By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
Put this on your want list. A limited Blu-ray Collector’s Edition of the first season of the hit FX sci-fi series “The Strain” is available Tuesday, July 14. It includes an exclusive Master’s Bust figurine as well as all 13 episodes of the first season. The second season, with another 13 all-new episodes, is set to premiere on the FX cable channel Sunday, July 12.
From executive producers/writers Guillermo Del Toro, Carlton Cuse and Chuck Hogan, this horror sci-fi series, is sure to keep viewers awake at night. This three-disc box set includes many behind-the-scenes special features that explore the story’s journey from 2009 bestselling novel by Del Toro and Hogan to hit show, among them audio commentary on select episodes and deleted scenes.
The premise of the series, which debuted on FX last July, involves a freak virus that kills most of the passengers traveling aboard a commercial airplane. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll), head of the Center for Disease Control’s “Canary Team,” is immediately called to the scene. The only way to stop the terrifying disease is to face its source—a sinister supernatural creature whose evil intent appears to be more powerful than any natural force on Earth. The series also stars Mia Maestro, David Bradley and Sean Astin.
One you won’t have to wait for is Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning animated feature (2002, Best Animated Feature Film) “Spirited Away,” available for the first time on Blu-ray Tuesday, June 16.
The elaborate, dream-like 2D animated feature from the renowned Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli is filled with astonishing beauty and epic adventure. It tells the wondrous fantasy about a young girl, Chihiro, trapped in a strange new world of spirits. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, she must call on the courage she never knew she had to free herself and return her family to the outside world. An unforgettable story, brimming with creativity, “Spirited Away” will take viewers on a journey beyond their imagination.
The English voice cast includes Daveigh Chase (Chihiro), Suzanne Pleshette (Yubaba/Zeniba), Jason Marsden (Haku), Susan Egan (Lin), David Ogden Stiers (Kamaji), Lauren Holly (Chihiro’s mother), Michael Chiklis (Chihiro’s father), John Ratzenberger (Assistant Manager), Tara Strong (Baby) and Bob Bergen (Aogaeru).
Bonus content includes an introduction by Disney/Pixar creative chief John Lasseter, “The Art of ‘Spirited Away’” featurette, a behind-the-microphone look at the voice talent, original Japanese storyboards and more.
Another Studio Ghibli feature available for the first time on Blu-ray is “The Cat Returns,” an animated adventure about a schoolgirl named Haru, who saves the life of an unusual cat, and suddenly her world is transformed beyond anything she ever imagined. To change her fate, she’ll need to learn to believe in herself and, in the process, she will learn to appreciate her everyday life.
The English voice cast are: Anne Hathaway (Huru), Cary Elwes (The Baron), Peter Boyle (Muta), Elliott Gould (Toto), Andy Richter (Natoru), Rene Auberjonois (Natori), Tim Curry (Cat King), Judy Greer (Yuki) and Kristen Bell (Hiromi). Extras include a making of featurette, a behind-the-microphone featurette, original Japanese storyboards and more.
Available Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD is the horror movie “The Lazarus Effect,” starring Mark Duplass (“Cyrus”) and Olivia Wilde (“House”). A group of researchers led by Frank (Duplass) and his fiancee Zoe (Olivia Wilde) have achieved the unimaginable: bringing the dead back to life. When Zoe is accidentally electrocuted in a horrific accident, Frank and his team use their experimental serum to resurrect her. But their attempt goes horribly wrong—unleashing terrifying powers within Zoe that put all of their lives in grave danger. Both the DVD and Blu-ray editions include a making-of featurette. Deleted and extended scenes, a featurette on the moral dilemma of playing God and a digital HD version come with the Blu-ray edition.
Two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn (“Milk,” “Mystic River”) is the object of a deadly international manhunt in the thriller “The Gunman,” arriving on Digital HD on Tuesday, June 16, and in a Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD as well as On Demand on June 30, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The latest action adventure from director Pierre Morel (“Taken”), “The Gunman” is a lethal combination of suspense, action and star power.
Eight years after Jim Terrier (Penn) worked as a black-ops assassin someone from his old organization wants him dead. Pursued across Africa and Europe by a team of elite hit men, Terrier is dragged back into his dangerous past as he engages in a cat-and-mouse game to take out the man who betrayed him. Idris Elba (“Prometheus,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”), Ray Winstone (“The Departed,” “Hugo”), Mark Rylance (“Wolf Hall”) and Oscar winner Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men,” “Skyfall”) co-star.
Also on DVD beginning Tuesday, June 16, Acorn debuts BBC thriller “The Driver,” starring David Morrissey (“The Walking Dead”), and the beloved classic mystery series “Lovejoy,” The Complete Collection and Series 6 starring Ian McShane (“Deadwood”).
In “The Driver,” Morrissey stars as Vince McKee, a middle-aged nobody who regrettably accepts an offer to drive a taxi for a criminal gang in order to escape his turbulent home life. This action-packed, character driven drama also stars Ian Hart (“The Bridge”) as McKee’s fresh-out-of-prison friend, Colin, and Colm Meaney (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”) as the ruthless gangster boss, the Horse.
The Complete Collection of “Lovejoy,” features all 72 star-studded episodes of the hit BBC series. As the title character, McShane stars as a mischievous antiques dealer with a heart of gold. Alongside his friends Lady Jane Felsham (Phyllis Logan, “Downton Abbey”), Tinker (Dudley Sutton), and Eric (Chris Jury), Lovejoy gets himself into many sticky situations, but never loses his lighthearted charm. The beloved British dramedy, which ran for six seasons, has featured many of Britain’s top actors, including Michael Kitchen (“Foyle’s War”), Joanna Lumley (“Absolutely Fabulous”), Minnie Driver (“Good Will Hunting”), Martin Clunes (“Doc Martin”), Neil Dudgeon (“Midsomer Murders”), John Gielgud (“Arthur”), Tom Wilkinson (“Michael Clayton”), and James Nesbitt (“The Missing”). Series 6, the final season, is also available in an individual DVD set.
Also available on Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday is “Time Lapse,” a science fiction thriller that explores the possibilities of time travel via a camera that takes pictures 24 hours into the future. When three friends discover this mysterious machine, they conspire to use it for personal gain, until disturbing and dangerous images begin to develop and tear their relationship apart. Starring Danielle Panabaker (“The Flash”), Matt O’Leary and George Finn, “Time Lapse” combines suspense with provocative ideas about pre-determination and free will.
Another home entertainment offering available Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD is “Unfinished Business,” starring Vince Vaughn stars as a hard-working entrepreneur who travels to Europe with his two associates (played by Dave Franco, Tom Wilkinson) to close the most important business deal of their lives. But the journey quickly spins out of control as the hapless trio encounters all kinds of crazy obstacles, including Oktoberfest bar brawls, hotel foul-ups, foreign GPS directions, and a global fetish festival. In the end, these guys might just land the deal if they can survive the trip. The Blu-ray and digital HD versions include 30 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes that didn’t appear in the theatrical release. Vaughn, Franco, Wilkinson, along with co-stars James Marsden, Sienna Miller and Nick Frost share their craziest experiences on the set on both the DVD and Blu-ray editions.