With Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs keeping families happy, Paranormal Activity sending shivers down the spine in millions, and The Hurt Locker pumping the adrenaline of more mature audiences, the DVD and Blu-ray market is having a very busy time.
January is not the hottest time for new movies, and that is why December hits -- Avatar, Sherlock Holmes and Alvin And The Chipmunks: The squeakquel -- are still doing brisk business while the new releases are floundering.
One of the truly sensational successes of the decade, Paranormal Activity -- which cost a ridiculously low $15,000 but went on to earn a gigantic $160 million worldwide (and counting!) -- is a fairly gripping tale. It is even scarier and more intimate on the small screen.
Despite its phenomenal success, the movie hasn't impressed everyone. Some feel that the story of a couple, who try to figure why their lives are spooked in a haunted house and who get no help from psychics, is a bit slow. The climax is anything but Hitchcockian, they say.
'It will fry your nerves and creep you out big time without spending a dime on obvious special effects,' wrote Peter Travers in Rolling Stone.
Echoing those thoughts Roger Ebert concluded in Chicago Sun-Times that Paranormal is 'an ingenious little horror film, so well made it's truly scary, that arrives claiming it's the real thing.'
Extras: The DVD and Blu-ray offer an alternate ending, which has a firm focus and is of better quality than the ending scene in the theatrical version. But it is not a bold departure from the standard ending seen in the theatres. Both the DVD and Blu-ray have the R-Rated Theatrical version (86 minutes) and an Unrated version (99 minutes). The Blu-ray has an exclusive digital copy of the theatrical version.
Broadly inspired by Ron and Judi Barrett's beloved children's book of the same name, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs is a stirring and often hilarious fable that follows inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) and a smart weathergirl (Anna Faris), as they attempt to discover why the rain in their small town has stopped, and food is falling from the sky.
The Sony movie was not as successful at the box office as Up, which has grossed over $730 million worldwide. Yet, Cloudy is quite a profitable film and is heading for a $ 200 million worldwide run.
The film is filled with imaginative scenes and a moral outlook. It is about how quickly people change their minds about others. As a boy, Flint was ridiculed for his scientific ambition. But when his machine produces a corncupia of food, everyone is impressed. The town's mayor wants to use the invention for his end and things begin going bad.
The scenes of food falling from the sky looked spectacular in the film's 3D version. The film was quite a hit on IMAX but the DVD and Blu-ray versions don't look flat. If you're watching it for the first time, you can still feel some awe, even though the happenings look more spectacular on big screens.
Extras: The two-disc set include featurettes, deleted scenes, a music video and a food-fight game.
The Hurt Locker, an intense and demanding cat and mouse war drama, has arrived on DVD and Blu-ray discs in the hope of capitalizing on the expected major Oscar nominations for it. The film, made for about $15 million, grossed a modest $12 million in North America. While it awaits release in many countries in Europe, the DVD and Blu-ray disc could help those who missed it in the theatres.
The film aims, says director Kathryn Bigelow on a DVD interview, 'to replicate the chaos of war and to put the audience in the actors' shoes.'
Many critics organisations have called it the finest film in the year. It is expected to be among the 10 best picture Oscar nominees, to be announced February 2.
Bigelow was married to Avatar director James Cameron for two years in late 1980s. Though they are no longer a couple, they have remained good friends. In her interviews, she has said that she's simply loved Avatar.
She also revealed that she had nearly decided not to make The Hurt Locker, and instead, make a film based on Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City when Cameron told her to go back to The Hurt Locker.
Bigelow has made several successful films earlier like the Patrick Swayze-starrer Point Blank.
The awards season may help The Hurt Locker discover a new audience. It has been nominated for best picture, best script and best director at the Golden Globes. The Oscar nominations could be substantial as well.
'It's a good time post-Christmas for titles that are a little less well-known than the big behemoths coming out in November and December,' distributor Summit's co-chairman Rob Friedman said. 'We were obviously very, very hopeful we would get the award recognition that critics were talking about when we released the movie back in June.'
Among the highlights of the slow-moving but dramatic story is the career-defining work of Jeremy Renner as the bomb-disposal expert William James. In one of the unforgettable scenes in the film, he removes his protective suit and says, 'There's enough bang in there to blow us all to Jesus.'
Many expect him to be nominated for an Oscar.
Extras: The DVD extras are few compared to the standard DVD fare, just a commentary and a Q&A from Bigelow and Iraq war embedded journalist Mark Boal, whose work inspired the film, a 12-and-a-half-minute behind the scenes documentary, and an image gallery. But the film stands so strongly on its own that you won't miss any more extras.