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DVD Releases for October 3, 2006

October 3rd, 2006

It's the week of the special edition, with roughly 409 such releases on the list (410 if you count the concurrent releases for X-Men: The Last Stand). Of these, most are completely skippable, but a few are actually worth the upgrade. When it comes to digging through the clutter and finding the best of the best there were a few contenders including the blockbusters X-Men: The Last Stand - Collector's Edition, but the likelihood of a bigger special edition coming out sooner than later prevented it from winning. Thank You for Smoking - Buy from Amazon was also highly rated, but in the end I went with Humphrey Bogart - The Signature Collection - Volume 2. Meanwhile, for fellow Canadians, it is your patriotic duty to pick up Corner Gas - Season 3 tomorrow.

21 Grams - Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
A not-so-special edition for a film that deserves better.

Abbott & Costello Show - 100th Anniversary Collection - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
It was just a month ago that Season 1 came out, and I really like this expedited release schedule. I know why shows usually have releases several months apart, so they don't overwhelm fans with too many releases back-to-back-to-back. But since this show only lasted two seasons, there's little chance that will happen. Season 2 is just as good as season 1 and is a must have to fans of the due. And if you've never seen these two in action, pick up both seasons and you won't regret it.

Abominable - Buy from Amazon
Practically a direct-to-DVD release, this low-budget monster movie failed to make a peep during its theatrical release, but it looks to make an impact on the home market. The film is better than most for the genre and the DVD is packed with an audio commentary, making of featurette, deleted & extended scenes, outtakes, short film, and more. Fans of B-movies should definitely pick this one up, and even those who are no so inclined should give it a chance.

Body Double - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
A stylish thriller from Brian De Palma that never found an audience in theatres and has pretty much been forgotten since then. This DVD won't help the situation much. Granted, there are a quartet of featurettes, but that's not enough for a Special Edition DVD, even if the movie is more than 20 years old.

Bugsy - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
After Dick Tracy turned into a $100 million hit, there was talk that the 90s were going to turn into Warren Beatty's decade. That didn't really work out. Bugsy, which was a terrific film never really lived up to expectations and roles were few and far between after that. This DVD is little more than a re-release of the featureless disc from 1998. It's not worth the upgrade, and despite the quality of the movie, it's barely worth picking up at all.

Calvaire: The Ordeal - Buy from Amazon
A movie that proves Europeans can do the sadistic horror film just as well as Americans. The film is practically a direct-to-DVD release, which is where this genre belongs, and with a single featurette as the only real extra on the DVD it doesn't even need a rental.

Changing Times - Buy from Amazon
Catherine Deneuve and Gerand Depardieu star in this bittersweet love story. The film started its limited release run amazingly strong, but wasn't able to maintain that momentum as it expanded. The DVD, like so many imports is relatively bare with just an interview, but it is still worth picking up for fans of French cinema.

Corner Gas - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon.ca
One of the most successful Canadian shows ever made. A huge hit in the ratings, and with critics and at award shows, the show takes a look at the life of a small town focuses on Brent Butt, the local gas jockey. This season includes some great episodes, including my personal favorite, Mail Fraud, where Brent takes an exotic vacation to nowhere. Unfortunately, the special features continue to be weak, but it is still easily worth picking up.

Edmond - Buy from Amazon
William H. Macy plays Edmond Burke, a dark character in one of the most intense plays by David Mamet. Mamet, who also wrote the screenplay, is a master at looking into the dark inner workings of man and director Stuart Gordon fully utilizes this material. Unfortunately, the result is simply too dark for most people and while the film it started its run strong, it couldn't find and audience as it expanded. With such a short theatrical run, one would not be surprised if the DVD was devoid of special feature, but thankfully that is not the case. There are two audio commentary tracks, a handful of deleted scenes, and a making of featurette. This is not a movie for everyone, but those willing to give it a shot will be rewarded and the replay value makes it a purchase over a rental.

Forever Knight - The Trilogy - Part 3 - Buy from Amazon
The final season of this cult show finally comes out on DVD. This Canadian Vampire TV show earned a rabidly loyal fanbase who probably pre-ordered this 5-disc set as soon as it was first announced. On the other hand, most people have probably never heard of the show. This show is low-budget, but you probably figured that out when I said it was Canadian and there are some idiosyncrasies that might limit its appeal outside the genre fans but it's still worth giving it a shot.

The Good Mother - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD sequel to The Glass House. Ye gods, why? That film earned terrible reviews and wasn't a hit at the box office. I can't imagine there's a lot of people sitting around pining over the lack of a follow-up film. For that matter, this isn't even a sequel, it's practically a remake. But as unlikely as it seems, it is better than the original mainly due to the performances of Angie Harmon and Jordan Hinson. Even so, the film is not one that demands repeat viewing and a rental will suffice.

The Greatest American Hero - The Complete Series - Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
TV on DVD releases are substantially more expensive than other DVD releases, which is why double-dips in this genre are so unforgivable. Yes, I'm sure many fans would love to have the cape and guide book, but these same fans already spent $100 on the series so soaking them for another $100 seems a tad greedy. The end result of such promotions will just cause fans to not buy the season sets when they first come out just in case a full series set is in the works, which will depress sales enough that any plans for a fancy set like this will be cancelled. As far as I can tell, there are two ways to fix this problem, inform consumers right away of these plans so they don't feel ripped off, or give fans who bought the season sets a discount on the price, perhaps in the form of a mail-in rebate.

Humphrey Bogart - The Signature Collection - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
Humphrey Bogart is one of the most recognized actors in the history of film and while it has been nearly 50 years since his death, he still has a power to capture the imagination of moviegoers like few stars of today can even dream of. This box sets contains five films, and while most are not in the upper echelon of Bogart's filmography, they are all worth picking up. Also, four of these five films are making their DVD debuts with this set and that alone should convince many people to pick them up. The lone double-dip is The Maltese Falcon, which is also the best of the bunch. This film is getting a new, 3-disc special edition that includes audio commentary, making of featurette, vintages shorts, and two previous versions of the movie made in the 1930s. The Maltese Falcon is also available separately, but the box set is a better deal. Finally, Volume 1 is being re-released tomorrow, and if you haven't picked it up already, now is your chance.

Lewis Black - Red, White and Screwed - Buy from Amazon
Lewis Black is best known for his weekly commentary on The Daily Show but he really shines in longer stand up routines. The latest is Red, White and Screwed and while it is not his best work, (my vote goes for Black on Broadway), it is still worth checking out up. And, with special features that top most stand up DVDs, it is worth picking up.

The Little Mermaid - Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Great movie, excellent DVD, terrible marketing. I hate how Dinsey uses the "limited time offer" to sell their DVDs. If the DVD is going back in the vault, it's not going in my collection.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - Locked 'N Loaded Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
Guy Ritchie has really only made two good movies, this one and Snatch, but he has made a career of re-releasing them on DVD. Fans of the film, or of British Gangster films in general, should check out this DVD for the 12 minutes of re-incorporated footage, but the extras on this disc are weaker than the previous release, (which is now out of print). If you really like the new cut, it might be worth picking up, but you will want to hang onto the other edition as well for the extras.

Medium - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Patricia Arquette stars in this show that is based on the real life exploits of psychic, Alison Dubois. Although there are some minor differences between the show and reality, for instance, in the show Alison Dubois has real psychic powers and is not just some crackpot. Season two included the special 3-D episode, which is included here in its 3-D glory, this episodes is also the focus of a special making of featurette. Other special features include an overview, Q&A session, featurette on the two daughters, and more. I would have preferred some audio commentaries, but overall it is still a good DVD and worth picking up for fans of the show.

Midsomer Murders - Set Seven - Buy from Amazon
There's something about living in the quaint British countryside that can lead a man to murder. I think it's the fresh country air. Four of the six episodes from Series Seven are included in this four-disc set, but this is merely a coincidence. Previous sets have always been four episodes, sometimes from the same series, usually not. So expect the others to come out on a later date. (One last note, this does mean this is a TV on DVD release that is not a full season set, but it is better to consider these as a series of related TV movies. One does not need to watch all of them in order to enjoy the shows.)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Extraordinarily Deluxe Two-Disc Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is the fitth time this movie has been released on DVD, I think. Quite frankly I've lost track. What I do know is it is the best edition of the film to hit DVD as it includes all of the previous releases bonus features, (minus the fancy packaging), plus a few extras. Is it worth the upgrade? Normally I would have said no since there have been so many previous releases. However, the price is so low that even if you own the Collector's Box Set it is worth picking up. However, since that box set contains physical extras, (script and cell), you will want to keep both versions.

MXC - Most Extreme Elimination Challenge Season One - Buy from Amazon
A Japanese game show, Takeshi's Castle, recut and redubbed for American audiences. I'm not sure of the replay value for this show, but it is certainly entertaining to watch and I do enjoy catching bits and pieces of it when I channel surf. Extras on the 2 disc set are not overwhelming, (original pitch pilot, most painful elimination of the season and an original episode from Takeshi's Castle), but they add enough value to make the DVD worth picking up for fans.

Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos - Buy from Amazon
An amazing story about the rise and fall of a sports dynasty, the New York Cosmos. But they were a soccer team so no one cares anymore. At least that's what it looks like given its box office performance. Obviously soccer fans should be excited about this release, especially with all of the extras, (game highlights from the two championship games, two featurettes on Pele, and more). But there are simply not enough of them for the DVD to be a big seller.

Penn & Teller - Bullshit - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
Jump the Shark is a term used to describe when a show has peaked and you know it is all downhill from here. Generally speaking, it is not often possible to point to the exact moment this happens, but that is not the case here. This show jumped the shark at exactly 3:58 of the sixth episode of the third season. That is when, in an attempt to prove the college is Bullshit, Penn Gillette gives a list of people who didn't go to college. He starts his list with Jim Carrey. Wow, you don't need a college education to be a stand up comic? Or a actor or a rapper? I'm amazed they didn't mention any athletes or super models. Even the more compelling examples he gives are merely anecdotal evidence and there's no way he would accept the same level of evidence if they were discussing psychics, for example, but because it supports their political view, they accept it here. Now, there were hints of this problem in earlier episodes, and indeed earlier seasons, but this was such a glaring example that it hurts their credibility too much that even if the rest of the episode was logically sound it would still have a hard time recovering. Unfortunately, it doesn't get better. This is the net result when they abandon science and instead deal with politics. There are some episodes do deal with a scientific debate, or at least are more logically sound, but too many deal in appeals to emotion, spurious logic, and faulty reasoning. Add in zero in the way of real special features and this 3-disc set is a disappointment for fans of the show.

Planet of the Apes - TV Series - Buy from Amazon
Based on the franchise that started in 1968, this 1970s TV series was a bomb when it first came out but has since developed a cult following. However loyal that following is, it is not strong enough for the studio to put out a big package and this two-disc set has no real special features.

Point Break - Pure Adrenaline Edition - Buy from Amazon
Did this movie really need a special edition DVD? Even fans of the movie would call it a guilty pleasure and the DVD doesn't live up to the special edition label. If you haven't seen it in a while by remember enjoying it, it might be worth a rental. But I'd be willing to bet it doesn't live up to your recollections.

Scarface - Platinum Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is a great movie but it is also the third, or fourth time it has been released on DVD. The previous release, the 20th anniversary edition was released just three years ago but it used the original soundtrack and not the improved, remastered one that was used for the theatrical re-release. On the one hand, this 2-disc set is substantial enough to be worthy of the movie with 20 minutes of deleted scenes, featurettes on the making of, the history of the story, the decadent lifestyle, and more. On the other hand, it has taken so many tries to get right that many fans will be hard pressed to shell out even more cash for yet another version of the movie. This is the problem with double, triple, quadruple-dips, eventually even the more diehard fans give up trying to get the best version of their favorite movies. And it's only going to get worse with the next generation and the format battle between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.

South Park - The Hits - Volume 1 - Matt and Trey's Top Ten - Buy from Amazon
Stick with the full season sets.

Stargate SG-1 - Season 9 - Buy from Amazon
Long running show like this need very little in the way of a write up. Either you are a fan of the show or your not; nothing I saw will change your mind. There are some interesting notes about this specific season, namely it is the first without Richard Dean Anderson as a regular cast member and it is also the first with Beau Bridges, Lexa Doig, Ben Browder, and Claudia Black, (the last two of Farscape fame). Did these changes make the show better or worse? The short answer to that is, "Yes." The tone of the show changed somewhat, and depending on your personal tastes and tolerance for change this could be a really bad thing, but for most fans will be swept up in the changes before the first episodes is over and will want more. Also adding the value of the 5-disc set are the special feature that include audio commentary tracks on all 20 episodes and 10 featurettes with a total running time of nearly 2 and a half hours. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the week.

Stuart Little Movie Collection - Buy from Amazon
All three movies in the Stuart Little franchise, including the direct-to-DVD third installment. For a simple re-release, this set is too expensive.

Thank You for Smoking - Buy from Amazon
Aaron Eckhart lead an impressive cast in the is biting satire that managed the near Herculean task of escaping limited release and earning a somewhat wide release. 1,020 theatres is not really wide, and a box office of $25 million is hardly a massive hit, but for a film that cost just $7.5 million to make it is a huge accomplishment. Those who didn't get a chance to watch the film in the theatres will want to check it out on DVD and with plenty of special features, (two audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, interviews, making of featurette, and more), it is easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the week.

The Three Stooges - Stooges on the Run - Buy from Amazon
More re-releasing of the same Three Stooges two-reelers. All four of these have come out on DVD multiple times and until the studio starts releasing these shorts in chronological box sets, no fans of the troupe should part with any of their hard-earned cash. Skip it.

Three's Company - Season Eight - Buy from Amazon
This is the final season of this inexplicably popular show, at least before it was spun-off as Three's a Crowd. The 4-disc set is well down given the age of the show and how far into the run it is, but with such repetitive stories I just can't recommend it.

TV on DVD - Single Disc Editions - Buy from Amazon: The Andy Griffith Show, The Brady Bunch, C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation, and Frasier
I have no idea who this is being marketed to. Perhaps it for those who like the show enough to want to buy it on DVD, but thought it Jumped the Shark only a few episodes into its run.

Twilight Zone - The Complete Definitive Collection - Buy from Amazon
All 156 episodes in one 28-disc collection for less than half the cost of buying the seasons individually. Basically, this is a big screw you to the fans you have been faithfully buying the DVDs for the past two years. And I think the $225 price tag will still scare away the more casual fan. I know I'm harping on this subject, but I really think these full series sets coming out after all seasons have been released are bad for the industry and the problems could be mitigated quite easily as I mentioned above.

The Woods - Buy from Amazon
Lucky McKee's follow-up to May finally gets releases, albeit direct-to-DVD. Studio interference has left the film a little less effective than it otherwise should be, but for fans of Lucky McKee's earlier work, or of horror in general should definitely give this one a shot. (It's got Bruce Campbell in it, what more do you need to know?) On the other hand, the DVD is completely devoid of special features, which really hurts its value. Perhaps if the film generates enough revenue now, eventually a packed director's cut will be released on DVD, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

X-Men: The Last Stand - Buy from Amazon: Standard Edition or Collector's Edition
The weakest installment in this trilogy was also the highest grossing. I'd like to act surprised, but that's been a trend all year where films that earned weak reviews did well at the box office while those that earned excellent reviews struggled, but we don't need to rehash that rant just now. To be fair, X-Men: The Last Stand was hardly a bad movie. Visually it was amazing and the sheer number of mutant powers seen the movie will certainly make fans of the comic happy. But where director Brett Ratner fails is creating the same emotional connection that Bryan Singer built in the first two movies. To complicate matters, the extras on the DVD are a little light given the blockbuster nature of the movie. They are good for a first run release, (two audio commentary tracks and several deleted / extended / alternate scenes / endings), but not up to the level I was expecting. It's almost like there's a planed special edition already in the works. Because of this I can't recommend the Standard Edition. On the other hand, the Collector's Edition comes with a comic book written by Stan Lee, and that might be enough for the more hardcore fans. One last note, you can also get the trilogy box set tomorrow, but with a special edition probably already in the works, I would wait before picking this one up as well.


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Filed under: Video Releases, X-Men: The Last Stand, Thank You For Smoking, Changing Times, Once in a Lifetime: the Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, Edmond, Calvaire, Abominable, The Woods, 21 Grams