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DVD Releases for March 14, 2006

March 13th, 2006

I can't say I'm particularly impressed by this week's selection of DVDs. There were a couple of films that I loved, but the DVD release was sub-par. The release I was most looking forward to Grosse Pointe - The Complete Series, was pulled from the schedule. That left A History of Violence - Buy from Amazon as the obvious choice for DVD Pick of the Week, but there were a couple of release worthy of an honorable mention, including the mockumentary, LolliLove.

The Agatha Christie Miss Marple Movie Collection - Buy from Amazon
Four films from the 1960s based on Agatha Christie novels and featuring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. The first film in the collect, Murder, She Said, is also the best, but all four are worth watching, as long as you are not a purist. Only one of the movies is based on a Miss Marple novle. Two others are based on Agatha Christie novels while the fourth is merely based on the characters.

All Dogs Go to Heaven - The Series - Buy from Amazon: Dogs Undercover and Friends to the Rescue
Two DVDs each with four episodes from the TV series based on the movie of the same name. I don't like Best of TV on DVD releases and without any special features to compensate, these are best skipped.

Anastasia - Family Fun Edition - Buy from Amazon
One of Don Bluth's best movies and arguably second only to The Secret of NIMH in terms of quality. This 2-Disc set is a huge step up from the previous release and worth the upgrade. In fact, anyone who is a fan of traditional animation should have this DVD in their collection.

Babylon 5 - The Legend of the Rangers - Buy from Amazon
I loved the series, but this busted pilot was just plan bad. In fact, the more you like the series, the more you should avoid this TV movie. Skip it.

Barbie Mermaidia - Buy from Amazon
Still popular after all these year. The latest Barbie DVD has her travelling undersea to the land of the mermaids... Listen, if you have a pre-teen daughter, you will probably be picking this up regardless of what I say. And if not, then you won't. It's a simple as that.

Basic Instinct - Ultimate Edition - Unrated Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
The only reason this DVD is coming out is to take advantage over the morbid curiosity regarding the upcoming sequel. If you own any of the previous special editions, then you can safely skip this one. If you don't, then don't bother picking this one up because it's not that good of a movie.

Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes van Zandt - Buy from Amazon
Highly rated but theatrically ignored documentary about influential musician and songwriter, Townes van Zandt. With special features like audio commentary, exclusive performances, extended interviews, this is a must have for fans of Townes van Zandt's music, or of the genre in general.

Columbo - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Great show, terrible DVD releases. I'm sure the studio could find some extras if they tried hard enough, or at all. When it comes to TV on DVD, Universal is one of the worst studios out there.

The Cutter - Buy from Amazon
Chuck Norris sleeps with a nightlight, not because Chuck Norris is afraid of the dark, but because the dark is afraid of Chuck Norris.

David and Bathsheba - Buy from Amazon
Made back when Bible Epics were common. This film isn't the best of the bunch, nor is it the worst. If you really want to see such a film, wait a week for 50th Anniversary Edition of The Ten Commandments.

Dear Wendy - Buy from Amazon
Lars Von Trier wrote as was planning on directing this film about pacifists with guns. I had high hopes for the film as I've enjoyed some of his work in the past and it seemed to have a lot of indie cred, but then the reviews starting coming in and it looked like a misfire. Then it disappeared from theatres long before every playing locally so I never got a chance to see it. Out of curiosity, I'll probably give it a rental, but I can't recommend it any more strongly than that.

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo - The Little Black Book Edition - Buy from Amazon
Was there really a demand for a special edition DVD for this movie? I don't think so.

A Fish Called Wanda - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
This film did something that few can, it opened in limited release before going on to hit number one. In fact, it holds the record for the longest time to reach number one. And it wasn't just that the film kept expanding till it was wide enough to take top spot, it managed this feat because its word of mouth was fantastic. As for the DVD, it is certainly a step up from the previous edition with audio commentary track, deleted and alternated scenes, making of featurette and more. It's worth the upgrade for those who loved the movie, and worth picking up for those who have never seen it.

Five Weeks in a Balloon - Buy from Amazon
Based on a novel by Jules Verne, this is not among the best films based on his novels but one of the better Irwin Allen movies. Add in no special features and the DVD is barely worth renting, and that's only for nostalgia purposes.

Good Night, and Good Luck - Buy from Amazon
One of the best movies to be made last year and one with an important message that is even more relevant now than it was 50 years about when it happened. I so wanted to award this release with the DVD pick of the week, but the special features just are not up to that level. There are only two real special features, an audio commentary track and a 15-minute long making of featurette. Sure, that's more than most limited release films get, but the film make more than $30 million at the box office, which is also more than most limited release get. In fact, it's about average for most wide releases. Maybe there will be a special edition coming out later, in which case waiting would be the smart thing to do.

