October 20, 2012
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SJP

Scott's 'Prometheus' DVD stunning
By Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency


Prometheus

Ridley Scott's Prometheus, a putative prequel to his 1979 sci-fi horror classic Alien, has mystified and frustrated even the most loyal fans of the cult franchise. Yet it also holds viewers in its thrall because it deals with one of humanity's most basic yearnings: the quest for the meaning of life.

The "answers" that Prometheus provides are as obtuse as the film's narrative, which follows a spaceship crew travelling to a distant planet searching for the "engineers" of life on Earth. Enter the new DVD, Blu-ray and digital download options. There are fresh clues to be discovered, especially in the Blu-ray bonus materials. Scott is willing to share more mythology now, even if he allegedly refused to create an extended director's cut.

Prometheus is new to home entertainment and is already a best-seller. I have the two-disc combo pack for review, combining DVD, Blu-ray and digital copy. The film looks stunningly detailed on Blu-ray. Key extras include two commentaries but the most insightful material is in The Peter Weyland Files. Among them are visits with Noomi Rapace as the scientist, Michael Fassbender as the meticulous robot and Guy Pearce as the selfish if visionary tycoon. We see Pearce's character in 2023, without the hideous aging makeup seen in the film, which is set from 2089 through to New Year's Day 2094.

Scott never actually says exactly what everything means. He leaves that to the viewer. But at least now you have more to work with as you plumb the depths of Scott's Kubrick-like space odyssey.

A CAT IN PARIS


A Cat in Paris (Une Vie de Chat), the French animation from Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, was nominated for an Oscar in 2011. The citation was richly deserved, even if it did little to generate box office here (just $310,000 in North America). Eureka! You now have a chance to see what the fuss was about. Mongrel Media has released A Cat in Paris on DVD in Canada.

Caution: This is not a Disney-style animation for little kids. Instead, it is an adult crime caper that parents can share with sophisticated children, especially teenagers. Hand-drawn and inspired by Picasso as well as vintage film noir movies, A Cat in Paris is the story of a traumatized girl, her mischievous kitty, a sympathetic cat burglar, the girl's crusading mother (a police superintendent), a wicked villain who has already murdered the girl's father and the villain's idiot accomplices.

The film is poised beautifully between dark, sinister forces and sly comedy. The music is varied, from Billie Holiday to French folk accordion. The psychological themes it explores are complex and challenging. The artistry is ravishing.

The DVD defaults to the English-language version with Hollywood voice talent. But you can also select the original French-language version, with optional subtitles. Both versions are wonderful.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE

Inconceivable! Rob Reiner made one for the ages in The Princess Bride (1987). It is part romance, part adventure and all whimsy as a grandfather (Peter Falk) spins the tale to his sick-for-a-day grandson (Fred Savage).

As grandpa says, the story has: "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, chases, escapes, true love, miracles."

"Doesn't sound too bad," the boy says. "I'll try to stay awake."

The Princess Bride is newly restored for the 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray. The disc does it justice, heightening the magic artificiality. This is a fantasy tale, after all. Extras spark renewed interest, especially an energetic chat amongst Reiner and his now-mature young lovers, Robin Wright and Cary Elwes. This Blu-ray is a keeper, primed for endless viewings of an all-time favourite.




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