With Guillermo Del Toro at the helm of Blade II, this potentially endless horror action franchise has found the perfect director, as should be obvious by the movie itself - a wildly enthusiastic elaboration on the original film - and by the supplemental material on this two-disc package.
Del Toro is, by his own admission, “a geek”, and his visual vocabulary - comic books, anime and music video - is exactly that of the audience for films like the Blade series. He’s also suitably ironic; he introduces the outtake reel by warning us that “what you will see is mostly crap”, but that geeks like himself want it anyway. The “making-of” documentary, almost an hour and a half long, is as exhaustive as FX freaks will require, the commentary tracks both offhanded and trivia-filled.
Beauty and the Beast
It will be, according to Disney, another decade before Beauty and the Beast is issued in any format, but it’s hard to imagine how much more could be made available in ten years’ time, short of the holographic version of the film. This special edition package includes the rough cut version screened at the 1991 NY Film Festival, the theatrical release, and a new, IMAX-ready version with a cut song restored. There are games, music videos, and the usual behind the scenes documentaries, which should make this package a useful electonic babysitter.
The film, alas, is unusually charm-deficient, especially compared to classic Disney features like Snow White or Cinderella, and recent films like Shrek, Chicken Run and the Pixar features that have hit the market since Beauty and the Beast was released ten years ago. There’s a crudeness and lack of grace to the story and the characters that curdle the sweetness you’d expect from Disney, whose days as animation’s quality house are long over.
Singin' in the Rain
A spectacular package, and virtually a one-stop course in the history of the MGM musical. Besides a beautifully restored version of the film, probably one of the most sophisticated musical films ever, there’s a making-of documentary, and a full-length history of the Arthur Freed unit at MGM that produced Singin’ in the Rain, as well as The Wizard of Oz, An American in Paris and Gigi. Freed commissioned the film to be a celebration of his career as lyricist, alongside songwriter Nacio Herb Brown, and the package includes a collection of clips from the musicals where almost all of Singin’ in the Rain’s numbers originated.
The Lady and The Duke
Director Eric Rohmer is famous for the kind of visually unadorned French film where dialogue is the entire action of a film. A period film, with digitally-created sets of revolutionary Paris, is an anomaly for Rohmer, but at the core it’s still a film where two people talk, a character-driven piece that depends on great actors and a humble camera. Unlike period dramas that cost a hundred times as much, The Lady and the Duke gives an uncanny sense of a violent era, told with only the most sparing hints of real violence.