New on Blu: THE AMERICAN, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: RAZOR, and more
Christmas has come and gone, and the week after offers a few Blu-rays worth whipping your gift cards out for. This week you have the chance to bring home the latest in the chronicles of the Umbrella Corporation's shenanigans, an Amber Heard thriller, Joel Schumacher's latest, one of the most quiet and contemplative "thrillers" released this year, and an extended sci-fi series episode.
Hit the break to see our reviews of two of the titles and what else is available to buy.
George Clooney brings time-weathered assassin Jack to life in CONTROL director Anton Corbijn's sophomore film, THE AMERICAN. Jack has escaped to the tiny Italian town of Castel del Monte after he is discovered with his lover by a Swedish hitman and accepts one last assignment from his boss, Pavel. While preparing his assignment, building a custom sniper rifle for a beautiful assassin named Mathilde, he befriends a local priest and a hooker named Clara. Things turn dark when he suspects the Swedes have yet again found his hiding spot.
THE AMERICAN is an anti-thriller, zero exposition offered to the audience to help speed things along. Instead everything in this tale of redemption (outside of a few painfully obvious metaphors) is handled through the quiet brooding of Clooney. There's a streak of sexiness present throughout - the leading man is notorious box office magic, but the women he crosses on his short journey in THE AMERICAN are impossibly gorgeous and unafraid to express the knowledge of their own beauty. Sexy and quiet, but a bit heavy-handed, THE AMERICAN is strangely engaging if never all that exciting.
The special features start off with a contemplative and informative commentary with director Anton Corbijn. Through his Dutch accent, he provides some interesting technical information throughout the length of the commentary and is never boring. There is a short behind the scenes piece called "Journey to Redemption: The Making of THE AMERICAN" which is merely some interviews with cast and crew and a few scenes of the actual filming and on-set hijinks. Finally, a handful of deleted/extended scenes provide no additional insight into the film.
While the special features (outside of the commentary) don't add much to the package, the excellent video and sound quality of the beautifully shot film is enough to warrant giving this disc a glance.
TV has become complicated. RAZOR is technically the first two episodes of Battlestar Galactica season four, aired as one extended, unbroken episode that takes place during events in season 2 but sets up storylines for payoff in season 4. It is mainly the story of the Pegasus and at the beginning of RAZOR Lee Adama's swearing-in as commander of the ship is revisited. However, through flashbacks, a bit is learned about Admiral William Adama's ghastly discovery during the final days of the first Cylon War and the story of chaos that reigned over Pegasus after she barely escaped the Scorpion Fleet Shipyards during the Cylon attack. The Pegasus commander Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes) is profiled heavily. In present day, the Pegasus engages on a search and rescue mission which leads to a discovery that leads to an additional mission to destroy a Cylon basestar. Fans of the show are treated to some of the last good writing before the series went on an unrecoverable nosedive. Those not up to speed with the series, though, will find bits and pieces of RAZOR interesting, but most of the details and in-jokes will be completely lost on them.
Special features appear to be identical those included on the previous release of RAZOR which was in the Complete Series boxset. There is a pair of deleted scenes, neither adding anything to the narrative. A short featurette called "My Favorite Episode So Far" is a fluff piece with each of the cast and crew talking about their favorite episode so far. "The Look of 'Battlestar Galactic'" is short yet surprisingly engrossing discussion of how the look of the show was born and how it has evolved. A group of "Minisodes" which expanded on a subplot of RAZOR via the internet prior to the episodes airing is included. The Extended Version of RAZOR (which runs about 11 more minutes) is offered on the disc along with a commentary with Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore and Writer Michael Taylor. Finally, there's a sneak peak of Season 4 by way of a trailer and a short series of clips.
Recommended for anyone who was unable to purchase this as part of the complete series boxset.
Also available on Blu-ray: