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DVD Releases for September 9, 2008 - Part II

September 8th, 2008

TV on DVD is at its peak for the year, just in time for the new season to start. However, because last season was cut short by the writers' strike, and so many studios are not taking that into account in the pricing, there are fewer releases at are contenders for DVD Pick of the Week. But we do have a worthy recipient of the award, Fist of Legend - Buy from Amazon, the latest release from Dragon Dynasty. Also, while the week was slow on top, it was busy overall, so much so that we had to split the week's list into two parts again. Part I can be found here.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and makes its home market debut on the 16th. However, the DVD screener arrived early and I was able to get the review done this week.

The Love Guru - Buy from Amazon: DVD, DVD + Digital Copy, or Blu-ray
First a quick note, I did not yet receive the Blu-ray version of the movie, so I will not be able to review the exact details of the High Definition release. It should arrive this week and I will have the full review of it by next Monday.

Mike Myers stars as Guru Pitka, the second best Guru in the world, next to Deepak Chopra. He finds his path to become number one by helping Jane Bullard, owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the only Canadian hockey team that sucks more than the Vancouver Canucks. (We better not spend $20 million signing Mats Sundin to a 2-year contract. It will be Mark Messier all over again.) ... Back to the movie... He has to help the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup by helping team star, Darren Roanoke, reconcile with his estranged wife, Prudence, who is currently with his rival, the goaltender Jacques Grande. However complicated this plot might seem, it is completely superfluous.

I admit it, I liked this movie, but not in the way a respectable critic such as myself should judge a film... Okay, you can stop laughing at me for calling myself a respectable critic. This is not a movie in the traditional sense of the word. This can be more accurately be described as a collection of goofy jokes and short spoofs of Bollywood mixed with more cameos than I could keep track of. This is a movie that does not need a plot. In fact, the plot bogs it down at times, but if you are willing to accept that this is a goofy, lowbrow film that delights in insulting people, then you might laugh at the jokes as much as Guru Pitka laughs at his jokes. To emphasize, the jokes are so lowbrow that at times you are not laughing at the joke so much as laughing at the audacity of the joke.

On the other hand, the extras on the DVD are not particularly strong starting with a 10-minute making-of featurette. One Hellava Elephant is a 6-minute featurette on the fake elephant used on the movie. Hockey Training for Actors is exactly what it sounds like and runs 8 minutes. The rest of the extras are deleted / alternate scenes (13 minutes), outtakes (4 minutes), alternative lines for Jay and Trent (5 minutes); and finally more outtakes / alternative lines (10 minutes). It's not a bad selection of extras, but there's nothing here that really stands out.

The Love Guru will not be remembered as a great movie, but I thought Mike Myers had an infectious charm as the Guru Pitka and his enthusiasm for the lowbrow humor was enough for the film to be entertaining. That said, I am in the minority here so I would suggest renting first.

Medium - The Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
There are a lot of problems with this release. This is not the best season in the show's four-year run so far. Additionally, it is the shortest season thanks to the strike, but the DVD costs more than previous releases. Finally, the extras are not that strong compared to last season.

Not Only... But Also - The Best of... What's Left of... - Buy from Amazon
This is a British sketch comedy show that predates Monty Python. In fact, many say it was a major influence for Python. So why are they releasing a "Best Of" DVD instead of full series set? Because the BBC erased the original tapes of the series a long time ago. What's even more frustrating is one of the stars, Peter Cook, offered to buy the masters and replace the expensive tapes they were on, but they turned him down. Morons. So this is not so much a "Best Of" release, but literally a "What's Left Of" release. There is always a chance that more clips will be found in storage somewhere, but for now this is all there is. Additionally, there is a special from 1974 on Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, which is great to see. Overall this DVD is worth picking up for fans of British comedy, Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, Monty Python, or even sketch comedy in general.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and makes its home market debut on the 16th. However, the DVD screener arrived early and I was able to get the review done this week.

Pirates of the Caribbean - Trilogy Box Set - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
Disney is re-releasing their biggest franchise ever in a new box set, or should I say in a new box. ... Seriously. It's identical to the previously released DVDs, only with a new box to keep them in and there is zero reason to upgrade.

