DVD, Blu-Ray Round Up, Mar. 10, 2009: ‘Scarlett Johansson Collection,’ ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ ‘Witch Mountain’

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CHICAGO – The Round-Up, HollywoodChicago.com’s famous recurring column about lesser Blu-Ray and DVD titles that may have slipped through your fingers at the store recently, is in clean-up mode this week. With a DVD collection for a famous young actress, an old cartoon, a straight-to-video horror movie, and three movies with the word “Mountain” in the title, the only word that comes to mind to tie these titles together is “random”.

You know those bins of “impulse buy” items you’ll see in stores near the cash register? Stuff that you may not have put on your shopping list and that you may not even know you want until you see them? That’s what this week’s Round-Up column is like. Peek in the bin and take a look at “Jonny Quest,” “The Scarlett Johansson Collection,” “Dead in 3 Days,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Escape to Witch Mountain,” and “Return to Witch Mountain”.

“Jonny Quest - The Real Adventures: Season One, Volume One” was released on February 17th, 2009.

“The Scarlett Johansson Collection” was released on February 24th, 2009.

“Dead in 3 Days” was released on March 3rd, 2009.

“Brokeback Mountain,” “Escape to Witch Mountain,” and “Race to Witch Mountain” were released on March 10th, 2009.

“Brokeback Mountain” (Blu-Ray)

Brokeback Mountain
Photo credit: Universal

The film that should have beaten “Crash” for Best Picture, “Brokeback Mountain,” is finally out on Blu-Ray, probably timed to coincide with the release of Focus Features’ “Milk” this week, another film that arguably should have won Best Picture from the same DVD company. It’s also possibly a tie-in with “Race to Witch Mountain,” opening in theaters this Friday, but really the Ang Lee film shares nothing but a word in the title with the Rock movie. Whatever the reason, “Brokeback Mountain” is an amazing film, a movie that should have won Heath Ledger his first Oscar and will truly stand the test of time.

“Brokeback Mountain” stars Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, and Kate Mara. It is written by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana and directed by Ang Lee and is rated R.

“Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain is a sweeping epic that explores the lives of two young men, a ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy, who meet in the summer of 1963 and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection. The complications, joys and heartbreak they experience provide a testament to the endurance and power of love. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal deliver emotionally charged, remarkably moving performances in “a movie that is destined to become one of the great classics of our time” (Clay Smith, The Insider).”

“Brokeback Mountain” is presented in 1080P High-Definition Widescreen with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and Spanish and French DTS 5.1 tracks. Special features include “A Groundbreaking Success,” “Music From the Mountain,” “Impressions From the Film,” “On Being a Cowboy,” “Directing from the Heart: Ang Lee,” “From Script to Screen: Interviews with Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana,” and “Sharing the Story: The Making of Brokeback Mountain”.

“Dead in 3 Days”

Dead in 3 Days
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

Another week, another straight-to-video horror movie. This week’s entry comes from “Dimension Extreme,” the studio that has produced “Feast III: The Happy Finish,” “Eden Lake,” and “Zombie Diaries” in the last few months. If you have seen any of those movies, this title may be of interest to you. If not, there’s probably something else out there for ya.

“Dead in 3 Days” stars Sabrina Reiter, Julia Rosa Stockl, Laurence Rupp, Nadja Vogel, and Michael Steinocher. It is written by Thomas Baum & Andreas Prochaska and directed by Prochaska and is rated R.

“A peaceful mountain lake community is terrorized when a close-knit group of friends becomes the target of a mysterious deranged killer. Triggers by an ominous test message sent to each of their cell phones, one-by-one the friends are killed by their stalker. As the clueless police scramble to find a suspect, the vicious murders continue — until the last survivors come fact-to-face with their relentless stalker. Tense, suspenseful and frightening, Dead in 3 Days is a “slick, well-shot and engaging slasher” (bloody-disgusting.com).”

“Dead in 3 Days” is presented in a matted widescreen format and with an English and German Dolby 5.1 track. Special features include, well, nothing. Maybe the movie is special enough.

“Escape to Witch Mountain”

Escape to Witch Mountain
Photo credit: Walt Disney Home Video

With the Dwayne Johnson remake hitting theaters this weekend, Walt Disney Studios have reached into the vault and pulled out the two films that inspired “Race to Witch Mountain” - 1975’s “Escape to Witch Mountain” and 1978’s “Return From Witch Mountain”. Each film has been given the “Walt Disney Family Classics” label and accompanied by a new trivia track. Before you see the new version of “Witch Mountain,” catch up with where it all began.

“A vehicle floats in midair…a coat rack comes to life and attacks a sheriff…and wild animals are putty in the hands of Tony and Tia Malone in Disney’s thrilling fantasy adventure about the psychic powers of two young orphans. Their clairvoyance prompts evil millionaire Aristotle Bolt (Ray Milland) to lure them to his mansion to exploit their powers. While escaping, they meet a friendly camper (Eddie Albert) and begin to unravel the mystery of their origin. Soon, all three are fleeing townspeople who have branded the children witches. But then IT happens! Someone with even greater powers takes over and leads the children - and the audience - into a dazzling and unexpected experience…one that is truly out of this world!”

