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DVD Releases for November 1, 2005

October 31st, 2005

Every week, movies (e.g. Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith) get a second chance on the home market. Or, in some cases (unlike, say, Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith), a first chance at success. Here is a list, including Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, and a few from the growing TV on DVD section. As you can probably tell, Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - Buy from Amazon is this week's DVD Pick of the Week. Not that there was ever any doubt about that.

The 12 Dogs of Christmas - Buy from Amazon
It's still too early for Christmas movies, especially ones loaded with 'cute' animals.

21 Jump Street - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Wow, the studio is really rushing out the last few seasons of this series. Season Three came out less than two months ago. If you liked that release, then chances are you'll like this one as well, but without any special features there's not much here to convince the more casual fan to shell out the money.

The Adventures of Pete & Pete - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
Season 2 of this show sees Michelle Trachtenberg and Iggy Pop join the cast as the new neighbors, but the usual strange stories are still the order of the day. Special features on the 2-disc set include audio commentary on a few episodes, 5 shorts, and a featurette, "Space, Geeks, & Johnny Unitas."

Aliens of the Deep - Buy from Amazon
This IMAX film earned impressive reviews, but wasn't able to live up to previous IMAX films at the box office, especially Ghosts of the Abyss. The DVD release contains both the original 47-minute release and the extended 99-minute release, but no other special features. Even so, the DVD is still worth picking up for those who enjoy their 'edutainment' to be more educational and is a must have for fans of underwater exploration movies.

All the King's Men - Buy from Amazon
This is the British TV movie about the 1915 campaign in Dardanelles and has nothing to with the upcoming movie of the same name. It has been seen stateside as part of PBS's Masterpiece Theatre but unfortunately the DVD has no real special features.

Alvin & the Chipmunks - A Chipmunk Christmas - Buy from Amazon
Yuck. Even if it wasn't too early for Christmas, I would not have anything kind to say about this release. Alvin & the Chipmunks might be cute for kids, but it will drive anyone older than 21 to drink.

American Chopper The Series - The Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This isn't a bad show, but it's just way too predictable. Normally I'd blame the writers for creating characters that never seem to grow or escape their narrowly defined roles, but this is Reality TV. The only special feature on the 3-disc set is a featurette entitled Sr. vs. Jr., but since I consider their repetitious arguments the weakest part of the show, this is not a selling point for me.

The Brady Bunch - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Long-time readers know how much a loathe and despise this series, so there's no need to get into that. I will mention that this season starts with the three-part Hawaiian Vacation story arc. I have nothing more to add.

Brat Pack Collection - Buy from Amazon
John Hughes' first three movies in one box set: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science. Sixteen Candles started the whole Brat Pack idea and was an amazing directorial debut for John Hughes. The Breakfast Club is easily the best of the bunch and is still imitated to this day. On the other hand, Weird Science is a rather weak entry, but still fun at times (and Bill Paxton's portray of Chet, the bully of an older brother is a classic). The main problem is, all three movies have been released on DVD already, and none of the discs have any real special features. The box set does have funky packaging and a CD with 8 songs on it and the price is right, but if you own more than one of the movies already, it isn't worth the upgrade.

Cheaters - The Best of - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
When the alien anthropologists visit our planet 1,000 years from now and try figure out why our civilization collapsed, this show will make the top ten list.

Dear America - Letters Home from Vietnam - Buy from Amazon
Celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Martin Sheen read letters sent home by soldiers serving in Vietnam. But don't worry, the movie is a lot better than that description makes it seem. The simple setup means the emotions felt by these soldiers makes it to the screen without being distorted or controlled by anyone's agenda.

Disney Channel Holiday - Buy from Amazon
Here's a helpful hint for studios: don't release Christmas DVDs until after Thanksgiving. I can only handle one holiday I hate at a time. Back to the DVD in question... it contains half a dozen holiday themed episodes and a music video. I prefer full season sets, but since only one show represented here has had a full-season release, this could be the best we're going to get.

Disney Princess - A Christmas of Enchantment - Buy from Amazon
Disney + Princess + Christmas = Perfect Christmas gift for young girls. Since I am neither a girl nor young, I have no interest in this DVD. Let's move on.

Eric Johnson - Live From Austin Texas - Buy from Amazon
Guitar God Eric Johnson performs to his home crowd in what is one of the most amazing displays of guitar prowess caught on tape. Much of the concert comes from the Ah Via Musicom CD, which is also worth picking up.

Fame - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The movie earned excellent reviews and became a surprise hit. However, the TV series failed to capture the same feeling and never really became a breakout hit. (In fact, it was cancelled and ran on syndication for a while.) To further lower the 4-Disc set's value, there are no special features.

Hearts Afire - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Unlike the first season, this season sees John Ritter and Markie Post leaving Washington D.C. and moving to the country to deal with a small newspaper. Such a huge change usually means the show is in trouble, and this was the case here. The season was shortened to just 17 episodes, but did manage to survive one more year. Special features are non-existent, and the 3-disc set is only worth picking up for the hardcore fans.

Heights - Buy from Amazon
The film has an amazing cast, but only earned moderate reviews; better than most wide releases, but not nearly up to the standards needed for a limited release to earn much widespread success. On the other hand, the special features are better than average for a limited release with an audio commentary track, two featurettes and more. Add it all up and you have a solid rental.

Jar Jar Binks: The F True Hollywood Story - Buy from Amazon
A short, and I mean short parody of True Hollywood Stories featuring Jar Jar Binks. It's funny and timely, but even with extras that are a far longer than the show itself, it is not worth the price they are asking for it.

