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DVD Releases for March 21, 2006

March 20th, 2006

Another busy week in terms of total releases, but only one jumps out as a must have. That's Capote - Buy from Amazon, the DVD pick of the week.

21 Jump Street - Season 5 - Buy from Amazon
The fifth and final season of this series and with Johnny Depp in only one episode and no special features there's little reason to pick up this show unless you are a completist.

2001 Maniacs - Buy from Amazon
A relatively low-budget horror remake taking the direct-to-DVD route this week. It's about as bad as one would expect given its direct-to-DVD despite having a budget than well above average for the genre. The DVD has more special features than expected with two audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, making of documentary, and more but even so the film isn't worth a rental unless you are a serious gorehound.

Batman Beyond - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
After fighting evildoers for decades, Bruce Wayne retires as Batman, but when Terry McGinnis' father is murdered, he takes over as the Caped Crusader. This 2-disc set includes all 13 episodes from season one as well as extras like audio commentary and a couple of featurettes.

Bewitched - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The first season of this series filmed in color so fans don't have to choose between colorized and black & white, although that choice should be easy to make. This is also the first season with their new daughter Tabitha, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your personal preference. When people think about this show jumping the shark, they always bring up the Darrin switch that came later, but the addition of a child can have the same effect as the changing of an actor. Also, there are no real special features on the 4-Disc set, so that might persuade even more to stick with the black & white era of this show.

The Billy Wilder DVD Collection - Buy from Amazon
Three from the legendary director including the new Special Collector's Edition of Stalag 17, which can be bought separately. This new edition contains an audio commentary track, making of featurette, and a featurette on the real life POWs from Stalag 17. There are three amazing movies in this box set, but if you own either of the movies on DVD already it is nearly the same price to pick the rest of separately.

The Busby Berkeley Collection - Buy from Amazon
Choreographer Busby Berkeley choreographed some of Hollywood's greatest musicals and this six-disc set contains five of his films plus a bonus disc of musical numbers. Each movie comes with special features like vintage shorts, cartoons, featurettes and the like. It's a great package for fans of musicals from this era, but whatever you do, do not buy the DVDs separately because it would cost nearly twice as much and you don't get the bonus disc.

Capote - Buy from Amazon
This biography of author Truman Capote was one of the most critically acclaimed movies to come out last year and Philip Seymour Hoffman really deserved his Oscar win. I still think Catherine Keener should have taken home Best Supporting Actress as well. Extras on the DVD include two audio commentary tracks, a featurette on Truman Capote and two more on the making of the movie. An excellent package and this week's DVD Pick of the Week.

Chicken Little - Buy from Amazon
Technology has really hurt Digital Animation. It used to take so long and cost so much to create a film using Digital Animation that the studio would make sure the investment was worth it by not greenlighting the project unless it had a top-notch script. Now that prices are falling and the time involved is cut in half, the studios think a script is not nearly as important and the quality is steadily dropping. Although most such movies still do huge business, many people look at them as just another movie and not an amazing technological achievement, so that is likely to change. Combine the bad reviews with special features that are obviously aimed at kids and no one else, and this DVD is merely a rental. Unless of course you have kids. Then you are required by law to buy it.

Dear Wendy - Buy from Amazon
Lars Von Trier wrote he 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 ever 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. Note, I mentioned this film last week, but it is actually being released tomorrow.

Derailed - Buy from Amazon
Nothing quite compensates for bad reviews better than an Unrated label. Despite earning bad reviews, the film was able to match expectations nearly perfectly and should perform better on the home market, even thought the DVD is subpar. Outside the 5 minutes of additional footage, the Unrated Edition only has a brief making of featurette and 3 additional deleted scenes. I can't even recommend renting it. As for the theatrical cut, it is also being released tomorrow, but only in Pan & Scan.

Documentary Double-Shot - Buy from Amazon: Breasts - A Documentary and Private Dicks - Men Exposed
Two documentaries with a very simple format, several people taking into a camera, they just happen to be talking about body parts most people don't mention in casual conversation. The first one has nearly two-dozen women talking about their breasts while the second has a bunch of guys talking about their penises. Yes, there is nudity. No it is not titillating. Breasts - A Documentary is the better of the two documentaries as women tend to be more introspective to begin with. At least with most of the guys naked, it's not just an hour of guys lying about their size. Also, Breasts - A Documentary has the better special features with half-an-hour of bonus footage and interviews with the filmmakers as opposed to a couple of interviews on Private Dicks - Men Exposed.

Dreamer - Inspired By a True Story - Buy from Amazon
The film opened to reviews that were better than most, but never really found an audience. It should do better on the home market with a DVD that features an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, featurettes on the horses, cast, etc. Call it a solid rental.

The Dying Gaul - Buy from Amazon
The film opened in limited release with reviews that were better than most wide releases but certainly not strong enough to lift the film from the art-house circuit. Add in special features that are average for a limited release, at best, and you have a DVD that is a renter, at most.

Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy - Volume 2 - Fools Par-Ed-Ise - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian cartoon about three jawbreaker obsessed kids and the crazy antics they get into. It's not a bad show, but I'd rather have full season sets complete with special features than a single disc with just 6 episodes.

Everything Is Illuminated - Buy from Amazon
Elijah Wood has gone from starring in the massive blockbuster Lord of the Rings to smaller, and decidedly quirkier productions. Liev Schreiber makes his directorial debut with this film and most actors who try to be directors usually struggled, this case the transition went smoothly. On the other hand, the DVD is not what you would call overburdened with special features as there are only about 20 minutes of deleted scenes. Had there been an audio commentary track and maybe some interviews it would have been worth picking up, as it is now, it is just worth a rental.

The Flying Nun - The Complete 1st Season - Buy from Amazon
A TV series about a nun who can fly, not because she has super powers granted to her by her religious devotion, but because she wears a big hat. Kitsch doesn't even begin to describe this show. The show ran for three seasons in the late 60s, so the fact that the only special feature on the 4-disc set is an interview with star Sally Field is not surprising. Nostalgia might be enough for some people to pick up this set, but I can't give it a recommendation.

Gidget - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
The second TV series starring Sally Field on this week's list. This TV series was a spin-off of the Gidget movie franchise and only lasted one season from 1963-64, so it is a minor miracle that it is coming out on DVD at all. Like the previous Sally Field release, the only real extra is an interview while the 4-disc set also includes the original pilot. (I don't really considere the pilot to be an extra since the box clearly says, 'complete series,' and the pilot is part of the series.)

House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD sequel to one of the worst movies of 2003. This movie is actually better than the original, but not by enough to recommend watching.

Huff - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
I hate this show, but not for any reason that one would call rational. When this show first aired it was hyped a lot, but its ratings were weaker than expected - so weak that it should have been cancelled. However, if they did cancel the show, it would be like admitting the network made a mistake, so they cancelled Dead Like Me, which admittedly was also earning weak ratings. Since I loved Dead Like Me so much, I've never forgiven this show and refuse to watch it. On the other hand, I have to admit the 4-disc set is well done with four audio commentary tracks, three featurettes and a handful of deleted scenes. Well worth picking up for fans of the show.

In the Mix - Buy from Amazon
One of the worst movies to come out last year and the DVD is well below average. Skip it.

Justice League - Season One - Buy from Amazon
I have to admit, these DVD releases for D.C. Comics cartoons are top notch when compared to so many similar releases. It's like they've figured out that their target audience is adult collectors not little kids. Special features on the 4-disc set include three audio commentary tracks, two behind the scenes featurettes, storyboards and the never-before-seen promo. Easily worth picking up for fans of the show, and there are plenty of those.

Keane - Buy from Amazon
When this film opened in limited release, it earned excellent reviews, but never really found an audience. Part of the problem is the film seems as much an exercise is filmmaking as it is a movie, which means critics will love the use of tight angles and unusual narrative structure while the average moviegoer will just be looking for something a little more engaging. The only special feature on the DVD is an alternate cut by Steven Soderbergh, who was also the executive producer. It's worth a rental, but that's it.

A League of Ordinary Gentlemen - Buy from Amazon
According to this documentary, at one time bowling was the highest rated sport on TV. Bowling. After watching this informative and entertaining film, I can almost see why. Extras on the disc are on par with other limited releases and include deleted scenes, PBA Promos, and some trick shots. Its worth watching for most, and worth picking up for fans of the sport.

Loggerheads - Buy from Amazon
Engaging enough to want to watch, but too slow to be an effective movie. Add in special features that include an audio commentary track, interviews, and deleted scenes and you have a solid rental, but nothing more.

Mind of Mencia - Uncensored Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Stand-Up comic Carlos Mencia, gets his own TV series, which goes about as well as most shows centered around Stand-Up comics. Most comics barely have enough material for a 30-minute set and stretching it out over 12 episodes is just too much. Add in just a few special features and this 2-disc set is for hardcore fans only.

Over There - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
I think the best way to describe this show is over-hyped. The way it was sold made it sound like it would be the greatest show on TV, but when it was merely well done and not totally amazing, the disappointment was enough to kill it. As for the 4-disc set, it is also well done but not overwhelming with audio commentary tracks on three episodes, making of featurette and a look at the weapons debriefing.

Paradise Now - Buy from Amazon
One of the more controversial movies to come out last year, it dealt with two Palestinian suicide bombers and tried to understand why they would do such a thing. Some people attacked the movie for being a pro-terrorist, but trying to understand is not the same as condoning. Also long as you understand that, you will likely find this film fascinating. Unfortunately, there appears to be no special features, which reduces the value of the DVD to the rental level.

Roseanne - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
At the time, this was one of the most critically acclaimed series on TV, mainly because it was one of the first shows to show the average American family realistically and not some sanitized sitcom version. The show was still improving when season three came along and there are some classic episodes here. Extras include interviews with Laurie Metcalf and Alicia Goranson, as well as a pointless Best-of montage. I assume anyone who buys this set will watch the full season so there's little reason to have a best-of montage as the viewer will have already seen all the clips.

Sequins a.k.a. A Common Thread - Buy from Amazon
A story of a 17-year old girl trying to hide a pregnancy and a widow who recently lost her son. The film is carried by the performances of the two leads, Lola Naymark and Ariane Ascaride, while the first time director, Eleonore Faucher, does an admirable job. Special features are above par for a limited release with deleted scenes, excerpts from the script read by Ariane Ascaride, and a booklet with an interview with writer / director Eleonore Faucher.

Shirley Temple Collection - Volume 3 - Buy from Amazon
The Little Colonel, The Littliest Rebel, and Dimples released in one box set or separately. The box set is the better deal as it is essentially buy 2 get 1 free. The best of the bunch is The Littliest Rebel, but overall this is not the best collection of her movies out there.

Show Me - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian film about two kids who kidnap a woman and force her to take them to a remote cabin where a tense, psychological stand off ensues. Reviews were merely mixed and the lack of an ad campaign meant it disappeared from theatres practically before it opened. However, it should do better on the home market, especially with a DVD that's above average for limited releases, with special features that include audio commentary, behind-the scenes featurette, and deleted scenes.

South Park - The Complete Seventh Season - Buy from Amazon
It will be interesting to see if the sales of this set improve thanks to the shows recent battles with Scientology. For those who don't know, Isaac Hayes, who plays Chef left the show because of a recent episode that made fun of Scientologists while Comedy Central pulled that same episode from rotation because Tom Cruise threatened to not promote Mission Impossible 3 if they aired it again. At least, that is what is alleged to be the reason by certain groups that are more important targets so please don't sue me. Anyhoo, this season contains some great episodes that make fun on non-litigious religions and it also has yet another episode that makes fun of Canada, but you never hear us threatening to boycott. Special features include mini-commentaries on all episodes and is definitely worth picking up for fans of the show.

The Squid and the Whale - Buy from Amazon
This film earned unbelievable reviews and started the award season with a bang. It earned nominations for practically every major award out there, but when it came to award nights, it was shut out, going zero for eleven. Had the film won even a couple of awards I'm sure it would have helped the DVD release immensely, but it should still do very well in part thanks to the special features. Included on the disc are an audio commentary track, behind the scenes featurette, and interviews, which is much better than most limited releases and earns the DVD a solid recommendation.

Tales from the Crypt - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This series just keeps getting better and includes one of my personal favorite episodes, Top Billing. In fact, almost all of the 14 episodes in this season are great and when you add in a retrospective, a panel discussion and a cheesy music video and you have a 3-disc set that is worth picking up. Granted, I would have loved a few audio commentary tracks to go along with those special features, but this package is still great as it is. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

The Ten Commandments - 50th Anniversary Collection - Buy from Amazon
One of the greatest Bible epics made and one of the most popular as well. Looking at the DVD release, it reminds me a lot of the recent Ben-Hur Collector's Edition as this 3-disc set includes both the 1956 edition and the original 1923 silent version, as well other special features. While it is a step up from the previous release, it doesn't seem like enough of the leap to earn a full recommendation.

The White Shadow: The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Season two of this three season series about a basketball coach and his inner-city squad. This is a great show that should have lasted longer, but at least fans can pick it up on DVD tomorrow and the 4-disc set is easily worth picking up. Not only is the show great but the special features are also great for a show that's nearly 30 years old with audio commentary tracks on three episodes and a couple of featurettes.

The Young Riders - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Another relatively short-lived TV series making its debut on DVD. Every time one of these shows is released, it makes me hopeful that some of my favorite short-lived shows could still make it on DVD. Unfortunately, the 5-disc set has no special features, but fans of the show should just be happy to finally pick it up on DVD as those VHS tapes are probably worn thin by now.


Filed under: Video Releases, Chicken Little, Derailed, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, Capote, In the Mix, The Squid and the Whale, Everything is Illuminated, Paradise Now, The Dying Gaul, Loggerheads, Keane, Sequins, Dear Wendy, A League of Ordinary Gentlemen, Show Me