New on DVD: March 20

This week on DVD, in celebration of the upcoming release of The Hunger Games, check out one of its many influences, the Japanese horror film Battle Royale

Credit: Amazon

This bloody and gruesome horror film is often cited as an inspiration for the upcoming The Hunger Games

Pick of the Week

Battle Royale: Complete Collection

Before there were The Hunger Games there was Battle Royale. This 2000 Japanese cult classic (and it’s slightly lesser sequel) are finally available officially in North America on DVD and Blu-ray. Now fans can throw away those grainy, faded-out dubbed VHS copies and see the blood spatter in glorious high-def.

For the uninitiated, this film follows a class of high school students who were randomly picked and taken to an island where they are too fight to the death. Armed with random weapons from a pot lid to a sub-machine gun, they must take each other out so only one survives – if not, they are all executed by the armed collars that they are wearing.

These films, although not as gory as some Japanese horror can be, are still not for the squeamish and deserved their banishment for the idea behind the violence as much as the violence itself. In the sequel, a new group of students is sent into forced battle against Nanahara, the survivor of the first Battle Royale, who has built himself a deadly gang known as the “Wild Seven” with typically gory results.

This 4-disc set comes with both films as well as an extended director’s cut of the first film and then a complete disc of EXTRAS including an hour-long “making of” feature and much more (all in Japanese with English sub-titles). (Anchor Bay)

DVDs this Week

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Based on the best-selling novel by the late Stieg Larsson, this American adapatation – directed by The Social Network’s David Fincher – stars Daniel Craig as Blomkvist, a writer who is investigating the 40-year-old disappearance of a young girl. Things move along slowly until he teams up with a punk hacker (Rooney Mara), with her own horrific past. If you’ve seen the original Swedish film, this doesn’t cover any new ground. But on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with this film – it’s beautifully-shot, well-acted and doesn’t pull any punches with the sexual violence. The only problem with this film isn’t with it all, it’s with the original source material and how the filmmakers tried to jam so much into the film. Just when the mystery is solved and you think it’s over, they take on solving another B-story line that should have been cut out entirely. EXTRAS include audio commentary from Fincher as well as a myriad of bonus material covering almost every aspect of the film including casting, music, costume design and more. (Sony)

The Muppets

When an evil oil magnate (Chris Cooper) plans to demolish the old Muppet Theatre, avid Muppet fan Walter seeks out the help of his friends Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) to assist him in gathering together all the Muppets in order to put on a telethon to raise the money to save the theatre. This is an enjoyable time because the Muppets are back, but the lack of star power in the cameos (Rashida Jones?) isn’t up to the first film 30 years ago. EXTRAS include audio commentary, unreleased spoof trailers, The Longest Blooper Reel Ever Made (in Muppet History) and much more. (Disney)

The Sitter

In this pseudo-remake of Adventures in Babysitting (that is far too raunchy for anyone under 18 to see), Jonah Hill plays a college student who reluctantly agrees to take on a babysitting job for his neighbours’ kids which results in an R-rated bender that could’ve been called Get Them to the School. (Fox)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Based on the novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre, Gary Oldman stars in this gripping thriller as British intelligence agent George Smiley, who is called out of retirement to hunt down a “mole” within the highest level of the British Intelligence Service. If you’re looking for a James Bond kind of British spy thriller, look elsewhere. Otherwise this is a cracking good film with an all-star cast including Tom Hardy, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch (of TV’s Sherlock). EXTRAS include commentary by director Tomas Alfredson and Oldman; an hour-long feature with interviews with cast, crew and the le Carre himself; and much more. (eOnel)


Based on the stage play by Yasmina Reza, controversial director Roman Polanski brings together four of the finest actors working today in this intense and intimate black comedy about two couples (Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz) who meet to discuss their children’s schoolyard altercation but end up at each others throats.


This film was released theatrically last April, but the studio has held on to it to release it this Easter. Too bad, it’s not the classic they think it is. Tim Hill, who also directed the similar Alvin and the Chipmunks, helms this family comedy. After accidently hitting the Easter Bunny (voiced by Russell Brand) with his car, it’s up to Fred (James Marsden) to make sure that the rabbit recovers in time to get all the Easter eggs delivered.


After being a roadie for the band Blue Oyster Cult for the past 20 years, Jimmy (Ron Eldard) finds himself out of work with nowhere to go but back home to his ailing mother’s (Lois Smith) house. Things begin to get out of control when he falls in love with an old friend (Jill Hennessy) who is now married to his old rival.


This biopic of British little-known record producer Joe Meek (Con O’Neill) looks at the life and career of the man behind the sounds of several pre-Beatles hit songs like “Have I the Right” by The Honeycombs and the title track by The Tornados. Meek is portrayed as temperamental genius (not unlike Phil Spector) with wild ideas to get the sounds he hears in his head onto the vinyl and who’s ambitious dreams are funded by an often frustrated businessman (played by Kevin Spacey).

National Lampoon’s The Legend of Awesomest Maximus

Former Mad TV star – and future Curly in the new Three Stooges film – Will Sasso plays the title character in this raunchy and largely unfunny spoof of Roman epics about an idiot general trying to secure his place in the kingdom while avoiding his country going to war against Greece. (eOne)

A Lonely Place to Die

When a group of mountaineers hiking in the Scottish highlands stumble upon a kidnapped young girl being held in an underground make-shift prison, they rescue her only to find themselves battling the deadly kidnappers as they try to get down the mountain to safety.

Music on DVD

With the Wild Crowd – The B-52s Live in Athens

In 1976, four young people from Athens, Georgia decided to form a band after having a few drinks in a local Chinese restaurant and jamming together. A year later they played their first live gig as the B-52s and now 34 years later, the original band (except for guitarist Ricky Wilson, who died in 1985) reunite in their home town for a energetic concert featuring all of their quirky new wave hits including “Rock Lobster”, “Love Shack” and “Private Idaho” as well as more recent songs. Also included here is a 30-minute interview with the band about their early days and their career. (Eagle Rock)


My Living Doll Collection: Vol. 1

This rarely-seen sitcom from 1964 came out in a time when fantasy reigned supreme in the TV comedy world. There was I Dream of Jeannie, My Mother the Car, Bewitched and this one which starred Bob Cummings – a popular sitcom star who had starred in a long-running sitcom called Love That Bob in the 1950s – as an Air Force psychologist who is given the task of secretly teaching a gorgeous cyborg (Julie Newmar who later played Catwoman on the Batman TV series) to behave like a “perfect woman” and to keep her hidden from the government. This 2-disc set features 11 episodes from the series.

Hey, Arnold: Season Two

This two-disc set contains the second season’s first ten episodes of the long-running Nickelodeon animated series about a young boy named Arnold, who with his friends Gerald and Helga, gets into all sorts of adventures with the tenants of his grandparent’s rooming house where he lives. (Shout! Factory)

Pound Puppies: Homeward Pound

This 2010 reboot of the animated series which was based on the Hasbro toy line (are you with me so far?) features the adventures of a group of highly intelligent dogs whose main ambition is to find homes for stray animals. Some of the stars who voice these characters include Eric McCormack, Betty White, Michael Rapaport and Yvette Nicole Brown (Community). This DVD contains 5 episodes from the series.

Dragonball Z Kai: Season One- Part Seven

This new version of the classic Dragonball Z anime series (which aired in North America on The CW’s Toonzai anime block) is slowly releasing their enormous first season on DVD and Blu-ray. Fans will be happy to note that all of these episodes (78 through to 88 on 2 discs) have not only the English dubbed vocal tracks, but also the original Japanese ones as well. The final episodes are expected to be released this June. (eOne)