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DVD Releases for September 7, 2004

September 6th, 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, including the winner of the DVD Pick of the Week, which we will get to shortly. But first I must comment on the sheer number of quality DVDs that are being released this week. It is ridiculous. I would rate more than a dozen DVDs being released tomorrow has must haves, but obviously I can't declare them all the DVD Pick of the Week, so I've narrowed the list to The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection - Buy from Amazon, Clerks - 10th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon and Ginger Snaps Back - The Beginning - Buy from Amazon. Although my personal shopping list is four times as long.

The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection - Buy from Amazon
Nine films by one of the greatest directors of all time, eight of which are making their DVD debut. Most of the films are more than 50 years old, and most are regrettably light on special features with just a documentary on each one. However, these movies are absolute classics and are must haves for film buffs. The films can also be bought separately, but I'd stick with the box set.

Alias - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
If you have been keeping up with the Alias Franchise, and you probably should, then you know what to expect with regards to special features, packaging, etc. However, the quality of this season was not as high as previous seasons due to a lack of over-arcing story line. (On a side note, studios hate over arcing story lines because they make repeats, and more importantly, syndication less popular.) Even so, it is still one of the best shows on TV.

American Dreams - Season One - Extended Music Edition - Buy from Amazon
With so many shows having to change songs due to licensing difficulties, it's nice to see a show that not only kept all its original music, but has extended music. Of course, considering the focus that this show has on the American Bandstand show, it is not surprising. Special features on the discs include a handful of audio commentaries, a couple retrospective featurettes, and more.

Angel - Buy from Amazon
Depending on who you talk to, this is either the best season, or the worst season. Personally, I'm in the later group. I didn't like the Evil Cordy story line, (which had undergone last minute revision due to Charisma Carpenter's pregnancy) and I never thought Angel's son, Connor, was a compelling character. (Although, I liked his guest appearances in season five.) Now you must keep in mind, the worst season of Angel is still better than 90% of what's on TV, and combined with the best set of special features out of the franchise so far, it is worth picking up.

Best of Beakman's World - Buy from Amazon
Beakman's World was an 'edutainment' kids show that ran from 1993 to 1998 and collecting enough "Best of" moments to fill one DVD should be an easy task. And while normally I don't like Best of DVDs, vastly preferring Complete Season Sets, if this set doesn't sell I won't expect to see Complete Season Sets coming out.

Clerks - 10th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
Nothing will make me judge a DVD harsher than calling it a Special Edition, Anniversary Edition, Collector's Edition, or any of the dozen different monikers I've seen printed on the packaging. You put one of those names on the DVD, and it better damn well be special. Fortunately for Kevin Smith, this is an excellent DVD release. 3 discs, both versions of the movie, a documentary of the movie, a few shorts, audition tapes and more. And if that not enough to keep Clerks fans busy, there's going to be a sequel, "The Passion of the Clerks."

Columbo - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
First of all, Columbo has never really been a TV series, more like a series of TV movies. And this set contains 9 of the earliest such TV movies. Peter Falk's portrayal of Lieutenant Columbo is one of the most memorable TV detectives ever. And the lack of extras is disappointing, but expected considering the shows are more than 3 decades old.

Cryptkeeper's Deadly Duo Pack - Buy from Amazon
Two films, Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood, released in one set. The first film is one that I think is unfairly overlooked, while the other is also ignored, but it deserves to be ignored.

Dawn of the Dead - Ultimate Edition - Buy from Amazon
As I talked about in the Clerks - 10th Anniversary Edition, I'm a harsher critic of DVD releases with fancy titles given to them. On of the criteria I look at is the time between releases. And for the regular edition of this DVD was released just 6 months ago, which is simple too short of a timeframe for this to be considered anything more than a cash grab. On a side note, I predicted this would happen six months ago. Also available tomorrow is Night of the Living Dead.

Decoys - Buy from Amazon
The Canadian movie industry is in a transitional phase. It is producing a lot more films, films that should have a lot more popular appeal, but it still needs to learn how to market these films. Decoys is a good example of the new Canadian cinema; a movie made to appeal to the masses, but they bungled the marketing and it barely made a noise at the box office. As with most Canadian films, reviews are few and far between, (and occasionally in German.) Not the best movie ever made, but worth a rental. Unless you are Canadian like me, then it's your patriotic duty to purchase this DVD.

