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DVD Releases for November 8, 2005

November 7th, 2005

Every week Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - Buy from Amazon gets a second chance at... I'm just kidding. We're moving closer to the busy Christmas shopping season, and because of that there are a lot of prime DVDs worth picking up this week. Leading the way is Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi - Unrated Edition while Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - 2-Disc Special Edition earns a honorable mention. There are also... what's the philosophical term? ... a Metric Buttload of Christmas DVDs coming out this week, most of which should be ignored.

9 Songs - Unrated Full Uncut Version - Buy from Amazon
This is simply a bad movie that relied on controversy to get it anywhere, and given its small box office, that didn't work very well. Special features are better than many limited releases (including an option to skip all the boring sex bits, and no, I'm not being sarcastic), but in the end, the DVD isn't even worth a rental.

Apres Vous - Buy from Amazon
A French farce that received only mixed reviews. On the one hand, the film is funny and charming, but too lighthearted to be satisfying. Without any special features the DVD doesn't rank above a rental.

Beavis & Butt-head - Volume 1 - The Mike Judge Collection - Buy from Amazon - DVD or UMD Mini
This is an incredible set filled with great episodes and tons of special features. But I still say skip it. I'd be amazed if full season sets weren't already in the works, and chances are that the special features included here will be ported over to those releases, so I can't recommend this set. Save your money and wait.

Big Fish - Special Edition With Book - Buy from Amazon
One of three Tim Burton films coming out tomorrow, and quite frankly, this is the one I like the least. It's still a good movie, but it was almost a too obvious attempt to catch some Oscar glory. Compared to the previous release, there's not enough new here to warrant the upgrade.

Blue Collar TV - Season 1 - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
Fans of Jeff Foxworthy's brand of comedy, especially the Blue Collar Comedy Tour were thrilled when this show hit the air. Unfortunately, there weren't enough fans. The show is on hiatus now, and will likely be cancelled at the end of the season. The only way to prevent that now is if all the fans buy the show on DVD: strong sales might convince the network to keep the show on longer. It started out as a summer show, and this 2-disc set contains the first 13 episodes, plus extras like an hour-long special, behind the scenes featurette, and a redneck dictionary. This isn't highbrow comedy, but it is funny.

Boys Town - Buy from Amazon
A classic movie and a multi-Oscar winning film about Father Edward J. Flanagan, who set up a town to help juvenile delinquents. Whitey Marsh is one resident of Boys Town. This appears to be the first time the film has been release on DVD, so even though there are no special features, it is still worth picking up.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Buy from Amazon: 2-Disc Special Edition, Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the best reviewed wide releases of the year, and the 2-Disc Special Edition has plenty of special features. (The single-disc versions, on the other hand, are nearly bare.) There was a lot of worry when this film was first announced, as the original is a classic and many were worried that the remake wouldn't live up to it. However, this film is more of a re-adaptation of the book by Roald Dahl and is much more faithful. Also, Tim Burton is a master when it comes to creating colorful environments for strange characters to populate. Special features on the 2-disc set include 9 or so featurettes with a combined running time of 2 hours, but there are also a few games and DVD-Rom features. However, there are no audio commentary tracks, which is a shame because the movie could have had two, one with Tim Burton and select crewmembers and the other with the kids. Maybe they are saving that for the anniversary edition.

Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
The first 27 episodes of this very popular syndicated cartoon, which is strange since the series lasted 65 episodes. I could see 5 volumes of 13 episodes each, or 3 with 22 episodes, but 27 doesn't go into 65 evenly. This is a fun show for kids, but without any special features the value is limited.

Christmas Collection - Various DVDs
There's a ton of Christmas themed DVDs coming out this week including but not limited to:

Christmas with the Kranks - Buy from Amazon
The makers of the film heavily targeted the churchgoing crowd, using many of the same techniques as those employed by Passion of the Christ. While it obviously worked, it always struck me as strange; granted, it is a pro-Christmas movie, but it is incredible secular. There's no mention of Jesus, Mary or Joseph; it's all Santa, Rudolph and Frosty. As for the movie itself, it was nearly universally condemned by critics, and for good reason. And with no special features, this DVD should most definitely be skipped.

Cronicas - Buy from Amazon
John Leguizamo's first role in a foreign language film. It earned good reviews, but not good enough to escape limited release. The special features are very strong for a limited release, with an audio commentary track, deleted scene, alternate ending, long behind-the-scenes featurette, short featurette on the music, and more. It all adds up to a solid rental, and more than a few people who give it a try will end up buying it.

The Devil's Rejects - Buy from Amazon: Unrated Widescreen, R-Rated Pan & Scan, Unrated UMD Mini
First of all, if you are at all interested in getting this movie on DVD, buy the vastly superior Unrated Widescreen. The movie earned much better reviews than the original earned, and nearly managed an overall positive rating. Special features on the 2-Disc set include two audio commentary tracks, a feature-length making of documentary, the 30-minute long version of The Morris Green Show, deleted scenes, and more. A great package for fans of this type of movie.

