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DVD Releases for October 27th, 2009

October 27th, 2009

It's coming very close to Halloween, which means there are a lot of horror films on this week's list. However, much of these films are of the smaller variety, like Night of the Creeps. Looking at the best of the releases, there are two that jump out at me, both Blu-ray releases. Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure on Blu-ray and The Prisoner - The Complete Series on Blu-ray are both DVD Pick of the Week.

Adult Swim in a Box - Buy from Amazon
This feels like six random seasons from six random Adult Swim shows packed in one box. I guess it's good if you want to sample a bunch of shows to test to see which ones you would want to buy the other seasons for. Otherwise, I find it hard to believe anyone will like all six shows, but not have enough of the DVD releases already to make this worth the money.

Battlestar Galactica - The Plan - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
An uncut and extended version of the upcoming TV movie that helps explain some of the issues left unresolved with the TV series by looking at the plan created by the Cylons. The reviews have been mixed; well, not mixed so much as divided. While a lot of people loving it, many people hated it, so if you are a fan of the series it is definitely worth checking out, you might want to start with a rental first. As for the extras on the DVD, there is an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, interviews, making of featurette, and more. The Blu-ray has all of this and a Trivia game. It does cost 40% more, but that's not too much for this type of release.

Black Devil Doll - Buy from Amazon
Being described by some as an instant cult classic. This horror spoof tells the story of black militant / serial killer who was recently executed, but whose spirit was reincarnated in a ventriloquist dummy and continues his rampage. It's a film that promises a lot of boobs, blood, and black humor, and it delivers. Extras include several audio commentary tracks, footage of the film's premiere / film festival appearances, animated shorts, and more. Worth checking out for fans of the genre. Worth a blind buy for fans of Grindhouse theater.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Battlestar Galactica - The Plan, Il Divo, Expedition Africa, Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Ice Age - Triple Pack, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, Monty Python - Almost the Truth, Night of the Creeps, Nothing Like the Holidays, Orphan, The Prisoner - The Complete Series, Stan Helsing, Stargate - 15th Anniversary Edition, Tinker Bell - The Lost Treasure, and Whatever Works
Not a massive list of Blu-rays on this week's list, nor is the top of the chart all that strong. Two of the three best-selling releases are aimed at kids, which tend to have lower sales on High Definition. There are a number that are worth picking up, on the other hand.

Chanel, Chanel - Buy from Amazon
An hour-long TV movie from 1986 that is likely coming out now to take advantage of whatever buzz Coco Before Chanel is generating. It is selling rather well on Amazon at the moment.

Christmas Releases - Buy from Amazon: Christmas & A Christmas Carol
Unless there were some way down the list that I missed, this is the only Christmas release of this week.

COLLISION - Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson - Buy from Amazon
A 90-minute debate culled from three days of appearances between Pastor Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens, who is a noted anti-theist about whether or not Christianity is good. I saw the first 13 minutes online while doing research on the DVD and it looks very interesting, but I doubt it will be as inflammatory as such a subject could be. (On a side note, at one point Pastor Douglas Wilson says, and I'm paraphrasing here, 'You can't give a reason to use reasoning because that would be begging the question.' He says this in response to people who say he shouldn't quote the Bible when coming up with a reason to accept the Bible as the truth. However, here he is engaged in equivocation; that is to say, he is changing the definition of a term mid-argument. 'Reason' is not the same as 'reasoning' in this case, although they clearly have very related etymology. You could simple change the term used to avoid this confusion. "My justification for using reasoning is...") The DVD itself is a DVD-R release, which means there are no extras, but it is still worth checking out for many, picking up for some.

Crank 2 - High Voltage - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
This is just a quick update from the previous review of the Two-Disc DVD. I won't get too deep into the movie, or the extras seen on the regular DVD, just with what makes this Blu-ray better. I will say that Crank 2 - High Voltage is a stupid, stupid movie made by people who are incredible infantile. However, that's part of its charm. It's like watching the most unrealistic video game ever made. There's non-stop action, plenty of fights, chase scenes, and gratuitous nudity to satisfy even the most hardcore fan of these movies. There are also plenty plot holes, not to mention a few scenes that are too stupid even for the sub-genre, but overall it's a fun ride.

As for the Blu-ray, it has one major special feature that is a Blu-ray exclusive. The audio commentary track is partially upgraded into a picture-in-picture track. I say partially upgraded, because not only do you hear from the writer / directors discuss the movie, but there are also other people interviewed for this section, as well as behind-the-scenes footage. Also, you can choose which part is in the picture-in-picture. That is to say, you can watch the movie full screen with the video commentary track in the small section, or watch the video commentary track in full screen with the movie in the small section. Assuming you've seen the movie, the latter is the better option. This is an excellent track and would be worth a 30% premium on the price of the DVD by itself. As for the technical presentation, the video is incredible given its source. The movie was filmed using consumer handheld camera, which cost a couple thousand dollars each, as opposed to $50,000 for a professional model. Because of this there are some issues, some minor, so more noticeable. For instance, I don't think the cameras dealt with the harsh sunlight very well. That said, this is still a major upgrade from the DVD and better than most Blu-rays I've reviewed. As for the audio, it's nearly flawless. It's nearly flawless and this is a movie that pushes the audio to the limits. It's a $13 million movie with an audio track that you can use to show off your home theater system. I wasn't expecting that.

So after praising the Blu-ray, you expect it's going to be a rather expense disc, right? Wrong. The list price is only $5 more than the two-disc DVD and only $10 more than the single-disc DVD. However, as I'm writing this, the Blu-ray is just $18.99, which is much cheaper than the two-disc DVD and only 50 cents more than the single-disc DVD. That's cheap enough that it's worth a blind buy. Nice one, Lionsgate.

The Diary of Anne Frank - Buy from Amazon
A BBC miniseries about the Holocaust from the perspective of arguably the most famous victim. The series earned good reviews and it is definitely worth checking out. Lack of extras is a pain, but the price is great and it is worth checking out for most and picking up for many.

Il Divo - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A political drama based on the real life corruption case that shook Italy. It was a big hit back home, but despite stellar reviews, it was never able to find an audience here. It should do better on the home market and even with no extras, it is still worth checking out for most, picking up for many.

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

Dora the Explorer - Dora's Christmas - Buy from Amazon
Two notes to start. Firstly, the latest DVD from the popular franchise came out earlier in the month, but didn't arrive till this week. Secondly, it's a poorly named DVD, as only one of the four episodes deals with Christmas, but it is the episode that leads the program.

  • A Present For Santa - Dora and Boots are celebrating Christmas and even have a present the got for Santa and they plan to wait up all night to give it to him. However, they quickly fall asleep and miss him, so they have to travel to the North Pole to give it to him.
  • Rapido, Tico! - Boots is eagerly awaiting the mail truck because he's supposed to get a fire truck in the mail. But when it arrives, there's a hole in the box and his toy is missing. So they are off to find it.
  • Quack Quack - Dora and Boots are coloring a picture of a duck and her five eggs. But when the picture comes to life, one of the eggs is blown to another page of the coloring book. It is up to Dora and Boots to find the duckling and rescue it.
  • School Pet - Dora and Boots are at school and want to show you their classroom pet, Mimo the hamster. However, someone left its cage door and Mimo is missing. Can Dora, Boots and the rest of her friends rescue Mimo?
The only extra on the DVD is a Scavenger Hunt game, but it's not very interactive. There's just a series of pictures.

Despite the lack of Christmas content on Dora's Christmas, fans of Dora the Explorer will find good value on this DVD and it is worth adding to your collection.

Fear(s) of the Dark - Buy from Amazon
A French anthology series that earned good reviews, but never found an audience here. Extras include a making of featurettes, interviews, and short animated clips sent in by fans. Definitely worth checking out, and worth picking up.

The Fugitive - Season Three - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
We are moving into the second half of this show's run, and with Volume Two coming out in December, the collection will be done sooner rather than later.

The season starts with Dr. Richard Kimble on a bus when the bus is stopped by the police looking for an escaped convict. Lucky for him, it's another escaped convict. Unfortunately for him, he's stabbed in the escape attempt and he's sent to the prison hospital where he is recognized and blackmailed. It's an excellent start to another excellent season. Other strong episodes include Trial by Fire where Dr. Kimble learns there was a witness who also saw the one-armed man, but a secret from his past could jeopardize his testimony. Landscape with Running Figures is a two-part episode featuring Lt. Philip Gerard, as well as his wife. While those two are on vacation, Lt. Gerard hears Dr. Kimble is in the area so he goes off to chase him. This infuriates his wife so much that she decides to take the bus home. By an amazing coincidence, Dr. Kimble is on the same bus, and when it crashes, he helps her to safety, only in the accident she's temporally lost her sight, so she doesn't recognize Dr. Kimble, and of course he doesn't know who she is. Not every episode is as strong with Crack in a Crystal Ball and Stranger in the Mirror being only mediocre. But I figure about half of the 16 episodes presented here have strong replay value.

As always, part of the fun of watching these old shows is looking out for guest stars, and this DVD is excellent in that regard. Guest shots include Ed Asner, Marion Ross, and three members of Star Trek, William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, and James Doohan. (Clint Howard also has a guest shot, and he too appeared in one episode of Star Trek.)

There are no extras on the 4-disc set, nor are there any subtitles. There are play all buttons and proper chapter placements. There are also some issues with the video quality this time around. The show is more than 40 years old, so you can't expect a pristine video transfer, but in a few times it was very distracting.

I really hate split-season sets, but The Fugitive is such a good show that I'm inclined to forgive it. Season Three - Volume One has 16 episodes over four discs and all are worth watching and more than half have serious replay value. The price-per-minute is a little high, but it is still worth picking up.

Gretchen - Buy from Amazon
Steve Collins' feature-length directorial debut is about a high school social outcast, the titular Gretchen, played by Courtney Davis, who has appeared in a number of Steve Collins' previous short film. This film has earned good reviews and even won an award at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Worth checking out, but with no information on extras, start with a rental.

The Guardian - Season One - Buy from Amazon
I only vague remember this show when it first aired at the beginning of the decade. I remember hearing about a new show with Dabney Coleman and quite frankly at the time I had no idea who Simon Baker was. In this series he plays Nick Fallin, an attorney that works for his father's firm, but who at the beginning of the series is sentenced to 1500 hours of community service as a child advocate at Legal Services. He now has to balance this two jobs, one as a high power attorney catering to corporations and other elites, and the other trying to protect those that have the least power. There are recurring storylines, including a strained father-son relationship, as well as some cases that came back for a couple episodes, but for the most part the first season was a series of stand-alone cases that were solved by the end of the hour.

The first season was a little rough with some issues in tone. At times it can be a little melodramatic, and several of the characters are underutilized. (In fact, one of the characters, Amanda Bowles played by Erica Leerhsen, leaves the show halfway through the season, which is a damn shame, since she was my favorite of the side characters. The uneven tone of the show really hurts the overall effectiveness, but there are still some outstanding episodes. Heart, about a young girl in need of a heart transplant, but who first needs a stable home to qualify, is an amazing episode, even though the ending was pretty obvious. After Nick Fallin became her legal guardian, you knew she couldn't survive the heart transplant surgery, because that would cause too much of a change in the show. It's an issue of suspension of disbelief. It's too hard to believe they would make such a major change in a show that early in its run.

The only extras on the 6-disc set include three 30-second promos, which is hardly a special feature at all. There are also to subtitles, no play-all buttons, but there are proper chapter placements.

The Guardian got off to a very rough start and it is clear the creators didn't quite have the tone of the show fully developed. There are some great episodes on Season One, but the early struggles and the lack of substantive extras reduce its value to a rental.

Hell's Kitchen - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon.ca
Great show, but so far it is only out in Canada. With that price, it might be worth the import.

Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs - Buy from Amazon: DVD, DVD with Scrat Pack, or Blu-ray
First a note, I only have the... I don't know version of the movie. I got two DVD-R screeners from the studio, which might be the DVD with Scrat Pack, but I really hope not, because if it is, the DVD is a terrible release. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs starts off where The Meltdown ends, namely with Manny and Ellie expecting their first kid. Diego realizes he's out of shape, something he blames on being part of the herd, which has made him soft. With Manny and Ellie preoccupied and Diego planning on leaving, Sid feels left out and wants to start a family of his own. While contemplating the best way to do this, he stumbles into an ice cave and 'rescues' three eggs, which hatch rather quickly making Sid the proud mother of three baby Tyrannosaurus Rexes. Unable to control his kids, the destruction they cause it only limited because their real mother comes and takes them back, and in the process kidnaps Sid. Now it is up to Manny, Ellie, and Diego to travel to the lost world to rescue him, with the help of their guide in this new world, Buck.

Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs was the biggest hit from the franchise domestically and it set record after record internationally. However, after watching the movie my reaction to that is, 'Huh?' It's not a bad movie, per se, but it feels so very average. There are some improvements over the first two installments, including a cool new character and great animation scenes, but the story is just not as compelling. The action scenes started to feel repetitive, while none of the characters have much of an arc and the arcs they did have were not capitalized on very well. Diego wanting to strike out on his own and meeting Buck could have been really interesting; however, it was practically only used for a couple of jokes. Still, it is worth watching once for fans of digital animation, and if you have kids, they will likely want to watch it enough times that it is worth picking up.

Extras on the first disc include an audio commentary track with the directors, animators, producers, etc. ... and that's it. According to the press kit I got with the screener, this is all that's on the DVD, which is unacceptable for this type of release. This is absolutely only worth a rental.

The second disc is the 'Scrat Pack' portion of the DVD with Scrat Pack and it has a number of extras starting with a trio of short films featuring Scrat: Gone Nutty, No Time For Nuts, and The Sabre-Toothed Squirrel: Natures Nutty Buddy. I was never a big fan of this character, so keep that it mind when I call these shorts merely mediocre on average. I did like the time travel humor of No Time For Nuts, but I have no desire to watch the other two again. There are also two shorter live-action clips about the 'real life' discover of a sabre-toothed squirrel found frozen in the ice, but these are less successful than the animated shorts. There are a handful of making of featurettes starting with the fluffy Fox Movie Channel Present feature, as well as two focusing on two of the new characters, Buck and Scratte. Other minor extras include a music video, and an instructional video on how to draw Scrat. Overall this is a good selection of extras, but I can't imagine it really needed to be on two discs and it costs 50% more.

The Blu-ray does have some exclusives extras, but I won't know what those are for sure till it arrives. And it won't be shipped till Tuesday, so look for an update to this review next week. However, since it costs less than $1 more than the 2-disc set, and it includes all of the extras on the 2-disc set, there's no reason not to buy this one if you are interested in the movie.

Technically, Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs is easily the best of the franchise, but storywise it is the weakest. That said, there's more than enough here to entertain kids, even if their parents won't be quite as enthralled. If you are just interested in renting the movie, then the DVD is just fine. However, if you want extras, you'll need to grab the DVD with Scrat Pack, but the Blu-ray is by far the better deal.

Life After People - The Series--The Complete Season One - Buy from Amazon
This started out as a special, but now it has become a regular series looking at different parts of the world and how the buildings, monuments, etc. would hold up if all of the people simply disappeared. Certainly an interesting, although I'm not sure how humanity would be killed off that suddenly without affecting the buildings and / or nature as well.

Lovecraft - Fear of the Unknown - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
I talked about this documentary just a couple weeks ago, but the release date appears to have been moved to this week. It is still worth checking out and the Blu-ray is still the vastly better deal. Last minute update: it appears to be pushed back again.

Mannix - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
Now we're talking. After major changes at the beginning of the second season, this long-running TV series really hits its stride and begun a string of major awards nominations, not to mention a few wins.

For those who don't remember this show, Mannix stars Mike Connors as Joe Mannix, a P.I. who takes on tough cases with street smarts and gut intuition. In the first season, much of the show centered on the conflict between him and his boss (Joseph Campanella) at Intertech, which relied on high tech computers to help solve crimes. Season two he left that firm and started out on his own with the help of his secretary, Peggy Fair, (played by Gail Fisher, one of the first African-American woman to have a regular role on TV). I really liked the interplay between Mike Connors and Joseph Campanella, as well as the 1960s high tech, so I really liked the first season. However, the ratings were not good, so there were major changes in the show for season two. These changes caused a bit a hiccup for season two, but by season three the show was running like a well oiled machine. In fact, this season the show earned two Emmy nominations, including a win for Gail Fisher, the first African-American woman, as well as two Golden Globe Nominations, including a win for Mike Connors.

My only complaint about the show is the lack of a really strong hook. Without Intertech, the show is just an archetypalP.I. show. Granted, it's very well written and the two leads are excellent, but I'm just saying it's a crowded, crowded field with plenty of competition out there.

Sadly, there are no extras on the 6-disc set, nor are there subtitles. There are play all buttons and proper chapter placements.

Mannix - Season Three was the first season the show took home any major hardware with the two leads winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe. It's easy to see why, and nearly every episode on this 6-disc set has high replay value.

