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DVD Releases for April 5, 2005 - Updated - Again

April 4th, 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, Sideways - Buy from Amazon

The Amityville Collection - Buy from Amazon
The first three movies from the original Amityville franchise are release as part of a collection just over a week before the remake is released. The reasoning is obvious, take advantage of cross-promotions. However, this will likely backfire as the movies are really, really bad. The first movie earned the most praise and that was only 23% positive and overall the quality is so poor that it might turn people away from the new version. The movies are also available as separate relelases. But the collection is the better deal as it is slightly less expensive and includes a bonus disc with a look the real life house and, of course, ads for the upcoming movie.

The Corporation - Buy from Amazon
This amazing documentary look at corporation and asks the question, "If a corporation is legally a person, what kind of person is it?" The movie was very in-depth and the DVD takes it to a whole new level adding with more than five hours of bonus interviews, clips and more. On the down side, the movie does suffer from the Talking Head Syndrome, too much of the movie is simply interview subjects talking into a camera, and stylistically it just doesn't cut it. Of course, this is a documentary so style doesn’t really matter, certainly no enough to prevent me from picking up the DVD tomorrow.

Dirty War - Buy from Amazon
A made for TV movie dealing with nuclear terrorism, as the title would suggest, a dirty bomb. (Conventional explosives packed with radioactive material.) The film went with documentary like realism, which helped avoid the melodrama usually associated the average movie of the week. But with just an audio commentary, there are not enough special features to push the DVD to the rental level.

Dragon's World: A Fantasy Made Real - Buy from Amazon
Think of it as a Walking With Dinosaurs, except this one's made up. As long as you know that the film is a mockumentary it is quite entertaining and the dragons are well done, but it appears that a lot of people either think it's real or at least think the producers think it's real.

Elektra - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The January release I was most looking forward to seeing, that is until I read the early reviews, which were nearly universally negative. And even the positive reviews were not enthusiastic in their praise. Special features on the disc look deceptively good with a making of featurette and several "Inside the Editing Room, however, these appear to be the extras that were on the website.

The Greatest American Hero - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
The only full season of this short run series. Like the first season, this one has quite a few special features given the age of the show, but many fans are complaining about the song replacements caused by greedy music labels.

Harvey - Buy from Amazon
This is the 1998 TV movie version and not the classic 1950 version starring James Stewart.

I Am David - Buy from Amazon
This fill opened in semi-limited release to poor reviews and an even worse reception at the box office. The DVD release is on par with most limited release with just an audio commentary track meaning the film doesn't even make it to the rental level.

Jay-Z Fade to Black - Buy from Amazon
Like the previous DVD on the list, this film failed to generate any buzz during its short theatrical release. But on the plus side, this movie earned better reviews and is more suited to the home market anyway. Be warned, while the film is called an intimate look at Jay-Z, it is a typical concert movie with some behind the scenes footage.

Bill Maher - Be More Cynical - Buy from Amazon
An argumentative and politically aware comedian. This special from 2000 isn't his best work, but does contain some funny and provocative bits.

Nuns on the Run - Buy from Amazon
A lowbrow but funny movie staring Robbie Coltrane and Eric Idle. A movie from 1990 that never really did much at the theatres, it would be completely understandable if the film was dumped on the home market without any special features at all. However, that is not the case as there is an audio commentary with the director and making of featurette.

Riding the Bullet - Buy from Amazon
Like so many Stephen King adaptations, this film doesn't live up to the source material. It does have some better than expected acting from David Arquette, who may be the best part of the movie. Never thought I'd say that. The film went nowhere during its short theatrical run, but probably works better on the small screen anyway. Note: Amazon.com has this film as being released on April 19th, but it was released today, April 5th. Sorry for the inconvenience. Additional: I've been informed that the previous correction was incorrect and the DVD is being released on the 19th of this month. Sorry for the inconvenience, again.

Rough Science - Buy from Amazon
Rough Science is a TV show in which scientists are transported to a remote location and given a task, (build a rocket, build a Mars Rover, explore a island and draw a map, etc.) but they are only the most basic tools and whatever they can manage to scrounge from the environment. A highly entertaining series and educational as well.

Sacred Planet - Buy from Amazon
Another IMAX film makes the transition to the home market. The film was only able to earn mixed reviews as was compared to the superior Koyaanisqatsi on more than one occasion. The latter film is also available on DVD and is the better deal.

Scrabble Double-shot - Buy from Amazon: Scrabylon and Word Wars
Not one, but two documentaries about the world of competitive scrabble hit the market tomorrow. Both films are well done and you don't need to be a huge fan of Scrabble to get caught up in the competition. Word Wars has some deleted scenes while Scrabylon contains deleted scenes and an audio commentary, but it is shorter.

Sideways - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the best movies of 2004 and deserved to win more awards than it did. Yes, it did practically sweep the Independent Spirit Awards but it should have won at least 3 Oscars including one for star Paul Giamatti. Extra features include an audio commentary track with the two stars, deleted scenes, behind the scenes and 3 Easter eggs. Easily the DVD pick of the week, especially if you're a middle-aged man.

Spanglish - Buy from Amazon
A strong pedigree was wasted on this decidedly mediocre movie. The special features are quite strong with an audio commentary track, making of, deleted scenes, screen tests and even the recipe for The Worlds Greatest Sandwich. Definitely worth the rental.

A Talking Picture - Buy from Amazon
As the title would suggest, there's a lot of talking in this movie. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make the movie something that will appeal more to critics than the average moviegoer. Those that have the patience to sit through a 90 minute movie with no action, and very little movement, will be rewarded with intellectual debates and history lessons as the tourists on a cruise ship visit the cradle of civilization through various ports.

The West Wing - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The final season written by creator Aaron Sorkin, season four deals with the president's re-election and was an improvement from season 3. However, special features are still a little on the light side with audio commentary tracks on just three episodes and two featurettes, (one on First Ladies and the other on presidential speech writers.) That's just the bare minimum TV on DVD sets should have. You can also purchase all four seasons together as part of a package deal.


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Filed under: Video Releases, Sideways, The Amityville Horror, Spanglish, Elektra, The Corporation, Fade to Black, I Am David, Riding the Bullet, A Talking Picture, Sacred Planet