A Different World - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Good show with some interesting extras on the DVD, but I'd hold off on buying it just yet. The show is a Spin-Off of The Cosby Show, but when the The First Season of that show was released they used the syndicated version of the shows and not the original broadcast episodes. However, they realized their mistake and are using the broadcast versions of the rest of the season, which means this 4-disc set also uses the broadcast version. But I wouldn't put down any money until I could confirm that.

Doctor Who - Buy from Amazon: Episode 57 - The Claws of Axos and Episode 105 - City of Death
Two more amazing releases from one of the most beloved Science Fiction shows of all time, but to collect every release so far would cost you about $1,000, which is too much of a commitment for me so I haven't even started. Maybe one day I will.

DuckTales - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
One of two Disney after-school cartoons hitting the market this week. Like the previous set on this week's list, this one contains 27 episodes, but they don't appear to be in any particular order.

Dungeons & Dragons 2 - Wrath of the Dragon God - Buy from Amazon
This direct-to-DVD sequel is vastly superior to its predecessor, but then again, it would almost have to be. The original was one of the worst movies of 2000 while this film is a passable fantasy saga. There are a couple of extras on the disc, which lifts its value to the rental level, but not above.

Edward Scissorhands - Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon: Collector's Tin, Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of my favorite Tim Burton films of all time, and one of three such movies being released on the home market this week, or in this case, re-released. Compared to the previous edition, this have more in the way of special features (audio commentary track, making of featurette, etc.), but not enough to warrant the Special Edition Label. However, if you haven't added the movie to your DVD collection yet, there's a no better time to do it.

Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper - Live 1973: Billon Dollar Babies Tour - Buy from Amazon
Alice Cooper at his best, which means a lot of silly stage antics as well as some great musical performances. Unlike the other concert film on this week's list, this one has plenty of special features including audio commentary, deleted scenes, concert only option, Easter eggs and more. Well worth the price for fans of Alice Cooper.

Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi - Buy from Amazon: Unrated or Rated
Jay and Silent Bob invade Degrassi Junior High to make the fictitious film, Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, eh? Long time readers know how much of a fan I am of this series and its predecessor as well as Kevin Smith. However, long time readers should also be well aware than I hate TV on DVD releases that are not full-season sets. In reality, the choice was pretty simple, as the wait to get this 3-episode story arc on a full season set was just too long. It was also a simple choice to pick the Unrated Edition. I know, Unrated Editions are normally just a marketing ploy trying to get people to buy the DVD on the vague promise that they might see a nipple or two, but in this case no one's getting naked. (Well, maybe Jason Mewes will, he's been known to do that.) It just means there's a bit more swearing than you'd normally get on network TV. Overall, this is easily my DVD pick of the week.

Jumanji - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
What's the most important step in releasing a sequel? OK, I assume most of you know where this is going. The movie is not that good, but the DVD release is a significant step up from the Collection's Edition. Bottom line, this is a triple-dip and isn't worth the upgrade.

The Kingdom - Series One - Buy from Amazon
This is the original series from Denmark and not the Stephen King remake that has already been released on DVD. Most people will agree that this version is much better, and the 2-disc set has special features that are comparable with that release with an audio commentary track, behind-the-scenes featurette, and TV spots.

The Kumars at No. 42 - Buy from Amazon
The Kumars are you typical Indian immigrant family living in London, except they have a TV studio in their backyard where they interview guests. The humor of the show comes primarily from the inappropriate and inexplicable questions asked by the family members of their guests, but it is very British and some of the guests will be completely unknown to American audiences, so that diminishes the appeal. Also, they decided to take six episodes from seasons one and two instead of putting out a full season set, so even with strong special features (audio commentary tracks on every episode, deleted scenes and a tour of the set), I can't fully recommend the DVD.

Lady Singes the Blues - Buy from Amazon
Diana Ross' first and most successful film. Granted, it's not like there's a lot of competition in that category. Considering it is a lesser known film from the 70s, there's quite a number of special features, starting with an audio commentary track, a making of featurette and deleted scenes.

Leni Riefenstahl Triple-Shot - Buy from Amazon: S.O.S. Iceberg, Storm Over Mont Blanc, and The White Hell of Pitz Palu
Three mountaineering films from the 1930s starring Leni Riefenstahl, who later became a documentarian and directed the infamous Triumph of the Will, which understandably killed her career after the atrocities of Nazi Germany came to light. Most would consider The White Hell of Pitz Palu to be the best of the three, while the other two are lacking in many ways. That film also has the best extras, including an interview with the star filmed in 2002 when she was nearly 100 years old.

Lenny Bruce Performance Film - Buy from Amazon
Lenny Bruce was one of the greatest Stand-Up comedians of all time. He also like to swear during his act. Now these days nobody would bat an eyelash at that, but in those days you could be arrested for swearing in a nightclub act. And Lenny Bruce was arrested, frequently. His battles with the law over First Amendment Rights were legendary and paved the way for a lot of other performers, but as this film shows, it took a toll on him. This is the second-to-last performance by Lenny Bruce, and instead of a normal comedy routine it is an hour-long rant against the system and all that it put him through. However, it is a well-deserved rant and historically significant. On that point alone, it is worth picking up.