Monty Python - Almost the Truth - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
For the 40th anniversary of the influential TV series, the five surviving members of the group got together for this 6-part mini-series documentary series about the group that is sure to please any fan. Extras include additional interviews, deleted scenes, and a selection of the funniest bits from the original show. In total it is about two-and-a-half hours of material. There are no exclusive extras on the Blu-ray, but it costs less than 20% more, so it is obviously the better deal. Also coming out this week is The Best of Monty Python and The Other British Invasion, both of which have been previously released as part of a Megaset.

Night of Death! - Buy from Amazon
A completely generic title for a rather unique, and geriatric, horror film. The movie takes place at an old folks home that is hiring a new full-time nurse, because they killed and ate their previous nurse. And the nurse before that. And the nurse before that. And they are planning on doing the same to this nurse; however, she turns out to be a much nicer nurse than they've had in the past, and they are reluctant to carry out their plan. This is a French horror film from 1980, so it comes as no surprise that there are not too many reviews online, but the few I've seen suggest that if you are a fan of the genre, it is worth checking out. However, with no extras on the DVD, stick with a rental at first.

Night of the Creeps - Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A loving homage to the B-movie horror films of the 1950s that was made in 1986. In the movie, alien parasites are infecting people and turning them into bloodthirsty Zombies. The movie features the director's cut, but it includes the original ending as a special feature. Speaking of special features, other extras include two audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, hour-long making of featurette, and interview. The Blu-ray has this and a trivia track, plus it is BD-Live enabled. And it only costs 25% more. Fans of the genre will certainly want to pick up this movie, while the Blu-ray is the better deal.

Nothing Like the Holidays - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This movie opened with mixed reviews and really struggled at the box office. Given this I would not have been surprised if it came out on a bare bones DVD, but the DVD appears to be loaded, while the Blu-ray has even more extras. I say appears, because I don't have the screener yet. I will do a full spotlight review when it arrives.

Orphan - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Horror films based on scary kids probably need to take a break for a while. That is not to say this is a bad movie, it is actually quite good compared to most in the genre, there have just been so many that have come out recently that each successive will be less and less effective in generating scares. Fans of the genre should find more than enough here to enjoy that they will want to watch the movie; however, the DVD and Blu-ray are extremely limited with just some deleted / alternative scenes and a featurette on other killer kids. The Blu-ray costs about 40% more, which isn't too bad, but it's not a real deal either. Call it a solid rental, leaning toward a purchase, especially if you are a fan of the sub-genre.

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

Requiem for a Dream - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
This Blu-ray was part of a large collection of late arrivals that I've slowly been trying to get to over the past month. I was planning on getting completely caught up by this week, but on Friday another package of late arrivals was dropped off.

The film focuses on the lives of four people whose lives are destroyed by addiction. Jared Leto stars as Harry, who is the center of the film. The film starts with him and his friend, Tyrone, stealing his mother's TV set to hock it for drug money. However, they have bigger plans and instead of just buying and using drugs, they want to become dealers for their source so they can earn a lot of money and improve their lives. Specifically, he plans to use this money to help his girlfriend, Marion, start a clothing store, while Tyrone just wants to get out of the neighborhood and make his mother proud. This is not a wise plan. So far this film is very similar to a lot of drug-addiction movies; however, the twist is Harry's mother, Sara, also becomes addicted to drugs, specifically a regimen her doctor puts her on to help her lose weight. By showing this side of addiction, the film goes from just another heroin horror story to something more. We do see the heroin horror story and what can happen to addicts, including not just the obvious health problems, but the things people will do to get drugs. Sara's story shows that it is not just illegal narcotics that can destroy lives.

Darren Aronofsky started his career ten years ago with Pi, the ultra-low budget movie about mathematics and obsession. Requiem for a Dream was his anticipated follow-up, which had a higher budget, but was still a small film in most regards. And it is not a film that is destined for mainstream success; it is just too intense for that. There are also a lot of stylistic devices used throughout the movie that like high speed montages, split screens, etc. that undoubtedly turned off more than a few moviegoers. Both nihilistic and stylistic, the film will either draw you in or turn you off. There's really no middle ground here. I fall into the former category, but I understand a lot of the complaints made against it. This is, after all, a movie about self-destructive behavior, so while it is a good movie, it is not a pleasant movie. On the other hand, some have complained about the repetitive nature of some of the visuals, but this is a movie about addiction, which is a repetitive behavior. It only makes sense that we see the same montage of getting high over and over again. Overall I would say the is a movie that most people should see, even if many of them will have trouble getting through it all.

