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DVD Releases for March 13, 2007

March 12th, 2007

Not much worth talking about this week. However, that's because one of the biggest hits of last year is coming out, and studios don't want to go head-to-head with such a behemoth. The behemoth in question is Casino Royale - Buy from Amazon. But while this release is keeping the overall traffic a bit light, there's more than one DVD that's worth picking up, including the aforementioned Bond blockbuster. But the best of the best is Without a Trace - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon. And if you want to see season 3 come out on DVD anytime soon, buy this DVD A.S.A.P.

Baby Looney Tunes - Volume 3 - Puddly Olympics - Buy from Amazon
One of the few Warner Bros. cartoons that I have no interest in collecting. This and Loonatics Unleashed, which is also coming out this week. While I understand why they thought making the Looney Tunes characters into babies would be a good idea, and while they exponentially increased the cute, the humor was hurt. Add in a high cost on a per minute basis and zero special features and I can't recommend this DVD.

Bloody Reunion - Buy from Amazon
A group of students meet up with one of their teachers. This is a horror movie so you know the students are going to start dying one by one. And it's from South Korea, so you know it's going to be bloody. But while gorehounds will likely be satisfied, the story never really comes together and that limits the film's value.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Hoosiers and Layer Cake
Just the two releases this week, not counting concurrent ones. Of the two, I prefer Layer Cake, but neither really need the high definition treatment.

Bosom Buddies - The First Season - Buy from Amazon
The show that made Tom Hanks a star. ... Well, not really. He didn't really get his first big break until Splash and didn't become a real star until Big. But this is still fun show to watch and of interest to fans of Tom Hanks, particularly his early work. Unfortunately, there are no special features on the 3-disc set. Had there been something here, audio commentary, retrospective, interviews, anything, this would be a solid purchase. As it is, its only really worth it for the more hardcore fans while the more casual ones will get away with a rental.

Bridge to Terabithia - Buy from Amazon
This is the TV movie version from 1985 and the not recent theatrical release, obviously. Not a bad version of the book, but not as good as Bridge to Terabithia.

Burmese Harp - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
A powerful anti-war film from Japan. This DVD boasts a new, remastered print and features interviews from the director and star. Also, there's a booklet featuring an essay from film historian, Tony Rayns.

Casino Royale - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
... It's Bond. It's arguably the greatest Bond ever made. This should be an easy DVD Pick of the Week. However, the 2-disc set is a little light. Depressingly light. There are no audio commentary tracks but there are featurettes on Daniel Craig, the Bond girls, etc. It's still worth picking up and will undoubtedly be the biggest seller of the week (and biggest seller of the year so far), but I can't be as enthusiastic in my recommendation as I would like and the odds of a special edition coming out by the end of the year are too great for it to earn the DVD Pick of the Week. Can also be purchased with Layer Cake in a package deal, which is the way to go if you haven't see that movie yet.

Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning - Unrated - Buy from Amazon
Oh dear god, why? On a side note, Willie Nelson reprises his role as Uncle Jesse, which I guess means he still having problems with the IRS.

The Ed Wood Collection - A Salute to Incompetence - Buy from Amazon
I love the name of this box set. This 2-disc set has six movies and a documentary crammed onto it and for just $10, it is the perfect purchase for fans of movies that are so bad they are good.

Ghost - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Sam Wheat and his fiancée Molly Jensen are deeply in love, even though he can't even say the words. Their relationship is cut short after a tragic mugging, but a love that strong doesn't end with a gunshot.

This is a date movie, but one of the best date movies ever made. It has everything you need from such a movie. For the women, there is plenty of romance between Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen. For the men there are enough special effects, which were cutting edge at the time, as well as the ghost training scene with the always wonderful Vincent Schiavelli. And there's plenty of humor from Whoopi Goldberg's performance as Oda Mae Brown to satisfy everyone.

So the movie is worth checking out. But what about the DVD? I'm of two minds on this one. On the one hand, the extras are better than average for a film from 1990 with an audio commentary track, making of featurette, and more. On the other hand, that's not really enough to live up to the Special Edition label. Also, the quality of the extras were not overwhelming. The audio commentary track with writer Bruce Joel Rubin and director Jerry Zucker is clearly the best of the bunch while the making-of featurette packs a lot in its 13-minute run time while Alchemy of a Love Scene is a 6-minute look at the pottery wheel love scene. On the other hand, Inside the Paranormal is 8-minutes of pure garbage. I can accept psychics and ghosts in movies, but don't try and tell me that crap is real, it's insulting to my intelligence. I particularly liked how some these 'psychics' claimed to be able to talk to dead pets. "Spot says, 'woof.' ... And now he's licking himself. ... Still licking himself. ... That'll be $50.00, in cash." Finally, there's Cinema's Great Romances, which is select clips from AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions special. I'm pretty sure all of the films presented are from Paramount and the way it was presented felt like a big ad.

Overall, the DVD is worth checking out for most and picking up for many. It's far from perfect, but there's enough here for a solid recommendation. Can also be purchased in the Boy Meets Girl Collection, which works out to a "buy 2 get 1 free" deal.

Harsh Times - Buy from Amazon
This is a film that crashed and burned at the box office. While it wasn't award-worthy, it wasn't as bad as its box office performance would indicate. Part of the problem is the film is just too depressing. Christian Bale is an excellent actor, but we know the character he's playing here is a write-off practically from the first scene of the movie. His tale isn't going to have a happy ending, the only question is how many otherwise good people have to go down with him? This kind of movie is really hard to sit through for a lot of people, me included, but tastes vary. As for the DVD, it has an audio commentary track and some deleted scenes, which is better than many limited releases, but below average for a wide release. Considering its opening theater count, this makes sense. Overall, call it a rental, with reservations.

The Holiday - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
This romantic comedy earned better than average reviews for the genre and became a hit in its counter-programming role, especially internationally where romantic comedies are earning the bulk of their box office these days. As for the DVD, it is merely average with just an audio commentary track and a making of featurette. There's nothing here that blows you away, and nothing that lifts the film above the rental level unless you are a hardcore fan of the genre.

I Love Lucy - The Complete Seasons 7-9 - Buy from Amazon
At this point the show was no longer a TV series but became a series of hour-long specials. Not only are these specials incredibly rare, but the extras are also amazing for a show this old. For that matter, they are amazing compared to many shows that are much more recent. If you have been collecting the series up to now, there's not a single reason not to finish the set. If you have not, you really should reconsider, but start with Season 1.

Loonatics Unleashed - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
I remember when the characters for this show were first made public and a lot of Looney Tunes fans freaked out, and with good reason. It was like the people at Warner Bros. were trying to kill the memories of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the others. And while the show wasn't the complete train wreck some were expecting, it is still one of the weaker installments in the franchise. Add in weak reviews and the 2-disc set is only worth picking up for completists.

Lovewrecked - Buy from Amazon
The latest from Amanda Bynes sat on a shelf for two years before premiering on ABC Family Channel. Ouch. Did the movie deserve this ignominious fate or is it a hidden gem?

The answer is somewhere in-between, but closer to the former than the latter. The film is a light-hearted comedy aimed at young teen girls, with little crossover appeal. It is not as bad as many other such films that do get released in theaters, but there's little here to recommend picking it up. I'm a fan of Amanda Bynes' work, her enthusiasm helps elevate even weaker material. However, it wasn't enough to save this movie. Also, quite a number of the supporting cast didn't help support her like she was in her previous film. On a side note, a couple of times I felt like I was watching an ad for Sun Valley, the resort the movie was filmed at. I'm pretty sure this was intentional, but it shouldn't have been so obvious.

As for the DVD, there are only three deleted scenes, none that add a whole lot to the movie.

Finally, the film was originally given a PG-13 rating, but was cut to PG for its TV premiere. The DVD is rated PG-13, but there are some changes between the DVD released here and the theatrical version of the film. Apparently the Region 2 DVD is the full version of the movie, but I don't think it's worth hunting down.

Overall, I can see the target demographic enjoying themselves with this film, but there's not enough here to recommend a purchase over a rental.

The Man Who Sued God - Buy from Amazon
Billy Connolly stars as Steve Myers, a lawyer turned fisherman who loses his boat after it is struck by lightning. His insurance agency denies his claim, calling it an "Act of God," so he does the only logical thing and sues the church. A lot of this film works, including Billy Connolly's performance, but overall it is not meaty enough to earn a high replay value. It's worth checking out, but a rental will suffice for most people.

The Perfect Crime - Buy from Amazon
The original name for this movie was El Crimen Ferpecto, with Perfect being misspelled. I'm not sure why they changed it for its North American release. The film opened with strong reviews back in 2005 and did reasonably well for a foreign language film. As for the DVD, it is devoid of extras, which is a shame but not unexpected.

The Pretender - 2001 / Island of the Haunted - Buy from Amazon
Two TV movies based on the series. However, neither is particularly well done and are only average compared to the show's four year run. Add in no special features and a price that is very high for TV on DVD and it is hard to recommend this DVD for anyone but completists.

Shortbus - Buy from Amazon
This is a film about sex, and it doesn't shy away from its subject. To be blunt, this film earned its unrated label. This could have been a film that rode its controversy, but the movie is well done. It has great writing, interesting and sympathetic characters, strong performances, etc. If there is a complaint, it's that the graphic portrayal of sex sometimes distracts from the story. Given the nature of the film, it is not surprising that it never went wide; in fact, it never played in 100 theaters, hitting a peak theater count of ... I am not making this up ... of 69. However, the studio is showing a lot of support by putting together an excellent DVD. Included in the extras are an active audio commentary track, deleted scenes with audio commentary track, making of featurette that weights in at 30 minutes, and a spotlight on the orgy scene with audio commentary track. Overall an excellent package and worth picking up, if you can get past the sexually graphic nature of the film. For most people it is probably best to rent it first.

Sublime - Buy from Amazon: R-Rated or Unrated
A direct-to-DVD horror offering from Warner Bros.' Raw Feed studio. It's too derivative of other films to work and while it's has a better story than most gore-filled slasher flicks, there's not enough here to warrant anything above a rental.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Original Series - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon
With the movie just a couple weeks away, these box sets are getting a big boost from the advertising for that film. This 5-disc set has 40 episodes from the original series as well as a couple featurettes and a recipe for pizza. Those looking forward to the movie will obviously want to pick this set up, as will those who grew up on the cartoon as a kid.

Without a Trace - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
It's been two and a half years since season 1 was released and a lot of people were getting worried that season 2 would never come out. There were two major concerns for fans. First, season 1 didn't sell very well on DVD. Second, this is the season with Sons and Daughters, an episode that rang up the largest FCC fine in history. Due to an orgy scene, the network was hit with a $3.3 million fine, but they are protesting the fine since all the complaints were generated from two websites and according to the rules, you have to see the show when it originally aired to complain. Hopefully they will win this case and the FCC can go back to enforcing ownership rules instead. As for the 6-disc set, it is mixed compared to the first season. The shows are better, since the writers and the cast hit their groove, but the extras are limited with just deleted scenes for just over half the episodes. I would have liked to have seen some audio commentary tracks and featurettes like season 1 had, but I'm just happy it has finally come out on DVD.


Filed under: Video Releases, Casino Royale, The Holiday, Harsh Times, Layer Cake, Shortbus, Tattoo, Crimen Perfecto, El, Lovewrecked