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DVD Releases for June 5, 2007

June 4th, 2007

It's the first week of the month, which is oftentimes the busiest time for DVD releases. However, while there are plenty of releases this week, there are not that many that are top quality (and no spotlight reviews). The DVD Pick of the Week is Seinfeld - Season 8, but there's little surprise there. I would also recommend picking up The Dead Zone - The Complete Fifth Season and The Sergio Leone Anthology.

The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Extra Frills Edition - Buy from Amazon
A cross-dressing comedy from Australia. Not the kind of movie you would think would do well at the box office here, but thanks to unbelievably strong word-of-mouth it managed to escape limited release and earned more than $10 million during its run. This is not the first time the movie has been released on DVD, but it is the first real special edition. Extras include the standard audio commentary track, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes, and more. Easily worth picking up, even if you have one of the previous versions.

The Best of Chappelle's Show - Uncensored - Buy from Amazon
After killing the goose that laid the golden egg, the studio is trying to milk the final bits of profit from the dead horse. (How's that for mixing metaphors?) If you have the season sets there is literally zero reason to pick up this DVD.

The Best of The Tonight Show - Buy from Amazon: King of Late Night and Stand-Up Comedians
Two discs, each with two DVDs, but there's not a whole lot of content here and it is extremely expensive on a per minute basis for TV on DVD. On the other hand, there is literally no way that this series will come out in full-season sets, so this might be the best fans will get.

The Bill - The Complete First Series - Buy from Amazon
A police procedural show that started in 1984 and is still going strong 23 seasons later. This 4-disc set has all 12 episodes from the first season, including the 2-hour pilot, as well as two featurettes for extras. That's good value for an import and worth picking up for fans of the show.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Blood Diamond, Bruce Springsteen with the Sessions Band: Live in Dublin, The Cowboys, Hellboy and Rio Bravo
A rather limited selection this week, not including the concurrent DVD / Blu-Ray releases. Of this group, only Hellboy really could use the upgrade to high definition.

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - Buy from Amazon
A remake of the classic 1920 film from Germany. And not just a remake, but a scene-for-scene recreation of the movie in much the same way as the 1998 version of Psycho. And yes, this version is not as good as the original, but it is also not as bad as Psycho was. That said, there's still very little reason to buy this version instead of the original. On the other hand, fans of the original might want to give it a rental out of curiosity.

CHiPs - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The 'classic' cop show starring Erik Estrada and ... the other guy. This show's popularity today is an equal mix of guilty pleasure and nostalgia. This six-disc set has a couple of extras featuring the cast, but not enough to raise it past the rental level in my book.

Coming to America - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD
One of three Eddie Murphy movies coming out on DVD tomorrow. Of the two special editions, this is the weaker, but still has some laughs and the romance angle is actually pretty sweet. As for the DVD, the extras are good, led by several featurettes on several aspects of making the movie; these total more than an hour, but there's no audio commentary track, deleted scenes, outtakes, etc. and I'm not sure if that's really enough to justify a Special Edition label.

The Cosby Show - Buy from Amazon: Season 3 and Season 4
Great show. Featureless DVDs. I really hate saying that, but moving on...

Dante's Cove - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
One of those prime-time soap operas that used to be so popular. This one stands out only because of its gay themes. I hate these shows, but I will admit it is popular among its target audience while the 2-disc set is better than most.

The Dead Zone - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
One of those shows that I stopped watching on TV because I prefer the TV on DVD experience. (Although if I was 100% honest I would have to say I'm a bigger fan of the purchasing TV on DVD than I am of watching it as I have over 50 such DVDs I haven't gotten around to watching yet.) Most fans agree that the show isn't as strong as earlier seasons, but still worth checking out and combined with an excellent assortment of extras, it is a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
Five more films starring the comedy duo, which is strange since volume 1 has more. Maybe they are trying to squeeze out another volume. Unfortunately, the quality took a hit here and the box set is more for hardcore fans than for general enthusiasts.

Desert Hearts - Buy from Amazon
A significant movie as it is one of the first American films to deal with lesbianism and for that reason alone is worth checking out. The movie itself is a rather straightforward and simple, but effective and features strong performances by the three lead women. The DVD is a little more mixed as an audio commentary track, interviews, and extended footage is not a lot for a special edition, but still lifts the overall value to a purchase.

Doctor Who - New Beginnings - Buy from Amazon
Three stories, Castrovalva, Keeper of Traken, Logopolis, available in one box set or separately. However, the box set is clearly the better deal. This box set contains the last story with Tom Baker and the first story with Peter Davidson and is loaded with extras. Any serious fan will want to pick up this 3-disc set.

Fail Safe - Buy from Amazon
The TV remake from 2000 and the 1964 classic. Remaking this movie seemed like a huge mistake, but it turned out reasonably well. However, I would still suggest picking up the original while renting this one.

The Fall Guy - The Complete Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Lee Majors stars as a stuntman who works as a bounty hunter during his days off. Only in the 80s. Another show that survives today on equal parts guilty pleasure and nostalgia. The show can either be purchased as one season or two volumes, but there's no reason to buy them separately. There's actually precious little reason to buy the full season as a rental will do for most people.

Fantastic Four - Extended Cut - Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
With the sequel just around the corner, there's no better time to release a special edition of this movie. Or as a cynic would describe it, this is a blatant cash-grab. While normally I am firmly in the cash-grab camp, this film is not just a special edition, but an extended edition and the extended edition does improve the movie, not enough to make it a top tier super hero movie, but certainly above the theatrical version. Extras are also good with two audio commentary tracks (one for the theatrical version the other for the extended one), a feature-length making of documentary, deleted scenes, and a handful of smaller featurettes. There's also a free ticket to see Rise of the Silver Surfer, but that does up the cash-grab feel. If you are like me and held off purchasing the movie when it first came out on DVD because you figured there was a sequel in the works, now would be a good time to pick it up. However, I would still wait. Rent it before checking out the new movie, and buy when it is released as part of a trilogy box set in a couple years.

Fantastic Voyage - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
A groundbreaking science fiction film that is finally getting its due on DVD. The extras are excellent for a film that is 40 years old and include audio commentary track, making-of featurette, behind-the-scenes, storyboard-to-screen comparison, etc. Easily worth picking up, especially for fans of science fiction films from that era.

Fired! - Buy from Amazon
A movie about being fired that should be left off the resume of everyone involved. It's not a bad movie, but it's just average and barely made a peep at the box office. The DVD will do better (it would have to), and with plenty of extended / deleted clips it is worth checking out. I think the DVD might become popular among those who have just been downsized, and considering economic growth has hit a four-year low, that could be a big audience.

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib - Buy from Amazon
A very difficult film to watch, but one that is important enough that it should be. Extras are on par with other similar releases and include an audio commentary track and more than 30 minutes worth of additional interviews / scenes. Easily worth picking up.

Godzilla - Buy from Amazon: Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster and Invasion of Astro-Monster (aka Monster Zero)
Two more Godzilla movies getting the DVD treatment real fans are looking for. Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster is a fan favorite while Invasion of Astro-Monster is not quite up to the same level, but is still fun. Both DVDs have the same level of extras fans of this series have come to expect and are worth picking up.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: The Cowboys and Rio Bravo
Just two John Wayne films coming out this week, both of which are also being released on Blu-Ray.

The Henry Rollins Show - Season One - Buy from Amazon
The IFC talk show hosted by spoken word artist Henry Rollins. It's more like Bill Maher than Dave Letterman and fans of the former will want to check it out. Also, it is rare for talk shows like this to get full season sets, even the ones that are only weekly not daily, so picking it up might encourage studios to release others on DVD. Also coming out tomorrow is Uncut from NYC, which is also worth checking out.

Hex - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A show that had a lot of potential but just never capitalized on it. There are a lot of angles to work with here, magic, demons, a lesbian ghost, etc. However, while there's a lot to draw from, it's just too much for the writers and they can't keep the rules straight. It may seem counter-intuitive, but realism is more important in supernatural shows, because the audience needs to know there is a consistent set of rules governing the universe. If there isn't, viewers tend to lose interest. Extras on the 3-disc set are limited to a making of featurette and some deleted scenes. Can't really call it anything more than a rental.

