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DVD Releases for July 13, 2004

July 12th, 2004

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 and a few from the growing TV on DVD section. This week's pick of the week was a real buried treasure, so well buried that I couldn't find it. Currently, there isn't a single release in the top ten on Amazon's Sales Chart. And the top performer from this week's releases is a case of controversy over quality.

Against the Ropes - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Remember when Meg Ryan was a solid box office draw? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't because, quite frankly, she's been box office poison for as long as Val Kilmer has. This film was one of the biggest misses of the year so far, both financially and critically but should earn more at the home market, simply because the bar has been set so low.

Agent Cody Banks 2 - Destination London - Buy from Amazon
This film quickly put an end to the Agent Cody Banks franchise. This one performed much weaker than the original, both at the box office and with the critics. Even the DVD release isn't as cool as the first's.

The Assassination Bureau - Buy from Amazon
What happens when the head of an early 1900s assassin's guild agrees to put a contract out on himself? One of the more interesting late 60s comedy / action cappers. And while the film does have its charm (and Diana Rigg), you'll never forget it was made in the 1960s, as it has that unmistakable feel. Lack of special features also hurts considerably. On a side note, this is the kind of film that could be remade today with really good special effects and become a major hit, if they could find the right cast, director, screenwriter, etc.

The Barbarian Invasions - a.k.a. Les Invasions Barbares - Buy from Amazon
This Oscar winning film from Canada is a follow up to 1986's The Decline of the American Empire, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Excellent reviews help, but the lack of extras preclude this film from being a must have. It is worth a rental at the very least.

The Bourne Identity - Explosive Extended Edition - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
What's the most important part about making a sequel? Re-releasing the original on a special edition DVD, of course. This is a great movie and I'm looking forward to the sequel, but I can't in good conscience rate this DVD as a must buy. At least the new special features aren't all just blatant advertisements for next film.

Double Indemnity - Buy from Amazon
One of the greatest film noir movies of all time is being re-release on DVD, albeit a featureless one.

The Dreamers - Buy from Amazon: NC-17 or R-Rated
Normally when a movie is released on a Unrated DVD it's a poor excuse at marketing. 'Buy the Unrated version and see the 2 and a half minutes of footage you didn't see in the theatre, footage you wouldn't even notice unless you watch both versions side by side.' However, in this case it’s the NC-17 rated version that was released in theatres while the R-Rated version is a special cut for the home market. Unfortunately, outside the controversy created by the NC-17 rating, there's not much to recommend the movie.

Farscape - Season 4, Collection 5 - Buy from Amazon
The final episodes of one of the best Sci-Fi series in recent times. This show developed a small, but fiercely loyal audience. However, I don't like it how they break up the seasons into 5 volumes. I'd rather wait and get the whole season at once when it comes out.

Hercules The Legendary Journeys - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon
How would I describe season four of the TV series Hercules in one word? Porkules. There is an episode in season four called Porkules where Hercules gets turned into a pig. I'm not kidding. If you are a fan of the series, you know what to expect with regards to extras and such. One last thing, I've said it before and I'll say it again, Anchor Bay Entertainment puts out excellent DVDs. And I'm not just saying that so they'll give me DVDs to review in the future.

The Manchurian Candidate - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
What's the most important part about making a remake? Re-releasing the original on a special edition DVD, of course. (On a side note, I don't remember always being this cynical.) The original version is a classic and I can't help but think that releasing it on DVD will hurt this newer version's chances.

Never Die Alone - Buy from Amazon
The first movie from rapper-turned-actor DMX's movie production company, Bloodline Films. And if it's an indication of the quality of his other projects, he should stick with rapping.

Poker for Dummies - Buy from Amazon
If you see this DVD in a friends collection, then it's time to break out the cards and take them for all they're worth. Learning to play poker from a DVD is like learning how to bake a cake without ever setting foot in a real kitchen.

Popular Mechanics for Kids - Buy from Amazon: Radical Rockets and Other Cool Cruising Machines or Slither & Slime and Other Yucky Things
The first two volumes of this fun, fact filled kids show comes to DVD, each with four episodes that focus on a common theme. Hopefully if these sell well enough we'll see other 'edutainment' shows coming out on DVD, shows like Beakman's World or hopefully Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Project Greenlight 2 - The Complete Second Series and The Battle of Shaker Heights - Buy from Amazon
The movie's a bit of a mess and the TV series is much worse. So there's not much to recommend this DVD; Shia Labeouf's performance was probably the only high point of the film.

Puppets Who Kill - Buy from Amazon
A few weeks ago I mentioned this set was available in Canada, and now it's available in the States. This is a great show that's probably too out there for most people. But if you have a weird sense of humor, (or 'humour' as we spell it) then I'd suggest giving this show a chance.

Slasher - Buy from Amazon
A TV documentary about the only thing worse than the serial killers in teenage slasher movies, used car salesmen. The reviews are quite strong, but the extra features are just average.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold - Buy from Amazon
I hate it when classic films are dumped on DVD without any features. It's the wasted potential that gets me.

Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise - Buy from Amazon
When you come across a name like that you have to stop and take notice. This film actually has a pretty serious pedigree as it was directed by Danny Boyle, who has some excellent movies to his credit, and stars Timothy Spall, one of the best character actors working in Britain today.

Zatoichi - Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsman - Buy from Amazon
The Zatoichi series has been described by some as the Japanese equivalent of James Bond. And now that the series is being remade, starting with The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi there couldn't be a better time to re-release some of the originals on DVD.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Bourne Supremacy, The Manchurian Candidate, Les invasions barbares, Never Die Alone, The Dreamers, Zatoichi, The Battle of Shaker Heights, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, Against the Ropes