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DVD Releases for January 16, 2007

January 16th, 2007

2007 continues its slow start with little in the way of quality first run releases. The only one that is worth picking up is The Protector - Buy from Amazon, but the quality of the movie is a little low for it to be DVD Pick of the Week. On the TV on DVD front the best of the best was Doctor Who - The Complete Second Series - Buy from Amazon, but here the price is a little high, which lowers its appeal. To find the DVD Pick of the Week you have to dig really deep and come up with Purgatory House, which can be purchased through Amazon or direct from their official site.

'Allo 'Allo! - The Complete Series Six - Buy from Amazon
This is a great show that unfortunately lived past its prime. By season six the show was still funny, but not as good as earlier episodes. Add in extras that are non-existent and I have a hard time recommending this 2-disc set. On the other hand, if you've kept up this long, you might as well keep going until season nine.

The Animation Show - Box Set - Buy from Amazon
Both volumes of this collection of animated shorts in one box set: 2 discs, 3 hours, more than 20 shorts, and 8 Oscar nominations. This is a great collection for fans of animated shorts, especially since there are not many places where we can see these films. Extras are good with several making of / pencil tests, as well as a featurette on the history of the medium; I would have liked some audio commentaries, but overall it is still easily worth picking up for fans.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: GoodFellas, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Scooby-Doo, and Winged Migration
This week's list of Blu-Ray releases contain some quality releases, and some that are decidedly not. But none make me want to upgrade to High Def.

Broken Sky - Buy from Amazon
One of those, 'Emperor has No Clothes' art house films. The film has nearly no dialogue, which may have been meant to enhance the film's art house credibility, but in the end just prevented most people from being drawn into the story. It might be worth a rental for fans of gay / lesbian cinema, but that's about it.

The Couple - Buy from Amazon
Released in theaters as The Aryan Couple, the film earned terrible reviews and struggled to find an audience. Perhaps the name change is an attempt to put that behind it and get a second life on DVD, but that seems unlikely at this point, especially since the DVD appears to be featureless.

Doctor Who - The Complete Second Series - Buy from Amazon
When it was first announced that this series was to be reborn, a lot of people were worried that the show wouldn't live up to past series and would in fact hurt the franchise as a whole. (I think the casting of Billie Piper was particularly upsetting as most Science Fiction fans would have known her only as the girl who sung "Because We Want To." Fortunately, she's turned out to be a much, much better actor than a singer.) However, the show has been a big success, perhaps too big as the two main stars have both left hoping their newfound fame will help them land bigger roles. (I think anyone contemplating such a move should first talk to Shelly Long and David Caruso.) As such, this is the first season with David Tennant as the Doctor and the last with Billie Piper as Rose Tyler. Like the first season, this 6-disc set is packed with extras like audio commentary tracks on all 15 episodes, additional picture-in-picture commentaries on four more, video diaries, and more. Excellent set and worth picking up for hardcore fans. On the other hand, the price tag is a little high for the more casual viewer. Even so, I still consider it a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Employee of the Month - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
Dane Cook's first film as a leading man had mixed results. On the one hand, this film earned terrible reviews. But at least it still managed to live up to expectations at the box office (or at least close enough to call it a victory), and with a low, low production budget, it should have little difficulty earning a profit soon. The DVD is a little weaker than expected with an audio commentary, alternate scenes, and a behind-the-scenes featurette. Not terrible, but certainly below average for a first run release, perhaps worth a rental for fans of the cast, but that's about it.

Gridiron Gang - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
One of several hundred inspirational coach movies to be released in the past few years, this one had Dwayne Johnson teaching a bunch of gang members football to help them overcome their problems and get back on the right track. It was sporadically effective, enough to be worth checking out, but not enough for repeat viewings. The extras, which include audio commentary, behind-the-scenes, deleted scenes, etc., are also worth checking out, but can't push the DVD past the rental level.

Her Minor Thing - Buy from Amazon
A slight and forgettable romantic comedy starring Estella Warren. Fans of the genre will likely find the cast charming enough to be worth checking out, but a rental is all that is needed here.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Clerks II, Lucky Number Slevin, The Mummy Returns, Poseidon, Pulse, Scooby Doo, The Sting
A good mix of old and new as well as good and bad. None of which make me want to upgrade. It's going to take something special for me to upgrade. Quite frankly, it's probably going to take Star Wars to get me to upgrade. An interesting note, both Clerks II and The Mummy Returns are in the top ten sellers for new releases this week, at least according to Amazon. It's a little early to say DVD is dead, but the writing is on the wall. The only thing now that could delay DVD's demise is if the Format Wars drags on and most people decide to wait it out. As soon as one dominates, expect it to take over the sales lead in a matter of months.

Hootenanny - The Best Of - Buy from Amazon
Hootenanny. Now there's a word you don't hear very often. I think everyone reading this should use that word at least once a day until it comes back into fashion. Fans of folk music will surely love this 3-disc collection with its 80 plus performances. Unfortunately that is all you will get on this DVD as there are no extras.

In Her Line of Fire - Buy from Amazon
A low-budget action film that looks even cheaper than its $1 million budget suggests. The film was all but invisible during its theatrical release and even with a lightweight DVD it will do much, much better on the home market. Then again, it would be medically impossible not to.

The King of Queens - The Complete Seventh Season - Buy from Amazon
Your typical sitcom that has lasted longer than its premise can handle. Jerry Stiller is still funny, and guest appearances by Nicole Sullivan help add to the humor, but after seven years it just doesn't seem fresh. Add in zero special features and a very active syndication life, and I can't recommend picking it up.

Mouchette - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
Along with its sister film, Balthazar, this is arguably Robert Bresson's best work. This DVD from Criterion features an excellent print with no flaws and includes an audio commentary track, two vintage featurettes and the trailer. Normally I don't consider trailers to be extras, but this one was made by Jean Luc-Godard and could be considered a masterpiece is short form filmmaking. Certainly worth picking up.

My Hero - Season One - Buy from Amazon
A funny BritCom about a super hero alien trying to keep his secret identity a secret. Granted, the show is a little predictable at times and Ardal O'Hanlon plays a character very similar to the one he played on Father Ted, but there are enough laughs here to be worth checking out. On the other hand, the DVD doesn't have much in the way of special features (10-minute interview and a 5-minute behind-the-scenes look), and that limits its replay value. Odds are that fans will still want to pick it up rather than rent it.

The Protector - Buy from Amazon
Tony Jaa's second martial arts spectacular outperformed this first by a considerable margin, at least at the box office. Critics were less kind to this film than they were with Ong-bak, but there still more than enough here to satisfy fans of the genre. As for the DVD, it shines. Included on the disc are both the domestic theatrical version and the slightly longer, slightly more intense Thai original. Extras include audio commentary track on the U.S. version, two making of featurettes, deleted scenes, two featurettes on its star, and much more. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Purgatory House - Buy from Amazon
This is an excellent movie that earned pretty good reviews overall with 4 of the 6 critics giving it the thumbs up, and even the two negative reviews are quite positive. On average the film earned an average score of 7.6 out of 10 and personally if I were to give out numerical scores, which I don't, I would have given the film an 8.5 out of 10. As for the DVD, it is very well done given the smaller nature of the film. While the film toured extensively on the Film Festival circuit, earning praise and numerous awards, it never had a theatrical release. Because of this, if would be understandable if the DVD was rather bare bones, but that is not the case here as it has 2 documentary featurettes, deleted scenes, a look at the premiere, music video, and more. I would have liked an audio commentary track, but that's a minor complaint on the whole. Bottom line, this is one of the first movies I ever reviewed, and the only movie I've watched more than once after I finished reviewing it. (By the time I finish a review I've usually watched the movie six to eight times, so by the time the review is done, I'm quite burned-out on the film.) The replay value is really high, for both the movie and the extras, and the overall package is easily worth picking up and a serious contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Read it and Weep - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie from the Disney channel starring the Panabaker sisters. (Danielle, who is probably best known for her role in Sky High and the TV show Shark, and Kay who is best know as the overly cheerful Debbie Berwick from Phil of the Future.) The movie is about as good as other Disney channel offerings, i.e., good for the target audience with zero crossover appeal, and the limited extras leave it in the rental category.

The Royle Family - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A BritCom about a slovenly family with a regal sounding name. On the one level, this is a show about a family that does little more than watch TV and one could surmise that the creators expect the viewer to laugh at how pathetic they are. ... Except that the viewer is also just watching TV, so aren't they just laughing at themselves? This twist the creators devised adds another level to the show and that helps the overall enjoyment. On the other hand, the DVD is completely devoid of special features and that hurts its replay value.

That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana - Buy from Amazon
Three episodes from the series crossover. Normally I'm very critical of TV on DVD that is not full season sets, but this is actually a good idea to include the three crossover episodes on one DVD. (Although if they do put out full season sets for these series, they should also include the crossover episodes.) Extras include a Miley Cyrus music video, a trivia game, and a bonus episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.

Space Academy - Buy from Amazon
A cheesy Saturday morning kids show set in a school built on an asteroid. Made by the same people who made Ark II, and it shows. Not only is the show equally cheesy, but the DVD is better than expected with a retrospective, audio commentary tracks, and more. I assume Jason of Star Command will be released on DVD relatively shortly.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning - Buy from Amazon: Theatrical Version or Unrated Version
An unnecessary prequel to an unnecessary remake. The film earned just half of what The Texas Chainsaw Massacre earned, but that's still enough to show a profit, eventually. I'm hoping this weakness is a sign that the popularity of sadistic horror films are waning. I really dislike films that seem to have characters, main characters, whose the sole purpose is to increase the body count. If I'm emotionally invested in the character, I don't want to see them die for no reason. If I'm not, I don't want to watch the movie, period. As for the DVD, it is good but not great. There's an audio commentary track, making of featurette, deleted and extended scenes. Everything you would expect from a first-run release, but nothing that lifts the DVD above the rental level.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Poseidon, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Gridiron Gang, Employee of the Month, Clerks II, Lucky Number Slevin, Pulse, Tom yum goong, Winged Migration, The Aryan Couple, Broken Sky, In Her Line of Fire