‘Tis that time of season: the special editions, the boxes, the pop culture revivals, all vying for your holiday entertainment dollars and a spot on your movie shelf. Here are five upscaled editions out this week alone.
Argo: Extended Edition (Warner, Blu-ray) offers both the original theatrical version and a longer edit that adds about nine minutes of previously unseen footage to the film that took home the Academy Award for Best Film. Ben Affleck directs and takes the lead as CIA agent Tony Mendez, the man who concocted a plan that involved creating a fake Hollywood movie production as cover to sneak six Americans, hiding in the Canadian embassy, out of Iran in plain sight. It’s a savvy picture that takes a few liberties with the historical record to create a nail-biter of an escape thriller and the class act of the week’s deluxe editions. While it never manages the complexity of Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s real-life American covert operation drama from the same year, it is a solid, well-made film with personality, humor, drama, tension, and a superb sense of time and place.
The added footage mostly fills out Tony’s family life, with phone conversations with his wife (Taylor Schilling, who was almost absent in the original film) and son showing the tensions of their separation, and this edition adds an extra disc of featurettes and interviews in addition to the fine supplements of the original Blu-ray release (filmmaker commentary, a “Picture-in-Picture: Eyewitness Account” audio-visual commentary, the 2004 Canadian documentary “Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option” among others). The box also includes a 64-page hardcover booklet with photos and film notes, a replica Tony Mendez ID badge (with Affleck’s mug shot), and 16″ x 20″ map of Tehran with notes on the film, and a mini-poster of the fictional “Argo” that served as the operational cover. Also includes an UltraViolet digital HD copy.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – The “Rich Mahogany” Edition (Paramount, Blu-ray) doesn’t add any additional footage – in fact, it’s the same version that was released as Best Buy Exclusive a few years ago – but it does have timing on its side. Which makes it both a promo for the upcoming sequel and complement purchase for fans of Ferrell’s earlier, funnier films. Ferrell is perfectly glib as a well-coiffed and self-involved San Diego newscaster in the glory days of 1970s local TV anchormen, where men are crude, newsteams rumble and the weatherman (Steve Carell) has the intellectual depth of a dust bunny. This two-disc set features two versions of the film (with commentary director Adam McKay, Ferrell and his cast), the alternate Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie (an incoherent feature made entirely out of deleted scenes and subplots), deleted scenes, featurettes, outtakes, table reads, cast auditions, and the recording session for “Afternoon Delight,” plus a Ron Burgundy appointment book (much of filled in with crayon) and a package of 12 collectible Anchorman trading cards. Stay classy!