Follow us on

DVD Releases for March 17th, 2009

March 17th, 2009

This is a smaller list than it should be as there were no fewer than six DVDs on this list where I am supposed to receive a screener, but the screener is late. The next few weeks could be busy, as I attempt to catch up. In the meantime, there are a trio of serious contenders for DVD Pick of the Week, starting with Murnau, a box set that is a must have for silent movie fans, especially those who enjoy F.W.Murnau. Also up for the honor is Degrassi - The Next Generation - Season Seven, which is fast becoming one of the longest running kids shows ever. Finally, Bolt is making its debut on a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack on Sunday, and the movie is fantastic, while the Blu-ray has enough exclusives to be worth the small premium in price. (On a side note, there have been reports that Hounddog's home market debut was pushed back to this week, but that appears not to be the case. It could have been pulled from the schedule temporarily, or it might have been canceled entirely.)

Barbie Presents - Thumbelina - Buy from Amazon
The latest in a long line of Barbie direct-to-DVD CG animated films. These tend to sell very well for this type of release, but there's not a whole lot of crossover appeal.

Barney Miller - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
An award winning TV series that depicted the everyday life of cops working in a big city. This is the last season with Abe Vigoda, whose popular character Det. Phil Fish was spun-off onto his own show, Fish, which only lasted two seasons. This is also the first of three seasons in a row where the film ranked in the top 20 in the ratings. Lack of extras hurt, but the 3-disc set is still worth picking up.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Bolt, Clear and Present Danger / The Hunt for Red October, The Company of Wolves, Hit Man - David Foster and Friends, Hustle and Flow / Black Snake Moan, Johann Strauss: The New Years Concert in Vienna - Acoustic Reality Experience, Lady Death, The Love Guru / Blades of Glory, The Matador, Mission: Impossible / Mission: Impossible 2, Oh Happy Day - Sunday Morning Music, Paramore - The Final RIOT!, The Princess Bride, Punisher - War Zone, Quo Vadis, The Robe, Sahara / Failure to Launch, Sweeney Todd / Sleepy Hollow, Top Gun / Days of Thunder, and Verdi: La Traviata - Los Angeles Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Yuck. Another bad week for Blu-ray releases. According to Amazon, the best selling Blu-ray of the week is Bolt, which doesn't come out till the 22nd, not the 17th. (On a side note, the DVD doesn't come out till the 24th, which means the Blu-ray has a 2-day head start. I don't know if that will be enough to make a noticeable difference in sales.) Also, as a kids movie, it is unlikely that it will be a massive seller. Twilight is coming out on Blu-ray this week as well, but only as a Best Buy / Target exclusive. It won't come out in other stores till May. As for the Blu-rays being released everywhere on Tuesday, it's really slim pickings with many releases simply being two-packs of catalogue titles. Next week things change, as the second wave of Bond hits High Definition.

Warning: This Blu-ray / DVD Combo-Pack does not come out on Tuesday, but makes its home market debut on the Sunday. Because it straddles two release dates, I'm including it both on this week's list and next week's list.

Bolt - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
This film earned excellent reviews and was even nominated for an Oscar, a PGA Award, and even two Golden Globe Awards. It is arguably the best non-Pixar Disney digitally animated movie ever (although that's not a big list). So does the High Definition release live up to these accolades?

In the movie, Bolt is both the name of the lead character (voiced by John Travolta), and the name of the TV series he stars in. Every episode his owner, Penny is put into peril by the Green-Eyed Man, and at the end of every episode, he saves here. However, sagging ratings means they have to do something new and end an episode in a cliffhanger with Penny kidnapped. Bolt, who thinks all of this is true, escapes from the studio and tries to rescue her. Along the way he captures a cat, Mittens, whom he thinks is working for the Green-Eyed Man, and an overly enthusiastic hamster named Rhino. They must travel from New York City to Hollywood, while having plenty of adventures along the way.

Like I said, this is the best non-Pixar Disney digitally animated movie ever, and among the top ten digitally animated movies ever. There is a great mix of comedy and adventure and it will certainly entertain kids and their parents. It does get a little sentimental at times, but never so much so that it hurts the film. Having reviewed all three Oscar animated movies from last year, WALL-E is still the best, but unless you are a fan of Jack Black or martial arts, then I think Bolt is better than Kung Fu Panda.

