Dec 14, 2010

New Spy DVDs Out This Week

Wow!  On the second-to-last Tuesday before Christmas, it's a huge day for spy releases.  Let's get right into it.

I found 24: Season 8 to be a real return to form for the gritty real-time spy series–and a fitting swan song.  Today, Fox releases the complete final season on DVD and Blu-ray.  Extras include the show's usual assortment of deleted scenes and featurettes.  Retail is $59.98 for the 6-disc DVD set and $69.99 for the 4-disc Blu-ray set, though of course both are available for much less at various online retailers.   

Also out from Fox today is 24: The Complete Series.  This mammoth 56-disc set (eight days' worth of real-time watching!) includes every episode from all eight seasons, plus the feature-length TV movie 24: Redemption (review here) that bridged the lengthy gap between the show's sixth and seventh seasons.  On top of including all the copious extras that were originally released with each season (commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes and more), 24: The Complete Series will also boast an exclusive bonus disc with all new extras.  According to TVShowsOnDVD, that disc includes the featurettes "Chloe's Arrest" and "Comic-Con 2009 Panel," a "Season 8 Wrap Party Reel," and a 4-segment doumentary called "Eight Days.". (The segments are called "Jack Bauer: Evolution of a Hero," "Presidents Friends and Villains," "Memories and Moments" and "Goodbye.") 24: The Complete Series retails for $349.98, but right now Amazon's got it for way less than half that: just $139.99!  If you're determined to have this set, I'd jump on that deal quickly, because it might even just be for the day.

Ever wonder what a Jean-Pierre Jeunet-directed Mission: Impossible would be like?  Wonder no more.  The amazing French director answers that question in his newest movie, known here in America simply as Micmacs and available today from Sony Classics on both DVD and Blu-ray. Micmacs is not a spy movie, but it really is a very whimsical episode of Mission: Impossible, about a strange team of "specialists" (a contortionist, a human cannonball, an inventor, etcetera–all people Jim Phelps might very well have pulled out of his folder in the early days of Mission!) who pull a series of intricate, Rube Goldberg-inspired heists and cons on two rival arms dealers.  It's all very much in Jeunet's trademark style, and while it's not on the level of Delicatessen or A Very Long Engagement (one of my very favorite movies of all time), it is a whole lot of fun and likely to entertain fans of the Mission: Impossible TV show. Extras include a commentary by Jeunet, a conversation with the director and actress Julie Ferrier, a Making-Of featurette and more. Retail is $38.96 (how do they pick these numbers?) for the Blu-ray and $28.95 for the DVD, but obviously you can find it cheaper.

Yes, Joe Carnahan's feature version of the Eighties action staple The A-Team is a spy movie, with Watchmen's Patrick Wilson and an un-billed Jon Hamm as CIA agents–and it, too, is available today from Fox on DVD and Blu-ray. Liam Neeson steps into George Peppard's shoes as the leader of an elite special forces squad who gets set up by Blackwater-like mercenaries and goes rogue to prove their innocence.  This movie has loads of problems (like two long beginnings–one utterly superfluous–before it really starts up), but it's also pretty fun.  I particularly liked Jessica Biel in it, and she's never really impressed me before. But there's a scene midway through where our guys are plunging out of the sky in a tank with a parachute, and start shooting at the ground to direct their trajectory.  Someone on Biel's military detail asks if they're trying to hit anything, and Biel, as the only female in the movie with a substantial part, rolls her eyes with her best "stupid boys!" look and says, "No, they're trying to fly the tank."  She's not surprised, and she delivers the line as the sole voice of reason in the film.  I really loved the tone that scene set.  Both the DVD and Blu-ray feature two versions of the film (theatrical and extended) and a director commentary, but most of the extras seem to be BD exclusives, including deleted scenes, a gag reel, a documentary called "The Devil's in the Details: Inside the Action with Joe Carnahan" and the featurettes "Plan of Attack," "Character Chronicles" and "Visual Effects Before and After."  Retail is $29.98 for the DVD and $39.99 for the Blu-ray; you know the drill.

Finally, we have Hawaii Five-O: The 10th Season from CBS/Paramount, which features two Bond Girls among its guest star line-up–Maud Adams and Luciana Paluzzi–and a return to espionage and international terrorism-themed plots.  McGarrett's nemesis, Chinese master spy Wo Fat (Khigh Deigh), sits this season out... but wasn't it cool to see him turn up (in the person of Mark Dascascos) on last night's episode of the new Hawaii Five-O?  Blasts from the past aside, the original series is way better than the current incarnation, so check it out if you only know the new hit.  Jack Lord, the first Felix Leiter, is and always will be the real Steve McGarrett.

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