Follow us on

DVD Releases for October 28, 2008 - Part II

October 28th, 2008

A slower week in terms of first run releases with a second tier summer release topping that particular list. However, there are a few other releases that are more interesting, including the direct-to-DVD release, Tinker Bell, which is worth picking up on either DVD or Blu-ray, but the latter is better than the former. While that release is the DVD Pick of the Week, two non-DVD releases are worth mentioning above the fold: The Mental Floss History of the World - Buy from Amazon and The Best Of Bond... James Bond - Buy from Amazon. It goes without saying that it was another busy week in terms of total DVDs on this week's list, so much so that it had to be split into two. The second part of the list can be found here.

Johnny Cash's America - Buy from Amazon
A DVD / CD with a ten songs on each, while the DVD also has a number of interviews with a lot famous people including Al Gore, Tim Robbins, Snoop Dogg, and others. Certainly worth picking up for fans of the singer / songwriter.

Journey to the Center of the Earth - Buy from Amazon: Limited Edition DVD, or Limited Edition Blu-ray
3-D special effects are not enough to overcome a mediocre script in this modern adaptation of the Jules Verne novel. Extras on the Limited Edition DVD include an audio commentary track with the director and star, a 10-minute featurette on real world people who thought the Earth was hollow, a video diary with Josh Hutcherson, and more . The Limited Edition Blu-ray has all of those extras, and nothing else. At least they are in High Definition. While the film isn't a classic, it still has its charms and kids could like it enough to give it the replay value needed to a purchase over just a rental. If you do decide to purchase is, stick with the DVD, as it’s the better value.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This movie opened in theaters while its predecessors debuted on TV. I mention this, because I've seen a lot of stories that think High School Musical 3 was the first film to do so. Moving on. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl is a very sweet film aimed at young girls who collect the American Girl doll line. Sweet, but not entirely satisfying, especially for adults. As for the DVD, the only extras are a featurette and some deleted scenes, but you can only access them through DVD-ROM. There are no additional extras on the Blu-ray. I you are part of the target demographic, or are the parent on someone who is, then it is worth checking out. But even then I'm reluctant to say its worth purchasing over just renting.

The L Word - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
A TV drama about the lives of a group of close friends who are lesbians. The show will be starting its sixth season in January, which is a long run for a cable show. It's a long run for any show. Fortunately, the show isn't showing its age and for those who picking up the previous season sets, there's no reason to stop now.

The Little Rascals - The Complete Collection - Buy from Amazon
An 8-disc collection contains the 80 Little Rascals short films made between 1928 and 1939. These short films have a lot of fans, even now, but they do feel quite repetitive when watched in a marathon sessions. Extras include a few audio commentary tracks and intros on the first seven discs, while the eighth disc is set aside for nothing but extras. This includes a retrospective on the creation of the show, a documentary on the child stars, and even a look at the racism presented in the show. For fans of the series, it is certainly worth picking up.

The Mental Floss History of the World - Buy from Amazon
In a break from the usual DVD reviews, we have a review of a book, which is a new thing made from dead trees with words in it. On the one hand, it is not as versatile as the Internets, but at least it still works when the power goes out.

Mental Floss is a magazine that is filled trivia on various topics from math and science to literature and art. This book takes the mood of the magazine and applies it to the history of the world from 60,000 years before to common era till 2007. The book starts with a brief overview of human development at a time before we left settled down and build cities and civilizations, and then talks about practically every empire that ever existed, including ones in Africa, China, and the Americas, which are usually overlooked by our Euro-centric society. There is a main thread that runs through most of the chapters, but there are also a lot of asides, like Making Their Point, which briefly discusses the origins of the phrase, "Parting shot." (The Goose Crusade is one of the asides that stood out to me.) Other common elements are the What Happened When, which details important dates in each era, By the Numbers, detailing population data, how long certain empires lasted, distance of certain trade routes, and other, some more humorous, numerical information. Who's Up, Who's Down talks about different people, slaves, Vikings, Jews, etc. and their fortunes during this period. So Long and Thanks for all the... talks about the modern things accident civilizations have given us, like gambling and cold cream. Finally, Thanks, but No Thanks for... talks about the bad things in history, like the plague, which I always considered unfairly maligned. A lot of good came from the plague. (I believe Connections has more details on that.)

And the book ends on a very high note with a brief history of Canada. This section lasts all of two-and-a-half pages, which is probably about right. However, they didn't mention hockey, beer, and while they mentioned Rick Moranis, they missed fellow McKenzie brother Dave Thomas. And while it is technically true most of Canada's population live close to the United States, it would be more accurate to say most of Canada's population lives close to major water ways, which is true of most countries.

Sadly there are no special features in the book; no audio commentary track, no making of featurette, no deleted scenes, nothing. I couldn't even get the search function to work. (That's a joke.)

The Mental Floss History of the World is a fascinating book for history buffs who complain that most history books are too dry. The book is definitely worth picking up, and those who enjoy it will likely also enjoy Who Hates Whom.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 - 20th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
Just a quick note that this is coming out this week and in includes the movies First Spaceship on Venus, Laserblast, Werewolf, and Future War, as well as extras on the DVD and a collectable Crow T. Robot. I'm expecting my review copy to arrive sometime this week. In fact, I was hoping it would have arrived already. I'll get the review online ASAP when it does arrive.

National Lampoon's Animal House - Buy from Amazon: 30th Anniversary DVD or 30th Anniversary Gift Set
How many times are they going to release this movie on DVD? Skip it and wait for the Blu-ray edition, it can't be too far behind.

NewsRadio - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
This could be the easiest review I've ever written. In fact, I'm going to see how much of this review I can write without opening the package or taking out any of the DVDs. You see, I love this show, and I bought every single season DVD when it came out, and since this 12-disc Megaset is merely a re-packaging of the individual season sets, I don't need to watch it again to write the overview. I will touch on a few specific episodes, on the other hand.

NewsRadio stars Dave Foley as Dave Nelson, who we meet on day one as he starts his job as station manager of WNYX, the #2 news radio station in New York City. His boss, Jimmy James, gives him his first task, fire the old station manager. Dysfunctional is the best way to describe the workplace, and it's from the top down. Lisa Miller is the second in charge and sometime girlfriend of Dave, and sometime competition for his job. The on air talent include Bill McNeal and Catherine Duke, who spend as much time bickering as they do working. The off air employees are arguably worse with paranoid conspiracy nut of an engineer, Joe Garrelli, who manages to keep things going, despite overestimating his technical prowess. Then there's crack researcher, Matthew Brock, who could not be less productive if he made a concerted effort to try. Finally there's Beth, the receptionist, who actually stands out as being unsuited for her job, even compared to the rest of them.

Despite being on the verge of being cancelled throughout its run, NewsRadio maintained a high quality level from day one right till the very end, with only a few minor bumps along the way. The biggest slump happened in season five after the tragic death of Phil Hartman. His 'replacement', Jon Lovitz is an incredibly funny guy, but it wasn't the same. I out replacement in quotes because nobody could replace Phil Hartman, and I don't think Jon Lovitz was ever meant to try. However, even then by the time Patrick Warburton did his 5-episode arc as Johnny Johnson, Jimmy James' rival, I thought the show was nearly back at its peak. Sadly, it wasn't enough as the show was gone for good at the end of season five. There are a number of episodes I could watch again and again, including the two spoofs, Space and Sinking Ship, while most have serious replay value.

Sadly, there are no extras on this 12-disc set. Also, the only subtitles are in Portuguese. Huh? Additionally, while there is a sticker touting the compact packaging, the packaging is also a pain in the ass to deal with, as the DVDs sit on one big spindle.

NewsRadio - The Complete Series is an absolute bargain for those who didn't grab the full season sets when they came out and it costs roughly $10 a season. (The show was a mid-season replacement its first season, so that complicates the math.) If you don't have the show on DVD, I definitely recommend picking it up. If you do, it is definitely not worth the price to upgrade.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys 10 Greatest Games - Buy from Amazon
I hate the Dallas Cowboys almost as much as I hate the New York Yankees, but not nearly as much as I hate the New York Rangers.

Poultrygeist - Night of the Chicken Dead - Buy from Amazon
Low budget horror comedy brought to us by those geniuses at Troma. Granted, not everything they do works, but this spoof is one of their best, but even then it is not for everyone. Extras on this 3-disc set include an audio commentary track, music videos, a feature-length making of documentary, clips from the film's premiere, a featurette on the special effects, on the post-production, karaoke versions of the songs (did I mention the movie is a musical?) and a whole lot more. It is seriously a contender for DVD Pick of the Week, however, its limited target audience is a factor.

The Prince & Me 3 - A Royal Honeymoon - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The second direct-to-DVD sequel to The Prince & Me. This wasn't a big hit, either with moviegoers or with critics. I can't imagine this movie is better than the first two films, but it is still a popular franchise.

Pucca - Secret Samurai Santa - Buy from Amazon
I love this show. Yes, I know I'm not in the target demographic, but I love it so much that I'm willing to forgive the early release date for a Christmas release. The show is charming, cute, and above all, funny. Even a lack of extras won't prevent me from recommending this DVD as a solid purchase.

Robson Arms - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian TV series that is like a make work program for Canadian actors. This year Dave Foley makes appearances on 5 of the 13 episodes, joining the regular cast that includes Corner Gas alumni, Gabrielle Miller and Fred Ewanuick. Sadly, this is the last season for the show, but at least fans can now have the entire run on DVD. And it is certainly worth picking up.

Sanford and Son - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
The second Complete Series Megaset coming out this week. This one is also just the single season releases combined into one without any additional material.

A remake of a British sticom called Steptoe and Son. Redd Foxx stars as Fred G. Sanford while Demond Wilson stars as his son, Lamont and the two of them are proprietors of Sanford and Son Salvage. The show was adapted and produced by Norman Lear, who also made Maude, The Jeffersons, All in the Family, and more. In fact, this show was sold with Fred Sanford being an African-American version of Archie Bunker. The show was a huge hit right out of the gate landing in the top ten during its first year of release, peaking at number two in the ratings the next few years. It is years to see why as Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson have excellent chemistry together and for the first two years, it was almost entirely their show. Later on, supporting characters were added, like Fred's sister-in-law, Esther, as well as a sidekick for Lamont, Grady. Fortunately, these changes didn't hurt the show and it remained strong throughout most of its run (the final season was a little weak). It arguably could have won more awards than its one Golden Globe or earned more Golden Globe and Emmy nominations, but it had a great run.

There are no extras on this 17-disc set, nor are there play-all buttons and each episode is one chapter, so there's no proper chapter placements. However, there are subtitles at least. Finally, the video and audio is quite poor, but the show is close to more than 30 years old, so that is not surprising.

Fans of Sanford and Son who want the whole series on DVD but didn’t want to pay the price for full-season sets should be happy this is being released. The Complete Series is roughly half the price, and despite my reservations about the packaging, it is worth picking up for fans of the show.

Sister, Sister - The First Season - Buy from Amazon
Tia and Tamera Mowry star as twins separated at birth who are accidentally re-united. This is a 'Family Friendly' show, which is usually a term used to insult sitcoms. However, it does have a charm to it, especially Tim Reid, and fans of the show should be pleased that it is finally coming out on DVD.

Sukeban Boy - Buy from Amazon
I was flipping by the list of releases on Amazon and found this DVD cover, which made me stop. Then I saw it was directed by the same person who directed Machine Girl, and suddenly my interested it piqued. This is a movie that has a limited target audience, those who are into Japanese cinematic weirdness, but definitely try before you buy here.

Tinker Bell - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The first of a series of direct-to-DVD CG adventures starring the Peter Pan character, Tinker Bell.

(On a side note, while this movie is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray this week, I only have one copy to review. Strangely, it's the Blu-ray version. Usually the High Definition comes late, or not at all.)

At the beginning of the movie we learn that fairies are given life the first time a baby laughs, and just then a baby does laugh and we follow a dandelion seed as it floats from the mainland to Neverland, specifically the Pixie Dust tree in Pixie Hollow, where we witness the birth of a new fairy. The first thing that new fairies must do is discover their job, and this fairy learns that she will be a Tinker and will forever be known as Tinker Bell. However, Tinker Bell doesn't want to be Tinker Fairy and wants instead to be one of the nature fairies who help bring about the change in seasons on the Mainland and convinces her new friends, Rosetta, Fawn, Silvermist, and Iridessa to teach her the ways of the nature fairy. Things don't go as planned. It is essentially an origins film for one of Disney's most memorable characters, with a lesson about learning to love who you are thrown in.

Most Disney direct-to-DVD releases like this... well, I don't want to use the term 'suck' but that's what immediately comes to mind. Pale imitations of their source material is perhaps a little more professional way to describe most such films. So my expectations might have been a tad low for this film, but I'm happy to report that it easily exceeded expectations. Quite frankly, I see no reason why this movie couldn't have been released theatrically. (In fact, it was released theatrical in a number of international markets.)

Extras on the Blu-ray include an interactive map of Pixie Hollow with three sections that you can explore, with narration by Tinker Bell. (I assume the other sections will be on the Blu-ray for the upcoming sequel.). There is also a game called Tinker Trainer, which has three parts and if you do well you can unlock internet features. Ever Wonder is a short live action movie where we see fairies doing all of the things we seem them do in the movie (make rainbows, help flowers grow, plant dew drops in a spider's web, etc.) It's only 4 minutes long, but it's cute. There is also a music video of a song by Selena Gomex, "Fly to Your Heart." There is also ten minutes of deleted scenes, with introductions explaining where they fit in and why they were cut. Mostly of these are presented in storyboard form, but some are fully rendered. Next up is a 10-minute making of featurette, which is in-depth given the length of the featurette. Finally, there are several BD-Live extras, including movie chat, movie challenge, and more. Sadly, these features are not up and running just yet. I'll update this review when they go live. Update: They are live, but my BD-Live connection is not. There's an issue with me logging in, but I hope to get that solved shortly.

I think it is a safe assumption that the BD-Live features are Blu-ray only, obviously, but I'm not sure what other features are also exclusive to the Blu-ray version. I'll also update this part of the review when the DVD shows up. However, given the BD-Live capabilities and the impressive audio and video quality, the Blu-ray is definitely worth the extra money.

When Tinker Bell was first announced, I was skeptical. However, I was impressed by the movie and I think the target demographic will be as well. The replay value is high enough to warrant purchasing over just renting, and the Blu-ray is worth upgrading over the DVD.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - Runnin' Down a Dream - Buy from Amazon
A 2-disc set with 4-hour documentary on the band, The Heartbreakers, which has been going strong for 30 years now. This is a hardcore documentary is a must see for fans of the band, but I don't know if more casual fans will be able to get through 4 hours.

TV on DVD Full Series Megasets - Buy from Amazon: The 4400, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Flintstones, Good Times, Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Millennium, NewsRadio, and Sanford and Son
Full season Megasets are for people who really like a show and want all of it on DVD, but never bothered to buy the full-season releases when they came out. In other words, it is a very strange target demographic. However, they do make excellent gifts, which is why so many come out this time of the year.

War and Remembrance - The Complete Epic Mini-Series - Buy from Amazon
At the time this was made, it was the most expensive mini-series ever, and it was money well spent and the it earned 15 Emmy nominations taking home three awards. (This is actually better than its predecessor, The Winds of War, managed five years previously. Extras on this 13-disc set include audio commentary track, original featurette, two new featurettes, and more. The price per minute is great, as the total running time is more than 24 hours.

Weird Tale Collection - Volume 1 - The Yellow Sign and Others - Buy from Amazon
The third anthology of short films coming out this week. This one has three H.P. Lovecraft inspired short films including The Yellow Sign, Tupilak, and The King in Yellow, as well as a few extras. On a price per minute basis, it might be a little high, but still worth checking out fans of the author, and likely worth buying over just renting.

Zombie Strippers - Buy from Amazon: R-rated DVD, Unrated DVD or Blu-ray
Camp happens. Either it comes naturally, or it doesn't come at all. When you try and force it, you get movies like this. It is not a bad movie, but it doesn't live up to its potential. There are a ton of extras on the DVD, including an audio commentary track, deleted scenes with optional audio commentary, trivia track, and two behind-the-scenes featurettes. Meanwhile, the Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled, but there are no movie specific extras yet. For fans of the specific genre, there's enough here that it is worth checking out, but for most a rental will suffice.


Filed under: Video Releases, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Tinker Bell, Zombie Strippers