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DVD Releases for October 14, 2008 - Part II

October 15th, 2008

The DVD Release Report finally comes out this week after a couple of delays. At least it is worth the wait as one of the most anticipated films of the year, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, comes out on both Two-Disc Collector's Edition and Blu-ray. This release is clearly the DVD Pick of the Week, either format, while there are so many other releases that the list had to split into two. You can find the first part here.

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

Pathology - Buy from Amazon
Pathology's path to theaters was not a easy one as it was shuffled around a few release dates before coming out in limited release, where it promptly bombed. The real question is whether the movie deserved to do better, or whether the overall quality meant it was resigned to this fate.

Milo Ventimiglia stars as Ted Grey, a promising doctor who enters one of the nation's most prestigious pathology departments, and unwittingly enters a world of horrors. It seems the other students are using their pathology skills in a competition where they go out and murder bad guys in such a way that the others can't figure it out. However, Ted's skills are so great that the leader of the group, Jake Gallo played by Michael Weston, become jealous. At least at first, then he becomes unstable.

The film has a lot of promise and the murder mystery angle of the film could have been interesting, but for two problems. Firstly, the writing has been described as too clever for its own good, which is a strange phrase, but it makes sense here. The movie isn't really clever, but you can tell that the filmmakers were thinking to themselves, "Ha, ha. Aren't I clever." There were too many twists in the movie that felt like the screenwriter was trying to make the script draw in the moviegoers with a twist, instead of trying to make the movie seem real and have the moviegoers drawn in naturally. Secondly, the cast of characters were just horrible. It is hard to get into a film when the characters are nearly completely unsympathetic. And it is not just the murders, but these people's lives are nothing but sex, drugs, and violence. Perhaps this was meant to shock us and draw our attention. However, we are never given a reason to care about most of them, and thus never given a reason to care about the movie. I don't think it is as bad as its box office run would indicate, but it is not particularly good either.

Extras on the DVD are better than expected starting with an audio commentary track, which is not overwhelming with the amount of information given, but it is still worth listening to. Creating the Perfect Murder runs 15 minutes and is your typical making-of featurette, but with a focus on what sets this movie apart from most. The Cause of Death is an 8-minute interview with a pathologist talking about what his profession is about. There are also extended scenes, as well as a music video from the soundtrack.

Pathology opened in limited release with mixed reviews and never found an audience theatrically. Odds are it will do better on the home market, but I can only recommend renting the DVD.

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - A VeggieTales Movie - Buy from Amazon
I like the VeggieTales. And I was happy when Jonah hit theaters, and I was expecting the box office numbers for Pirates to improve over the numbers of the first film. Sadly, the numbers dropped, and even more disappointing, the reviews also got worse. It is still worth checking out, especially for the younger fans of the show, but unless adults can get into the silly script and have fun, they won't enjoy it as much. Extras are light, but it’s a kids movie, and purchasing it probably a better deal over just renting because of the inherent replay value of kids movies.

Quark - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
A Sci-fi spoof ... wait, come back. I know most spoofs that have come out recently have been atrocious, but this is an old-school parody, one that works on its own, and it is not just a collection random pop culture references. If you don't believe me, it was created by the same people who made the original Get Smart TV series.

The cast of characters include...

