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DVD Releases for August 29, 2006

August 28th, 2006

A busy week with nearly 50 films making the list. Of those, there are more than half-a-dozen that are easily worth picking up and with several being contenders for DVD Pick of the Week. I was able to narrow it down to two, Arrested Development - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon and The Tick Vs. Season One - Buy from Amazon, with a couple of honorable mentions, Duck Season - Buy from Amazon and Friends with Money - Buy from Amazon.

Akeelah and the Bee - Buy from Amazon
This film earned excellent reviews but opened in under 2,200 theatres without a major marketing push and never received the box office attention that it should have. The DVD should prove to be a bigger hit. Unfortunately, it still won't live up to its potential since the DVD is sub-par. Sure, there are a few featurettes and the like, but no audio commentary track. Even so, it is certainly worth a rental and many who do give it a chance will end up buying it.

American Gun - Buy from Amazon
The after effects of a school shooting, and gun violence in general, are explored from the point of view of several people in this character study. However, not enough new is said for the film to be effective and with special features way below average even for limited releases, it can't rate past a rental.

The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Seventh Season - Buy from Amazon
The series continues the trend of excellent shows on featureless discs. This was the penultimate season and finished first in the ratings, winning two Emmys along the way. Fans who have enjoying the previous seasons will likely want to complete their set, and there's little reason to stop now.

Arrested Development - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
One of the best shows on TV, it was too intelligent to find an audience on network TV. And while the third season was a mere 13 episodes long, fans will still be eager to relive some hilarious moments with the Bluth family. Extras are strong with audio commentary tracks on three episodes, including the finale, deleted scenes for 11 of the 13 episodes, outtakes, and a behind-the-scenes featurette. Earlier in the summer there was still a faint hope that the show would continue on cable. That was not to be, but at least the series can go out with style.

The Awful Truth - The Best Of - Buy from Amazon
The entire series has been released on DVD and normally that would mean there's little reason to pick up a Best of DVD with 6 of the 24 episodes. However, there are 2 audio commentary tracks on this DVD, which is two more than the previous releases. Is it worth the upgrade? Not really. But if you liked the show, but not enough to buy the whole thing on DVD, now is your chance to get good value for your money.

Baghdad ER - Buy from Amazon
A documentary look at the 86th Combat Support Hospital located in Baghdad's green zone. This film is not for the faint of heart as it is an uncensored look at what happens in a military hospital and deals graphically with terrible wounds. I can't even begin to describe some of what is shown, and as powerful as it is, even at just 68 minutes, it is very difficult to sit through.

Bill's Dirty Shorts - A Collection of Bill Plympton's Newest Naughty Shorts - Buy from Amazon
80 minutes of shorts from Bill Plympton including several award-winning ones. Despite what the title suggests, there's more violence in the 80-minute runtime than sex, but it is not a ode to debauchery as the name might lead some to assume.

Blu-Ray Releases: Buy from Amazon: Stargate: Extended Edition and Total Recall
Just the two Blu-Ray releases this week. Of the two, Total Recall is the better movie while Stargate is underrated and has developed a serious cult following.

Brother Bear 2 - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD sequel to a movie that wasn't particularly good to begin with. The film is better than most such films and worth renting if you have kids of the appropriate ages, but the replay value is limited.

The Castle of Cagliostro (Lupin the III) - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The first feature-length animated film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. This is not his best work, but still a cut above most films that are released each year. The DVD, on the other hand, is below average with just the animatics and an interview with animation director Yasuo Ohtsuka. The main reason this edition is special is it is the first time the film has been released in anamorphic widescreen format, and that alone makes it worth the upgrade for fans of anime in general or Miyazaki's work in particular.

The Chuck Norris Collection - Buy from Amazon
All three movies in the Missing In Action franchise, plus both Delta Force films. Neither franchise started off wowing the critics, and they quickly got much worse. There's really no reason to pick this box set up, even with its incredibly low price. And even the threat of a roundhouse kick to the head won't stop me from saying skip it.

Criss Angel Mindfreak - Halloween Special - Buy from Amazon
Criss Angel's brand of magic just doesn't do anything for me. For that matter, neither do most stage magicians. Because it is all a trick, there has to be a ample amount of humor involved but instead Criss Angel uses mood and atmosphere to make his act seem more mystical.

Darkwing Duck - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
The first of two Disney animated TV series making their DVD debut this week. While both shows are certainly entertaining for kids, the total lack of special features limits its value for adult collectors.

Desperate Housewives - The Complete Second Season - Extra Juicy Edition - Buy from Amazon
Extra juicy edition? Ugh. I will admit that this 6-disc set is extremely well done with a ton of featurettes, interviews, etc. but the show itself your typical nighttime soap opera with all the negative connotation that goes along with it. I'm sure there are plenty of fans that will disagree, but I can't even recommend renting this show.

Duck Season - Buy from Amazon
One of the best reviewed films on this week's list, it had a lot of powerful people behind it, but it still failed to make a peep (or quack), at the box office. The DVD should prove to be a much better seller, but without any real special features, it won't reach its potential. Even so, it is definitely worth picking up.

Epitafios - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
An amazing mini-series from Argentina about a former cop and a psychologist who must solve a series of murders connected to a five-year old hostage taking before they become the final victims. Because the show is from Argentina and in Spanish, it doesn't have much name recognition here, but it is certainly worth checking out and even with a total lack of special features, the replay value could be enough to warrant purchasing for many.

Father of the Bride - Buy from Amazon
This is the original from 1950 and not the remake from 1991. While the original may not have aged perfectly in the past 50 years, it is still the superior version.

Flavor of Love - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Shows like this make me wish aliens would invade and exterminate our species.

Friends with Money - Buy from Amazon
I had high hopes for this film, both critically and at the box office. And yes, it did earn better reviews than most and managed to escape its limited release roots and earn some mainstream success. However, it was still unable to live up to my lofty expectations in both areas. Great expectations aside, the film is an interesting character study and with special features that include an audio commentary track, behind the scenes featurette, and premieres at both Sundance Film Festival and Los Angeles, it is easily worth picking up.

Galaxina - Buy from Amazon
One look at that cover and you know exactly what you are in for, cheese. The film itself is an 'erotic' parody of Science Fiction films, but the only real entertainment value the film had is in a MST3K kind of way.

George Carlin - Jammin' in New York - - Buy from Amazon
George Carlin's personal favorite concert in his long career, and it's hard to argue with that. Like most concert releases, there are no special features, but the DVD is still worth picking up.

The Leading Ladies Collection - Buy from Amazon
All five movies presented here are good, but all five have been released on DVD, which severely limits its value.

Lonesome Jim - Buy from Amazon
The third directorial effort from Steve Buscemi, this film was a step back critically and while it started off reasonably well, it was never able to expand. The DVD has an audio commentary track and a making of featurette, which is not a lot, but more than many limited releases. It adds up to a rental, but sadly nothing more.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World - Buy from Amazon
I'm a big fan of Albert Brooks and really wanted to like this film. While there are bits and pieces that are amusing, there are not enough of them for the film to work as a whole. Add in extras that are on the light side compared to other limited releases and it doesn't rate past rental, and even that might be too generous.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - Buy from Amazon
Since this trilogy hit theatres, New Line has had more misses than hits, so they are returning to the well one more time. Here's the thing; there have been roughly 400 different versions already released on DVD and if you don't already have the version you want, you probably hated the movie to begin with. There's a new documentary on each disc, but it's not worth shelling out any more money.

Mountain Patrol (Kekelixi) - Buy from Amazon
Beautifully photographed with a powerful storyline, this film was all but ignored during its limited run earlier in the year. The DVD should perform better, even if it is devoid of special features.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection - Volume 10 - Buy from Amazon
This volume contains some of the best worst movies in the series and there are plenty of opportunity for humor. And yes, it is TV on DVD that isn't full season sets, but due to licensing problems, those will never come out so fans will have to settle for these. There are not a whole lot of extras with just some outtakes, songs, and photos, but it's not like they can do audio commentaries for the episodes and the quality makes up for the quantity. Certainly worth picking up for fans, and worth checking out for those who missed the show when it first aired.

Nip/Tuck - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
I could never get into this show. I just found the two characters simply too unlikable. Even fans of the show will admit that season three was the weakest yet and at this rate season four could be its last. Add in special features that are average at best, and the 6-disc set is barely worth a rental.

Pretty in Pink - Everything's Duckie Edition - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the best of the Brat Pack movies, although The Breakfast Club should probably take that title. There are basically two special features on the disc, an audio commentary track and a feature-length making of documentary. Unfortunately, the documentary is broken up into several sections and can't be played as a whole, but this is a minor quibble and not enough to reduce the DVD's value. Overall it is easily worth the upgrade and any child of the 80s will likely want to add this DVD to their collection.

Romancing the Stone/The Jewel of the Nile - Buy from Amazon
Romancing the Stone was an adventure movie that mixed in the comedy in nearly perfect proportions. The film opened reasonably well, but had strong legs and went on to become one of the biggest hits of 1984. The sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, has all the same elements as the first, but just doesn't have the same heart. Ironically, while Romancing the Stone is the better movie, The Jewel of the Nile has the better DVD release. Romancing the Stone's Special Edition has four featurettes with a total running time of just 30 minutes as well as 20 minutes of deleted scenes. The Jewel of the Nile Special Edition has an audio commentary track, two featurettes of nearly 30 minutes and 6 minutes of deleted scenes. They are available separately, but the box set is the much better deal and easily worth picking up

Roseanne - Halloween Edition - Buy from Amazon
A TV on DVD release that isn't a full season set? Skip it, right? Well, not so fast. This DVD contains the seven Halloween themed episodes from the show's run, which are arguably the best the show had to offer. Add in an audio commentary for one of the episodes and it is actually worth picking up.

The Sentinel - Buy from Amazon
There is nothing overtly wrong with this movie, it just covers the same ground as a lot of other films and adds nothing new. Because of that, it comes off as stale. The DVD is average with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes and a pair of featurettes; it's solid, but nothing spectacular. Overall it adds up to a rental, but the limited replay value prevents it from climbing higher.

Shock - Buy from Amazon
A film noir starring Anabel Shaw as a woman who witnesses a horrible murder and is sent into a state of catatonic shock as a result, and Vincent Price, a the psychiatrist trying to treat her. Not the best example of the genre, but still a fun ride and the audio commentary track lifts the value to the purchase level.

Some Kind of Wonderful - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is the second John Hughes / Howard Deutch collaboration on this week's list. And while the film earned similar reviews to Pretty in Pink, it wasn't nearly as strong at the box office. The extras are also not as good as the previous title but do include an audio commentary track and a little under 40 minutes in featurettes. Even so, it is easily worth the upgrade and any child of the 80s will also want to add this DVD to their collection.

South Park - The Complete Eighth Season - Buy from Amazon
I must admit, I was late getting into the South Park craze, but while I was late to get into it, I was quick to leave. I do still occasionally watch an episode (it's on right after The Colbert Report), and of the episodes I've seen I've enjoyed most of them. However, I don't find enough replay value to purchase the sets. Furthermore, this season was produced during the creation of Team America: World Police and since Matt Stone's and Trey Parker's energies were focused on that, this episodes are weaker than normal. At least the mini-commentaries are back, but that's still not enough for the 3-disc set to live up to previous seasons.

Stephen King's Desperation - Buy from Amazon
The latest Stephen King adaptation is pretty average compared to his track record, which is spotty at best. Granted, Ron Perlman is perfect as the psycho sheriff, Collie Entragian but overall there's not enough here that work for an enthusiastic recommendation. Call it a rental.

Take the Lead - Buy from Amazon
The movie is one part inspirational teacher, one part culture clash, and one part dance competition, and it borrows liberally from pool of cliches these three genres have amassed. While this does leave the film with a strong, "been there, done that" aftertaste, Antonio Banderas and the rest of the cast do have enough charm to make the film entertaining. Add in better than average extras (audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes), and you have a solid rental that's leaning to a purchase.

TaleSpin - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
The second Disney animated TV series making its DVD debut this week. Growing up I always preferred Darkwing Duck, but kids should get a kick out of this 3-disc set as well. However, the total lack of special features hurts its value with adult collections, who are the biggest buyers of DVDs like this.

Tap - Buy from Amazon
Gregory Hines was an amazing Tap Dancer, but while this movie was a great showcase for his talent, it wasn't a great movie. On the other hand, the DVD is great with an audio commentary track and four featurettes with a total running time almost as long as the movie itself. For anyone who likes Tap Dancing, this DVD is worth picking up. For those who don't, some of the energetic numbers might just change your mind.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Original Series - Volume 5 - Buy from Amazon
At one time this was the longest running cartoon on TV. So with just over 190 episodes and 12 episodes per volume and roughly two volumes a year... it will take until the year 2037 before they are all released. (My math might be a little off.) There are some great episodes on this disc, but with no special features it only rates a rental.

The Tick Vs. Season One - Buy from Amazon
As all regular readers will know, I hate TV on DVD that is not full season sets, and this isn't the complete first season. However, I'm willing to make exceptions under limited circumstances, and that includes when disputes over licensing rights prevent certain episodes from being released. In this case, one episode, "The Tick vs. The Mole-Men" is mired in legal issues that they were not able to clear in time for this release. However, they are working on it and that episode will hopefully appear on a future release. As for this release, it contains 12 of the 13 first season episodes including absolute classics like The Tick vs. The Idea Men ("Hey cool, they have a blimp."), The Tick vs. The Uncommon Cold ("I Arthur!"), The Tick vs. The Tick ("I'm the midnight bomber what bombs at midnight!"), and others. Even with no special features this 2-disc set is still a must-have and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. One final note, to this day just thinking about how The Tick dealt with his clone in The Tick vs. The Uncommon Cold makes my gag reflex kick in. ("I didn't want to have to do this. I mean, I really didn't want to have to do this.")

Trilogy of Terror - Buy from Amazon
This is worth picking up just to see that Voodoo Tiki doll come to life and chase Karen Black around her apartment. Also, there are more special features than one would expect for a TV movie from the 70s with an audio commentary and two interview featurettes. Fun stuff.

Vicki - Buy from Amazon
A nearly scene-by-scene remake of I Wake Up Screaming. Since that film is superior in nearly every way, including DVD extras, there's little reason to pick this version up. On the other hand, it might be worth a rental for those who own I Wake Up Screaming just to compare the two.

Water - Buy from Amazon
The final film in Deepa Mehta's Elemental Trilogy, which ended on a high note by earning the best reviews of her career. The DVD is also excellent for limited releases with an informative audio commentary track and two making of featurettes (one just under 5 minutes and the other just over 20). Overall it is easily worth picking up, especially for those who enjoyed Fire and Earth.

White Nights - Buy from Amazon
This is the second Gregory Hines film on this week's list, and like the first, the dancing is great, the movie is not. Add in zero special features and the DVD is only worth checking out for fans of either tap or ballet in general, or of the two leads in particular.

Will & Grace - Season Five - Buy from Amazon
By this time this series had devolved from a groundbreaking portrayal of a gay leading character, to a run-of-the-mill sitcom of the most mediocre kind. The special features are also weaker than average with a couple of featurettes and some outtakes, leaving the 4-disc set as a rental at most.

The Zodiac - Buy from Amazon
Too many movies about serial killers are exploitive; they are simply teenage slashers trying to take advantage of the real events to make an easy buck. This film instead focuses on the emotional price paid by the cops trying to catch the killer. But in the end, this stronger premise is killed by flawed execution. Special features are better than expected with audio commentary track and a couple of featurettes, but that can't lift it past the rental level.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Sentinel, Take the Lead, Akeelah and the Bee, Friends with Money, Water, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, Lonesome Jim, Temporada de patos, Kekexili, The Zodiac, American Gun