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DVD Releases for February 15, 2005

February 14th, 2005

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. Here is a list of wide releases, limited releases and a few from the growing TV on DVD section including this week's winner, Angel - Season Five - Buy from Amazon. However, there are also two other, limited releases worth picking up, but I recommend renting first. They are Donnie Darko - The Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon and The Motorcycle Diaries - Buy from Amazon.

Angel - Season Five - Buy from Amazon
The final season of the Angel franchise hits stores on Tuesday. This season is an improvement over Season Four but they both had problems with the arcing story lines and for similar reasons. Halfway through season four Charisma Carpenter got pregnant and that caused last minute changes to the plot. Halfway through season five the series was unexpectedly canceled and that caused a similar effect. (What's even more bizarre, the show's rating were an improvement over the season before and it was one of the WB's biggest hits.) Like the previous releases the special features on the disc are strong with several audio commentaries, interviews / retrospective, several featurettes, outtakes and more.

Arthur 2: On the Rocks - Buy from Amazon
The first of several films from the 1980s making their DVD debut on a featureless disc. The original was a fantastic film while the sequel was an unmitigated disaster.

Ballykissangel - Complete Series Three - Buy from Amazon
While this show lasted six seasons, at the end of season three the show lost its two main leads and the head writer. The show never recovered. As for the DVD release, it is typical of many, many BBC releases as it has little in the way of special features. It's strange, a lot of BBC releases only have the bare bones when it comes to special features, others like Red Dwarf are absolutely packed. The show is very charming and has lots of fans, however, when it comes to shows set in small town Ireland featuring priests, I prefer Father Ted.

Category 6 - Day of Destruction - Buy from Amazon
Typical TV mini-series disaster of the week movie. In Day of Destruction, massive storms destroy much of the Mid-West while several actors try and survive the cliches and bad dialogue. Think Day After Tomorrow, only much, much worse.

Disney Princess Double Shot - Disney Princess Party Volume 2 and Disney Princess Stories - Tales of Friendship
Two more DVDs featuring some of Disney's most popular princesses hits the home market tomorrow. Strictly for the pre-teen set, obviously.

The Disorderlies - Buy from Amazon
Remember the rap group The Fat Boys? I'm not surprised if you said no. But in this film they attempted to branch out into acting, but as you can judge from the reviews, things didn't work out.

Donnie Darko - The Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
This amazing film is even better than the original version, but it still couldn't make an impact at the box office bringing in just over $1 million combined. This 2-Disc set should easily make more on the home market, but it will never be able to shake its 'Cult' status. Special features include audio commentary track with the director and Kevin Smith, production dailies and two featurettes. AN excellent release and even if you own the original version this one is worth picking up.

Fandango - Buy from Amazon
This film was all but ignored with it was first released, but it became a bit of a hit when it was released on the home market back in the 1980s but didn't become well known until after its star, Kevin Costner became famous. Reviews are mixed and the DVD is featureless, like so many other releases this week.

Garfield and Friends - Garfield Travel Adventures - Buy from Amazon
Three more Garfield specials coming one on a featureless DVD. Sure, there's a behind the scenes look at the upcoming CG film, Robots, but ads do not count as special features.

Good Times - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
A spin-off of a spin-off going from All in the Family to Maude to Good Times. It was just as groundbreaking as the previous two shows as it was the first family sitcom to feature an African American cast. Unfortunately for fans, like the previous releases, there are no special features on the 3-disc set.

The Greatest American Hero - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This short-lived Super Hero Spoof lasted two full seasons, unfortunately, it was spread out over three years making the DVD release a logistical nightmare. Do you release the first season separately even though it lasted only 8 episodes? Lumping it in with Season 2 doesn't make much sense since Season 3 only lasted 13 episodes, which would leave the same dilemma. And 44 hour-long episodes is a little long for a single release, especially if the studio overestimated the demand for the series. So in the end the studio went with an 8 episode release plus the busted pilot to the planned spin-off, The Greatest American Heroine. The only other special feature on the 3-disc set is a retrospective / interviews with the cast and creator, which clocks in at a very impressive 75 minutes. Also worth noting, Season 2 comes out in less than 2 months, which means season three should be released by the Summer, assuming sales warrant its release.

Half Baked - Fully Baked Edition - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Even for stoner humor, this film is pretty stupid. The DVD release is on par with most first run releases, but not quite up to the level of a Special Edition. With all the times it has been released as part of package deals lately, it has a distinct feel of a crash grab to take advantage of Dave Chappelle's recent success.

Howards End - The Merchant Ivory Collection - Buy from Amazon
The critically acclaimed, multi-Oscar winning costume drama get a special edition release this week. Compared to the previous release, this 2-disc set has a new documentary featurette, a look at the costume / set design and an old documentary about the studio and a 1992 behind the scenes look.

The Ice Pirates - Buy from Amazon
Two words: Space Herpes. That's really all you need to know to judge the quality of this movie. This Sci-Fi spoof is low class, but I have to admit, I like the film. Call it a guilty pleasure. Although it's not a film that I think about often, in fact, when I saw the DVD on Amazon I assumed it was a release, but it looks like this is the first time this 20 year old film has been released on DVD. That was a bit of a surprise, but the lack of special features is not.

Into the Sun - Buy from Amazon
A Direct-to-DVD Steven Seagal movie, but at $20 million you'd think that the studio wasn't planning on going the Direct-to-DVD route.

