Follow us on

DVD Releases for August 14, 2007

August 13th, 2007

It's a busy week for first-run releases, with five such films appearing on this week's list. But even with a couple of them being worth picking up, including Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters for DVD - Buy from Amazon, the cream-of-the-crop were releases of new special editions. This includes two Jim Henson films, Labyrinth - Anniversay Edition and The Dark Crystal - 25th Anniversary Edition, but the best of the best is Taxi Driver - Two-Disc Collector's Edition.

51 Birch Street - Buy from Amazon
A very personal documentary about the filmmaker's parents and whether or not their relationship was as solid as he grew up believing. Reviews were nearly unanimously positive, but the subject matter is far too personal to interest most people. Granted, a lot of what the filmmaker deals with is universal to people trying to understand their parents, but it still has limited appeal.

All Creatures Great and Small - Buy from Amazon
The final season of the British series hits the home market tomorrow, along with the Complete Series Collection, which is being sold at a substantial discount over the single season sets.

And Then Came Love - Buy from Amazon
Vanessa Williams stars as a single mother who decides to track down the sperm donor she used to have her child. For a romantic comedy that's a pretty interesting hook. However, the results of utterly generic. Add in zero extras and this is completely skippable.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters for DVD - Buy from Amazon
The 15-minute show is stretched a little thin for this nearly 90-minute movie, but fans should still be very happy with the results. Others... well, they should probably stay away. As for the DVD, this 2-disc set should also please fans as it features a ton of extras like audio commentaries, deleted scenes, all the fake endings that were 'leaked' to the internet, deleted scenes, a new movie made out of those deleted scenes, making of featurette, music videos and more. Like I said, easily worth picking up for fans of the show, but for those who have never seen it, I have a hard time even recommending renting. Check out an episode of the show first, if your reaction is positive, then check out the movie.

Baby Looney Tunes - Volume 4 - Buy from Amazon
Practically the only Looney Tunes spin-off that I don't like. It's just too cute and is obviously aimed at kids while the Looney Tunes shorts were made to entertain the animators first, kids second. Add in zero extras, and I have a hard time even recommending renting this DVD.

Back to School - Extra-Curricular Edition - Buy from Amazon
Arguably Rodney Dangerfield's best film, although Caddyshack was also good. It's hard to tell if the DVD is worth picking up as the extras are apparently a trade secret. That leads me to believe it is not worth the upgrade, but fans of Rodney Dangerfield will want to add this film to their DVD collection.

Charlie Chan Collection - Volume 3 - Buy from Amazon
The final five Charlie Chan movies starring Warner Oland finally come out on DVD (there are two other movies, but they appear to be lost forever). These movies are undeniably racist, but having a white actor play a Chinese character was a product of the time and these films still have their fans. In addition to the five films, this 4-disc set has audio commentary tracks and plenty of featurettes. I can't imagine there are a lot of people who picked up the previous volumes who will stop here.

The Dark Crystal - 25th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
The Dark Crystal was only a modest hit at the box office and it never really wowed critics, but it has developed a loyal and passionate following on the home market. And now, with a sequel in production, it is fortuitous timing that a 25th Anniversary Edition is released. This is not the first time the film has been released on DVD. In fact, it is not even the first special edition, but for fans of the movie it is worth the upgrade. Extras start off with an audio commentary track by conceptual designer Brian Froud and there are making of featurettes, interviews, retrospective, as well as the extras from the previous edition. As I said, it is worth the upgrade and is even an contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Doctor Strange - The Sorcerer Supreme - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
These direct-to-DVD releases from Marvel have proven especially popular. The animation is much better than expected and the film shows a darker edge than most animated movies have. Add in relatively strong extras (interviews, concept art, previews for the next release, etc.), and you have a DVD that should please fans of the character.

Doctor Who - Buy from Amazon: Episode 75 - Robot and Episode 159 - Survival
Episode 75 - Robot marks the beginning of Tom Baker reign as the most famous Doctor while Sylvester McCoy was the last doctor (of the original run), in Episode 159 - Survival. Episode 75 - Robot is not the best Tom Baker story, but still worth picking up. The same can be said of Episode 159 - Survival and both DVDs have more than enough extras.

Dynasty - The Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Prime time soap opera at its most melodramatic. It's been two years since season 1 came out, so many might have thought the series was dead on DVD. This is not the case, but extras are way down to nothing, but that probably won't stop the hardcore fans from picking it up anyway.

Elvis - Buy from Amazon: Elvis Thru the Years and Elivs: The Mini Series
Two more releases to take advantage of the anniversary of his death.

The First Films of Samuel Fuller - Eclipse Series 5 - Buy from Amazon
As the title suggests, this box set contains the first three films of Samuel Fuller's career, at least the first three films he directed as he was a writer for years before getting behind the camera. This set includes The Steel Helmet, which is arguably his best film. What it doesn't contain are extras as the 3-disc set is devoid of special features. This is a shame and a documentary on the man and his films would have made a great addition and audio commentary tracks would have lifted the box set to the must-have level. As it is, it is still worth picking up for fans of his, but I can't be that enthusiastic.

