Roger Ebert Home

Home Entertainment Guide: December 2021, Special Editions

Note: There were so many interesting releases on Blu-ray this month that we broke out the Home Entertainment Guide into three installments: New Releases, The Criterion Collection, and this version that highlights ten recent special editions of notes. In many ways, this is my favorite of the three because of the variety of product. It's got everything from Martin Scorsese to Wednesday Addams, and a ton of options in between. It may be too late to pick one of these up for Christmas, but I have a feeling that you could find a great way to use a gift card from this final HEG of the year. 

"The Addams Family" (4K)

I'm mostly including this 4K edition of the 1991 Barry Sonnenfeld adaptation of the 1960s TV series to remind people that they don't have to put up with the new animated movies when they want some Addams entertainment (and the sequel, "Addams Family Values," is even better). Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston lead the cast for this version of the Addams, ably supported by Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester and a perfectly cast Christina Ricci as Wednesday. 4K is a good format for a film that's got such a confident, clever visual language.

Buy it here 

Special Features
EXTENDED CUT OF THE FILM with an extended version of the dance number
THEATRICAL VERSION OF THE FILM
NEW Introduction to "More Mamushka!" version by director Barry Sonnenfeld
NEW Filmmaker Focus: Barry Sonnenfeld on The Addams Family
Archival Featurette


"The Folklore Trilogy"

God bless Cartoon Saloon. I'm going to do a longer, more extensive look at this release next week in a standalone piece, but I wanted to note it now while people might still be doing last-minute holiday shopping. It collects three of the best films from the Irish animated studio in "The Secret of Kells," "Song of the Sea," and "Wolfwalkers." Again, more next week, but go get your copy now.

Buy it here 

Special Features
SPECIAL FEATURES:
EXCLUSIVE 40-Page Book With Essay And Concept Artwork
EXCLUSIVE Folded Mini-Poster
EXCLUSIVE Animatics Of Each Film With Filmmaker Commentary
EXCLUSIVE Reading Of Pangur Bán By Mick Lally
EXCLUSIVE Interviews
EXCLUSIVE And More!
THE SECRET OF KELLS
Audio Commentary With Filmmakers
Voices Of Ireland
Director's Presentation
Pencil-To-Picture
Aisling At The Oscars
And More!
SONG OF THE SEA
Audio Commentary With Filmmakers
Behind The Scenes
The Art Of Song Of The Sea
Animation Tests
And More!
WOLFWALKERS
Audio Commentary With Filmmakers
Voice Recording Sessions
"How To Draw" Demonstrations
Music Recording Sessions
Behind "Running With The Wolves"
Trailers
And More!


"Giallo Essentials" (Arrow)

Arrow is the leading Blu-ray house for furthering the international education of the form of Giallo. They've had spectacular special edition releases of masterpieces by Dario Argento and recently released a box set for Sergio Martino. They also dropped two boxes under the banner of "Giallo Essentials." The first includes Jerry Thorpe's "The Possessed" (1977), Luigi Bazzoni's "The Fifth Cord" (1971), and Flavio Mogherini's "The Pyjama Girl Case." All of the films have been restored from original negatives and are accompanied by new special features. I love Criterion, but Arrow really does this kind of specialized release better than anyone. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
Brand new 2K restorations of the film from the original camera negative for The Possessed, The Fifth Cord and The Pyjama Girl Case
Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
Rigid box packaging with newly designed artwork by Adam Rabalais in a windowed Giallo Essentials Collection slipcover
DISC ONE: THE POSSESSED
New audio commentary by writer and critic Tim Lucas
Richard Dyer on The Possessed, a newly filmed video appreciation by the cultural critic and academic
Cat's Eyes, an interview with the film's makeup artist Giannetto De Rossi
Two Days a Week, an interview with the film's award-winning assistant art director Dante Ferretti
The Legacy of the Bazzoni Brothers, an interview with actor/director Francesco Barilli, a close friend of Luigi and Camillo Bazzoni
Original trailers
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
DISC TWO: THE FIFTH CORD
New audio commentary by critic Travis Crawford
Lines and Shadows, a new video essay on the film's use of architecture and space by critic Rachael Nisbet
Whisky Giallore, a new video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie
Black Day for Nero, a new video interview with actor Franco Nero
The Rhythm Section, a new video interview with film editor Eugenio Alabiso
Rare, previously unseen deleted sequence, restored from the original negative
Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
Image gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love
DISC THREE: THE PYJAMA GIRL CASE
New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
New video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie on the internationalism of the giallo
New video interview with actor Howard Ross
New video interview with editor Alberto Tagliavia
Archival interview with composer Riz Ortolani
Image gallery
Italian theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon"


"Hard Target" (4K)

John Woo turned the international success of films like "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled" into a ticket to Hollywood, where he created a Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle like no other. Notoriously mangled by producers, this 4K release from Kino Lorber includes three minutes of footage that had to be trimmed to get the R rating in the United States (although bootleg cuts with even more footage have floated around over the years). The movie has held up VERY well. It was kind of written off as a JCVD blockbuster at the time, but it's so well directed and constructed by Woo, leaning into its star's mysterious persona. Van Damme truly was a perfect fit for a director who revolutionized stylish action. There's still some clunky filmmaking (some of the cuts in the first scene are baffling) but it's a wildly entertaining movie and hard to dislike if you have any fondness for '90s action.

Buy it here 

Special Features
NEW 4K RESTORATION OF THE UNRATED INTERNATIONAL CUT OF THE FILM FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
NEW Interview with Director John Woo
NEW Interview with Actor Lance Henriksen
NEW Interview with Actress Yancy Butler
NEW Interview with Stunt Coordinator Billy Burton
NEW Audio Commentary by Action Film Historians Brandon Bentley and Mike Leeder
NEW Restored Theatrical Trailer


"Neon Genesis Evangelion"

I was relatively familiar with the world of "Ghost in the Shell" and "Cowboy Bebop," but a complete newbie to that of the third part of the holy trinity of '90s Japanese animated television until this week. Shout Factory has released a beautiful collector's edition series that assembles all 26 episodes of this massive hit with art cards, an exclusive book, and more. Now that I've seen "NGE," I get it. It's incredibly sharp in design and writing, taking a classic mythological structure and making it feel futuristically new. It's easy to see its influence on all kinds of entertainment in the last quarter-century. And the transfers look and sound great to this rookie eye who hadn't seen the show before. Shout Factory rules when it comes to satisfying a fan base, and this is just another example of their dedication to their consumers.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Complete TV Series (26 Episodes)
EVANGELION:DEATH (TRUE)2 Feature Film
THE END OF EVANGELION Feature Film
Series & Feature Classic Dub Versions
Exclusive 40-Page Book
Animatics
Art Cards
Music Videos
Textless Opening
Japanese Cast Auditions
Trailers And TV Spots
And More!


"Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge" (Arrow)

If a horror film is out long enough, it will find its audience. Just consider the insane fact that this 1989 critical and commercial failure has one of the most impressive special editions of the season, one that includes multiple cuts of the film, a poster, a new audio commentary, and new featurettes. How much did people hate this riff on "Phantom of the Opera"? Here's one of my favorite quotes from a review in the Los Angeles Times: "There's a perfection of awfulness here that almost commands respect; it can't have been easy to keep going on this picture after a look or two at the rushes." And yet every horror film finds its fan base. I wish I was in this one (I love a good B-movie but it has to be competent), but maybe you are. It's the season of giving, after all. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
Three versions of the feature: Original Theatrical Cut, TV Cut and bonus Integral Fan Cut!
Original uncompressed mono audio on all cuts
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on all cuts
60-page fully-illustrated perfect-bound book featuring new writing by Daniel Budnik and Amanda Reyes
Large fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn
Six postcard-sized lobby card reproductions
Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn
DISC ONE – THE THEATRICAL CUT (BLU-RAY)
Brand new 2K restoration of the Original Theatrical Cut from original film elements (90 mins)
Brand new audio commentary with director Richard Friedman, moderated by filmmaker Michael Felsher
Brand new audio commentary with disc producer Ewan Cant and film historian/author Amanda Reyes
Shop Til' You Drop!: The Making of Phantom of the Mall – brand new making-of documentary featuring interviews with director Richard Friedman, screenwriters Scott Schneid and Tony Michelman, actors Derek Rydall and Gregory Scott Cummins, filmmaker Tony Kayden and special make-up effects creator Matthew Mungle
The Vandals Go to the Mall - an interview with Joe Escalante of The Vandals on the creation of the Phantom of the Mall theme song
Alternate and Deleted Scenes from the TV Cut
Domestic and International Trailers
Image Gallery
Scott J. Schneid and Tony Michelman's original script and associated special effects storyboards by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. [BD-ROM Content]
DISC TWO – THE TV & INTEGRAL FAN CUTS (BLU-RAY)
Brand new 2K restoration of the TV Cut with Standard Definition inserts for the footage unique to this version (89 mins)
Integral Fan Cut combining footage from both the Original Theatrical and TV Cuts for the ultimate Phantom of the Mall experience! (96 mins)


"Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (4K)

