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DVD Releases for December 26, 2006

December 27th, 2006

It's Boxing Day up here in Canada, and for those Americans who don't know what that is ... I can't help you. I have no idea what Boxing Day is, other than the start of post-Christmas sales. While there are a lot of people shopping this week, there is still a huge downturn in the DVD market and little of what I would consider must have DVDs. The best of a weak bunch is The Descent - Original Unrated Cut - Buy from Amazon, but while I recommend picking it up, it doesn't reach the level of a DVD Pick of the Week. On the other hand, we do have a Canadian DVD Puck of the Week, Eh! - Bon Cop, Bad Cop - Buy from

Airwolf - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
I am amazed this is coming out today. Season 1 was terrible and sold very poorly and many assumed the other seasons would never make it to DVD. Granted, 18 months is a long time between seasons, but it is still better than expected and is selling and a much more brisk pace. I'm not entirely sure why, but it might have something to do with the inclusion of Jean Bruce Scott. As for the 5-disc set, it is entirely featureless and not worth picking up.

The Black Dahlia - Buy from Amazon
This movie had a lot of potential. It was based on a novel by James Ellroy using the notorious Black Dahlia murder as a setup, it was directed by Brian De Palma who knows his way around a movie like this, and it had an impressive cast including Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank. However, the end product was merely mediocre. Visually, the film is stunning, but storywise it doesn't make much sense. For some this might be enough, but with a DVD that is little light in extras, (no audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes or outtakes, but three featurettes with a combined running time of roughly 50 minutes), it is worth no more than a rental.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Transporter 2
Just the one Blu-Ray Release this week, but it is not as fun as the original was.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop - Buy from Amazon
The film earned good reviews and broke box office records up here in Canada when it was first released. (It finally ending Porky's reign atop the all-time Canadian box office for a Canadian movie, which was a relief.) The DVD, on the other hand, is very Spartan. That said, it is the patriotic duty of every Canadian to buy it, while those in the States should give it a rental. One last thing, if you are going to buy it, get it from, as it is less than half the price.

Dane Cook's Tourgasm - Buy from Amazon
I don't get this man's appeal. Sure, he was good in Waiting..., but that's only cause he was never on the screen for much than a minute at one time. Any more than that, and he gets incredible irritating. This show is a look at Dane Cook's Tourgasm Stand-Up tour to 20 or so colleges. Part road trip, part Reality TV, but not nearly enough humor. Special features are better than expected, (audio commentary tracks on all 9 episodes, deleted scenes, outtakes, interviews), but not enough to raise it even to the rental level.

The Descent - Original Unrated Cut - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
A low budget creature feature that was able to overcome its budget and was able to bring something truly frightening to the screen. The movie was cut when it made the journey from the U.K. and as a result the theatrical version of this movie was flawed as the cuts made not only reduced the level of gore in the movie, (which is forgivable in my mind), but also hurt the story, (which is not as forgivable). So the Unrated label is not marketing hype; there are substantial changes in the movie and they improve on an already excellent movie. As for the DVD, the extras are good with two audio commentary tracks, deleted and extended scenes, some outtakes, and a featurette on the alternate ending. I would argue that this is the best DVD coming out this week, and while I definitely recommend it, I can't say that it is up to the level of a DVD Pick of the Week. Close, but not quite. One last note, the theatrical version of the film is also coming out today, but only in Pan & Scan, so it's not even worth renting.

Factotum - Buy from Amazon
On the one hand, this is an excellent film is nearly every way. The writing is superb, the direction really gets at the heart of the movie, and the acting is amazing across the board. I think it's criminal that Matt Dillon didn't get a nomination for either the Independent Spirit Awards or the Golden Globes. On the other hand, if someone were to ask if I enjoyed the movie I would have to say no. Hell no. 30 minutes into the movie I was hoping someone would punch out Matt Dillon's character, a writer named Henry Chinaski. Henry Chinaski is a drunk loser who can't hold down a job, (once he was even fired in under a day), who has violent tendencies and seems to specialize is saying the wrong thing. I got the impression that he intentionally failed so he could convince himself that he failed because he wanted to, even though it was very likely that he would have failed regardless if he put in a real effort. So while the movie was technically excellent, the main character, and most of the supporting cast for that matter, just rubbed me the wrong way. (Now that I think about it, the only character that was in more than one scene that didn't bug me was Manny.)
As for the DVD, I was disappointed. There was only one real special feature, a 28-minute long making of featurette. Well, it's called a making of featurette, but it spends more time on Bent Hamer's directing career in general as it does on this movie specifically. Interestingly, the featurette is in Norwegian with English subtitles, which makes me think it was a TV special from Bent Hamer's native country just imported for the DVD. The only other potential extra on the DVD was the Factotum Soundtrack Promotion; however, it is just a 30-second ad.
In the end, it comes down to a simple question. Can you recommend a movie that is well made but you didn't like? I'm not sure you can. But regardless of the answer, the DVD has trouble rising above the rental level.
Also coming out tomorrow is the CD soundtrack. I enjoyed the CD better than the movie for the most part. It has a slow, jazzy feel to it and one listen makes you feel like you are in some dark club with a stiff drink in your hand. Even though that's not my idea of a fun time, more than a few tracks have found there way onto my .MP3 play list.
One last note, the link to Amazon is currently dead, but it seems to be a problem on their end and should be fixed soon.

