Follow us on

DVD Releases for July 21st, 2009

July 20th, 2009

Two of the most anticipated home market releases of the summer come out this week, and both of them are contenders for DVD Pick of the Week. The Watchmen and Coraline Blu-ray releases are both worth picking up, and must-haves for their fans. Also in the mix is The Middleman - The Complete Series, which despite its short run packs a lot of entertainment. If I were forced to choose just one to buy, it would probably be Coraline, but all three are DVD Picks of the Week.

Americas Test Kitchen - Buy from Amazon: Season One, Season Two, Season Three, Season Four, and Season Five
The first five seasons of this PBS cooking show are being re-released on DVD ahead of Season Nine's early August release. Not sure why seasons six, seven, and eight were not part of this re-release.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: 300 - The Complete Experience, Coraline, Echelon Conspiracy, The Great Buck Howard, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Midnight Express, NOVA - The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies, Prison Break - The Final Break, Pushing Daisies - Season Two, Scenic National Parks - Glacier Banff & Jasper, Scenic National Parks - Zion & Bryce, Watchmen, and Watchmen - Gift Set
The best selection of Blu-ray releases in what feels like months. Not only are there two day-and-date releases that demand the Blu-ray upgrade (Coraline and The Watchmen), there are also a TV on DVD release (Pushing Daisies) and a special edition (300) that should also sell well. There is a small chance that records could be broken this week.

Charlie's Angels - Season Four - Buy from Amazon
The penultimate season of this iconic series. It's iconic, but it isn't actually that good. It's not good at all. Additionally, the DVD sets have been devoid of special features and generally poorly made (weak a/v quality, for instance). Nostalgia is the only reason to get it, and it's just not worth it.

Coraline - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc DVD, Two-Disc DVD or Blu-ray
If this movie doesn't get an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Picture, I would be flabbergasted. In fact, at this point, it could earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture; it won't, but it could. One of the best movies of the year, it succeeds in every level. It's a great adaptation of a great story, it works even if you've never heard of the Neil Gaiman, it's a visual treat, the voice acting is great, and so on. As for the home market release, the Single-Disc DVD is only good if you want to rent it. The Two-Disc DVD has an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, and a few featurettes. The Blu-ray upgrades the audio commentary track to Picture-in-Picture, adds a featurette, and the disc is BD-Live enabled. All for just 50 cents more. That's not 50 percent more, that 50 cents more. Easily worth the upgrade and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Dim Sum Funeral - Buy from Amazon
A group of Chinese-Americans reunite after the death of their mother. However, not only are they having trouble reconnecting with each other, they have become strangers to their own culture, making the traditional funeral their mother wanted a little more difficult to pull off. The film has earned terrible reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but also earned two Leo Award nominations, winning one of them. Might be worth a rental for its target audience, despite the reviews.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and makes its home market debut on the 28th. However, the DVD screener arrived early and I was able to get the review done this week.

Dragonball Evolution - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
I only have the DVD version of the movie. In fact, it is a DVD-R version of the movie and not the final retail version. I could be getting that, and a copy of the Blu-ray after the film hits shelves, but I'm not sure yet.

Dragonball Evolution is based on a popular Anime series that has lasted decades in Japan and several hundred episodes in various incarnations. Making the leap to live action is risky, in more than one way, especially for the stylized world these characters inhabit. For instance, the hairstyle Goku sports in the anime / manga doesn't stand out compared to most other characters in that genre. But on the live action Goku, it just looks silly. Normally I would say complaining about a character's haircut in a movie is bad form, but here, this is just one of many, many complaints one could level at the film. Had the film worked overall, the hairstyle would not have bugged me.

Let's start with the plot, which is equal parts plot hole and unnecessary convolutions. We learn from a voiceover at the beginning that thousands of years ago an alien named Lord Piccolo and his henchmen named Oozaru nearly conquered the world. However, the world was saved by a group of brave warriors (Who?) imprisoned him (How?) and his henchman vanished (Why?) and balanced was restored to the world (Woohoo!). Now we flash to the present day, where Goku is sparring with his grandpa. Goku is your typical teenager dealing with bullies while pining for the unobtainable girl. However, his grandpa has superpowers, which Goku is trying to learn. The martial arts training is a lot more interesting than the bully / girl trouble, and it's not like the film doesn't have enough plot to last the entire movie. In fact, it has enough plot to last several movies.