  • Adam Quark - The captain of a garbage scow who believes he is destined for more, like being the captain of his very own star ship. But for now he's stuck picking up garbage and dealing with his less than efficient crew.
  • The Bettys - The second in command, or is that seconds in command? Betty and her clone, Betty, and identical in every way, so much so that they both believe they are the original and the other is the clone.
  • Gene/Jean - A transmute, which is to say, he/she/they have a complete set of male and a complete set of female chromosomes. This manifests as an extreme split personality, both of which are completely stereotypical. (I don't think they could remake this show today and get away with a character like this, and I can't say I would miss it.)
  • Ficus Pandorata - A Vegeton, which is a race of sentient plants. The quickest way to explain this character is to call him Spock, as he fills the same role in this parody as Spock did in Star Trek.
  • Andy - An android of sorts. In the pilot he was created by Dr. O.B. Mudd, but that character didn't get picked up from the pilot, and from the second episode on, it was said that Adam Quark created Andy. Regardless who created this robot, what doesn't change is his completely neurotic nature, which is a source of a lot of the humor on the show.
In addition to the crew, there are two other main characters...
  • Otto Palindrome - Leader of Perma 1, and the man in charge of Adam Quark. A petty bureaucrat who delights in making Adam Quark's life miserable, as if Adam Quark needed anyone to make his life miserable.
  • and...
  • The Head - The leader of the United Galaxy, he appears to be a giant disembodied head. He is apparently an unmeasurable genius, but that doesn't explain why he keeps giving important missions to Adam Quark.
The show only lasted 8 episodes, which is a shame since it definitely had potential with excellent parodies of Star Wars, Star Trek, 2001, and others.

Sadly, there are no extras on this single-disc release. However, given the age of the show and its short, short run, it is a minor miracle that it is coming out on DVD at all.

Quark is a show that most people reading this review have never heard of. This is a real shame, as it deserves a wider audience. If you are a fan of real spoofs, especially the original Get Smart, then The Complete Series is worth checking out. Even if you are just a fan of Sci-fi, it is worth checking out. Many who do will want to add it to their DVD collection.

Roxy Hunter & The Myth of the Mermaid - Buy from Amazon
Continuing the popular kids TV movies starring Aria Wallace, who was in The Perfect Man, among other things. Here she plays an amateur P.I. and the mystery should be fun for its target audience (younger girls), but there's little to no real crossover appeal here.

Rules of Engagement - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
Is this show still on? It has had a hard run so far; its first season it was a midseason replacement and lasted just 7 episodes, while the second season was cut short by the writers' strike and ended after just 15 episodes, and now its third season is up in the air. It's not a bad show, but truly average. The DVD, on the other hand, is well below average with just some outtakes. That's not enough for a show that's currently on TV. Call it a rental, at most.

The Sarah Silverman Program - Season Two - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
This isn't Season Two - Volume One, this 2-disc set has the six episodes made for season two before the Writers' Strike ended the season prematurely. I'm not sure why they are calling it volume one, unless they are trying to intentionally piss off their fans. ... This is actually more likely than it sounds.

I reviewed the First Season when it came out, but despite seeing potential in the series, I was not overly impressed. Season Two doesn't show much improvement over season one. The humor doesn't fit very well in a TV sitcom format, as Sarah Silverman's brand of comedy is too random and disjointed to work within a plot. That said, it was no weaker than season one, and those who enjoyed season one should be satisfied here.

As for the extras, this 2-disc set includes seven audio commentary tracks on five of the six episodes with Joan of Arf being the only episode without a track. Disc two has more than a dozen shorts, some animated, some live action, some behind-the-scenes. Things start with a 30-minute Q&A session at the 2007 Comic-Con moderated by Zach Galifianakis. Most of the Cookie Party shorts and Brian Posehn shorts were found on Home Grown, so their value here is limited. Finally, there are 8 'behind-the-scenes' clips with a total running time of roughly 16 minutes. Most of these are played for humor, but rarely do they succeed.

If you enjoyed Season One of the The Sarah Silverman Program, there's little reason not to get Season Two. If you only rented it, then renting this one makes sense. And if you skipped the first, there's nothing here to make the second worth checking out either.

Scott Baio Is - Buy from Amazon: 45 and Single and 46 and Pregnant
A Reality TV series looking at the life of Scott Baio. At least it's not the soul-sucking kind or Reality TV, but he's not a compelling enough personality to handle a show, at least in my opinion. However, others may disagree. Extras on the two DVDs include a behind-the-scenes featurette and some deleted scenes. I can't recommend renting, but I hate this genre, so take that into account.

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

Shrek the Third - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
I'm starting quite a collection of films I've reviewed on DVD, HD DVD, and now Blu-ray. There's no sense in dealing with the quality of the movie, or the extras that were found on the DVD and HD DVD, so let's cut right to what sets the Blu-ray apart.

No much.

Unlike Madagascar above, Shrek the Third has been released on High Definition before, so it is harder to be impressed by this release. This means while the Blu-ray was re-encoded with 1080/VC-1, its image quality is imperceptively better than the HD DVD release. It might be better, but I can't tell. Perhaps if I had a $10,000 home entertainment system I could see the difference. Then again, the HD DVD release of Shrek the Third was arguably the best-looking HD DVD I have in my collection, so even given it's not an improved, the look is still amazing.

As for the extras, there are no additional extras compared to the HD DVD release, but there are additional extras compared to the DVD release. This include a Picture-in-Picture storyboard track, a trivia track, and information on the characters and the actors who provide their voices. This is better than most High Definition releases get.

Shrek the Third was by far the weakest of the Shrek movies so far, but the franchise's debut on Blu-ray is marvelous. If you already own the movie, it is worth $20 to upgrade to Blu-ray. However, I can see a lot of fans of the first two movies giving this one a pass while waiting for the fourth to see if it bounces back.

SpongeBob SquarePants - WhoBob WhatPants - Buy from Amazon
The latest single-DVD release from SpongeBob SquarePants, this is the ... I don't know ... 25th such release. Too many. There have been too many single DVDs releases, but they are popular with younger kids, who are less likely to be collectors than people like me who are looking for every single episode on DVD.

  • What Ever Happened to SpongeBob? - Over the course of one day, SpongeBob manages to annoy all of his friends and after being called "Idiot boy" four times, he runs away from town. After hitting his head and losing his memories, he wanders into New Kelp City, a city where blowing bubbles is reacted to with horror. At first this confuses SpongeBob... or CheeseHead BrownPants as he is now known, until he finds out that bubbles attract the Bubble Popping Boys, a gang led by Ray Liotta.
  • Goo Goo Gas - Plankton's latest attempt to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula is to create Goo Goo Gas, a gas that turns Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob into babies.
  • The Two Faces of Squidward - SpongeBob accidentally hits Squidward in the face with the door so hard that has to go to hospital. But when the bandages come off, he's handsome, so handsome that he makes women faint, he heals the lame, helps the blind to see. There's no way this will end well.
  • SpongeHenge - SpongeBob discovers that when the wind blows through his holes, he makes beautiful music, music that attracts jellyfish and no matter what he does, he can't get rid of them.
  • Banned in Bikini Bottom - The United Organization of Fish Against Things that are Fun and Delicious decides that the Krabby Patty are too much fun, so she bans them and has the Krusty Krab shut down. ... An allegory to prohibition. ... I wonder if any kids will get that?
  • Stanley S. Squarepants - SpongeBob is visited by his cousin, Stanley, who is even more of a screw up that SpongeBob is. He is also a lot more annoying. Oh so annoying. There's funny annoying and annoying annoying, and this one is the latter.
Extras on the DVD include animatics and four 30-second shorts about "What if SpongeBob was gone?"

SpongeBob SquarePants has been released on DVD about 80 million times, including full season sets, which are the better value for collectors. But for casual fans, or little kids, WhoBob WhatPants might be worth checking out, as all but the last episode is worth watching. But with almost no real extras, it is worth just a rental and not a purchase. Save your money for full season sets.

Standard Operating Procedure - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A powerful documentary that deals with the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, although one could argue that the film focuses too much on the perpetrators of the war crimes and not the people up the chain of command, who at the very least set the stage for these abuses, if not ordered them directly. Extras on the DVD include an audio commentary track and nearly 30 minutes of deleted scenes. The Blu-ray has these features, as well as 2 hours of extended interviews. Wow. And it has a 30-minute Q&A session and a 45-minute discussion panel, both from the Berlin Film Festival. And on top of that, an 11-minute Q&A session from the American debut. It's like getting two extra movies, all for about 25% more. Easily worth picking up, and worth grabbing the Blu-ray over the DVD.