Grosse Pointe - The Complete Series - Pre-Order from Amazon
This short-lived show was originally supposed to come out tomorrow but was since pulled from the scheduled. I don't have the official reason why. I do have it under good authority that the release is not cancelled, but merely delayed, possibly to be released as part of a tie in later in the year. ... Hmm, Melrose Place is rumored to be coming out later this year, and that would make a great cross-promotion opportunity. So have faith fans, it should still be out by the end of the year. (On a side note, as I was typing this Sex Bomb by Tom Jones and Mousse T. started playing on my MP3 player, I think it's a sign.)

A History of Violence - Buy from Amazon
David Cronenberg's most commercial and most accessible film is his long career. It was also one of his best and a earned a more than a few nominations. The DVD release lives up to the movie with audio commentary, an hour-long documentary, and three shorter featurettes on the reception at Cannes, the difference between the domestic and international versions and the one deleted scene on the disc. An excellent package and this week's DVD Pick of the Week.

Ice Age - Super Cool Edition - Buy from Amazon
Great movie, but how many special editions do you need to get it right? The only major difference between this edition and the 2-Disc Special Edition is the trivia track. And while it is nice, it is not worth the upgrade.

I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon: Black & White or Colorized
I've said is before and I'll say it again, until the colorization process is flawless enough that you can't tell the difference between a piece of film shot in color and one shot in black and white and then colorized, always stick with the black and white version. As for the show, it is widely considered a classic, but I think this is more to do with nostalgia than actual merit. Sure, there are some funny bits, but even fans of the show will admit that it is at its heart just a silly sitcom. Special features are great for a show that nearly 40 years old with audio commentary track on the pilot and a few interviews. Fans will be wanting to pick it up, but those seeing it for the first time will probably be left wondering what the deal is.

LolliLove - Buy from Amazon
A mockumentary about a wealthy couple who try and fight the homeless problem by giving out lollipops with inspirational messages written on the wrappers. The film was put out by Troma, which is a studio generally known for putting out complete schlock, but this is actually a great movie and the DVD release has tons of special features including the ever-present audio commentary track, behind the scenes, interviews and more. It's too bad that most people have never even heard of this movie, because it deserves a wider audience.

Love's Long Journey - Buy from Amazon
The third film is a series of TV movies that were meant to be a family-friendly, but just come of as cheesy and preachy. Add in zero special features and this is a release you can safely skip.

MacGyver - Season Five - Buy from Amazon
The series starts to really go downhill here and the video and audio problems aren't getting any better. Add in zero special features and its better to catch this show on cable than it is to even rent it. Sad. Can also be purchases with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Marebito - Buy from Amazon
One of the most whacked J-Horror films around, it's almost like the filmmakers tried to combined Japanese horror films with H.P.Lovecraft, but the result was not greater than the sum of its parts. It is visually gripping and unique enough that fans of either should watch it, but even then, it is only worth a rental.

Murder, She Wrote - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
Another case of great show, mediocre DVD release. On the one hand, it does have the cross-over episode with Magnum P.I., which is a nice touch and something that most studios won't do, even if they own both series. But on the other hand, they used the syndicated version and not the original network broadcast version. The only other special feature on the set is that 30-minute commercial, The Great 80's TV Flashback. Where I'm from there's a specialty cable channel dedicated to TV mystery shows like this, so unless the DVD releases are top notch, there's really no need to even rent them. Chances are, where you live you either have the same channel, or a very similar channel.

Neighbor 13 - Buy from Amazon
A Japanese Jeykll and Hyde film that is a slow burning revenge piece and not the brutal, gory horror film as it was advertised. Knowing what the film is really like before going in will certainly increase your enjoyment of it, but even so, it is simply not a strong entry into a crowded genre. Add in no real special features and the film is only worth a rental if you are a hardcore fan of Japanese cinema.

A Perfect Spy - Buy from Amazon
The novel this mini-series is based on is excellent, but the story works much better as a novel than it does as a movie. Add in zero special features and this 3-disc set is not worth picking up. On the other hand, if you really like John Le Carre's work, pick up Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy instead.

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio - Buy from Amazon
The movie industry is a fickle game. This movie barely made a peep at the box office, which is rather hard to explain. Granted, its reviews were not among the best of the year, but they were certainly above average for a wide release and nowhere near bad enough to explain its dismal showing at the box office. Even with light special features, (audio commentary tracks with Julianne Moore and Jane Anderson), the DVD is almost guaranteed to do better, but it would be hard not too.

Promises! Promises! - Buy from Amazon
There are only two reasons to watch this movie, Jayne Mansfield is topless in it. ... Okay, that came out wrong. The first reason is admittedly the pure titillation factor, but the second reason is more academic in nature. This was the first movie where a star of Jayne Mansfield's stature was seen naked on screen. As for the movie itself, it's a pretty mediocre farce with some redeeming qualities. One last note, this film along with Three Nuts In Search Of A Bolt are both Amazon Exclusives.

Remember the Titans - Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon: DVD or UMD Mini
One of the best Inspirational Coach movies and a personal favorite of mine. I've been holding off picking this movie up for a while because I knew a director's cut was on its way, so imagine my frustration when it finally arrives and it is weaker than the previous release. This version is essentially the previous version with a couple of the deleted scenes integrated back into the movie and minus both of the audio commentary tracks. If you already own this movie, there is no reason to upgrade, and if you don't, try and find the previous release instead.

She Spies - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This show had an interesting release plan, it debuted on network TV before switching to syndication. The idea was to get people hooked while it was on NBC so they'd follow it to syndication. I can't say if it was entirely successful as it only lasted two season, but then again, that is longer than most shows survive. It was a fun show that didn't take itself serious and certainly never had delusions that it was high art. However, the 4-disc set has no special features, which reduces its value to the rental level.

The Simple Life 3: Interns - Buy from Amazon
Quite possible the worst show on TV. So bad it even gives Reality TV a bad name.

Sleeper Cell - Buy from Amazon
A mini-series about terrorism that aired on Showtime last year but failed to bring in the ratings that the network was hoping for. Maybe that's because the DVD release was announced before the first episode aired. Regardless, the show suffered but the DVD release should perform much better, especially with audio commentary tracks on two of the nine episodes, a hour-long making of documentary, deleted scenes and a promotional featurette. Worth checking out.

Speed Racer - Volume 4 - Buy from Amazon
Even fans of the show are getting sick and tired with how this series is being treated on DVD. There were only 16 episodes left to be released, but the studio still split them up into two more volumes while leaving the price the same. For hardcore fans and completists only.

The Story of Ruth - Buy from Amazon
The second Bible Epic on this week's list, and like the other one, this one is not one of the better examples of the genre. It's worth a rental if you are a fan of the genre, but that's it.

Ten Little Indians - Buy from Amazon
Probably the most film Agatha Christie novel ever and it's easy to see why as it is one of the best murder mystery novels ever written. On the other hand, this is not the best version of the film. If you are interested in this movie, I suggest picking up And Then There Were None instead. On the other hand, if you can find the Russian version, Desyat Negrityat pick it up as is it the most faithful adaptation of the novel.

Through the Fire - Director's Cut - Extended and Uncensored - Buy from Amazon
It's been just over a month since the film was released theatrically, although it was in and out of theatres so fast that it's practically a direct-to-DVD release. One of two basketball movies that are coming out on DVD tomorrow, and this is the better of the two. And not only is it the better movie, the DVD release is also superior with audio commentary, deleted and extended scenes, Q&A session and more.

V.I.P. - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a dumb show, I feel safe saying that know that even fans of the show won't disagree. I guess the dumbness was part of the show's charm. Well, that and large boobs. This 5-disc set contains all 22 episodes from the first season plus audio commentary tracks on the season finale, trivia track on the series pilot, intros on select episodes and a short and pointless behind the scenes featurette. Only worth it if you are a really big fan of the show or Pamela Anderson.

Veggie Tales - Buy from Amazon: Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler and Are You My Neighbor?
The latest in a long line of Veggie Tales videos. These Bible based CG Animated shows are quite funny, but I prefer the Silly Songs to the actual stories.

The Year of the Yao - Buy from Amazon
What could have been an interesting study on the culture clash encountered by Yao Ming was instead mostly a fluff piece by the NBA to increase is brand potential. Even so, there's enough here to interest basketball fans and make it worth a rental.

Zoey 101 - Spring Break Up - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie based on the popular show starring Jamie Lynn Spears, a.k.a., Britney Spears younger sister. Zoey 101 is better than expected, but the TV movie is only average compared to most episodes. Still, with plenty of special features like a behind the scenes featurette, outtakes, bonus episodes, it is worth picking up for fans of the show while they wait for full season sets.


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Filed under: Video Releases, Good Night, and Good Luck, A History of Violence, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes van Zandt, The Year of Yao, Dear Wendy, Through the Fire, Marebito