Early in the film, Lord Piccolo returns having escaped from his prison (Again I ask how?) with a new henchman in tow looking for the seven dragon balls (The seven what?) that when gathered together will grant him a wish (Huh?) that he will use to bring back his first henchman (Why? Why not just wish for victory?). He finds one of which he finds in a Japanese town he destroys with the world's most useless weapon. (It's a small bomb he drops from his zeppelin that destroys a lot of buildings, but doesn't kill anyone.) He locates another in the possession of grandpa but he, grandpa, had just given it to Goku for his 18th birthday. Lord Piccolo kills grandpa, but , grandpa lives long enough to tell Goku to find Chow Yun-Fat and complete his training. It is about this time that Bulma arrives, who is also looking for the Dragon Balls, but as a source of unlimited green power (Hippy!) and another person, whose name escapes me and I don't want to go back and look it up (Please don't make me). The movie then proceeds from contrivance to contrivance while the audience grows bored.

I watched this movie with a group of people, all of whom were at least familiar with the source material. All of them agreed this movie was a failure at adapting said source material. One even went so far as to say, and this is a direct quote, "They are murdering my childhood." I think that's overstating things, but this film has real problems. This includes the convoluted storyline, the excess of uninteresting characters (even the main bad guy doesn't do nearly enough to warrant his inclusion in the movie), the action scenes are weak compared to others in this genre, even the special effects look cheap. If you had no idea what series / manga was about, you would be totally lost, and if you have seen the show, the number of changes to the show (the plot, the characters, the tone, etc.) would be too much to handle. Because of this, this is a movie without a target, as you could probably tell by its box office performance.

This weak box office performance explains the lack of substantial extras. There are eight deleted / extended scenes that run close to ten-and-a-half minutes. There's a five-minute workout featuring two of the fight coordinators. There are two-and-a-half minutes of outtakes, a music video, and a couple of Fox Movie Channel Presents making of featurettes. Nothing here had much substance, and therefore nothing here has much replay value.

I don't have the Blu-ray and I may or may not get a copy of it in the future, but there doesn't appear to be any exclusive extras offered.

I wanted to like Dragonball Evolution, but I was worried that the adaptation would be mishandled from the beginning. It turns out my fears were well founded. If you like the source material, the changes will drive you nuts; if you never seen the source material, the story will leave you confused. Neither the DVD nor the Blu-ray have enough extras to compensate for this, and overall I can't even rate it a rental.

Echelon Conspiracy - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A political conspiracy thriller that opened earlier in the year with zero positive reviews, failed to reach the Mendoza Line during its opening weekend, before quickly exiting theaters. Did it deserve this fate? Or was it unfairly overlooked?

Shane West stars as Max Peterson, a computer engineer who one days receives a strange cell phone that gives him a tip on a cheap hotels rate, which makes him stay an extra night, which in turns saves his life when his plane crashes. Further tips are sent to him, including a stock tip that would have made him rich, so he starts to follow these messages in hopes of getting some easy money. But when he's sent to a casino in Prague, he runs afoul of the security there and government agents come after him, he must go on the run while trying to find out who is sending him these messages and why.

This is not a bad movie, per se, but there is just nothing here that stands out as particularly engaging, and nothing is unique. The surprise twist of the rogue A.I. controlling everything was used in Eagle Eye, which was a bad movie and not worth emulating. And if you are going to copy a bad movie, at least fix some of the flaws found within it, but that didn't happen here. (Although I would say at least the action scenes are not nearly as improbable as in the previous movie.) I was greatly disappointed with the ending here, as I felt it was lifted from War Games. At best, the movie is an effective time waster, but there's zero replay value here, and at most it is worth a rental.

As for extras, there are none on either the DVD or the Blu-ray. The video and audio quality is good, but the price is not. (The Blu-ray costs 40% more than the DVD, and that's too much for this type of release.)

Echelon Conspiracy doesn't break any ground in the genre, and there are too many plot points that are too similar to other movies for this one to have any replay value. Add in featureless DVD and Blu-ray releases, and there's no reason to buy either edition. In fact, if you plan on renting, I would grab a back up, just in case.

