There’s not a whole lot of variety on DVD this week, but what is there is really big. Like $200 Million-plus big. Yes, two of the biggest movies of the summer hit shelves this week, and they couldn’t be more different. We have the mind-bending action film Inception for sci-fi fans and film geeks and Shrek Forever After for their kids. Or maybe you just love both!

There’s also some great documentaries leaping from TV to DVD and the worst DVD release of the week!

Check it out below…

Feature Films

Inception

Before I begin: SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT – I’ll be mentioning the end of the movie! SPOILER ALERT.

There, now that the two of you who would go to a movie news website and haven’t seen Inception are out of the way, let’s discuss that ending. That spinning top, those kids who finally turn around. Leo standing in his old house. Was it a dream? Was it real? It was the debate of cinephiles and pseudo-intellectuals alike in the latter half of the summer, but I have my own answer.

I don’t care.

In fact, as soon as it the top started spinning, I immediately thought to myself, “Oh brother, they’re going to ruin this movie with some ambiguous ‘ending’ that doesn’t relate to the rest of the film in any way whatsoever.” ( I also apparently morphed into Charlie Brown temporarily.)

I thought this because I never found Inception to be a pretty straightforward action/heist pic that reached a new strata due to an incredibly innovative premise. A premise that didn’t serve as anything more than a hook and a way to heighten the action – not a psychological analysis of its lead, not a meditation on the filmmaking process, and not deep in any way. Just a damn fine action film that was a lot of fun too watch.

And that’s something that wouldn’t change whether or not DiCaprio was still dreaming.

But if you’re still confused, you can buy Inception on DVD.

Shrek Forever After

Awash in the many disappointing sequels, the TV specials, and the overall omnipresence of its main character, it’s easy to forget that once upon a time Shrek was an absolute miracle revolution of a movie.

Yes, you can say that some early Pixar releases and other films of their ilk went for the adult-as-kid’s-movie path for laughs, but it took Shrek to become so wildly subversive, so absolutely unconcerned with how it appealed to children. A monumental achievement, but a mixed blessing in my opinion.

Why mixed? Because of this scene I witnessed during a screening of Shrek 2:

It was the scene with the “Cops” parody “Knights”. Specifically, the moment where a Knight pulls a bag of catnip away from Puss. The audience exploded in laughter – the type of laughter that causes people who aren’t even paying attention to laugh as well, as though not to look moronic.

There was, however, one person who wasn’t laughing. Not at all. A little six-year-old boy sitting in front of me who said to his dad, “Daddy, why is that funny?”

And this is where the mixed blessing comes in. This father was taking his child to an innocuous PG-rated film and was now left to explain to him what drugs were if he didn’t want to lie to him. While this joke was certainly sly enough that censors shouldn’t have booted it, it still shows that maybe these films shouldn’t push the envelope too far lest they corrupt their target audience.

I’m not sure if there’s anything like that in Shrek Forever After, so buy the DVD to find out.

You can also buy the complete Shrek series with the Shrek: The Whole Story boxed set.

TV On DVD

ESPN Films “30 for 30″ Gift Set Collection, Volume 1

In case you’ve missed it (or maybe just don’t believe it) ESPN has spent the last year or so delivering some of the most interesting documentaries anywhere. Not just about sports, not just on television, anywhere.

Now, you can get the first fifteen of their “30 for 30″ series in one boxed set. While the quality is a bit of a mixed bag, each is very compelling, detailing sports stories that don’t often get much coverage or discussion.

And, as mentioned before, a few of these are actually Oscar-nominee-level documentary films that certainly stretch far beyond what you’d expect to see on ESPN.

The set includes:

  • Kings Ransom
  • The Band That Wouldn’t Die
  • Small Potatoes: Who Killed The USFL?
  • Muhammad & Larry
  • Without Bias
  • The Legend of Jimmy The Greek
  • The U
  • Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks
  • Guru of Go
  • No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson
  • Silly Little Game
  • Run Ricky Run
  • The 16th Man
  • Straight Outta L.A.
  • June 17th, 1994

Click here to buy the full “30 For 30″ box set on DVD.

Also:

  • “Bonanza”: Season 2, Vol. 1 – Buy Now
  • “Boy Meets World”: Season 4 – Buy Now
  • “Law and Order”: Season 8 – Buy Now
  • “Restrepo” – Buy Now

And Just So You Know, This DVD Exists…

Hmmm…The Unauthorized “Life Story” of a 20-year-old? Believe it or not, it’s only 70 minutes!