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DVD Releases for June 7, 2005

June 6th, 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, classics and a few from the growing TV on DVD section.

It's the first Tuesday of the month and that usually means it's a busy week for DVD releases but what this week makes up with in quantity, it lacks in quality. That's not to say there's no DVDs worth picking up, it's just that they are buried under a mound of dreck. Leading the way is The Dead Zone - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon with Rescue Me - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon right behind. There are also a couple other releases that are not only worthy of being a DVD pick of the week, but are must-haves for all Loyal Canucks: Degrassi Junior High - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon and Rock & Rule - 2-Disc Collector's Edition, an amazing cartoon that (and I can't emphasize this enough) is not for children.

The Agronomist - Buy from Amazon
An amazing look at Jean Dominique, a man who risked everything to stand up to the brutal regimes that plagued his homeland. The lack of special features hurts the DVD's value, but it's still worth a rental.

Bad Girls - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Yes, it's a prison drama, and yes, it's set in a women's prison. But unlike Caged Heat or the dozen or so other sexploitation flicks, this is a high quality show. The show has been compared to Oz, but it has more in common with the Australian series Prisoner Cell Block H. The 3-disc set contains all 10 episodes from the first season, but the only special feature is a dictionary of British Prison Slang, which can come in handy.

Be Cool - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
This film was a huge letdown from the original, both in terms of box office draw but especially in terms of quality. The DVD release is very well done with loads of special features (making off, deleted scenes, behind the scenes, outtakes and more), but it's not enough to overcome the dubious quality of the movie. Overall the DVD is a rental, at best.

Beyond the Sea - Buy from Amazon
Kevin Spacy is simply amazing as Bobby Darrin, and his renditions of his classical songs are nearly flawless. However, that's pretty much the only reason to see the film as the reviews were mixed at best. It was a limited release, and like most such releases the DVD is light on special features, with just an audio commentary track and a making or featurette.

Coyote Ugly - Unrated Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The first of several unnecessary Special Edition DVDs to hit stores tomorrow. The film earned awful reviews, but still managed to become a bit of a hit. This version of movie is a whole 7 minutes longer and the special features are just as weak as the previous release. Skip it.

D.E.B.S. - Buy from Amazon
Originally meant to be a short film, the story was expanded into a feature-length production. And while it shows a lot of potential, I can't recommend the DVD based on the potential of the director. The DVD release is excellent for a limited release with 2 audio commentary tracks, deleted and extended scenes, behind the scenes and more.

Dead Ringers - Buy from Amazon
David Cronenberg will never be accused of selling out his artistic vision to create a more commercial film. Jeremy Irons stars as both Beverly and Elliot Mantle, twin gynecologists who are so alike they often pretend to be each other. It's a dark and disturbing tale, but gripping at the same time. The biggest concern is the previous release. Both this release and the Criterion Collection are filled with special features and very little of these special features are reused. It's nearly impossible to tell which set is better, and it's equally hard to justify buying both of them. However, if you don't own the Criterion Collection edition, this is worth picking up.

The Dead Zone - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
All 12 episodes from season 3, which makes season 3 the shortest season so far. The episodes are excellent and on par with season 2. Like the previous releases, special features are also amazing, with audio commentary tracks on every episode, a short film by John L. Adams, deleted scenes and more. And yes, it is a little expensive on a per minute basis compared to most TV on DVD releases, but as a matter of quality over quantity it is still the best deal of the week. Also worth noting, season 4 begins on Sunday, June 12. Check your local listings.

Degrassi Junior High - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the greatest show about high school. Certainly one of the most realistic. Unlike most shows about high school that rely on goofy humor and absurd situations, the show deals with a wide variety of difficult subjects (including the arcing storyline about Spike's pregnancy), and deals with them is a mature and thoughtful fashion. The 3-disc set includes all 13 episodes plus three more Degrassi Talks featurettes where the cast talks about issues like Depression and Alcoholism. An excellent show that worth picking up, unless you are Canadian, and then it's your patriotic duty to buy this set.

Doctor Who - Buy from Amazon: The Leisure Hive - Episode 110 and Ghost Light - Episode 156
Two more episodes from the longest-running Sci-Fi series on British Television. 26 years, 158 episodes, several hundred hours. These sets are very well done, but the thought of collecting every single episode is daunting. Each disc contains commentary tracks, isolated scores and more.

Double Dare - Buy from Amazon
An engaging documentary about two stuntwoman, veteran Jeannie Epper, who did stunt work for Wonder Woman, and newcomer Zoe Bell, who worked on Xena: Warrior Princess. Not only is this film an inside look at a little seen aspect of filmmaking, it is also a touching Mentor / Student relationship between Jeannie and Zoe. Add in interviews with such huge names as Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino and this is a fantastic film. The DVD release is equally great, with an audio commentary track and more than an hour of deleted scenes and extended interviews.

Dragnet 1967 - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Dragnet is one of the first, and most famous, TV cop shows. This is the second incarnation, and has been brought back twice since then (not counting movies). For a 40-year-old show, it looks pretty good, but compared to the myriad of cop shows on TV today it's a little show and lacks the action most have. Special features are light with just a bonus CD of radio episodes from the 1950s.

Father of the Bride - 15th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is a good movie, not great like the original with Spencer Tracy, but a worthy film on its own. However, the special features are weak compared to the average first run release, and certainly not up to the level of a Special Edition.

Father of the Pride - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Man, this was an expensive mistake for NBC. The episodes were time consuming and massively expensive to make, so much so that there was almost no chance for the series to survive. To make matters worse, the makers assumed the digital animation would be enough to draw in viewers. It wasn't. So what you have left was an average sitcom with lions instead of humans. To top it off, there appears to be no special features on the set.

Fraiser - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
While Fraiser the show is excellent, the DVD release is garbage. This set has no special features. None. I could understand that if the show was a couple of decades old, but the series finale aired just last year. Unforgivable. Also available in a package deal with the other, previously released season.

Gone in 60 Seconds - Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
The original film is a cult classic, kind of. To be brutally honest, the original is a boring, dull movie with one of the best car chase scenes ever. The remake is a dull, boring movie with substandard car chases. The Director's Cut DVD is exactly the same as the previous release, just 9 minutes of extra footage. Footage that you'd probably not even notice. Skip it. Those interested in a good car chase movie should pick up The Driver instead.

Home Improvement - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The show that made Tim Allen a star. This season is better than season 1, but there are fewer special features with just a gag reel, which really reduces the overall value. On a side note, this is the last season for Pamela Anderson as the Tool Time Girl.

Imaginary Heroes - Buy from Amazon
A busted Oscar contender. It's obvious from it's release schedule that this was meant to be a player during Award season, but that didn't work out. The DVD is very well done for a limited release (2 audio commentary tracks, featurette, deleted scenes, etc.), and pushes the disc to the rental level, but not beyond.

The Karate Kid - Special Editions - Buy from Amazon: The Karate Kid, The Karate Kid II, The Karate Kid III and The Next Karate Kid
All four movies in the The Karate Kid franchise are being released individually on Special Edition DVDs, as opposed to the Box Set that was released in February. Since only the first movie is worth picking up, this is a welcome release for casual fans.

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman - The Complete First - Buy from Amazon
This show has a loyal and rabid fan base, which has eagerly awaiting this DVD release for a long, long time. Unlike the movies, this show dealt more with the relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane than with Superman's adventures. But unlike Smallville, the storylines took on a soap-opera like feel, which didn't feel right for the Man of Steel. Special features on the 6-disc set include an audio commentary track on the pilot, making of featurette, pilot presentation and a short featurette on the FX. There is also a bonus DVD with the fourth season opener of Smallville, which hasn't been released on DVD before. It's a good set and should satisfy the fans.

MacGyver - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Another Paramount TV on DVD release that is completely devoid of special features. What is wrong with these people? The show itself is fun, if a little dated, but the lack of special features reduces the set to the rental level.

The Machinist - Buy from Amazon
Christian Bale's amazing performance is the highlight of this disturbing film. The DVD has nearly the same level of special features as most first run releases, which is a lot for a limited release like this one. There is the ubiquitous feature length audio commentary, deleted scenes and a making of featurette. The film is outside the mainstream enough that I suggest renting it first, but it's definitely worth looking into.

Matilda - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is a good movie and the Special Edition DVD has plenty of special features, but it's being released in Pan & Scan only. It's worth a rental, but wait till the studio decides to put out a Widescreen version before buying it.

Newlyweds - Nick & Jessica - The Complete Second and Third Seasons - Buy from Amazon
I refuse to watch this show on the off chance that stupidity is contagious.

Peter Sellers Marathon - Various
Several of Peter Sellers' lesser known works are hitting the home market tomorrow, mostly in featureless DVDs.

Quincy, M.E. - Seasons 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon
Jack Klugman stars as Dr. Quincy, a coroner / crime scene investigator / super-detective all rolled into one. The first two seasons the show was actually part of The NBC Mystery Movie and these 16 episodes come from that show. It wasn't until season three that it was spun-off into a show of its own. I loved this show growing up, but even I will admit it's a little dated and not as strong as I remember it and the lack of special features further reduces the set's value.

Rescue Me - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This show owes a lot of its success to the demise of The Job. Both shows star Denis Leary, both deal with first responders, both have a caustic edge. The main difference is Rescue Me is a cable show, which allows Denis Leary the freedom to do what he does best. This 3-disc set contains all 13 episodes from the first season, with audio commentary tracks on two of them. The heart of the special features is an hour-long look at the creation of the show from the first idea, the desire for realism, the casting to actually filming. Add in deleted scenes and outtakes and you have a top-notch TV on DVD release.

Rock & Rule - Buy from Amazon: Single Disc or 2-Disc Collector's Edition
Compared to Heavy Metal, mostly because of the rock infused soundtrack and the adult nature of the story, Rock & Rule is the lesser known of the two, but in my mind the obvious superior. The story focuses on Mok, an aging rocker who seems to be styled on Mick Jagger, who needs the perfect voice to summon a demon and he's not above sacrificing his fans in order to do it. At one point he destroys Carnegie Hall (which I believe was called Carnage Hall in the movie), as part of a sacrifice. The only people to survive the concert are some guy who got stoned in the bathroom and the "I survived the Mok concert" t-shirt vendor (who seem to be confused why they aren't selling better). It's been 20 years since I've seen the movie, but it still stands out in my mind. That's the mark of a really great film. The special features are also incredible, especially for a film that's this old. Disc one has the movie, an audio commentary track and a half-hour making of featurette. The second disc includes the Canadian version of the film, the short film The Devil and Daniel Mouse and storyboard. I had given up ever seeing this movie on DVD due to copyright problems regarding the music in the movie, so to have his come out on an incredible set like this is awesome. Just one point I have to make, while this film is a cartoon, it is not for kids. So I don't want anyone out there buying it for their 12-year-old and complaining to me after it warps their little minds. Although come to think of it, I was just 12 when I first saw the film, and I turned out all right.

Sanford & Son - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
The final season this groundbreaking series. This 3-disc set contains all 24 episodes but no real special features.

Seed of Chucky - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The fifth film, and I assume the last, of the Child's Play franchise. The critics were merciless, especially the cream-of-the-crop, and the film was mostly ignored by moviegoers. (On a side note, the highlight of the film is Jennifer Tilly. Her willingness to poke fun at her career makes this film almost worth watching. Almost.)