Highlander - The Search for Vengeance - Buy from Amazon
This is a franchise that probably should be left alone; too many bad sequels have sapped what little strength it had left. That said, this animated movie is better than the rest of the sequels and might be worth buying for some fans, but most who have been burned before will want to rent it first.

Hogan's Heroes - The Sixth & Final Season - Buy from Amazon
The final season of this show hits DVD tomorrow. The show has been popular on DVD, but I was never a fan. Add in weak to non-existent extras for most of its run and I couldn't even recommend renting these. It can also be purchased at a substantial savings as part of a package deal.

A Little Night Music - Buy from Amazon
The movie was based on a popular and award-winning musical, had a great cast, and was released at a time when it looked like musicals were regaining their popularity. It would have not been out of line to think this movie would have been a sure thing. But it wasn't. The value of the film has mainly been reduced to the camp level, (there are drinking games based on the widely varying weight of Elizabeth Taylor). There are a few good performances here, including Diana Rigg, as well as those reprising their roles from broadway, but that's not enough to recommend the movie. As for the DVD, it's a mess. The audio and video are terrible, which is no surprise as the masters were neglected for years, and there are no extras. Skip it.

Maxed Out - Buy from Amazon
A compelling documentary about the credit card industry and some of their predatory practices. Since Americans are living under massive debts, (both personal and government), and have a negative saving rate, this is a topic that is becoming increasingly urgent. On the other hand, the DVD is devoid of extras and only requires a rental.

Meatballs - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Every once and a while I see a release that this that makes me ask a simple question. This movie was calling out for a special edition? Really? Granted, given the type of movie, this is one of the best, but most fans will agree that's there's little to no plot, and is carried by a goofy, charismatic performance by Bill Murray. It's a fun film to watch, but there's limited replay value. As for the DVD, it is better than the previous release with an audio commentary track and a multi-part making of featurette, but I'm not sure this is a memorable enough movie experience to rate a purchase over a rental.

The Messengers - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
One of the worst movies of the year, but sadly not even the worst movie of the week. It is just so predictable, there are so many elements that seem borrowed from other movie that it is hard to feel genuinely scared. As for the DVD, the extras are weak with just an audio commentary track and a seven-part, 35-minute long making of featurette. It adds up to just a rental, at the most. On a side note, and I'm hesitant to bring this up, but did they... enhance Kristen Stewart's figure on the DVD cover? Or am I imagining things?

Mission: Impossible - The Second TV Season - Buy from Amazon
Peter Graves becomes the head of the top secret government agency that fights to protect democracy against evil doers. I liked the show better than the movies, but the total lack of extras is troubling.

Norbit - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-Ray, or HD-DVD
One of the worst movies of the year. One of the worst movies of all-time. Pro-actively bad. Offensively bad. It is so bad, one is likely to assume the filmmakers made it out of a sense of revenge against the movie audiences in general and movie critics in particular. (Perhaps one kicked their dog while they were younger and this is their way of getting revenge.) The extras are also below average and mostly fluff adding nothing of value to the experience. Skip it. Skip it and run screaming into the night.

The Outer Limits - The Original Series - Season 1 - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
Exactly the same as the previous release, just more expensive. Skip it.

The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair - Buy from Amazon
A disturbing documentary about an Iraqi journalist who is mistaken for a terrorist who was plotting to kill Prime Minister Tony Blair. While there movie is amazing, there are just too many such documentaries coming out at the moment and more and more are falling through the crack. It takes a lot to be worth picking up and without extras this one rates only a rental.

Rescue Me - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
I am of two minds on this show. On the one hand, it is incredibly well done in nearly every aspect. On the other hand, I hate Denis Leary's character. During the first season I wanted him beaten up, during the second season that wasn't enough and I wanted him sent to jail. Now, even that's not enough and I want to see him beaten up in jail. Give him a stint in Oz and see if that straightens him out. Back to the original hand, there are plenty of fans of this show and they will be very pleased with the 4-disc set. Also of note, this is one of the first series to be released on Blu-Ray and those who have upgraded should pick it up to encourage the transition to High Definition. Also coming out tomorrow is the Denis Leary - Ultimate Collection, which is two discs of mostly stand up but also some music videos and behind-the-scenes stuff.

Robocop - Lenticular Edition - Buy from Amazon
Great movie, but there's a 20th Anniversary Edition coming out in August, so don't buy this version just for the fancy packaging.

The Sand Pebbles - 2-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The role that gave Steve McQueen his one and only Oscar nomination and is one of his best movies overall. An anti-war movie that was set during the Chinese revolution but was an allegory to the Vietnam War, the film deserves a fully-loaded 2-disc special edition that is packed with extras. Extras that include audio commentary tracks, intros, making of / behind-the-scenes featurettes, retrospectives and more. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Seinfeld - Season 8 - Buy from Amazon
DVD Pick of the Week. ... Don't think I need to add more than that, but I will.
This is the season where Larry David left the show and a lot of people thought the show's quality would suffer. It did not. Highlights of this season include the Bizarro counterparts, Elaine's fight with Frank at the police station, Muffin Tops, Yadda, Yadda, Yadda, Extras are equally impressive with audio commentary tracks on over half of the episodes, trivia tracks on all episodes, deleted scenes, interview, behind-the-scenes, and much more. If you have picked up the previous seasons, there is literally no reason not to pick up this one as well and it is a clearly the DVD Pick of the Week.

The Sergio Leone Anthology - Buy from Amazon
Four Spaghetti Westerns from director Sergio Leone, including the three Blonde Stranger movies with Clint Eastwood. Those three are so well known I fell I don't need to talk about them much, however, the fourth film, Duck, You Sucker, (a.k.a. A Fistful of Dynamite), is not. However, while it is not as well known, it is just as good. Each film is presented here in a 2-disc special edition and include more than enough extras to cover the price tag. On a side note, the box set is the better deal, unless you have the previously released Special Edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, in which case you can save a little bit by buying the others separately.

SpongeBob SquarePants - Bikini Bottom Adventures - Buy from Amazon
Stick with the full season sets.

Trading Places - ''Looking Good, Feeling Good'' Edition - buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-Ray, or HD-DVD
Of the three Eddie Murphy movies coming out tomorrow, this one is clearly the best, (although in terms of raw dollars it earned the least). The cast is amazing here right from Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd as the two leads in the rag to riches / riches to rags story to Jamie Lee Curtis as the prostitute with a heart of gold to the two Duke brothers. The film maintains an amazing pace throughout, but has an ending that even most fans will admit needed just a bit more work. Adding to the overall value are the extras, which include making of featurettes, interviews, deleted scenes, trivia track, and some promotional material. Had their been an audio commentary track, or two, this could have been a DVD Pick of the Week. As it is, it is still easily worth picking up.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea - Global Warming Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is a great movie and one of the best science fiction films from the era, however, I think called the special edition the Global Warming Edition is a bit of a cheap marketing ploy. I also hope no one in power sees the film and thinks it is realistic, otherwise we might start seeing the nukes fly in order to cool the planet, and call me crazy, but there's probably a downside to that. As for the extras, they are impressive with an audio commentary track, plenty of interviews, featurettes on the science, and more. Easily worth picking up and would make a great double-shot with the Fantastic Voyage - Special Edition.

Wait Till Your Father Gets Home - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
An 'adult' animated sitcom from the 1970s. It was adult in the same sense that All in the Family was aimed at adults, it wasn't even as risky as Maude was, which debuted the same year. However, while there are plenty of prime-time animated shows that have some and gone during the past decade or so, in the early 1970s the television audiences were just not interested and the show only lasted two seasons. Extras for the 2-disc set are limited, that that's to be expected given the film's short run and obscure nature. Still worth checking out for fans of Hanna-Barbera, but for most a rental will do.

Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael - Buy from Amazon
One of countless Brat Pack imitators that were spawned after The Breakfast Club became a hit. This was one of the last, but not one of the best nor has it aged particularly well. Add in no special features and its worth a rental, and that's only for nostalgia purposes.


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Filed under: Video Releases, Fantastic Four, Norbit, Hellboy, Blood Diamond, The Messengers, Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders, Fired!, The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair