[caption id="attachment_118615" align="alignleft" width="300"] Fox[/caption]
This week: Years after directing the sci-fi masterpieces "Alien" and "Blade Runner," Ridley Scott returns to science fiction with the harrowing and ambitious "Alien" prequel "Prometheus" with Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce and Michael Fassbender.
Also new this week is the movie-musical "Rock of Ages," the Edgar Allan Poe-themed mystery thriller "The Raven," and the Blu-ray debuts of "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," "Little Shop of Horrors" and "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"
[caption id="attachment_149823" align="alignright" width="220"] 20th Century Fox[/caption]
Box Office: $126 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 73% Fresh
Storyline: Ridley Scott returns to the sci-fi realm with this ambitious quasi-prequel to "Alien" about a group of explorers that set out to a distant planet to learn more about and possibly confront the creators of mankind, a super race known as the Engineers. Prometheus crew members include scientist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), Weyland Corporation monitor Elizabeth Shaw (Charlize Theron), Weyland founder Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) and the fastidious android David (Michael Fassbender).
Extras! Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D, "Prometheus" is a mind-teasing movie that begs you to explore its seven hours of illuminating bonus features such as deleted and alternate scenes, plus access to "The Peter Weyland Files" and a commentary track by Scott.
We Say: This stunning, thinking-man's sci-fi spectacle is an awe to behold, so seek out the biggest HDTV screen (preferably a 3-D one) you can and buckle up as the Prometheus journeys to the edge of the universe to ask important existential questions about mankind. They aren't all answered in the film, but the movie's shared DNA with "Alien" and the slithery creatures the crew encounters will please longtime fans of Scott's first sci-fi masterpiece.
'Rock of Ages'
[caption id="attachment_150228" align="alignright" width="220"] Warner Bros.[/caption]
Box Office: $39 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 41% Rotten
Storyline: This energetic musical — an adaptation of the Broadway production — follows two aspiring singers (Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta) as they navigate the hard-rock scene on the Sunset Strip in 1987 that is coming under fire from a religious group headed by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Tom Cruise stars as Stacee Jaxx, a rock god set to perform at the Bourbon Room despite the protests. Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Mary J. Blige costar in memorable numbers.
Extras! Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain seven "Defining a Decade" featurettes, a "Legends of the Sunset Strip" featurette, and immediate access to select songs.
We Say: This movie — featuring the arena-rock anthems of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Guns N' Roses, Journey, Poison, Whitesnake and more — knows it is cheese, so viewers with fond memories of this era will be more receptive to the humor, like when Cruise's pompous rocker sings "I Want to Know What Love Is" to a Rolling Stone reporter's behind. Zeta-Jones, Baldwin and Russell also seem to be in on the joke, but leading lady Hough comes across as too earnest and seems to have dropped in from another decade entirely.
[caption id="attachment_149242" align="alignright" width="220"] Rogue Pictures[/caption]
Box Office: $16 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 22% Rotten
Storyline: This dark thriller follows the final days in the life of macabre writer Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) as Baltimore police investigate a series of murders that seem to be patterned after Poe's stories. Alice Eve costars as Poe's fiancée who becomes a target of the copycat killer, and Luke Evans plays the police chief who enlists Poe's help in solving the mystery.
Extras! The most interesting bonus feature — a Blu-ray exclusive — is "The Madness, Misery and Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe," which examines the continuing fascination with the legendary author.
We Say: This seems to be the year of historical figures being roped into preposterous plots (see "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"), but there are a few chills to be found in this gothic tale if you get beyond the familiar setup. For Poe fans looking for a historical biopic of their favorite writer here, quoth the reviewer, "Nevermore!"
'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial' Blu-ray
[caption id="attachment_150230" align="alignright" width="220"] Universal[/caption]
Box Office: $435 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 98% Fresh
Storyline: Steven Spielberg's 1982 blockbuster about a young boy named Elliot (Henry Thomas) who takes in an alien visitor after it's left behind by its spaceship still warms hearts as we root for Elliot to help E.T. "phone home." Dee Wallace plays Elliot's mom and a young Drew Barrymore appears as Elliot's sister.
Extras! The best supplements include the 50-minute "The Evolution and Creation of 'E.T.'" featurette with Spielberg talking about the story's origins, and the recent "'E.T.' Reunion" in which Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy reunite with the main cast and reminisce about how it changed all of their lives.
We Say: It's important to note that this Blu-ray debut is a remastered version of the original theatrical movie — not the 2002 rerelease with controversial digital alterations. Spielberg regrets those changes (did you read that, George Lucas?), so what we have here is the original classic that we remember looking and sounding appropriately out of this world.
'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?' Blu-ray
[caption id="attachment_150229" align="alignright" width="220"] Warner Bros.[/caption]
Box Office: $9 million (worldwide)
Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Fresh
Storyline: Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) is a former child star who lives in a decaying Hollywood mansion with her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford), a movie star forced into retirement after a crippling accident left her in a wheelchair. When a TV movie marathon of Blanche's movies results in more fan mail being sent to the Hudson sisters' home, a jealous Jane torments her sister and tries to resurrect her childhood act while slowly losing her grasp on reality.
Extras! This Blu-ray debut packaged in a handsome Digibook with photos is packed with many vintage featurettes, including a 1967 BBC profile on Crawford and a 1994 TNT feature about Davis.
We Say: Davis and Crawford had a long rivalry offscreen before teaming up for this 1960 campy horror show that reinvigorated their careers and earned Davis her last Oscar nomination. It's fascinating — and, frankly, scary — to watch Davis unravel on-screen as the older actress dons little-girl clothes and mentally regresses to a childlike state. If you are one of those people that wonders why older black-and-white titles need a Blu-ray upgrade, check out the inky blacks and deep shadows in the Hudson house and the look of pure madness in Bette Davis' eyes.
Also New This Week:
"Dial M for Murder" Blu-ray 3D
"Little Shop of Horrors: The Director's Cut"
"Strangers on a Train" Blu-ray
"Red Dawn" Blu-ray
"Werewolf: The Beast Among Us"
"Dead Ringer" Blu-ray