Extras on the Blu-ray are the same as the previous DVD release: two audio commentary tracks, behind-the-scenes footage with audio commentary track, deleted scenes with audio commentary track, and interview of Hubert Selby, Jr. by Ellen Burstyn. (Hubert Selby, Jr. wrote the novel the film was based on and helped adapt it for the screen.) None of these extras are presented in High Definition, which is rather disappointing. Likewise, the audio / video presentation is a little disappointing. Granted, it is a low-budget film and the video and audio are better than any of the previous releases were, but it is still not among the best I've seen. Then again, on Amazon it costs just $10, which is nearly impossible to beat. (In fact, the DVD is more expensive at the moment.)

Requiem for a Dream is probably not the type of film most people think of when they think of High Definition. And it is true that the Blu-ray is merely adequate compared to most catalogue releases. That said, this is a movie that is worth watching and given the price, it is hard to recommend anything less than a solid purchase.

Saturday Morning Cartoons - Buy from Amazon: 1960s - Volume 2 and 1970s - Volume 2
While I vastly prefer full season sets, even when it comes to cartoons, for those who are more casual fans just looking for a serious hit of nostalgia, these two DVDs and a box of overly sweetened brightly colored breakfast cereal could be all you need for your own personal time machine to your youth.

Shameless, Tasteless - Trash Cinema From The Soviet Underground - Buy from Amazon
No comment on the movie, because I've never even heard of it before, but it's the kind of name that makes you stop and take notice. And since it's being released by Troma, I'm thinking of grabbing it as a blind buy.

Stan Helsing - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
There was a time Leslie Nielsen was the king of spoofs. Movies like this make you forget that. Granted, he's not the primary force behind this movie, but he's certainly no longer a selling point. The collection of extras is better than expected with an audio commentary track, deleted / alternative / extended scenes, making of featurette, and outtakes. Even so, it is completely skippable.

Stargate - 15th Anniversary Edition - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
For a movie that didn't earn good reviews, it certainly has lasted a long time as a Sci-fi franchise spawning a couple TV shows and a number of TV movies. The original movie comes out on Blu-ray this week in a special edition release that include a trio of new featurettes, deleted scenes, and a trivia track. Is this enough to make it worth picking up? Don't know. The screener hasn't arrived yet. I'll do a full spotlight review when it does.

Tales from the Darkside - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
A horror anthology series produced by George A. Romero, who of course is best known for his living dead series. I reviewed the first season and thought it had some good episodes, but was mostly just average. How does this season stand up?

Sadly, not as well. This time around there are only three or four episodes that really hit their mark. This includes Halloween Candy where an old man torments some trick or treaters. (Two notes on this one. Firstly, when you trick or treat, you ring the doorbell once. If you ring it more than that, you deserve to get a trick. Secondly, if someone gives you candy covered it glue, that's a pretty good trick. And as long as it is still in its wrapper, it's still good to eat.) In The Devil's Advocate Jerry Stiller stars as a talk show who specializes in hate-filled rants, and he's especially mad tonight. Jerry Stiller is excellent in this episode, even if the ending is telegraphed from the beginning. A New Lease on Life has a man moving into a room in a house at a fraction of the normal rent for the neighborhood, but there are some conditions. No microwave ovens, no nails in the walls, create plenty of organic trash, etc. Huh? Those are the best, but there are a few others that work. Ursa Minor starts out innocently enough with a little child doting on her new teddy bear, until neither parent remembers buying it. When weird things happening and the kid says her teddy is doing it. Monsters in My Room stars Seth Green has a little boy who claims there's a monster under his bed, in his closet, etc. But of course his mother and stepfather don't believe him ... till it's too late. They work on their own, but together they are too similar. Most of the rest are mediocre, or worse. The misses outnumber the hits here,

There is only one special feature on this three-disc set, an interview with George A. Romero, who talks about The Devil's Advocate, which was an episode he wrote. There are also play-all buttons, proper chapter placements, but no subtitles.

