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DVD Releases for October 12, 2004

October 11th, 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 Ren & Stimpy - The Complete First and Second Seasons - Buy from Amazon.

5ive Days to Midnight - Buy from Amazon
The mini-series has a very imaginative setup, a man (Timothy Hutton) find a briefcase containing the police file of his murder, which will take place in five days time. Great acting, great writing, great show … right up till the ending. It has the feeling of a project that got greenlit on the basis of a great premise, but they didn't have a way to wrap it up before production started, and then ran out of time to come up with one. Also, there are paradoxes caused by the time travel aspect of the show, which is almost unavoidable and more forgivable.

The Battle of Algiers - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
I did a write up about this DVD when it was released way back in September.

Brave New Girl - Buy from Amazon
You know you're in trouble when a DVD using, "From producer Britney Spears as a marketing tactic.

Breakin' All the Rules - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Panned by critics, ignored by audiences and now released on an unnecessary special edition DVD.

C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Is anyone else completely burned out over these criminal investigation TV series? Law and Order, CSI, Without a Trace, JAG, etc. There's just too many of them. But considering their continued domination of the TV ratings, I must be in the minority on this issue. Fans of the series who have picked up previous releases know what to expect in terms of special features and story-lines, and the rest of us have already stopped reading this and gone on to the next DVD on the list. Also of note, you can purchase seasons 1 through 4 as part of a package deal.

The Day After Tomorrow - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
A big action movie with just a hint of science behind it. Reviews were poor to mixed with most criticism being aimed at lack of genuine emotions and poorly execution of environmental science. One of the problems in doing a story like this is the time scale involved; events that happen in a blink of an eye, geologically speaking, still take a thousand years to happen, but that doesn't make for very compelling drama. Even so, the film was a surprise hit earning more than half a billion dollars worldwide. Special features on the disc include 3 audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes and DVD-Rom making of footage.

Dream On - Seasons 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon
An interesting show borne out of necessity. Universal owned a library worth of old 50s TV shows and decided to either find a way to use them, or destroy them to save storage space. Fortunately, what could have been a poor show warp around old clips, was clever and well written and went on the win HBO its first Emmy. The first two seasons were each half a season, so the studio has wisely decided to sell them as one set. There are little in the way of extras with just an introduction by producer John Landis, but at least the episodes are the uncut originals and not the syndicated versions.

Enemy Mine - Buy from Amazon
It's been a long time since I thought about this movie. The film has a good premise than can't be maintained throughout the movie. The DVD itself is a re-release from 2001 with no real special features.

Gothika - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Did we really need a special edition of this film? The film earned very poor reviews and wasn't a smash hit at the box office either and now the special edition is currently sitting at 4953rd place on the Amazon Sales Chart.

I'm Not Scared - Buy from Amazon
A very effective suspense film from Italy. The film did reasonably well in limited release, but not well enough to have any special features on the DVD.

Invader ZIM - Horrible Holiday Cheer - Buy from Amazon
The last of this great, twisted show finally comes to DVD. This show was not only cancelled too soon, but the experience was so horrible for the show's creator, Jhonen Vasquez, has said he will never work on a network animated show ever again.

The Jamie Kennedy Experiment - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The second season of the hidden camera show, a sub-genre of reality TV that is no better than the rest. Special features include a couple of audio commentaries and more than an hour's worth of bits that didn't make it into the show. You can also get seasons 1 and 2 as part of a package deal.

The Mother - Buy from Amazon
One of the most bizarre love triangles even seen in a film: Recently widowed woman has an affair with her daughter's boyfriend. This is one of those movies that seems to be made more for critics than for regular moviegoers. And like many independent releases, the DVD is devoid of any real special features.

Political Documentaries:
Two more political documentaries are being this week:

The Question of God - Sigmund Freud & C.S. Lewis - Buy from Amazon
I had the opportunity to watch this program when it was on my local PBS Station and while it was compelling, there was a serious flaw. Out of the eight members on the discussion panel, only one was a true skeptic. (They did get Michael Shermer, the Director of The Skeptic Society, so it wasn't just a token skeptic.) Granted, when you got on specific topics like Miracles, it was more balanced with some people believing in them and other not. But overall it seems like he was very outnumbered. For more information, check out the official site on the PBS.org.

Raising Helen - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
More of the same from Kate Hudson, whose recent career is filled with formulaic Romantic Comedies. Special features are also pretty standard with an audio commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes and the most unusual feature, a music video.

Ren & Stimpy - The Complete First and Second Seasons - Buy from Amazon
Two notes: First of all, while the box says uncut, this is not entirely true. Nickelodeon cut more scenes than the producers were aware of so when they made this set they didn't put all the scenes back. Some may in fact be lost. Secondly, the set is still worth picking up for fans of the show. Hopefully all of the missing scenes will be found and will be part of the special features for the season 3 DVD.

The Rolling Stones - Rock and Roll Circus - Buy from Amazon
Taken from the 1968 concert, the DVD release was delayed because the Rolling Stones were not happy with their performance at this event. In fact, there were several suspect performances, but at least The Who were on their game. The DVD contains a few extras include bonus songs not released on the 1996 VHS version.

Santa vs. The Snowman - 3D - Buy from Amazon
Normally I support a mandatory life sentence for anyone who releases a Christmas movie, but I'd make an exception for this film. Done by the creator of Jimmy Neutron, this is the IMAX retooling of the earlier TV Special. Warning, the film itself is barely more than 30 minutes long, so the DVD is a bit pricey on a per minute basis.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - 50th Anniversary Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
This two disc DVD set contains for the Widescreen and the Pan and Scan versions of the movie, plus a commentary track on the Widescreen version, a making of featurette, newsreel footage of the premiere and more.

The Signature Collection - Buy from Amazon: Hepburn & Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor and John Wayne
Three more collections from the Warner Bros. library, each with four movies. Unlike many collections, there's not a lot of filler in these sets.

Stephen King - Double-Shot - Buy from Amazon: Kingdom Hospital and Salem's Lot - The Miniseries
Kingdom Hospital is actually an adaptation of a TV series from Denmark. The 4-DVD set contains all 13 episodes of this mini-series / mid-season replacement, (had the ratings been better it would have returned as a regular show.) Special features are quite good with an audio commentary on the pilot episode and four featurettes on the Making of, Cast, Set and Special Effects.
Salem's Lot is the second adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, (if you don't count 1987's A Return to Salem's Lot, which was not a real adaptation.) This earlier version is better than the this one, and the DVDs are devoid of special features.

Taxi - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The first season of Taxi comes out on DVD the Tuesday after the movie Taxi is released in the theatres. I'd assume it was a cross-marketing ploy except the two have nothing to do with each other.

That's Entertainment - Buy from Amazon: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 or Trilogy Giftset
Compilations of old MGM movie musicals. If you are a fan of the genre this is an interesting look at their history.

Valentin - Buy from Amazon
A limited release with merely mixed reviews that couldn't expand far beyond a dozen theatres. Meant to tell the coming-of-age story of a precocious 8 year old in Argentina, but the emotions come off as simplistic and inauthentic.

The Wire - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
More like a 13 hour mini-series than the typical episodic cop show. Because the story unfolds over the entire season missing an episode can be detrimental to being able to follow the story, which makes this show and ideal one to watch on DVD. Unfortunately the DVD set is overprices and special features are underdone.


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Filed under: Video Releases, The Day After Tomorrow, Gothika, Raising Helen, Breakin' All the Rules, Santa vs. The Snowman, Io non ho paura, The Mother, La Battaglia di Algeri, Valentin, Bush's Brain, Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain... Begins to Die