The Shelf: Rise of the Guardians, Life of Pi and a Cirque Giveaway
By Kyle Anderson on March 12, 2013
This week on The Shelf, we’ve got a kid and the tiger who wants to eat him, a bunch of things your parents callously told you didn’t exist when you were 7 (thanks a lot, Mom), and a giveaway over which you’ll flip.
The Avengers and Justice League have nothing on these guys. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost all team up to battle a big ol’ nightmare man. Sporting a wonderful voice cast, including Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman, this charming flick from last autumn comes to Blu-ray in a huge set with the 3D Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy, so you can watch it anywhere you’d like. And you’ll like to watch it anywhere.
Life of Pi took home the bulk of the technical awards at the Oscars and even scored Ang Lee his second Best Director win (both for movies that didn’t win Best Picture. Hmmm). It’s plain to see why; the movie is an absolute visual stunner with very innovative use of 3D and color that would pop out at you in 2D. The performances aren’t too bad, either, especially that of young star Surraj Sharma. I wonder how many people will now buy orange cats just to name them “Richard Parker.” Probably a lot. I’m probably going to do that, too. The film is out in a 3-disc Blu-ray with tons of special features on how the various cinematic marvels were achieved. Feel free to watch it on Meerkat Island.
Any circus can tame lions or do the elephant conga line; Cirque du Soleil transports you to a magical realm. Not everybody can go see a performance live (if you’re at SXSW today you can!), but thanks to the Blu-ray and DVD release of their concert film, Worlds Apart, you can still get the full effect of being there. And if you enter our giveaway, you can be one of five (5) people to win a copy of the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Simply enter, then visit our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages for extra chances to win. Think of it as walking a very easily-crossable tightrope over the world’s cushiest and springiest net.
Also Out this Week
Hitchcock – Anthony Hopkins completely transforms into the Master of Suspense in this semi-biopic about the making of his 1960 shock classic, Psycho. Helen Mirren knocks it out of the park (when doesn’t she?) as Hitch’s long-suffering wife, Alma, who has grown to put up with the director’s impishness and obsession with blondes. Michael Wincott even turns up as Ed Gein, the real-life murderer upon whom the story of Norman Bates was based.
Willow – Before The Hobbit was anything more than a book and a 1970s Rankin-Bass special, there was this fantasy classic from Ron Howard and George Lucas. Apart from being just a great story with plenty of humor and magic, it also pioneered a lot of the visual effects we now take for granted, specifically in the morphing technique used when sorceress Fin Raziel attempts to turn back into a woman. That stuff was utterly groundbreaking in 1988 and still works very well today. Fun fact: the two-headed dragon was named “Eborsisk” after film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit – And speaking of groundbreaking, this movie, also from 1988 (big year for visual effects), scored a 8.0 on the technology Richter with its amazing melding of live action and animation. It’s essentially a 1940s Film Noir detective story, only with a whole bunch of wacky cartoon characters as well. This movie still holds up 100%, and the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray looks better than ever and is filled to capacity with value-added material.
The Blob – This drive-in horror classic which made a star out of Steve McQueen gets a spiffy new Criterion Blu-ray release. You’ll never look at Jello salad the same way again.
Smashed – This tough but charming dramedy from last year has Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a young first grade teacher with a drinking problem. She decides to quit but her husband, played by Aaron Paul, doesn’t want to. It puts a strain on their relationship, to say the least. Winstead’s Spirit-nominated performance is aided by great supporting turns by Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, and Octavia Spencer.