Tales from the Darkside was never among the best of the horror anthology TV shows and Season Two was not as strong as season one. If you are a fan of the genre, it is still worth checking out, but for most a rental will be enough.

Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The second Direct-to-DVD release for the Tinker Bell spin-off from the Peter Pan franchise. Going into Tinker Bell, I wasn't expecting too much, because there is a history of weak Direct-to-DVD releases since the inception of the home market. However, that film surprised me, but will the sequel maintain the high quality?

It is autumn and the fairies of pixie hollow are preparing for the changing of the seasons. One of the most important parts of fall involves the creation of Blue Pixie Dust, which is used to renew the Pixie Dust Tree. Without Blue Pixie Dust, the Pixie Dust Tree would weaken and die, which would mean none of the fairies would be able to fly anymore. The fairies do this by creating the Autumn Scepter to hold up the Moonstone in the light of the blue Harvest Moon, which doesn't happen very often. Each time a different fairy group gets to design and this time it's the Tinker Fairies, and specifically that job that falls to Tinker Bell. She is of course honored to be given this job, but the stress starts to get to her and she snaps at Terrance after the scepter is destroyed just a few days before it needs to be done. The situation gets ever worse when she accidentally destroys the Moonstone. She does have one last chance, if she can find the Enchanted Mirror of Incanta she can use the last wish to repair the moonstone. But the journey will be perilous and because she doesn't want to tell anyone she broke the Moonstone, she has to go it alone.

Like the first film, this one is filled with charm and magic. The key to this film's success is of course the character of Tinker Bell, which has become an icon of Disney since she was introduced back in 1953. Even in that movie, the character had a lot of personality, despite the lack of dialogue and that character shines here. The story uses Tinker Bell's personality extremely well, as she's always been a little hotheaded. Easily frustrated, to say the least. (Although she seems to surround herself with guys that are frustrating, to say the least. If I was trying to work and I had to deal with someone like Terrance hovering over me like that, or waking me up with that ultra-cheery way I would threaten physical violence. So I think Tinker Bell was quite reasonable for a long time before she ultimately snapped.) In addition to the strong lead, this film they introduce a new character called Blaze, which was a risk, but one that paid off. Also, to be blunt, one of the key reasons why this film works is it is an adventure movie and not a musical. Granted, Disney had made numerous classic musicals, but musicals have a much greater potential for disaster. A couple generic and forgettable songs can kill a musical a lot easier than almost any single factor for almost any other genre. Overall it feels like a movie that was made for adults that kids can enjoy rather than a movie made for kids that adults will be forced to endure.

Extras on the Blu-ray start with a 4-minute short called Magical Guide to Pixie Hollow, which is a follow-up to the similar feature found with the first movie. There are four minutes of fake outtakes, which are fun to watch. There are also 16 minutes of deleted scenes, with introductions. (Some of the intros are longer than the scene.) They are presented in animatic form. Finally there is an 8-minute featurette of the Fairy Garden in Epcot Center. The disc is BD-Live enabled, while there is a Digital Copy of the movie. As for the technical presentation, the video is impeccable, which is to be expected for a digitally animated movie. It's 100% digital source, so there are no flaws that need to be corrected. The audio is strong, but not as spectacular.

I do not have the DVD, just the Blu-ray, so I'm not 100% sure if there are any High Definition exclusives, outside being BD-Live enabled. The Blu-ray costs 25% more than the DVD, which is a great price to pay for this type of release.

Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure maintains the high quality that the first movie set. The extras are on par with the first one as well, or at least close, and both the DVD and the Blu-ray are worth picking up.

TV on DVD - Full Series Megasets - Buy from Amazon: Claymore, Dogfights, Passport to Adventure, The Prisoner, The Prisoner (Blu-ray), and Visions of Europe
Not a huge selection this week, but The Prisoner on Blu-ray is a must have.

Twilight - Buy from Amazon
Just re-releasing the movie in a single-disc edition. If you have the previous release, there's no reason to grab this DVD. If you don't have the DVD at this point, you probably don't want it.

Whatever Works - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Woody Allen's latest earned only mixed reviews and wasn't able to capture the same business at the box office as some of his more recent hits. Additionally, both versions of the home market release are without extras, which limits the value to that of a rental only.


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Filed under: Video Releases, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Twilight, Orphan, Crank 2: High Voltage, Nothing Like the Holidays, Whatever Works, Il Divo, Fears of the Dark, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure