‘Monsters University’ among new video offerings

By Rich Heldenfels Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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(From left) Mike and Sulley amongst other monsters in Monsters University. (Disney/Pixar)

It shouldn’t surprise you this time of year that some people just can’t get enough monsters.

That will certainly be the case with DVD and Blu-ray buyers on Tuesday, two days before Halloween, when Monsters University arrives.

The animated feature is a prequel to Monsters, Inc., the 2001 worldwide hit. Boosted by the premium price on the 3-D version, and mostly well received by critics, the second film made even more money than the first, especially overseas. In fact, according to Box Office Mojo, the two Monsters movies are voice-performer Billy Crystal’s most successful movies ever.

Disney Home Entertainment is packaging the film several different ways for home release: a standard DVD ($29.99), a Blu-ray/DVD combo ($39.99), Blu-ray/DVD/digital “collector’s edition” ($45.99) and a combo with those three configurations plus the 3-D Blu-ray ($49.99). It is also available as a digital download ($19.99), including through Amazon.com and iTunes.

Extras vary from the standard DVD’s inclusion of the short The Blue Umbrella and director commentary, to the addition of an abundance of deleted scenes, making-of segments and other elements in the combo packs.

Monsters University is not the only title taking advantage of Halloween. There’s also R.I.P.D. (Universal), the Jeff Bridges-Ryan Reynolds action-adventure about two guys dealing with destructive spirits hanging around Earth.

It was not well received when in theaters. According to Rotten Tomatoes, only 13 percent of reviews were positive, and even with a 3-D premium it took in barely half of its reported $130 million budget. The video releases, from DVD to 3-D Blu-ray, may recover some of that cost, and Universal is certainly offering different options: standard DVD ($29.98), Blu-ray/DVD/digital ($34.98), a package adding 3-D to those formats ($49.98) and a separate digital download ($12.98).

Extras include alternate openings, bloopers, a making-of piece and deleted scenes.

And American Experience: War of the Worlds, the look at the Orson Welles radio broadcast in 1938, will be on DVD Tuesday (PBS, $24.99), before its public-television showing. I have a look back at the radio program on the front page of this section.

Down video road: There was much love for the documentary Good Ol’ Freda, in which Freda Kelly tells stories of her years as secretary and friend to the Beatles. The film will be on Blu-ray and DVD on Dec. 3. Another music documentary of note, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Nov. 26; Big Star was an influential cult band whose members included Alex Chilton, also known for his work with the Box Tops.

The guys from Duck Dynasty have several items arriving in time for holiday purchase, including Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-3 Collector’s Set on DVD and Blu-ray on Dec. 3, and Duck Dynasty: I’m Dreaming of a Redneck Christmas, DVD only, on Nov. 5.

And speaking of the holidays, it’s getting to be time for mega-boxes, among them Hawaii Five-0: The Complete Series, containing all 12 seasons of the version starring Jack Lord, and Beverly Hills 90210: The Complete Series, with all 10 seasons of the original program in a “DVD yearbooks” box. Five-0 arrives on Dec. 3, 90210 on Nov. 5. I’ll be talking more about box sets as we get closer to Christmas.

Also, One Direction: This Is Us arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Dec. 17.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including 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 rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.

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