Ed Blank's DVD Reviews
Blank, Ed, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Tribune-Review film critic Ed Blank looks at a few recent popular and/or critically acclaimed films available on DVD:
'Mission: Impossible: III'
Tom Cruise's assignment as special agent Ethan Hunt, should he choose to accept it, is to rescue protege Keri Russell from international arms dealer Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The action film is loaded with stunts. The one that widens the eyes involves someone being tied to his seat and dangled from the open rear lip of a plane.
If you doubt Hoffman's range, check out his cretin here on the same evening you watch his Oscar-winning turn in "Capote."
The double-disc collector's edition of "M:I:III," as it's called, contains a commentary shared by Cruise and director J.J. Abrams and several featurettes about the production and the mission it dramatizes.
Although successful in theaters, "Monster House" hustled to DVD in barely three months to cash in on Halloween week sales.
The adolescents DJ, Jenny and Chowder, who seem to be counterparts to the trio of teens in the Harry Potter series, decide to explore a forbidding house after its intimidating owner is removed in an ambulance. It wouldn't be fun if the visit went well, would it?
The DVD has seven featurettes and a commentary by director Gil Kenan.
Astaire & Rogers
Fred Astaire (1899-1987) and Ginger Rogers (1911-1995) danced and romanced through 10 pictures, nine of them in high-contrast black and white for RKO Radio in the 1930s. The 10th was done in color for MGM a decade later.
That finale, "The Barkleys of Broadway," was designed for a re- teaming of Astaire and Judy Garland after their blockbuster "Easter Parade," but health issues led to Garland's replacement by Rogers.
Five of the 10 first were released on DVD Volume One: "Top Hat" (1935); "Swing Time" (1936); "Follow the Fleet" (1936); "Shall We Dance" (1937), and "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949).
The remaining five are being released now in Volume Two: "Flying Down to Rio" (1933); "The Gay Divorcee" (1934); "Roberta" (1935); "Carefree" (1938), and "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" (1939).
But here's the rub: All 10 are packaged in individual slim boxes in a deluxe set called "Astaire and Rogers: The Complete Collection."
The 10 are loaded with featurettes, comedy shorts and cartoons. Three have commentaries.
The collection also includes an 11th DVD called "Partners in Rhythm," which traces the stars' overlapping careers and focuses on each of their films. And there's a CD called "Timeless Songs From the Original Movie Soundtracks," which features 10 tracks such as "Let's Face the Music and Dance" and "The Continental. …