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DVD Releases for November 17th, 2009 - Part II

November 16th, 2009

There's an excellent mix of new releases this week, including Star Trek on DVD and Blu-ray. There are a few TV on DVD releases, including Andy Barker, P.I. - The Complete Series, as well as several Blu-ray releases of note: Galaxy Quest, Gone With the Wind - The Ultimate Collector's Edition, and The Professional. All of these are contenders for the DVD Pick of the Week, but if I were to narrow them down to one selection, it would be Star Trek on Blu-ray. There are plenty of spotlight reviews this week, enough to split the column into two parts, with the first part found here.

Scrubs - Season Eight - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
This is just a quick update from the DVD review from August. I don't need to go into details on the overall show, or the quality of the specific episodes, as I dealt with that before. Let's just say they had a lot to do this season with the introductions of a lot of new characters and the saying goodbye of most of the old characters. There were some negative issues in both cases, but overall the season was mostly a success. This review will mostly be about what makes the Blu-ray better than the DVD.

Not a lot. There is only one Blu-ray exclusive feature, which is a short, three-minute montage of all of the names Dr. Cox called J.D. over the years. Also, the Blu-ray is equipped with season play, which is a great feature if you like to watch a full season from start to finishing without missing anything, but not all in one sitting. As for the Blu-ray's technical presentation, it's fine, but that's it. That's to be expected, because it's a TV sitcom and not the kind of show that really needs to be seen in High Definition. The image isn't exactly sharp, but the colors are good; it's an upgrade from the DVD, but not something you are going to show off to your friends. The same can be said of the sound, which relies heavily on the center speaker, but at least it is clear.

On the other hand, the Blu-ray costs just $1.50 more than the DVD, and if you have made the upgrade to High Definition, this is an excellent price to pay. And, if you have the DVD, you can get an additional $10 off with a mail-in rebate.

Skills Like This - Buy from Amazon
This film opened with mixed reviews and did well at the box office during its opening weekend, then it completely collapsed and never recovered. Extras on the DVD include deleted scenes and some interviews, which is enough for a solid rental.

The Spectacular Spider-Man - Volume Five - Buy from Amazon
The latest single-disc release from this popular animated series based on the even more popular comic. I've reviewed Season One previously, so there's little reason to re-hash the general nature of the show, so let's jump right into the episodes presented here.

  • Blueprints - A new super-villain going by the name Mysterio shows up and starts stealing high tech equipment. Spidey tries to stop him, but Mysterio's claims that he has mastery of the supernatural arts seem to be based in reality. Seem to.
  • Destructive Testing - Sergei Kravinoff is a big game hunter who has grown tired of easy prey, so he travels to New York City to hunt Spider-man. However, when his hunting skills are no match for Spidey's powers, he decides to get some super powers of his own and becomes Kraven the Hunter.
  • Reinforcement - A new master criminal called Master Planner who has decided to re-christen the Sinister Six. But this time Doctor Octopus and Shocker can't be part, so Kraven and Mysterio take their places.
  • Super Strength - The Master Planner is revealed and his plan is masterful. (Sorry.) It involves taking control of every computer with a wireless connection. But does he have a contingency plan when Spider-man tracks him down to his secret lair?
Aside from the "freak of the week" stories, we have the rise of Master Planner shown on this DVD. Additionally, on the more personal side, Peter Parker is dealing with a lover triangle and he is unable to decide between Gwen Stacy and Liz Allan. Meanwhile, his aunt is recovering from her heart attack. So there's a good mix of action and drama, and like almost every Spider-man incarnation, there's plenty of humor as well.

On the other hand, there are no extras on the DVD.

The Spectacular Spider-Man is a great show, but it might not continue because Disney bought out Marvel and this show was produced by Sony. It all depends on TV ratings and DVD sales. Here's where things get more complicated. Volume Five costs $15 on Amazon, while Season One, which comprised the first four volumes, costs just $20. There's almost no chance there won't be a full season set for season two, while it will likely be a much better deal. However, if the DVD doesn't sell well, they won't produce season three. Is it worth buying this DVD to help convince Disney to make a season three? I'm not sure I would go that far. But I can't wait until the full season set comes out, which should be an excellent deal, and I want season three to be produced.