A Father's Choice - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie from the year 2000 coming out on DVD. In the movie, Peter Strauss stars as a father living in the country who has to take care of his two daughters (played by Yvonne Zima and Michelle Trachtenberg) after the death of their mother. It's a City / Country culture clash plus Unexpected Family movie that is entertaining enough for a rental, if you are a fan of the genre, but it is too predictable for anything more.

The Great Buck Howard - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Colin Hanks stars as Troy Gable, a young man who hasn't decided what to do with his life, so he becomes the personal assistant to Buck Howard. Buck Howard is a stage magician whose fame is fading, or has long since faded, but he seems unaware of that fact. Reviews were good, but not great, and limited releases usually need great reviews to thrive. This movie barely opened above the Mendoza line, and while it remained in theaters longer than its opening would have suggested, it still never made it to $1 million. The DVD and the Blu-ray should sell better, even though neither have any special features. Sadly, the former is the better deal, as the latter costs 46% more. For this type of release, 20% to 30% would have been acceptable.

Hotel - Season One - Buy from Amazon
James Brolin stars as Peter McDermott, who runs the St. Gregory Hotel, a luxury hotel in San Francisco. In pilot movie, he is looking for a new assistant to help cut his workload on the instance of the hotel's owner (Bette Davis, who only appears in the pilot). He hires Connie Sellecca, and it is obvious from the start that their relationship will be more than strictly professional. While the show deals with the personal lives of the staff, the main draw for fans was the constant flow of guest stars playing, coincidentally enough, guests at the hotel. These guests include Erin Moran (Happy Days); Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family); Mel Tormé (legendary Jazz singer); Morgan Fairchild (ageless wonder); and many others. And that's just the pilot episode. Throughout the first season, there are dozens of names I could link to.

The quickest way to describe this show is, "The Love Boat, but without the boat." It has the same mix of drama, romance, and humor. Additionally, the mix of permanent cast & guest stars is in both shows as well. Also, it's not too much of a stretch to say a cruise ship is a luxury hotel on the water, so you have the same atmosphere and upper echelon clientele. The comparisons should come as no surprise, as the two shows shared five producers, including executive producer and TV legend Aaron Spelling. However, while The Love Boat lasted a lot longer on the air, I think a lot of people would argue this is the higher quality show. It's a lot less campy in retrospective. That said, the over-reliance in guest stars becomes tiresome quickly, as most of the stories end after one episode, so they are never covered in much depth. Personally, I much prefer shows where you can become emotionally connected to the characters and not think, 'Who cares what happening to them now, in another 14 minutes we will never see them again.'

Sadly, there are no extras on this 6-disc set, nor are there play all buttons. There are proper chapter placements, but that's not much for a TV on DVD release.

If you loved The Love Boat, you will likely feel the same way toward Hotel. If you hated The Love Boat, like me, this show is a lot more tolerable, but it still suffers from some of the same flaws. Additionally, Season One is devoid of extras and it is hard to argue that it is worth the price to buy. For most a rental will be enough.

Jean-Luc Godard Double-shot - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon: 2 Or 3 Things I Know About Her and Made in the U.S.A.
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her and Made in the U.S.A. coming out on Criterion Collection releases this week. Neither are among his best, but even second-tier Jean-Luc Godard is still amazing. Extras include interviews and featurettes, and both are worth picking up for fans of the auteur.

Jon and Kate Plus Ei8ht - Season Four - Volume Two - The Big Move - Buy from Amazon
I hate this show and I've hated it from the beginning. However, the recent media circus surrounding the breakup of their marriage has made my hatred for the show grow to new levels, levels I normally reserve for the New York Rangers.

The Lucy Show - The Official First Season - Buy from Amazon
Before we get to the show, I would like to talk about the name of this 4-disc set. The term 'Official' in the title might confuse some fans, but the explanation is quite simple. A lot of the episodes of this series have lapsed into public domain and have been released on home market, repeatedly. However, this is the first time the first season has been released in whole and using the original masters. In short, this is the release fans were waiting for.

