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DVD and Blu-ray Releases for January 5th, 2010

January 4th, 2010

The new year starts with a few prime releases, which is surprising, as this time of year we normally have a flood of late August / September releases, which are usually dumping grounds for films that didn't work. However, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs defied the odds and not only did it earn amazing reviews, it earned more than $100 million, while the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack is a clear contender for the Pick of the Week. Other contenders include the special edition for 10 Things I Hate About You and 50 Dead Men Walking. I would like to wait until Cloudy's screener turns up before making a final decision, but all signs point to it being the Pick of the Week.

10 Things I Hate About You - 10th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The DVD and the Blu-ray come out tomorrow, but the review of the DVD has been online for a few days now. You can check it out here, while we wait for the Blu-ray screener to arrive. Hopefully it won't be a long wait.

10 Things I Hate About You - The Series - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
While the TV series doesn't make its home market debut until next week, it seemed sensible to pair the review of Volume One of the TV series with the release of the Anniversary Edition of the movie that serves as the show's inspiration. Check out said review here.

50 Dead Men Walking - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A Canadian movie based on the real life Martin McGartland, who went undercover in the IRA, but when his cover was blown, he had to run for his life. The film earned excellent reviews and recently picked up an Independent Spirit Award nomination. Extras on the DVD include behind-the-scenes footage and some deleted scenes, while the Blu-ray costs a mere 50 cents more. And that's an even better deal, as both are very inexpensive on Amazon right now. Definitely worth picking up, and, given those reviews, a contender for Pick of the Week.

The Backyardigans - Join the Adventurers Club - Buy from Amazon
The latest four-episode DVD release from this popular pre-school franchise hits the home market this week. You can check out the review here.

Big Love - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
The fourth season begins next week, so now is the perfect time to release season three on DVD. This show has been a perennial bridesmaid during Awards Season and has earned five Emmy nominations, seven Golden Globe nominations, and nine Satellite Awards nominations, but so far it has walked away empty-handed. The series stars Bill Paxton, recipient of six of those nominations, as Bill Henrickson, a polygamist married to three women. The show has generated some controversy, but also strong reviews, so it doesn't feel like it is merely exploiting its subject matter for easy ratings. On the other hand, with a cast of close to a billion characters (slight exaggeration) and the number of overlapping relationships, it is impossible for it to not delve deeply into soap opera territory. There are only so many secret relationships or murder attempts I can handle before giving up on a show.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: 10 Things I Hate About You, 50 Dead Men Walking, Battlestar Galactica - Season One, Celestial Railroad, Cheaper By the Dozen 2, Chuck: Season Two, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, D. Grayman: Season One, Part One, Dogtown and Z Boys, The Final Destination, The Green Berets, IMAX: Solarmax, The Last Salt Caravan, The Ministers, Riding Giants, and Wicked Lake
For what is normally a relatively slow time of year, there's a number of great Blu-ray releases this week. The best of these is Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but 50 Dead Men Walking, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Chuck are also worth picking up.

Cheaper By the Dozen 2 - Buy from Amazon
The follow-up to the $100 million original is making its High Def. debut this week and I will be reviewing it, as soon as the screener arrives.

Chuck - Season Two - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This show has earned impressive reviews, but has never managed to get strong ratings. In fact, its ratings were weak enough last season that it is a bit of a shock that the show was picked up. (NBC's weakness overall helped. After all, you can't blame this show for struggling in the ratings when the rest of the line-up is doing the same.) Extras on the 6-disc DVD include several featurettes, some webisodes, deleted scenes, and outtakes. There are no exclusive extras on the 4-disc Blu-ray, but it also only costs 22% more than the DVD, which is very low for TV on DVD releases. Regardless of which format you chose, it is worth picking up while you wait for season three to start on January 10th. On the other hand, there appear to be major changes ahead for the show, as the network gives it one last chance to prove itself. Hopefully these changes are for the better, but I remain skeptical.

The Circuit - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie starring Billy Campbell and Michelle Trachtenberg as father-daughter racing stars that have a rivalry on the track. The acting is good, but the movie is a little predictable. Worth checking out, but for most a rental will be enough.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - Buy from Amazon: Single Disc DVD, Two-Disc DVD, or Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack
This film debuted in September, which is not a month that is known for quality releases. However, it earned surprisingly strong reviews and earned more than $100 million at the box office. (Also, it seems its chances at an Oscar nomination are at least 50/50.) Do the home market releases live up to this quality? Don't know. And I won't know until the screener arrives. Hopefully it will get here before the weekend.

Doctor Who - Buy from Amazon: Episode 5 - The Keys of Marinus and Episode 137 - The Twin Dilemma
Two more episodes from the longest running Sci-fi series of all time. Episode 5 is of importance simply because of its place in the history of the show; however, it is also a strong episode in its own right and certainly worth checking out. Episode 137 is significant because it introduces the sixth doctor. However, it is widely regarded as one of the worst stories, if not the worst story in the show's 45-year history. There are still plenty of extras on both releases, but unless you are a completist, it might be best to skip the second release this week.

Elvis Presley Gladiators: The 1974 Elvis Karate Legacy Project - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about martial arts co-written and partially financed by the King himself. The movie was filmed in 1974 but not completed at the time of Elvis Presley's death. In fact, it was packed away with other memorabilia and only completed decades later. The first release in 2002 didn't include footage of Elvis Presley due to copyright issues, but those have been solved, so this is the first time it has been available in its complete form.