Star Trek - Buy from Amazon: DVD, DVD with Digital Copy, or Blu-ray
One of the most pleasant surprises of the past summer. This film topped expectations at the box office, and especially with critics. With this success, the home market release is hotly anticipated, but I won't know if this is warranted until the screener arrives. Hopefully it won't take long now.

Star Trek - The Best Of - Buy from Amazon: The Original Series - Volume 2 and The Next Generation - Volume 2
A pair of Star Trek releases that are coming out this week to coincide to the latest movie. Like the above release, these DVDs are late, but I will get to the review as soon as they arrive.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and makes its home market debut on the 24th. However, the DVD screener arrived early and I was able to get the review done this week.

Taking Chances - Buy from Amazon
Justin Long stars as Chase Revere, a historian obsessed with the small town of Patriotville. The town is rapidly running out of money and unless something is done fast, they might have to declare bankruptcy. However, the mayor, Cleveland Fishback, has an idea: convince a local Indian tribe to build a casino in their town. Chase has a different idea: develop a market for historical tourism. He starts a one-man crusade (well, one man and one woman crusade) to stop the development of the casino, which puts him at odds with everyone else in town. The only people who don't hate him are his best friend, his new girlfriend, and the Indian tribe he is fighting to stop. But will he be able to stop the tide of progress, or will the civic corruption be too much for him?

This film is typical of indie comedies in that it relies heavily on quirky characters and strange situations and less on a solid story as the basis of the film's humor. It's not a bad movie, and there are some good performances from much of the cast, but they are not given much to work with. The central conflict doesn't seem to have much to it. The casino is to be built upon the historic battlefield that is the town's only real claim to fame up to this point. But why? We are told early on that they just lost one of their main employers after the meat packing plant shut down. There must be a lot of unused land as a result of that. Also, Chase wants to stop the Casino from being built, but he is doing this by trying to hold a vote. If everyone in the town is against him, why doesn't the mayor just hold a vote? That would seem like the easiest solution.

On a side note, Rob Corddry kept swearing in the movie, sort of. He used the term, "Effing" a lot. And I don't mean he was dropping the F-Bomb; he would only say the letter F. It struck me as terribly odd. I don't know a lot of people in real life that do that. In fact, I don't think I've every heard "Effing" used as an explanative in real life. (I've heard people say it as a way to censure themselves when quoting someone else.) It made it feel less real. It was a strange quirk that made the movie feel like a movie.

One last note on the cast, there are quite a number of familiar faces in this movie, including the ones I've linked to already. But there's also Missi Pyle, who plays the mayor's wife; Robert Beltran, who plays one of the Indian tribe leaders; and Vicky Eng, who plays one of the business leaders of the town. I know what you are thinking. "Who?" She plays Vicky Wong, a.k.a. "W" on Good Eats. I recognized her immediately, but she's not even linked to the movie on IMDb.

I only have a DVD-R screener and not the full retail product, so I can't say what extras are on the DVD, if any. If the final product does arrive, I will update this review.

Taking Chances is an indie comedy with a stronger than average cast, but only an average story. It is worth checking out for fans of the genre, but without word on extras on the DVD, stick with a rental.

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 this review.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Season 7 - Buy from Amazon
Just a quick update from the previous review. Season seven was originally sold in May as four separate volumes named after the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. Each volume was a single disc release, which I normally dislike, but they only cost $10 and came with a figurine of the respective Turtle, which made them each a pretty good value.

So how well does the Box Set compare? Sadly, there are no additional extras on any of the DVDs, while the box set lacks the action figures. It does take up less space on your shelf, and it does cost about half as much, the latter of which is more important consideration. I guess the question is whether or not you are willing to spend $40 for the full season plus the four action figures or $21 for just the full season. I guess that depends on how hardcore a fan you are.

Thirst - Buy from Amazon
A South Korean horror film written and directed by Park Chan-wook, who previously made the Vengeance Trilogy. That alone should be enough to get a lot of people interested. If not, the reviews should do the rest. Even without any extras on the DVD, it is still worth checking out for most, picking up for many.

Train - Buy from Amazon
Thora Birch stars in this low budget horror film set in Eastern Europe. Don't have much information on the movie, but I should be getting the screener shortly.

TV on DVD - Full Series Megasets - Buy from Amazon: Andy Barker, P.I., Dragon Ball Z - Dragon Box One, Drawn Together, Farscape, Rome, Rome (Blu-ray), and The Sopranos
A good collection of Full Series TV on DVD Megasets, including Drawn Together, which I might be getting a screener of later. On a side note, it's hard to call Andy Barker, P.I. a real Megaset, as the show only lasted 6 episodes, but since I like Andy Richter, I included it here.

Wild Child - Buy from Amazon
Emma Roberts stars as Poppy, the titular wild child. After getting thrown out of nearly every boarding school in the States, she's shipped off to the U.K.. She figures the fastest way to get back to the States is to get kicked out of this school, and she figures the fastest way to do that is to seduce the Headmaster's son. However, when she develops feelings for him, her plan becomes a lot more complicated. Its reviews are not good, but those in its genre rarely are, and if you are a fan of this type of movie, it is worth checking out.

A Wink and a Smile - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about a group of women learning how to burlesque dance as a path to self-empowerment. Reviews were only mixed, while the movie went nowhere at the box office. Was this justified? Don't know. And I won't until the screener arrives.

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 this review.

Wolverine and the X-Men - Season One - Buy from Amazon
After three single-disc releases, the full season finally came out. I reviewed Heroes Return Trilogy here and Deadly Enemies here, so let's get to the last volume, Beginning of the End, as well as what makes the Season One box set different.

  • Future X - After finding out some information about a new threat, Master Mold, Wolverine contacts Professor X in the future to learn more. However, when talking to Wolverine, the energy generated by Cerebro is detected by the Sentinels and he is captured and Cerebro stolen. Most of this episode takes place in the future, which is the first time in the series that that happens.
  • Greetings from Genosha - Nightcrawler and the mutants he rescued make it to Genosha and he meets Magneto. However, is Magneto really as benevolent as he claims? Take a wild guess.
  • Past Distractions - Wolverine has nightmares from his past and tries to figure where he came from. After Professor X can't help him, or won't help him, Emma Frost decides to she can help, perhaps to help establish herself as a more trusted member of the team. Or perhaps she has a different agenda. (Quite frankly, I have no idea which it is.) Wolverine travels out on his own to look into what Emma tells him to see if he can learn more.
  • eXcessive Force - Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops is haunted by his past as well. He's very troubled with the disappearance of Jean Grey and starts to see her everywhere. After randomly bumping into Harpoon, who works for Mister Sinister, who previously tried to kidnap Jean Grey, he thinks he has a lead. However, while trying to track down this lead, he goes overboard and could risk everything the X-men stand for.
  • Battle Lines - Nope. Not going to talk about this one. Too hard to discuss the plot without entering major spoiler territory. I will say it's an excellent way to end the season.
Top to bottom, every single episode rocks. There's only one episode that feels like a standalone episode, and even that has at least some major character development. If you are a fan of this franchise, this is a must-have.

There's only one special feature on the DVD, but it's a doozy. There are audio commentary tracks on all five episodes featuring Craig Kyle, Greg Johnson, and Chris Yost, who are all goofy nerds. They definitely don't take their jobs too seriously, which makes them very entertaining to listen to. (That's not to say they don't fill the track with plenty of information.) Excellent replay value.

On a side note... Audio commentary tracks are extras. They should be put in a section called Extras or Special Features. They should no be hidden under episode selection or setup, or the other places they are sometimes hidden.

So Beginning of the End is absolutely worth picking up, but is it worth buying solo, or should you grab the Season One - Box Set instead. That's a pretty simple question to answer, as the box set is identical to buying the three volumes individually, with one difference. It includes a laser cell, which is a high quality reproduction of the cover artwork for the Beginning of the End. Also, while the three volumes separately only cost $30, which is a good deal, the Season One - Box Set only costs $20, which is an excellent deal. It's a must have and worthy of a DVD Pick of the Week. If I could make one suggestion, next time use slimcases for the box set, just to cut down on the shelf space.

Wrong Turn at Tahoe - Buy from Amazon
I was supposed to get this DVD to review, but suddenly the listing on Amazon is gone. I don't know if it is an issue with Amazon, or if the release is on hold.


Filed under: Video Releases, Star Trek, Thirst, Skills Like This, A Wink and a Smile, Wrong Turn at Tahoe, Wild Child