Lucille Ball plays Lucy Carmichael, a widowed woman with two children, her elder daughter Chris and her younger son Jerry. She lives with her divorced friend, Vivian Bagley (Vivian Vance), and her son Sherman. The show is considered by many to be a follow-up to I Love Lucy, if not an unofficial sequel, and the tone of the humor is very similar. In fact, there's one very famous bit from season one, which happens in Lucy and Viv Put in a Shower, which I was sure was from I Love Lucy. (It might have something to do with this season being filled in Black & White while the other seasons were shot, and shown in syndication, in color.) The overall quality of the season is high, but the quality of the individual episodes were inconsistent. Like I previously mentioned, Lucy and Viv Put in a Shower is one of the all-time great episodes, and not of just the series, but of the decade. Some of the other episodes are just average. I think the more opportunity for physical comedy, like in Lucy Puts Up a TV Antenna, is the key to the humor of this series. Overall the hits outnumber the misses by a huge margin, and the replay value is high.

Given the age of this show, I wasn't expecting a lot in terms of extras. However, there are a lot of information here, including text based bios of the main cast, the guest cast, production notes, etc. These include Flubs on all four discs, which describe some of the mistakes made during the filming of the shows, and highlight other bits of trivia. It's a simple idea for an extra, but appreciated. On the first disc there is an interview with Lucy Arniz, while on the last disc there is an interview with Jimmy Garret, who was one of the child stars on the show. There are also vintage commercials, some of the original opening and closing credits, which includes the original sponsors.

If you grew up on Lucille Ball and have I Love Lucy - The Complete Series on DVD, then The Lucy Show - The Official First Season is worth picking up. Even if you were just a more casual fan of I Love Lucy, then this is at least worth checking out.

Messengers 2 - The Scarecrow - Buy from Amazon
Let's face it, the original movie was terrible with most critics complaining that there was almost nothing original about it. It is extremely doubtful that the direct-to-DVD prequel will be better in that department. That said, direct-to-DVD horror films are the epitome of low expectations theater, and fans of the genre don't care about originality.

The Middleman - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Oh man. It sucks finding a new show on DVD only to learn it was cancelled before you even heard of it.

The Middleman stars Natalie Morales as Wendy Watson, an artist trying to make a living as a secretary at a genetics lab when an accident creates a horrible mutant. However, she keeps her head, and by that I mean she keeps her wits, which allows her to remain physically attached to her head. In the middle of her struggle, she is rescued by a man, Matt Keeslar, who seems to have walked out of the 1950s. It turns out he's part of a secret organization dedicated to fighting trans-dimensional, pan-dimensional... and other dimensional threats, and he's decided Wendy Watson should be his next sidekick. Over the course of the all-too-short series, they battle threats like zombie fish, super-smart Mafia apes, Mexican Wrestlers, Boy Bands, Tubas, Vampire Puppets, Mirror Universes, and more. All while spouting witty, pop-culture laden dialogue at a break-neck pace. Even pop-culture junkies will miss a lot of the references in this show, because some are just a little to obscure, while others fly by so fast it's hard to keep up with them all. This adds a level of replay value to the show that is hard to top. It's has a style that prevents it from being firmly attached to reality, even the simple character relations between Wendy Watson and her roommate Lacey Thornfield (Brit Morgan). The way they talk is not the way normal humans talk, but it helps give the show its sense of style. Little jokes, little recurring jokes (like the way they flash the location on time on the screen ("Bullet Time" "Past Your Bedtime") add to the overall atmosphere, and had this show been given a chance, it could have been a major cult hit.

Extras on the three-disc set include audio commentary tracks on four of the show's twelve episodes, which features the creators, director, and several of the cast members. Good energy and plenty of information. The rest of extras are found on disc four, starting with 18 minutes of Webisodes, which are making of / behind-the-scenes featurettes. Javi-Casts are Q&A with the Javier Grillo-Marxuach, the creator. There are nearly 80 minutes of Q&A here, so nearly every question you could want answered, is answered. Next up is 8-minute of outtakes, two alternate scenes (in less than finished form), audition footage for four of the five main cast (only Matt Keeslar is left out). There are three versions of the opening title sequence (I like the third one, but I have a thing for the Emma Peel suit (Don't judge me.)) there's a 5-minute featurette / compilation on the Wilhelm Scream. We have a complete table read for The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome episode, The Middleman-ager has five preview clips from show, which were used to advertise it. There are five PSAs, a music videos, and an image gallery. That's a lot of extras for a show that didn't last one full season.