Girls Behaving Badly - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
A Reality TV show. A hidden camera Reality TV show. That's the lowest of the low. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather watch this than anything with Paris Hilton in it, but I still wouldn't pay money to do so.

Haven - Buy from Amazon
It took a long time for this film to find a distributor as it was finished in 2004 and didn't hit theatres till this year. And one look at the reviews explains why; the film is a mess. There's a lot of style here, or at least an attempt at a style, but at the expense of a coherent story. Adding to the film's troubles, the only extras on the DVD is a tiny making of featurette, but I've seen trailers that are longer and more in-depth. It doesn't even add up to a rental.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: The Breakfast Club or The Deer Hunter
There's a certain randomness about the movies selected for HD-DVD release this week that I appreciate.

Jackass - Number Two - Buy from Amazon: R-rated or Unrated
Based on the popular Reality TV show that features a bunch of idiots who would otherwise remain anonymous, until they won their inevitable Darwin Awards. This is not a real movie with a plot or character development. It is a series of short skits usually involving someone getting injured. I can't really review it without spoilers, so bare with me as there will be a bit of white text for the next section.
There are more than skits in the movie, which can be divided up into four sections: Stunts, Practical Jokes, Hidden Camera bits, and Idiots Hurting Themselves for Entertainment. Of these four groups, only the first one offered any entertainment for me. For instance, Firehose Rodeo, The Mini-Loop, the various Rocket launches, and others. The Firehose Rodeo looked pretty cool, but even here, it goes on too long. Real rodeos you only have to stay on for 8 seconds and this didn't need to last that much longer. The rocket launches were also fun and included a cameo by Mark Zupan, who you might remember from Murderball. Some, like Bam Velco Truck, were very short at just a few seconds, but at least they didn't overstay their welcome.
As for what didn't work, that was pretty much everything else. None of the hidden camera stuff was funny, the only practical joke that was good was the switcheroo, and the hurting of each other was also pointless. In particular, I got tired quite quickly of seeing Bam cry. Oooohh, you made Bam cry, again. It wasn't funny the first time I saw and after watching the DVD three times for this review, it just became sad.
Extras on the DVD were okay with a very chatty audio commentary track, unrated segments, deleted scenes, and a making of featurette. Obviously your enjoyment of these extras will depend heavily on how much you enjoyed the movie. Personally, of the unrated segments I found exactly one to be entertaining, and that was Penis Tricks while the deleted scenes were significantly better. As for the making of featurette, I lost interest well before its 30-minute running time was over.
Overall I would say less than 20% of the movie was worth seeing, but at least with the DVD you can skip the other parts. However, that's not nearly enough for it to be worth picking up.

The Last Kiss - Buy from Amazon
This film missed expectations, both at the box office and with critics, but more the former. It made less than $12 million at the box office, and granted, it did open in just 1,357 theatres, but that's still a low amount. Part of the problem was the lack of originality, and I'm not just referring to the fact that it is a remake. The film deals with a 29-year old man who is terrified to commit to his now pregnant girlfriend. This is not an original idea for a movie and thing one doesn't add anything new to the story. Still, the charming cast will make the movie appealing enough to many people while the extras are good with two audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, four featurettes with a total running time of 40 minutes, music video, and more. Call it a solid rental leaning towards a purchase.

Mr. Fix It - Buy from Amazon
David Boreanaz stars as Lance Valenteen, a man who is hired by ex-boyfriends to help get their girlfriends back. See, he meets these women, seduces them, then acts like a total jerk and drives them back to their ex. It's a cute idea for a romantic comedy, but the execution is flawed. Add in zero special features and it isn't worth picking up. On the other hand, it might be worth renting for fans of David Boreanaz.

New Adventures of He-Man - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
The original series was pretty bad, this one was much worse. On the other hand, the DVD releases for this franchise continue to be amazing. I hope the studio, BCI, will release some of my favorite 80s cartoons on DVD soon, because I know if they do, it will be worth picking up.

Sex, Censorship and the Silver Screen - Buy from Amazon
A six-part mini-series on sex in Hollywood and how the puritan heritage continues to affect how sex is censored in movies. It's an excellent series and film buffs, cinemaphiles, and film historians will want to check it out and even though the 3-disc set has no special features, it is still worth checking out.

Simple Life 4 'Til Death Do Us Part - Buy from Amazon
Reality TV starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. I saw death in the title and got all excited thinking it might be a Thunderdome-like show, but while their acting careers are dead, they continue to exist and use up resources.

Two-A-Days - Hoover High - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Reality TV series about high school football. I never got the obsession with high school football in the States, and this show doesn't do a good job of explaining it. The extras are also weak and the 3-disc set isn't worth renting.


Filed under: Video Releases, Jackass: Number Two, The Transporter 2, The Descent, The Black Dahlia, Bon Cop, Bad Cop, The Last Kiss, Factotum, Haven