Blu-Ray Review: ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?,’ ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’

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CHICAGO – Touchstone Pictures have reached into the vault and pulled out two of their modest hits, a pair of films with little in common other than studio and that they’re both around ten years old. For teenagers, these films will be new again and the fact is that both have been a bit forgotten by history. “The Count of Monte Cristo” certainly has been more so than the Coen brothers’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” but you may want to revisit both now that they’re available in HD. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

I was such a HUGE fan of Joel and Ethan Coen in 2000 that I have to admit to being a bit disappointed by “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” when it was released. The Coens were on such a hot streak, having made massive critical hits like “Miller’s Crossing” and “Fargo” along with beloved lesser works like “The Hudsucker Proxy” and “The Big Lebowski.” At first viewing, I thought “O Brother” was their most distant and cold film, a work that I cared about less than their others, but I think it marks an interesting turning point for the Coens now. It’s the end of the first act of their career and the beginning of the second. And it was a massive hit (relatively speaking), their highest grossing film until the Best Picture-winning “No Country For Old Men” (and has been topped by “Burn After Reading” and “True Grit” since). “O Brother” brought the Coens to a wider audience and that gave them a little more creative power for what they would do in the next decade. For that reason alone, it’s incredibly valuable and a must-own for fans of two of the most important filmmakers of the last three decades.

I can’t say quite as much positive about “The Count of Monte Cristo,” a film that even fans have probably forgotten. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not one that people are likely to reach for on a rainy Saturday. It’s interesting as a historical document to see how Jim Caviezel (starring in CBS’s “Person of Interest” this Fall) and Guy Pearce (Emmy winner last night for “Mildred Pierce”) have matured but the film is a just-decent historical action epic, elevated by the talent of its cast but somewhat held back by the limited skill of director Kevin Reynolds. The film was a modest hit (with a much-bigger life on DVD) and should make a modest addition to your Blu-ray collection.

O Brother, Where Art Thou was released on Blu-ray on September 13th, 2011
O Brother, Where Art Thou was released on Blu-ray on September 13th, 2011
Photo credit: Disney

“O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

George Clooney (The Perfect Storm) and John Turturro (Cars 2) embark on the adventure of a lifetime in this hilarious, offbeat road picture. And now, for the first time, this quirky gem shines more brightly than ever in Blu-ray High Definition!

Fed up with crushing rocks on a prison farm in Mississippi, the dapper silver-tongued Ulysses Everett McGill (Clooney) busts loose … except that he’s still shackled to two misfits from his chain gang: bad-tempered Pete (Turturro) and sweet, dimwitted Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson). With nothing to lose and buried loot to regain, the three embark on a riotous odyssey filled with chases, close calls, near misses and betrayal. Experience every unpredictable moment as it plays out in the crystal-clear sound and breathtaking picture quality of Blu-ray. Populated with strange characters, including a blind prophet, sexy sirens and a one-eyed Bible salesman (John Goodman), O Brother, Where Art Thou? will leave you laughing at every outrageous and surprising twist and turn!

The Count of Monte Cristo was released on Blu-ray on September 13th, 2011
The Count of Monte Cristo was released on Blu-ray on September 13th, 2011
Photo credit: Disney

Special Features:
o The Making Of O Brother, Where Art Thou?
o Two Storyboard-To-Scene Comparisons
o “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” Music Video
o Theatrical Trailer

“The Count of Monte Cristo”

Jim Caviezel (Deja Vu) and Guy Pearce (Bedtime Stories) give sizzling performances in The Count of Monte Cristo. And now, for the first time, the world’s greatest tale of betrayal, adventure and revenge is more riveting than ever in Blu-ray High Definition!

When the dashing and guileless Edmond Dantes (Caviezel) is betrayed by his best friend (Pearce) and wrongly imprisoned, he becomes consumed by thoughts of vengeance. After a miraculous escape, he transforms himself into the mysterious and wealthy Count of Monte Cristo, insinuates himself into the French nobility, and puts his cunning plan of reprisal in action. Experience the resounding clash of swords and the deadly glint off every razor-sharp blade. With the pristine sound and magnificent picture quality of Blu-ray, this swashbuckling thriller will have you perched on the edge of your seat until the very last drop of sweet revenge is exacted.

Special Features:
o 5 Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Filmmakers including Alternate Final Duel
o The Napoleonic World - Production Design Featurette
o En Garde - Multi-Angle Sword Fighting Featurette
o The Pen - Retrospective On Author Alexandre Dumas
o Adapting A Classic - Screenwriting Segment
o The Clash Of Steel - Stunt Choreography Piece
o Layer-By-Layer - Interactive Sound Design Feature
o Audio Commentary with Director Kevin Reynolds

“The Count of Monte Cristo” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” were released by Touchstone on September 13th, 2011. content director Brian Tallerico

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