Stuck - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
As I described it previously, this movie was 'ripped from the headlines'. It stars Mena Suvari as a nurse who, after a night of drunken / drug induced partying, hits a homeless man, but he isn't killed, at least right away. He becomes stuck in her windshield and in her panic, she drives home and hides him while she figures out what to do next. It is not a movie for everyone, but those who are interested should be pleased, but I don't think the replay value is high enough, especially with no extras. As for the Blu-ray, it also has no extras, but at least it only costs 25% more.

That 70's Show - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
A great show that lasted one season too many. This 32-disc set is a great value, which should annoy fans of the show who picked up each individual season set when they came out, but that is the nature of the business. On the other hand, if you did wait, now is a great time to pick it up, and you probably can get a used set really, really cheap.

The Three Stooges Collection - Volume Four - Buy from Amazon
Just getting to the first disc, which was trapped in my then dead PS3. Highlights for this group of shorts includes...
  • They Stooge in Conga - The trio are door-to-door fix-it men who are hired to repair the doorbell of a house, a house that is home to Nazi spies. In the course of their work, they find the secret war room where the spies are to guide an enemy submarine into port.
  • Dizzy Detectives - The Three Stooges are hired as police officers and their first case is investigating a series of robberies committed by a gorilla. The Three Stooges vs. a Gorilla is almost as funny as The Three Stooges vs. High Society.
  • Phony Express - Set in the old west in the town of Peaceful Gulch, the trio are three vagrants who are mistaken for famous marshals who have come into town to get rid of the Red Morgan gang. But when Red Morgan figures out who they really are, they are in a world of trouble.
Like I said last week, there are no special features on the 2-disc set.

The Three Stooges Collection - Volume Four covers 1943 to 1945, which many consider part of the Golden Age of the comedy trio. For fans who have enjoyed the previous three volumes, there is practically no reason to not add Volume 4 to their DVD Collection. The hit to miss ratio is high enough that even with no extras, it is worth buying over just renting.

Tortilla Heaven - Buy from Amazon
A comedy about religious devotees who swarm a small town when they find an image of Jesus in a fried tortilla. Reviews were weak, the box office was weaker, and the DVD is devoid of special features. Worth a rental at the most.

Ultraman - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
One of the greatest examples of the "Man in a Rubber Suit" genre of Japanese TV series. There is a huge amount of nostalgia associated with this series, but I don't really get it. I'm sure there are others out there who will disagree with me, a lot, but I just have to tell it how I see it.

The Unit - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
A season that was cut in half because of the writers' strike, although the price is also just half as much as the previous season. Good job on the pricing for the studio. As for the show itself, it is an excellent program about counter-terrorist special ops groups, which seems to be a topic that is doing well on TV while struggling at the box office. Not sure why there is such a discrepancy there.

The Universe - The Complete Season Two - Buy from Amazon
A documentary program about... well ... the universe, which is a rather big topic, so they break it down into smaller topics like space travel, alien life, dark matter, biggest things in the universe (although they fail to mention my ego), and more. A fascinating program and worth checking out. However, Season One is coming out on Blu-ray, which is likely worth waiting for. Granted, it will take a longer time for season two to hit High Definition, but I am rather confident that it will be worth the wait. Rent this, buy the Blu-ray.

Waltzing Anna - Buy from Amazon
I think the reason this DVD is coming out this week is because of the titular Anna is played by Emmanuelle Chriqui, whose star is certainly on the rise after starring in You Don't Mess with the Zohan. I am very happy for this turn of events for two reasons: One, she is stunningly gorgeous and a good actor as well. Two, she's Canadian. However, this movie is quite poor and at the very most it is worth a rental.

