X-Men: First Class (available Friday, Sept. 9) After the dismal X-Men: The Last Stand and unfortunate Wolverine, was anyone that jazzed about another in the X-Men series? The short answer would be "NO"--but in fact, the franchise got a much-needed shot in the arm with this prequel that starred Michael Fassbender as the telekinetic Erik Lehnsherr and James McAvoy as mind-reading scientist Charles Xavier.
We know them later as the villain Magneto and kindly mutant-collector Professor X, and this film is all about explaining why their once-allied paths diverged at the same time it introduces myriad Marvel characters with the Cuban Missile Crisis serving as a backdrop. Some complained that the film didn't follow the comics--well, so what? With top-notch acting, a cleverly woven creation story, director Matthew Vaughn's (Kick-Ass) light touch and effective FX, the movie deserves credit--whatever transgressions offend your fanboy sensibilities should be forgiven. Extras: "Children of the Atom" making-of featurette (DVD/BD); the BD adds 10 X-Men digital comics and two hours of features on the mutants, interactive footage, interviews, deleted scenes and more.
Hanna Saoirse Ronan stars as the titular 16-year-old heroine, raised by her ex-CIA father in a remote Finland forest. Instead of stoking fires and dreaming of reindeer, she's being trained in self-defense and assassination skills for use in an inevitable showdown with the wicked Marissa, her father's former colleague who happens to be the cause of their wintry exile. When Hanna re-enters the world, she's equipped for just about anything requiring lethal action--not so much for dealing with people offering kindness and help. Joe Wright directs with high style and Ronan is excellent; Cate Blanchett is a bit heavy-handed in a Texas drawl she loses here and there; and the film falters in spots, but it's an entertaining action thriller all in all. Oh, and the Chemical Brothers soundtrack kicks some serious butt. Extras: Commentary, alternate ending, a featurette on Hanna's escape scene (DVD/BD); the BD adds a couple of featurettes on the locations, training and soundtrack creation.
Everything Must Go We best know Will Ferrell as a lovable doofus in movies like Talladega Nights and Step Brothers (or, god forbid, Land of the Lost), but here he plays it wonderfully straight as Nick, a loser salesman who falls off the wagon, gets fired and left by his wife in one day. With all his worldly possessions dumped indiscriminately on the lawn, he plops down for a days-long yard sale that prompts a number of encounters both melancholy and amusing. Extras: Two featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary with director Dan Rush and actor Michael Pena (DVD/BD).
Scarface Limited Edition Steelbook Brian de Palma's 1983 wanna-be Godfather starring Al Pacino as ladder-climbing gangster Tony Montana finally gets the Blu-ray treatment, and it looks fantastic--the blood is brighter, the cocaine whiter, and the camp even campier than you remember it. Pacino is at his scenery-chewing best and if the whole movie feels a little dated (how about that Giorgio Moroder soundtrack?), the BD greatly improves the picture quality (it's 6X sharper than the muddy DVD version) while retaining some of the grainy feel, and with 7.1 audio you can hear every f-bomb and bullet being tracked in the on-screen U-Control scoreboard (hilariously, the numbers are sometimes neck-and-neck). The impressive red steelbook packaging includes a copy of the 1932 Howard Hawks original and 10 exclusive art cards along with bonus features like an all-new documentary, featurettes on the world of Tony Montana, De Palma's inspiration, the acting, deleted scenes, hilarious TV edits and more.
Also new on Blu: Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill, with four behind-the scenes featurettes; Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs on BD.