“Escape to Witch Mountain” stars Eddie Albert, Ray Milland, Donald Pleasence, Kim Richards, and Ike Eisenmann. It was written by Robert Malcolm Young and directed by John Hough. It is rated G.

“Escape to Witch Mountain” is presented in 1.75:1 widescreen enhanced for 16x9 televisions and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track. Special features include a new pop-up fun facts track, “Making the Escape,” “Conversation with John Hough,” “Disney Sci-Fi,” “Pluto’s Dream House,” “Disney Effects - Something Special,” “1975 Disney Studio Album,” and an audio commentary.

“Return From Witch Mountain”

Escape to Witch Mountain
Photo credit: Walt Disney Home Video

“In this thrilling sequel to Disney’s Escape to Witch Mountain, automobiles mysteriously fly and humans float in thin air as sinister masterminds Christopher Lee and Bette Davis unleash a diabolical plan. The entire city of Los Angeles teeters on the brink of nuclear disaster when the greedy criminals manipulate a young boy’s supernatural powers for their own devious gain. But the youth’s sister and a streetwise band of truants join forces in a desperate attempt to save the city from destruction.”

“Return From Witch Mountain” stars Bette Davis, Christopher Lee, Kim Richards, and Ike Eisenmann. It is written by Malcolm Marmorstein and directed by John Hough. It is rated G.

“Return From Witch Mountain” is presented in 1.75:1 widescreen enhanced for 16x9 televisions and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track. Special features include a new pop-up fun facts track, “Making the Return Trip,” “The Gang’s Back in Town,” “Disney Kids with Powers,” “The Eyes Have It,” “Lost Treasure: Christopher Lee, The Lost Interview,” “1978 Disney Studio Album,” and an audio commentary.

“Jonny Quest - The Real Adventures: Season One, Volume One”

Jonny Quest
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

I’m a huge fan of old cartoons, but I can’t look at “Jonny Quest” the same way since becoming a “Venture Bros.” nut. “Venture” so perfectly satirizes old-fashioned action cartoons like “Quest” that it’s hard to look at them the same way. Still, it’s cool for animation collectors to be able to include thirteen episodes of “The Real Adventures” in their collection. This version of “Quest” aired from 1996 to 1997. Consider it a cult item.

“In this thrilling reinvention of the classic animated series, adventurous teen Jonny teams with his scientist father Benton Quest, bodyguard Race Bannon, Dr. quest’s paranormally powered assistant Hadji - and a new character, Race’s smart and intrepid daughter Jessie. Circling the globe in a cool armada of air, land and sea vehicles to unravel mysteries, uncover strange phenomena and face danger head-on, the Quest crew always goes where the action is. That can be our real world - or the dazzling virtual reality domain called Questworld, rendered via groundbreaking-in-its-time computer animation. The fantastic 2-disc collection of the series’ first 13 episodes places you right beside them. Buckle up for real excitement!”

“Jonny Quest - The Real Adventures: Season One, Volume One” is presented in standard, full-frame format with an English language 2.0 track. The only special feature is a featurette called “Jonny Quest Returns: Modernizing a Classic for a New Generation of Fans”.

“The Scarlett Johansson Collection”

The Scarlett Johansson Collection
Photo credit: Lionsgate

A collection for Scarlett Johansson? Is she really old enough for a collection? Don’t ask Lionsgate. If they get the rights to three movies they can link together with a director or actor, they will. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. These low-priced collections are great “sampler packs” for fans of a certain director or star. But Scarlett Johansson? And these three films? One is certainly among her most highly acclaimed roles. Consider the other two just long special features.

“Girl With a Pearl Earring”: “Seventeen-year-old Griet becomes a maid in the house of Johannes Vermeer, where she gradually attracts the master painter’s attention. The result will be one of the greatest paintings ever created.” The film co-stars Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, and Cillian Murphy. It was written by Olivia Hetreed and directed by Peter Webber. It is rated PG-13.

“A Good Woman”: “Newlywed Meg Windermere enjoys the season in Italy until notorious seductress Mrs. Erlynne descends - and sets her sights on Mr. Windermere! The gossips eat it up, but Meg is determined to serve a steamy dish of revenge. Based on a play by Oscar Wilde.” The film co-stars Helen Hunt and Tom Wilkinson. It was written by Howard Himelstein and directed by Mike Barker. It is rated PG.

“An American Rhapsody”: “Persecuted by an oppressive Communist government, a Hungarian couple makes a daring flight for freedom. Their escape comes at an unthinkable price - their daughter Suzanne is left behind. An American Rhapsody is based on the true story of a young girl’s unforgettable journey of self-discovery.” The film co-stars Nastassja Kinski, Tony Goldwyn, Mae Whitman, and Emmy Rossum. It was written and directed by Eva Gardos.

All three films are presented in widescreen with an English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Audio track. All of them come with trailers. “Girl With a Pearl Earring” includes “Anatomy of a Scene”. “A Good Woman” includes director and producer commentary. “An American Rhapsody” includes a commentary by writer/director Ava Gardos and producer Colleen Camp.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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