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DVD Releases for May 11, 2004

May 10th, 2004

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. It was a strange week for DVD releases, whilere there are 18 releases on the list, fully half of them are TV on DVD and most of the rest of older films. Only two new releases, The Fog of War - Buy from Amazon and In America - Buy from Amazon are on my rental list. And none are on my to buy list.

The 300 Spartans - Buy from Amazon
Can 300 Spartans defeat the Persian army, which is 100,000 men strong? You may be surprised by that answer, but probably not. Like many older films being release on DVD, this one has very few special features, but at least its widescreen, unlike the previous version.

The Adventures of Jonny Quest - Buy from Amazon
The first of two cartoons for the sixties on today's list, and unlike the other one, there's no catching theme song, at least not one I remember. This one contains all 26 episodes of the first run plus several special features.

The Boys from Brazil - Buy from Amazon
The story of a Nazi plot in South America to clone dozens of Hilters in order to bring about a Fourth Reich. Considering the level of acting ability in the movie, including Oscar winners Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier, this film should be a powerhouse. Unfortunately, it is remember more for its campiness than anything else. Fortunately, it is campy enough to like. As with many older films that are out on DVD, this re-release is void of special features.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
A classic western starring Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as The Sundance Kid. This film is less of a true historical western than it is a buddy comedy. The amount of special features is quite good, maybe not quite enough to be called a special edition, but it is also half the price of most special editions. So it's a real bargain.

The Fog of War - Buy from Amazon
This year's Oscar winner for best Full Length Documentary. The film earned some of the highest praise of any movie last year. Not only is the film impeccably filmed with the help of the Interrotron, but also the subject matter is evocative and timely. The film deserves at least a rental and should be picked up by history buffs.

Friends - The Final Episode - Buy from Amazon
Feeling nostalgic for last Thursday? Then you can relive the final episode of Friends with this Exclusive Limited Edition DVD. The DVD contains two versions of the finale, the pilot and some other extras. Seems a little expensive for only 2 episodes and limited extras, but it's the number one seller on Amazon right now.

The Godfather - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the greatest movie ever made. Available for the first time as a single DVD, however, it was previously released as part of a 5 DVD pack. Personally, I'd stick with the box set.

Have Gun Will Travel - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
"Have gun-Will travel. Wire Paladin, San Francisco." This DVD box set contains all 26 episodes from the first season of this Gunslinger series but without significant extras. There's a good reason for this; most people involved in the show have passed away. Still, it's just nice to have some of these older series on DVD.

In America - Buy from Amazon
One of the biggest independent hits last year taking in over $15 million. It also earned high marks from critics and even a trio of Oscar nominations. And unlike like the DVDs of many limited releases, this one has quite a few special features, full-length commentary, deleted scenes (including an alternate ending) and a making of featurette.

Indepedence Day - Limited Edition - Buy from Amazon
This 'Limited Edition' has fewer special features than the Special Edition released a few years ago. And to top it off, almost half the special features deal with The Day After Tomorrow. This is marketing at its most crass.

Invader Zim - Doom Doom Doom (Volume 1) - Buy from Amazon
A cartoon with a cult following. The fans were very loyal and outspoken, but alas, too few to save the show. DVD sets of short-lived shows are a way of thanking the fans but the can go one of two ways. They are either loaded with extras like Firefly - Buy from Amazon, which is still in the Top 100 Sales Chart. Or the series is dumped on the market without any feature like Sports Night. Fortunately the producers went the former this set is a big thanks with commentaries on almost every episode, the unaired pilot, interviews and more.

Japanese Story - Buy from Amazon
A limited release that never found an audience. It was able to earn some critical praise, most of which was focused on Toni Collette. There are more special features than most limited releases with a full length commentary with the writer, director and the producer and some deleted scenes.

The Jetsons - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
"Meet George Jetson. His Boy, Elroy. Daughter Judy. Jane, His Wife." The first run of this show was only in production for one season, but lasted on Saturday morning for decades. While most cartoons are aimed at children, older cartoons like this one have an historical significance, which is all but ignored in this set. A good prototype for such sets is Looney Tunes - The Golden Collection, which not only has the cartoons but most features are aimed at adults, not just kids.

Red Green's Hindsight is 20/20 - Buy from Amazon
The 25 year history of Steve Smith's famous character, Red Green. Red Green is a handyman of legendary incompetence and laziness who believes that there is a tool for every job and that tool usually is duct tape. This DVD contains an hour-long retrospective featuring the cast of the TV series during its 11 year run. And there are also nearly an hour of yearly appearances of the character from earlier TV series.

Scary Movie 3 - Buy from Amazon: Widesceen or Pan and Scan
Not the best reviewed film released last year, in fact, it's not the best-reviewed film in the trilogy. The DVD has an impressive amount of special features, but not enough overcome the lack of quality. Also being released tomorrow are the first two movies in a 2-pack, which also have good special features and poor reviews.

Survivor - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
I never got into this show and consider it, and indeed all reality shows, to be a pox on the airwaves. But I bought Tango and Cash on DVD, so what do I know about quality.

Van Helsing - The London Assignment - Buy from Amazon
The animated spin-off of this weekend's number one film. Due to the length (only 30 minutes long) and the lack of features, this has the feel of a cheap ploy to cash in on the movie's success.

The Waltons - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This series tells the story of a poor Virginia family living during the great depression. There are two major issues with this DVD set; firstly, there are no extras on the DVDs and secondly can the series, which is over 3 decades old, have relevance today.

X-Files - The Complete Ninth Season - Buy from Amazon
There's a term used to describe when a TV show peaks and it's all downhill from there, and that term is, 'Jump the Shark.' Not only had this series Jumped the Shark well before this season, the writers acknowledge that fact with an episode of that name. At this point this DVD set is for completists and hard core fans only. On a side note, many other seasons of X-Files are being re-released on DVD with a new, lower price.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Day After Tomorrow, Van Helsing, Scary Movie 3, In America, The Fog of War, Japanese Story