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DVD and Blu-ray Releases for April, 6th, 2010

April 6th, 2010

There is not a single first-run wide release on this week's list. The biggest new release of the week is Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, which made less than $2 million in theaters. The biggest selling release of the week is the Lord of the Rings - The Theatrical Trilogy on Blu-ray, but the extended edition has already been announced. After those two releases there is practically nothing of interest. In all honesty, many of the releases on this list would have been ignored had this been a busy week. The release I'm looking forward to the most is Yesterday Was A Lie, but the DVD is late, so I don't know if it is merely worth buying or if it is worthy of the Pick of the Week honor.

Ally McBeal - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
The Complete Series was already released on DVD, so I'm not sure why they are releasing the show as separate season now. Perhaps it's for people who thought the show was only good for the first few years and don't want to pay for the final two.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Two-Disc DVD, DVD w/ Squeak Along, or Blu-ray
This is just a quick update now that the Blu-ray has arrived. Since I've already reviewed the movie, there's no reason to get into quality, or lack of quality, but instead jump right into what makes this format different than the DVD.

Looking in on the exclusive extras, the first feature we find is a pop-up trivia track called Song Trivia Track. As you can probably tell from the name, it focuses on the music, but also talks about the actors and such. There's enough information here to not feel sparse, but it never gets really in-depth. There is also an A-l-v-i-n-n-n-n!!! Album Maker that allows kids to make album covers that they can save and view. It's too complex for a young child to figure out easily, while it's not interesting enough to entertain anyone older. It also comes with a DVD copy of the movie and a Digital copy of the movie. Plus, it is actually cheaper than the Two-Disc DVD version of the movie, so it is hard to argue with the price.

Moving onto the film's technical presentation, the video still suffers from the problems of the first film: the heightened sharpness of the CG characters compared to the relatively average video quality of the live action bits. This makes the CG leads feel even less like they are part of the action, thus hurting suspension of disbelief. The audio is a little better, with the surround speakers getting a bit of a workout during the concert scenes, but mostly it's heavy on the front speakers. Overall it is an improvement over the DVD, but not something you will use to show off your home theater system.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel did not win over a lot of critics, but it made a huge amount of money at the box office. If your kids loved the movie enough that they will watch it over and over again, the Blu-ray is solid value.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This is a remake that had a lot of people questioning the sanity of those involved. The film's struggle at the box office seems to confirm this initial reaction. But given the film's reviews, perhaps it was unfairly overlooked. Check out our review to see what side I agree with.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series, Battlestar Galactica: Season Two, Blood Ties: The Complete Series, Cocoon, Dolan's Cadillac, Dreamscape, Flight of the Intruder, Jade, The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Theatrical Editions), The Lord of the Rings (1978 Animated Movie), Madonna: Sticky & Sweet Tour, The Natural, Poseidon, The Relic, Sharpe's Challenge, Sharpe's Peril, and The Thomas Crowne Affair
Mostly catalogue releases this week with only one recent release of note, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. The Lord of the Rings is also coming out on Blu-ray this week, but it's the theatrical cut and the extended edition is worth the wait.

Essential Games of the Detroit Tigers - Buy from Amazon
This is where I start making fun of fans of the Detroit Tigers. The team has been around for 100 years or so. Baseball games have been televised for the past 60 years. Yet they could only come up with four essential games. Ouch. How bad does a team have to be that they can't come up with more games than that?

Eyes on The Prize: America's Civil Rights Years - Buy from Amazon
A six-part PBS series about the fight for civil rights, specifically the years from 1954 to 1965. This is actually the first part of a 14-part series than continues through to 1985. PBS documentaries tend to be amazing, and this one is no exception. Can't wait til' the next 8 parts come out.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The second Blu-ray update on this week's list. Again, since I previously reviewed the movie, we can skip right to what makes the Blu-ray different than the DVD.

There are three extras on the Blu-ray, starting with a six-part, 45-minute "making of" featurette. Only two of these parts are found on the DVD (From Script to Screen and Still Life (Puppet Animation)). Here there's also The Look of 'Fantastic Mr. Fox, which goes into how Wes Anderson decided the look and how it was done. The Puppet Makers talks about the people who make all of the puppets and props. They talk about how the puppets are designed, the process of how they are built, etc. Fascinating to watch, especially for fans of stop-motion animation. The Cast is a featurette about the cast, including the casting as well as seeing the behind-the-scenes look at the voice recording sessions. Finally Bill and His Badger has Bill Murray talking about his role and going behind-the-scenes to look at how the animation is done. Again, fans of the animation style will love this featurette, especially as it looks at the medium from the eyes of a fan, not an expert. There is also a featurette called Fantastic Mr. Fox: The World of Roald Dahl that details the inspiration for the novel and the adaptation of the movie. Granted, none of the exclusive extras push the technology, but overall there's plenty of new stuff here.

Looking at the technical presentation, the detail in the video is simply amazing. Every hair of every animal is visible. The detail in the clothing is incredible. Even the colors, which are limited and muted for artistic reasons, come across marvelously. The sound is less impressive. Don't get me wrong, the dialogue is crisp and there are some directional effects here, but the surround sound speakers are simply underused. This is a common enough complaint that I'm not going to hold it against the film.

Finally, the Blu-ray comes with a copy of the film on DVD and a Digital copy. It does cost close to 40% more than the DVD, but given the amount of extras you get, this is an acceptable price.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the best movies of the year and the Blu-ray is easily worth picking up, perhaps even a contender for Pick of the Week.

Finn on the Fly - Buy from Amazon
A 13-year old boy accidentally turns his dog into a boy. I might be getting a copy of this family film to review, but the screener is now late.

Flight of the Intruder - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
This film opened the weekend of the beginning of Operation Desert Storm, which is one of the worst timed releases in movie history. This partially explains why it bombed at the box office, but is it the only reason? Check out our review to find out.

I'm No Dummy - Buy from Amazon
A documentary on ventriloquism, which is an art form I'm not a fan of. The DVD has Jeff Dunham front and center, which is probably a selling point to a lot of people. I'm not a fan of his act. Needless to say, I won't be picking up this DVD.

Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films - Buy from Amazon
A three-disc, six-movie set from Hammer Films. The British studio is best known for horror films, but here we have some of their best thrillers making their debut on DVD. I would have preferred to have each movie on a separate disc with some extras, but this DVD is still worth picking up, especially if you are a fan of the studio.

Jade - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
This film has the reputation for killing the careers of David Caruso and Joe Eszterhas. Is it as bad as its reputation suggests? Check out our review to find out my opinion.

Kourtney and Khloe take Miami: The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A spin-off of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Is this Reality TV series any better than the original? Does it matter? Read our review anyway.

Lord of the Rings - The Theatrical Trilogy - Blu-ray: Buy from Amazon
This is arguably the greatest movie trilogy of all time, coming out on Blu-ray for the first time. Skip it. "Whaaaaaa?" This is just the theatrical cut. The extended edition has already been announced, which is what you should wait for. Hell, they might even try and squeeze a third edition out next year with both versions. If you desperately want to see the movie in High Definition right now, rent it. Wait for the fall for the full version.

The Lord of the Rings - The Animated Movie - DVD or Blu-ray
This film earned mixed reviews, but I'm a fan of Ralph Bakshi's rotoscoped adaptation. The transition to High Definition apparently wasn't a smooth one and the video isn't great. Then again, the movie is more than 30 years old and it wasn't a big budget movie to begin with, so this is to be expected. Finally, there are not a lot of extras. Call this version a rental and maybe there will be a remastered version in the future.

Lucy Calls the President - Buy from Amazon
Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance teamed up for the last time in their careers in this TV movie about a woman who calls the White House to complain about a development only to get the president to accept her invitation to dinner. It's not the best thing the two worked on together. But for fans, this DVD release will be greatly appreciated.

My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Duper Super Sleuths - Buy from Amazon
The latest DVD release for the latest Winnie the Pooh incarnation. On a side note, the girl that provides the voice for Darcy in the American version of this show is Chloe Grace Moretz, who stars as Hit Girl in the upcoming Kick Ass, which I think is awesome. Certainly makes reviewing these shows more interesting. Strangely, I haven't gotten a screener for this one yet, so I'll have to check and see if there's a delay or if Disney decided not to send out screeners.

Mythbusters: Collection 5 - Buy from Amazon
Great show, but I'm not happy with these DVD releases, as I vastly prefer full season sets. At least the price per minute is low enough to be a selling point.

Relic - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
The third of three Lionsgate releases coming out on Blu-ray this week. None were hits at the box office, but this made the most at the box office. Is it also the best of the three? Check out our review to read my opinion.

Sharpe's Peril - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A BBC TV movie that is part of a franchise that has lasted about 15 years now. In the series, Sean Bean plays Richard Sharpe, a career military man in the British army from the late 18th century to the early 19th century. Some have claimed the series has lost a lot of its luster from the earlier installment, but many also agree that if you are a fan, it is still worth checking out. There are enough extras on both formats to be worth picking up, but since the Blu-ray costs the same amount, it is clearly the better deal.

Simon & Simon: Season Four - Buy from Amazon
A P.I. series from the 1980s starring Gerald McRaney and Jameson Parker as two brothers with polar opposite personalities. The series lasted 8 seasons, so obviously it had a lot of fans. They might be disappointed with the lack of extras, but this 6-disc set is still worth picking up.

The Unusuals - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
A police procedural show about a group of detectives that were not all there in the head. (For instance, one of them had such a deep paranoia about dying young that he wore a bullet-proof vest at all times.) The show had an excellent cast and great writing, but there are just too many other shows in this genre for this one to stand out, and it was canceled after just 10 episodes. (Can't really blame the network, as the ratings were terrible.) Worth checking out for fans of the genre, worth picking up for fans of the show.

With God on Our Side - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about the Middle East conflict and how hard-liners on all three sides (Jews, Muslims, and Christians) refuse to compromise because all three think God is on their side. An important film to see, but one that might not find an audience, especially since there is another documentary of the same name that was released previously. Don't let that film prevent you from seeing this film. Actually, both movies are worth seeing.

Yesterday Was A Lie - Buy from Amazon
This movie was first mentioned on our site more than three years ago and I was immediately intrigued by its premise. So when I got a chance to review the DVD, I immediately jumped on it. Sadly, the screener hasn't arrived yet. The film has earned numerous film festival awards, so it appears to have lived up to its potential, while there appears to be several behind the scenes featurettes / interviews. That's at least a solid purchase, but I can't tell if it is Pick of the Week material until after the screener arrives.


Filed under: Video Releases, Poseidon, Yesterday Was a Lie, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel