In our weekly column, we give you the lowdown on the weekly top three essential DVDs and Blu-ray releases.
We set our clocks back an hour this weekend, so make sure to pick up these releases bright and early. The latest entry in the Spider-Man franchise finally lands with a new twist on Peter Parker and his problems in "The Amazing Spider-Man," directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. The Criterion Collection has released a gorgeous new Blu-ray of the Akira Kurosawa classic "Rashomon," starring the iconic actor Toshirô Mifune. Gear up for Christmas (yes, already!) with "The Muppet Christmas Carol" and some hot cocoa.
1. "The Amazing Spider-Man"
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen and Sally Field
Director: Marc Webb
Studio: Sony Pictures
Running Time: 136 min.
In this take on the Spider-Man story, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is an ordinary brainy high schooler who wants to be noticed by his crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). When the orphan Parker discovers his late father's scientific work, it leads him to his father's former research partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), and a slew of dangerous, dark secrets. Parker will need to shed his fears and take his place as Spider-Man in order save Gwen Stacy and defeat a new threat to their city.
This release contains a myriad of wonderful special features, like audio commentary with director Marc Webb and the producers, a second screen experience for the iPad or tablet devices that allows viewers access to additional materials while watching the film, a seven part feature-length documentary, deleted scenes, on-set footage of stunt rehearsals, information on developing the video game and more.
This Blu-ray release comes with a DVD and UltraViolet digital download.
Starring: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô and Masayuki Mori
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Studio: Criterion Collection
Running Time: 88 min.
The Criterion Collection seeks to preserve the finest films in the best formats, and their new Blu-ray release of Rashomon is no exception. "Rashomon" is often considered one of director Akira Kurosawa's best films, a stunningly beautiful and moving work about differences in perception and the harsh realities of life.
In 12th century Kyoto, Japan, three men from different ways of life -- a priest, a woodcutter and a mysterious stranger -- gather in an abandoned gatehouse called Rashomon. The woodcutter and priest recount the tale of a murdered samurai whose body was discovered by the woodcutter some days earlier. Both men were ordered to testify at the trial as the priest had some knowledge of the samurai before his death. What unfolds is a mystery as confusion and chaos reign supreme when all three men relay a similar story that still doesn't quite add up.
The special features on this remarkable Blu-ray release include the original Japanese trailer, a short interview with the late director Robert Altman about "Rashomon," excerpts from a Japanese television documentary about cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa, an 1961 interview with the actor Takashi Shimura, a 2001 commentary from critic and film historian Donald Richie and a booklet with an essay from film historian Stephen Prince.
3. "The Muppet Christmas Carol"
Starring: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Frank Oz, David Rudman and Don Austen
Director: Brian Henson
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Running Time: 85 min.
Christmas time is nearly here, and what better way to get into the swing of things than with the Muppets themselves?
Michael Caine stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in this heart-warming, Muppet-filled take on Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol." With a very Henson spin on things, and a mixture of live-action and puppeteering, the miracle of Christmas gets back on track!
The special features on this charming 20th Anniversary Blu-ray release include audio commentary from the Muppets themselves and one from director Brian Henson, a special Muppets Christmas Holiday sing-along, a blooper reel, a look at Christmas around the world with Gonzo and Rizzo and a special profile of Gonzo.
This Blu-ray release comes with a digital download as well.
Want more awesome DVD picks? Check in with Queue it Up over at NextMovie!