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DVD Releases for March 29, 2005

March 28th, 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, The Lone Gunmen - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon

After the Sunset - Platinum Series - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
A low quality heist film that further shows why Pierce Brosnan shouldn't give up his Bond tuxedo so quickly. Special features are strong, with the ever-present audio commentary track, deleted and alternate scenes, outtakes and a couple of featurettes, but not strong enough to push the film past the rental level.

America's Next Top Model - Cycle 1 - Buy from Amazon
Reality TV. And the special features the disc is 'packed with' is just a couple of short featurettes. So it's reality TV plus false advertising.

Angel Guts - Buy from Amazon
Five movies that deal with rape. Obviously with a topic like that the movies are going to shock and most likely offend. I don't think it was the intent of the makers to be exploitive, but like beauty, exploitation is in the eye of the beholder. Each movie has an audio commentary track and interviews with the directors.

Apollo 13 - 10th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
When judging a special edition DVD, one of the first things a person should do is compare the special features to those of the previous release, and in this case there's simply not enough new stuff to warrant picking up the DVD. It's a great movie, but the DVD isn't that much better than the 2002 version. It does have the IMAX version on the second disc, which is novel but not enough to get me to pick up the set.

Astro Boy - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
This 5-disc set contains all 50 episodes from the 2003 series and not the 1963 version. Unlike most remakes the original version isn't the obvious superior, as this version has more sophisticated animation and the story lines are still top notch. Special features are light, with just a featurette about the remaking of Astro Boy; it's about 10 minutes long and has some interesting information, especially the problems with making a show for both Japanese and American audiences.

Clonus - Buy from Amazon
A B-movie Sci-Fi flick from the 70s that deals with human cloning. The top 500 political and business leaders have clones made of themselves that are raised to adulthood and used as organ banks in case of sickness, accident, etc. thereby giving these people near immortality. Better watched with the gang from MST3K (season 8, episode 11), but is one of those sci-fi films that is made more interesting because technology has caught up to its futuristic premise.

Closer - Buy from Amazon
The two time Oscar nominated film hits the home market on a SuperBit DVD. Overall the reviews were not great, at least not up to the level a multiple Oscar nominated film should have. This has a lot to do with the fact that the characters in the movie were almost wholly unsympathetic and unlikable. As you may know, SuperBit DVDs sacrifice special features for improved sound and video quality. Personally, I prefer special features, but that's because my TV is garbage (something to do with inferior soldering). But the best way to handle SuperBit releases is to do what they did with Leon - Buy from Amazon: have the SuperBit DVD version on one disc and the special features on the other. Another reason why I'm holding off getting this DVD is the very real possibility of a special edition hitting stores before too long.

Clutch Cargo Cartoon Collection Vol 1 - Buy from Amazon
This oddity of animation used Synchro-Vox to superimpose human lips on the animated characters in the show. Sort of like those interview bits on the Conan O'Brien show. The problem is the animation was so poor that it only made the human lips stand out so much that for most people the enjoyment of the show was ruined.

Combat - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon: Operation 1 and Operation 2
Arguably the most realistic portrayal of war in a TV series ever, even with the technical and other limitations. Each volume has 16 episodes, each with notes, outtakes, etc. and three episodes also have audio commentary tracks.

The H.P. Lovecraft Collection Volume 3: Out of Mind - Buy from Amazon
The third volume of short films based on the works of H.P.Lovecraft. Stories include The Music of Erich Zann, My Necronomicon and The Outsider. Movie adaptations of H.P.Lovecraft's work have had a spotty record at best, but it is the short film format where his stories really shine.

Hu$tle - Buy from Amazon
A made for TV movie about Pete Rose's fall from baseball hero to gambling addict, which finally lead to his banishment from the league. The movie is mediocre, at best, but the special features are extensive with a TV special on Pete Rose, interviews, press conferences and more.

Kagemusha - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
The film that helped revive Akira Kurosawa's career. Helped out by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, both of whom were executive producers, Akira Kurosawa directed a masterpiece about the final years of Japanese feudal system. The head of one of the three clans battling for supremacy is mortally wounded in battle, but to prevent word of his death from spreading he hires a Kagemusha, or Shadow Warrior, to impersonate him until a smooth transfer of power can be accomplished. Special features include audio commentary, making of documentary, interviews and more.

The Lone Gunmen - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
An X-Files spin-off that had more charm and appeal that its predecessor, but couldn't find the same audience. (Having a bad time slot didn't help.) The 3-disc set contains all 13 episodes of the series, the season 9 X-Files episode that was the last appearance of the Lone Gunmen in the series as well as a few other special features (audio commentary tracks on four episodes, retrospective featurette and promos). Fans of the X-Files Franchise should snap this set up right away.

Murder, She Wrote - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
While Angela Lansbury was famous before she took the role of writer / mystery solver J.B Fletcher, it was this role that made her a household name. The show lasted 12 seasons, during which time every single one of J.B Fletcher's relatives were implicated in at least six murders. Ok, that might be going a little overboard, but the writers did overuse that particular plot hook. Overall the show was very enjoyable, but the lack of special features is disappointing.

National Lampoon's Gold Diggers - Buy from Amazon: R-Rated or Unrated
Could someone please tell >National Lampoon to stop making bad movies? And if they can't figure out which ones are bad and which ones aren't, they should just stop making movies altogether.

The Newsroom - Buy from Season 1, Season 2 and Escape from the Newsroom
The first two seasons of the great Canadian TV series are coming to DVD, along with the TV movie. A behind-the-scenes look at a TV newsroom, this is an excellent show and worth importing if you're American. And if you're Canadian, then it's your patriotic duty to pick the DVDs up. Special features include a few audio commentaries, behind the scenes look and more.

Orgazmo - Unrated Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The first time this film has a DVD release in North America; a movie that can only be described as, "Guilty Pleasure." A Porno parody, the film was originally released with an NC-17 rating, which is strange since there's not a whole lot of nudity, and what is there is non-erotic (mostly naked, hairy asses), and almost all the violence takes place off screen. The special features on the disc are amazing with not one, not two but three audio commentary tracks (one by the cast, another by a drunk Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and another with what appears to be a bunch or random people, 'Weird Al' Yankovic and Kevin Smith, for example). Other special features include a documentary, behind the scenes featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes and more. Add in both the theatrical and the uncut version and this DVD is definitely worth picking up for fans of the movie or of South Park.

Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino - Buy from Amazon
Yet another film cashing in on the Red Sox World Series win, this one focusing more on the numerous loses in years past. I guess when you team doesn't win it all for 80 some odd years you're allowed to celebrate any way you want.

The Saint - The Early Episodes, Set 1 - Buy from Amazon
Before he was James Bond, Roger Moore was Simon Templar, a.k.a., The Saint. All 12 episodes from the first season are on the 3-disc set and include a history of the character. That's not much in the way of special features, but the show is more than forty years old, so that is not unexpected.

A Tale of Two Sisters - Buy from Amazon
A South Korean horror film, one of many such films to come from the region in recent years. This one is one of the best and the DVD release is superb with two audio commentary track, interviews, making of documentary, deleted scenes and much more. It will be interesting to see if the Hollywood remake can live up to this film.

The Toxic Avenger - 21st Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
A passable low budget flick from Troma, the masters of horror comedies. The film is full of gore, gags and T&A, and as long as that's you cup of tea, it is quite an enjoyable movie on that level. Special features are strong for such a low budget movie from the mid-80s and include extensive interviews with the cast, crew and creators, original fan projects (cartoons, short films, etc.), and much more.

The Twilight Zone - The Definitive Collection - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
The original series with Rod Sterling as host, easily the best of the show's three incarnations (four if you count the movie). An excellent show with amazing special features, especially for a show that more than 40 years old. (Audio commentary tracks on half-a-dozen episodes, interviews with Rod Sterling, radio shows and more.) If you own the first season then you probably have had this one pre-ordered for months, and you won't be disappointed.

Vera Drake - Buy from Amazon
Another Oscar nominated movie on this week's list. This one earned even better reviews than Closer, but again most of the praise was focused on the actors, specifically Imelda Staunton. And while the movie is excellent, the DVD is featureless. Granted, this isn't surprising for a limited release, but it is disappointing.

World Poker Tour - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
I admit, I like poker, I like playing poker, I like watching poker, but I couldn't see myself paying for poker on DVD. It's not something you can watch over and over again, even with the special features (player profiles, tips, look at Hollywood's fascination with Texas Hold'em), it can't rate more than a rental.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Closer, Vera Drake, National Lampoon's Gold Diggers, A Tale of Two Sisters, After the Sunset