Disney Princess DVDs - Buy from Amazon: Princess Party - Volume 1, Princess Sing Along Songs and Princess Stories
If you have girls in the target demographic, you will be buying these DVDs regardless of what I write here. And the real horror of it is the Volume 1 ominously written on them.

Eddie Murphy Raw - Buy from Amazon
The highest grossing concert movie of all time. This is no surprise since the film captures Eddie Murphy at his Stand-Up Comedy prime. On the other hand, the lack of special features is disappointing. Not unexpected, just disappointing.

Everwood - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
If the WB does one thing well, it's dramas. Of the 12 hours of original programming on the WB station a week, 8 of those hours are dramas, mostly family dramas. Everwood is one such drama; it tells the story of a renowned brain surgeon who moved to a small town after the death of his wife. Like most WB dramas the show has earned high praise from the critics, but strangely no Emmys and barely any Emmy nominations. The DVD release is also up to the quality level of most WB releases, handful of audio commentaries, deleted scenes, outtakes and behind the scenes featurettes.

Ginger Snaps Back - The Beginning - Buy from Amazon
The prequel to 2001's Ginger Snaps is the second Canadian horror film on this week's list. This one is the far superior to Decoys, and is in fact better than the second film in the Ginger Snaps trilogy. The DVD release is excellent with plenty of special features, especially for such a limited release. Fans of the trilogy should snap this DVD up as soon as it hits the shelves, as should fans of Werewolf Lore in general.

Guys Gone Wild - Buy from Amazon
When I first saw the title, I assumed it was a parody. Sadly, it is not.

The James Stewart Hollywood Legend Collection - Buy from Amazon
All these films have already been released on DVD, but if you haven't purchased them previously, then this set is worth picking up.

Jersey Girl - Buy from Amazon
This is the first Kevin Smith movie that I wasn't eagerly looking forward to watching. It earned the worst reviews of his directing career, but at 40% positive is about average for most wide releases. The DVD has quite a few special features, 2 audio commentaries, (including one with Jason Mewes, who doesn't appear in the movie), interviews, behind the scenes featurette, and more. Probably only worth picking up for Kevin Smith completists.

Jim Henson's The Storyteller - Greek Myths - Buy from Amazon
Four ancient Greek Myths done by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Fans of the pervious series or of Jim Henson's puppetry in general should love this mini-series.

Judgment at Nuremberg - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Arguably one of the best courtroom dramas of all time, and certainly one of the most important. (In my opinion, the only other courtroom drama to come close would be Inherit the Wind.) The film earned a multitude of Oscar nominations and won two of them. For a movie that's more than 40 years old, the DVD has an impressive amount of special features.

Kaena: The Prophecy - Buy from Amazon
A computer animated movie from France. For a film with a production budget of $27 million, if failed to have any impact here, or indeed anywhere. And with the reviews it had, I'm not surprised.

Keen Eddie - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Short-lived series about a New York Cop who is lent out to Scotland Yard. Only 13 episodes were made, and of those only 7 were ever aired. Undoubtedly, the series' fans will be happy for its release on DVD, but the complete lack of special features is tough to accept.

The Ladykillers - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
This film will probably go down in history as the film that broke Tom Hanks' $100 million dollar movie streak. Reviews are just average and well below that of the Coen Brothers' usual level. The special features on the disc are also just average, making this DVD a solid rental.

Latter Days - Buy from Amazon: Unrated or R-Rated
Gay and Lesbian movies are generally aimed at a niche market. Mormon movies are also a niche market. So a movie that both is really going to struggle to find an audience. In this case, the film was never able to push its theatre count past 19, but strong word of mouth helped it reach $833 thousand, just shy of its production budget. As a thank you, this DVD has an incredible amount of extras for a limited release. Audio commentary, making of featurette, deleted and extended scenes, music videos and more. That's good for a first run wide release DVD so kudos to TLA Releasing for the effort the put in the DVD.

Magnum, P.I. - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
I was a huge fan of this show when I was a kid. The key word in that last sentence, "kid." It's been too long since I've seen the show to know if it lives up to my past memories. The set contains the pilot movie, all 16 episodes and 4 bonus episodes from later series, but no special features. No audio commentaries, no interviews, no making of featurettes. This is more disappointing and it puts the fans in a difficult place. Buy the DVD and the studio will most likely release future season sets without special features. Don't buy the DVD and the studio will most likely not release future season sets at all.

The Martian Chronicles - Buy from Amazon
The mini-series from 1980 is being released on a 2 disc set. There are no special features on the set, and the quality of the show itself is poor. Fortunately, there is a rumor that it will be remade as a theatrical release sometime within the next few years.