Why was this show on ABC Family? This is a show made for Kevin Smith / Comic Book Nerds / Pop-Culture Addicts, not the people who watch ABC Family. There's even swearing in the show (it is bleeped). Had it had the support needed, The Middleman could have been a cult hit. As it is, The Complete Series is a great way to celebrate the show, and a worthy contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

The Mighty Boosh - Buy from Amazon: Season One, Season Two, and Season Three
A bizarre TV series from Britain, which for some will be a warning, while for others will be a selling point. It has been shown on Adult Swim in the United States, which is also a warning / selling point. The show focuses on the lives of the workers of a rundown zoo called The Zooniverse (for the first season at least) but the humor is on the absurd point dealing with such topics and 'Monkey Hell', get stranded on a desert island, and going to jazzercise. The show is expensive on a per minute basis (each season is only 6 episodes long) but it is still worth checking out.

Monk - Season Seven - Buy from Amazon
One of my favorite murder mystery shows on TV right now. The show is perhaps starting to show its age at times (they did reach the 100-episode point during this season) but most episodes are still fantastic. Extras, on the other hand, are not. On a side note, the eight, and final season starts on the seventh of August. I'm already bummed that the show is ending at the end of season eight.

Prison Break - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
I love this idea: when a TV series ends without a proper send-off, make a direct-to-DVD / TV movie that wraps it all up. It should please fans, while making enough money to please the studio. It's win / win. That said, I'm not a fan of the show, and the Blu-ray is a little expensive compared to the DVD, especially for no exclusive extras.

Psych - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
Skeptics are rarely presented in a flattering light on TV, which makes this show, about a fake psychic, so much fun to watch. Granted, the goofy humor sometimes gets in the way of the mysteries, but that's a tough balance to maintain for any show, and it's only a minor complaint here. I would prefer substantial extras, and the price is a little high on a per minute basis for TV on DVD, but even so it is worth renting for most, picking up for many.

Pushing Daisies - Season Two - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
From the creator of Dead Like Me, which also only lasted two seasons. This show was just too quirky to last, as it was hard to market, which is almost always fatal for a TV series. Extras on both the DVD and the Blu-ray are the same, a quartet of short featurettes, while the latter is too much to be worth upgrading to high definition. The DVD is worth picking up, on the other hand, as the episodes themselves have more than enough replay value.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 9th of June. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in the review.

Reaper - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
Well, it was fun while it lasted. This show stars Tyler Labine, among others, and he hasn't had a really good track record when it comes to his TV series lasting longer than a season. This one made it to two seasons, but that's it.

Season two brought a lot of changes to the lives of the cast. Sam learns his father is not his father, and that you-know-who is. He learns he has a brother, his relationship with Andi is on the rocks. Speaking of Andi, she's now in charge of The Work Bench after Ted was fired. This makes her Sock's boss, which puts the two in direct conflict which each other. Sock also has a new sister, I mean stepsister, and she's hot. She's hot and Sock is demented, so there's lots of fun to be had there. The final main character is Benji, who gets a new girlfriend this season, Nina, who has a dark past. ... She's a Demon who tried to kill Sam. Awkward.

Quality of the episodes shows were, at worse, holding steady compared to season one. There are some changes in the cast, mostly positive, and in the dynamics between the characters, but they are still consistently funny. It's a shame the show ended so soon.

Extras on the four-disc set are all found on the fourth disc, starting with a 15-minute making of featurette that deals a lot with season one. There are four deleted scenes with a total running time of five minutes. And finally, eight minutes of outtakes.

One day Tyler Labine will star in a TV series that has a long run on TV. Reaper could have been that show, as there's more than enough quality here, but it wasn't to be. Season two will be the last season for the show, but while it didn't last long, it is worth picking up. However, start with season one.

Retribution Road - Buy from Amazon
One of a handful of DVDs that I will review as soon as the screener arrives. Hopefully the late DVDs won't all show up at once, because that makes my job so much harder.

The Ring Finger - Buy from Amazon
A French film based on a Japanese novel starring the Ukrainian actress, Olga Kurylenko. The film earned very few reviews, but it is the type of movie that could find a receptive audience on the home market, especially with an ambiguous ending that practically screams replay value.

Robot Chicken - Star Wars - Episode II - Buy from Amazon
The second "special episode" of Robot Chicken focusing on all things Star Wars. Very funny, but it is hard to recommend paying $14 for a 38-minute extended edition of the TV episode, even with the extras (making of featurette, audio commentary, deleted scenes, and more). Don't get me wrong, it is absolutely hilarious, but the price per minute is way too high for this type of release.

