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DVD and Blu-ray Releases for March 30th, 2010

March 30th, 2010

The trailing end of the winter blockbuster releases are hitting the home market over the next month. This week we have two $200 million hits, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and Sherlock Holmes. There are also a few Oscar nominated movies: An Education and The Baader Meinhof Complex. Three of these four are worth picking up (as are a number of smaller releases) but none scream Pick of the Week.

3 Idiots - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the biggest Bollywood hit of all time. It's the first film from India to reach $50 million internationally, but I don't know enough of the history of that market to say if there's a film that sold more tickets a few decades ago. It also did very well here, earning more than $6 million at the box office. Its reviews were strong, if limited. So far the DVD is selling extremely well, so much so that one has to assume there's a lot of crossover appeal here. It will be interesting to see if this film can finally help the genre make inroads into multiplexes.

The Abbott & Costello Show: The Complete Series Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
The DVD was pushed back, but the screener still hasn't shown up. Hopefully it will soon.

Afghan Star - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about a Reality TV show that is similar to American Idol. The film earned perfect reviews and even for those who hate Reality TV, like me, it is worth checking out. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD (just an interview) but it is still worth picking up over just renting.

Alice in Wonderland - Buy from Amazon
This two-disc set includes four early movie versions of the classic tale, with the earliest from 1915 and the latest from 1972. Fans of the novel (or of the cinematic interpretations) will definitely want to check out this DVD. And at $10, it's probably cheaper to buy then it would be to rent.

Alice in Wonderland - 2-Disc Special Un-Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
I have no idea what this "Un-Anniversary" Edition is all about, but hopefully a screener will arrive soon. Also, hopefully this movie will be released on Blu-ray soon. I figure since next year is the 60th anniversary of this film, there will be a new DVD release then, as well as the Blu-ray debut.

Alvin and the Chipettes in Cinderella, Cinderella - Buy from Amazon
With the movie franchise going strong, the TV series has had plenty of DVD releases in the past few years. The latest has three episodes that focus on the Chippettes, which makes perfect sense in terms of timing. But are these three good episodes? Check out our review to read my opinion.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Two-Disc DVD, DVD w/ Squeak Along, or Blu-ray
The original movie was attacked by critics, but still became a huge hit at the box office. This one earned even more money, but was it due to better quality? Check out our review to find out. And get ready for a third installment in the franchise, which is being made in 3D.

The Baader Meinhof Complex - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This German film opened in its native market in 2008 with amazing reviews and it even picked up a couple major nominations. When it opened here in limited release last year, it did rather well for a foreign language film. The DVD appears to have just a "making of" featurette, while the Blu-ray also has some interviews. Both are worth picking up, but at 30% more, the Blu-ray is the better deal.

The Backyardigans: Escape From the Tower - Buy from Amazon
If I were forced to chose one word to describe most preschool shows, it would be "repetitive". This is not the case with The Backyardigans, which gives it a leg up on the competition. Will it be enough to be worth picking up? Check out our review for my opinion.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, The Baader Meinhof Complex, Collateral, The Diary of Anne Frank, An Education, Housebroken, I Sell the Dead, IMAX: Under the Sea, The Killer, Ouran High School Host Club: The Complete Series, The Protector, Sherlock Holmes, Vampyres, Verdi: La Traviata Special Edition, and What Darwin Never Knew
A great selection of Blu-ray releases, including some big releases, some limited releases, some older releases, and even some TV releases. The best seller is Sherlock Holmes, but I'm also interested in An Education. On a side note, Dragon Dynasty is putting out Blu-rays, and because of cutbacks at Weinstein, I'm not getting screeners from them anymore. Nooooo!

British Invasion - Buy from Amazon
A look at four bands that were part of the British Invasion in the 1960s, plus a bonus disc. These can also be bought separately: Dusty Springfield, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, and Small Faces. Looking at the prices, it is not that much cheaper to buy the box set. In fact, it's $12 more. But you are getting a bonus disc, so the price per disc is slightly lower.

Deadliest Catch: Season Five - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the best Reality TV show out there. It focuses on the lives of the people who fish Alaskan king crabs in the most dangerous waters around. This 5-disc set was previously released by Discovery, but now that you can get it on, it is a much better deal.

An Education - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
One of the best movies of the year. Quite frankly, I thought Carey Mulligan should have won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Lead Role. The DVD has an audio commentary track, a "making of" featurette, and a featurette on the film's premiere. The Blu-ray has nothing extra, but it costs more than 40% more. Since this is not the kind of film that needs to be seen in High Definition, I think the DVD is perfectly fine. That said, regardless the format you choose, you should buy this movie. If it had a full set extras and some Blu-ray exclusives, it could have been the Pick of the Week.

Girly, a.k.a. Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly - Buy from Amazon
A 1970s shock horror film from the U.K. about a family that lures homeless into their mansion and make them play elaborate games. If they refuse, they kill them. Most similar movies are crap, but I've seen more than a few good reviews online. Extras are better than expected, with an audio interview with the director and another interview with the screenwriter. Granted, that's not a lot. But it is certainly more than a lot of 40-year old cult films like this would get. If you are a fan of the genre, it's worth checking out, perhaps even picking up.

I Sell the Dead - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A horror comedy about two grave robbers. Even with good reviews, there was almost no chance this movie was going to find a wide audience. Fortunately, the studio didn't skimp on the extras and both the DVD and the Blu-ray have two audio commentary tracks and a "making of" featurette. The Blu-ray doesn't have any extras, but it costs more than 40% more than the DVD. That's a bit too much to ask for for this type of release. The DVD itself is a solid purchase.

iCarly: iFight Shelby Marx - Buy from Amazon
After releasing three split-season releases, this show gets a "Best Of" release, which feels like a step back. Did they at least choose good episodes? Check out our review to see my opinion.

IMAX: Under the Sea - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
I'm of two minds when it comes to most IMAX home market releases. First of all, these documentaries tend to be awesome. This film is no exception. But they also tend to be visual feasts that are best viewed at an IMAX theater. Also, they tend to be quite short, but quite expensive when compared to feature-length films. This film is just 40 minutes and it costs $34. Worth checking out, but at this price a rental will probably be enough. Seeing it in IMAX is better still.

Joe Rogan: Talking Monkeys in Space - Buy from Amazon
Joe Rogan is better known today for being the color commentator for UFC, but he returns to stand-up with Talking Monkeys in Space. How well does he do? Check out our review to find out.

MysteryQuest: The Complete Season One - Buy from Amazon
Why is a show like this on the History channel? What do alien conspiracies have to do with history?

Nick Jr Favorites: Go Green - Buy from Amazon
Getting an early jump on Earth day, this single-disc release has six episodes from six of the most popular shows on Nick Jr, all with an environmental theme. You can see which shows and which episodes here.

A Night of 140 Tweets: A Celebrity Tweetathon for Haiti - Buy from Amazon
140 celebrities go up on stage and read one of their tweets. When you are limited to 140 characters, you can't go the normal route for a joke, but there are still some really funny bits here. There are also more than a few that make you say, "It's for a good cause."

Warning: This Blu-ray does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 23rd. However, the screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Red Cliff - Buy from Amazon: DVD (Theatrical Version), DVD (International Version), Blu-ray (Theatrical Version), or Blu-ray (International Version)
John Woo returned to film-making in China with this historical epic. The film was released as two parts internationally, but it was re-cut into one movie for its release here. I only got the re-cut version. The review is here.

Rhoda: Season Two - Buy from Amazon
A spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show which turned out to be almost as good as the original was. There were problems with the first season release, but apparently they have been fixed this time around and it is worth picking up.

Robin Williams: Weapons of Self Destruction - Buy from Amazon
The latest stand-up comedy concert DVD from Robin Williams, who has been in the business for nearly 40 years. From the reviews I've seen, it doesn't seem like he's slowed down. The DVD includes his latest HBO special, plus clips from shows going back more than 30 years. Easily worth picking up for fans of the comic.

Sherlock Holmes - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack
Sherlock Holmes is arguably the most portrayed fictional character in the history of movies, having been featured in dozens of movies and countless short films. The most recent adaptation featured Robert Downey, Jr. in the titular role with Jude Law as his constant companion, Dr. Watson. The film's reviews were strong for a wide release and it even picked up a few major award nominations. (Robert Downey, Jr. even won a Golden Globe for his work in the movie.) It was also a major hit, earning more than $200 million domestically and $500 million worldwide. With this success, one expects an excellent debut on the home market. However, the DVD is rather devoid of extras, with just some deleted scenes and a featurette on the reinvention of Sherlock Holmes. Call this version a rental only. The Blu-ray does have a Maximum Movie Mode, which is a pop-up picture-in-picture track that has a half-a-dozen featurettes you can watch during the movie. The Blu-ray also has the DVD / Digital copy of the movie and it is worth buying. That said, it doesn't really rise to the level of a Pick of the Week.

Sports Night: Season One - Buy from Amazon
A great show that was previously released on a DVD that is now out of print. Shout! Factory is putting out this version and I will hopefully get a screener soon.

Steven Seagal Lawman: The Complete Season One - Buy from Amazon
Why? And I have a follow-up point to make: no.

The Story of Math - Buy from Amazon
A TV series about the history of mathematics, the geniuses that were responsible for major mathematical breakthroughs, and math's influence on our day-to-day lives. I've seen only one episode of this series, but it was fascinating. Then again, I'm a big math geek. Extras include a 78-minute, three-part documentary on prime numbers. If you think, "A 78-minute long discussion on prime numbers! Sign me up!" then this DVD is for you. However, most people have already moved on to the next DVD... or fallen into a deep slumber just thinking about it.


Strike Witches: Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Imagine if during WWII instead of fighting Nazis, the world united to fight aliens. And imagine that the only people capable of taking on these aliens were flying women without pants. Did I mention these pants-less women have animal ears and tails? It's not the strangest set up for an anime series I've seen, but it's still mighty strange. I've only seen a few reviews, but they were overwhelmingly positive. Fans of the genre should check it out.

What Darwin Never Knew - DVD or Blu-ray
A two-hour Nova special that looks at the latest breakthroughs in the science of evolution, which is great timing because it is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of "On the Origin of Species". There have been a lot of films made about Charles Darwin recently, but most have been rather weak. This is one of the better ones because it talks about the cutting edge science and is not a biography. Worth picking up for those interested in evolutionary science.

The Yes Men Fix the World - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about the Yes Men, who are pranksters who go after corporations. The film earned excellent reviews and started off really well at the box office, but it collapsed as it tried to expand. The DVD includes deleted scenes and bonus featurettes, which in total are as long as the movie. Worth checking out for most, picking up for many.


Filed under: Video Releases, Under the Sea 3D, Tom yum goong, Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, I Sell the Dead, An Education, The Yes Men Fix the World, Red Cliff, Housebroken, Afghan Star, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, 3 Idiots, Sherlock Holmes