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DVD Releases for March 15, 2005

March 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 co-winners, The Incredibles - Buy from Amazon and Red Dwarf - Series 5 & 6.

Alfie - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Like nearly every other remake made in the past year, this one was a pale imitation of the original. (Strangely, the only remakes that have beaten expectations in the past year were remakes of foreign language films.) The DVD release is quite well done, but not enough to push it past the rental level. Fans of the original can pick that film up with this one as part of a package deal, but it's not much of a deal since buying the two movie separately is actually cheaper.

'Allo 'Allo - The Complete Series Two - Buy from Amazon
Seven more episodes of this outrageous W.W.II farce hit the home market. The season starts with Rene being shot to death, or at least that's what everyone thinks. Now he's posing as his twin brother and has to deal with his 'widow' while trying to get his café back. Added into the mix are the Gestapo, the French Resistance, mistresses and a painting of the fallen Madonna with the big boobies. Special features on the disc are a little light but do include an interesting panel discussion between fans of the show and those that found it offensive. Can also be purchased with the first season as part of a package deal.

Call Northside 777 - Buy from Amazon
Not one of James Stewart's best known films, nor is it one of his best, but that has a lot to do with how impressive his body of work is and not an attack on the quality of this work. A newspaper reporter looks into the case of a cop killer who may not be guilty, but when he starts asking questions it's the cops that want him to back off. Special features are good for a film that's nearly 60 years old with audio commentary by two Film Noir historians and newsreel footage of the premiere.

The Classic Musicals Collection - Broadway to Hollywood - Buy from Amazon
Five classic Warner Bros. musicals hit the home market as part of a box set or can be purchased individually. However, it is definitely the better deal to pick them up as the box set:

  • The Band Wagon - 2-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
    Special features include audio commentary, two documentaries, deleted musical number and a musical short.
  • Bells Are Ringing - Buy from Amazon
    Special features include three deleted and alternative musical numbers and a featurette.
  • Brigadoon - Buy from Amazon
    Special features include three deleted musical numbers.
  • Easter Parade - 2-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
    Special features include audio commentary, making of documentary, documentary of Judy Garland, radio production and more.
  • Finian's Rainbow - Buy from Amazon
    Special features include audio commentary and a featurette about the world premiere.
End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones - Buy from Amazon
One of nearly half a dozen Rockumentaries that came out last year, and one of the best. Add in several extra interviews / deleted scenes and this is a must have for fans of the Ramones or even just punk in general.

La Femme Nikita - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This 6-disc DVD set was supposed to be released a while ago but was yanked from the schedule without so much of a hint as to why. (It was later learned that the problem was music licensing. Yet another reason to boycott major labels.) The DVD set is exactly the same as was planned for the July release, except with the music switch involving the single song that caused the problem in the first place. Can also be purchased with Season 1 as part of a package deal.

The Gospel of John - Buy from Amazon
Part of a renaissance of religious films to hit theatres in the past few years. This one did moderately well in limited release despite mediocre reviews. The DVD release is well done for a limited release as this 2-disc includes both the 3 hour version and the 2 hour recut version as well as some background information and two featurettes.

High Roller - The Stu Ungar Story - Buy from Amazon
The true story about the horrors of high stake gambling. Given the popularity of Texas Hold'em it was only a matter of time before a cautionary tale involving the world poker championships was made. And while there is a really good movie on this topic, this is not it.

Hogan's Heroes - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
One of those shows that makes you wonder how much of people's opinion is based on reality and hwo much is based on nostalgia. The Germans in charge of the POW Camp were so inept that any drama that might have derived from the various schemes is lost and the show becomes a farce. All 32 episodes from the first season are on the 5-disc set and so is the original pilot. However, that is the extent of the special features.

The Incredibles Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the best reviewed movies of the year, Oscar Winner for best Animated movie and now one of the best DVD releases. Two audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, outtakes, making of, behind the scenes, two animated shorts and much, much more. Easily the pick of the week and everyone should have pre-ordered this one weeks ago.

Laurel & Hardy II Collection - Buy from Amazon
Two more hour-long films in the long, long, long career of Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel. Way Out West deals with the two trying to protect a gold mine from an evil saloon owner and Block-Heads is a W.W. I story set in 1938 with Stan still thinking the war is on patrolling the trenches in France. The DVD also contains Chickens Come Home, a 30 minute short. It's these types of films that showcased the duo's particular comedic talents and the later studio work just doesn't compare.

Miss Congeniality - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
What's the most important step when releasing a sequel? Re-releasing the original on a special edition DVD of course. And don't forget ads… I mean previews for the upcoming film. Quite frankly, there's not enough new on the DVD to make it worth purchasing if you already own the previous release, although it might be picking up simply to get rid of that snap case. I hate snap cases. Can also be purchased with the soundtrack for Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous as part of a Gift Set.

NASCAR: The IMAX Experience - Buy from Amazon
The typical IMAX 'Edutainment' film, which is heavier on the 'tainment' aspect than most. The film isn't bad, but given its short runtime and sparse special features it can rise above the rental level.

Red Dwarf - Buy from Amazon: Series 5 and Series 6
Near perfection. Not only are these two series filled with some of the best episodes ever (all twelve episodes are worthy of repeat viewing), but each of the 2-disc sets are packed with special features. These include cast commentary tracks on every episode, fan commentary tracks on 2 episodes, featurettes including the documentary, 'Heavy Science', which many are calling the best special feature ever to appear on a Red Dwarf DVD set, and much, much more. These are worth picking up even for casual fans of the franchise and the more hardcore fans out there have probably pre-ordered these as soon as they were announced. Can also be purchased together as part of a package deal.

Star Trek: First Contact - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Easily the best of the Next Generation movies. This 2-disc set is absolutely packed with special features including two audio commentary tracks and more than a dozen featurettes on various topics (making of, scene deconstruction, the Borg Queen, etc.). Probably the best movie in the series when it comes to appealing to non-Trekkies and the special features are so good compared to the previous release that its well worth picking up. Unless my suspicion is true and there will be a massive box set with additional special features coming out as soon as the last of the Star Trek movies get the Special Edition treatment. If that is the case and you own any of the previous releases it is best to hold off purchasing this one.

Starsky & Hutch - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
Season 3 took a more serious turn with more drama and less violence, so depending on your tastes this season represented a marked improvement and a disappointing change. The eroding of the special features continues and the only special feature left are some ads for other DVD releases.

Toolbox Murders - Buy from Amazon
A low budget horror remake starring Sara Downing who was in Burning Annie, which I reviewed a while ago. … I really have nothing more to add. …

What the #$'! Do We Know - Buy from Amazon
Part documentary, part pseudo-scientific crock. Crockumentary. Sorry, that might be a little harsh, but it's one of my pet peeve when people use science to justify New Age superstitions. "According to Quantum Mechanics a sub-atomic particle can be in two places at once and therefore this crystal can cure your eczema. That will be $45." (Another pet peeve I have is when people say, "You can never be 100% sure, therefore every opinion is equally valid.") And what's even worse is some of the people interviewed vehemently disagreed with the claims being made in the movie. However, their several hour long interviews were cut down to just a few sound bites that were then used to justify the ramblings of a person claiming to be a 35,000 year Atlantean mystic. I'm obviously not the only one who feels this way as the reviews were sub-par. The DVD release is better than most limited release films, but not enough to lift it even to the rental level. If you're interested in Quantum Physics pick up The Elegant Universe instead; it is a far superior documentary in terms of the science, entertainment and filmmaking aspects.


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Filed under: Video Releases, The Incredibles, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, NASCAR: The IMAX Experience, Alfie, What the #$'! Do We Know, The Gospel of John