24: The Complete Series (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, not rated, $349.99) One of television’s longest-running espionage-themed series — and arguably one of its best — ended last year and arrives in a massive DVD set boasting the entire eight-year run on 57 discs.
It’s an understatement to report that fans were riveted to each season, which boasted a plot spread out over 24 episodes. Each episode represented an hour of a complete day in the life of Counter Terrorism Unit agent extraordinaire Jack Bauer.
This special-ops-trained warrior with the anger issues of Detective Harry Callahan, the high-tech prowess of Ethan Hunt and the brains of Jack Ryan eventually would face down Serbian madmen, nuclear and biological weapon attacks, Russian terrorists, dirty agents and numerous assassination attempts during his award-winning television reign from 2001 to 2010.
Actor Kiefer Sutherland chewed up the bad guys and the scenery in the title role and was supported by a wonderful cast and notable stars over the years, including Dennis Hopper, James Cromwell, William Devane, Tobin Bell, Zachary Quinto, Sara Gilbert, Sean Astin and Katee Sackhoff.
Be it car chases, shootouts, fistfights, explosions, abductions or last-second rescues, each show is pretty much a thrill a minute, always punctuated with action-packed moments and plot twists.
For those consuming “24” for the first time, be forewarned. I suggest watching a full season and then taking a multiday break to avoid Bauer burnout as well as to keep your fingernails from being chewed down to the bone.
Best extras: A bountiful supply of extras from each original, season-specific DVD release can be found in the set. They include more than 60 optional commentary tracks, extended and deleted scenes, dozens of behind-the-scenes featurettes, webcast diaries, slide shows, book samples and even a public-service announcement on climate change from Mr. Sutherland.
The set also contains an extended cut (102 minutes) of the 2008 television movie “24: Redemption” as well as that 57th disc, which offers exclusive features, such as a 30-minute retrospective on the show, a Comic Con 2009 panel session with the eighth-season cast and a bonus scene of Chloe’s arrest.
Read all about it: The hot-pop-culture-property-conscious IDW Publishing scooped up the sequential-art license to “24” and delivered multiple comic-book miniseries from 2004 through 2007. Pick up the best in the trade paperback “24: Omnibus” ($24.99), which features the five-issue prequel story 24: Nightfall and four one-shot issues, 24: One Shot, 24: Stories, 24: Midnight Sun and 24: Cold Warriors.
Machete (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, rated R, $29.99) A character born from a trailer shown within the Robert Rodriguez- and Quentin Tarantino-fueled movie project “Grindhouse” was given his own live-action movie last year.
Now on Blu-ray, the story explores the mysterious and massively destructive Mexican madman Machete, played by gritty character actor Danny Trejo. This ex-Federale lives as an out-of-work illegal immigrant in the U.S. after surviving the murder of his wife and daughter by the drug lord Torrez.
After being caught in a conspiracy involving an assassination attempt on a senator, Machete begins an outrageous rampage of revenge when he learns his family’s killer is behind his current predicament.
Mr. Rodriguez co-wrote, co-produced and co-directed this absurdly gory and violent tale, taking a cue from the uber-B-grade exploitation films of the ‘70s.
Not for the squeamish, the 144 minutes of action often are as funny as they are horrifying (just watch for the creative use of a human intestine) but the film spends too much time mired in firing up the U.S. immigration debate for my tastes.
A slightly bigger problem: Mr. Trejo’s supporting cast is so good it’s hard to focus on the hero’s problems with Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin and Michelle Rodriguez mixing it up with pop legends such as Don Johnson, Steven Seagal and Robert De Niro.View Entire Story
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A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.
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