Blu-Ray Round Up, Feb. 10, 2009: ‘Pretty Woman,’ ‘Street Fighter,’ ‘Tales From the Darkside’

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CHICAGO – The Round-Up is in flashback mode this week. Enter our time machine and travel back to an era when an anthology series created by the legendary George A. Romero could actually get a network time slot, Jean-Claude Van Damme was still a star, and Julia Roberts wasn’t quite one yet.

With two catalog titles with nearly nothing in common - “Street Fighter” and “Pretty Woman” - and a beloved TV series finally making its debut - “Tales From the Darkside” - this could be the most unusual, nostalgic, and straight-up weird edition of the Round-Up to date. And that’s saying something.

All three of these titles were released on February 10th, 2009.

“Pretty Woman” (Blu-Ray)

Pretty Woman Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Buena Vista Home Video

What more is there to say about “Pretty Woman” that hasn’t been said? It’s one of those films that’s probably playing somewhere in the world at any given moment on some cable or network station. The movie that gave Richard Gere a comeback and turned Julia Roberts into a household name is both unavoidable and absolutely beloved. There are legions of people, most in their early to mid-30s, most of them woman, who would take “Pretty Woman” as their desert-island movie. Now they can take it in High-Def.

Julia Roberts stars as Vivian, a spirited, streetwise diamond in the rough who meets a shrewd, no-nonsense billionaire named Edward Lewis (Gere). The two start a “business relationship” where Vivian joins Edward as a companion for a week but, of course, this Cinderella falls for her Prince Charming. Directed by Garry Marshall, “Pretty Woman” was one of the biggest movies of 1990, making almost half a billion dollars worldwide and has played on a loop on cable television ever since.

“Pretty Woman” is presented in 1080P High Definition/1.85:1 with an English 5.1 Uncompressed track and French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks. Special features include a blooper reel, “Live From the Wrap Party,” “LA: The Pretty Woman Tour,” “1990 Production Featurette, “Wild Women Do” by Natalie Cole, the theatrical trailer, and a commentary by Marshall.

“Street Fighter - Extreme Edition” (Blu-Ray)

Street Fighter Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Universal Home Video

Clearly timed to release with the highly anticipated Capcom video game next week, “Street Fighter IV,” Universal has given one of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s last stateside theatrical releases the high-def treatment. Decide for yourself if that’s a good thing. We’re not here to judge in the Round-Up, merely to inform.

Based on one of the most popular video game franchises of all-time, this martial arts adventure stars international superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme as a commando who leads an elite team of street fighters against an evil general (played by Raul Julia, in one of his last roles). “Street Fighter” co-stars Ming-Na Wen, Damian Chapa, Kylie Minogue, and Wes Studi. Kind of loathed by audiences (a 3.2 rating on IMDB is pretty awful), “Street Fighter” is for hardcore video game, martial arts, or JCVD fans only.

“Street Fighter” is presented in 1080P High Definition/2.35:1 with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and French and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks. Special features include three HD features about the upcoming Capcom game - the game’s trailer, teaser trailer, and anime trailer - and a series of standard definition features including “The Making of Street Fighter,” outtakes, deleted scenes, storyboard sequences, video game sequences, “Cyberwalk,” archives, and a feature commentary by director Steven de Souza

“Tales From the Darkside: The First Season”

Tales From the Darkside
Photo credit: Paramount Home Video

We know what you’re saying - “It’s about damn time.” One of the most-requested TV titles not on DVD finally makes its debut this week with the 3-disc set for the ’80s cult classic “Tales From the Darkside,” created by George A. Romero. Inspired by “The Twilight Zone,” Romero and his writers and directors (including Bob Balaban and Tom Savini in season one) set out to tell a spooky story with every installment. It’s a wildly hit-and-miss show, like most anthology series, but ’80s horror fans have been clamoring to have this title on their shelf for years and now that day has finally come. Cancel your Valentine’s Day plans.

“Tales From the Darkside” is presented in standard full-screen with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and a mono track. Honestly, and I usually don’t do this in the round-up because it’s more about information than criticism, the technical presentation is pretty awful. I know there’s not a lot that can be done with ’80s TV shows, but does it have to look like I’m watching them through rabbit ears in 1983?

The only special feature included is a commentary by Executive Producer George A. Romero on the first episode, “Trick or Treat,” which he also wrote. Romero fans will love it. Everyone else will probably never pick up “Tales From the Darkside: The First Season” in the first place. Let’s hope they find more than one person interested in doing a commentary for season two and that it doesn’t take another 26 years for that to hit the home market. content director Brian Tallerico

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