- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2020

Here’s a selection of top gift ideas for the Blu-ray and 4K UHD-loving, cinema connoisseurs in the family.

Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, 589 minutes, Rated: PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $89.99) — Filmmaker Peter Jackson’s Academy Award-winning adaptation of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal work finally arrives in all of its ultra-high definition glory just in time for the gift-giving holiday in this barebones set.

First and foremost, the films — “The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001), “The Two Towers” (2002) and “The Return of the King” (2003) — were remastered under the supervision of Mr. Jackson, and the results are spectacular.

Thanks to the 2160p resolution and high dynamic range, color enhancements, highlights abound in this Middle-earth refresh and are not limited to Gandalf (Ian McKellen) battling the Balrog in the Mines of Moria; the introduction of the digitally created marvel Gollum (Andy Serkis motion captured); the epic battle for Helms Deep; and a fiery finale starring Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) on Mount Doom.

Suffice it to report, these are films to knowingly pause early and often to appreciate so many details in costuming or just to admire the panoramic New Zealand landscapes that doubled as Middle-earth.

Equally fun, for the ears, is the new Dolby Atmos sound mixes offering the appreciation of Howard Shore’s booming musical score as well as nuances from men, orcs and monsters.

Even more welcomed is that the nine-disc collection offers the theatrical and, wait for it, extended cuts of the film, all in 4K. That’s almost an additional three hours of plot and characters development for fans of the movie mythos to bathe in.

Of course, one must also mention that the same pampered 4K treatment has been given to Mr. Jackson’s other Tolkien homage with the release of The Hobbit: The Motion Picture Trilogy ($89). Six discs offer the theatrical and extended cut of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” delivering in pristine color and clarity Bilbo Baggins’ first epic adventure in Middle-earth.

Best extras: Hardcore fans should know that this is not the sets “to rule them all.” No bonus features are included, as in zero. A new Middle-earth ultimate collector’s edition is coming in the spring of 2021 that promises to be the definitive release of all of the six films packed with bonus content.

Buy these sets for those who love to watch great movies in their technological advanced home entertainment rooms and with the very best visuals and audio available, but not for fans looking for a deconstruction of Mr. Jackson’s classics.

The Irishman (Criterion, Rated, R, 208 minutes, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, $39.95) — Director Martin Scorsese got da boys back together one last time in 2019 for one more epic, period mob movie that dazzled critics and garnered 10 Academy Award nominations.

It’s meticulously remastered debut on the high definition format in a two-disc Blu-ray set that makes a perfect gift for fans and comes approved by the director and packed with extras.

The boys — Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci — were joined by heavyweights Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Stephen Graham and Bobby Cannavale to deliver the authentic tale of real Philadelphia truck driver the late Frank Sheeran (Mr. De Niro).

Sheeran became a hitman for Angelo Bruno’s crime family and eventually was a friend to and muscle for the late Jimmy Hoffa, the infamous union leader.

Suffice it to report, the performances for the entire cast are vintage as Mr. Scorsese explores the infiltration of organized crime in unions and politics with individuals craving money, respect and power in this tale of trust and betrayal.

The visual might also offers the clearest possible way to appreciate the special effects de-aging techniques developed by Industrial Light and Magic to shed decades off the actors.

Best extras: Criterion delivers the goods starting with a pair of exclusive featurettes — a 37-minute overview of the production and a 22-minute video essay from critic Farran Smith Nehme digging into the movie.

Next, old friends Mr. Scorsese, Mr. De Niro, Mr. Pacino and Mr. Pesci sit down to discuss movies and life in general in a too-short, 19-minute segment.

Also worth a look is a 13-minute featurette on the digital effects used for the de-aging process and archival footage of the real Hoffa and a pretty creepy older Sheeran used to develop their onscreen characters.

Glengarry Glen Ross: Collector’s Edition (Shout Factory!, Rated R, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 100 minutes, $22.97) — Director James Foley’s 1992 adaptation of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play returns to Blu-ray with a new 4K restoration from the original camera negatives and a fantastic celebration of extras for fans.

Packed with star power including Al Pacino, in an Academy Award-nominated performance as the pompous closer Richard Roma, this story of a downtrodden group of real estate salesmen in New York City trying to push garbage properties on gullible buyers made “Death of a Salesman” look like a musical comedy.

Equally potent performances from Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin and Ed Harris as salesmen Shelley” “The Machine” Levene, George Aaronow and Dave Moss, Kevin Spacey as office manager John Williamson and Alec Baldwin as motivational speaker Blake make the movie a clinic in dramatic acting.

The film is by far the best it has ever looked, considering the new clarity of much of the gritty rainy environments and dim indoor lighting, and, just wow, Mr. Baldwin’s unforgettable “brass balls” speech (that has become pop culture legend) has never been more enjoyable.

Best extras: First, lucky gift receivers get a pair of vintage solo optional commentary tracks with the director and legendary Jack Lemmon, both more than worth spending the time to rewatch the movie to listen to.

Next, new content includes a 37-minute interview with Mr. Foley; a 24-minute interview with actor Joe Mantegna (who originated the role of Ricky Roma in Chicago and on Broadway); a 30-minute retrospective on Lemmon (with words from his son Chris); and, previously released, a 30-minute look at the life of an American salesmen including portrayals in media.

Resident Evil: Limited Edition Collection (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 589 minutes, not rated, 1.85:1 to 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $69.99) — Capcom popular first-person survival horror video game universe was adapted into a blockbuster live-action film franchise by filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson, boasting six films released in the 21st century.

This boxed set compiles the previously released high definition and UHD versions of “Resident Evil” (2002), “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” (2004, theatrical and extended cut included), “Resident Evil: Extinction” (2007), “Resident Evil: Afterlife” (2010), “Resident Evil: Retribution” (2012) and “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” (2016).

Each starred Milla Jovovich as Alice Marcus, a covert security specialist battling the evil Umbrella Corporation that has unleashed an apocalyptic plague on the world through its creation of the mutating T-Virus turning humans in zombies and monsters.

The first couple of films managed to keep the creepy mood of the video games, but subsequent movies devolved into more of a “Mad Max”-style world packed with bloody action.

Besides some heavy-duty, often grotesque scenes, the movies also allowed gamers to experience a real Racoon City (the headquarters of Umbrella) and eventually see legendary Resident Evil characters such as Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller), Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) and supremely evil Albert Wesker (Jason O’Mara) as well as well-known grotesque creatures and bosses such as Lickers, Nemesis and Tyrant brought to the big screen.

Fans of the franchise will appreciate the nearly pristine debut of four of the films in 4K (“Afterlife” and “The Final Chapter” were previously released).

It’s especially eye-opening due to the first two movies’ often murky and often dark presentations that now expose new clarity to some of the horrors.

Equally impressive is the universal aural assault afforded to each film with Dolby Atmos soundtracks that make what moans and hisses in the darkness so much more terrifying.

Best extras: The gift set houses all of the discs in a sturdy faux-metallic, cut-out cardboard box, complete with blood stains, featuring the Umbrella Corporation logo on its front face and includes an eight-page, full-color booklet introducing the films.

All of the original bonus content is included on the previously released Blu-ray disc versions of the film.

That’s more than three dozen featurettes on making the films, deleted scenes, alternate endings, a six-part documentary on ” Apocalypse” and optional commentary tracks (sometimes multiples) on all but the last movie.

“The Final Chapter” gets that really fun “Retaliation Mode” offering Mr. Anderson and Miss Jovovich popping on the screen during the movie to offer their thoughts.

Now, the 4K discs also get a smattering of six new featurettes. The best include a short chronology on the creatures of the video games (six minutes), a look at the zombie make-up (six minutes) and a retrospective on the franchise (22 minutes)

Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 343-minutes, rated PG, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, $55.98) — Yet another celebration of director Robert Zemeckis chronicling of the time-traveling exploits of Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) arrives to home theaters and, this time, fans really get something special.

Specifically, all three, screen-filling films have been digitally remastered for the UHD format bringing new, pristine life to the classics from 1985, 1989 and 1990, and each also now boasting an immersive Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

Owners get seven discs released in a digibook-style set presenting colorful cardboard pages highlighting the movie posters and inserted 4K and Blu-ray discs.

Best extras: Bonus content on the 4K discs is culled from the 25th and 30th anniversary Blu-ray releases of the movies and a previously released extra disc (now the seventh disc of this new set) that also has a few new offers.

Specifically, a roughly 30-minute, behind-the-scenes look at the “Back to the Future” musical (temporarily derailed by the coronavirus pandemic) features interviews with producer Bob Gale as well as Mr. Lloyd (acting as scattered as his character Doc Brown).

A 10-minute walkthrough of the movie props showcases the Hollywood Museum’s “Back to the Future” exhibit.

Rounding out the extras are rare auditions of actors Peter DeLuise and Billy Zane trying out as Biff Tannen, Kyra Sedgwick as Jennifer Parker and Jon Cryer, C. Thomas Howell and Ben Stiller as Marty McFly.

As far as vintage extras, all three movies include an optional commentary track from producers Mr. Gale and Neil Canton and an audio-only discussion with Mr. Zemeckis and Mr. Gale (hosted in front of an audience by documentarian Laurent Bouzerau at the USC campus.)

The best of the remaining, voluminous collection of extras is the six-part, over two-hour-long documentary from 2010 “Tales from the Future” spread out across all three films.

About the only previously released goodie missing is the fact loaded, onscreen interactive dubbed U-Control that was available on the 30th anniversary release of the films.

However, for its sheer visual might and extra nostalgia jolt,  fans receiving this as a gift will certainly be satisfied, calling it the ultimate “Back to the Future” collection.

Rambo: The Complete Steelbook Collection (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Rated, R, 470 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $119.99) — Sylvester Stallone’s PTSD-suffering Special Forces Vietnam War veteran John Rambo offered his brand of justice and revenge over the last 37 years in five, action-packed, extra-gritty movies.

This definitive collection delivers ultra-high and high definition versions of “First Blood” (1982), “Rambo: First Blood Part II” (1985), “Rambo III” (1988), “Rambo” (2008) and “Rambo: Last Blood (2019) — each in two-disc, steelbook cases and all housed in in an open-ended metallic box.   

Of course, fans of the hero will want to watch him in the UHD format throughout and opting for the extended versions of the last two films (included in the set) as Rambo destroys a small town in the Pacific Northwest, returns to Vietnam to rescue POWS, nearly single-handedly crushes the Russian army in Afghanistan, brutally battles an army to rescue missionaries in Burma and eviscerates a Mexican cartel that stops by his Arizona ranch to visit.

The movies shine in the 4K format with the first three remastered from the original camera negatives, and the final two films taking advantage of modern digital intermediates to present the best-looking version of the movies ever released to home entertainment formats.

Suffice it to report, this is a Holy Grail gift for John Rambo fans.

Best extras: The discs include all of the bonus content found from the previously released versions of the movies in 4K and Blu-ray and that adds up to plenty of information for the Rambo film fan.

The deep dive first translates into optional commentary tracks on four of the films — “First Blood” (Mr. Stallone and another track with author of the book David Morrell); “Rambo: First Blood Part II” (director George P. Cosmatos); “Rambo III” (director Peter MacDonald); and “Rambo” (Mr. Stallone on the theatrical cut).

Next, other goodies worth noting include the documentary “Rambo Takes the 80s” (roughly 40 minutes) spread across the first three films; a 30-minute look at the history of war in Afghanistan (“Rambo III”); an almost 90-minute director’s production diary for “Rambo”; and a 50-minute production diary for “Rambo: Last Blood.”

Let’s also dive a bit deeper into the packaging that cements the gift deal. The metallic, illustrated red box, shaped like a toaster, has padded slots to securely store all of the film cases. And, the case and box feature illustrations of Rambo in action from artists Justin Erickson, Ken Taylor, Grzegorz Domaradzki, Vance Kelly and John Guydo.

Alfred Hitchcock: Archive Collection (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated, 403 minutes, 1.36:1 to 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $39.99) — The director nicknamed “the master of suspense” delivers as promised in this collection celebrating four of his earlier crime dramas.

Viewers get remastered for the high definition format the romantic psychological thriller “Suspicion” (1941), starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine (winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress and the only Oscar rewarded to a performer in a Hitchcock film); the film noir drenched “I Confess” (1953) with Montgomery Clift as a priest accused of murder; the crime mystery “Dial M for Murder” (1954) starring Ray Milland in a dangerous love triangle with Grace Kelly; and crime docudrama “The Wrong Man” (1956) featuring Henry Fonda as real musician Manny Balestrero who was wrongly accused of murder.

The three black-and-white films — “Suspicion,” “I Confess” and “The Wrong Man” — look incredible, having undergone extensive digital clean-up, while the colorful “Dial M for Murder” does not look as great but includes a 3D version of the movie.

Best extras: Each film from the four-disc Blu-ray set gets a roughly 20-minute-long featurette offering a retrospective with a group of heavyweight fans and historians such as producer Laurent Bouzereau, directors Peter Bogdanovich and M. Night Shyamalan, TCM’s Robert Osborne, film historian Richard Schickel and Hitchcock’s daughter, Pat, as they analyze the classics and offer appreciations.

Hammer Films: The Ultimate Collection (Mill Creek Entertainment, not rated, 2,065 minutes, 1.66:1 to 2.35:1 aspect ratio, $109.99) — Famed 1960s British horror movie studio combined distribution might with Columbia Pictures to offer its brand of the macabre and other film genres to American audiences in late 1950s to early 1970s.

Movie connoisseurs get a taste of the results with a 20-movie set on 10 Blu-ray discs offering, for example, some classic monster horror in “The Revenge of Frankenstein” (1958); “The Gorgon” (1964) and “The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb” (1963); psychological thrills in “Stop Me Before I Kill!” (1961); old school adventure with “Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960); war drama in “The Camp on Blood Island” (1958); crime drama in “Cash On Demand” (1961); creep comedies with “The Old Dark House” (1963); and B-movie charm in “Creatures the World Forgot.”

Viewers can also expect plenty of chances to appreciate the acting performance of veterans Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

Overall, the visual reproduction won’t win any awards, some of the films are just not great, and one can hardly call this the “ultimate” Hammer with all of the Dracula films missing.

However, Hammer Film purists will require the collection.

Best extras: Lucky owners of the collection must first watch the featurettes “Hammer at Columbia Pictures” (11 minutes) and “The Actors of Hammer Film” (eight minutes) to get some historical context on the mix of movies.

Also, get another dose of more specific Hammer history with a retrospective on “The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb” and “The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll.

Finally, get ready to rewatch the films “The Revenge of Frankenstein,” “The Old Dark House,” “The Gorgon,” “The Snorkel,” “Never Take Candy From A Stranger” and “Scream of Fear.” Turn on the optional commentary track to hear from film historians such as Constantine Nasr and Steve Haberman about making some of these classics.

The package also contains a 12-page, full-color booklet offering a guide to the collection styles as movie theater lobby cards.

Dreamworks: 10-Movie Collection (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Rated G to PG, 1.78:1 to 2.35:1 aspect ratio, $99.99) — Families looking for a potent dose of high definition, blockbuster animated films will most appreciate this set that delivers some of the best feature length toons produced in the short history of DreamWorks Animation.

Viewers get “Shrek” (2001), “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” (2002), “Madagascar” (2005), “Kung Fu Panda” (2008), “How to Train Your Dragon” (2010), “The Croods” (2013), “Home” (2015), “Trolls” (2016), “The Boss Baby” (2017) and “Abominable” (2019).

Highlights are not only masterpieces such as the Academy Award winner “Shrek” (the first to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar) and the nearly universally acclaimed “How to Train Your Dragon,” but equally fun are the celebrity voiceover cast that helped the films succeed.

Especially notable are Mike Meyers as Shrek, Jack Black as the kung-fun panda Po, Justin Timberlake as a cautious Troll, Nicholas Cage as the caveman Grug Crood and Alec Baldwin, in a role he was born for, as the wise guy boss baby Theodore Templeton Jr.

Best extras: Each of the films is on a single Blu-ray disc and has a collection of bonus content ported over from previous releases to home entertainment.

That equals dozens of featurettes on making an animated movie, on-screen interactives, music videos, kid-themed activities, cartoon shorts and even optional commentary tracks from filmmakers on six of the 10 movies.

Highlights include a picture-in-picture Animators’ Corner on “Shrek,” a pop-up trivia track on “Madagascar, an interactive book of dragons in “How to Train Your Dragon” and an onscreen party mode for the kiddies in “Trolls.”

Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Collection (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Rated PG, 1.33:1 aspect ratio, $74.99) — A welcomed celebration of the world’s most beloved “wascally wabbit” arrives in a special gift set limited to only a 30,000-unit run.

The collection offers 60 classic cartoon shorts showcasing the antics of Academy Award winner Bugs Bunny (voiced by legend Mel Blanc) and familiar Looney Tunes such as Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Marvin the Martian, Granny and Wile E. Coyote.

They cover the golden years between 1940 and 1964 that often featured the work of legendary directors Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and Friz Freleng. Equally interesting, the set allows older cinema fans to fondly remember the days when toons were actually played in theaters before the start of a full-length movie event.

Highlights include the Fleischer Studios’ Superman parody Super-Rabbit (1943); the Rossini opera homage “Rabbit of Seville” (1950); the gangster spoof with caricatures of Peter Lorre and Edward G. Robinson in “Racketeer Rabbit” (1946); the Nazi-mocking, World War II-themed “Herr Meets Hare” (1945); and Bugs first official appearance in “A Wild Hare” (1940).

By far most important to the set, also noting that over half of cartoons have never been released, is that each has been meticulously restored and remastered to deliver a clear and colorful look at some, all hilarious, Bugs Bunny adventures.

Best extras: The limited edition gift set first features 30 optional commentary tracks from historians such as Jerry Beck and Constantine Nasr, and those who worked on the shorts such as animator Bob Clampett, voice-over actor Stan Freberg and director Jones. Heck, even Batman cartoon creator Bruce Timm pipes in for “Super-Rabbit.”

Next, a new, hour-long retrospective on Bugs Bunny narrated by comedian Billy Crystal covers the hare’s creation and legacy pop culture loaded with artwork and interviews with the voice-over cast and crew.

A voluminous collection of vintage featurettes follow including a 15-minute look at Marvin the Martian and a 50-minute anniversary tribute. Also packed in the three-disc Blu-ray set are nine shorts from the 2020 HBO Max series “Looney Tunes Cartoons.”

The packaging contains an introductory letter from Mr. Beck and an exclusive, glitter-covered, 5-inch-tall, vinyl statue of a  “Tiny Tunes” version of Bugs Bunny dressed in a tux and holding a top hat from Funko Pop.

Coming to America: Steelbook Edition (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, Rated R, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 117 minutes, $29.99) — One of the classics of comedian Eddie Murphy’s blockbuster film days debuts in UHD and in a metallic package perfect for gifting to fans.

Director John Landis’ second collaboration with Mr. Murphy led to a 1988 romantic comedy about African prince Akeem Joffer on a mission to find a princess in America with help from personal aide and loyal friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall). Both now living in Queens, New York, they take on the disguise of impoverished immigrant students and quickly cause trouble in the Big Apple.

Best part of the movie are the alternate characters Mr. Murphy and Mr. Hall deliver on-screen including an eye-watering pair of old men interacting in a barber shop.

The restoration and remaster in 4K was supervised by director Mr. Landis, and the result makes for an essential part of a home entrainment owner’s library. 

Gift givers should also consider throwing in the other new releases from Paramount’s Eddie Murphy collection including “Beverly Hills Cop,” ($25.99) now in 4K as well as remastered versions (released in the Blu-ray format) under the “Paramount Presents” brand for “Golden Child” ($24.99) and the perennial Christmas favorite “Trading Places” ($24.99).

Best extras: Owners get on the 4K disc bonus content culled from the 2007 Blu-ray special collector’s edition release of the film including a 24-minute vintage overview of the production and a 13-minute look at the make-up effects created by legend Rick Baker.

The steel case presents a proud and smiling Prince Akeem dead center on the shiny cover and his newly painted crown on the back. And, to cement the deal, a folded mini-poster for Randy Watson and his band “Sexual Chocolate” is included. Don’t even ask me to explain that one. Go watch the movie.

Parasite (Criterion, not rated, 132 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $39.95) — Director Bong Joon-ho’s multiple Academy Award-winning (including Best Picture) South Korean dark comedy thriller returns to the Blu-ray format, built from a new 4K digital master, in a special edition boasting loads of extras and a color and black-and-white version of the film.

A clever game of class warfare plays out between the Kim and rich Park family as the scheming Kims infiltrate the Parks’ lavish abode and take subservient jobs to appreciate the perks of a wealthy lifestyle. You can bet something happens to disturb the uneasy harmony. and it’s hiding in a secret bunker.

The remaster seems a bit much since the film was already released on 4K earlier this year by Universal boasting impeccable visuals.

However, converting the film to black and white certainly took full advantage of Criterion mastering via a digital intermediate from the 6.5K camera files. The result is a much more sinister-looking version of the of the film, almost Hammer Horror in depth and making the ending more of a David Lynch dream sequence.

Best extras: Hold your applause until the end, “Parasite” lovers, because Criterion overloads with hours of bonus content over the two-disc set.

Start with an English-subtitled, 88-minute master class held at the 2019 Lumiere Festival with the director and hosted by French filmmaker and critic Betrand Tavernier. The pair dive deep into Mr. Bong’s career as well as exploring the complexities of his film.

Next are roughly 90 minutes of exclusive interviews with Mr. Bong, cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo, production designer Lee Ha-jun and editor Yang Jinmo.

Also, and equally important, is an optional commentary track with Mr. Bong and British film critic Tony Rayns as they discuss the movie from two different locations (thank you, COVID-19).

The packaging contains an illustrated, fold-apart, 12-page leaflet offering technical credits and an essay by critic Inkoo Kang.

Whiplash (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Rated, R, 107 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $119.99) — Mastering percussion became a parable for life’s challenges in director Damien Chazelle’s multiple Academy Award-winning movie from 2014.

The story, now available in UHD, finds budding jazz drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) attending an elite music school and catching the eye of brutal instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons in the Oscar-winning role).

Mr. Fletcher accepts Andrew into his jazz ensemble and sends the drummer to the brink of insanity with his merciless teaching style feeding into the student’s obsessive personality.

The tense, emotionally exhausting masterpiece is a perfect gift for budding musicians, offering a terrifying inspiration for what it can take to become the best.

Best extras: The included Blu-ray version of the films contains a great optional commentary track with the director and the amusing Mr. Simmons as well as a 43-minute look at famed drummers such as Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp) and Gina Schock (The Go Go’s) as they explain their passions for the instrument.

Mall Rats: Limited Edition (Arrow Video, Rated, R, 95 / 122 / 89 minutes, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, $27.99) — Director Kevin Smith’s warping of the teen romantic comedy hit cult status about right after its bombing release. The 1995 movie now returns to home entertainment yet again with an impressive remastering culled from the 35 mm camera negative and interpositive elements and downscaled to the Blu-ray format.

The story offers college students (Jeremy London and Claire Forlani) trying to get to a Florida theme park and ending up at Eden Prairie Center local mall as a complex of twisted romantic conundrums unfolds.

The film is most distinguished for not only the introduction of Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Mr. Smith) and a soundtrack featuring 1990s bands such as Weezer, Belly, Bush and Elastica but its wasted powerhouse pop culture cast including Shannen Doherty, Ben Affleck, Michael Rooker and Jason Lee.

Best of all, get ready for an appearance by Marvel Comics’ patriarch Stan Lee who steals the film with his pointed advice on relationships.

Viewers get three cuts of the film: the theatrical version; a 10th anniversary, excessively long director’s extended cut, over two hours (referred to Mr. Smith as the version that “should never have been,”); and a TV cut with profanity not so cleverly overdubbed.

Best extras: Arrow unloads on the goodies with more than any fan could ever want. The obligatory optional cast and crew commentary track from 1999 leads the way offering a sardonic free-for-all with the director, producer Scott Mosier, archivist Vincent Pereira and actors Mr. Lee and Mr. Affleck.

Two hours of featurettes follow with the best being a new 30-minute interview with the director gushing over memories about the film and a 22-minute retrospective on the film from 2005.

Also, Arrow tosses in more than an hour’s worth of deleted scenes explained by Mr. Smith and Mr. Pereira and almost two hours of raw dailies from the shoot.

The packaging includes a two-sided blueprint of “Operation Dark Knight” and “Operation Drive By’ (concocted by Jay and Silent Bob); and a 24-page, full-color booklet anchored by an essay by film historian Philip Kemp about Mr. Smith’s sophomore slump aka “Mall Rats.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide