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DVD Releases for April 7th, 2009 - Part II

April 7th, 2009

The last of the winter releases are trickling on to the home market; however, we are at the tale end of the hits and are getting the near misses now and that leaves a void in major hits at the top. I do like Deadliest Catch - Season 4, but I can't rate a featureless DVD as the DVD Pick of the Week. So that honor goes to Doubt, which is worth buying on DVD or Blu-ray. But I would go with the latter. As has become customary, this week's list has to be split into two, with the first part found here.

Instant Star - Seasons One & Two - Buy from Amazon
They haven't released seasons three and four on DVD yet, but they are repackaging the first two seasons and selling them as a box set? Not cool.

Kim Kardashian - Fit In Your Jeans by Friday - Butt Blasting Cardio Step - Buy from Amazon
Wait a minute... Kim Kardashian is making exercise videos designed to give you a smaller butt? That seems so wrong. Also coming out this week is Butt Sculpting and Amazing Abs.

Max Fleischer's Superman - Buy from Amazon
Previously released as bonus material for the Superman Mega-Awesome Box Sets, they are now being released on their own. There's no point in double-dipping, but it's nice to be able to grab them and not have to spend more than $20 to do so.

MGM Musicals - Buy from Amazon: The Goldwyn Follies, It's a Pleasure, and A Song Is Born
Three musicals from the vault of MGM from the years 1938 to 1948. A Song Is Born is the most famous, and for good reason. The other two are worth renting for fans of musicals from the era, but that's it.

No Country for Old Men - Buy from Amazon: 3-Disc DVD or 2-Disc Blu-ray
Just a quick note to start... I only have the 2-Disc Blu-ray and I don't know if the DVD will arrive. I will update this review when it does.

This is an amazing movie and I was blown away when I reviewed it the first time. The movie hasn't changed, so there's little need to recap the movie, so let's skip right to what makes the Special Edition so special.

New extras include Josh Brolin's Unauthorized Behind-the-Scenes, which is a 9-minute featurette that is not in High Definition. It is not even in anamorphic widescreen. The main new extra is Press Timeline, which has hours of press material for the movie, starting in October of 2007 and ending in February of 2008. This includes video clips and audio clips. There's even a randomizer called Call It, Friend-O. The second disc is the Digital Copy. Overall, that's not a lot of extras for Special Edition. That said, No Country for Old Men should be in your movie collection at home, and this will likely be the best release for quite some time. If you already have the DVD, this might be a good time to grab it in High Definition, but I can't really recommend double-dipping otherwise.

Not Easily Broken - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This movie opened better than expected, but completely collapsed at the box office. The reviews, while merely mixed, don't explain this collapse. Perhaps it has to do with the niche market (African-American churchgoers). The DVD has a making-of featurette and some deleted scenes, but that just adds up to a rental. The Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled, but its not worth the extra 45%.

The Paper Chase - Season One - Buy from Amazon
The 1978 TV series based on the 1975 movie of the same name. The movie was about a law student dealing with a strict professor while dating said professor's daughter. The TV series follows a new class of students with the same strict professor, and while it was a highly-regarded series, it earned weak reviews and was canceled after just one season. (It was later brought back and lasted four years in total.) There are no extras on this 6-disc set, but fans of the Emmy-nominated series or the Oscar-winning movie will want to grab it this week.

Peanuts - Snoopy's Reunion - Buy from Amazon
Snoopy heads back to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm where he was born for a reunion. A fun TV special, but the price is way too high for a 22-minute program, a bonus episode, and some interviews.

Phil Mickelson - Secrets of the Short Game - Buy from Amazon
This DVD is selling surprisingly well. Most sports discs like this fall way down the list. I can't tell you if this is worth getting, as I don't follow the sport. I do know why golf balls have dimples. It disrupts the airflow and produces better distance and control. Phil Mickelson probably knows more than me, so this might be worth checking out for fans of the game.

Pokemon - The First Three Movies - Buy from Amazon
The third film in this franchise was the last to earn a wide release here. Add in a very cheap price, and this box set might be worth picking up for casual fans; however, more hardcore fans of the shows likely already have these movies on DVD, as well as the more recent releases.

Pre-Code Hollywood Collection - Buy from Amazon
The Pre-Code era of Hollywood was from 1929 to mid-1934 and it is a bit of a misnomer. The Hays Code was actually adopted in 1930, it just wasn't enforced very well till mid-1934. The five movies here deal with subjects that were banned under the Hays Code, include alcoholism, illegitimate kids, murder, etc. They are very good movies, for the most part, but don't go in expecting something shocking. The Code was so draconian that it wouldn't shock me if most PG films made today would have been banned back then. Hell, there are things that would get a movie banned back then that can be included in a G-rated movie today. (Making fun of a priest, for instance.)

Right Amerca: Feeling Wronged - Some Voices From the Campaign Trail - Buy from Amazon
A scary documentary about a political element that became highly visible in the GOP during the last election. No one is saying every Republican is like this, but there are enough that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. This film is worth checking out, but I don't expect it to convert anyone. It's there to either scare you by showing you an unpleasant side of America, or comfort you because you know that you are not like that.

Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword - Buy from Amazon
The latest direct-to-DVD release from this long-running franchise. Here the gang is trying to retrieve a mystical samurai sword before an evil swordsman and his henchmen can retrieve it. More fighting than most releases from the series, and it's worth checking out.

The Secrets - Buy from Amazon
This film earned reviews that were not quite strong enough to suggest expansion during its limited release, but it still under-performed at the box office. Extras on the DVD include behind-the-scenes, deleted scenes, interviews, etc. and it is worth checking out for most, picking up for many.

Shuttle - Buy from Amazon
This horror film opened in limited release just last month, and it bombed like most horror films that open in limited release do. Granted, mixed reviews didn't help, but it should do better on the home market. (It would be nearly impossible to do worse.) Extras include behind-the-scenes, deleted scenes, and audition tapes. Worth checking out for fans of the genre, but a rental will suffice.

The Tale of Despereaux - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
One of many films released last winter that didn't live up to expectations. Critically the film only earned mixed reviews, but its performance at the box office was a great disappointment, opening with $10 million and ending its run with just over $50 million. You have to think the studio was expecting at least twice that given its target audience and release date. Fortunately, they didn't take it out on the home market release, at least not the Blu-ray. The DVD is lacking in extras with just a making-of featurette, top ten uses for oversized ears, and interactive map of Dor, and two short games. The Blu-ray, on the other hand, has all of that, two Picture-in-Picture tracks, two deleted songs, a scene progression featurette, another game, and more. Granted, it does cost nearly 60% more, but it is worth it, if you are interested in buying.

TCM Spotlight - Doris Day - Buy from Amazon
Five films featuring Doris Day; however, most of these are merely average, at best. Extras on the 5-disc set include mostly vintage shorts, and fans of the stars will want to pick it up, while fans of films from the era will want to give it a rental.

Tigger and Pooh and a Musical Too - Buy from Amazon
The first feature-length movie based on the TV series My Friends Tigger and Pooh, although at 60 minutes, it's not really feature length. In fact, it's shorter than the previous release from this movie that I reviewed.

The movie starts as the gang from the Hundred Acres Woods is having a friendship picnic, all organized by Rabbit. When the picnic goes off without a hitch, the people are so impressed that they elect Rabbit as mayor, but a little power goes right to his head and he starts forcing everyone to adhere to a very strict schedule, much to everyone's dismay. However, Tigger is especially upset and decides to takes matters into his own hands and sets up a side of the Hundred Acres Wood where there will be no rules. Can the Hundred Acres Wood survive being split into two?

I'm a huge fan of the original Winnie the Pooh movie, and I can even appreciate the charm of this latest CG creation. That said, this is only average compared to the show. I'm not sure the music has the charm needed to carry the show though its entire running time. Some of the songs are catchy, but others feel a little like filler. I think if you and your kid(s) are fans of the show, then the DVD is worth checking out.

Extras on the DVD are better than average for Disney's TV on DVD releases starting with an Interactive version of the movie. With this kids can watch the movie and every once and a while the movie will be paused for the kids to play a short mini-game, nine in all (including a sing-along). You can also watch the movie in Sing Along mode. Next up is another series of mini-games called Rabbit's Think Think Think Theatre where you help Rabbit put on a song and dance number. There's quite a bit of branching here that adds to the replay value. Finally, there's a music video for "Underneath the Same Sky" by Kenny Loggins. He's a long way from the danger zone.

Tigger and Pooh and a Musical Too should please fans of the TV series and while the movie itself is not significantly better than the average release for the show, the DVD does have a lot more extras. If you have the previous releases, this one is worth adding to your DVD collection.

Tokyo Zombie - Buy from Amazon
A horror comedy from Japan about two co-workers who accidentally kill their boss, who is then re-animated as a zombie. It's being described by some as a Japanese Shaun of the Dead, which is overstating its quality. However, it is still worth checking out, and with the quality of extras (a nearly hour-long making-of featurette and more than half-an-hour's worth of interviews) it is worth buying for fans of strange Japanese cinema.

Walt Disney Animation Collection - Volume 1 - Mickey and the Beanstalk - Buy from Amazon
The first of three volumes of animated shorts from Disney. Each has a handful of shorts, starting with...

  • Mickey and the Beanstalk - Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy are starving farmers in this take on the classic tale, Jack and the Beanstalk.
    Arguably the most famous of the shorts on this DVD, or any of the three DVDs coming out this week, it is also one of the best. The early scenes with the three trying to share the little food they have is priceless. I still love seeing the "sandwich" that is cut so thin it is transparent.
  • Brave Little Tailor - A giant features prominently again as Mickey is recruited to slay a giant after bragging he killed seven in one blow. Of course, he was talking about flies.
    While the first short might be a bit more famous, some might argue this is the best short on this DVD. It was nominated for an Oscar in 1939, so it has that going for it, but I still like Mickey and the Beanstalk better.
  • Thru the Mirror - Mickey dreams of stepping through the mirror after falling asleep after reading Alice in Wonderland. Once there he discovers a world where all the furniture is alive, but things go bad when he runs amok in a deck of cards.
    This short certainly has a sense of whimsy to it, but it lacks a coherent plot and overall it is just above average for the company.
  • Gulliver Mickey - In order to quiet some kids he is taking care of, Mickey tells them the story of the time he was shipwrecked in Lilliput.
    The oldest cartoon, and the only one in Black and White. It doesn't have the strength of animation or story telling as some of the later cartoons produced by Walt, but it is still worth checking out.
  • Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip - Mickey and Pluto are trying to catch a train, but Pete the conductor won't allow dogs on his train, so Mickey sneaks Pluto aboard. But things take a turn for the worse when Pete catches on, and now they have to evade his clutches.
    The weakest of the five shorts on this DVD. Looney Tunes did this style of cartoon short better, and it suffers by comparison.
There are no extras on the DVD.

On the one hand, Mickey and the Beanstalk has two shorts that are classics, and the others are worth checking out. On the other hand, there are no extras, which is a shame considering how popular they are and how much historical significance the studio has in the art form. It is hard to argue with the price, but I would be willing to spend more to get more. Still worth checking out for most, picking up for many. I guess the Chronological collections are for adult collectors, while these are for kids.

Walt Disney Animation Collection - Volume 2 - Three Little Pigs - Buy from Amazon
Moving onto Volume 2, this time we have seven shorts instead of five, but they are shorter on average and overall the total running time is about the same.

  • Three Little Pigs - A straightforward re-telling of the classic tale set to some upbeat music.
    Not a bad short, but nothing here makes it stand out either.
  • The Big Bad Wolf - A sequel to the above short, adding Little Red Riding Hood to the mix.
    The short also has a lot in common with its predecessor in terms of quality. i.e., It's average, nothing more.
  • Three Little Wolves - The third short in this collection takes the point of view of the three little wolves the big bad wolf is trying to feed, who have lost all respect for their dad. We also look into the three little pigs, who are reenacting The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
    Better than the second one. Not as good as the first.
  • Lambert the Sheepish Lion - After a mix up with the stork a lion is delivered to flock a sheep. At first all of the other lambs tease him, but what happens when the flock is threatened by a hungry wolf?
    This is the only cartoon on this DVD that I remembered by name, and there's a reason for that. It is clearly the best on this DVD.
  • Chicken Little - A World War II update of the classic tale with a Hitler-quoting Wolf pulling the strings in the tale of Chicken Little.
    I'm not kidding. This is a piece of World War II propaganda that was made to tell people not to believe the Germany propaganda the Nazis were making. It's interesting in that regard, and one of the better shorts on this DVD on its own merits.
  • Three Blind Mouseketeers - A combination of the Three Musketeers and the Three Blind Mice with three mice outwitting the Captain Cat who is trying catch them.
    I guess they ran out of wolves to torment and had to resort to a fox last time and a cat this time. The end result is not one of the best on this DVD.
  • Elmer Elephant - Elmer the Elephant goes to Tillie the Tiger's birthday party, but while she's not looking, all the other kids tease him and chase him away. But they change their minds when a fire breaks out and he's the only one who can save them.
    A very predictable short with a plot similar to Lambert the Sheepish Lion. (The kids mocking the one person who is different, until that difference saves their skin.) Only it just isn't as strong.
Again, there are no extras on the DVD.

Of the seven shorts here, only two are really strong, and too many of the rest are average, at best. For hardcore fans of Disney animated shorts it might be worth picking up, but for most, Walt Disney Animation Collection - Volume 2 is just worth a rental.

Walt Disney Animation Collection - Volume 2 - The Prince and the Pauper - Buy from Amazon
Prince and Pauper.
Junior and Whopper.
World made up of silver and copper.
Under my own volition, I took a change of position.

I've had that song stuck in my head ever since this DVD arrived. However, I doubt most people reading this have ever heard of Moxy Fruvous.

  • The Prince and the Pauper - The re-telling of the tale by Mark Twain. In it Mickey Mouse plays the two titular characters, one a rich prince in a troubled kingdom, and the other a pauper living under harsh conditions. When they meet one day, they decide to switch places, but while at first they enjoy their new lives, soon they get into trouble.
    The best and most famous short on this DVD. It's not as good a Mickey and the Beanstalk or Brave Little Tailor, but still has replay value.
  • The Pied Piper - Hamelin is overrun by rats and offer a bag of gold to whoever can get rid of them. The Pied Piper comes into town to take up their offer, but he completes this task so easily that the townsfolk refuses to pay, so he decides to pipe away their kids as well.
    This short is more than 75 years old, and you can tell. The animation is rather repetitive while the music doesn't stand out very much.
  • Old King Cole - Another musical rendition of a fairytale, this one has all of the fairytales coming to the court of King Cole for his annual jamboree.
    So many nursery rhymes means each one only gets a few seconds of screen time, so there's no real plot to this one and that hurts its re-play value. One of the weakest shorts coming out this week.
  • Ye Olden Days - Mickey Mouse plays a wandering minstrel who comes to the rescue of Princess Minnie after she is locked up by the king for refusing to marry the dippy prince played Dippy Dawg (a.k.a. Goofy).
    Another very old short, and you can tell from the animation style. It does have some historic value being a Goofy short before he was called Goofy, but it doesn't have much in the way of replay value.
  • A Knight for a Day - Goofy, or as he was known in this short, Cedric, is a squire back in the year 1446. However, after he accidentally knocks out his knight, he has to take his place and fight the champion for the hand of the princess.
    This is likely the only other short on this DVD that most people have even heard of, and it is arguably as good as The Prince and the Pauper, especially if you are a fan of the Goofy shorts from the era.
Again, there are no extras on this DVD.

Of the five shorts on the Walt Disney Animation Collection - Volume 2 - The Prince and the Pauper, only two have serious replay value. However, those two represent more than half the running time and that might be enough to warrant purchasing over just renting. I'm not entirely convinced of that.

The World's Biggest and Baddest Bugs - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
An hour and a half documentary on the world of bugs. Or to be more specific, two hour-long TV specials minus the commercials. The first half deals with the biggest bugs, and the second half deals with the baddest bugs. Looking at the cover, I was expecting some awesome footage of some of my favorite creatures, scorpions, as well as other insects in the wild. I was disappointed.

These specials are hosted by Ruud Kleinpaste, which is the main problem. In the review for The Beauty of Snakes, I mentioned there was a narrator, but didn't give her name because that's wasn't vital information. She was not the star of the show, the snakes where. Here, Ruud Kleinpaste is the star of the show. Don't get me wrong, he imparts a lot of information and his enthusiasm for the subject is obvious, and infectious. That said, he's on the screen more than the bugs are, and that is a huge problem. I went into this review expecting 90 minutes of insects and arachnids in nature, but what I got was Ruud riding a skateboard down a hill, getting thrown around by a sumo wrestler, eating a marzipan cup, stung by a bullet and shocked with a taser, and I just didn't care. Additionally, like with The Beauty of Snakes, the information presented here was just a little too 101 for me. Again, I'm not an expert entomologist; in fact, I thought entomologist was someone who studied the origins of words. (That's etymologists, so I'm close.) But I already knew about insects' inefficient respiratory system, bigger scorpions have weaker venom, etc. I did learn a few new things, like the Bullet Ant, or the Man Face Bug, etc., but it wasn't enough for any replay value.

(On a side note, since the Man Face Bug came before Ronald Reagan, one should say Ronald Reagan looks like a Man Face Bug, and not the other way around.)

As for extras, there are none. Nor is the video and audio quality of the Blu-ray that great. This could have something to do with the 25GB disc that was used, or perhaps it has to do with the source material, as the Ruud-centric scenes are weaker than the nature shots.

The World's Biggest and Baddest Bugs was disappointing. I was expecting a lot of great shots of insects and arachnids up close, but what I got was more Ruud than bug. If you are a fan of his, than this Blu-ray is worth checking out, but that's as enthusiastic as I can get.

Yes Man - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc DVD, Two-Disc DVD, Blu-ray
Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel liven up an otherwise unimpressive effort that is hampered by predictable plot. (On a side note, the big lesson learned in the end is don't say no to everything, but don't say yes either. Judge every situation individually. Well, duh. I would like to add to that "revelation" that there are some mistakes you can't recover from, so in real life learning this lesson the way Carl did in the movie can be a lot more devastating. Looking at the various releases, the single-Disc DVD has a couple of short behind the scenes featurettes, a couple of featurettes on Munchausen by Proxy (Zooey Deschanel's band in the movie, which is arguably the best part of the movie), deleted scenes, and outtakes. The two-Disc DVD has all of this, plus a digital copy of the movie. Meanwhile, the Blu-ray has all of this, plus a featurette on the author of the non-fiction book the movie is based on, and two shorter behind-the-scenes featurettes. That's a lot in numbers, but only the two extras on Munchausen by Proxy have serious replay value. Worth checking out, but give it a rental first.

Yo Gabba Gabba! - New Friends - Buy from Amazon
The latest DVD release from the pre-school show Yo Gabba Gabba!, which takes place in Gabba Land with -- What is on that man's head? It's freaking me out!

  • New Friends - Jack Black makes an appearance as himself, after he gets lost and runs out of gas. At first he is scared of this weird place (you and me both, Jack) but then after he meets Brobee, Foofa, Muno, Plex, and Toodee, he becomes their friends and has a great time.
  • Find - The group learn about fish, play hide-and-peekaboo, try and figure out how holes got into the tree, and we even get another installment of Super Martian Robot Girl.
  • Greetings - We learn a lot of ways to say hello, and when to say goodbye, when to say please and thank you, and other ways to be polite.
  • Share - DJ Lance Rock gives gifts to all of the gang in Gabba Land... well, except Plex. Now the group has to learn to share, ask permission before taking someone else's toys, etc.
This show is a mixture of live action and animation with plenty of recurring segments. These include Biz'z Beats, The Super Music Friends Show, Super Martian Robot Girl, Dancey Dance Time, and more. Not all segments are in each show, but they happen enough to thrill the pre-school set. Speaking of which, each show has four kids that are featured dancing, singing, and even being in a video game.

There are no extras on the DVD, nor are there subtitles or proper chapter placements.

According to the Wiki entry for Yo Gabba Gabba, "The show has also become popular among some college age students, watching it under the effects of cannabis." I'm not surprised, as it has a trippy feel to it. It also has an ADHD feel to it with a number of very short segments flashing across the screen and disappearing before the target audience grows bored. The only episode that had a real plot to it here was the first one with Jack Black, and that's the one I liked the best. However, if your kid(s) like the show and enjoyed the previous DVD, then New Friends is a good value.


Filed under: Video Releases, Yes Man, No Country for Old Men, The Tale of Despereaux, Doubt, Not Easily Broken, Sodot Ha