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DVD Releases for September 20, 2005

September 19th, 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. There were a few first run releases this week and more than a couple from the TV on DVD category, but the DVD pick of the week goes to a Special Edition release, Mallrats - 10th Anniversary Extended Edition - Buy from Amazon.

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D - Buy from Amazon: 3-D and 2-D or 2-D only
Director Robert Rodriguez's first really disappointing movie. The 3-D aspect of the movie was a problem for two reasons, firstly, the 3-D effects were not really effective, and secondly, obviously too much time was spent working on the 3-D effects and not enough on an interesting story. The top it off, there are not as many special features on the disc as most first-run releases with just an audio commentary track and making of featurette. The 2-D version is slightly better because without the glasses the colors are brighter and more vibrant and is worth the rental. However, if you are planning of buying the DVD, get the 3-D and 2-D version as it's no more expensive than the 2-D only version.

After Midnight - Buy from Amazon
A low rent horror anthology from the late 80s. This one features three stories plus the wraparound but none of them are scary or shocking enough to qualify as horror. While they are marginally entertaining, the lack of special features further reduces the value of the DVD below the rental level.

Battlestar Galactica - Season One - Buy from Amazon
It is always dangerous to remake a cult-classic show as any changes you make will surely infuriate the hardcore fans, and they are your base audience. Some of the changes still feel arbitrary or just plain wrong, but overall the update is an improvement on the original series. The 5-disc set is very well done with audio commentary on 9 episodes, a season overview, deleted scenes, and more. Fans of the series should be very pleased with the effort put in and there's no reason not to pick it up.

Bob Dylan - No Direction Home - Buy from Amazon
A 3 and a half hour long, made for TV documentary directed by Martin Scorsese. Given its runtime it's not surprise that the film is a comprehensive look at one of the most influential singer / song writers of the 20th century and is worth checking out both for the hardcore enthusiast and the more casual fan alike. Special features include addition concert footage and other smaller items.

Born into Brothels - Buy from Amazon
The Oscar winning documentary about 8 children of prostitutes who live in the red-light district of Calcutta. This film really benefited from the Oscar bounce, earning nearly all of its box office after the nominations were announced and its success there translated into an excellent DVD release, especially for a limited release. Audio commentary, deleted scenes, Oscar acceptance speech, and even an update on the kids. Definitely worth picking up.

Clone High - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon.ca
Only available in Canada, Clone High is an incredibly funny series about a high school populated by the clones of a lot of famous dead people, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, JFK, Ghandi, etc. The writing on this show was sharp, the situations were absurd, and the voice talent was amazing. However, the show didn't catch on and it was cancelled after just one season. Even without any special features it's still worth picking up, even if you have to import it from Canada.

Cowards Bend at the Knee - Buy from Amazon
This film is from Canadian director Guy Maddin whose films range from the bizarre to the nearly inexplicable. The film earned stunning reviews and the DVD has plenty of special features for a limited release, but the film is too strange for a mainstream audience.

Crime Story - Buy from Amazon: Season 1 and Season 2
Both season of this short-lived series hit the home market tomorrow. This show was ahead of its time as it told one story over the course of the whole season; this concept works better now with TV on DVD since viewers know they will be able to watch all 22 episodes in a row and not be at the mercy of the repeat schedule if they miss an episode. There was a previous release for season one, but it was not the best quality and this version is a much better deal; however, there are still no real special features on the 2 five-disc sets.

Desperate Housewives - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
I hate this show. It's your typical nighttime soap opera filled with completely unsympathetic characters and loaded with style over substance. On the other hand, the DVD release is excellent with plenty of special features (audio commentary tracks on five episodes, extended versions of 6 episodes, featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes, and more). It's a must have for fans of the show, I'm just not one of them.

Die Monster Die/Dunwich Horror - Buy from Amazon
Two films that are very loosely based on short stories by H.P. Lovecraft. Both movies are incredibly bad and this DVD set is for hardcore collectors only. This is part of the Midnite Movies Double Feature with three other releases coming out tomorrow: Tales of Terror/Twice Told Tales, Voodoo Island/The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake and War Gods of the Deep/At the Earth's Core.