Sling Blade - Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
The film that turned Billy Bob Thorton from a practically unknown to an internationally acclaimed star. The director's cut is a big step up from the previous release with 2 audio commentary tracks, an hour-long documentary featurette, and nearly 45 minutes of interviews. The movie itself is about 15 minutes longer, and in the audio commentary Billy Bob Thorton discusses why the new scenes were restored to the movie - a very nice feature. Overall an excellent DVD and well worth the upgrade.

The Sopranos - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a good show that has earned a lot of critical acclaim, but the DVD sets are just so expensive. $65.00 for 12 episodes is tough to swallow, and that's after Amazon's discount. Compared to The Dead Zone - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon, which is also only 12 episodes long, this set is twice as expensive and with less than half the special features. And because of that I can't recommend purchasing this set.

Spider-Man - The Venom Saga - Buy from Amazon
Further evidence that the villains in the upcoming Spider-Man movie will be Venom and Carnage. There's still no official word yet, but I'm hopeful.

Star Trek: Insurrection - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Paramount has been putting out these Special Edition versions of all the Star Trek movies for a while now. It's one of the Odd-Numbered films, which means its one of the weaker entries, but at least the 2-disc set is packed with special features. But in the end, it's for Star Trek completists only as the film can't stand on its own.

Stargate Atlantis - Rising - Buy from Amazon
The pilot episode of the spin-off of the TV series based on the movie Stargate. This is a good release with plenty of special features, but I assume they will be part of the full season set when it is eventually released. And when it comes to TV on DVD, I always prefer full season sets.

Stripes - Extended Cut - Buy from Amazon
Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman team up to produce one of the most underrated comedies of the 80s. The DVD allows you to watch the theatrical version or the extended version (it adds about 20 minutes of new footage, but these extra scenes can also be viewed separately). Other special features include audio commentary track and a retrospective that is nearly an hour long. Worth a rental at the very least, and worth picking up for most.

Tears of the Sun - Director's Extended Cut - Buy from Amazon
I can't image there were a lot of people clamoring for an extended version of this film as it was attacked by critics and ignored by moviegoers. Add in special features that are no better than the previous release and this is one disc best left on the store shelf.

Too Close for Comfort - Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Even most fans of this show will admit it's not a high quality show, but more on the level of the Three's Company goofy comedy. Special features are better than season 1, with audio commentary tracks on four episode and the cast reunion.

Unfaithfully Yours - Buy from Amazon
If you are a really, really, really, really, really, really, really big fan of Mel Brooks, this DVD might be worth a rental (and even then I'd recommend trying to catch it on TV instead). But besides Mel Brooks's usual performance, there is practically nothing about this remake worth recommending.

Untold Scandal - Buy from Amazon
It's Dangerous Liaisons set in the Chosun Dynasty of 18th Century Korea. It isn't the best version of the movie, but it's still great adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' novel. The DVD, on the other hand, has no real special features.

Wanted Dead or Alive - Season One - Buy from Amazon
Last week a collection of Steve McQueen films were released. This week it's the TV series that made him a star. For a show that's nearing half a century in age, there are plenty of special features: 3-part documentary, 3-part biography, featurettes and more.

What's New Pussycat? - Buy from Amazon
Woody Allen's first film. A rather mediocre movie being released on a nearly featureless disc. Moving on.

Wonder Woman - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
Third and final season of the 70s series hits DVD tomorrow. The 4-disc set contains all 24 episodes with audio commentary on the season opener and a documentary entitled, "The Ultimate Feminist Icon." These sets are obviously very popular since the studio have given the go ahead for a Wonder Woman movie.

X-Files - Mythology Volume 1 - Abduction - Buy from Amazon
Every single episode of X-Files has been release on DVD. So these 4-disc sets are either for really, really hardcore fans, or those that like certain stories told, but not enough to buy season sets. There are special features created just for the Mythology line, which does raise the overall value of the set, but not enough to justify spending the extra money. At least not for me.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Be Cool, Tears of the Sun, Seed of Chucky, Beyond the Sea, The Machinist, Imaginary Heroes, D.E.B.S., Untold Scandal, The Agronomist