Route 66 - Season Three - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
Great show, but what's with the DVD releases? Amazon says it's a six-disc release, but that it's only 500 minutes long, which would mean it had just a third of the 31 episodes from this season. Wait till the full season set is released. They did that for the first two seasons, so I assume they will do the same for the last two as well.

She Likes Girls - Volume 4 - Buy from Amazon
A collection of eight short films with a lesbian theme running from 5 to 18 minutes. Also includes a featurette on the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Fans of the previously released collections should be happy here. And if you have not seen any of these DVDs, give them a rental.

Sherman's Way - Buy from Amazon
This lightweight story is heavy on clichés and lacked the charm needed to appeal to critics or moviegoers during its short theatrical run. The featureless DVD should perform better, but that's mainly because it would be nearly impossible for it to perform worse. That said, it is far from the worst movie on this week's list, and if you are interested in some light entertainment, it could be worth a rental.

So You Think You Can Dance - Get Fit - Buy from Amazon: Cardio Funk and Tone and Groove
Two exercise DVDs being released from the So You Think Dance Reality TV series to help people get fit by dancing. Hmmm... Exercise, check. Reality TV, check. Dancing, check. Three things I hate.

Cardio Funk presents three workouts starting with Lauren leading us in a Hip-Hop routine. First we are given a slow explanation of the individual steps, then the full routine to a count, then to music, and then to music at full speed. Travis takes over the lead for Contemporary dance, while Courtney teaches the Disco routine. The repetition makes it easy to learn, while the different speeds makes setting your own pace easier. While the warm-ups and the cool downs should help prevent injuries, which is the biggest barrier to maintaining an exercise regime.

Extras on this DVD include short interviews with the executive producer and the three dancers highlighted on this DVD. Total running time is only 14-minute, which is a little light in terms extras compared to most TV on DVD, but better than most exercise videos have, which are the two points of comparison here.

Moving onto Tone and Groove, this DVD follows the same format as the first, but with Twitch teaching us a Hip-Hop routine, Katee leading the way with Jazz, and Dmitry helping us get fit with the Cha-cha. Cha-cha? It seems a little old-fashion compared to the other two styles, but it is a great change of pace.

Extras on the DVD are the same as on the previous DVD, a little too much the same. In fact, the interview with the executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe, is identical. There are also 4-minute interviews with Twich, Katee, and Dmitry.

I get the feeling that many competition Reality TV shows are more about watching people fail that seeing whose the best. It seems that the main draw for a lot of people who are fans of this subgenre. I hate this and no interest in this show, so I don't know if these dancers are popular or not. They do have a lot of energy, and could help someone keep to an exercise routine long enough to help them get into shape. For that reason, I think So You Think You Can Dance - Get Fit Cardio Funk and Tone and Groove are worth checking out.

SpongeBob SquarePants - To SquarePants or Not To SquarePants - Buy from Amazon
Yet another SpongeBob SquarePants DVD is coming out this week. There have been so many such releases, some following a theme, some full-season sets, some with seemingly random episodes, and some that are essentially split-volume seasons sets. This one falls into the last category, and it includes eight more stories from Bikini Bottoms starting with...
  1. To SquarePants or Not to SquarePants - Due to a tragic laundry day accident, SpongeBob is left without any SquarePants to wear and has to go shopping for new clothes. But when he finds a pair of RoundPants, Patrick Star no longer recognizes him. At first he's horrified, but then he relishes his opportunity to start a new life.
  2. Squid's Visit - Squidward claims he would never leave the comfort of his own home to visit SpongeBob, so SpongeBob decides to copy Squidward's home, which doesn't comfort Squidward like SpongeBob had hoped.
  3. The Splinter - SpongeBob gets a splinter in his finger, really deep into his finger, and Squidward tells him that if Mr. Krabs finds out he was injured on the job, he would be sent home. The ultimate punishment.
  4. Slide Whistle Stooges - SpongeBob and Patrick found a new way to amuse themselves... by annoying Squidward with slide whistles. Squidward decides to turn the tables on them, but soon becomes addicted to the instrument, much to annoyance of the rest of the inhabitants of Bikini Bottom. This will end poorly.
  5. Boating Buddies - Distracted by SpongeBob, Squidward gets into a boating accident and has to go to Boating School, and is of course paired up with SpongeBob. So far Squidward's not having a good time on this DVD.
  6. The Krabby Kronicle - Mr. Krabs learns that the newspaper business is a quick way to make a lot of money, as long as you don't care about the truth. (So many jokes to be made here, but this is the wrong forum to make them.) He forces SpongeBob to become his star reporting and print all the juiciest stories Mr. Krabs and think up.
  7. The Slumber Party - Mr. Krabs freaks out because his daughter, Pearl, is having a slumber party and he's worried that boys will be there are break his stuff. So he sends SpongeBob to spy on them and make sure none of Mr. Krabs rules are broken.
  8. Grooming Gary - SpongeBob decides to enter Gary in a pet show, but after being laughed at by a snotty snail owner, SpongeBob decides Gary needs a makeover, much to Gary's horror.
Extras include two image galleries: one for character designs and one for storyboards.

This is not a very strong DVD in terms of episodes or extras. The latter is common with all SpongeBob releases, but the former is more disappointing. Don't get me wrong, most of the episodes have at least a few funny jokes; however, most either take the joke too far, or carry on too long. (Slide Whistle Stooges is probably the worst offender for that.) To SquarePants or Not to SquarePants, Boating Buddies, and The Krabby Kronicle never really hit their stride. On the other hand, The Splinter is quite funny while Squid's Visit moves from funny to strange to beyond strange. Almost disturbing.

There are enough laughs in SpongeBob SquarePants - To SquarePants or Not To SquarePants that the DVD is worth checking out, but not enough that it is worth picking up. Rent this and wait for the full season set. It won't be long now.

Star-ving - The First Season - Buy from Amazon
An internet series starring David Faustino as a washed up actor trying to get his career back on track, with the help of fellow former actor, Corin Nemec. A very funny series featuring a huge number of cameoes, including the cast of Married... With Children. Each of the 12 episodes average only about 9 minutes long, so there's not a lot here, but the DVD is still worth picking up.

Stargate - SG1 - Children of the Gods - Buy from Amazon
This is the pilot movie for the original series re-edited into a more network TV friendly version of the show. That is to say, the nudity was removed. There were also some other changes, but this seems to be the change everyone is focusing on. If you own the show on DVD already, I can't recommend spending this much money for a re-release with a few new extras. If you don't own it by now, chances are you don't want it.

Super Capers - Buy from Amazon
This kids movie earned terrible reviews and went nowhere at the box office. Was this inevitable, or was it mistreated? Not sure. Won't know for sure till the screener arrives.

This American Life - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
This could be one of the shortest reviews I will ever write, as I reviewed this DVD back in January when it came out as a Borders' exclusive. As far as I can tell, there's absolutely nothing different between this DVD and the one you could only buy at Borders back in January. (There might be a change in the packaging, as there might have been a sticker that said, 'Borders Exclusive' on it.) Obviously the episodes are still the same, and most are amazing and even the weaker ones have something that has high replay value. Extras include on audio commentary track, extended episode, a live version of the show, as well as some bios. It was DVD Pick of the Week material when it was first released, and it's still DVD Pick of the Week material now.

The Watchmen - Buy from Amazon: Theatrical DVD, Two-Disc Director's Cut DVD, Two-Disc Director's Cut Blu-ray, or Blu-ray Gift Set
I was going to write up about this release, the plot, the critical reception, the extras, etc. However, I just found out that I will be getting the Blu-ray to review, so I don't want to get into any real detail before it arrives. I will say that there's a very good chance that by the end of the week it will be one of the highest selling Blu-ray of all time.

Visioneers - Buy from Amazon
Zach Galifianakis stars as George Winsterhammerman, a man who works for a major corporation. However, when his co-workers start to explode, he decides to... ignore the problem and keep living his life. That is, until he starts developing some of the symptoms. A high-concept comedy that has been earning mixed reviews, but it is the kind of film that if you like, you will really like and want to watch more than once. For that reason, it is worth picking up. But try before you buy and start with a rental.

Wolverine and the X-Men - Deadly Enemies - Buy from Amazon
Don't want to say too much about this release, since my screener should be showing up soon, I hope. I will say I vastly prefer full season sets, but I will reserve judgment till I get to see the DVD and its extras.


-

Filed under: Video Releases, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Watchmen, Coraline, Dragonball Evolution, Echelon Conspiracy, The Great Buck Howard, Super Capers, Sherman's Way, 300