Live 8 - Buy from Amazon
8-hours of the massive anti-poverty, globally spanning concert and this 4-disc set is an amazing package. Hell, for me it's worth the money just to see Pink Floyd perform live. My only concern is the various editions that come out next week (Toronto, Berlin, Roma, and Paris). Each of those discs concentrate on a specific concert for a more in-depth look, but are very expensive in comparison to this 4-disc set and the amount of overlap is also an issue. In the end, this set is easily the best deal and probably the only one worth picking up unless you were lucky enough to see one of others live, in which case it might be worth it as a memento.

Margaret Cho: Assassin - Buy from Amazon
The latest concert film from Margaret Cho is not as good as her previous releases and are for hardcore fans only.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection - Volume 8 - Buy from Amazon
Four more really, really, really bad movies are shown to, and mocked by, the prisoners on the Satellite of Love. This time around they are forced to endure The Dead Talk Back, Hobgoblins, Monster a-Go Go, and The Phantom Planet. On a side note, both Monster a-Go Go and Hobgoblins rank among the worst movies ever made. Yes, right up there with 'Manos' the Hands of Fate. As fans of MST3K know, the worse the movie, the better the episodes, and this set is no different.

The Partridge Family - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The show is just as bad as season 1, but there are fewer special features. Skip it.

Pickpocket - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
French director, Robert Bresson, has made a lot of great, great movies and this is one of them. However, his style seems like it was almost designed to turn away the average moviegoer. His fans should jump at the chance to pick up this DVD, which has extras like an audio commentary track, making of featurette, interviews, and more.

Popstar - Buy from Amazon
Starring Aaron Carter, which is all you really need to know. Skip it.

Popular Mechanics for Kids - Box Set - Buy from Amazon
24 episodes collected on 6 previously released, themed discs. I would prefer full season sets, but that doesn't seem likely at this point.

Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical - Buy from Amazon
A musical remake of the 1936 cult classic. Looking at the reviews for this film, at first glance they look bad, really bad. However, more than half of the negative reviews are actually for Reefer Madness, and not the Musical. Even so, the film will only have cult appeal, but those who do decide to give it a try will be rewarded with extras like an audio commentary, behind the scenes featurette, and the original movie. (The final feature is in poor quality and the Restored Edition is the better option if you really want that movie.) Because this item has niche appeal, it will be worth picking up for some, and skipping for most. If you're not sure which category you're in, it's worth renting first.

Remington Steele - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
This season is better than the first and so are the special features. The show had more charm, and a more polished feel this season, plus the addition of Doris Roberts added nicely to the cast. Special features include audio commentary tracks on three episodes and three features, which is more than many shows from the same era. If you enjoyed Season 1, then there's no reason not to get Season 2.

Robotech - Protoculture Collection - Buy from Amazon
Man, this is a sweet collection, but this release is not only a double-dip, it's a triple or even quadruple-drip and the chances are that, if you enjoy the show, you already have it on DVD in one of the several formats it has already been released in.

Rock-a-Doodle - Buy from Amazon
Director Don Bluth has made some of the great animated movies. This is not one of them. In fact, it was made during the low point of his career. The movie as been previously released, and that further reduces its value.

Space Above and Beyond - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
All 23 episodes of this short-lived series are on this 5-disc set. Unfortunately, that's all that's on the set. I can understand why the studio would be hesitant spending more money on a show that was cancelled after its first season, but it's a great show and some extra features would have been most welcome.

Tales From Avonlea - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
It's Canadian and therefore it is the patriotic duty of all fellow Canucks to buy this set. The show is a spin-off of Anne of Green Gables and stars Sarah Polley as Sara Stanley. It's a good show about growing up in a small town, but the lack of special features is disappointing.

Ugetsu - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
Kenji Mizoguchi was one of the masters of Japanese cinema. This film is arguably his best and also his most well known. The film tells the story of two brothers, one who is obsessed with becoming a Samurai and the other who is obsessed with selling his pottery and becoming rich. Special features include an audio commentary track, 45 minutes of interviews and a feature-length documentary on the director.

The White Shadow - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Former basketball player, Ken Reeves (played by Ken Howard), is forced to retire from the game due to injuries and takes a job at a tough inner-city school as the coach. The show only lasted three seasons, but it earned some loyal fans, and those fans will be happy the show is finally heading to DVD regardless of the number of special features. But fortunately for them, the special features are better than one would expect given the age of the show and how long it lasted, with audio commentary tracks on two episodes and a featurette.

The Who - Tommy and Quadrophenia Live - Buy from Amazon
This is just what the title says, two live concerts by one of the greatest bands of all time, The Who. These are two fantastic concerts, but there's not much here in terms of extras.

Yes - Buy from Amazon
What could have been a good film was hampered by trying too hard. It does have a great cast, including the ever dependable Joan Allen, but the show is stolen by Shirley Henderson as the philosophical cleaner. Add in a couple of featurettes and you have a DVD that is a solid rental.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Christmas with the Kranks, Big Fish, The Devil's Rejects, Yes, Cronicas, 9 Songs, Margaret Cho: Assassin, Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God, Après vous...