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Tuesday, September 2, 2014



DVD Releases for May 20, 2008

This week's list is dominated by Blu-ray releases. This is not surprising as this is the first week Paramount has released Blu-ray discs after dropping the format last August for an exclusive HD DVD commitment. However, it is another Blu-ray release that caught my eye: the National Treasure Blu-ray Two-Pack. This is the best format has to offer this week, but it is not the best movie coming out. If you want the DVD Pick of the Week, you have to grab Night of the Living Dead Buy from Amazon.

24 - Season One - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Special editions for DVDs tend to annoy a lot of people. Special editions for TV on DVD can be suicide for a franchise. It costs so much money to buy a single season of TV on DVD, that the prospect of double-dips will really hurt sales the first time around. That said, there are several new features here and for hard, hardcore fans of the show, this might be worth the upgrade.

The Air I Breathe - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This film opened to brutal reviews earlier this year and it failed to make any noise at the box office. Now it is coming out on both DVD and Blu-ray. Sadly, the number of Blu-ray releases this week means it won't get a lot of attention from High Definition early adopters. It does have better extras than most limited releases, but not enough to overcome those reviews and it is worth a rental at the very most.

Bee Movie - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
The first of the new wave of Blu-ray releases coming out this week. Like the others, there's no reason to talk about the movie, which I've reviewed when it came out on DVD. The only question is whether it's worth the upgrade.

It is.

When it first came out I said it was worth picking up, but the Blu-ray is a substantial step up. Not only does the High Definition transfer look great, and it does, it also has several extra features. Things start off with a Picture-in-Picture track that has animatics and early 3-D animation; I've complained that PiP tracks are under-utilized and this one is no different, as it does not really take advantage of the technology. It isn't bad, but there's limited replay value here. The second Blu-ray exclusive is a trivia track that talks about the movie, bees, behind-the-scenes, etc. and it's better than most in this field. The World Of Bees has information on most of the characters in the movie, which you can read while watching the movie. The final feature is My Menus, which allows you to change the menu system based on one of three of the main characters. It's a cute feature, but not particularly meaty.

Bee Movie is not a great movie, but it is fun for kids. The DVD has enough extras to be worth picking up, while the Blu-ray has more than enough to be worth the upgrade. Granted, it's still a kids movie, so I'm not convinced it will be a big seller on the High Def format, but it has earned its sales.

Blades of Glory - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
One of four Paramount films that are coming out on Blu-ray this week. This is one of the movies that was scheduled to come out last year but was pulled at the last second when the studio dropped Blu-ray in favor of HD DVD. Now that it is coming out on Blu-ray, there's little reason to rehash the quality of the movie, and instead it seems wise to focus on its Blu-ray treatment.

When it first came out on DVD, I complained that while there were plenty of special features, they were light on substance. Sadly, the Blu-ray adds nothing to the list of extras, although most are presented in high definition at least. Return to Glory runs 15 minutes, but it is promotional fluff. Celebrites on Thin Ice is one of the more substantial featurettes, but only runs 6 minutes. Cooler Than Ice: The Super-Sexy Costumes of Skating is a 4 and a half minute featurette on the costumes, which should be obvious from the name. Arnett & Poehler: A Family Affair has the pair joking around for six minutes, but it only works for about half that time. 20 Questions with Scott Hamilton is a 5-minute interview with figure skater Scott Hamilton. Many of these questions are hardly serious, but we actually learn a bit about Scott Hamilton and figure staking in general. Hector: Portrait of a Psychofan is a featurette done in character with Hector, Jimmy's stalker. No replay value here. Moviefone Unscripted is one of the few extras not in High Definition. It has the three main guys answering fan questions. Next up are just over nine minutes of deleted scenes, just under nine minutes of alternate takes, and 2 minutes of outtakes. Finally, there are some images, a music video, and some TV spots to round out the extras.

Blades of Glory is a good movie, but not a great movie. The same can be said of the Blu-ray release. The video and audio quality are not among the best I've seen for High Definition, nor is this the kind of movie that really benefits from the extra resolution. Finally, there are plenty of extras, but the quality is not as high as the quantity. Call it a solid rental / weak purchase, but that's as enthusiastic as I can be.

Blu-ray releases - Buy from Amazon: The Air I Breathe, Anger Management, Bee Movie, Blades of Glory, Company, Face/Off, National Treasure, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, National Treasure Two-Pack, Next, Short Circuit, V for Vendetta, and WWE - Wrestlemania 24
A huge selection of Blu-ray releases this week, including the first wave of Paramount releases since they dropped the format last year. Strangely, Amazon seems to be missing some these Blu-ray releases from their list while others have the wrong release date. It's a mess. On a side note, National Treasure Two-Pack is the best selling Blu-ray according to Amazon. In fact, it is the best selling DVD according to Amazon. It will be interesting to see if it can become the highest selling High Definition release. The second best Blu-ray release of the week? Short Circuit, which is also coming out on a Special Edition DVD.

Charles in Charge - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
A sitcom of the utmost magnitude. It still has plenty of fans, but that has more to do with nostalgia than it has to do with quality.

The Cottage - Buy from Amazon
A film that feels like two movies squished together. The first half is an effective crime thriller / dark comedy while the second half turns into a Teenage Slasher horror. Combined, they don't quite add up to the sum of their parts (and the first half is the better half). But overall is it worth checking out?

David and Peter are two brothers who don't have the warmest of relationships and are constantly bickering. Granted, they are both under a lot of stress since they kidnapped the daughter of a local club owner who is connected to the mob. Tracey, the victim, is an extremely foul-mouthed young lady who is far more dangerous than either of the two men, and her advantage only grows with the arrival of her step-brother, who is in on the kidnapping plot. Up to this point, the film is excellent, blending the right balance for a dark comedy, which is something that is not easy to do. The second half, on the other hand, introduces the movie monster and becomes a rather gory teenage slasher. The humor is lessened, but not gone entirely, but it doesn't work as well as it does in the first half. Had the whole movie been as strong as the first half, it would have been an easy and enthusiastic recommendation. As it is, I can recommend it, but only to a more limited audience. You have to be a fan of both genres, and have a high tolerance for gore, and have a sense of humor that's more British. That's not a large target audience.

As for the extras, there are almost none. There are a few deleted scenes that run roughly 12 minutes, 5 minutes of outtakes, and storyboards for two scenes. Considering it is a low-budget foreign import, this is not a bad selection, but I was hoping for more.

The Cottage is a movie that could have been better if they had just picked a genre and stuck with it, preferably the crime thriller / dark comedy half. As it is, it is effective, if schizophrenic with a more limited audience. I figure it will earn a cult following, but most moviegoers that are interested should rent it first.

Cranford - Buy from Amazon
A BBC mini-series starring, among others, Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, and Imelda Staunton. Reviews were amazing, it was nominated for several BAFTA awards, and the 2-disc set even has a substantial 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which is more than these imports usually have. Certainly worth picking up for any fan of the genre and if you are interested in this DVD, check out The Elizabeth Gaskell Collection as well.

Eclipse Series 9 - The Delirious Fictions of William Klein - Buy from Amazon
William Klein is an American director who made a career for himself in France during the 1960s and 1970s. This three-disc set includes Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, Mr. Freedom, and The Model Couple, which were part of the Delirious Fictions trilogy. The first film, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, is the best of the three, but all are worth checking out. While this is a Criterion release, it is a no-frills release and there are no extras on the 3-disc set.

Exes and Ohs - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A TV show about the lives of five lesbians who are in different stages of their lives. There have been a lot of movies and TV shows about gay men, but shows with strong, central female characters (straight or lesbian) are rather uncommon, so it is great that this subject matter is being seen on TV.

Michelle Paradise stars, and writes, and produces the series, which is partially based on her short film, The Ten Rules: A Lesbian Survival Guide, which is also available on DVD. She plays Jennifer, the lead character who helps explain the rules of lesbian life to the viewers. That's not to say she has a solid grasp on them herself. If she did, her life would not be as chaotic as it is. Her four friends include Sam, her ex-girlfriend; Chris and Kris, who are effectively married and are looking to have a child; and Crutch, the youngest of the group, both chronologically and emotionally. The show starts out feeling like a sitcom, which it is, but that is not a compliment. Fortunately, it quickly grows outside the limitations of its genre and presents characters that feel real. It deals with a number of topics including some that are quite specific to the target audience (trying to have a kid), to those that anyone can relate to (Crutch's coming of age).

Extras on the DVD are merely average, starting with half a dozen extrasodes, which are basically 2-minute short scenes that fit at the end of each of the six episodes. Short, but worth checking out. Next up are interviews with the five main actors as they talk about not only the show, the characters, but also themselves. The interview with Megan Cavanagh is especially entertaining. There are four short featurettes on the bowling show, the photoshoot, learning how to skeet shoot, and a tour of the Beever Cafe done by actress, Amy Dudgeon. (On a side note, I desperately want merchandise from The Beever Cafe, but they don't have any for sale on their site.) Extras and Ohs has a music video, a few interviews (including one not about the show), as well as the ads that play when you start up the DVD. I would have liked an audio commentary track or two, but this is a pretty good selection of extras.

Exes and Ohs - The Complete First Season started off a little slow, but quickly found its way. The DVD has acceptable extras, but it not overflowing with features. If you enjoy shows with strong female leads, it is worth checking out, even if you are not a lesbian. If you only saw the first show and gave up, check out the rest of the season and I think you will agree that it improved. And if you are already a fan, pick it up and do it quick, especially if you want to convince Logo to order a second season of the show.

Face/Off - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
When Paramount dropped Blu-ray last year, several of their releases were in the works for the format that were scrapped very suddenly. This is one of them. Now that HD DVD is dead, they have rescheduled the releases. Those who had pre-ordered the Blu-ray edition of this movie previously will be happy; I wasn't one of those people.

This movie earned incredible reviews when it was first released and made a respectable amount of money. (In 1997 $112 million might have seemed like a lot, but it cost $80 million to make, so it wasn't a runaway hit.) I'm a fan of John Woo's work, but almost entirely his Hong Kong work. In Hong Kong he could make a top-notch movie for $5 million. Here it seems he is overwhelmed by his budget and instead of making a stylized action movie, he just makes everything bigger. The size of the movie trumps the substance. It even manages to trump the style.

It wasn't helped by the two leads, John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, both of whom have a tendency to overact. (The former more than the latter.) Here they are let loose and the over the top acting just killed whatever pleasure I could get from the movie. Not to mention I never bought into the central idea of the film (the ability of surgeons to swap the faces of the two leads). Since I couldn't suspend my disbelief, and two lead actors were so over-the-top that I couldn't get emotionally interested in their characters, this movie felt like 2 hours of action for the sake of action.

Looking at the Blu-ray, it is identical to the HD DVD release from last year, which is not surprising. Extras include two audio commentary tracks, with quite a bit of overlap, several deleted scenes, a making-of featurette that runs more than an hour, and a featurette on John Woo, which is the most interesting extra for me.

A lot of Blu-ray early adopters were deeply disappointed that Paramount dropped the format last year, and so suddenly. For many, Face/Off was one of the most anticipated releases for High Definition and they will certainly be glad that the additional wait is over. For them, there's more than enough extras to make the Blu-ray version worth picking up. However, I am not one of those fans and I personally can't recommend renting the movie, never mind buying it.

Finishing the Game - Buy from Amazon
A mockementary about an attempt to finish Bruce Lee's unfinished movie, Game of Death. The reviews were weak, but it did earn praise among fans of the two genres. For these people, it is worth checking out, and with extras that include audio commentary track, making-of featurette, and deleted scenes, among others, it is worth picking up over just renting.

The Flock - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD film starring Richard Gere and Claire Danes as two agents working together to locate a missing girl who may have been kidnapped by a paroled sex-offender. The film was directed by Andrew Lau, who made Infernal Affairs, and it was made with a $35 million budget, but it never got a release date domestically. This is a really bad sign. Add in zero reviews, and there's very little reason to pick up this movie, and it might be a stretch to recommend a rental.

Forgiving the Franklins - Buy from Amazon
It has been a while since the film was first mentioned on the site, but it went through a few release date changes and it is finally coming out direct-to-DVD. The film earned 50% positive reviews, which is not great, especially for a limited release, but better than what most people consider direct-to-DVD quality. Perhaps being a dark comedy about the intersection of religion and sex had more to do with it failing to find a theatrical release date. Sadly, there are no extras on the DVD, but it is still worth a rental.

George A. Romero Double-Shot - Night of the Living Dead and Diary of the Dead
Tomorrow, two George A. Romero films are coming out on DVD, maybe. I have it on good authority that Diary of the Dead is coming out on DVD tomorrow. However, It's not on Amazon's list. It's not there for a different day, it's just not there. You can't order it from Amazon, but I'm sure you'll be able to pick it up in your local brick and mortar store. (Update: It has been added and can be found here.)

Night of the Living Dead - Buy from Amazon
The original and first of the franchise, and still the best. In many ways it helped create the zombie genre and is a major inspiration for a number of films made over the past 40 years. It was pivotal, not just for the genre of the low-budget horror films, but it was important in helping establish the custom of using horror for social commentary.

The film is considered a classic, and with good reason. However, it is not perfect, nor has it aged exceptionally well. The acting can be a little weak at times, and some of the parts of the film that seemed so shocking at the time are less so now. For instance, no one should be shocked at having an African-American man in the lead of a movie. On the other hand, the female characters in the movie are not shown to be strong. (Additionally, some of the effects look really dated, but that seems like a petty complaint since the film is 40 years old.)

Due to an oversight by the original distributor, this film slipped into public domain and has therefore been released on DVD about a billion times. Okay, that's overstating things, but it has been released on DVD a lot. This is arguably the best DVD release. Not only does it have the two audio commentary tracks from the millennial edition, it also has a feature-length documentary, a Q&A with the director, and the last interview actor Duane Jones ever gave. (There are other extras including trailer, images, and even the original script.)

If you do not have this movie in your DVD collection, now is the perfect time to rectify that situation. Even if you have a previous DVD release, it is worth the double dip and I can enthusiastically recommend Night of the Living Dead Buy from Amazon.

Diary of the Dead - Buy from Amazon
The latest entry in George A. Romero's Dead Series, this one was greeted with the most apathy by the critics. It didn't earn bad reviews, but at 60% positive, they were the weakest in the franchise so far. And it is hard to argue with that.

The film starts in the woods of Pennsylvania where a group of students are making a low-budget horror film when they hear the first reports of the dead starting to rise and attack the living. One of the students, Jason, decides he must film the events and upload the footage to the internet to let people know the truth. Consider it a zombie flick for the YouTube generation. It does have the social commentary that George A. Romero's previous films in the franchise have had, but it's a little too heavy-handed to be effective. Additionally, the handheld format of the movie was used very recently in Cloverfield, as well as other films, which hurts the its originality.

The film opened in limited release with just a middling per theater average and never really expanded, but the distributor hasn't skimp on the extras on the DVD. Things start off with an audio commentary track featuring George A. Romero, D.P. Adam Swica, and editor Michael Doherty. There's enough information and very few dead spots here and it is worth checking out. Next up are 20 minutes of confessionals, which feature four main characters on camera, solo, just talking about what's happening. Clearly they were made to fit in at certain points of the movie, and I'm not sure they completely work when separated. The First Week is a making-of featurette, but it's a little light at just over 4 minutes. The Roots is even shorter at just 2 minutes and talks about the origin of the franchise and where this movie fits in. Familiar Voices has audio clips of three of the cameos in the movie, most of which were voiceovers during video montages. For the Record is a five-part making of featurette that runs just over 80 minutes, which is almost as long as the movie itself. This has significant replay value. Finally, there are the five winners of the MySpace zombie film competition.

Compared to the average low-budget zombie movie, Diary of the Dead is very good. Compared to the previous entries in the George A. Romero's Dead Series, it is clearly the weakest. So your enjoyment of the movie depends quite heavily on your expectations and if you go in expecting Night of the Living Dead you will be disappointed. That said, it is still worth checking out for most, and the DVD is clearly worth picking up for fans.

Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. - The Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
A spin-off of the Andy Griffith Show starring Jim Nabors as the titular character. Fans of the show have not been happy with the amount of music that has been cut from the series for its home market releases. That's not changing this time around and it is unlikely to change for the fifth and final season. I can't say if the changes are enough to prevent fans from buying the DVD, but I would not be surprised if it was for many.

A Haunting - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
There have been a lot of shows like this arriving on TV recently. None of them are that good. This one is no exception.

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium - Buy from Amazon
A film that aims for zany comedy but falls short. The film is almost 40 years old, but this is the first time it is coming out on DVD. This should please those with a bit of nostalgic warmth for the film, but most will simply pass it by.

JAG (Judge Advocate General) - The Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
This series lasted 10 seasons, and spawned NCIS, which has lasted five years so far. I prefer the latter show, but this is one of the better police procedural shows from the past decade or so. The seven-disc set has plenty of extras, but little in the way of special features and is therefore only worth purchasing for the more hardcore fans.

James Stewart - The Western Collection - Buy from Amazon
Six Westerns starring James Stewart. Good deal, but sadly they have all been released on DVD previously and only one DVD has any extras. (Winchester '73 has an audio commentary track.) Worth picking up, as long as you have less than half of the films on DVD already.

Maggie Smith at the BBC - Buy from Amazon
Four rare TV movies from the BBC starring Maggie Smith. The movies were made over a span of 20 years starting in the early 1970s, and are certainly worth checking out. However, the lack of extras is problematic.

The Muppet Shows - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
We are at the halfway point of The Muppet Show and this year they have such diverse special guests as Gilda Radner, Loretta Lynn, Liberace, Raquel Welch, Sylvester Stallone, Alice Cooper, and others.

While Season Two is arguably the best of the show's five-year run, season three hardly feels like a step down. The guests continue to be amazing with a mix of actors, singers, and the like, most of whom still have a lot of name recognition today. Some, like Alice Cooper, really fit into the style of the show; in fact, Alice Cooper's two song numbers are among the best of the season, arguably among the best of the show's run. (This is not surprising as musical guests tend to work best overall, as it is easier to integrate them into the show.) Raquel Welch was very overtly sexual, especially for a kids show. However, I suspect that is why she was booked in the first place. You have to have something for the fathers watching with their kids. I guess its proof that the show was made primarily to entertain Jim Henson and the other writer / performers. The fact that kids were entertained was just a side bonus. (On a side note, this is true of most top-notch kids shows. They are made to entertain the creative talent behind them, and are then marketed to kids.)

Extras on the DVD include an hour of rare, early footage from The Muppets. The Muppets on Puppets is from the 1960s and has Jim Henson talking about the history of puppetry and how some puppets are worked. He is joined by Frank Oz, Ralph, and several others from The Muppets. It is very old and the sound drops out once and a while, but that's to be expected given the age of the source material. Next up is a 10-minute featurette on the people who helped create the show. Finally, there are a few commercials that featured the first appearances of Ralph the dog. All of these extras will be of interest to adult collectors of the show.

For many fans of The Muppet Show, the DVD releases have not been coming out fast enough. While it appears they are sticking to a schedule of one release per year and not the more common schedule of once every six months, at least the releases are worth picking up when they do come out. The Complete Third Season doesn't have the 'interviews' with the Muppet characters, but it does have more behind-the-scenes features that will be of interest to the adult collectors. This 4-disc set is an easy recommendation and I look forward to season four next year.

National Treasure - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
Not your typical catalogue release.

I've discussed the original DVD and the special edition DVD and in both cases I commented that there wasn't a big enough bang for your buck. Now I realize why. They were saving the best for the Blu-ray release.

Extras on this Blu-ray disc are amazing and include all of the previous extras: Behind-the-scenes, deleted scenes, alternate ending, opening animatic, and a featurette on real code-breakers. Sadly all of them are presented in standard definition. Blu-ray exclusive features start off with an audio commentary track with the director and one of the stars, who tend to get off track quite easily. The next exclusive extra is an interactive look at the Declaration of Independence. Here you can look at the document line by line and learn everything you could want to learn. ... And them some. It takes a long time to get through it all. Finally, there's a trivia track that includes information on the production of the movie, as well as history within it.

National Treasure is not a great movie, but for those who can get past the unbelievable plot are in for a fun ride. The Blu-ray release looks and sounds great, while there's plenty of new features. This isn't your typical catalogue release; however, Disney has included a mail-in rebate of $10, which cuts the price of the Blu-ray by more than 40%. In fact, it's 25% off the total price of the Blu-ray Two-Pack, and it is easily worth upgrading for fans of the movie.

National Treasure 2: The Book of Secrets - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc DVD, 2-Disc Collector's Edition, or Blu-ray
The sequel to the biggest hit in Nicolas Cage's career turned out to be bigger, better, and more of a blockbuster. ... Okay, maybe not better, but two out of three isn't bad.

Many of the problems with the first movie return here, as National Treasure 2 is filled with improbable plot points and action scenes that seem too large, even for this movie. That said, if you are willing to look past some of the less likely moments in the movie, and the movie is filled with them, then you are in for a wild ride. And when you consider the movie made more than $200 million at the box office, there were obviously a lot of people who were willing to do just that.

Disney has rewarded these many fans with a couple of excellent home market releases starting with the 2-Disc Collector's Edition (we can safely ignore the Single-Disc DVD, which is fit only for renting). The 2-Disc Collector's Edition is loaded with extras starting with an audio commentary with the director and one of the stars, which is the only extra on the first disc. It's a good track, with rare dead spots, and it gives enough details to be worth checking out. The rest of the extras are on disc two starting with a multi-part making-of documentary than has been called slick by some. Overly produced fluff could also have been used. Okay, perhaps that's a little harsh, but for most of the hour running time, it feels like a promotional piece and less of a making-of feature. Finally, there are five deleted scenes, with introduction, as well as a 5 minutes of outtakes.

All of these features are also found on the Blu-ray, and all of them are presented in high definition. There are also additional features including a couple more deleted scenes. There is also an interactive, feature-length trivia quiz / branching track that is exclusive to the Blu-ray edition. Think The D-Files from Enchanted Blu-ray, but more about American history and less about Disney princesses. This is worth the upgrade to Blu-ray by itself and it is further proof that Disney knows what it takes to sell the new format.

National Treasure 2: The Book of Secrets is the final monster hit from the winter of 2007 to reach the home market, and for fans of the movie it has been worth the wait. There are more than enough extras to warrant picking up with the 2-Disc Collector's Edition or the Blu-ray Edition. Not only that, but the Blu-ray Edition is easily worth the upgrade, except the MSRP for both are the same. Way to go Disney! Talk about promoting the new format. And the Blu-ray Two-Pack is an even better deal and is highly recommended for fans of the movies.

The New Maverick - Buy from Amazon
Why? They haven't released the original series on DVD (at least not the full series). So why release the pilot movie of the follow-up, which most consider the weaker of the two? And why release just the pilot and not the first season? It's like they were intentionally trying to annoy fans of the show that have been waiting for full-season TV on DVD releases.

Next - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
One of the first wave in Paramount's return to Blu-ray. I'm not sure why they chose this film, but it likely has more to do with National Treasure coming out this week than it has to do with the quality of this movie.

I say this because this is not a good movie. It has an interesting premise at its core, but the execution is flawed including some of the little details. (For instance, why use your psychic ability to cheat at blackjack, practically the only game in the casino where it is possible to beat the house on a regular basis, and therefore the only game where the casino would be on the look out for cheaters. Why not win a few thousand from roulette or the slots every once and a while?) As well as the big picture. (I'm still upset that the last half of the movie is little more than a dream sequence.)

As for the Blu-ray, it is neither better nor worse than the HD DVD release, which I reviewed here. In fact, as far as I could tell, it is identical.

Next is a movie with an interesting premise that is flawed enough to not be worth buying the first time, and it is certainly not worth a high definition double dip. It is only of interest as part of the Nicolas Cage Blu-ray bonanza, which includes four movies coming out this week. Unless you bought the HD DVD, loved the movie enough to watch it several times since then, sold your HD DVD system and library when the format died, and desperately want to watch it again in high definition, I can't recommend buying the Blu-ray edition.

Penn & Teller - Bullsh*t! - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
These people really need to stick with science. As soon as they enter the realm of politics, they go completely off the deep end. Even when I agree with them, I find they present arguments that are less than effective. This season it is a relatively balanced mix of the two with episodes that are solidly based in science like Exorcism while there are some that are completely political like Handicapped Parking. (How does trying to eliminate discrimination equate to legislating compassion?) Overall enough works that it's worth checking out, but for many a rental will be enough. On a side note, there are two versions of the DVD, censored and uncensored, but this refers only to the name on the cover.

The Richie Rich/Scooby Doo Hour - The Complete Series - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
I was never a fan of the Richie Rich character and this is arguably the low point of the Scooby Doo franchise. (Scrappy was incredibly annoying and the lack of Velma, Fred, and Daphne really hurts the show.) I can't recommend it, but your mileage may vary.

Square Pegs - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
This TV series was Sarah Jessica Parker's first big break, even though it lasted only one season. I think it is fair to say this 3-disc set is being released to take advantage of the publicity being generated by Sex and the City, but no matter why it is coming out, I'm sure fans are happy. As for the extras, they are better than expected with a series of interviews with the cast & crew that provide plenty of information and lift the DVD from just a rental to a solid purchase.

Strange Wilderness - Buy from Amazon
Another Happy Madison production that doesn't star Adam Sandler. Usually these movies suck, but they rarely suck as bad as this one does.

Wikipedia has this film as one of the worst movies ever made, and with good reason. This alleged comedy is 100% laugh free and for most of its 84-minute running time, I couldn't even guess what was supposed to be funny. I couldn't find more than a few short bits that had the potential to be funny, but even with a cast that has comedic talent, they weren't able to make me laugh even once. Arguably the worst movie I've ever reviewed. Hopefully the worst movie I'll ever review.

As for the extras, there is a look at the special effects scene with the fake turkey, a short bit with Cooker singing a song, and a making-of featurette that is pure fluff. None have any replay value, but the special effects featurette is better than the movie itself.

Strange Wilderness was one of the biggest bombs of 2008 so far, which is fitting because it is also one of the worst movies ever made. I can't recommend buying the DVD, renting the DVD, holding the DVD, or even looking at it directly when you go to the store.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Ninja Tribunal - Buy from Amazon
This is essentially a lost season of the FoxKids show that ran for 13 episodes. Fans of the show will be very happy to be able to buy it on DVD, and even with no extras on the 2-disc set, the price is still worth it.

Tom Selleck Western Collection - Buy from Amazon
Three TV movie Westerns starring Tom Selleck that were made from 1997 to 2003 for the TNT network. Overall they earned respectable reviews, and the price is incredible. Many fans would have liked substantial extras, but you do get enough bang for your buck here.

Vexille - Buy from Amazon
The visual blend of 2-D Anime and 3-D animation is one of the highlights for this movie, as are the action scenes. However, there's a lack of dramatic narrative to drive the story forward. This movie is aimed at a niche market, but should do better on the home market than it did theatrically. Then again, it would be nearly impossible not to.

What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? - Buy from Amazon
A World War II film about a American general trying to take an Italian town. The Italian soldiers are willing to surrender, as long as they can have their annual wine festival first. However, they have to make it look like a battle took place to convince the leaders behind the line. Not the best known, or best World War II film, but it does have its fans and they should be happy that it is finally making its DVD debut.

Who's Your Monkey? - Buy from Amazon
An independent comedy about a group of friends who are trying to help one of their friends get over his mid-life crisis that involves drugs, porn, throwing stars, and a monkey. Given the topics, it should be no surprise that it is a dark comedy, which is a hard genre to market. Fans of the genre should check it out, but most will want to rent it first.

- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2008-05-20

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 V for Vendetta
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 Forgiving the Franklins
 Diary of the Dead
 National Treasure
 National Treasure: The Book of Secrets
 Next
 Strange Wilderness
 Vexville
 Who's Your Monkey?