Mork & Mindy - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Another TV series from my childhood is released on DVD. And like most shows that age that are coming out, this one has no special features. This is probably best known as the show that launched Robin Williams' career. The show started out well, but suffered from too many changes in both cast and style until most of the audience was driven away.

Murder on the Orient Express - Buy from Amazon
What a waste. This is an absolute classic murder mystery movie, with an amazing cast, flawless story, and it's being released on its 30th anniversary. So why Paramount didn't release a special edition DVD is beyond me. Considering the film is currently sitting in 69th place on the Amazon Sales Chart, there is sufficient demand to warrant such a release. The DVD does have a four part making of documentary, but there could be so much more.

Never Cry Wolf - Buy from Amazon
An autobiographical film written by Farley Mowat, a famous Canadian author, perhaps the most famous. For a man who writes a lot about nature he is a highly controversial man who was once banned from entering the United States. The film chronicles his summer alone in the arctic wilderness observing a pack of wolves. Fascinating story that is exquisitely filmed, but the DVD lacks special features. But given the age of the movie this is not surprising.

Pink Flamingos - 25th Anniversary - Buy from Amazon
With A Dirty Shame coming out in a couple of weeks, what better time could there be to release some of John Waters' older films? Pink Flamingos is probably his best known work, but not his best. The amount of special features is very limited for a Anniversary Edition. Also being released tomorrow is Polyester and Female Trouble.

The Punisher - Buy from Amazon
When it comes to the Comic Book movie, Marvel is king. However, this film was a misstep for the company, both at the box office and with the critics. The DVD release is impressive with plenty of special features, but not enough to make up for the quality of the movie.

Red Heat - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is one of those movies that fall under the header of guilty pleasure, at least for me. For most people it's just a bad buddy cop movie that has no right to be released on a Special Edition DVD.

Resident Evil - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
What's the most important step in releasing a sequel? Re-releasing the original on a special edition disc. Not only is the DVD being release with dubious timing, but there's not enough extra features for it to be called Deluxe. Pure cash grab.

Rounders - Miramax Collector's Series - Buy from Amazon
Possibly the greatest Poker movie of all time, certainly my favorite. The special edition doesn't have a whole lot of special features but it does have two sets of audio commentaries, (including one with four professional poker players), behind the scenes featurettes and tips from the aforementioned poker players.

Soul Plane - Buy from Amazon: Unrated Mile High Edition or R-Rated Edition
It has been just 3 and a half months since this film opened in theatres, and now it's on DVD. Awful movie that tries to make up with lots of special features and the Unrated moniker. It is evidentially not enough as the film is currently sitting 275th place on the Amazon Sales Chart.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring - Buy from Amazon
This film opened small, but showed strong legs earning over $2 million by the end of its run. Amazing reviews, specifically with regards to cinematography, would make this film worth a rental. Unfortunately, like many independent films, there are no special features on the disc to push it up to the buying level.

Star Trek: Generations - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
The studio continues to release special edition versions of the Star Trek Franchise. If you own the previous movies, then you know what to expect. If not, then you probably don't care.

The Twilight Zone - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
First a note, this is the latest incarnation hosted by Forest Whitaker. I think most fans of the show would agree that it was the weakest incarnation and the lack of any special features makes the set for completists only.

The United States of Leland - Buy from Amazon
This film has an amazing cast, but reviews were well below expectations, the film flopped at the box office, and now is being released on a featureless disc.

The Vanishing - Buy from Amazon
If this film interests you, get the original Dutch film, which is far superior to the Hollywood remake.

Wattstax - 30th Anniversary Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about the Wattstax Music Festival. Deals a lot more with the socio-political situation around the festival than similar documentaries for other music festivals, Woodstock for instance. Special features are up to the Special Edition title, especially considering how old the movie is.

Will & Grace - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a show that most people will agree has Jumped the Shark, but that didn't happen completely till season 4. Those who have purchased past season sets from the franchise shouldn't be surprised by the special features et al, and those who didn't, probably won't care.

Without a Trace - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
One of several cop shows on TV today, this one focusing on the FBI Missing Persons Bureau. The show have enough special features, but is being released on double sided DVDs, which I dislike.


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Filed under: Video Releases, The Ladykillers, The Punisher, Jersey Girl, Soul Plane, Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom, Latter Days, The United States of Leland, Decoys, Kaena