War - Greatest Hits Live - Buy from Amazon: CD, DVD, or Blu-ray
A CD, DVD, and Blu-ray featuring the works of the 1970s funk band, War. This concert was filmed at The Grove in Anaheim, California, and includes their biggest hits, including "Spill the Wine", "Lowrider", "Why Can't We Be Friends", and other. For fans of the band, this is a great release, and if you haven't seen War live before, check it out and you will likely become fans.

War, Inc. - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A slice of polical satire, which is a genre that has a nearly 100% failure rate at the box office for the past several years. This explains why it took so long for the film to finally reach theaters, and why it was relegated to a limited release run. Despite doing better than expected, it wasn't able to successfully expand so the expectations for the DVD are rather low.

John Cusack stars as Brand Hauser, a hitman who is emotionally exhausted but sent into Turaqistan to kill the head of the Ugikistan Gas Company, Omar Sherif, because Omar is building a gas pipeline through his country, thereby cutting out Tamerlane and costing that company millions in business. While there, his cover is as a trade show producer for Brand USA Trade Show to help promote Tamerlane's reconstruction efforts, and at the end of the expo there will be a celebrity wedding involving pop princess, Yonica Babyyeah.

The movie has a lot of targets, perhaps too many, as it goes after obviously the war in Iraq, the outsourcing of military operations, the corrupt no-bid contracts that have been awarded to politically connected companies, as well as less political targets like the media, corporate sponsorships, and even the state of the music industry. However, while there are plenty of targets, not every shot lands. Additionally, there are wide swings in the tone of the film between some lowbrow humor to some very dark moments. Perhaps if the film limited its target and found a more even tone it would have been a lot more successful. As it is, there's enough that works that it is worth checking out, but enough that doesn't that it won't be remembered as one of the best of the genre.

On a side note, while I thought Hilary Duff did very well in this movie, I was a little uncomfortable watching her. She was overtly sexual, and I have no real complaints about her sex appeal in the movie, but I still remember her from Lizzie McGuire. I understand she's not a child anymore, but seeing her in a role like this still makes me feel like a dirty old man.

As for extras, the DVD has none, nor does the Blu-ray, which is quite disappointing. I was looking forward to an audio commentary track, or at least some interviews with the principal cast, but there's nothing to be found here.

A side note on the price, the MSRP for the Blu-ray is just 20% higher than for the DVD, which is a great price. However, Amazon has the DVD at close to half the MSRP while the Blu-ray is barely a third cheaper. This means the gap between the DVD and the Blu-ray is closer to 50%, which is high for a Blu-ray disc with no additional features.

The appeal of War, Inc. might be directly linked to the viewer's political orientation. If you are looking at the polls right now and can't wait until election day, then you will likely enjoy the movie a lot more than another person looking at the same polls who thinks, "We'll get them in 2012." The lack of extras on the DVD and Blu-ray further hurt the value of the release; it might be worth picking up for enthusiastic left-wingers, but for most people I would recommend a rental first.

XXy - Buy from Amazon
An Argentinean film about a 15-year old hermaphrodite who has to deal with her blossoming sexuality. The film was critically acclaimed in its native market, and has won numerous awards internationally, but here the critics were less kind and the film never found an audience. Hopefully that will change on the home market, even if the only extra is an interview with the director, Lucía Puenzo, and the star, Inés Efron. Certainly worth checking out for most, picking up for many.

Yo Gabba Gabba! - The Dancey Dance Bunch - Buy from Amazon
Just a quick note, this DVD is part of our more recent contest, so if you are interested, check it out. And if you don't win, it only costs $13, which is a good value for a kids DVD.

Y.P.F. - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian comedy with a name that can't be written on the cover of the DVD. Despite its provocative name, it is not as extreme as the name implies. In fact, it's rather sweet, so much so that critics complained that it was a little to light to be effective. Certainly worth checking out, but don't go in looking for porn.


Filed under: Video Releases, Shrek the Third, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie, War, Inc., Standard Operating Procedure, Pathology, Tortilla Heaven, Stuck, XXY, Waltzing Anna, Young People Fucking