Very few films have been released on DVD and Blu-ray more than James Cameron's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," and Best Buy is hoping that fans of the massive hit are willing to open their wallets at least one more time. There are three draws here, including a gorgeous new steelbook package and a new documentary about the making of the film. Most of all, it's the transfer, which has been available before (and it's the same 4K from the last edition) but perhaps you or someone on your list has been waiting to upgrade? Wait no more. Well, at least till the next edition. Trust me, it will be back. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
PREVIOUSLY RESTORED IN 4K UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF JAMES CAMERON
NEW 55 minute T2 documentary featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron, Edward Furlong, and more.
Two Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary
Two Feature Commentaries
"The Making of T2" 30-Minute Featurette
View 3 Different Versions of the Film
Trailers


"Vanilla Sky"

I'll always be fascinated by how much Tom Cruise was willing to explore the privilege of being a man like Tom Cruise for a long section of his career with films like "Jerry Maguire," "Eyes Wide Shut," and this divisive 2001 remake of "Abre los ojos." Reuniting with Cameron Crowe, Cruise made another film about a successful man reduced to nothing, but this surreal thriller confused audiences more than "Show me the money." History has been kind to the movie as its ambition now exceeds its flaws (although it's still a little clunky in places). Paramount has been killing it in 2021 with their catalog releases under the Paramount Presents banner, and this is no exception. The 4K restoration of the film and the audio mix of one of Crowe's best soundtracks are particularly impressive.

Buy it here 

Special Features
BRAND NEW 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM SUPERVISED BY DIRECTOR CROWE
NEW Filmmaker Focus: Cameron Crowe on Vanilla Sky (HD)
Audio Commentary by Cameron Crowe & Nancy Wilson
Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary by Cameron Crowe (HD)
Prelude to a Dream (SD)
Hitting It Hard (SD)
An Interview with Paul McCartney (SD)
Gag Reel (SD)
Music Video "Afrika Shox" by leftfield/afrika bambaataa (SD)
Photo Gallery with Audio Introduction by photographer Neal Preston (HD)
Mask Test with Optional Commentary by Cameron Crowe (HD)
Kurt Russell single take with Optional Commentary by Cameron Crowe (HD)
Trailers (SD)
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Cameron Crowe (HD)
Credits (HD)
Collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film's theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments


"Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (4K)

It's about time! One of the best animated movies of its era finally gets a lavish 4K release, including a commentary with director Bob Zemeckis, the shorts that were produced around its release, a documentary about the making of this breakthrough flick, and more. "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" is still a gem, a movie that weds old-fashioned storytelling to breakthrough technology and anchors both to a stunning performance from Bob Hoskins. I miss him so.

Buy it here 

Special Features
HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
DOLBY ATMOS AUDIO TRACK
Filmmakers' Audio Commentary – View the film with Audio Commentary by filmmakers Bob Zemeckis, Frank Marshall, Steve Starkey, Jeff Price, Peter Seaman and Ken Ralston.
The Roger Rabbit Shorts
Tummy Trouble – The accident-prone Roger Rabbit faces new perils when he is left to baby-sit for the mischievous Baby Herman.
Roller Coaster Rabbit – Mother takes Baby Herman to the State Fair, and leaves him with Roger Rabbit so she can visit the psychic (fortune-teller).
Trail Mix-Up – Roger Rabbit returns in an all-new outdoor adventure that finds the irrepressible Toon star on a hilarious, disaster-filled camping trip.
Deleted Scene
The Pig Head Sequence – Judge Doom and the weasels teach Eddie Valiant a lesson in a way that only Toontown can. With intro by director Robert Zemeckis.
Who Made Roger Rabbit – A behind-the-scenes making of, hosted by Charles Fleischer, the voice of Roger Rabbit.
Before and After – Split screen comparison reveals the unbelievable talent of the live-action actors, animators and the special effects.
Toon Stand-Ins – Watch as the cast rehearse with life size stand-ins for the toons.
Behind the Ears: The True Story of Roger Rabbit – An in-depth, behind-the-scenes documentary.
On Set! Benny the Cab – The making of a scene from the movie.


"The Wolf of Wall Street" (4K)

The near-constant discourse about moral representation on Twitter lately always circles back to Martin Scorsese's film about Jordan Belfort. The rise and fall of one of the bad boys of Wall Street made for one of Scorsese's best films of the last decade, a masterful study of decadence, greed, and downfall. Leonardo DiCaprio gives what could be his best performance here: a fearless character study that's riveting from first scene to last. You don't have to like Jordan. You really shouldn't like Jordan. But you can't turn away. Especially in 4K.

Buy it here 

Special Features
BRAND NEW TRANSFER OF THE FILM SUPERVISED BY DIRECTOR SCORSESE
The Wolf Pack - Featurette
Running Wild - Featurette
The Wolf of Wall Street Round Table - Featurette

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

Latest blog posts

Latest reviews

Blonde
Hostages
The Munsters
Smile
Athena

Comments

comments powered by Disqus