DVD, Blu-Ray Round Up, Jan. 20, 2009: ‘Henry Poole is Here,’ ‘The Pink Panther,’ ‘King Kong’

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CHICAGO – This week’s edition of the Round-Up - HollywoodChicago’s recurring feature of titles that might fall through the cracks if we don’t shine a spotlight on them, however briefly - includes proof that while not all remakes fail some certainly do, Chris Rock is still the most talented stand-up comedian alive, and the Brits usually do TV better than Americans.

Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger,” “Henry Poole is Here,” “King Kong,” “The Pink Panther,” and “Skins”. Some you probably know well, others you may be reading about for the first time here. Take notes.

(Check out the first edition of the round-up, the second edition, number three and a few Blu-Ray Round-Ups here and here.)

All of these titles were released on January 20th, 2009, unless otherwise noted.

Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger was released by HBO Home Video on January 20th, 2009.
Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger was released by HBO Home Video on January 20th, 2009.
Photo credit: HBO

“Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger - 3-Disc Collector’s Edition”

It may not be as brilliant as “Bring the Pain,” “Never Scared,” or the amazing “Bigger & Blacker,” Chris Rock’s “Kill the Messenger” is still an amazing example of a stand-up master doing what he does best and arguably better than anyone working today. Who else can command not just one audience but do mostly the same searing routine to audiences around the world and produce laughs every single time? For “Kill the Messenger,” Rock did essentially the same show at South Africa’s Carnival City Casino, The Carling Apollo Hammersmith in London, and Harlem’s world famous Apollo Theater in New York. Director Marty Callner and his team then cut together the three shows into one rapid-fire special. The gimmick shows off Rock’s ability to entertain worldwide but it’s actually a little distracting.

The way to watch “Kill the Messenger” is on the 3-disc collector’s edition where you can cut out the multi-location trick and watch one complete set at a time. It features the original special and all three of the full-length performances. Pick your favorite. This excellent release also features a behind-the-scenes look at how a show like this gets put together called “Conversations with Chris Rock” and a digital copy of the original HBO special.

Henry Poole is Here was released by Anchor Bay Home Video on January 20th, 2009.
Henry Poole is Here was released by Anchor Bay Home Video on January 20th, 2009.
Photo credit: Anchor Bay

“Henry Poole is Here”

Luke Wilson plays the title character in Mark Pellington’s overdone and misguided “Henry Poole is Here,” a manipulative drama that might be worth a rental for serious fans of Owen Wilson’s brother, but everyone else should move on to something with an ounce of subtlety. Henry is a disillusioned man who attempts to disappear into suburban isolation but gets dragged out of it by what could be a miracle. His well-meaning and very faithful neighbor (Adriana Barraza) discovers a mysterious stain on Henry’s stucco wall and thinks that it may have miraculous powers. Meanwhile, Henry starts to fall for the charms of the beautiful divorcee (Radha Mitchell) next door and her daughter Millie (Morgan Lily). Cheryl Hines and George Lopez co-star in a well-meaning but too on-the-nose film. Even the character names - Esperanza means hope in Spanish, there’s a secondary character named Patience - are too obvious.

“Henry Poole is Here” is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1 and Full-Frame Presentation in one package and with a Dolby Surround 5.1 audio track. Special features include a commentary by Pellington and writer Albert Torres, “The Making of Henry Poole is Here,” “All Roads Lead Home” music video, “Henry Poole is Here” music video directed by Pellington and performed by MySpace.com theme song contest winner Ron Irizarry, and the theatrical trailer.

King Kong was released by Universal Home Video on January 20th, 2009.
King Kong was released by Universal Home Video on January 20th, 2009.
Photo credit: Universal

“King Kong” (Blu-Ray)

“King Kong” is the kind of movie made for Blu-Ray. The classic movie lover in me wishes that the original version was also available on the format but Peter Jackson’s very impressive update will do for now. “King Kong” looks and sounds stunning on Blu-Ray with a gorgeous 1080P High-Definition Widescreen presentation with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and a booming English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that will wake the neighbors. If you missed it, Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” stars Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, and Jack Black in a modern homage to one of the films that inspired the man behind “Lord of the Rings” to become a filmmaker himself. The movie seems to have lost some luster in just the few years since it was released, but it’s still a blast and would be a great addition to any Blu-Ray library.

The Blu-Ray version of “King Kong” makes masterful use of Universal’s U-Control feature, one of my favorite of the next-gen format. Universal understands something about the interactivity potential of Blu-Ray that other studios haven’t grasped yet. For this release, the interactivity extends to optional picture-in-picture, scene-specific featurettes, art galleries that will also display p-i-p, and BD-Live functionality that allows fans to collect clips with My Scenes and send them to friends worldwide. The film also includes an extended feature commentary with director/co-writer Peter Jackson and co-writer/co-producer Philippa Boyens.

Pink Panther was released by Sony Pictures Home Video on January 20th, 2009.
Pink Panther was released by Sony Pictures Home Video on January 20th, 2009.
Photo credit: Sony

“The Pink Panther” (Blu-Ray)

With the upcoming release of “Pink Panther 2” about to hit theaters on February 6th, Sony has taken advantage of the timing and released the Steve Martin original on Blu-Ray. Now you can revisit the surprise comedy hit of 2006 yourself, if you dare. Personally, I’m a much bigger fan of Steve Martin’s more intellectual and less slapstick material like “L.A. Story,” “Roxanne,” his theatrical work, and even his fiction. Of course, like everyone, I love “The Jerk,” but I can’t stand Martin’s goofy character from his “Cheaper by the Dozen” movies or this messy comedy. It has legions of fans though, enough to warrant a sequel, and they should be very satisfied with an impressive release of their beloved comedy.

“The Pink Panther” is presented with full HD 1080P with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and English, French, and Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks. Spanish and Thai 5.1 (not TrueHD) tracks are also included. The special features for “Pink Panther” are overwhelming, including 11 deleted and extended scenes with optional director’s commentary, the Beyonce music video “Check On It,” “Cracking the Case” documentary, “Animated Trip,” “Deconstructing the Panther,” Sleuth Cams On-Set, Commentary with Director Shawn Levy, and an extended Beyonce performance of “A Woman Like Me”. You can spend a day with this amount of material. Good luck with that.

Skins: Volume One was released by BBC America/WB on January 13th, 2009.
Skins: Volume One was released by BBC America/WB on January 13th, 2009.
Photo credit: BBC America

“Skins: Volume One”

The BBC’s “Skins” has been building buzz and steam across the pond since it first debuted in the UK. The San Francisco Chronicle quote on the front of the DVD, just over the making out teenagers, says it all, “…Skins goes where Gossip Girl and other teen dramas from these shores wouldn’t dare.” Who doesn’t want to see that? “Skins” is an edgy Brit-teen drama that honestly exposes kids getting drunk, high, and laid while they deceive their parents the whole time. Nicholas Hoult has gone from that cute kid in “About a Boy” to the controversial star of “Skins” as Tony, the best-looking boy in town. One of his co-stars in “Skins” includes “Slumdog Millionaire“‘s Dev Patel. In fact, his work here got him the role in “Slumdog” that could earn him an Oscar nod later this week. Check it out and see where it all began. Mike Bailey, Hannah Murray, and April Pearson co-star in the nine episodes collected for “Volume One”.

The episodes of “Skins” are presented in widescreen with an appropriate Dolby stereo track. The special features are a bit underwhelming with no commentaries or deleted scenes to be found but most American viewers are probably unfamiliar with the show, so just seeing “Skins” will be special enough. The scant special features include “Video diaries” and “Ancillary storylines”.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Anonymous's picture

Henry Poole Is Here- Now DVD & Blu-Ray

Look forward to checking out Henry Poole Is Here starring Luke Wilson now that it’s out on Blu-Ray. It’s about a guy who abandons his fiancée and family business to spend what he believes are his remaining days alone. The discovery of a “miracle” by a nosy neighbor ruptures his solitude and restores his faith in life. Should be a pretty interesting dramedy! myspace.com/henrypooleishere

Michele77's picture


If you missed this film the first time around, I strongly encourage you to check out the newly released family version. I absolutely loved this movie! It was such a great story about a real life guy who was struggling with his faith and accepting it. This is something that I’ve been struggling with myself for the past couple of years. It was such an encouragement to see this played out. And it’s really cool that I’ve found a site, www.henrypoolebelieves.com. Right now it looks like they are giving away 10 copies of the movie for free. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, or even if you have, you could always give it to a friend, but it’s definitely worth checking out! PERFECT film for a FAMILY movie night!

David Mills - Men's Jewelry's picture

“Skins” sounds

Skins” sounds interesting. Or maybe the Brit liberality just got me, but hell who cares? I’m going to get it. And the other three films? Ho hum…

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