Extras on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack are impressive; however, there is no audio commentary track, or Cine-Explore track, which was a disappointment. There is a short film called Super Rhino, which is fun to watch, but a couple of the jokes are borrowed from the movie itself. There are two deleted scenes with introductions, but they are in animatic form. There's a minute long featurette on the song sung by Miley Cyrus and John Travolta, as well as the 2-minute music video. There are also a trio of meatier making of featurettes on the two directors, on the voice actors, and the look of the movie. Combined they run just over 21 minutes long, which is still a little light.

The Blu-ray exclusives include a game called Be-Awesome Mission, which has three levels of a platform game. It's not bad, in fact, it's one of the better Blu-ray games I've played, but I was hoping there would be a reward for winning. There are also plenty of images in the BD exclusive image gallery, and the disc itself is BD-Live enabled with the usual selection of goodies (movie chat, mail, challenge, and rewards). The Blu-ray also comes with a digital copy of the movie, as well as a DVD copy of the movie. (The DVD edition has no extras, however.) Finally, it looks and sounds fantastic, as most Disney digitally movies do in High Definition. All this and it only costs about 20% more than the equivalent DVD edition. There is almost no reason to buy the DVD edition over the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, unless you are planning on never making the jump to High Definition.

Bolt was better than I expected it would be, and I was expecting a top notch movie, since it was produced by John Lasseter. Also, the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack has an excellent selection of bonus materials, including several BD exclusives. It is easily worth picking up, and even a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Bunnytown - Hello Bunnies - Buy from Amazon
A TV series aimed at very young children (pre-pre-school kids?) that takes place in Bunnytown, a town inhabited by Bunnies, as well as the occasional trek to People Town, a town inhabited by people. It's not a half-hour show with a proper plot that fills its running time, it is instead a selection of songs and skits and each episodes generally follows the same general pattern.

You start with the theme song (which you can't skip), the introduction to that episode's running gag, and you alternate between songs, skits, and live-action bits, of course leaving room to return to the running gag a couple of times before the big payoff. Certain bits are repeated every episode, like Super Silly Sports, the singing of "The Bunnytown Hop", Fred and Red (silent movie stars in the vein of Laurel and Hardy), Super Bunny, Cave Bunnies, etc. It's quite repetitive, but this is true of most shows aimed at the same age group and the music is catchy. (On a side note, the first song they play in the first episode (I think it's called "Making Music in Bunnytown" or perhaps just "Making Music"). Regardless what it's called, it's really good. Far better than the music is on most kids shows.)

Extras on the DVD include a game called It's That Time Again! and under Bunny Dance there are instructions for "The Bunnytown Hop". There is also a play-all button and subtitles, but no proper chapter placements. In fact, each episode is just one chapter.

Bunnytown is not a show designed to teach kids much in terms of educational content; however, it is a goofy fun show that should entertain. Hello Bunnies is a single-disc release containing four-episodes from the show, and a little bit of extras, and compared to other Disney releases aimed at the same age group, it is a solid value.

Degrassi - The Next Generation - Season Seven - Buy from Amazon
It's rare for kids shows to survive past 65 episodes, because that's how many it takes to syndicate a series, which is where the big money is at. So far there have been 158 episodes made, and the show is still going strong thanks to a combination of great writing, and a talented cast. Extras on this 4-disc set include audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, outtakes, behind-the-scenes, mini-webisodes, and more. It is easily worth picking up, and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Dodes'ka-Den - Buy from Amazon
The first color film by director Akira Kurosawa. However, while the director had made some of the greatest movies ever, this one is a bit of a mess. Extras on the DVD are limited to the latest excerpt from Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, but it also comes with a 24-page booklet.

Elegy - Buy from Amazon
A limited release that came out in late summer that was able to earn good reviews, but not great reviews. It also started off very well at the box office, leading the way on the per theater chart during its opening weekend; however, it didn't hold on very well compared to the average limited release, especially when it tried to expand. This performance sent enough mixed signals that I had little in the way of expectations for the film. This is probably the best way to go into a movie: with as few expectations as possible.

