BACK TO THE FUTURE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY TRILOGY (1985-1990). In 2002, Universal released Back to the Future: The Complete Trilogy, a superb box set that contained all three titles in the popular film franchise as well as over 10 hours of bonus material. Last year, the studio saw fit to re-release the movies on disc, retaining the original extras and adding a handful more. And now we get the third go-around for this beloved trio, containing more extras than ever before. As for the movies themselves, Back to the Future (1985), in which high school student Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) cruises back to 1955 in a DeLorean time machine built by the eccentric Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), remains the best; Back to the Future Part II (1989), in which the pair head forward to 2015, remains the most underrated (like fellow second child Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, it had to contend with doltish charges of being too cold); and Back to the Future Part III (1990), which blasted Marty and Doc back to the Old West of 1885, remains the most conventional.
Unfortunately, this new set fails to include the trivia tracks offered on the previous ones. But there's still a wealth of new and old material, including audio commentary by writer-director Robert Zemeckis and writer-producer Bob Gale; separate audio commentary by Gale and producer Neil Canton; a six-part retrospective documentary; 16 deleted scenes; scores of behind-the-scenes material; and music videos for Huey Lewis and the News' "The Power of Love" (from Part I) and ZZ Top's "Doubleback" (from Part III).
Back to the Future: ***1/2
Back to the Future Part II: ***
Back to the Future Part III: **1/2
IN/SIGNIFICANT OTHERS (2010). Local filmmaker John Schwert made an impressive feature-film debut back in 2005 with Among Brothers, and his follow-up effort, In/Significant Others, caused waves when it premiered on the film-festival circuit last fall. Racking up a handful of awards — including the Festival Prize at the Boston Film Festival and Best Narrative Feature at our own Charlotte Film Festival — as well as securing a regular theatrical run here in the Queen City, the film now makes its DVD debut. Serving as director, producer, co-writer (with David Mulholland) and co-editor, Schwert has crafted a thematically ambitious drama in which various characters — including a troubled Iraq War veteran, an ill-tempered comedian, his struggling brother, and a duplicitous documentarian — find their lives overlapping while police investigate a local murder that ties them all together. Shot locally and filled with memorable performances (One Tree Hill's Burgess Jenkins and Charlotte actors Mark Scarboro and Brian Lafontaine are especially noteworthy), In/Significant Others is an impressive achievement that ably showcases Carolina talent.
DVD extras include audio commentary by Schwert; separate audio commentary by Los Angeles Film Critics Association members Wade Major and Mark Keizer; a half-hour of deleted scenes; a 9-minute making-of featurette; and nine minutes of outtakes.
JIMMY THE GENT (1934) / THE POWER (1968) / PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW (1971). Yes, Warner Bros. is still at it, continuing to release new made-to-order titles each month through its Warner Archive label (www.warnerarchive.com). This sampling from a recent crop gives us James Cagney handling comedy, George Hamilton involved in sci-fi shenanigans, and Rock Hudson at the center of a murder-mystery.
A minor outing from the great Cagney, Jimmy the Gent finds him cast as Jimmy Corrigan, an uncouth businessman who makes his living by steering missing heirs to their inheritances, usually by unscrupulous means. Hoping to win back his former assistant (Bette Davis), Jimmy decides to clean up his act — or so he says. The story is slender and Davis is wasted, but Cagney is commanding as always, and there's also the opportunity to catch a supporting turn by Mayo Methot, Humphrey Bogart's volatile wife before Lauren Bacall came along.
Producer George Pal and director Byron Haskin, neither exactly a slouch in the fantasy-flick field, are behind The Power, in which a team of scientists finds its members getting bumped off by a telekinetic killer. One of the crew (George Hamilton) decides to investigate on his own, resulting in a Hitchcockian trek involving remote areas, red herrings and a mood-appropriate score by Spellbound Oscar winner Miklos Rozsa. The intriguing story remains frustratingly on the surface, but the film's visuals are often eye-popping (literally, in the gruesome death of one of the characters) and Hamilton is backed by a terrific cast of seasoned vets.
Gene Roddenberry may have created Star Trek and Roger Vadim may have directed Barbarella, but their joint collaboration, Pretty Maids All In a Row, manages in a sense to be even more out there than their respective space odysseys. Screaming its early-'70s time period at every turn, the film is set at an American high school where nubile young women are being murdered on a regular basis. Rock Hudson headlines as the womanizing football coach and guidance counselor, Angie Dickinson co-stars as a fellow teacher who helps a virginal student (John David Carson) overcome his impotency, and Telly Savalas turns up as the detective investigating the slayings. The first half of the picture is intriguing for a number of reasons, but everything falls disastrously apart in the second half, leading to a wholly unsatisfying conclusion.