We're playing a bit of catch-up when it comes to our DVD collection after having several conventions get in the way. We had a number of new DVDs hit our doorstep in the month of August, and in case you haven't purchased any of these and are still sitting on the fence about them, here's a quick look at the special features and whether or not they're worth your money.
The film that turned James Gunn into a household name after people only knew him from his films at Tromadance, Slither is one of the better gore-filled alien horror films of the '00s. Shout! Factory's horror section Scream Factors have put together a collector's edition of the film, which includes Gunn and cast members doing brand new audio commentaries that are insightful and hilarious, but the originals from the first DVD release are here, too. You get deleted and extended scenes, some of which weren't in the original release, along with a cool but short gag reel. There's a new interview with Gunn and Gregg Henry, but it's okay at best. There are stills and featurettes like watching Nathan Fillion take you on a tour of the set, giving you some great behind-the-scenes insight. Overall, it's worth a purchase, even if you own it already.
The Hunter's Prayer
Sam Worthington stars in this action flick as an assassin trying to kill a young woman, when suddenly he has a change of heart and tries to protect her from those who wish her harm. This particular film is pretty good, but the features are terrible. All the film includes is three featurettes, focused on the making of the film, the world they live in, and the "driving force" behind it all. You might dig the film digitally, but the features just aren't worth the physical copy.
The Wall (not from Pink Floyd) is a film about sharpshooters in the military, with John Cena playing a supporting role, when he clearly should have been the lead. The features on here are pretty middle-of-the-road, as you get an audio commentary with director Doug Liman and lead Aaron Taylor-Johnson, along with some behind-the-scenes videos and a "visual journey" feature. These features are okay, but to be fair, it's just an okay film. If you want it, you'll buy it; but most people will probably pass on it and watch it digitally.
Once Upon A Time: Season 6
An interesting take on fairy tale characters in the modern world (although I prefer Fables myself), the series is headed into its seventh season this fall. Before it kicks off, you have a chance to go through all of Season 6 in this collection. While you're getting all of the episodes, the features are kind of lacking. There are deleted scenes, but if you want them all, you have to buy the Blu-ray. You get select bloopers and audio commentary, and a featurette storybook look into the musical episode. It seems like a lot, but when you scan through each disc, it seems sparse. A must if you love the series, but you could pass on it if you're a casual fan.
NCIS New Orleans: Season 3
The second spinoff to the still popular CBS drama, NCIS: New Orleans has made it to a fourth season. But before it started, the third season came out on DVD. Now, I'm going to say something taboo that I'm sure will draw some ire from hardcore fans: CBS's streaming service isn't that great. If you love this series, you should just buy it on DVD rather than pay the monthly fee. For those exploring this option, you're treated to a number of featurettes about putting a series in New Orleans, new castmates, and audio commentary on various episodes of importance. A good buy if you're a fan of the series.
20th Century Fox
An interesting sequel to say the least, as the studio continues to breathe new life into the classic sci-fi horror series. Normally I would run down what's on here, but Mary Anne Butler did a much more in-depth job that you can read here.
One of the more interesting selections from Shout! Factory to release, this is a special 15th anniversary version of the film that earned then 12-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. This is one where they went all out to give you what could be considered the best version of a Blu-ray. It has a director's commentary, a poster and art gallery, and deleted scenes with optional commentary to hear the story behind them. There's a behind-the-scenes featurette, as well as a feature on making the canoe. Overall, a fine piece of work to make this release feel that more special.
Ash vs. Evil Dead: Season 2
Because nothing says "badass" like having a chainsaw for a hand, Starz brought back the series for a second season that got a ton of geeky praise. The Blu-ray almost has everything you could ever want for a TV series home entertainment release. Commentaries, network previews, a fatality mashup, and about a dozen featurettes looking at the series as a whole. What doesn't it have that it should? Bloopers. No way in hell a series with Bruce Campbell didn't have enough content for a gag reel. But sadly, nothing. It's still worth a buy, but it is disappointing there isn't more humor, or even deleted scenes.
The Walking Dead: Season 7
I make fun of The Walking Dead all the time as a series you can predict pretty easily. Spoiler alert: everyone will die in horrible ways — it's a zombie apocalypse. But this is probably one of the best seasons, simply because it took what little control the group had over this world and removed it until the end as we watched them writhe in pain. Now you can watch them writhe all over again with deleted and alternate scenes as well as commentary on almost every episode. There's nine different featurettes that, to be blunt, are pretty useless. The only one I got a kick out of was "Warrior Women" where they highlighted how the women on the show have become much more defined and powerful compared to the men. I recommend it simply for the intensity of the season, but the features were a lovely bonus.
NCIS Los Angeles: Season 8
Much like New Orleans, the Los Angeles version of NCIS is doing quite well on the network, as it has become one of their more popular shows headed into Season 9. Unlike New Orleans, this season doesn't have as much to offer in terms of features. You get some decent featurettes about filming the show and some deleted scenes, but only one episode has audio commentary and nothing much else. The one good featurette focuses on the life of Miguel Ferrer, who passed away in January as they were filming. This is one of those releases where even if you're a major fan, you could skip it and not miss much.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
We're probably preaching to the choir on this one, but there are a lot of people who didn't like the sequel compared to the first Guardians adventure. That being said, the special features are better than what you might expect. Granted, there's a disco party music video hosted by David Hasselhoff that is super out of place, but you get many deleted scenes and a decent gag reel to round out the funny. James Gunn does the audio commentary on the film by himself, which is a bonus and a minus, as I would have liked to hear Chris Pratt chime in. The Blu-ray version comes with more featurettes like exploring the special effects and the cast, but they too feel like something is off or missing. It's worth the buy for the film, but the features are just okay.
The White Princess
The White Princess was an interesting story for Starz as they ran a show like Game of Thrones with what was referred to by some critics as a "feminist touch", but it just didn't click with viewers and the ratings suffered. If you dug the show, you might want to own it on Blu-ray, but be aware that it comes with absolutely nothing. This collection is just the episodes, nothing more, which means the entire point to owning it is if you love it and know that eventually Starz won't make it available to stream one day.
Dean is one of those films that comes around with a cool cast that you don't expect to be good, but it's alright. And it's awesome to see Demetri Martin (who wrote and directed it) and Gillian Jacobs doing something. The features, however, not so alright. All you get are three featurettes, and none of them are really that great to begin with. We didn't even get a director commentary on the film, which says a lot about how the studio viewed this film in the long run. If you can't take the time to get one person to sit in front of a mic to talk about a passion project, its clear what you think of the project.
Killing Hasselhoff is just a weird film. Its David Hasselhoff and Ken Jeong having their own version of a fever dream where killing a celebrity will help pay a financial debt. The only thing the film comes with are deleted scenes, some of which are funnier than the entire film. This is basically a B-movie (it was made by WWE Studios) with better features than the total package.
The Lion King: The Circle Of Life Edition
Where do you even start with The Lion King? One of the most iconic Disney films of the last quarter-century, Disney went out of their way with this Circle of Life edition to make it worth your wille. Let me just list everything out at once. You get: a sing-along version, audio commentary, a look at the villain, recording session footage, voice actor interviews, a look inside the story room from multiple perspectives, art galleries, character design profiles, storyboards and layouts, and all the bonus features from previous DVD releases. They should have just called it a definitive edition, because there's no way they could have improved on it more without dragging out whatever super secret stuff they're still holding onto for whatever the next release format will be. A must-own.
Star Wars Rebels: Season 3
It's weird to see a series get better over time, but Disney actually did right by Star Wars Rebels as they continue to push some of the lesser-known canon that is making fans squeal with joy. The Blu-ray for season five has been put together quite well with select commentaries over five episodes, a featurette on Saw Gerrera, exploring more into Obi Wan and Darth Maul, returning to some of the weird roots of Star Wars, and of course, exploring more into Thrawn, a character many thought was gone for good after Disney took over the property. There's a couple extra features that focus on the rebellion, but they don't quite measure up to the rest. I say get it as these are must-watch features for fans.
Designated Survivor: Season 1
One of the more interesting additions to the ABC lineup as they venture into the world of political dramas, Kiefer Sutherland plays a pretty decent president after a crisis. The features, however, are lacking at best. You get the full president's speech after the attack, and two behind-the-scenes featurettes. No commentary, no deleted scenes, no promos, not even audio commentary. I say pass on it since the show is probably streaming online as it enters Season 2.