The movie starts with author and professor, David Kepesh, being interviewed by Charlie Rose over his book, which was about a group of early settlers who were more sexually liberated than their Puritan neighbors, until they were shut down by those same Puritan neighbors. We then hear the professor lament his inability to grow up sexually and how he should start to act his age. He uses his classroom as a means to pick up women for casual, sexual relationships, while he avoids any appearance of commitment. But when he meets Consuela Castillo, a Cuba student in one of his lectures, she affects him like no other woman has. He becomes obsessed with her, and jealous, but at the same time still fearful of commitment, which puts a strain on their relationship.

That's the basic set-up, but how does it play out. In my mind, rather poorly. There are some terrific performances in this movie, including ones by Ben Kingsley, Penelope Cruz, as well as supporting actors like Patricia Clarkson. But the story itself doesn't feel fresh enough, while the execution makes the movie feel too much Oscar Bait. They are trying to hard to be an Awards Season player, instead of letting that come naturally. (It's like being cool. If you try to hard to be cool, it just falls apart.) Part of the problem I had with the movie was too much of the movie focused on David Kepesh wallowing in his self-inflicted misery, and that is something I have very little patience for. It's a shame, because there are many parts of this movie that are excellent, but they add up to a movie that is just average.

Extras on the DVD include an audio commentary track with the screenwriter, Nicholas Meyer. A solo track with not a lot of energy, and far too many dead spots. It loses its momentum early on, and never really recovers. There is also a 5-minute featurette called The Poetry of Elegy, which is the typical making of featurette, but it is too short to be too useful. On paper, this is average for a limited release, but the quality is just not here.

Elegy is a movie that feels like it was made to win Oscars, but that didn't work out. The DVD is light on extras, and the extras that are present lack replay value. That adds up to a rental, which is too bad as it had potential.

The F Word - Series Two - Buy from Amazon
It hasn't been that long since Series One was released, and there's little that needs to be added here. It is an excellent show for fans of cooking shows in general and Gordon Ramsay in particular. The lack of extras is a bit of a bother, but the price-per-minute isn't bad. Worth picking up.

Ghost Hunters - Season 4 - Part 2 - Buy from Amazon
A very popular show, but one that belongs to a genre I dislike. Superstition disguised as science is quite frustrating, and I just can't watch these shows.

Goal 2 - Living the Dream - Buy from Amazon
This franchise will go down as one of the biggest box office blunders of all time. Making a $100 million trilogy without first testing the waters to see if there is an audience turned out to be a huge mistake. The first one struggled worldwide, this one bombed, and the third one is going direct-to-DVD in Britain. If it cost $100 million just to make, it probably lost $100 million in total, as it didn't make enough in theaters to pay for its P&A.

Head Case - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Alexandra Wentworth stars as Dr. Elizabeth Goode, a therapist who specializes with famous celebrities. Think of it as Dr. Katz, but without the squigglevision. And perhaps with clients that are a little lower on the star meter. Good improve-based humor and with episodes that are only 15 minutes long, they don't overstay their welcome. Extras include plenty of smaller bits, and there's enough laughs that the 2-disc set is worth picking up.

J.A.G. - Season 8 - Buy from Amazon
By the time a series is on the air for eight seasons, it's hard to talk about it in terms that are useful in a review. Either you know the show well enough that you don't need a general plot overview, or you don't know the show and don't care. This is compounded by police procedural shows, which generally don't have a season long story arc, so it is even harder to discuss specifics without just getting involved in serious spoilers.

I will say that I felt season eight was better than season seven, as it played to its strength: Legal mysteries with a solid military theme. Quite a few of the episodes are based on real life events, including the high-ranking woman who allegedly sexually harassed a male subordinate, the war games that didn't go according to script, and the friendly fire incident in Afghanistan. I really liked these three episodes, as well as the ones that deal with military matters. On the other hand, episodes that have a little too much action are weaker. I just don't think the show's budget was sufficient enough to handle that.

Another highlight of the season was Ice Queen and The Meltdown, which was the two-part episode that served as the pilot for NCIS, and I will admit I prefer NCIS to JAG, so take that into account. (Also, I prefer latter seasons of NCIS with the current line-up of cast members.)

Extras on the 5-disc set are limited to 3 minutes of outtakes. There are also no subtitles, but there are play all buttons and proper chapter placements.

For fans of J.A.G., Season 8 is another solid outing and if you have picked up the previous DVD releases, there's no reason to stop now. I would prefer more extras, but that's been a problem throughout the show's run.