Dolls - Buy from Amazon
The Living Toys Horror film was a popular genre for a while there and while the Child's Play franchise is the best known, I think this is the better film. On a side note, this film was directed by Stuart Gordon, who also directed Re-Animator, which is the only H.P. Lovecraft film worth watching twice.

Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in The Hood - Unrated Miramax Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
A spoof of the Urban Dramas that were popular at the time. And while the genre was ripe for parody, this film just wasn't funny enough to work. There are simply not enough special features to warrant the Special Edition label. Hell, the average limited release has more special features, and it's not worth upgrading from the previous release. Skip it.

From a Whisper to a Scream - Buy from Amazon
Another horror anthology film from the late 80s, this one is much better than the previous such film on the list, thanks mainly to the presence of Vincent Price, but still not strong enough to warrant anything more than a rental.

From the Earth to the Moon - The Signature Edition - Buy from Amazon
Double dipping for a TV on DVD release. There doesn't appear to be enough here to be worth the upgrade, but those who didn't pick up the previous release should think about grabbing this one.

Gone in 60 Seconds - 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is not a good movie - far from it. But it is a better film than the remake was. To be honest, the movie is basically an hour of bad movie followed by 40 minutes of car crashes, but there are enough car crashes in that last 40 minute chase that the film has become a cult-classic. Special features are great for a film this old with an audio commentary track, making of featurette, interviews and more.

Inside Deep Throat Buy from Amazon: NC-17 Theatrical Release or R-Rated Edition
An intriguing look at the most famous porn film ever made. Using archival footage, interviews and the like, the movie dispels some of the myths surrounding the movie, (including its $600 million box office, which was inflated by the Mob using their theatres to launder money). There are some problems with the documentary, for instance it makes it seem like porn was invented in 1972 and that's blatantly false (I've seen paintings on Grecian urns that make the Deep Throat look prudish by comparison). Even so, it's an excellent film and the DVD is filled with special features including 2 audio commentary tracks and plenty of extra scenes and is worth checking out.

It's All Gone Pete Tong - Buy from Amazon
Canada has made some really good movies recently, they just can't seem to market them effectively. Such is the case with It's All Gone Pete Tong, which opened very well but couldn't maintain its success through its expansion. On the other hand, the DVD release is very well done for a limited release with a half-hour making of featurette and a three part look at the real life Frankie Wilde. It's worth checking out.

The Longest Yard - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan & Scan or UMD Mini
A rather pointless remake that took all that made the original great and watered it down for mass consumption. It was, on the other hand, one of the biggest remakes at the box office in recent years and nearly became Adam Sandler's biggest hit ever. Special features are about average for a first-run release and lift the DVD to the rental level, but not beyond.

Major Dundee - The Extended Version - Buy from Amazon
The extended version of this film is exceptional but the behind the scenes intrigue is more entertaining. Not only were there the usual battles between director Sam Peckinpah and the studio, but he was so abusive on set that star Charlton Heston charged at him while on horseback and attacked him with a sword. Special features on the DVD include an audio commentary track with several Peckinpah historians, deleted scenes, outtakes, excerpt from a documentary, vintage footage on the stunt riding, and more. With the possibility of ever seeing the full version released nearing zero, this is as good as it gets and it worth picking up for fans of Sam Peckinpah.

Mallrats - 10th Anniversary Extended Edition - Buy from Amazon
The black sheep of Kevin Smith's farmyard of films, at least until Jersey Girl was released. The negative response was unjust. Granted, it's not as good as Clerks, but very few movies are. Also, there were a few problems, for example when they overly explain the Comic Book references. Either the audience will get the reference to Wolverine or they won't, explaining it just makes it lame. Also I would have picked Jennifer Love Hewitt to play Trish "The Dish" Jones, but that's just a personal preference. The 10th Anniversary Extended Edition includes both the original version and the extended version, audio commentary on the original edition (which some consider the greatest audio commentary track ever), Q&A session, retrospective, making of, and much, much more. Easily worth the upgrade and if you didn't own the previous release pick it up, you won't be disappointed.

Mindhunters - Buy from Amazon
This film is not as bad as I thought it would be, but it certainly wasn't good. It also flopped at the box office, which surprised no one and continued Val Kilmer and Christian Slater's near decade long slumps. Considering how poorly the film did during its short theatrical release one would not have been surprised to see it dumped on a featureless disc. But there are a surprising number of special features including an audio commentary track, making of featurette and more. It's not enough to lift the DVD to the rental level, but it's better than expected.

Ned & Stacy - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Another short-lived series hitting the home market. Thomas Haden Church and Debra Messing star as the titular characters who hate each other but get married for personal gain (he does it to ensure a promotion and she does it for a really nice place to live). I remember watching this show, but preferred Partners, the show that either proceeded it or followed it; they switched places halfway through the season. At the end of the year Partners was gone but this show lived on, for one more season. Special features are light with just an audio commentary track on one episode and a 20 minute retrospective, but that's to be expected since the show only lasted two seasons nearly a decade ago. Hopefully Partners will come out on DVD before too long.

The Outsiders - The Complete Novel - Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Francis Ford Coppola took another look at one of his smaller movies and reworked it so it would be more faithful to the S.E. Hinton novel it was based on. This version incorporates more than twenty minutes of footage removed from the theatrical version and includes a whole new score filled with rock 'n' roll songs from the era. Special features on the 2-disc set include two introductions, two audio commentary tracks, making of documentary, even more deleted scenes, auditions, and more. Is it worth the upgrade? That depends on whether someone feels these changes improve the movie or not and that is a matter of personal choice. However, fans of the novel and the movie may want to have both versions of the film on DVD and it's a real shame that they are not both on this set. On a side note, another Matt Dillon rebel picture, Over the Edge is also coming out tomorrow.

Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour - Buy from Amazon
Great show with magicians Penn & Teller travelling around the world looking at the ancient art of Street Magic in Cairo, Beijing, Delhi, etc. The DVD contains all three episodes plus a bit of bonus footage, but most amazingly, it has Teller speaking. Truthfully, the best part of the show is the way the Street Magicians are treated in different places. In some they are barely a step up from beggars, other places they are valued entertainers, and others still they are treated as if they have real magical powers (which conflicts with Penn & Tellers quest to expose these fakers). A few more special features would have really helped, but it's still worth picking up.

The Pretender - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
I never did get into this show, but it has plenty of fans. Like the first season there are not many special features with just two audio commentary tracks and a three-part marking of featurette. But if you bought and enjoyed that set, there's really no reason not to pick up this one.

The Ren & Stimpy Show - Season Five and Some More of Four - Buy from Amazon
For completists only. Without John Kricfalusi in command the show lost its edge and its sense of humor and this release is a huge step down from the previous releases.

Rides - The Complete 2nd Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a great show for people who are really into fancy cars and it's especially fun to watch the celebrities who obviously know and love cars talk about their prize possessions. (I really liked it when Jay Leno called himself the president of the More Money than Brains club, as I happened to be a charted member. The only difference is my vice is DVDs.) It's a great looking show and it's fun and informative, but there are no real special features on the 5-disc set.

Scary Movie 3.5 - Special Unrated Version - Dimension Collector's Series - Buy from Amazon
Never before has the term, "Unnecessary" been more applicable to a DVD release. It's been less than a year and a half since the previous release came out and the special features are not strong enough to warrant the Special Edition label. So skip it.

Species Collection - Buy from Amazon
The first movie was pretty bad but entertainingly so. The second film was just bad, and the third one was a direct-to-DVD release, and justifiably so. Since only the first movie is worth watching, this set is overpriced and best skipped.

SpongeBob SquarePants - Absorbing Favorites - Buy from Amazon
Not a bad set, but stick with the Full Season Sets instead. Speaking of which, Season Three is coming out next weekend.

Taboo - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
13 more episodes detailing the strange practices of certain peoples around the world. Obviously with a name like Taboo, there's going to be a lot of shocking customs and this 4-disc set is not for everyone. Can also be purchased with the first season as part of a package deal.

Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures - Buy from Amazon
With the movie just around the corner, there's no better time to re-release these three shorts: A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave. The total running time is just under 90 minutes. These three shorts have been previously released and this set isn't really worth the upgrade. In fact, it appears that this set is a downgrade from the older release.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Longest Yard, Scary Movie 3, Mindhunters, Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids, Inside Deep Throat, It's All Gone Pete Tong, Cowards Bend the Knee, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D