Millions - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The latest film by director Danny Boyle. It earned great reviews and did very well at the box office for a limited release, but not as well as I would have thought. Add in special features that are good, for a limited release, and the DVD is worth picking up.

Monster Garage - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
Reality TV comes in two main categories, Documentary and Competition. This series is a combination of the two, but it leans heavily towards the former. Some of the builds in this season include the Micro Car, Flying Car, The Quarter-Mile Caddy, and more. I'd like to see more special features than a bonus episode, but the 3-disc set is still worth picking up.

Office Space - Special Edition with Flair - Buy from Amazon - Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Office Space is one of my favorite movies, but the previous release was a featureless disc. This release is miles ahead in terms of special features with a half-hour retrospective, 8 deleted scenes, trailers, and DVD-Rom features. However, this is nowhere near enough to live up to the Special Feature label and it's simply not worth the upgrade unless you are a major fan of the film. ... Yes, I will be picking it up on Tuesday, but like I've said in the past, I have more money than brain cells. [Ed - does that mean we're paying you too much?]

The New Outer Limits - Season One - Buy from Amazon
This is the series from 1995 and not the classic version from 1963. This version might actually be better than the original. It certainly lasted longer. One of the aspects that made this anthology series so good was that it was made for cable and could therefore deal with subject matter that was more adult in nature. And yes, in this case adult means both more mature and more sexually explicit. Special features on the 5-disc set include a couple of documentary featurettes on the show in general, and three featurettes about specific episodes: Caught in the Act, The Quality of Mercy, and Valerie 23. Definitely worth picking up.

The Perfect Man - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the worst reviewed movies of the year and went on to struggle at the box office. On the plus side, it was a very inexpensive movie to make (about $10 million - $12 million) and it should perform well enough on the home market to show a profit sooner rather than later. Part of the reason for that are the special features, which include deleted scenes, outtakes, interviews, a behind the scenes tour, featurette on the look, etc. That's better than most films, but not enough to compensate for the quality of the movie itself.

Robert Rodriguez - El Mariachi Trilogy - Buy from Amazon
All three films in the El Mariachi Trilogy released in one box set with no new special features. The price is good. So good in fact, that even if you own one of the movies, it's a better deal to buy the box set then it is to buy them individually.

Sex and the City - The Complete Series (Collector's Giftset) - Buy from Amazon
All eight seasons in one 20-disc set, including a special bonus disc with new special features. So for all of you people who have been diligently purchasing the season sets as they become available, congratulations, you just wasted your money. This set is about $40 less than the individual season and has a bonus DVD making it the better deal. However, it is certainly not worth the upgrade.

Star Trek Enterprise - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The fourth and final season of this series hits the home market this week. Many consider this the strongest season of the series, mainly because Rick Berman and Brannon Braga lost a lot of creative control over the series. Until the 2-hour finale that is, which is one of the worst things to ever happened to the Star Trek franchise. It was like one big, "Screw you!" to the fans. (In that way, it reminds me of the series finale for Voyager. In that series it wasn't whether or not the crew got back home that interested me, but how they would re-adjust to Earth after being marooned halfway across the galaxy. Personally I thought Janeway should have not been able to make the adjustment and the series should have ended with her stealing a ship and heading back to the Delta Quadrant, maybe with a crewmember or two who also couldn't go back to life under the Federation.) The special features on the 6-disc set are great, but the price tag is just way too high for the causal fan.

Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The final installment of the Star Wars saga hits the home market tomorrow. The film is easily the best of the prequels and is arguably better than Return of the Jedi too. As for the special features, the 2-disc set is loaded with an audio commentary track, documentaries, deleted scenes, a music video and more. In fact, the only reason to not pick up this DVD is if you are waiting for the inevitable box set to come out. But let's face it, even though we all know its coming out sooner or later, there's no way real fans of the series are going to wait for it.

The Steve McQueen Box Set - Buy from Amazon
When it comes to box sets you have to look out for two pitfalls. Firstly, double-dipping:, has the movies been released on DVD already? Secondly, filler: are these the best choices, or is the studio just trying to pad the set. In this case, both films have already been released on DVD, and neither of them could be considered near the best of Steve McQueen's career. Add in the zero special features and the set is for completists only.

Tropical Malady - Buy from Amazon
The movie won the Jury Prize at Cannes, but the critics here were not quite as kind and the moviegoers were nowhere to be seen. And now, the DVD release has some issues dealing with the quality of the transfer. That's too bad because it reduces an otherwise great DVD to just the rental level.

The War of the Worlds - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is the version from 1953 and not the recent release. Outside of special effects, this version is the better version, but even so it still had some of the same flaws. Special features include two audio commentary tracks, a retrospective, a featurette on H.G.Wells, and the infamous radio drama by Orson Welles. It is the last feature that interests me the most, and overall the DVD is certainly worth picking up.

War of the Worlds - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a syndicated show back in the days when syndication was synonymous with low-budget, and this series was no different. The first season wasn't that bad, with some stories that were intelligent and that managed to avoid cliches. But as the show went on, it got progressively worse. And with no special features, the overall value of the 6-disc set slips below the rental level.

World Poker Tour Season Three - Buy from Amazon
I'm a big fan of Poker. I enjoy playing and I enjoy watching it on TV. However, while this 4-disc set does feature some of my favorite players (Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Gus Hansen, etc.), and has plenty of special features (deleted scenes, outtakes, poker tips), the replay value is just too low for me to pick up. For more obsessive Poker fans, on the other hand, it is a good deal.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, The Perfect Man, Aliens of the Deep, Millions, Heights, Tropical Malady