What to Watch: Nov. 24-Dec. 9, 2013

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

Sorry, What to Watch took a turkey day break as last week was really light on new product worth mentioning. This week? Pretty much the same but we don’t want you to miss us too badly. Here’s five recent Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming releases that may have caught your attention on new release shelves lately, ranked in the order we’d add them to our holiday wish list.

The Simpsons: Season Sixteen
The Simpsons: Season Sixteen
Photo credit: Fox

“The Simpsons: Season Sixteen”

While the quality of the show itself has gone down, some would say notably, FOX continues to truly impress with the Blu-ray and DVD releases for the legendary hit. Not only do they include notable bonus material and great transfers but they have commentaries on every single episode. These are still the standard-bearers for television on Blu-ray and DVD. Go ahead, make fun of the quality of the show nowadays but you can’t rag on the Blu-rays.

Synopsis (Episodes Include):
Treehouse Of Horror XV
All’s Fair In Oven War
Sleeping With The Enemy
She Used To Be My Girl
Fat Man And Little Boy
Midnight Rx
Mommie Beerest
Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass
Pranksta Rap
There’s Something About Marrying
On A Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister
Goo Goo Gai Pan
Mobile Homer
The Seven-Beer Snitch
Don’t Fear The Roofer
The Heartbroke Kid
A Star Is Torn
Thanks God It’s Doomsday
Home Away From Homer
The Father, The Son And The Holy Guest Star

Special Features:
o Greetings, Junior Scienteers!
o Audio Commentary On Every Episode With Writers, Actors and Directors
o Deleted Scenes With Commentary
o Live! It’s The Simpsons
o Bonus Episodes
o Multi-Angle Animation Showcase
o Special Language Feature
o Original Sketches
o Living In The Moment And A Whole Lot More!

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Hulu Plus

The Jack Ryan Collection
The Jack Ryan Collection
Photo credit: Paramount

“The Jack Ryan Collection”

This might make a nice holiday gift for someone in your clan even if “The Hunt For Red October” is the only real gem in the set. That flick has held up remarkably well and one hopes that the upcoming “Jack Ryan” reboot with Chris Pine will breathe new life into this series. Until then, here’s a repackage to get you and yours caught up on the saga of Tom Clancy’s most popular character.

Get four times the excitement with this action-packed collection featuring author Tom Clancy’s iconic CIA hero, Jack Ryan! First, Alex Baldwin and Sean Connery face off in the suspenseful high-seas adventure The Hunt For Red October. In the explosive thriller Patriot Games, Harrison Ford stars as Jack Ryan in his most personal assignment yet: To save his family. Ford returns in the critically acclaimed Clear and Present Danger, where Ryan must take matters into his own hands for the only cause he still believes in — the truth. Finally Ben Affleck suits up as Ryan in The Sum of All Fears, in which the rookie agent must attempt to defuse a terrorist plot that would force two world superpowers into a deadly nuclear standoff. Packed with thrilling action and heart-stopping suspense, the Jack Ryan Collection is a must-own set for all Tom Clancy and Jack Ryan fans!

Special Features:
o All Previously Available Bonus Material on the Four Films

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, “Hunt” and “Sum” are on Netflix, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes, Vudu

The Canyons
The Canyons
Photo credit: IFC Films

“The Canyons”

The revisionism on this Lindsay Lohan disaster has already begun with a number of people trying to convince me that “it’s not THAT bad.” No, it’s not worst of the year material, I’ll agree, it’s more just that it’s a waste of time, working more as a cultural curiosity to relate back to that amazing NYT piece than an actual movie. Schrader is too talented to wallow in this material, which we’ve all seen before and done more impressively.

From my film review: “Lindsay Lohan is NOT the problem with “The Canyons.” In fact, she’s arguably the only interesting thing about this train wreck, a film so vapid and worthless that it’s clear that, no matter what the troubled Ms. Lohan did on-set, there was no saving it.

Notorious writer Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho) and acclaimed director Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver and director of American Gigolo) join forces for this explicitly erotic thriller about youth, glamour, sex and surveillance. Manipulative and scheming young movie producer Christian (adult film star James Deen) makes films to keep his trust fund intact, while his actress girlfriend and bored plaything, Tara (Lindsay Lohan), hides a passionate affair with an actor from her past. When Christian becomes aware of Tara’s infidelity, the young lovers are thrust into a violent, sexually-charged tour through the dark side of human nature. Featuring fearless and unprecedented performances from its young cast, The Canyons is a thought-provoking examination of privilege run amok.

Special Features:
o Creating the Canyons
o Trailer

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes, Vudu

Red 2
Red 2
Photo credit: Summit/Lionsgate

“Red 2”

What a waste of time. What a waste of talent. What a silly sequel to even get made. While I didn’t like “Red,” at least that movie had a bit of creative spark and fun energy. The same can’t be said about this lackluster comedy, a movie that thinks just having old people wield guns is inherently funny. It’s not. You could literally rent a better 2013 movie from everyone involved. I think. Don’t quiz me on that.

From Adam Fendelman’s film review: “Their collective mission feels forced, uninspired and much like a common Hollywood plot that’s trying to earn its keep as a decent popcorn flick. But it’s not nearly as interesting as the quirks and intricacies of each character, which will be enjoyed by “Red 2” moviegoers even if they didn’t see 2010’s “Red”.

Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses (Willis) reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device. To succeed, they’ll need to survive assassins, terrorists and power-crazed government officials, all eager to get their hands on the superweapon.

Special Features:
o Gag Reel
o Deleted Scenes
o The Red 2 Experience Multi-Part Documentary

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes, Vudu

Photo credit: Warner Bros.


Ethan Hawke may end up on a large number of Best of the Year lists for “Before Midnight” and Worst of the Year lists for this turd, an action movie that never once feels like it’s taking place in the real world. Audiences completely ignored the movie in theaters but are often drawn to action flicks on Blu-ray and streaming services. Avoid being drawn to this one even if WB continues to impress with their HD quality, Ultraviolet on every new film, and notable special features. It’s just too bad those bells and whistles were wasted here.

From my film review: “At one point, Hawke’s character actually says, after one of several situations that could never possibly be replicated in the real world, “I can’t believe that actually worked.” I’m assuming he said something similar when he cashed the paycheck for what is easily one of the worst films of his career.

The clock is ticking as former race car driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) barrels around the streets of Bulgaria to save his abducted wife. Inside a commandeered Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake, a desperate Brent obeys the anonymous voice coming through the speaker as it sets him and his unwitting passenger (Selena Gomez) on a series of increasingly dangerous tasks. If they fail, Brent’s wife will die. With every cop in the city in hot pursuit, the two strangers must find a way to flee or fight back against their faceless assailant in this breakneck, heart-pounding race against time.

Special Features:
o Crash Cams
o Destroying A Custom Shelby
o Metal And Asphalt
o Selena Gomez: On Set
o The Train Station

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes, Vudu

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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