Blu-Ray Round Up: ‘Ghost,’ ‘The Truman Show,’ ‘Event Horizon,’ More

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CHICAGO – The second wave of catalog titles from Paramount Home Video hits this week, just in time for buyers to put their gift cards to use. HollywoodChicago.com covered the first wave, including “Into the Wild” and “Old School,” a few weeks ago.

Check out the details about those releases here. This wave includes “Days of Thunder,” “Ghost,” “Last Holiday,” “Event Horizon,” and “The Truman Show”.

What do these five titles have in common? Nothing but the studio that produced them and the release date that they land on Blu-Ray, December 30th, 2008. Action, romance, comedy, horror/sci-fi, and drama - it’s a variety of genres with at least one of the titles likely to be of interest to someone with a holiday return or an unused gift card. All films are presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen and feature English 5.1 Dolby True HD audio tracks.

“Days of Thunder”

Days of Thunder is available on Blu-Ray from Paramount on December 30, 2008.

It doesn’t seem coincidental that Paramount picked a Tom Cruise vehicle for this wave at the same time that “Valkyrie” landed in theaters. Cruise was making mediocre action movies two decades ago as well. “Days of Thunder” is Tony Scott, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Don Simpson at their most ridiculously over-the-top, treating stock car racing as if it was the most action-driven, life-changing sport in the history of man.

Cruise plays stock car driver Cole Trickle, a variation on the competitive speed demon that made him a star in “Top Gun”. Cole is discovered by businessman Tim Daland (Randy Quaid) and is teamed with the legendary crew chief and car-builder Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) to race for the Winston Cup at the Daytona 500. After a fiery crash, Cole meets the beautiful doctor (Nicole Kidman) who will change his life and give him the courage to race again. Unacceptably, “Days of Thunder” on Blu-Ray includes not ONE special feature. No, the theatrical trailer in HD does not count.

“Event Horizon”

Event Horizon is available on Blu-Ray from Paramount on December 30, 2008.

Once again, like “Days of Thunder” with “Valkyrie,” it’s probably not coincidental that Anderson’s “Death Race” hit Blu-Ray the same week as the far superior “Event Horizon” from the same director. “Horizon” has its problems but it’s an ambitious film that has grown a sizable cult following in the eleven years since it came out in theaters and was widely considered a bomb. There are many sci-fi fans who ADORE “Event Horizon” and they will be satisfied with a Blu-Ray release that may not pull out all the stops but also doesn’t really disappoint. First off, “Event Horizon” is an audio experience designed for the Dolby True HD audio that Blu-Ray can provide.

It looks like the harder version of “Event Horizon” - the film reportedly ran 130 minutes in its first version - will never be seen, as a lot of that footage has been lost, but some of it remains in a few fascinating deleted scenes and conceptual art included on this release. Bonus features also include a commentary with Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt, 5 documentaries under the banner of “The Making of Event Horizon,” “The Point of No Return: The Filming of Event Horizon,” “Secrets,” and “The Unseen Event Horizon”.

“Ghost”

Ghost is available on Blu-Ray from Paramount on December 30, 2008.

What’s the tie-in here? Maybe they’re trying to play to fans all pumped up after seeing “Ghost Town”? Or the January 15th premiere of Patrick Swayze’s “The Beast”? Perhaps. No matter what the obvious tie-in or lack thereof, fans of the 1990 romantic drama that became such a phenomenon that it won two Oscars (Best Supporting Actress for “Ghost” and Best Original Screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin) and was even nominated for Best Picture, will delight in owning it on Blu-Ray.

If you’re of the generation who only knows “Ghost” from the numerous shows and movies that have referenced it in the last two decades, “Ghost” is neither as bad as its reputation as an overdone weeper might have you believe nor as good as most films to get five Oscar nominations (1990 was a weak year). Check it out to see what you’re missing or what you may have forgotten in the many years since “Ghost” took the movie world by storm. You’ll also find a commentary by director Jerry Zucker and writer Rubin, “Ghost Stories: The Making of a Classic,” “Inside the Paranormal,” “Alchemy of a Love Scene,” “Cinema’s Great Romances,” a photo gallery and the theatrical trailer in HD.

“Last Holiday”

Last Holiday is available on Blu-Ray from Paramount on December 30, 2008.

Wayne Wang’s “Last Holiday” is a more interesting movie than the horrendous previews and commercials made audiences believe. Wang (who also made the excellent “Smoke”) injects the story of a woman who believes she has less than a month to live with a more believable emotional undercurrent than most Queen Latifah vehicles of the last few years. And Latifah herself is certainly not bad. If only the screenplay by Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman didn’t devolve into silly physical comedy in the final act.

Special features included on the “Last Holiday” Blu-Ray are pretty lackluster with just a few featurettes - “Last Holiday: Packing Light,” “Last Holiday: Last Look,” and “Last Holiday: 23 Years in the Making” - two deleted scenes, and the theatrical trailer in HD. “Last Holiday” is one of those drama-comedies that certainly could have been a lot better but it is also probably not nearly as bad as it could have been - when it played in theaters and now on Blu-Ray.

“The Truman Show”

The Truman Show is available on Blu-Ray from Paramount on December 30, 2008.

“The Truman Show” is still Jim Carrey’s best performance and one that should have earned him an Oscar nomination. Think about it. If he had landed the nod that he should have received for this excellent film and then received the deserved-but-missed one for “Man on the Moon,” then perhaps we wouldn’t be subjected to lackluster films like “Yes Man” in 2008. Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a man born into a world created solely for reality television. Peter Weir’s amazing film was not only ahead of its time in predicting the onslaught of reality programming that would dominate television airwaves but it has held up amazing well as pure entertainment.

Carrey, Laura Linney and Ed Harris do some of their best work in one of the better films of the late ’90s and a great addition to any Blu-Ray collection. “The Truman Show” includes a two-part making-of documentary called “How’s It Going to End?, “Faux Finishing, The Visual Effects of The Truman Show,” 4 deleted scenes, a photo gallery, 2 TV spots, and 2 trailers, both in HD.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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