Kansas City - Buy from Amazon
One of director Robert Altman's lesser-known works, it is also one of his weaker reviewed films as well. The only special feature on the disc is an audio commentary by the legendary director, but on the plus side, there's some really good jazz music in the movie.

Little House on the Prairie - The Complete Seventh Season - Buy from Amazon
This show is primarily described as life-affirming or heartwarming by its fans, detractors would call it sappy and overly sentimental, but no one would call it intellectually challenging. This show is still very popular and it getting a mini-series latter this year and if that goes well it could be returning as a series next year. Special features include commentary, interviews and trivia quiz.

The Motorcycle Diaries - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the limited release champions release for award season earning an impressive $16 million despite never playing in more than 268 theatres. Excellent reviews and more than a few award nominations should help this film find another audience on the home market. Special features are very strong for a limited release with handful of featurettes on various subjects like the music, making of, cast, etc. and deleted scenes.

My Architect - Buy from Amazon
The critically praised and award winning documentary from late 2003 finally makes it way to DVD. Like most limited releases, (this one topped out at 41 theatres), the DVD is a bit above average for a limited release with a Q&A with the director, deleted scenes and archival footage of, Louis Kahn, the architect in question.

National Lampoon's Blackball - Buy from Amazon
This movie was released in theatres on Friday and it's already being dumped on the home market? If that's not the sign of a bad movie I don't know what is.

Oh God! Double Shot - Buy from Amazon: Oh God! Book 2 and Oh God! You Devil
The first film, which has already been released was charming and funny, while the last two suffered from the Law of Declining Returns. Both movies are being release on DVD for the first time on featureless discs.

Other People's Money - Buy from Amazon
"Since when do you have to be hungry to eat a doughnut." One of several slightly older movies making their debut on DVD on a featureless disc. This one earned mid-level reviews, on the other hand, it has a really cool theme song.

Raise Your Voice - Buy from Amazon
The latest Hilary Duff offering failed to live up to her pervious efforts. It's a little puzzling why, granted the reviews were bad, really bad, but its not like her other films were critical darlings. Her best reviewed movie only scored 38% positive. It could be over exposure, or it could be that Hilary Duff is doing the same good girl schtick. That's probably it as some of the supporting cast were much more memorable in the movie, especially Kat Dennings who played Sloane. As for the DVD, special features are on par with most first run releases with behind the scenes featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes, music video and music quiz. Overall it's enough to please the target audience with little crossover appeal.

Richie Rich - Buy from Amazon
The film that destroyed Macaulay Culkin's career, at least until it was saved by the movie Saved!. Weak reviews, featureless disc, there's really nothing more that needs to be said.

Robot Stories - Buy from Amazon
I thought this DVD was released last week but apparently it's being released this week. Hopefully it won't be released next week as well.

Saw - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Feelings on this low-budget horror flick were mixed and deeply divided. On the one hand, the film has some original aspects and clever plot twists. On the other hand, the film is almost gleeful in its gruesome nature and the ending is hampered by one too many plot twists. Considering how well the movie did in the theatres, I'm surprised the DVD isn't selling better as it's having trouble stay on the Amazon Top 100 sales chart. Special features on the disc are a little light with just the audio commentary track, short featurette and music video. One last note, they are making a sequel reportedly called Saws, however, I think it would be much cooler if is was called Seen instead and make it a prequel.

Tae Guik Gi: The Brotherhood of War - Buy from Amazon
The most expensive South Korean film ever and it became the most successful as well. Domestically the film did ok for a foreign language limited release and was buoyed by strong reviews. Fans of historical battles should enjoy the fight scenes in the movie, but the rest is a little melodramatic. The second disc of this 2-disc set contains a feature length documentary, which is also divided into separate chapters that can be viewed separately, (chapters on the historical aspect of the movie, training the actors underwent, etc.) The film can also be purchased with Shiri, an above average action that is also from South Korea.

Taxi - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Remakes of foreign language films usually follow this simple rule: Action films tend to do well, while Comedies don't. I was expecting the action elements of Taxi to overcome the comedy and do well at the box office, however, I didn't count on awful reviews, which pretty much killed any chances the film had. The DVD release is excellent with an extended version of the film, (there's 15 additional minutes of footage), five featurettes on various subjects like behind the scenes and special effects as well as deleted scenes. Although in the end it comes down to the quality of the film, and in that respect this film is a failure.

They Might Be Giants - Here Come The ABCs - Buy from Amazon
A collection of kids' music by the rock band, They Might Be Giants. That novel concept got my attention right away but this is not the band's first foray into the kids' market. The band's quirky music is perfect for kids, as well as adults, so these projects seem quite natural. One final note, if you purchase the DVD from Amazon, you get a bonus track, which is cool.

The Yes Men - Buy from Amazon
A political documentary that didn't deal with the 2004 presidential election. The film deals with two individuals who set up a WTO parody site that was so convincing that people were mistaking it for the real thing. Then one day they got invited to an economics conference as official representatives of the WTO and it was an opportunity they couldn't pass up. Reviews were very strong and the special features, (audio commentary tracks and deleted scenes) are above average for a limited release.

Young Einstein - Buy from Amazon
Another movie from the 80s that earned a dubious critical reception finally getting a DVD release this week. I actually saw this movie in the theatres and as I recall, there were only 7 people in the whole theatre. It was sort of like having a private screening. One last note, the soundtrack was quite good.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Saw, Taxi, The Motorcycle Diaries, Raise Your Voice, My Architect, Tae Guik Gi: The Brotherhood of War, Yes Men, Robot Stories