Media | DVD Releases | January 8, 2008: Welcome to this week's home video releases, fresh back from a refreshing holiday break, focused entirely on the American market. Sorry, rest of the world.

Roundup by VsRobot | Anime by Mightyblue | Posted January 7, 2008

Pick of the week

3:10 to Yuma
I grew up watching all the classic westerns. Shane, Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and every movie with John Wayne in a cowboy hat were integral parts of my formative years. I have a big appreciation for westerns, and I'm always happy to see a great one. 3:10 to Yuma fits that bill perfectly: it's a fantastic modern western. It's a very simple tale at its heart: a rancher (Bale) must escort an outlaw (Crowe) to a train car that will take him to Yuma, and presumably a hangman's noose. But from this core premise, 3:10 offers a superb story with great acting and is a must-see film for anyone contemplating their "best of the year" movie lists.

Also out this week

Director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland, the team responsible for 28 Days Later and The Beach, tackle an ambitious story solidly grounded in high-concept sci-fi but which meanders over into action, horror, and philosophy in the course of its running time. The film is concerned with a space-ship's crew sent on a mission to "reignite" the Earth's sun, as it's no longer putting out enough light to sustain mankind, but things take a turn for the worse when they encounter a derelict ship which had been sent on the same mission seven years earlier.

An unfathomably stupid movie with fun special effects. Sound familiar? Should be a hit with all the Transformers fans out there who laughed when a robot peed on a guy and cheered when a robot smashed some stuff up. Replace robots with dragons, imagine a script with even worse dialogue, and you've got your D-War. That's Hollywood: always aiming for the highbrow.

Eagle vs Shark
It has the guy from Flight of the Conchords, but it looks like another film in the Napoleon Dynamite mold. I'm curious about it -- especially because I have to endorse the title of the film -- but not enough so far to have taken the time to actually watch it.

Pain Doesn't Lie: Horror on DVD

...And the week's Bad Timing Award goes to Maneater. A horror movie about a killer tiger released in the wake of real-world headlines about some drunken idiots taunting a real-life tiger into attacking? For me the horror pick this week has to be White Noise 2 -- not because I like the first film (I never saw it), but because it stars Nathan Fillion.

High-Def Alert: The World of Blu-Ray and HD DVD

The painful, protracted next-gen format war looks to be essentially over. Warner Home Video (and its partner New Line) has announced that they'll be releasing high-definition Blu-ray exclusive from now on. This means that the studio split between the two formats is effectively 70/30, giving Blu-ray a huge advantage in the marketplace. More exclusive titles will lead to more Blu-ray player sales -- which were already higher than HD players this holiday season, even with the deep discounts on HD-DVD players -- which in turn will force the remaining hold-outs to start releasing their movies on Blu-ray. And shareholders won't be too happy if Toshiba and Paramount continue to refuse to release films on the clear market leader in the high-def market.

While this may be bad news for HD-DVD early adopters, it's fantastic news for undecided consumers, and for the packaged media industry as a whole. Many people have stopped buying DVDs in anticipation of switching to high-def, but haven't yet switched because of the confusion over the format war. With a Blu-ray win all but inevitable, those consumers can buy into Blu-ray with confidence.

Anyway, there are a lot of high-def movies out this week. So many that I couldn't include them all in the picture round-up. I left off the HD-DVD releases of White Noise and White Noise 2, as the cover art to both are pretty uninteresting.

Cover art courtesy of Amazon, where you can purchase any of these titles. Rent all of the movies covered in the column online at Netflix. The author of this column has no reservations with recommending Blu-ray to anyone interested in upgrading their home theater. Come a day there won't be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all. This job goes south, there well may not be another. So here is us, on the raggedy edge. Don't push me, and I won't push you. Dong-luh mah? Visit the Talking Time Forum to discuss video games, movies, books, and more. Thanks for reading!