Married... With Children - Season 10 - Buy from Amazon
The penultimate season of this long-running show. It is also the last season that feature more hits than misses in terms of episodes, at least that's my recollection. The screener is late, and I'll write a spotlight review confirming or debunking that recollection when it arrives.

Mr. Belvedere - Seasons 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon
A TV series based on a book about that was previous turned into a movie trilogy. In the TV series, Mr. Belvedere is a proper English butler who gets a job with a typical suburban family as research (he's writing a novel). The show was never a massive hit during its five-and-a-half year run, nor was it a favorite of the critics, but it did develop a loyal following that helped it avoid cancellation at least once. Looking at the extras on this 5-disc set, there are interviews with most of the main cast, as well as a skit from SNL poking fun at the show. That's not a lot, but more than most shows like this have when they come out on TV.

Murnau - Buy from Amazon
A box set featuring six films by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, including his most famous: Nosferatu. This set includes three films making their debut on DVD: The Finances of the Grand Duke, Faust, and The Haunted Castle. Amazingly, the box set is almost a better deal, even if you already have the other three movies on DVD. Extras range from image galleries and excerpts from novels, to making of documentaries and an audio commentary track. Given F.W.Murnau's place in cinema history, every movie on this set should have an audio commentary track, a making of featurette, and more. But this is still a great collection and easily worth picking up.

The Nanny - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
A multi-Emmy nominated show (winning once) that ran for six seasons in the 1990s. The screener is late, but hopefully it will arrive soon. I'll get a spotlight review online as soon as possible after it does.

Primal Fear - Hard Evidence Edition - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This is an update from last week's review now that the Blu-ray screener has arrived. I won't go into detail on the quality of the movie, other than to say is a tense thriller with marvelous acting and a twist that may or may not be spoiled by a plot hole. It depends on who you ask.

As for the Blu-ray, I'm not overly impressed quite frankly. The movie isn't that old, but the transfer is nothing above average. (That's average for Blu-ray, which is still a great leap up from the DVD that was released the same day.) On the other hand, the audio is arguably better than expected. The extras include the audio commentary track and the trio of featurettes on the DVD, all presented in High Definition, contrary to what the back of the box says. For a catalogue release, it's not a bad package, and for $20 it is not a bad price, but it is nearly twice what the DVD costs. This is not a good way to promote the new format.

If you don't have the film on DVD yet, and you are looking to build your Blu-ray library, then Primal Fear on Blu-ray is worth picking up. But if you are happy with DVD, this is not a release that will make you change your mind.

Punisher - War Zone - Buy from Amazon: DVD, 2-Disc Special Edition, Blu-ray
Just a quick note that the screener for this movie is late, so the spotlight review has been delayed. In the meantime, I will say that despite the fact that The Punisher struggled with critics, this film managed to do even worse. When I get the screener, I'll tell you if this was justified.

A Pup Named Scooby-Doo - Complete 2nd, 3rd & 4th Seasons - Buy from Amazon
Before you get too excited, while there are three seasons on this 2-disc set, that's only 14 episodes here. (15 episodes if you include the bonus from Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue.) Not a bad price for this type of release, but I would like more in terms of extras.

Revenge of the Boarding School Dropouts - Buy from Amazon
Every time Tom Green makes a movie, I feel the need to apologize on behalf of my fellow Canadians. This snowboarding movie isn't as bad as some he has made, but it is entirely forgettable.

South Park - Season Twelve - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
So South Park makes its debut on Blu-ray, and I have to say, I'm not sure why. I'm not going to reprint last week's review, but as a quick re-cap...

Of the fourteen episodes from season 12, I found seven to have strong replay value, while most of the rest were at least entertaining enough to be worth watching once. This is a lower hit to miss ratio than is most seasons past, but still enough to be worth picking up. Adding in extras that include mini-commentaries on all 14 episodes, and roughly two hours of making off footage (also with commentary) and I recommended buying the DVD. As for the Blu-ray...

