Thursday, November 19, 2009

Star Trek full of action and plenty of extras

Star Trek (PG-13): J.J. Abrams' reboot of the Star Trek franchise was a risky venture, aiming to draw in new fans while not alienating the show's current fan base. For the most part, it succeeded, though there will of course always be fans able to find nits to pick.

The movie is a rollicking adventure, following James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) from birth to the captain's chair of the USS Enterprise, with Zachary Quinto sharing top billing as Mr. Spock. The two-disc DVD has plenty of behind-the-scenes extras, and the Blu-ray version has even more.

Fans who want still more behind-the-scenes goodies should pick up Star Trek: The Art of the Film, a lavishly illustrated new book by Mark Cotta Vaz that looks at ship, costume and alien designs and how the filmmakers updated the look of the series while remaining largely faithful to the original.

The Best of Star Trek and The Best of Star Trek -- The Next Generation, Vol. 2: Fans may also want to relive some past adventures of the Enterprise crew with these two new releases, each with four of the best episodes of the series.

Star Wreck: Imperial Edition (Unrated): Trekkies may also want to check out this oddity, a Finnish parody of Star Trek (with English subtitles) in which the egomaniacal James B. Pirk declares war on parodies of the rival sci-fi series Babylon 5. The movie, which became a hit on YouTube, is alternately clever and goofy, with plenty of inside jokes.

Bruno (R): Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up to Borat isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as his first film, but it is a lot of fun for people who aren't easily offended. Cohen plays Bruno, a flamboyant, gay Austrian fashion maven who comes to America on a quest for fame. The DVD has deleted scenes; there are even more on the Blu-ray, plus a video commentary track that explains how the movie was made.

The Exiles (Unrated): This compelling 1961 film, which was never released in theaters and only rediscovered 45 years later, looks at the lives of a group of American Indians in (then) modern-day Los Angeles. Extras include short films and commentary by two fans of the film, author Sherman Alexei (Smoke Signals) and filmmaker Charles Burnett.

My Sister's Keeper (PG-13): Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin and Abigail Breslin star in this tearjerker about a girl who was conceived to be a compatible donor for her sister, who is fighting cancer.

The Steve Coogan Collection (Unrated): The British comedian's extensive collection of comedic characters -- including incompetent talk-show host Alan Partridge, ex-roadie Tommy Saxondale, megastar Tony Ferrino, horror host Dr. Terrible and more -- are included in this 14-disc boxed set, which has Coogan's entire BBC output. There are also plenty of bonus features, including test footage, featurettes and interviews.

Concert Films on Blu-ray (Unrated): Four concerts get high-definition video releases for optimal sound quality, each available separately: Earth, Wind & Fire Live at Montreaux 1997; Carlos Santana Presents Blues at Montreaux 2004, with Buddy Guy, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Bobby Parker; Billy Idol: Super Overdrive Live, a 2009 concert; and a 2002 concert by Marilyn Manson.

The Kevin Smith Collection on Blu-ray (R): Three of Smith's movies -- Clerks, Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back -- get high-definition releases. That may seem like overkill, especially for the microbudgeted Clerks, but Smith makes up for that by included a ton of extras on the film.

Fight Club on Blu-ray (R): David Fincher's energetic anti-consumerism screed, starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, comes to Blu-ray with extensive extras, some carried over from the previous DVD and some new.