When I talked to people who had seen Life of Pi before I did, my recurring question was, “Is it a great movie, or is it a great 3-D movie?”
After all, the movie was widely praised for the sumptuousness of the visuals, serving the story of a young man and what happens after he is stranded in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. Some of its 11 Oscar nominations were in technical categories like film editing, visual effects, production design and sound mixing. Ang Lee did win the Oscar for best director but its three other wins were for cinematography, original music score and visual effects; it did not win best picture or adapted screenplay (based on the book of the same name) although it was nominated in both categories.
Still, when I asked the question above, the answer I usually got was that it was a great movie. But having seen it, I don’t agree. It is a beautiful movie to look at, but too slow-moving; it is more to be admired than enjoyed.
That said, you can argue with me after catching its release on DVD, Blu-ray and 3-D Blu-ray on Tuesday. (One of my colleagues argued that it really should be released on Thursday, since it refers to pi — both as a character’s name and as the number — and Thursday is 3/14. Hey, math lovers are laughing right now.)
Anyway, Fox is releasing the movie in three different packages: a single DVD ($29.98); a “triple play” package with a standard Blu-ray, a DVD and a digital copy ($39.99) and a package with all of the above plus the 3-D Blu-ray ($49.99). Extras, which vary depending on the package you get, include making-of segments, deleted scenes, storyboards and an hourlong documentary.
Though dead more than 30 years, Alfred Hitchcock still works on the public imagination, both as a filmmaker and as a person. Bates Motel, a thriller series premiering March 18 on A&E, looks yet again at Norman Bates, the main character in Hitchcock’s Psycho. (See the front page of this section for a longer consideration of Bates.)
Two recent films, the big-screen Hitchcock and HBO’s The Girl, offered views of the man himself, played respectively by Anthony Hopkins and Toby Jones. Fox brings Hitchcock to video on Tuesday ($39.99 for a Blu-ray/DVD combo); at the same time, the studio is releasing a Blu-ray “classic collection” of Hitchcock’s Notorious, Spellbound and Rebecca ($59.99) — each previously released separately.
On the family-viewing side, there’s the animated Rise of the Guardians, about the teaming up of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and Sandman. Well-received by critics (74 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes), it was only moderately successful at the U.S. box office — disappointing its studio, DreamWorks — but a bigger hit internationally. It is available as a DVD (DreamWorks, $29.99), a Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo ($39.99), and a package adding the 3-D version ($54.99). Some Easter-themed promotional packaging adds two hopping eggs.
Disney, meanwhile, is offering Blu-ray/DVD combos of three animated double features: The Hunchback of Notre Dame/The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Brother Bear/Brother Bear 2 and Mulan/Mulan II. Each retails for $39.99.
Down video road: Gangster Squad — the disappointing drama with Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn — arrives April 23 on Blu-ray and DVD. Jack Reacher, the action film starring Tom Cruise, will be in both formats on May 7 (and on digital download two weeks earlier). Boss: Season Two, the political drama starring Kelsey Grammer, arrives on April 9. Stand Up Guys, a sporadically interesting tale of criminals with Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, is coming on May 21.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or email@example.com.