but Criterion’s new high definition master of Gilda (Criterion, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$39.95 SRP) finally brings a restoration as beautiful as the performance. Bonus materials include an audio commentary, interviews, a featurette, and a 1964 episode of Hollywood And The Stars spotlighting Hayworth.
Take a journey Inside Einstein’s Mind (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP), in which PBS’ NOVA celebrates the 100th anniversary of his General Relativity with a fascinating look at that landmark achievement.
It’s always enjoyable when Robert De Niro manages to land in that very tiny sweet spot of affable and good-natured that he so rarely gets cast in, and so rarely can hit. But when he does, he’s as charming and warm as he is in The Intern (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$35.99 SRP), in which he stars as a 70-year-old widower who decides to reenergize his life by taking a job as a senior intern at a fashion start-up founded by a driven visionary (Anne Hathaway). Bonus materials include a trio of featurettes.
I suppose theater audiences viewing a real-life election-cycle farce at home just weren’t in the mood for political satire, which is a shame, because Our Brand Is Crisis (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$29.98 SRP) is actually a biting ensemble piece that deserves a second look now that it’s arrived on home video. Bonus materials include a featurette on Sandra Bullock’s character.
I don’t quite understand the cult that has built up around it, though it’s a funny film, so the Zoolander: Blue Steelbook (Paramount, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$16.99 SRP) is a special edition high-def debut for those superfans awaiting the upcoming sequel, with brand new bonus features including audio commentaries, featurettes, and more.
One of the delightful side effects of its recent comeback is that we’re getting official releases of classic episodes, so Reading Rainbow: Miss Nelson Is Back (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$6.99 SRP) features 4 vintage stories including the titular tale, all anchored by the delightful LeVar Burton.
For fans of the first season eager to experience the same kind of magic, the second season of True Detective (HBO, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$79.98 SRP) proved to be a decidedly un-magical affair, long on banality and short on inspiration. Sad, really. Still, there is that first season. Bonus materials include audio commentaries and featurettes.
For the past few years, the folks at Olive films have been making a whole clutch of much-requested catalogue titles from the vaults of various studios available in high definition. Added to their already impressive list of accomplishments is the Blu-Ray debut of the John Malkovich & Gary Sinise Of Mice And Men (Olive Films, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$29.95 SRP) and the mondo-bizarre Serial (Olive, Films, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$29.95 SRP), starring Martin Mull, Tuesday Weld, Sally Kellerman, & the great Christopher Lee.
Mill Creek has brought forth another batch of catalogue titles from the Sony library at a remarkably affordable cost. The biggie is Party Of Five: The Complete Series (Mill Creek, Not Rated, DVD-$69.98 SRP), a 24-disc set containing all 142 episodes. They’re also dropping the short-lived Richard Dean Anderson series Legend (Mill Creek, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP), from Star Trek producer Michael Piller.
Because I don’t often get a chance to see them when they run, I love binge-watching a batch of PBS DVDs, as they continue to produce incredible documentaries and science programs that are oft-overlooked. My most recent dive took in the 3-D laser-scanning history program Time Scanners, specifically their episodes on the Colosseum, Jerusalem, and Machu Picchu (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP each). Then I took in current affairs with Frontline: Inside Assad’s Syria (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP), then the cookery doc Off The Menu: Asian America (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP), and finally Craft In America: A Journey To The Origins, Artists, And Techniques Of American Craft (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP).
One day, I hope we get to see whatever film Hugh Jackman thought he was in while chewing up the scenery in Pan (Warner Bros., Rated PG, 3D Blu-Ray-$44.95 SRP), because I bet that one’s a corker. Instead, we get a mealy prequel explaining Peter’s origins, because someone thought that was something we needed to know. Turns out, we didn’t. Still, it’s got some pretty 3D work. Bonus materials include an audio commentary and a quartet of featurettes.
With the brand new sequel coming out, it should come as little surprise that Kung Fu Panda & Kung Fu Panda 2 (Dreamworks, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP each) are getting “Ultimate Edition Of Awesomeness” re-releases, packed with audio commentaries, featurettes, animated shorts, and a preview of Kung Fu Panda 3.
The third season of DaVinci’s Demons (Anchor Bay, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$54.99 SRP) Leonardo’s world exploding as the Ottomon invasion finds its way to his town, as he finds his own inventions used against him, before we joins a Rome-launched Crusade against the Turks.
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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