'G.I. Joe' Rises With A Bang, Denzel Catches A Train And More In The DVD Report For November 3

'G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra'After weeks of rather lackluster releases ("Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" being a prominent exception), we finally have a Tuesday jam-packed with first-run titles and notable catalog additions. From the on-screen debut of an elite military team to John Cusack's ode to love, we're covering them all in this DVD Report for Tuesday, November 3.

For any child of the '80s, the thought of "G.I. Joe" receiving the theatrical treatment was an intriguing proposition, and one fraught with worry. And for die-hard fans of writer Larry Hama's epic "G.I. Joe" comic book run, it was especially scary. In stark contrast to the campy animated series, Hama infused his 155-issue run with deeply developed character arcs, ever-twisting conspiracies and, to his credit, pulled no punches when it came to violence and death. Which "G.I. Joe" would the film rely on for its story and tone? While producers insisted they'd follow the comics -- and even brought Hama on as a creative consultant -- fans remained skeptical.

I personally was so torn that I stayed away from the film in theaters, electing to wait until "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra" arrived on home video. So were my concerns justified? Having now viewed the movie for the first time, I admit to being pleasantly surprised. Sure, the dialogue is hokey at times, but director Stephen Sommers has mostly faithfully recreated the unique world of the Joes. And, in an ode to the comics, the story is considerably darker than I would have imagined, and noticeably doesn't shy away from violence (I haven't seen this many people impaled since "American Ninja"). Could it be better? Of course, and I hope the inevitable sequel will be. But as the first shot across the bow, not bad at all.

"G.I. Joe" comes to DVD and Blu-ray as one of the best looking and sounding discs of the year. As a thunderous summer action film, the audio especially is downright amazing during some of the more explosive scenes, particularly on the Blu-ray disc. We also get a series of extras, headlined by feature-length filmmaker commentary and a half-hour long making-of doc. A second featurette looks as the film's considerable visual effects. All in all, a rather fun ride.

And speaking of rides, Denzel Washington experiences the frustrating New York City subway system in "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3." In this Tony Scott-directed action flick, terrorists hijack a train and it's up to Denzel to fix everything and make the world safe. Bonus features topped by two audio commentaries (including with Scott) and a series of making-of featurettes and character profiles.

Hayden Panettiere's teen comedy "I Love You, Beth Cooper" makes its bow on DVD and Blu-ray (click here to watch an exclusive clip from the extras), as does Ashley Tisdale's kid-friendly "Aliens in the Attic."

This week also brings a slew of Hollywood classics back on Blu-ray. It's hard to believe, but it's been twenty years since John Cusack captured the heart of every teenage girl in America in "Say Anything." The film is now coming out as an anniversary edition; a new retrospective mini-doc toplines the extras (the audio commentary has been ported over from a previous release). This marks the first time "Say Anything" has appeared on Blu-ray, and expectedly it looks great.

"Forrest Gump" joins Paramount's "Sapphire Edition" Blu-ray club (the third after "Braveheart" and "Gladiator"), receiving two discs packed with new extras, and new video and audio transfers.

Alfred Hitchcock's iconic "North By Northwest" turns a whopping fifty years old, and Warner is celebrating with a new anniversary edition. Most importantly for fans, the film has been completely restored for its Blu-ray outing and it looks absolutely superb. We'll be bringing you a lot more on this release, including an interview with star Martin Landau, so stay tuned for that.

The "Rocky" franchise also comes to Blu-ray this week, with a box set titled "The Undisputed Edition" containing all six films in the series. Sadly, there's no genuinely new special features including in the collection (just an interactive game), but this marks the first time most of the films have been available in the high-def format.

Director James Toback's "Two Girls and a Guy," the sexually charged dramedy starring Robert Downey Jr. and Heather Graham, also debuts on Blu-ray. We'll have an interview with Toback later this week discussing the release.

Lastly, former '80s star Dolph Lundgren's latest direct-to-video action film, "Command Performance," comes to DVD and Blu-ray.

DVD & BLU-RAY NEWS:

Guy Ritchie's "Snatch" is coming to Blu-ray December 1, with Mike Judge's latest effort "Extract" hitting December 22, the same day as the Sandra Bullock comedy "All About Steve." One week later on December 29, the animated apocalyptic flick "9" sees release. Two action films from the 1990s will drop January 12: "Cliffhanger" and "Last Action Hero." Looking way forward to February 9, the Eric Bana/Rachel McAdams sci-fi romance film "The Time Traveler's Wife" arrives.

NEXT WEEK:

Pixar takes over with "Up" hitting DVD and Blu-ray, and its "Monsters, Inc." also getting the high-def treatment. Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler's "The Ugly Truth" bows, and "Watchmen" gets an "Ultimate Cut" which slices the "Tales from the Black Freighter" into the live-action film. And then there's a handful of other titles hitting Blu-ray, including "Heat," "Godzilla," and a new edition of "Near Dark" arrives.