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article imageReview: This week’s new releases are out of this world Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 15, 2016 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a gripping thriller; a tribute to brave but ordinary citizens; another excuse for “The Rock” to look good; and several re-releases with some boasting exciting new supplementary features.
10 Cloverfield Lane (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
After a catastrophic car crash, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in a survivalist’s (John Goodman) underground bunker. Howard claims to have saved her from an apocalyptic attack that has left the outside world uninhabitable. His theories are supported by a mysterious stranger who is in the bunker with them (John Gallagher, Jr.), but as his increasingly suspicious actions lead her to question his motives, she'll have to escape in order to discover the truth.
Michelle’s accident occurs shortly after the film’s opening. As her car violently rolls, the audience is trapped inside the crushing metal with her thanks to the first-person P.O.V. camera. This scene marks the start of the narrative’s rising tension; though there is the occasional humorous break. Taking the shape of a psychological thriller rather than a monster movie, Howard is both their saviour and central threat. Goodman is outstanding as the unbalanced conspiracy theorist. He can deliver even the most disturbing line with utter calmness, switching from cool and composed to angry and aggressive instantaneously and then back again. Gallagher Jr. plays Howard’s polar opposite, intent on keeping the peace as much as possible even if that means regularly bowing to the alpha male’s will. Winstead convincingly depicts Michelle’s fear and ingenuity, allowing the audience to become attached to her character and become invested in her journey. Instead of relying on jump scares, the filmmakers allow the terror to build until it reaches a boiling point — then they throw one more explosive into the mix.
Special features include: Commentary by director Dan Trachtenberg and producer J.J. Abrams; “Cloverfield Too”; “Bunker Mentality”; “Duck and Cover”; “Spin-off”; “Kelvin Optical”; “Fine Tuned”; and “End of Story.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Ballers: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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HBO Home Entertainment
Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) is a retired football superstar who is trying to reinvent himself as a financial manager for current players in sun-soaked Miami. His inner circle includes Ricky (John David Washington), a talented but volatile wide receiver who seeks to balance his off-field antics with his passion for the game; Charles (Omar Miller), a reluctantly retired lineman who's finding it hard to adjust to civilian life; and Vernon (Donovan Carter), a player with a rookie contract, whose promise never to forget “where he came from” brings scores of hangers-on into his life, and lands him in big financial trouble. Though they're pros when it comes to playing the game, each one has a harder time navigating life off the field.
There is a lot going on in this series as each of the characters is treated as nearly an equal part of an ensemble. Thus every 30-minute episode tells multiple stories that are either independent of or related to Spencer, while he’s also dealing with his insecure career that rides on these unpredictable players and possible concussion symptoms. Although there are a lot of laughs, the show addresses some of the many serious issues facing professional athletes, including blackmail, infidelity, hazing, money problems, retirement regret and just plain old poor decision-making. While most of this season occurs during the off-season, it will be interesting to see if and how the next handles having its players on the field. Johnson relishes the opportunity to be a well-dressed, smooth-talking personality; and he and Rob Corddry are oddly an excellent and complementary pair.
Special features include: “Inside the Episodes” with executive producer Evan Reilly and cast members Dwayne Johnson, John David Washington and more. (HBO Home Entertainment)
Bodyguards and Assassins (Blu-ray)
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Shout Factory
By 1905 the revolutionary movement has spread throughout China, but the corrupt Qing dynasty will do anything to hold onto its power. As Chinese revolutionary hero Sun Yat-Sen prepares for a historic Hong Kong meeting that will shape the future of the country, a motley crew of men and women are entrusted to protect him from a group of deadly assassins who will stop at nothing to kill him.
The first half of this picture is designed to introduce audiences to the ordinary citizens who in four days will risk their lives to protect the imminent leader of the revolution. An older businessman who strictly funded the local chapter is pushed to become its public leader; a former Shaolin monk offers his skill and size to the cause; a young man starting Yale in the fall jeopardizes his future, as does a recently engaged rickshaw driver; a teenage girl offers her services on her father’s behalf; and a disgraced former cop (played by Donnie Yen) and kung fu master take on the brunt of the opposition to regain their honour. The remaining hour is dedicated to Sun’s visit and the firestorm of assassins that accompany it. Based on a brief yet pivotal moment in history, this movie does an excellent job recognizing a small selection of the unsung heroes of the movement.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; extended interviews with cast and crew; and trailer. (Shout Factory)
Fever (DVD)
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Artsploitation Films
Loosely based on the Leopold and Loeb true-life crime, two philosophy students kill a young woman they just met, There was no motive and as time wears on the two realize they may have literally gotten away with murder. But slowly their murderous act begins to affect the young men in dramatically different ways.
Since the crime is never depicted and their involvement never blatantly stated, it can be difficult to assess what the picture is about if they viewer is unfamiliar with its inspiration. Instead, it appears to be an aimless exploration of youth and philosophy regarding a possibly hypothetical situation. The questions the film intermittently raises can be intriguing, but it lacks well-defined examination as the teens’ limited attention spans quickly divert them to some other frivolous activity. While the psychological effects of the supposed crime are meant to become more evident with time, there appears to be other underlying causes for their behaviour that are left unexplored.
Special features include: trailer. (Artsploitation Films)
Hello, My Name is Doris (DVD)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
After a lifetime of being overlooked and ignored, Doris (Sally Field) finds her world turned upside down by a handsome new co-worker (Max Greenfield) and a self-help guru (Peter Gallagher) that inspires her to take a chance on love.
In some ways, this is Doris’ mid-life crisis. Her mother, who she’s cared for the majority of her adult life, recently passed away and her brother is insisting she leave their childhood home so it can be sold. Then as she wallows near depression, these two smart, good-looking men enter her life, offering her kindness and possibilities that she’s typically lived without. Through the help and encouragement of her friend’s teenage granddaughter, Doris begins to get closer to her co-worker in the hopes he’ll reciprocate. Considering Field’s experience dating a younger co-star, this role likely seemed a natural fit for her; although Doris is far less sophisticated than the actress, she has fun with her quirks and colourful wardrobe.
Special features include: filmmaker commentary; deleted and extended scenes; and alternate opening. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Jeepers Creepers [Collector’s Edition] (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
On a desolate country highway, two homeward-bound teens (Gina Philips and Justin Long) are nearly run off the road by a maniac in a beat-up truck... and later spot him shoving what appears to be a body down a sewer pipe. But when they stop to investigate, they discover that the grisly reality at the bottom of that pipe is far worse than they could have ever suspected and that they are now the targets of an evil far more unspeakable — and unstoppable — than they could have ever imagined.
The notion of a highway predator has often been the subject of horror movies, lurking along the sides of dark, empty roads waiting for their next victim to cross their path. But this movie took that concept a step further as the serial killer’s motivations and origin are more sinister than the typical executioner. Unfortunately, the teenage siblings make some very stupid mistakes along the way essentially sealing their fates as well as those they encounter along the way. Nonetheless, the Creeper is an interesting character who has a fairly full backstory for a rather mysterious, murderous force. There’s also some decent special effects work in the picture as people are decapitated and eaten throughout.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Victor Salva and stars Justin Long and Gina Philips; commentary by writer/director Victor Salva; deleted & extended scenes including an alternate opening and ending sequence; “Jeepers Creepers: Then And Now” featuring interviews with writer/director Victor Salva, producer Barry Opper, director of photography Don FauntLeRoy, editor Ed Marx and actor Tom Tarantini; “From Critters To Creepers — an interview with producer Barry Opper”; “The Town Psychic — an interview with actress Patricia Belcher”; “Behind The Peepers: The Making of Jeepers Creepers” featuring writer/director Victor Salva, producer Tom Luse, actors Gina Philips, Justin Long, Eileen Brennan, Jonathan Breck and more; photo gallery; radio spot; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Jeepers Creepers 2 [Collector’s Edition] (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
When their bus is crippled on the side of a deserted road, a team of high school athletes discover an opponent they cannot defeat — and may not survive. Staring hungrily at them through the school bus windows, the "Creeper" returns again and again. But when the teammates discover that it's selective about whom it attacks, it will test their ability to stick together as the insatiable menace tries to tear them apart.
The sequel presumably occurs within the same feeding cycle as the first film, although they were released two years apart. The Creeper’s lair, discovered in the previous picture, is being examined by authorities while the creature continues to tally up bodies before becoming dormant again for 23 years. The movie takes the already fantastic tale and enhances it by incorporating a young woman who just happens to become psychically linked to the monster’s victims. But her prophetic dreams are no match for the flying, killing machine who easily picks off the stranded bus occupants one-by-one. In the meantime, there’s a lot of meaningless politics and bickering between the teenagers that doesn’t add much to the narrative. Unfortunately the Creeper’s look is somewhat altered (for reasons explained in the bonus features), causing him to be appear somewhat glossy and less frightening.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Victor Salva and cast members; commentary by Jonathan Breck (The Creeper), production illustrator Brad Parker and special effects makeup Brian Penikas; deleted scenes; “Jeepers Creepers 2: Then And Now” featuring new interviews with writer/director Victor Salva, director of photography Don FauntLeRoy, editor Ed Marx and actor Tom Tarantini; “A Father's Revenge — an interview with actor Ray Wise”; “Don't Get Off The Bus — interviews with actors Tom Tarantini, Thom Gossom Jr. and Diane Delano; “A Day In Hell — A Look At The Filming Of Jeepers Creepers 2”; “Lights, Camera, Creeper: The Making Of Jeepers Creepers 2” featuring writer/director Victor Salva, actors Travis Schiffner, Josh Hammond, Billy Aaron Brown, Eric Nenninger, Nicki Aycox, director of photography Don FauntLeRoy and more; “Creeper Creation” featuring interviews with production illustrator Brad Parker, special make-up effects artist Brian Penikas and Jonathan Breck; “The Orphanage Visual Effects Reel”; “Creeper Composer — an interview with composer Bennett Salvay and writer/director Victor Salva; storyboard renditions of scenes not filmed — "The Creeper's Lair" and "Ventriloquist Creeper"; photo gallery; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Journey to Space (Blu-ray)
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Shout Factory
This dazzling film illustrates just how exciting and ambitious NASA’s next era promises to be. In showcasing the goals NASA and the space industry are working towards, including space travel to Mars and capturing asteroids, the film puts an end to the perception that the space program died with the end of the Space Shuttle Program.
Although Patrick Stewart does narrate some of the 40-minute documentary, a lot of the voiceovers are provided by NASA’s knowledgeable team of experts and astronauts who can lend their real-life experiences to the picture. The film sets out to prove that in spite of temporarily suspending manned missions, the organization is still conducting a lot of research and preparing for the next frontier of space travel via the Orion, which may one day in the not-so-distant future be sent to Mars. The film also provides a little history of the program and wisely chooses not to ignore the fatal disasters that informed its future endeavours. There is a lot of great footage pieced together from various missions and training exercises, providing viewers with a rare behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be an astronaut. And to further this concept, the movie also allows some of their personalities to shine through and show they’re not just a bunch of boring scientists.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes footage; photo gallery; and trailers. (Shout Factory)
London Has Fallen (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and VVS Films
The sequel to Olympus Has Fallen begins in London, where the British Prime Minister has passed away under mysterious circumstances. Nonetheless, his funeral is a must-attend event for leaders of the western world. But what starts out as the most protected event on earth, turns into a deadly plot to kill the world's most powerful leaders, devastate every known landmark in the British capital, and unleash a terrifying vision of the future. Only three people have any hope of stopping it: the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart), his formidable secret service head (Gerard Butler), and an English MI-6 agent (Charlotte Riley) who rightly trusts no one.
This movie begins and ends with a drone strike, which is the pillar of modern warfare and at the centre of significant controversy. But the movie doesn’t dig too deeply into the politics or ethics; it’s simply a matter of cause and effect, good and bad guys — and blowing stuff up. There’s a terrorist with a gun or RPG around every corner and enough explosives lying around to make something go boom at regular intervals. The key and irrefutable sentiment of this picture is “’Merica, f#%k yeah!” Nonetheless, the numerous battles are well choreographed and designed for maximum entertainment. It doesn’t feel as if there’s repetition within the picture, nor is it directly lifting scenes from other action movies. Thus the resulting sequences and script are just inventive enough to maintain fans’ interest all the way through, finding forgiveness for the cheesy dialogue and inflated heroism.
Special features include: making-of featurette; and “Guns, Knives & Explosives.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and VVS Films)
The Martian: Extended Edition (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Fox Home Entertainment
During a mission to Mars, American astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead and left behind. But Watney is still alive. Against all odds, he must find a way to contact Earth in the hope that scientists can devise a rescue plan to bring him home.
With the story beginning on Mars, it’s not long before Mark’s harrowing tale of survival becomes the focus. Regardless of whether the audience believes they know how it will end, the film enthralls them with the fascinating details of how one would go about living on an uncultivated planet as well as the countless issues involved with sending a rescue mission from Earth. Many may be surprised to know the majority of the events in the picture are accurate. Director Ridley Scott conferred with NASA consultants to ensure the film is as correct as possible, from equipment to strategies to the visual recreation of the Red Planet. Consequently this edition of the film is accompanied by in-depth Q&As with some of these experts, providing real answers to questions regarding the possibilities of going to and living on Mars. They discuss some of the concerns, such as ensuring it’s not a one-way trip, landing the enormous spaceship, managing the six-month voyage and training potential astronauts for the unique mission; as well as the progress they’ve made toward making this long-time dream a reality. Everyone involved has a great sense of humour and manage to “dumb down” some very complex subjects for a general audience.
Special features include: theatrical and extended versions of film with 10 extra minutes; commentary by director Ridley Scott, writer/executive producer Drew Goddard and author Andy Weir; “The Long Way Home: Making the Martian”; “Dare Mighty Things: NASA’s Journey to Mars”; “Journey to Mars 101” Q&As: “NASA’s Journey to Mars”, “Living on Mars and Beyond” and “Why Science Fiction Inspires Me”; “Signal Acquired: Writing and Direction”; “Occupy Mars: Casting and Costumes”; five theatrical in-world pieces; “Ares III: Refocused”; production gallery; and gag reel. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Never Back Down: No Surrender (DVD)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Former MMA champion Case Walker (Michael Jai White) has kept a low profile, winning small-time regional matches after refusing to join the powerful new leagues that push performance-enhancing drugs on their fighters. Walker is convinced by old friend and renowned fighter Brody James (Josh Barnett) to join him in Thailand and train him for a big fight against the undefeated and deadly Caesar Braga (Nathan Jones). During training, Brody is injured. Under pressure from an unscrupulous, high-powered promoter (Esai Morales), Walker agrees to replace James and fight his toughest opponent yet — but only on his terms.
This movie has a nearly identical premise to Kickboxer as Brody is even lured to Thailand for this moneymaking sports event against a potential killer fighter. Although this parallel is extremely obvious, it’s not the primary reason the movie is terrible — that honour goes to the monotonous script. The film is stuck on a repeat cycle of fighting or training montages set to some high-energy music and weak snippets of narrative that will inevitably set-up the predictable conclusion. Of course Case also falls for the single-mom promoter who clearly needs to be rescued from her immoral boss that forces her to be a worse person than she is deep down. And even though the fight sequences are adequate, they’re not going to save this picture.
There are no special features. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Other Side of the Door (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Fox Home Entertainment
After her young son dies in an accident, a grieving mother (Sarah Wayne Callies) learns of a ritual that will bring him back for a final goodbye. When she travels to an ancient temple to undertake the ritual, she discovers a door that serves as a portal to the after-world. But when she ignores a warning not to open the door, the balance between life and death is upset. Now, an unspeakable horror is unleashed that threatens the lives of everyone she loves.
It seems to be human nature that once someone is told not to do something, their desire to do it increases exponentially. In this case, the desperate and clearly untrustworthy mother is given a precious opportunity to say goodbye to her deceased child and in exchange asked to obey a single rule — which she impulsively and predictably breaks. The result is a cross between Pet Semetary and a ghost story as the dead child returns to haunt and torment his family. There are also mysterious, chanting men who frequently and randomly appear, often in the form of a potential jump scare. While the conclusion seems entirely avoidable, the very final moments of the film are the most fitting (which should not be confused with an invitation for a sequel).
Special features include: deleted scenes; making-of featurette; and still gallery. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Shrek: Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Fox Home Entertainment
Shrek (Mike Myers) goes on a daring quest to rescue feisty Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), with the help of his lovable loudmouthed Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and win back the deed to his beloved swamp from scheming Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow).
Even though this cartoon was released 15 years ago, it continues to hold up. The characters are fantastic and complemented by perfectly matched voice actors. Essentially a buddy comedy, Shrek and Donkey are hilarious as they bicker all the way to Fiona’s dungeon and back again. Shrek turns out be a fairly deep character whose internalized all the hate he’s encountered; but a few days with a tenacious “steed” and an exceptional princess brings him out of his shell. Conversely, Lord Farquaad has no depth and is the butt of many humorous short jokes. In addition, the array of additional characters, such as the Gingerbread Man, three blind mice and lonely dragon, and sing-along-worthy soundtrack make this a thoroughly enjoyable movie.
Special features include: filmmaker commentary; deleted scenes; “Shrek, Rattle and Roll Music”; “Shrek’s Interactive Journey”; “The Animator’s Corner”; “Karaoke Dance Party”; “Secrets of Shrek”; and “Spotlight on Donkey.” (Fox Home Entertainment)
Star Trek (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
The fate of the galaxy rests in the hands of bitter rivals. One, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), is a delinquent thrill-seeking Iowa farm boy. The other, Spock (Zachary Quinto), was raised in a logic-based society that rejects all emotion. As fiery instinct clashes with calm reason, their unlikely but powerful partnership is the only thing capable of leading their crew through unimaginable danger, boldly going where no man has gone before.
The reboot of the film franchise appropriately features younger versions of the already familiar characters. Perfectly cast, the fresh Enterprise crew reflect the individuals' unique and well-known traits but with youthfulness and verve. Pine exemplifies Kirk’s bravado, while Quinto delivers each emotionless line with deliberate precision. Moreover, Simon Pegg’s Scotty, Karl Urban’s Bones, John Cho’s Sulu and Zoë Saldana’s Uhura are regularly provided an opportunity to take the spotlight. The black hole plot allows for a number of opportunities of conflict and compromise that establish the core partnership between Spock and Kirk, which would go on to inform their decades’ long friendship. The film finds the perfect balance between narrative and action, as well as nostalgia and innovation. Finally, space has never appeared so crisp and deep as in this ultra-high-definition transfer.
Special features include: commentary by by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci; 10 featurettes, including 20 branching pods: “To Boldly Go”, “Casting”, “A New Vision”, “Starships”, “Aliens”, “Planets”, “Props and Costumes”, “Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek”, “Score”, “Gene Roddenberry’s Vision”; nine deleted scenes with optional commentary; gag reel; and four trailers. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Star Trek Into Darkness (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
When a ruthless mastermind known as Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) declares a one-man war on the Federation, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the daring crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise will embark on the greatest manhunt in history.
It's fitting the second film should be a send-up to The Wrath of Khan (also released on Blu-ray this week — see below). Having already established the characters in the first picture, Kirk's brashness and impulsive bravery are expected. Conversely, Spock's behavior ranges from predictable to surprising. The aggressive assault on the federation is clearly personal and being carried out by someone acquainted with their procedures – and for those familiar with the original film, the culprit’s identity was no surprise. Everyone reprises their roles seamlessly, obviously more comfortable the second time around and consequently able to explore other elements of their characters' personalities. Scotty (Simon Pegg) is shouldered with significant responsibility this time around, in some melding his engineer persona with his Mission Impossible ingenuity. And the upgraded transfer unsurprisingly matches its predecessor in visual quality and clarity.
Special features include: IMAX version with enhanced commentary J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Michael Giacchino and others; “The Voyage Begins…Again”; “Creating the Red Planet”; “Introducing the Villain”; “Rebuilding the Enterprise”; “National Ignition Facility: Home of the Core”; “Attack on Starfleet”; “Aliens Encountered”; “The Klingon Home World”; “The Enemy of My Enemy”; “Vengeance is Coming”; “Ship to Ship”; “Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock”; “Down with the Ship”; “Kirk and Spock”; “Brawl by the Bay”; “Continuing the Mission”; “Unlocking the Cut”; “The Sounds of Music (and FX)”; “Visual Affection”; “Safety First,” a prank pulled on the cast; seven deleted scenes; “Fitting the Future”; “Property of Starfleet”; gag reel; and three theatrical trailers. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Director’s Cut (Blu-ray)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Captain Kirk’s (William Shatner) Starfleet career enters a new chapter as a result of his most vengeful nemesis: Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban), the genetically enhanced conqueror from late 20th-century Earth. Escaping his forgotten prison, Khan sets his sights on capturing Project Genesis, a device of god-like power, and the utter destruction of Kirk.
This film explores the themes of growing old and similarly, mortality. Kirk has been promoted to a desk position, essentially ending his time in the field. Before relinquishing command, he is tasked with training a fresh crew who are ill-equipped to deal with Khan’s attack. Kirk and Spock’s (Leonard Nimoy) friendship are also at the centre of the story as they assist each other in making the best available decisions in this dire situation. The security of the Genesis machine and Kirk’s crew add a whole other level of difficulty to their problem as Khan uses both to strong-arm Kirk into cooperating. In spite of the off-screen script disagreements revealed in the new 30-minute documentary, this is one of the series’ strongest (and most parodied) standalone pictures.
Special features include: theatrical version and director’s cut; commentary by director Nicholas Meyer; commentary by director Nicholas Meyer and Manny Coto; text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda; “Library Computer”; “The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan”; “Captain’s Log”; “Designing Khan”; original interviews with DeForest Kelley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Ricardo Montalban”; “Where No Man Has Gone Before: The Visual Effects of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”; “James Horner: Composing Genesis”; “Collecting Star Trek’s Movie Relics”; “A Novel Approach”; “Starfleet Academy: The Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI”; “A Tribute to Ricardo Montalban”; storyboards; theatrical trailer. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
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