The Final Destination - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Final Destination has never been a major player at the box office and the previous films had averaged just over $50 million domestically and $100 million worldwide. However, it seems adding 3D to the mix was a boon as this film earned $66 million domestically and relatively close to $200 million worldwide. Sadly, this jump in box office revenue was not accompanied with a rise in its Tomatometer Score. Extras include some alternate scenes, including two alternate endings, as well as storyboards and a look at how some of the kill scenes were made. There are no exclusives on the Blu-ray and it costs almost 40% more. That said, unless you are a fan of the series you can safely skip this movie. Even if you are a fan, it is only worth a rental, so the purchase price of the two formats matters little.

The Good Witch - Buy from Amazon
Catherine Bell stars in this TV movie, which first aired in 2008. Since the third film just finished filming, it is obvious that it has enough fans to keep the folks at the Hallmark Channel happy. The reviews were good, although the film feels too much like a "wholesome TV movie" at times. But, if you have enjoyed Hallmark Channel productions in the past you will likely enjoy this one as well.

The Hip-Hop Project - Buy from Amazon
A documentary on the positive aspect of Hip-hop, which is a genre of music that doesn't exactly have a positive image. This is unfair, but while the film was obviously a labor of love, its reviews were only good, but not great, and it went nowhere at the box office. Fortunately the DVD has a lot more extras than expected with a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, bonus performances, and more. Additionally, apparently 100% of the profits will go to charities. Given the reviews and the extras, it is definitely worth checking out. However, the charity aspect puts it over the top and lifts it from a solid rental to the purchase level.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures - Volume Two - Buy from Amazon
The latest Marvel super hero to be retconned as a teenager. It worked well for Spectacular Spiderman, but not as well here. Peter Parker was always just a kid trying to deal with his power, so making him a couple years younger doesn't really change things. Tony Stark was a millionaire playboy with alcohol problems. Making him a teenager changes a lot. Also, I'm not a fan of the animation style, which uses computer animation rendered to look like it is hand drawn. Still, fans of the comic book who don't mind a show aimed at a slightly younger audience will want to check it out.

Kendra - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A Reality TV series about someone named Kendra, who apparently used to be one of Hugh Heffner's girlfriends. Really? That's all it takes to get a TV show these days?

King of Queens - Buy from Amazon: Season Four, Season Five, and Season Six
I'm confused. Last week these three DVDs showed up on my desk and I'm not sure why. These three seasons were originally released on DVD from 2005 to 2006, while the Complete Series Megaset was released in 2007. So I'm not entirely sure why they arrived for me to review.

I think, but I'm not 100% sure, it has to do with the fact that it was made by Sony but shown on CBS, which belongs to the same media conglomerate as Paramount. This has led to the latter re-releasing the show on DVD, and perhaps only in Canada.

I believe the only difference with these new releases are the cases and the price. I think the cases are slimmer than the previous releases, meaning they will take up less space on your shelves, which is nice, but a really minor change. However, the big draw here is the price. Currently on Amazon they cost just $15 each, which means it is cheaper to buy the seasons individually than to buy the Megaset. Of course, with the Megaset you also get a cool box, which might be worth the extra $10. On the other hand, if you thought the show took a little while to find its footing, or if you thought it overstayed it welcome, now is the perfect time to pick up the seasons you enjoyed the most. For instance, I always thought Nicole Sullivan was great as Holly Shumpert, the dog-walker Doug and Carrie Heffernan hired to walk Arthur. If you agree and only want the seasons she was in, then you might want to pick up the show starting with season four and ending with season seven. (She was only in two episodes in season eight and only one in season nine.) On the other hand, if your favorite character is Spence played by Patton Oswalt (and who could blame you), then you'll have to grab them all, because he only missed a handful of episodes throughout the show's nine-year run.

So that appears to be it. New case, much better price, no reason to upgrade, but the perfect time to jump in if you haven't already started your collection.

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
While there have been many incarnations of this cartoon super hero, this is the series from the late 1980s created by Ralph Bakshi and featuring the animation talents of people like John Kricfalusi (Ren & Stimpy) among others. This show generated a lot of controversy when someone complained that a scene with Mighty Mouse sniffing flower petals actually depicted him snorting cocaine. I remember that incident and I remember at the time thinking the people complaining were nuts. There were some other controversial moments that I don't remember and I look forward to that part of the review. Of course, that will have to wait until the screener arrives.

The Philanthropist - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Based loosely on the real life of Bobby Sager, this series had an impressive cast, including James Purefoy, Jesse L. Martin, Neve Campbell, and Lindy Booth. However, the show wasn't able to earn the reviews nor the ratings necessary to survive. Fortunately for fans, all eight episodes are being released on this two-disc set. Unfortunately, it appears that's all you get, as it looks like there are no extras included.

Super Friends - Season One - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
The first of two volumes for the 1973 Super Friends series. This is the first incarnation of the classic show and it is a must-have for fans of the franchise. As far as extras go, there's just an interactive quiz, while the price per minute is a little on the high side. Still, worth picking up for most fans.

Trucker - Buy from Amazon
Michelle Monaghan and Nathan Fillion earned praise for their performances in this film, but the rest of the movie was only average and it really struggled at the box office. It's worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of either of the two leads, but start with a rental.

Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The latest re-release of this TV special hits the home market this week, and while it's way too early for Valentine's Day, we won't let that affect our review, which can be found here.


Filed under: Video Releases, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, The Final Destination, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Hip Hop Project, Trucker, The Ministers, Fifty Dead Men Walking