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DVD Releases for November 30, 2004

November 29th, 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 winners of the DVD Pick of the Week, Spider-Man 2 - Special Edition and Tru Calling - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon.

2004 World Series - Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals - Buy from Amazon
Just think, back in July I was making fun of the Red Sox. The biggest problem with the DVD set is that is focuses too much on the World Series sweep and not enough on the ALCS comeback against the hated Yankees. Members of the Red Sox Nation better pick this DVD up quickly, who knows how long it will be till you get to celebrate another World Series win.

Billy Madison / Happy Gilmore - Collection - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Two of Adam Sandler's earlier works coming out in a two pack with all-new bonus features. Neither film is all that good, but they are above his career average. The new special features are mostly deleted scenes and outtakes.

Bobby Jones - Stroke of Genius - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
This independently financed film about golfing legend Bobby Jones was one of the biggest missteps of the year. Made for $20 million, the film earned unimpressive reviews and went almost nowhere at the box office. The special features are good with an audio commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes and a making of featurette, but not enough to earn the Special Edition label.

Combat! - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon: Mission 1 and Mission 2
Two more sets from this groundbreaking series comes out on DVD this week. Both of the 4-disc sets contain 16 episodes of this gritty and realistic look at American soldiers during World War II. There are more special features than most shows this old and include several audio commentaries plus archival interviews and featurettes.

Daredevil - Director's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Offering 30 minutes of never-before-scene footage, but given its lackluster reviews, can that really be considered a good thing? Along with the new footage, there's a new audio commentary and making of featurette. If you already own the previous edition then this version is probably worth a rental. On a side note, this film's performance at the box office was perfect; strong enough to get Elektra made, but not so strong that a sequel is in the works.

The Fantastic Films of Ray Harryhausen - Legendary Science Fiction Series - Buy from Amazon
Ray Harryhausen was a master of the stop-motion animation technique, and while this is a good collection, it is missing his two best known and most beloved works: Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. Those will be release, with three other movies, next month. So while this is the lesser of the two sets, it is still a great introduction to Ray Harryhausen and a must for his fans.

Hero - Buy from Amazon
Despite the fact that Miramax bungled the release of this film leaving it on the shelves for two years before releasing it in late August, the film earned amazing reviews and became one of the highest grossing Foreign Language films of all time. With all that success, there should have been more special features than just a making of featurette, interviews and storyboards.

Inbred Redneck Alien Abduction - Buy from Amazon
A name like that makes a person stop and look. The film is actually an homage to the B-Movie sci-fi films that peaked during the glory days of the drive in movie theatre.

It's All True - Buy from Amazon
The film that killed Orson Welles' career. Originally the film was done as a goodwill film about South America for Anti-Nazi purposes, but due to changing cast, studio interference and rumors about his behavior in Brazil the studio pulling the plug on the project. After that Orson Welles was saddled with a reputation for wanton spending that prevented him from every doing the kind of work he deserved. For 50 years people thought the footage for lost, but it was found in the early 1990 and cut together without the guide of a script, or even detailed notes. Obviously it is not as good as it would have been as he finished it himself, but it is still an interesting piece of work and a must for fans of the great director's work.

Lost in Space - Season 2 - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
The lasted volume of this campy classic comes to DVD. These releases have generated some complaints of price-gouging and there is some legitimacy there, especially dividing the seasons into two volumes. Also, with only some audio interviews for special features there's not much here to encourage anyone but hard core fans to pick up the set. However, both of these complaints are partially mitigated due to the age of the source material.

Luther - Buy from Amazon
One of several religious films released in the past couple of years. Like most of the rest of these movies, Luther earned mixed reviews and is probably most notable for being Peter Ustinov's last role before his death. Like so many limited releases, this DVD is devoid of any real special features.

Mini-Discs Massive Release
Mini-DVDs playable in both portable DVD players and the full sized home versions. This Friday more than two dozen Mini-DVDs are being released and the highlights include:

You can also see a full list of these releases here, and as you can see, they are mostly geared towards kids for long trips in the car.

Mobile Suit Gundam Zeta Limited Boxed Set - Buy from Amazon
Got an Anime fanatic on your Christmas shopping list? Then this could be the perfect gift for them. Mobile Suit Gundam is a classic anime series and this box set is an amazing package with all 50 episodes, a 48-page encyclopedia of the series, collectable figures/pencil sharpeners and a poster. It is pricey, which is the only drawback.

Northern Exposure - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The second season had even fewer episodes than the first with just 7, but the price tag is almost the same as other full season sets. The reason for this is simple, music rights. I've said it before, I'll say it again, (especially when this DVD set is released.) The music labels are suffering because the quality of music being released has gone downhill, so they are sticking it to studios trying to release TV on DVD by charging them a fortune for the DVD rights to the songs. I'd rather have the studios replace the music than support them being ripped off.

Prisoner Cell Block H - 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
This show started in 1979 and ran for 8 years ending after nearly 700 episodes. This 3-disc set contains 12 episodes and three interviews. Hopefully, this is just the way for the studio to figure out if there's enough demand for full season sets, which will come later. Or given the number of episodes per season, break it down to four volumes per season.

Tru Calling - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
One of the most inventive new shows of last year, unfortunately it got saddled with an unbelievably bad time slot and struggled all season to find an audience. Good news, it was picked up for a second season. Bad news, the episode order was cut back from 13 to just 6. Even worse news, after filming all six episodes, the show was cancelled. Don't know if the these episodes will be aired or put out on DVD, but the best way to help on that front is to buy this DVD set. The special features on the disc are good with 4 audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, three featurettes, audition scenes, and a music video.

Samantha - American Girl Holiday - Buy from Amazon: Standard Edition or Limited Edition with Locket
This film made its debut on TV just last week, and now it's coming out on DVD this week. The film, set in the early 1900s, is based on a line of dolls and tells the story of a well-to-do young girl who befriends a servant girl. There are a couple special features, but not enough to justify the DVD release so soon after its television broadcast.

Spider-Man 2 - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan & Scan, Superbit or Gift Set
Spider-Man 2 was not only one of the biggest hits of the year, but it was also one of the best reviewed films as well, earning even better reviews than the original. Those of you who have that film on DVD will know what to expect in terms of special features, audio commentary tracks, pop-up trivia, making of documentary, outtakes, behind the scenes and more. With all these special features the Superbit Edition is really for people who have spent thousands on their home theatre system. And like the original Gift Set, this Gift Set is a little overpriced and for hardcore fans only. It's the version I'm planning on picking up. The film can also be picked up as part of several package deals: With Spider-Man Widescreen, Pan & Scan or Superbit 3-Packs Action Hero, Action Romance or Action .

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Filed under: Video Releases, Spider-Man 2, Daredevil, Jet Li's Hero, A Cinderella Story, Elektra, New York Minute, Luther, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, Billabong Odyssey