Fracture - Buy from Amazon
Both Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling put in award-worthy performances in this movie, which was released far too early in the year for it to receive any award consideration. While the performances are clearly the best aspect of the film, overall it is still an effective thriller that should please moviegoers. Unfortunately, it was released during a month with an overabundance of thrillers and while it was able to match my expectations nearly perfectly, it wasn't enough for the studio to support it on the home market. The DVD only has one extra, which are some deleted scenes, including two alternate endings. These are rather weighty at just over 30 minutes, but not enough to lift the DVD past the rental level.

The Fugitive - Season One - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
One of the most famous TV series of all time hits the home market. Finally. But not fans are happy with this release as the season is being split into two volumes. Sure, there were 30 episodes made, which is more than are made in a single season today, but splitting the volume in two seems like a cash grab. To make matters worse, there are no extras on this 4-disc set. If this show was given the treatment it deserved, it would have been a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. As it is now, I can barely rate it more than a rental.

God Grew Tired of Us - Buy from Amazon
One of the best documentaries of the year, I wouldn't be surprised if this film was nominated for an Oscar. My only concern is that too few people saw it and you have to see it before you can vote for it. The film follows three boys who survive civil war in Africa and are selected to live in America. A gripping story and one that should be seen more. The DVD will go a long way to ensuring this, even with extras that are light. The only supplements on the DVD are a audio commentary track, and a short making of featurette. Even so, the DVD is still worth picking up.

Hamlet - Buy from Amazon
Kenneth Branagh starred and directed several William Shakespeare adaptations and this is arguably the best. (Although some would argue the same about Henry V or Much Ado About Nothing.) This particular play has been adapted many, many times before and since, but this version is rather unique as it is the full play -- all four hours worth. Unfortunately, even with 2-discs, there's not much room for extras given the size of the film. Even so, fans of William Shakespeare or Kenneth Branagh will want to check out this DVD. Can also be purchased as part of a box set that contains two other Shakespeare adaptations, each made about 30 years earlier than the other.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Erin Brockovich, Meet the Fockers, Mercury Rising, The Way To Paradise - Music Experience in 3-Dimensional Sound Reality, What Dreams May Come
Another weak selection of HD-DVD releases. What Dreams May Come is arguably the most visual and therefore would benefit from the upgrade to high definition the most. However, it just isn't a good movie.

Inland Empire - Limited Edition Two-Disc Set - Buy from Amazon
David Lynch is one strange man. You either get his films or you don't, but even those who don't will appreciate the artistry that goes into them. In this case, that artistry wasn't enough to escape limited release but at least fans will be treated to a 2-disc special edition, but there is no audio commentary track. They do include more than an hour of deleted scenes, more than an hour worth of featurettes, and an interview with David Lynch. All said and told, there extras have a combined running time long than the movie itself, and the movie is three hours long. Worth picking up for the more hardcore fans of David Lynch, but others should give it a rental first.

The Kids in the Hall - The Pilot Episode - Buy from Amazon
Stop it. Stop putting out Kids in the Hall releases. There's already a Megaset, you don't need to release anything else.

Kiss - Kissology Volume II 1978-1991 - Buy from Amazon
The second volume of Kissology is almost as good as the first and has 4 discs of live performances, music videos, interviews and more. While this one covers more years, it doesn't have as much top notch material (the band really peaked in '76 with Destroyer), but there are still many highlights including the European cut of KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park! Oh sweet, glorious cheese! If you own the first volume, you'll need to get this one. And if you are a member of the Kiss army, both of these DVDs are rated must-have.

Labyrinth - Anniversay Edition - Buy from Amazon
The second Jim Henson film coming out on an anniversary edition DVD. Personally I like Labyrinth better than The Dark Crystal, but I think my opinion is in the minority. Also, like The Dark Crystal, this is not the first time Labyrinth has been released on a special edition DVD, but the extras are an improvement over the old one. New features include an audio commentary track by Brian Froud and an hour long, two part featurette that is part making-of and part retrospective. In addition, the previous hour long documentary returns, as does the array of galleries. Overall, it is worth the upgrade and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

The Lookout - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
An amazing film that wasn't able to live up to its potential at the box office. It didn't even come close, in fact. But at least it gets a second shot on the home market, but here it also looks like it won't capture as wide of an audience as it should.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Chris Pratt, a promising hockey player in high school whose life to shattered when he gets into a car crash that kills two of his friends and causes him to lose his short term memory. While trying to get on with his new life, he gets a job at the bank as a night janitor but one day at a bar he is approached by someone who claims to have known him in high school, but his new friends have ulterior motives.

The film has a lot a positive aspects that should have helped it succeed, including the performances of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, and others, as well as a tight script by Oscar nominee Scott Frank, who made his directorial debut on this film. I can also see why it failed to connect with multiplex audiences. The film moves very slowly at the beginning, very deliberately. It helps set the mood and makes sure audiences feel Chris Pratt's pain, but people who go to see films like Wild Hogs generally don't have the patience for films like this.

Because the film struggled at the box office, the selection of extras on the DVD are rather light. Starting things off is an audio commentary track with writer / director Scott Frank and director of photography Alar Kivilo. There's hardly a moment of dead air on this track at they discuss working in Canada, the use of the new DV cameras, etc. Easily worth listening to. Next up is Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt, a making of featurette of sorts, but it focuses almost entirely on Joseph Gordon-Levitt and how he prepared to play a character with a moderate traumatic brain injury. Sequencing The Lookout is your more typical making-of featurette and is a mixture of talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips from the movie. It's about twice as long as the first featurette with a running time of 20 minutes, but I don't think it has the same replay value. Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt is just more unique than Sequencing The Lookout is, but both are worth checking out.

Despite extras that are only on par with more limited releases, The Lookout is such an amazing movie that the DVD is a must-have. A few more extras and it would have been a clear contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Loonatics Unleashed - Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
I mentioned above that Baby Looney Tunes is one of the few Looney Tunes spin-offs that I don't like. This is one of the others.

Masters of Horror - Buy from Amazon: Valerie on the Stairs or We All Scream for Ice Cream
This week two more installments of the anthology series hit the home market. I'm a big fan of the series, but I can't recommend these for two reasons. Firstly, they are two of the weaker episodes. Secondly, a full season set is very likely, and at a substantial saving. So save your money and pick up all second season episodes at once.

The Method - Buy from Amazon
A Spanish film about the corporate life where seven applicants are vying for one high-paying job. But they won't be subjected to typical interviews, they will instead be part of a Reality TV-like contest to determine who is the best. Reviews were mixed and the movie went nowhere at the box office, but it should perform better on the home market, even if the only extra is a behind-the-scenes featurette. That said, go for a rental first.

Rowan Atkinson Live - Buy from Amazon
With Mr. Bean's Holiday just around the corner, there's no better time to release a DVD of Rowan Atkinson's stand up work. And personally, I think this is the best I've ever seen him. Thinking of the top five skits I've seen him do during various live performances, and all of them are on this DVD. Even without extras, it is still easily worth picking up.

Taxi Driver - Two-Disc Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Taxi Driver is one of the greatest movies ever made. It has also been released on a special edition DVD in the past, so the real question is whether or not this new edition is worth the upgrade. It is. There are a ton of new extras, including two audio commentary tracks, as well as about 3 hours of featurettes. Some of these are your typical, but very well done, making-of featurettes, others are a little more unique like the featurette on real NYC cabbies. This is a movie that should be in everyone's DVD collection and there's not better time to get it. My only complaint are some of the missing extras from previous editions, but the DVD is being released from a different studio, so that's to be expected.

Vacancy - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
One of several million thrillers released this past April, but this one was not able to catch on with critics or moviegoers, although its reviews were a lot better than its final box office total would suggest. As for the DVD, I can't rate it past a rental as the extras are barely there with only some deleted / alternate scenes and a short featurette on the director.

Wild Hogs - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
One of the biggest surprise hits of the year, it was seen by millions of moviegoers, and suffered nearly as many insults at the hands of critics.

The film stars Tim Allen as the man who thinks he took the safe road all his life, Martin Lawrence as the hen-pecked husband who tired of being told what to do, William H. Macy as a computer geek who is scared to talk to women, and John Travolta as a has-been actor who wants to go on one road trip before his life collapses around him. And in those short descriptions, I have put more care and concern than the screenwriters did. This brings us to the biggest flaw of the film, laziness. The script is lazy, using caricatures instead of characters, cheap laughs build on broad humor instead of character development, the directing is pedestrian, etc.

There are some other major flaws, like jokes that go nowhere, and what the hell was with John C. McGinley as a gay cop? Who thought that was a good idea?

As for positives... let me think... compared to the rest of the cast, William H. Macy was pretty good and the romance story with Marisa Tomei was the best part of the plot. But that's as close as it gets for anything worth watching.

Moving onto the extras, the movie was a huge hit, so I was expecting a lot in terms of extras, but aside from an audio commentary track that was overly congratulatory, there's not much here. We do get a making-of featurette, but that's mostly fluff, as was the short featurette on convincing your wife to let you buy a motorcycle. Lastly, there were three deleted / alternate scenes and some outtakes, but they were far from memorable.

Not the worst movie to come out this year, but close enough for me to recommend avoiding it. Even a great selection of extras wouldn't lift this film to the rental level, and the studio didn't even try. Skip it.


Filed under: Video Releases, Wild Hogs, Fracture, Vacancy, The Lookout, Inland Empire, God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of Lost Boys of Sudan, 51 Birch Street, El Método, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters