Blu-Ray Round Up, Jan. 28, 2009: ‘Hulk Vs.,’ ‘Antwone Fisher,’ ‘Repo,’ ‘Stargate’

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CHICAGO – We’re back with our recurring feature, the Blu-Ray Round Up, a collection of HD releases that might have slipped through the cracks but that could grab your attention. With dozens of catalog titles and straight-to-video releases hitting the next-gen format every week, it’s easy to miss a movie that you’d love to add to your collection. The Blu-Ray Round Up is here for you.

This edition of the Round-Up focuses its laser gaze on six titles from two companies, a series of four catalog releases from Twentieth Century Fox and a pair of new titles from Lionsgate. “Antwone Fisher,” “Drumline,” “Hulk Vs.,” “Repo!: The Genetic Opera,” “Stargate: The Ark of Truth,” and “Unfaithful” - an Oscar nominee, Denzel Washington, Bruce Banner, and Paris Hilton. Where else would you find a line-up like that?

“Stargate: The Ark of Truth” was released on January 13th, 2009.

“Antwone Fisher,” “Repo! The Genetic Opera” and “Unfaithful” were released on January 20th, 2009.

“Hulk Vs.” and “Drumline: Special Edition” were released on January 27th, 2009.

“Antwone Fisher”

Antwone Fisher Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Fox

Denzel Washington’s directorial debut is an underrated drama featuring not only a great debut performance from Derek Luke but a supporting turn from the recently Oscar-nominated Viola Davis that deserved Supporting Actress consideration as much as her recent turn in “Doubt”. If you’re wondering where this excellent actress has been all along, check out “Antwone Fisher” (and her excellent work in “Solaris,” “Far From Heaven,” and “World Trade Center”).

Of course, she’s not the “star” of “Antwone Fisher”. That’s Derek Luke in the title role of the extraordinary true story of Antwone Fisher, who also wrote the screenplay. Fisher dealt with some deep, repressed psychological issues until a U.S. Navy psychiatrist, played by Washington, forced him to deal with his dark past. A powerful drama about healing, “Antwone Fisher” deserved more acclaim on its initial release. If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely rent it on Blu-Ray. If you have, you may want to buy it.

“Antwone Fisher” is presented in 1080P with a 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and a DTS Master Audio HD track. Special features include “Meeting Antwone Fisher,” “The Making of Antwone Fisher,” and “Hollywood and the Navy”. The film also includes a commentary track by Denzel Washington and producer Todd Black. The 2002 film is rated PG-13.

“Drumline: Special Edition”

Drumline Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Fox

Where is Nick Cannon? Wasn’t he supposed to be the next hot young actor? At least that’s the way it felt in the early ’00s with roles in films like “Men in Black II,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Shall We Dance,” and his leading turn in “Drumline”. Now he makes headline for his marriage to Mariah Carey more than his straight-to-video releases.

You can see Cannon’s brief time in the spotlight with the Blu-Ray release of the Special Edition of “Drumline,” the high-stepping, high-energy comedy from 2002. The film stars Cannon as a cocky street drummer from Harlem who snares the top spot in a university marching band, but quickly learns that passion, discipline, and above all teamwork are required to cut it on the drumline. High-energy band routines and supporting performances from Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones helped pound “Drumline” to a reasonable hit.

“Drumline” is presented in 1080P with a 2.35: widescreen ratio and DTS Master Audio HD track. Special features include “Half-Time Heroes,” “Anatomy of a Drumline,” “The Real Battle of the Bands,” four deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary, and audio commentary by director Charles Stone III. The 2002 film is rated PG-13.

“Hulk Vs.”

Hulk Vs. Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Lionsgate

“Hulk, smash!” If you actually do like it when Bruce Banner gets angry and your favorite part of the movies and comics are when the big green guy causes as much damage as possible, Lionsgate and Marvel have a great release for you called “Hulk Vs.” Produced by Frank Paur, the Blu-Ray “movie” is really just two short films featuring showdowns between legendary Marvel characters.

In the first, “Hulk vs. Wolverine,” the Incredible Hulk has been tearing a line across the Canadian countryside, leaving a swath of destruction in his wake. He’s the best there is at what he does, but what he does isn’t very nice. He’s Wolverine. The “feature” runs 37 minutes and is rated PG-13.

In the second, “Hulk vs. Thor,” the forces protecting Asgard are at their weakest and Loki the trickster has seized the opportunity to destroy his cursed stepbrother, Thor, once and for all. In an epic battle that pits god against monster, the Mighty Thor is forced to clash with the only creature that has ever been able to match his strength - the Incredible Hulk! This one runs 45 minutes and is also rated PG-13.

Both halves are presented in 1080P with a 16x9 widescreen presentation and an English 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio track. All of the special features are presented in high definition and include “This is Gonna Hurt: The Making of Hulk vs. Wolverine,” “First Look - Wolverine and the X-Men,” “Of Gods and Monster: The Making of Hulk vs. Thor,” “Jack Kirby and Thor,” “First Look - Thor: Tales of Asgard,” trailer galleries, a commentary by writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost on both films, a commentary by Paur, Kevin Altieri and Butch Lukic on “Hulk vs. Wolverine,” and a commentary by Paur, Sam Liu, and James Peters on “Hulk vs. Thor”.

“Repo!: The Genetic Opera”

Repo: The Genetic Opera Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Lionsgate

“Repo!: The Genetic Opera” is a cult classic in the making for a number of reasons. First, it’s a musical directed by the guy who made a few “Saw” sequels. That’s interesting. It’s a gory, blood-filled horror movie with singing and dancing. And it gets better. The movie notoriously made under $200k TOTAL in its theatrical run and was named Ben Lyons’ worst movie of 2008. Oh, and did we mention it stars Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley, Ogre, and Paul Sorvino? Movies don’t get much weirder than “Repo!”.

The film is based on a stage play by Darren Smith & Terrance Zounich, but this is no “Rent”. “Repo!” is set in the not-so-distant future after a worldwide epidemic of organ failures has devastated the planet. A company named GENECO comes to the rescue, offering organ transplants for a price. If you miss your payments, the repo man comes for you. And he’s singing. Paris Hilton made “Repo!” and “The Hottie and the Nottie” in one year. Check ‘em out and decide which one deserved the critical bashing more.

“Repo!: The Genetic Opera” is presented in 1080P high definition with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and an English 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio track. Special features include “From Stage to Screen,” an audio commentary with director Darren Lynn Bousman and actors Bill Moseley, Alexa Vega, and Ogre, an audio commentary with Bousman, co-creators Smith and Zdunich, and music producer Joseph Bishara, video sing-alongs, webisode featurettes, select scene commentary with Paris Hilton and Bousman, deleted scenes with optional commentary by Hilton and Bousman, the trailer, and a poster gallery. The 2008 film is rated R.

“Stargate: The Ark of Truth”

Stargate: The Ark of Truth Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Fox

“The Ark of Truth” continues the legacy of “Stargate SG-1,” the longest running American Sci-Fi series, and the only series ever to receive the United States Air Force Seal of Approval. “Stargate SG-1” had a huge following and won four Saturn Awards, two Gemini Awards, nine Leo Awards, and eight Emmy nominations during its ten years on the air.

“Ark of Truth” picks up after the end of the series and concludes the Ori story arc from the final two seasons. SG-1 is in search of an ancient weapon that could help them defeat the Ori, but find themselves stuck in a distant galaxy fighting two powerful enemies. “The Ark of Truth” is from the show’s creative masterminds Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper and stars series favorites Amanda Tapping, Beau Bridges, Michael Shanks, Ben Browder, Christopher Judge, and Claudia Black.

“Stargate: The Ark of Truth” is presented in 1080P with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Special features include a commentary with writer, director, and producer Robert C. Cooper, actor Christopher Judge, and director of photography Peter Woeste, “The Ark of Truth: Stargate at Comic-Con,” “Uncovering the Ark of Truth,” and “Stargate SG-1: The Road Taken - Prelude to Stargate: The Ark of Truth”. The 2008 film is not rated.


Unfaithful Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Fox

Featuring an Oscar-nominated performance by Diane Lane, “Unfaithful” is an average adult thriller with an above-average performance. From director Adrian Lyne (“Fatal Attraction,” “Flashdance”), “Unfaithful” stars Richard Gere as Edward Sumner and the movie-stealing Lane as his wife Connie. They have the perfect life: a happy marriage, an eight-year-old son and a beautiful house in the suburbs.

Connie has a chance encounter with a handsome stranger (Oliver Martinez) that turns into a full-blown affair with tragic consequences. The film falls prey to Lyne’s over-the-top style but Lane is simply fantastic and makes “Unfaithful” worth seeing on Blu-Ray on her very own. It’s the performance of her acclaimed career.

“Unfaithful” is presented in 1080P with a 1.85: 1 ratio and a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Special features include a full-length commentary by director Adrian Lyne, scene specific actors’ commentary, 11 deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary, “The Charlie Rose Show” interview with Richard Gere, Diane Lane, and Adrian Lyne, “An Affair to Remember,” an editing featurette, cast interviews, and director’s script notes. content director Brian Tallerico

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