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Published: Thursday, 9/20/2012

'Indiana Jones' makes Blu-Ray debut; latest from Katy Perry, Joss Whedon

BY RICH HELDENFELS
AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

Tuesday marked the Blu-ray debut of Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures (Paramount, $99.98), and I wish that title had an asterisk.

In a nice, book-like case, the set includes the four Indy movies made so far -- Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull -- along with a disc of extras.

But diehard Indy fans can question whether it's the "complete adventures," since the set does not include any of the Young Indiana Jones TV series episodes and movies. And cynics will recall that the Jones saga was once a trilogy, until all concerned decided to make the ill-considered Crystal Skull.

That said, the movies' Blu-rays are a noticeable improvement over the previous DVDs (only Crystal Skull has been on Blu-ray before), although some of the DVDs have looked very good. I compared the Blu-ray of Raiders with the DVD of it in the 2008 Adventure Collection of Jones movies; the DVD was very clean, but the Blu-ray was even sharper, the details even more evident, the play of light and shadow all the more impressive.

Impressing music watchers (and people fascinated with candy-coated color schemes) has been standard procedure for singer-songwriter Katy Perry, who has topped charts (and provided repeated material for Glee) with songs like "I Kissed a Girl," "California Gurls," "Firework," "Teenage Dream," and "Hot N Cold." It's catchy, bop-along-able pop, delivered by a performer who also conveys a cheerful approachability.

Paramount's release of the concert documentary Katy Perry: The Movie: Part of Me will feed the fan base several video versions: a standard DVD ($29.98), a Blu-ray/DVD combo ($39.99), and a combo adding the 3-D version ($54.99) with varied extras. And the documentary reveals not only Perry in good form onstage but also other personal moments, including her challenging road to success and scenes of her pain as her marriage to Russell Brand was crumbling. But, in this age of carefully controlled screen bios of stars, a viewer can reasonably wonder if this is a full portrait of Perry -- or just, in fact, part of her.

Steve Martin has let Shout! Factory dig deep into his archives for the box set The Television Stuff ($34.98), a collection of two standup shows from the '70s, four specials for NBC, and a disc of "bits and pieces" such as his first TV appearance on a children's show in 1966, his playing a French country-music singer (on a Johnny Cash special), music videos, some Saturday Night Live and Late Show With David Letterman sketches, and more.

The set includes a booklet as well as a brief segment with Martin talking about (and at times criticizing) his TV efforts. I remember loving a lot of this when it first aired -- Steve Martin on HBO was a big, early reason to watch HBO -- but not as much now. Only just as I am losing interest, there's Martin, in cowboy gear, riding a turtle.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox, $29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray) was somewhat successful in the United States and even more internationally, thanks to its veteran acting cast (including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy) and its reaching out to older moviegoers with a story about seniors.

In this case, those seniors have gone to India for various reasons, but have not left their personal problems behind. The cast, as you expect, is terrific. But, as I have said before, the film as a whole is laced with platitudes, strained in its optimism and at crucial moments more interested in talking about key events than showing them.

The megahit The Avengers, directed and co-written by Joss Whedon, hits video shelves Sept. 25. If you need a Whedon warm-up, consider the gory The Cabin in the Woods (Lionsgate, $29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray), co-written by Whedon with Drew Goddard, who also directed. It's an often peculiar, and too increasingly weird, rethinking of the standard horror plot of people getting picked off in an isolated location. The carnage is a bit much, but the cleverness considerable. And when the movie was in theaters, I thought some scenes were so rich in homages and cultural references that a home-video release would give fans a chance to pause and catch all the details. So here's that chance -- along with extras like an audio commentary and a making-of featurette.

Also of note:

Hysteria (Sony, $35.99 DVD, $45.99 Blu-ray) has a significant cast (Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce, Rupert Everett) in the story of an inventor whose medical device proves to have another, more exciting use. End of the Road (Warner, $19.97 DVD) is a cult film that Roger Ebert admired for its "merging madness with the normal world" -- and that is making its DVD debut accompanied by a half-hour documentary on the film.



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