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The Shelf: “Cloud Atlas,” “Doctor Who: The Visitation,” “Frankie Go Boom”

Shelf May 14

This week, The Shelf has a film spanning hundreds of years and three directors, the Doctor’s visit gets revisited, and a one-night stand goes incredibly badly.

Cloud Atlas
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQFAPeaJOf8&w=615&h=346]

It’s a book many deemed “unfilmable.” David Mitchell’s 2004 novel, Cloud Atlas, featured a pyramid narrative spanning six different time periods in six different genres, weaving a story of interconnectivity and beginning where one ends, like a Moebius strip of storytelling. It took Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer to retool the stories and present them in a way that’s both satisfying and comprehensive. It was, indeed, a herculean task. Luckily, they had an excellent cast, most of whom play multiple characters throughout the time periods, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae and Ben Whishaw. This is a film that can truly be considered “epic.”

The Blu-ray’s special features are as comprehensive as the film itself, with documentaries that go deep inside how the film was made, the connections between the characters, the themes and subtexts, and a look at the stark sci-fi worlds of the future. The Matrix films always had great special features and this continues the Wachowskis’ commitment to giving home video viewers their money’s worth.

Doctor Who: The Visitation – Special Edition
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaNKQftRXdc&w=615&h=461]

The Fifth Doctor and his three companions, Tegan, Nyssa, and Adric, accidentally end up in England in 1666 and immediately get embroiled in an alien plot to kill everyone on Earth and take over the planet. You know, pretty common. The Doctor loses his sonic screwdriver (for good, in the classic series) and has to rely simply on his wits to get out of the situation, which also includes a jester-looking android dressed like the Grim Reaper. This story was the first written by future script editor Eric Saward, and he included one of his own creations, the actor-turned-highwayman, Richard Mace.

This DVD is an updated special edition of one of the earliest releases, and contains a much cleaner picture and soundtrack as well as a whole second disc of special features. These include a making-of in which Mark Strickson (Turlough) takes Peter Davison (the Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), and Janet Fielding (Tegan) back through filming locations and has them remember what it was like filming the story. Also, there’s part one of a series about BBC Television Centre, which was Doctor Who‘s studio home for 26 years. There’s also a great feature about the Big Finish audio dramas, featuring interviews with Russell T. Davies, Mark Gatiss, and Colin Baker.

Frankie Go Boom
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNBu7zzmnyc&w=615&h=346]

Frank (Charlie Hunnam) has always been the butt of his older brother Bruce’s (Chris O’Dowd) video jokes. But, when Bruce secretly films Frank’s embarrassing one-night stand with a girl (Lizzy Caplan) whose father is a violent former movie star (Chris Noth), it’s really one step too far. This sets off a string of insane and uncomfortable events, as Frank and Bruce try to get the DVD back before they get found out. A pig and Ron Perlman in drag get involved. The film also features Nora Dunn and Whitney Cummings.

If you’d like to get your hands on this raucous comedy, all you need do is enter our contest for one of two Blu-ray copies, then head to our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages to get extra chances. Don’t have Frank’s luck; play it as safe as you can.

ALSO AVAILABLE

Crimewave – In between The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, Sam Raimi teamed up with Joel and Ethan Coen for this Airplane-inspired horror-comedy. The Blu-ray DVD set features a commentary by actor Bruce Campbell. Worth the price just for that.

MythBusters Collection 9 – More of Jamie, Adam, Tory, Kari, and Grant’s attempts to debunk every single urban myth ever dreamed of.

Fraggle Rock 30th Anniversary Collection – 21 disc set featuring all 96 episodes plus two bonus features discs. Enter our contest to win this incredible set for yourself.

Dexter Season 7 – He just refuses to quit killing people.

3:10 to Yuma – Delmer Daves’ 1957 original, featuring Glenn Ford as the charming outlaw and Van Heflin as the down-on-his-luck rancher who takes the job of getting the baddie on the train.

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