There are no additional extras on the 3-disc set, so the only reason to pay more is for the High Definition audio and video. The problem is, it's a crappy animated show. Let's face it, no one, not the most hardcore fan watches South Park for the audio or video quality. Sure, it's sharper than we've ever seen it, and we get to see that the computer animation has textures, just like the original paper cutouts would have. And yeah, the audio is clearer than it has ever been but your surround sound it not going to get a real workout from this show. Since the show doesn't showoff High Definition very much, and the 3-disc set has no additional extras, I would be willing to spend an extra 20% to 30% over the price of the DVD. However, here the price is 51% more, and that's just too much to ask. So unless you have completely given up on DVD and will only watch Blu-ray releases, I have to recommend sticking with the DVD.

Next time, perhaps they will include something that pushes the technology. A picture-in-picture track looking at the various stages of the show's production, for instance.

The Spectacular Spider-Man - Buy from Amazon: Volume 2 and Volume 3
One of several DVD releases this week that I was going to review, but the DVD screeners are late. I'll get the full spotlight review done as soon as possible, but the price per minute is awfully high here.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 10th. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in the review.

Tales of Beatrix Potter - Buy from Amazon
The 1971 productions of several classic stories from Beatrix Potter, done by the Royal Ballet.

The movie has no continuous plot. What we see is a young Beatrix creating her illustrations, which takes us into the world she imagines and we are presented a series of vignettes performed by members of the Royal Ballet dressed is animal costumes. Sadly, while the costumes are well done, there is no movement in the faces does create a bit of a barrier to getting completely sucked into the production, but I think fans of ballet or a Beatrix Potter will forgive this. I am neither. In fact, I couldn't even identify which stories were being told; I know so little about Beatrix Potter's writing. I did enjoy a number of the pieces; for instance, the mice using each others tails as part of the ballet was really well done. Even as a neophyte in the world of ballet, I could appreciate the choreography that went into that. But I think to truly appreciate this 90-minute program, one has to be a fan beforehand.

There are no extras on the DVD.

Tales of Beatrix Potter is a ballet, and as such, there is no dialogue. Those expecting a more traditional re-telling of Beatrix Potters stories will be disappointed. But those who are fans of hers and of ballet should enjoy the - DVD. However, with no extras, give it a rental first.

The Three Stooges Collection - Volume 5 - 1946-1948 - Buy from Amazon
It's a bittersweet week for fans of the Three Stooges. On the one hand, the latest volume in the Chronological Collection is coming out. On the other hand, this 2-disc set includes the final 10 shorts with Curly, whose health problems were becoming a serious impairment at this point. So much so that most of the shorts he appeared on are lesser works, or in fact make extensive use of older footage.

The shorts on this 2-disc set are...

  • Beer Barrel Polecats - The gang try their hand at making beer during the prohibition, which ends with them in jail after curly sells some to a cop.
    One of the weaker shorts in this collection, and in the career of The Three Stooges. Makes extensive use of footage from So Long Mr. Chumps and In the Sweet Pie and Pie, and this is a major weakness.
  • A Bird in the Head - The trio are working as paperhangers when a mad scientist wants to use Curly's brain in a transplant experiments.
    Uses two of the most common themes from The Three Stooges: The Three Stooges trying, and failing, at a rather simple job and madcap case scenes. For the most part it works, but it is just average.
  • Uncivil War Birds - Larry & Moe join the Union Army, while Curly joins the Confederates, but all three switch sides as often as it grants them any advantage.
    Good madcap humor, and one of the better shorts in this collection.
  • The Three Troubledoers - Set in the old west, the three become lawmen in a town where lawmen tend to die quickly.
    The last western with Curly, but while it has its moments, it's not one of the best.
  • Monkey Businessmen - They start out as failed electricians, but after they are quickly fired, they spend the rest of the short in an overpriced spa that is run by a Dr. Mallard.
    The Three Stooges pretending to be electricians is funny. The Three Stooges pretending to be doctors is funnier.
  • Three Loan Wolves - Told in flashbacks, we learn how The Three Stooges came to be the fathers of a little boy.
    Not one of the better efforts, but has its moments.
  • G.I. Wanna Go Home - The trio return from the army, but they lost their house and need to find a new one before they can marry their fiancées.
    Funny short, but Curly's health is clearly weakening.
  • Rhythm and Weep - After the Three Stooges get fired from the 26th acting gig in a month, they decide to kill themselves. However, they meet three dancers who are also planning on ending it all.
    Good for the era, but with less slapstick than before.
  • Three Little Pirates - The garbage scow the three boys are working on sinks and they wash ashore on a island that is inhabited by 1700s era Spanish conquerors. Fortunately, a senorita wants to help them escape.
    Curly's penultimate short, and he is at his best. His energy is great. Timing is perfect. Clearly one of the best shorts of their run, and easily the best Curly short in this collection.
  • Half-Wits Holiday - A professor tries to prove its nurture vs. nature by turning the Three Stooges into high-class gentlemen.
    The last short with Curly, and tragically he suffered a stroke during the filming and doesn't appear in the end. Overall it is a funny, but it is also practically a remake of Hoi Polloi.
  • Fright Night - First of all, Curly replaced Shemp. The original lineup was Larry, Moe, and Shemp. So if you hate Shemp because he replaced Curly, find a new reason. ... Moving on ... The trio are the managers of a boxer, but when the mob wants him to throw the fight, they have to figure a way of getting him to lose without telling him he has to lose.
    Shemp's comedic timing was impeccable, and while he didn't have Curly's childlike charm, this is still a strong episode.
  • Out West - The boys have to head out west for health reasons, but when they get there, a crooked doctor thinks they have discovered the largest gold deposit in the west.
    Another solid episode that shows Shemp didn't lose his chemistry with Larry and Moe.
  • Hold That Lion! - The 100th Short the comedy troupe made and the last one with Curly (he has a cameo in this episode). The three inherit a million-dollar estate, but an estate broker rips them off and they have to catch him to get their money.
    Another high-energy short and an historical episode. It's worth checking for both reasons.
  • Moving onto disc two.

  • Brideless Groom - In order to collect his inheritance, Shemp must get married by 6:00 p.m. At first he strikes out with every woman he asks, until word gets out that he's about to get $500,000.
    A solid episode that focuses on Shemp, but it is just average compared to most on this set.
  • Sing a Song of Six Pants - The guys are about to lose their tailoring shop, so they decide to try and catch Terry "Slippery Finger" Hargan. That seems like an impossible task, until he ducks into their shop to avoid the cops.
    On an interesting note, this short is public domain, which means it has been released on the home market countless times, but rarely in a condition that is worth watching.
  • All Gummed Up - The guys are about to lose their drug store, so they try and invent a youth elixir to safe their business.
    A very common theme (The Stooges have a failing business and need one last break to save it). Better than most on this DVD, but not amongst the earlier classics.
  • Shivering Sherlocks - The Three Stooges witness an armored car robbery, but are brought in by the cops as suspects. When they are helped out by a friend, they offer to work at her café for free, before helping her sell a house. And guess who is hiding out at the house? Yeah, the story takes some weird turns here.
    The scenes in the café are very familiar, and not as funny as the first time around. A disappointing effort.
  • Pardon My Clutch - Shemp is sick and they need to go camping so he can relax and get better, but they don't have a car in which to travel. So they buy one from their friend Claude, but when it turns out to be a lemon, they might be stuck with it.
    Again, a little familiar, especially the pulling the tooth gags, but still entertaining.
  • SquareHeads of the Round Table - Set in the time of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, in this short they play three troubadours who vow to help a local blacksmith win the hand of the woman he loves.
    One of the better shorts on this collection, it has everything you look for in a good short: Singing, dancing, and violence.
  • Fiddlers Three - Another medieval skit, this time the boys play court jesters who have to rescue the princess in order to be able to marry their sweethearts.
    Two period piece back-to-back, and this is obviously the weaker of the two. Not terrible, but below average.
  • The Hot Scots - Looking to become detectives with the Scotland Yard, the boys accidentally become gardeners instead, but they won't let that stop them from proving their worth by protecting jewels that are being stolen in a spooky Scottish castle.
    One of the better shorts on this collection and the combination of scary castle and Stooges in kilts is irresistible.
  • Heavenly Daze - After Shemp dies, he learns he can't get into heaven until he reforms Moe and Larry. And it will be quite a task as they are trying to scam rich customers with a fountain pen that can writer under whipped cream.
    Not one of the funnier shorts on this collection, but Shemp's acting skills get a chance to shine, as the humor is more character based and less pure madcap.
  • I'm a Monkey's Uncle - Stone-age misadventures with Larry, Moe, and Shemp try their hand at fishing, hunting and protecting themselves from a rival tribe of cavemen.
    Some good bits, but overall just average.
  • Mummy's Dummies - Set in ancient Egypt, the three guys play Used Chariot Salesmen, but after curing the Pharaoh's toothache, they become advisors. Soon after that, they uncover a plot to defraud the Pharaoh.
    A more unique setting adds to the charm and it is one of the better shorts here.
  • Crime on Their Hands - A parody of Film Noir, which was at its peak at the time. The Three Stooges are janitors in a newspaper who get scoop about a stolen diamond.
    I'm a fan of the genre, so I like the parody aspect, but it is more violent than most Three Stooges shorts. (Someone is shot to death.)
I think the biggest difference between Curly and Shemp shorts is in many Curly shorts, they would literally stop the plot to give Curly a chance to do one of his many bits. I'm not complaining here, as some of these are classics, and worth taking a break from the plot. For instance, Dutiful But Dumb had one of the most memorable bits in The Three Stooges history, Curly vs. an Oyster, who was stealing his crackers while he tried to eat soup. However, when Shemp was doing one of his bits, it was much more likely to be in service of the plot, like when he was trying to get into the ring in Fright Night.

There are no extras on the 2-disc set, nor are there any subtitles. But there are play all buttons.

The Three Stooges Collection - Volume 5 is still worth picking up, but it is starting to show signs of weakness. A few of the shorts are little too similar to previous efforts, and there are fewer classics. That said, I can't imagine there are many fans of the group that have picked up the previous releases that won't pick up this 2-disc set as well.

Twilight - Buy from Amazon
The film is coming out on DVD this Saturday, while the Blu-ray is coming out as a Target / Best Buy exclusive. Given the rabid Fanboy following of this mediocre adaptation, I assume most will want the Ultimate Collector's Set. However, I doubt many will wait, and there will be a lot of double-dips here.

The Velveteen Rabbit - Buy from Amazon
This adaptation of the classics kids book earned good reviews but went nowhere at the box office. (In fact, the distributor resorted to telemarketers making cold calls to market the movie.) The DVD should do better, mainly because it would be nearly impossible to do worse.

Walled In - Buy from Amazon
Mischa Barton stars in this direct-to-DVD horror film about a serial killer who buried his victims alive in the walls of a building that is about to be torn down. There are not many reviews out there, and most I've found are mixed. There's likely enough here to be worth checking out, but not enough to buy.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 3rd. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in the review.

Weapons - Buy from Amazon
A small, independent film starring Nick Cannon, Paul Dano, and Mark Webber (who wrote and directed the recently released Explicit Ills). It's another in the sub-genre of 'disaffected youths', which have been popular for a long, long time. Blackboard Jungle and Rebel Without a Cause are examples of the genre, as are more recent films like Kids and Alpha Dog. The best of these films not only shows the events that affects these kids, but digs deeper. The lesser of these films feel like they just exploiting the violence.

This is one of the latter.

The film starts at the end with a seemingly random act of violence, before flashing back to see what caused it. And then we flashback to see what caused that seemingly random act of violence. And back and forth again, till all of the threads are connected. But without getting into the root cause of what happened, instead of drawing us deeper, it just gets repetitive. At its heart, the film might have something to say, but it doesn't do a very good job at saying it. On a side note, there's too much shaky camerawork. I think that's suppose to make us feel like we are part of the action, but that technique is overdone and has lost its effectiveness a long time ago. Here it was just a distraction.

There are no extras on the DVD.

Watching Weapons I couldn't help feel like I've seen it all before. It's a familiar story that suffers from weak execution. Add in a featureless DVD, and I can't rate this one as even a rental.

Wuthering Heights - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie adaptation of the famous novel by Emily Brontë. This novel has been adapted about a million times (including an upcoming theatrical version starring Abbie Cornish) but buzz is this is one of the best versions. Lack of extras hurt, but the 3-hour adaptation is still worth checking out.

The Zeta Project - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
A spin-off from Batman Beyond. It tells the story of a robot built to be a soldier, but rebels against its creators. A solid series that is worth checking out for fans of the original show. Extras on the DVD include two episodes from Batman Beyond that featured Zee and a making of featurette, which is more than most similar shows have.


Filed under: Video Releases, Twilight, Bolt, Punisher: War Zone, Elegy, Goal! 2: Living the Dream..., Hounddog