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Thursday, April 24, 2014



DVD Releases for January 27, 2009 - Part I

One of the longest lists in a while this week, but there's a lack of quality at the top. There are a number that are of interest, like Zodiac on Blu-ray, The Bourne Trilogy on Blu-ray, and others, none rise to the level of DVD Pick of the Week. The list was long enough that it has to be split up, and the second part can be found here.

2012: Science Or Superstition - Buy from Amazon
Superstition. Pure superstition. I just saved you 78 minutes.

The All-New Superfriends Hour - Season One - Volume Two - Buy from Amazon
This is the Saturday morning cartoon by Hanna-Barbera that started in 1977. I was never a fan of this show, because I hated the wonder twins. They annoyed the hell out of me, especially that stupid monkey. The final eight episodes are collected here, which include 24 of the 10-minute shorts and 8 of the 30-minute shorts, as well as a featurette on the Wonder Twins.

America's Dumbest Criminals - Buy from Amazon
I love this show. My favorite was the 'lie detector' which was a photocopier. The dumb criminal was made to wear a metal colander that had wires clipped to it and every time he said something, the cops would press the copy button, an out popped a piece of paper with the word "Lie" printed on it. That got the criminal to confess. As for this 2-disc set, it is only 180 minutes long, yet the DVD cover says it has 20 episodes, so those must be just the highlights. I would say wait for full season sets, but that could be a long wait.

Warning: This Blu-ray does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 6th. However, the Blu-ray screener arrived late, hence the delay in the review.

Bangkok Dangerous - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
What is with Nicolas Cage? The guy can act, as we've seem him do in countless films like Raising Arizona, Moonstruck, and Leaving Las Vegas. Or in more recent movies like Matchstick Men or Adaptation. But lately his hit to miss ratio has been pathetic, and Bangkok Dangerous is just another miss.

Nicolas Cage star as Joe, a hitman looking for one last score before he retires. (At this point, you can probably guess the ending.) He travels to Bangkok for four jobs and hire a 'disposable' local named Kong to help pick up packages. But his simple job becomes more complicated when he starts to fall in love with a deaf pharmacist, while he starts to bond with his lackey, even becoming his mentor and teaching him how to defend himself. But as Joe is inevitably changed by these human connections, he starts to doubt his amoral code, which sets up the final confrontation with the people who hired him in the first place.

If I were to use just one word to describe this movie, it would be cliché. There is hardly a moment that happens in this movie that isn't utterly predictable. (There's even a training montage between Joe and Kong.) Also, Nicolas Cage seems horribly miscast in this movie and he doesn't do well in the action scenes, nor does he seem to have any emotional connection to the character. There's almost nothing here to recommend, certainly not with the plethora of other similar films that would make better choices for your entertainment dollars.

As for the Blu-ray release, I wasn't impressed, both in terms of A/V quality and in terms of extras. There little that is objectionable about the transfer, it just doesn't really push the technology, while the same can be said of the extras, which are identical to the DVD. Things start with a 15-minute featurette called From Hong Kong to Bangkok that gives some details on the career of the Pang Brothers, but is mostly about the history of Hong Kong cinema. (On a side note, I have almost every Hong Kong movie shown in this featurette. In fact, I've reviewed nearly every movie shown in this featurette.) Bangkok Dangerous: The Execution of the Movie is a making of featurette that runs 13:31 and it features a mix of talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips from the movie. Finally, there is an alternate ending to the movie, runs nearly 9-minutes long. I didn't like the ending they used, but this one is hardly a significant improvement. But at least it makes the last shot of the movie make some sense. Disc 2 on this 2-disc set is a digital copy of the movie.

Bangkok Dangerous opened with terrible reviews and bombed at the box office. The quality of the Blu-ray reflects that and there's not enough extras here to warrant renting, and buying is completely out of the question.

Blood+ - Volume Four - Buy from Amazon
Just a quick note that I'm supposed to get the latest volume of the vampire Anime to review, but apparently it is late. Then again, I was supposed to get volumes two and three as well, and they never arrived. If they do arrive, I will review them as soon as possible.

Blossom - Seasons 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon
Not as bad as its reputation, but mainly because its reputation is so horrible. Mayim Bialik and Jenna von Oy had good chemistry together, on the other hand, Joseph Lawrence epitomized the concept of one-note character with Joey. The show is probably best know now for its overuse of "A very special episode of Blossom...", but for the first few seasons, it's an acceptable TV sitcom. Extras on the 3-disc set are better than expected with commentary tracks on three episodes, as well as a handful of short featurettes. Fans of the show will want to snap it up right away, while those who only have vague memories might want to give it a rental.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: 3-Pack Action Bundle, 3-Pack Comedy Bundle, 3-Pack Love & Marriage Bundle, Any Given Sunday, Batman & Robin (Import), Batman (Import), Batman Forever (Import), Batman Returns (Import), Black Sheep, The Bourne Trilogy, Butterfly Lovers, Dead and Buried, Death Trance, Downfall, Drumline, Ferruccio Busoni - Doktor Faust, Groundhog Day, Hannibal, Hulk vs., In Bruges, Lakeview Terrace, Life Gamble, La Lingerie, One Piece: The Princess and the Pirates - Adventures in Alabasta Movie #8, Open Season 2, The Pink Panther, Pride & Glory, The Promise, Prokofiev: The Love for Three Oranges, Puccini - Tosca, The Real Thing, The Rocker, RocknRolla, Stomp Live, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Zodiac
Another massive list of Blu-ray releases, including a lot of imports. There are a few titles that stand out as worth checking out, including The Bourne Trilogy and Zodiac. But overall I'm not too impressed.

The Bourne Trilogy - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
About damn time. This is one of the best spy franchises around, although not as good as Bond, nor did it have any chance of unseating James Bond as the box office champion among secret agents. (Internationally it just wasn't close.) For those who picked the winning horse in the high definition war, this is one release that you've likely really been waiting for. Compared to the HD DVD releases, the video appears to be identical, while there is an upgrade in the audio to a loseless DTS-HD 5.1 track. As for extras, all the old DVD extras are here, with the audio tracks upgraded as picture-in-picture tracks, as well as a game and interactive files of Treadstone and Blackbriar. There are other extras, like the ability to record your own video commentary (if you have a webcam) and share them online (if your Blu-ray player has an internet connection). Overall it is certainly worth picking up, and worth the upgrade from the DVD release. I just wish it came with the cool packaging that the DVD Gift Set came with.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 13th. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in the review.

Brideshead Revisited - Buy from Amazon
A period piece released mid-summer. It feels like a movie that was made to win Oscars, but the release date and its somewhat mixed reviews prevented that from happening. But while there was not enough here to warrant Awards Season attention, is the DVD worth checking out?

The film starts with Mathew Goode as Charles Ryder, an officer in the British military station on an estate we later learn is Brideshead. We then see a flash back of him on an ocean liner as an artist when he sees a woman and he is instantly drawn to her. We then flash back years earlier to when Charles first heads off to university, where he meets Sebastian Flyte, a rich, an exceedingly rich fellow student who also happens to be gay and an alcoholic. After their initial meeting, which involved Sebastian bursting in through the window and puking on the floor, Sebastian invites him to his home estate, Brideshead, where he meets Sebastian's sisters, Julia, and his mother, who is a strict Catholic. Over the summer he becomes more ingrained with the family, for better or for worse.

This is one of those movies where the Tomatometer Score describes the movie nearly perfectly. Good, but not great. The film has great performances, it is based on an interesting novel, and it captures the period extremely well. On the other hand, it is a little heavy, and it could use a little more wit and humor injected its is 130+ minute running time. (This is one of the reasons I wished Michael Gambon was in the movie more.) Some critics called the film stodgy, which might be a bit much, but I see where they were coming from. I would still recommend watching it, but I'm not sure it has the replay value necessary to be a truly great film.

Extras on the DVD start off with an audio commentary track with the screenwriter, Jeremy Brock; the director, Julian Jarrold; and the producer, Kevin Loader. The track leans to the information end of the entertainment / information spectrum, but it is far from dry and certainly worth checking out. Next up is a 21-minute long making of featurette, while there are also seven deleted / extended scenes (with audio commentary) that run just under 12 minutes. Not a huge amount, but on par with most limited releases.

Brideshead Revisited opened with good reviews, but not great reviews, and the DVD has extras that are likewise good, but not great. Overall it is clearly worth checking out, but I'm not sure it is worth buying over renting. Call it a solid rental, leaning toward a purchase.

Cannery Row - Buy from Amazon
One of several films on this week's list that are making their DVD debut thanks to Warner Bros. This one is a romantic comedy of sorts starring Nick Nolte as a marine biologist and Debra Winger as an abrasive drifter / prostitute. Reviews are only mixed and the DVD has nothing resembling a special feature. Still, it is worth checking out if you've seen the movie, or are fans of the two leads.

Cheers - Season Eleven - Buy from Amazon
Eleven seasons. Eleven. Do you know how rare it is for a show to last eleven seasons?

As for this specific season, it starts where season ten left off, with the aftereffects of the Woody Boyd / Kelly Gaines wedding. It is during this aftermath that Rebecca Howe accidentally burns down the bar. While the bar is being rebuilt, Carla gets a job at a chain bar, where she hates the job but loves the money. Norm gets a job tasting beer, and he loves everything about that. Cliff Clavin's old girlfriend, Margaret O'Keefe, returns, and she's got a surprise for him. (Also in this episode, Fraiser's father shows up, but he calls himself Sy Flembeck and is a jingle writer.) Lilith cheats on Fraiser and leaves him to live in a biodome.

Disc two starts with gang holding Thanksgiving at the bar. Carla's love-hate relationship with upstairs restaurateur, John Hill, takes a turn for the worst when he suffers a heart attack while in the throws of passion. Sam gets his Corvette back, after scamming the widow of the man he sold it to (Dana Delany in a guest role), but the guilt drives him nuts. Norm Peterson gets an audit, meanwhile, they are replaying one of Sam's big games on TV and the guys come to the bar to watch; however, it turns out that game wasn't one of his prouder moments. Robin Colcord (Roger Rees) returns and tells the gang that before he was arrested, he hid some of his money in the bar, so the gang decide to tear it apart to find it. The third disc opens with Carla finding out her daughter is pregnant and getting married, and Nick returns for the ceremony. Lilith asks for a divorce from Fraiser, who then seeks comfort with Rebecca. It's St. Patrick's Day and Cheers and Gary's Old Time Tavern have a bet who can do more business, and the loser has to bare it all. Fraiser bets he can get Woody elected as a councilman, but later had nightmares about Woody and political power.

Finally, after Woody's win, Carla is promoted to bartender and mixes up one of her special drinks, and no one can remember what happens next. Cliff Clavin decides its time for his mom to live in a retirement home, but his friends at Cheers think he killed her. Meanwhile, Rebecca thinks she has a shot at becoming the next Mrs. Gaines, but the very next episode she falls for a plumber. Rebecca falling in love prompts Sam to re-evaluate his life, which causes him to get in contact with Diane. And this sets up the three-part series finale.

Most shows that last this long have a hard time wrapping up all of the lose ends during their finale. (Seinfeld, for instance.) Other shows don't even make it to their finale running at least one season too many. (That 70s Show, for instance.) However, not only did the 90-minute finale felt (nearly) perfect, the final season was strong from start to finish with a batting average of more than 70%. And that's more than 70% with high replay value, and all of them are worth checking out. It wrapped up the lives of these people we've come to love, without feeling gimmicky. Changes that came about in the final season were because of real character development, and that's rare.

Extras on the 4-disc set include just the promos for the episodes. These are interesting, but hardly substantive. Also, there are no subtitles, but there are play all buttons and proper chapter placements. On a side note, for the most part the video is quite good, all things considering. These episodes are about 16 years old, and sitcoms are rarely known for technical prowess. However, at times the quality was terrible.

Eleven season. Over 100 Emmy nominations. 28 Emmy wins. 31 Golden Globe Nominations. 6 Golden Globe Wins. And to think it finished dead last in the ratings its first year and was nearly cancelled. Cheers - Season Eleven is an easy recommendation. I just wish the DVD was half as good as the show, because then it would be the DVD Pick of the Week.

Closing the Ring - Buy from Amazon
This movie has a great cast and a fantastic director. So what happen? The DVD does have some interviews for extras, which might be enough to entice some viewers, but I would recommend a rental.

College - Buy from Amazon
This movie opened to near universal revile from critics and completely bombed at the box office. Now it is coming out on a featureless DVD, which is infinitely skippable.

Far from the Madding Crowd - Buy from Amazon
This 1967 film finally makes its debut on DVD, just in time to see the format start to fade away. Sadly, the disc is completely devoid of extras, but fans of the movie will still be happy to finally have it on DVD.

Fireproof - Buy from Amazon
Ugh. I don't like the trend this movie could represent. And I don't mean Christian films, because there have been a number of good Christian films that have come out lately, like... ummm... Is Prince of Egypt recent? No, the trend I'm talking about is the resurgence of Kirk Cameron. This guy can not act. He was bad in Growing Pains, and that was compared to Alan Thicke. Besides the bad acting, this movie is preachy and ham-fisted and there's little crossover appeal. If you are part of the target audience, you likely don't care what I have to say. If not, you've already moved on to the next release. Also available as part of a three-pack.

The Gene Generation - Buy from Amazon
Bai Ling stars as Michelle, an assassin in the future who hunts Gene Hackers. Gene Hackers are people who use bootlegged Transcoders to kill. Transcoders were developed as a way to instantly heal diseases, but can also be used to kill. In fact, in an attempt to create weapons, they turned on its creator, Josephine Hayden, mutating her into a snake woman thing that is barely alive. Michelle, lives with her brother, who was once saved by the device, and works for Josephine's brother killing Gene Hackers while they look for the last remaining pure Transcoder, and the Gene Scientist to has it. They want to capture it so they can cure their sister. Christian has it because he wants to figure a way he can use it to heal without suffering the same fate as Josephine. Michelle just wants to make enough money to get her and her brother out of this city to go somewhere where they can live a better life.

Yeah, I agree. It is a confusing storyline. It is also surprisingly shallow given how much is going on. A lot of the details about the DNA hacking are undeveloped to the point where one could have substituted and number of other McGuffin's and the plot would remain unchanged. The world the characters inhabit has great movie design, but with sometimes cheap design value thanks to a low budget. (This low budget hurts the film the most when it comes to the CG blood added to some fight scenes. I know why filmmakers do this, it is much cheaper than physical effects, and the turnaround time to get a second shot it minimal. But if done poorly, it is incredibly distracting.) Bai Ling did play a fine action hero / assassin, but overall I can only give the movie a soft recommendation.

Extras on the DVD are excellent, especially since it is a Direct-to-DVD release. Things start with two audio commentary tracks, the first with the director, Pearry Reginald Teo, and two of the actors, Bai Ling and Parry Shen. The second is with the director and the producer. Like most similar situations, the former is more entertaining, but the latter provides more information. Fans of the movie will want to check out both. Other extras include eight deleted / extended / alternate scenes and nine storyboard to screen comparisons. The director, producer, composer, and two actors sit down for separate interviews. There is a section for concept art, as well as 3-D special effects. Finally, there is a music video and a digital comic book.

The Gene Generation has a very confusing plot. It's almost as confusing as Repo! The Genetic Opera, which I gave the DVD Pick of the Week to last week. However, this film is simply not as compelling as that film. It has a lot of interesting parts, but the sum was definitely less than the combination of the parts. If you are interested in low-budget Sci-Fi, give it s rental, but for most that will be enough.

Girls Rock! - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about a camp for girls that is designed to boost their self-esteem by teaching them how to rock'n'roll. The film earned very good reviews, but apparently not good enough to thrive in limited release. Now it is finally coming out on DVD and it is worth the wait with extras that include interviews, concert footage, history of Riot Grrrl, and a follow-up on some of the girls. Easily worth picking up and if you buy it direct, you have a shot at winning a guitar.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips - Buy from Amazon
This is the first time this movie has come out on DVD? Granted, it is not as well know as the 1939 original, but it is still an award-winning musical and I'm surprised it hasn't been released on DVD already. I am not surprised that this DVD has no extras, on the other hand.

Holly - Buy from Amazon
A drama about child prostitution that features some great performance by Ron Livingston, Chris Penn (in his final role), and newcomer Thuy Nguyen. However, the overall result is just good and given the difficult nature of the film, it needed to be great to survive limited release. It didn't do well theatrically, which explains why the DVD only has three short featurettes. Even so, it is worth checking out for most, picking up for many.

Hulk Vs. - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc DVD, 2-Disc Special Edition DVD, or Blu-ray
Sadly, I just have the 2-Disc DVD at the moment. If the Blu-ray shows up late, I will update this review ASAP.

The first of the two movies was Hulk vs. Wolverine, although perhaps it shouldn't have been, because Hulk vs. Thor is a more self-contained movie. Although calling it a movie is not quite accurate. In Hulk vs. Thor, Loki summons Bruce Banner to Asgard in order to use his Hulk form in order to fight the forces of Thor and the other gods and take over all of Asgard. This plan backfires when he loses control and Hulk, now free from Bruce Banner's controlling influence, is destroying all of Asgard, and there is no force that will be able to stop him. In Hulk vs. Wolverine, Wolverine is sent to his native Canada to stop the Hulk, who is on a rampage. Once there he runs into a small, whiney human who he threatens in order to get information out of him. Apparently no one told Wolverine about the whole Bruce Banner / The Hulk thing and quickly the fight is on. Also joining the fight are some mercenaries, including Omega Red, Lady Deathstrike, Sabertooth, and Deadpool, who were hired by Hydra's Weapon X team to retrieve the Hulk, and while they are at it they might as well grab Wolverine as well.

I previously said calling Hulk vs. Wolverine and Hulk vs. Thor movies was not accurate, and what I mean by that is they don't have the running time to be considered movies. They are only 78 minutes long, and not each, but in total. Including two sets of opening and closing credits. This is my biggest complaint about this DVD, the running time. Granted, neither story really has enough plot to flesh out a feature-length movie. Although given the end of Hulk vs. Wolverine (they freeze-frame just as the two are jumping at each other to continue the fight after defeating Hydra's team) that one certainly could have continued. The action was great, and a lot more violent than most cartoons. (I particularly liked Deadpool, and want him to appear in more Marvel productions.) The animation was good, but not great, but as a direct-to-DVD release, it is on par with what I was expecting. Both were entertaining, and I'm looking forward to more. Perhaps Hulk vs. The Thing?

Extras in the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD are impressive with audio commentary tracks on both 'episodes'. And that's multiple audio commentary tracks on both episodes. They both have making of featurettes, there's a look at Hulk vs. Wolverine at the 2008 Comic Com, a 6-minute look at the next animated TV series, a featurette on Jack Kirby (the man who created Marvel's version of Thor), and a look at the upcoming Thor: Tales of Asgard direct-to-DVD movie. In total, that's more than an hour of extras, which compensates for the short running time of the main feature.

I don't have the Blu-ray, but apparently there are no additional extras on the Blu-ray. That said, it only cost $2 more, and that's a premium worth paying for High Definition.

Hulk Vs. is very entertaining and it is worth checking out. The short running time suggests it is just a rental, however, the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD only costs $18 and the Blu-ray only costs $20. I think it's worth the cost and I can recommend buying.

The Invaders - The Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The second and final season of this late 1960s sci-fi series about invading aliens comes out on DVD this week. The show was a Quinn Martin Production made to follow-up the smash success of The Fugative. This time around it is about a man, Roy Thinnes as David Vincent, who witnesses an alien craft landing and learns of an invasion that is already underway. He can turn to the authorities, because not only would most people dismiss him as a kook, but some of the aliens have already infiltrated the police, the government, the military. So he's on the run from the aliens looking to thwart their attack and trying to find any allies he can. This season he finds one such ally, a millionaire industrialist Edgar Scoville (Kent Smith).

Sadly the show did not do as well in the rating as The Fugative, and there were some tweaks this season, and I'm not sure they all played out well, like The Believers, for instance. Also, the series just ended, without a proper finale. The final episode is tense and well made, but it doesn't offer a truly satisfying conclusion live the ending of The Fugative for instance.

Extras on the 7-disc set include an audio commentary track on one episode, The Peacemaker, with Alan Armer, one of the producers. As he says right off the bat, this is the first time he's seen the show in 40 years, but he goes into quite a bit of detail, although he also repeats himself on occasion. There is also a 36-minute long interview with Roy Thinnes, while he also does introductions for all 26 episodes on the DVD. There are no subtitles, but there are play-all buttons and proper chapter placements. This is much better than expected for a short-lived series from the late 60s.

Fans of The Fugitive should love The Invaders, as will any fans of sci-fi space invaders TV series. If you bought season one, buying season two is a no-brainer. If you haven't bought it, rent the first season, and if you like it buy the two season set.

Just Buried - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian movie starring Jay Baruchel as a young man who inherits a failing funeral parlor. He accidentally hits upon the perfect plan to drum up some business, murder. The black comedy earned reviews that were mixed (it has some charm, but tries too hard to be quirky), and fans of the genre should find enough here to like, even if a rental will suffice.

Lakeview Terrance - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The film opened in September, which is a huge warning sign. However, the reviews were better than expected, and its box office run also topped original expectations. The DVD has an audio commentary track, a three featurettes, and eight deleted / extended scenes. The Blu-ray has these extras, and it is BD-Live enabled, but it costs about 35% more. Call it a solid rental, leaning towards a purchase.

The Love Boat - Season Two - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
This is the kind of show that I think survived merely as a method of delivering a full season of stunt casting. Practically every episode has a B-list guest star. It did have some dramatic moments during its run, but guest stars are what it is remembered for the most.

The Lucky Ones - Buy from Amazon
Michael Pena, Rachel McAdams, and Tim Robbins star as three veterans of the Iraq war who are finally returning home after their latest tours, one permanently, the others just back on temporary leave. But when they arrive in New York City, they learn that a blackout has cancelled all the flights leaving them stranded. So they rent a car and head west to Vegas, and a long the way a lot happens. Too much happens. I don't think there's ever been a more eventful road trip.

The movie feels very much like a series of only marginally connected vignettes that the three soldiers encounter, and a lot feel like they are happening because the screenwriters wanted to make a point, and not because they are terribly plausible. This has the effect of draining the film's effectiveness and it the natural charm the three main leads give it. It feels contrived instead of compelling, which is a problem that is compounded by some of the less than natural sounding dialogue. It's not a bad movie, certainly better than its Tomatometer score would indicate. However, given the subject matter, it needs to be better that merely average to earn an enthusiastic recommendation.

The only extra on the DVD is a 15-minute long making of featurette. This is your typical making of featurette with talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips from the movie. It's worth checking out, but the replay value is limited.

There has yet to be an Iraq war movie made that has earned strong reviews or earned a lot at the box office. (At least non-documentaries.) Sadly, while The Lucky Ones is one of the better such movies, it is still just average. It's worth checking out, but with a DVD that is nearly featureless, a rental will be enough for most people.

M.A.N.T.I. S - Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
A Super Hero TV series produced by Sam Raimi. This should have rocked, instead it sucked, hard. It's widely mocked by comic book fans, and even fans of the show will admit the appeal is more camp than anything else.

Mary Poppins - 45th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
45th Anniversary Edition? Really? Sometimes Disney makes it really hard to be a fan. Granted, over the decades they have created some of the most memorable films of all time, but their business practices are at times the epitome of cash grabs.

The Banks's children, Jane and Michael, are at it again and have chased away another nanny. So it is up to the father to choose a new nanny and his wants a strict nanny who will help mold his breed. On the other hand, the kids want a kind nanny who is never cross and has rosy cheeks. While he tears up the ad they want to place, it floats up to the sky and thus Mary Poppins arrives on the scene. She, and Bert bring a little magic into the lives of the two children, and their father, who needs a little levity in his life.

How good is this movie? It has 100% positive reviews over on Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for 13 Oscars, which is one short of the record, winning five of them. (This includes Julie Andrews in her debut movie performance.) It is such a charming and wonderful film, that even someone like me who is not a big fan of musicals will love this film. If it is not in your DVD collection, it should be.

Extras on this 2-disc set include all of the extras that were found on the 40th anniversary edition, including the audio commentary track with Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke together, Karen Dotrice (Jane) & Richard Sherman together, and Robert Sherman separately edited together. There is also a pop-up trivia track that has the usual information on the source book, the production, etc. Also on disc one is the Disney Song Selection where you can choose to watch each song individually with or without lyrics.

Moving onto disc two, there's Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - The Making of Mary Poppins, a 50-minute making of featurette. Movie Magic talks about the Oscar-winning effects in the movie, but it is aimed at kids and not aficionados of visual effects. There is an 18-minute collection of footage from The Gala World Premiere and a minute long make-up test for Dick Van Dyke's performance as Mr. Dawes, Sr., as well as trailers and images. Music & More stars with a reunion between Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and Richard Sherman where they reminisce about making the movie, specifically the music. Richard Sherman appears on the 21-minute long A Musical Journey, which further discusses the Oscar-winning music from the movie. There's a deleted song, "Chimpanzoo", which rounds out this section. Finally, there's a 10-minute short film, The Cat That Looked at a King, which is also based on a story by P.L.Travers.

The only new extras on the DVD are found in the Disney on Broadway section starting with Mary Poppins - From Page to Stage. This featurette runs 48 minutes long talks about the creation of the Mary Poppins Broadway show. We also get to see "Step In Time" done on the stage and there is a gallery of the costumes and sets as designed by Bob Crowley. Finally, you can download an MP3 version of "Step in Time". That's quite a bit extra, and certainly more than most double-dips.

On the one hand, Mary Poppins is, to steal a phrase, practically perfect in every way. On the other hand, this is not the first special edition DVD released and the 45th Anniversary Edition is only a marginally better than the previous release. If don't have the movie on DVD yet, now is the perfect time to buy it. If you do, I would hold off upgrading till the film comes out on Blu-ray. It can't be that long of a wait.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 13th. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in the review.

My Bloody Valentine - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
20 years ago in the small mining town of Valentine Bluff, during their annual Valentine's Day celebration, a methane explosion caused five miners to be trapped. They explosion happened because two supervisors left their post early to head to the dance, and the town danced while the miners were trapped. Only one survived, Harry Warden, who survived by eating the other victims. He then killed the two supervisors whose negligence and was locked away in a mental institute. However, legend has it that every Valentine's Day Harry Warden returns to town to make sure no one celebrates that cursed day. However, after 20 years, the town of Valentine's Bluff has decided to hold a Valentine's day dance. And it appears that Harry Warden is back to make good on his threats.

This is a low-budget Canadian teenage slasher film that was release in the early 1980s. It is considered a classic among some fans of teenage slashers, but its critical reception has been less impressive. My opinion of the movie is somewhere in-between. It does offer a lot of mood, more than more teenage slashers, as well as some great visual effects for the day. There is a mystery / whodunit aspect to the movie, but it is not played up as well as it could be. But it has all of the ingredients to make this type of film successful. There are a few changes to the formula that add to the overall effectiveness, but fans of the films will not be too surprised with the plot.

Extras on the DVD include a 20:36 featurette on Teenage Slashers in general and My Bloody Valentine in specific. It's a step above most such making of featurettes, and it has strong replay value. There are nine deleted scenes, which can be watched with or without introductions. Watch them with the intros with the cast and crew, because the intros are just as important as the scenes themselves. Next up is Bloodlines, an interactive timeline of teenage slashers throughout the years. For those interested in the history of this type of film, which is ignored by many film historians, this is the great feature to check out. The biggest special feature on this DVD is the film itself, which is being presented for the first time in its uncut form. On a side note, it is surprisingly easy to figure out which scenes were added back into the movie, as the quality takes a noticeably drop when that happens. That said, this is more than enough to make this DVD a must have for fans of this film, or of the genre in general, and it is even worth upgrading if you have the previous release from 2002.

My Bloody Valentine is not one of the premiere teenage slashers out there, but it is certainly better than its Tomatometer Score would indicate. Additionally, the Special Edition DVD is not overloaded with extras (I would have liked an audio commentary track) but it is certainly worth picking up for fans of the general in genre, or of the movie in particular. It is even worth upgrading from the previous DVD release.

The Night James Brown Saved Boston - Buy from Amazon
Get I Got the Feelin', a 3-disc set that includes this documentary, as well as concerts by the legendary soul man.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2009-01-27

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