That said, this is one of the best franchises that has been released on Blu-ray. Granted, only the first film is really good, while the other two were significantly weaker. (They were unable to capture the same spirit the second time around, and too often action scenes went on too long and it felt the filmmakers were forcing the issue by trying to top the previous film(s).) But overall it is still an entertaining story and there's plenty of replay value here.

Additionally, it would be hard to find a trilogy that has benefited more from the High Definition treatment. Not only are the audio and video top-notch, but the extras are also amazing, both in terms of quantity and quality. This 6-disc box set includes a lot of the usual features, like deleted scenes, several hours of making-of featurettes, outtakes, enough deleted scenes to make another movie, image galleries and a whole lot more. Additionally, each Blu-ray release had something that could only be done on the new format. Curse of the Black Pearl has Scoundrels of the Sea, which is pop-up trivia track with an interactive twist to it. Dead Man's Chest has Liar's Dice, which was the game the pirates played in the movie and is a fun strategy game with a lot of video clips to enliven the play. (Although I would like it better if you could play against more than one pirate at a time, as the more dice being rolled each round, the harder it is to play.) > At World's End has Enter the Maelstrom, which is a massive branching making-of featurette focused on the climatic battle from that movie.

Additionally, the three releases have more than a dozen Easter Eggs spread over the box set (all on the second disc of each movie's release). Good luck hunting them down.

On the one hand, Pirates of the Caribbean - Blu-ray Trilogy Box Set is an amazing collection and is easily worth the money for those who waited on purchasing the Blu-rays when they first came out (or indeed recently entered the High Definition market). On the other hand, there is absolutely no reason to upgrade and the price difference between this set and buying the three movies individually is minimal (about 10% after Amazon's discount) so if you weren't interested before, you probably won't be interested now.

Pumpkinhead - Buy from Amazon
Lance Henriksen stars as Ed Harley, a man who summons a demon in order to get revenge on the kids who accidentally killed his son in a car accident and then covered it up. But the plot is not as simple as that. For a low-budget horror film, this is actually very good, certainly better than the multitude of sequels it spawned. MGM calls this DVD a Collector's Edition on their official site, but makes no mention of real extras. Since they mention the original trailer, it is safe to assume there are none. Even so, fans of the genre should get a head start on Halloween with this DVD.

Rodan/War of the Gargantuas - Buy from Amazon
Two Japanese Creature Features being released as on a two-disc double feature. Like the Godzilla releases that have been coming out from this company, these include the Japanese and the American versions, as well as more extras than one would imagine give the film's limited audience here. Fans of the genre should be more than willing to buy this DVD, and those who have never seen a non-Godzilla Creature Feature should check it out as well.

Sarah Landon & The Paranormal Hour - Buy from Amazon
AKA The Comrie Family make a movie. This is not a bad movie per se, certainly not as bad as its reviews indicate. However, it feels like a family movie that somehow earned a nationwide release and is now coming out on DVD. I used the term, 'Amateurish' to describe it previously, and I stand by that description. (Although Rissa Walters does have a certain charm that rises above her inexperience.) As for the DVD, it has a single extra: an interactive game very reminiscent of magic 8-ball. That's not enough to be worth buying. It's likely not enough to be worth renting for most.

Seed - Buy from Amazon
I would like to see Jodelle Ferland play a character that lives a happy, carefree life. That didn't happen in Silent Hill, or in Tideland, or in her guest shot in Supernatural, and she even played the spawn of Satan in a movie called Celine. (I'm Canadian, I'm allowed to make fun of Celine Dion.) I would also like to see Dr. Uwe Boll make a movie that doesn't suck, but given his track record, I think the former is much more likely. This movie was filmed back-to-back with Postal, and it is arguably much worse, as it is a slice of torture-porn that pretends to have a deeper meaning. There are some shocking scenes in the movie, but they are not supported by any kind of filmmaking talent and even gorehounds will have trouble sitting through the whole movie without fast-forwarding through most of it. The end result is not worth seeing. Skip it.

Smallville - The Complete Seventh Season - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This show has lasted seven seasons now, and it is still going strong, but perhaps not as strong as some of the earlier seasons. There are plenty of strong episodes and story arcs this season, including the arrival of Supergirl, Braniac, the Green Arrow, and others from the comics. That said, the 6-disc DVD has barely any extras, while the Blu-ray has nothing exclusive to High Definition while costing nearly 50% more. If you are into High Definition, I would wait on this set. There will likely be a Megaset released with all seven seasons, not just the two that have been released on High Definition so far.

Species Collection - Buy from Amazon
The first Species can best be described as a guilty pleasure. The rest of the films in the franchise are just guilty. The box set is cheaper than buying the movies individually, but that's not much of a selling point when only the first one is worth checking out, and none are really worth picking up for most people.

Something Beneath - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie starring Kevin Sorbo. Do I need to continue? This 'suspenseful' Sci-fi film has an environmental theme, which is likely the only thing of interest. Well, that and the fact that Kevin Sorbo plays a priest. Even so, the movie is bad, even by TV movie standards, and unless you are a hardcore Kevin Sorbo fan, it is skippable.

The Spectacular Spider-man - Attack of the Lizard - Buy from Amazon
First a note, this is not a movie, but the first three episodes of the TV series edited together into a 'movie' that runs just under 70 minutes. This is not an uncommon event, but like many of the other times this has happened, the end result is a little disjointed.

The show starts with Peter Parker on the last day of summer vacation before heading back to middle school. He has just recently become Spider-man and he is still not sure how to use all of his powers, but he has already been using them to capture petty crooks (including Flint Marko on more than one occasion). However, his life becomes complicated when his dealings as The Spectacular Spider-man bring him to the attention of super-villains like The Vulture, Electro, and others.

Like the recent Batman and Transformers cartoons, this show is aimed at a much younger crowd, which explains why Peter Parker is in middle school here. However, aiming a show at a younger crowd doesn't mean it has to be a bad show, and it is not. Granted, it focuses on the action more than the pathos of the movies, but we still get a lot of character development, especially with Kurt Connors, a.k.a. The Lizard.

On the other hand, the only extra on the DVD is a music video of the theme song.

The value of Attack of the Lizard depends on if these three episodes will be included in the first season release of The Spectacular Spider-man. If they are, then there's no reason to buy this DVD. So I think renting this release and waiting for season one is the most prudent path to follow.

The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the last of the great Looney Tunes shows from the 1990s, a streak that started with Tiny Toon Adventures and ended with Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain. (What were they thinking?) Sadly, while the quality of the show is good, the DVD is not as there are no real extras on this 2-disc set.

Taking 5 - Buy from Amazon
Two geeky girls try to salvage their high school popularity by kidnapping a popular boy band, who in the film are played by The Click Five. (Who?) The film also stars Alona Tal (College); Daniella Monet (Nancy Drew); and Christy Carlson Romano (Kim Possible). The film is comparing itself to High School Musical on the box cover, but given the total lack of real reviews out there, it is likely that the movie is for hardcore fans of The Click Five only. (Seriously, I've never heard of this group.)

To the Manor Born - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
This is essentially the previous Full Series Megaset with the Silver Wedding Anniversary special, which can also be bought separately. TV on DVD double-dips suck, so it is great to see them selling the new material separately for fans of the show that supported it the first time around.

Ugly Betty - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
America Ferrera returns as Betty Suarez, assistant to Daniel Meade, editor-in-chief of Mode magazine, one of the primary fashion magazines in the world. This show is a remake of a Colombian Telenovela. Telenovelas are soap opera mini-series, and they are hugely popular in Latin America, but are mostly unknown in the States, so re-making such a TV series was risky. However, the first season this show was a huge success, and it barely slowed down in the second season.

Some of the plot threads from the year include the continuation of some of the first year threads, like Ignacio being stuck in Mexico, the aftermath of Santos being caught in a convenience store robbery, rise and fall of Wilhelmina, the fall and rise of Wilhelmina, etc., as well as a ton of new threads, like a love triangle for Betty, as well as new relationships for Daniel, Marc, Hilda, and others. I don't think the second season was quite as good as the first and I was not as interested in some of the storylines as much as I was the first time around, however, it is still the best show of its kind on the air right now.

A side note that hit me that no sane person should pick up on. I recognized the chocolates Amanda was bingeing on. They are Lindor chocolates made by the Lindt company in Switzerland, and they are awesome, but this damn diet means I haven't had any for more than a year. Additionally, Ignacio is too good of a cook and they spend too much time eating Mexican food that I can't eat on my diet, and that's cruel.

This season was shortened by the writers' strike, but costs the same as season one. Additionally, the extras are not nearly as strong with no audio commentary tracks. There are a number of featurettes starting with two separate tours of the set, the first of with 'The Besties' and has pop-up information on the show (6:42) and the second with the Suarez family (3:38). There's a featurette on Wilhelmina Slater (6:57), whose rise and fall and rise and fall from season one continues this season, but I'm not going to say if the season ended on a rise or a fall for her. Las Pasiones de Telenovelas starts with a featurette on such shows (5:39), and there are also two stories presented in telenovela form that were originally presented online. Combined they are almost as long as a full episode of the show and they can be watched in English or in Spanish. I Heart Betty is a featurette on Betty's love life (6:10). Finally there are nearly 5 minutes of bloopers and more than a dozen deleted scenes that run 13 minutes. Most of these are under a minute, many are just a few seconds long. Not a lot of substance here.

Overall Ugly Betty - The Complete Second Season is still a great show, but the DVD costs more on a per minute basis than season one did, and the extras are weaker. I still recommend buying, but I can't be as enthusiastic as I was last time around.

Unstable Fable - Tortoise vs. Hare - Buy from Amazon
The second in a series of comedic twists on classic fairytales, as done by the Jim Henson company. This time they look at the Tortoise and the Hare tale, taking the story 15 years later, when the adults continue their rivalry through their children.

This time around the two adults rope their kids into being part of the Mt. Impossible Adventure Race, a grueling outdoor marathon featuring a bike race, canoe race, mountain climbing, and more. Walter Tortoise is over-prepared and insists on "Slow and Steady" for every situation while Murray Hare is impulsive, unprepared, and addicted to naps, and the only thing they have in common is their competitiveness. Meanwhile their kids, Crystal and Butch, are their opposites, and these personality conflicts hurt both teams.

The show features the voice talent of Danny Glover and Jay Leno as the tortoise and the hare respectively, and Keke Palmer and Drake Bell as their kids, and overall I liked the voice work here. I also really liked the script, which has that certain flare that Jim Henson was known for. Granted, it's not as strong as the Muppets, and the middle section tends to drag, but overall the show it more than entertaining enough for kids, and even parents will get a kick out of it.

There are only two real extras on this DVD: How to Draw a Character with Director Howard E. Baker and The Making of Tortoise vs. Hare. The first is a 13-minute featurette on how to draw the four main characters and the second is an 8-minute making of featurette.

The second Unstable Fable, Tortoise vs. Hare, continues the path set by the first. It doesn't live up to the early Jim Henson led projects like the Muppets, but it is still worth checking out, and I think there's enough replay value here that it is worth picking up if you have kids of the right age.

Wings - The Seventh Season - Buy from Amazon
The penultimate season of this long-running sitcom. This is the first season without Thomas Haden Church, who left to be in Ned and Stacy, which is a show I preferred. This show, on the other hand, is a solid, but unspectacular sitcom. The DVD releases have been less than solid with no extras. Personally I don't think there's enough replay value to buy the DVD. In fact, catching episodes in syndication will be enough for casual fans.

Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! - Buy from Amazon
A movie about a group of zombies that attack a strip club... yes, they made two movies this year that involved zombies and strippers, the other being Zombie Strippers. This movie is a horror comedy, but it isn't really scary enough to be considered a horror and not enough of the jokes work for it to be a comedy. If you are a fan of the sub-genre, it is worth renting, but that's it.


Filed under: Video Releases, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Love Guru, Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour, Seed