Follow us on

DVD Releases for June 10, 2008 - Part II

June 10th, 2008

A rain-delayed DVD Report this week. (We didn't have any flooding, nor was there any real wind damage, but the weather was severe enough to disrupt power at times and my internet connection was not as solid as it should be making working online nearly impossible at times.) It wouldn't have been too bad, but there's a massive list of releases this week, so many in fact, that I had to split the list into two. There aren't many first run releases, and nothing stands out as a must-have, or even a solid purchase. There are some contenders for DVD Pick of the Week, but to find them you have to head over to the TV on DVD department (Army Wives - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon), the limited releases market (The Grand - Buy from Amazon), the classics category (High Noon - Buy from Amazon) or the foreign flicks (Invisible Target - Buy from Amazon). High Noon is the best of the group, but it is a double, or even triple-dip, and that costs it some points. I recommend picking up all four, but for DVD Pick of the Week, I'm going with Army Wives - The Complete First Season, which is a bit of a surprise as I didn't think I would enjoy the TV series as much as I did.

Part One of this week's list can be found here.

Jumper - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc Edition, or 2-Disc Special Edition, or Blu-ray
Jumper was a sci-fi film with potential. However, when the budget started growing, the studio demanded bigger names in the leads in order to increase the film's box office potential, so they fired a couple of lesser known actors and went with Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson. Huh?

These are not two actors known for their box office hits. Sure, Hayden Christensen played Anakin Skywalker a couple of times, but when he was hired his biggest hit beside the two Star Wars films was Life as a House. And Rachel Bilson's only major film role before this was The Last Kiss, which was a box office disappointment. However, deciding to go with bigger names doesn't necessarily affect the film's quality. Going with wooden actors does. The acting in this film is nearly universally poor among the four leads. Hayden Christensen lives down to his reputation for being wooden, Rachel Bilson was uninteresting as his love interest, and it felt like Samuel L. Jackson was phoning it in. The two actors who played young Davey and young Millie were more interesting than the rest of the main cast, save for Jamie Bell.

As for the story itself... Well, there's lots of special effects. Sadly, that's the biggest drawing power here as we get almost no backstory to either the Jumpers or the Paladins, who hunt and kill the Jumpers. (This is explained better in the original book.) And what little story we get seems ridden with logical flaws. Without strong leads or a comprehensive story, I found it very hard to get into the movie. I thought it ended too abruptly, leaving too many unanswered questions, but moments after the credits started rolling, I had forgotten most of what I watched.

For those still interested in the DVD, it comes in three versions: Single-Disc Edition, 2-Disc Special Edition, or Blu-ray. And all three are loaded with extras. The Single-Disc Edition has an audio commentary track with the director and others, who provide more than enough information to be worth listening to. Other extras include an animated graphic novel that helps fill in some of the backstory we don't learn about in the movie. Doug Liman's Jumper: Uncensored is a 35-minute long making-of featurette, which details the making of movie, which had it problems. Jumping Around the World is just under 11 minutes and it is about all of the location shoots. Making an Actor Jump is 7:30 minutes and it about the visual effects. Jumping from Novel to Film is about the process of adapting the novel. There are 11-minutes worth of deleted scenes and finally a previsualization of one of the scenes. The 2-Disc Special Edition has the above extras, as well as a free digital copy of the movie. The Blu-ray has all of that, plus a Picture-in-Picture track that can also be watched as a branching featurette if one's Blu-ray player can't handle Picture-in-Picture. The Picture-in-Picture track actually uses the technology and doesn't feel like they are just playing with a new toy and don't know what to do with it. However, there are not that many pop-ups and it feels too sparse to be completely effective.

Jumper is based on a book that had cinematic potential. However, somewhere along the way that potential was lost. The end result is perhaps not as bad as its Tomatometer score, but certainly not great. Personally, I would recommend only a rental, although fans of the movie will love the DVDs that are coming out this week, and if there's a choice, the Blu-ray is the way to go.

The List - Buy from Amazon
A thriller with a Christian angle to it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is so heavy-handed that it kills any crossover appeal. (This could explain why it started its box office run so well but couldn't expand.) Worth renting for the target audience, but most should stay away.

McLeod's Daughters: The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
A TV series from Australia about two estranged sisters who reunite when they inherit a ranch. This show might have the tendency to become a little soap operaish at times, but season six should satisfy fans of the series.

My Boys - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Season 2 starts on the 12th, that's this Thursday, which doesn't leave much time for fans to run and grab the first season DVD. This show follows the life of P.J. Franklin, a sport writer for the Chicago Cubs who would rather hang out with the guys than go to a club and look for Mr. Right. The show had a solid first season outing, but it is not earth shattering. It's worth checking out, especially with season 2 just around the corner. As for the DVD, there are no audio commentary tracks, but there are a few featurettes on the making of the show, the cast's favorite sports memories, sports trivia, deleted scenes, and outtakes. Again, solid if not spectacular.

Naruto Uncut Box Set - Volume 8 - Buy from Amazon: Regular Edition or Special Edition
I know this show mostly by the video game my nephew likes to play on the Wii and that I apparently suck at. The only part of the show I've seen was an overdubbed parody he showed me on YouTube that involved a Canadian character who likes to blow up squirrels. ... At least I think it was a parody. ... I hope it was a parody. ... There's a lot of weird stuff Japanese TV so you can never tell.

The Odd Couple - Season Four - Buy from Amazon
The penultimate season of this TV series, which was based on the amazing movie of the same name. While the show never lived up to its predecessor, this was still one of the best, and most underrated sitcoms from the late 1970s.

While the show is great, watching this many episodes in such a short period does emphasize the somewhat repetitive nature of the show. Yes, many of the episodes do follow a similar pattern with Oscar trying to be left alone and Felix trying to become more involved in his life, as a way of helping him, only to drive Oscar up the wall. While this repetition would normally kill a show's effectiveness, here the writing is great and the chemistry between the two leads is fantastic. Highlight episodes of this season include The Odd Decathalon where Felix and Oscar compete in a decathlon to see which one is in better shape. This is the Army, Mrs. Madison, which is a flashback story to Oscar's wedding, and why he isn't in his marriage photograph. The Exorcists, where Felix starts hearing noises and becomes convinced that the air conditioner is haunted. ... Yeah, it doesn't make a lot of sense in the show either, but it's still funny. Cleanliness is Next to Impossible has Oscar about to lose a woman he really likes because he is a slob, so he turns to Felix for help. And of course, any episode with Myrna is also a highlight, and she's in a number of fourth season episodes.

As for extras, there are none. There are no subtitles either, but there are proper chapter placements and a play all button on each disc. This treatment is typical for TV on DVD releases from this era.

There's just one more release for The Odd Couple, which is bittersweet news for fans of the show. While it only lasted five seasons, the show maintained a strong quality level throughout and Season Four is no exception. I can recommend picking it up, but without anything in terms of extras, I can't be enthusiastic with that recommendation.

The Other Boleyn Girl - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A costume drama mixed with a teenage soap opera. On paper, this could have been a player during last Awards Season, and it was at one time set for a December 21st opening. Then it was moved to February, and a lot of people thought it would bomb. It didn't do well, either at the box office or with critics, but it didn't do as poorly as many thought it would. As for the DVD, it's good, with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, featurettes on the cast, the original book, the real-life historical facts on the movie. And the Blu-ray is better with all of the above extras, as well as a picture-in-picture track and BD-Live features. The movie isn't bad, but it's hard to recommend buying over just renting and if you are interested in picking it up, the DVD and the Blu-ray are very close in value.

Otis - Buy from Amazon
A dark comedy about a serial killer who kidnaps young women to live out the high school life he missed out on. But when his latest victim fights back and escapes, her family has plans for revenge. This is a hard genre to get right, but this one does and it mixes the horror and the humor nicely. As for the DVD, there's enough extras here including an audio commentary track, deleted and alternate scenes, making of featurette, etc. It's enough to lift it above the rental level to a solid purchase.

The Rock: The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment - Buy from Amazon
A look at the wrestling career of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. This 3-disc set contains 9 hours of matches, promos, etc. A must have for fans of his wrestling days, but I'm not one of those.

Scarlett Johansson - Anywhere I Lay My Head - Buy from Amazon
It's not uncommon for singers to become actors and it is not looked at as strange. On the other hand, going from actor to singer is routinely seen as a vanity project. This was certainly the buzz surrounding this project.

For this CD, Scarlett Johansson decided to cover a dozen or so Tom Waits songs, which was a tricky proposition. Tom Waits has serious underground cred, but he is also a "love him or hate him" kind of singer. Those who love his music are generally going to hate the idea of someone covering his song, especially some actor doing what appears to be a vanity project. On the other hand, those who hate his music will have no interest in the CD. My opinion of Tom Waits has always been thus: He is a great songwriter, but a terrible singer. (He is much like Leonard Cohen in that regard.) This makes me one of the more receptive potential audience members. But will that be enough?

The songs have a smoky jazz feel to them combined with a hint of the gothic. I've never been to New Orleans, but this is the kind of music that I imagine one would encounter in the somber parts of town where the voodoo priests hangout, only that music would not be as overproduced. As for Scarlett Johansson singing ability, it's mediocre. Maybe. Quite frankly, there are times I can't tell if anyone is singing because the lead vocals are buried in the mix. Either producer David Sitek doesn't know what he's doing, or he's trying to do the best with really weak material and was trying to hide Johansson's voice as much as possible. Possibly a mixture of the two. A few of the songs that sounded pretty good, including "Falling Down" and "Fannin Street," both of which featured David Bowie, as well as "I Wish I Was in New Orleans" and "Anywhere I Lay My Head." However, there are none that I have felt the need to place into my heavy rotation MP3 list.

Scarlett Johansson's Anywhere I Lay My Head is not the disaster that some are making it out to be, at least not in my mind. However, nor it is a must have. Solidly mediocre. I can't be more enthusiastic than that.

The Signal - Buy From Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This film opened to mixed reviews in way too many theaters before crashing at the box office. This was not unexpected given the film's genre or its reviews. However, it should perform better on the home market where the experimental nature of the film can be appreciated more. (It's hard to stop, rewind, and re-watch in the theater.) Additionally, there are plenty of extras on the DVD for a limited release, including an audio commentary track, webisodes, deleted scenes, short film, and more. Worth checking out for most, picking up for many. As for the Blu-ray, it appears to have no additional extras, but it is also currently cheaper than the DVD on Amazon.

Soap - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Seems like a strange time to release a full-series set. These usually come out during the heart of Christmas Shopping Season. ... Unless Christmas Shopping Season has already started, and I wouldn't be surprised if it has.

TekWar - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian series that was based on the books by William Shatner, who had a recurring role in the series. The show only lasted one season, but it is better than that would suggest and for fans of the show the DVD is likely high on the 'To buy' list. On the other hand, those who haven't seen it yet should give it a rental.

There Will Be Blood - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
Part of the first wave of Paramount Blu-ray releases. This one actually came out last week, but the screener arrived late. Since I've already reviewed the movie, I won't be spending time on the movie itself and will just talk about whether it's worth the upgrade or not.

Good news: the High Definition transfer is excellent and I have no real complaints here. Bad news: the High Definition transfer is the only improvement from the 2-Disc set, which I wasn't able to recommend in the first place. Worse yet, this is not a movie that really benefits from the High Definition treatment and it is a film carried by its cast, and not special effects.

There Will Be Blood is an amazing movie, but so far I am not impressed by its treatment on the home market. The 2-Disc set had practically no extras, which is not acceptable for an award-winning film, while the Blu-ray release offers nothing new. Given the quality of the movie, I really want to recommend purchasing here. But the odds of a double-dip are high enough that a rental is in order. Rent now, wait for the special edition.

Waiting for God - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
Two residents of the Bayview Retirement Village are not content to sit around and wait till they die, as the staff expects them to do. A very popular British TV series that ran for five seasons winning over many fans along the way. Like many imports, the price is high on a per-minute basis and the extras are non-existent, however, for many fans it is still worth picking up.

Witless Protection - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
One of the worst movies of the year; not surprisingly one of the worst movies of all time. It was also one of the biggest bombs at the box office this year, so it comes as no surprise that the home market releases are so weak. There are only three featurettes on the DVD while the Blu-ray has another featurette, deleted scenes, and outtakes. However, that's not worth the price to upgrade. ... Then again, this movie is so bad it's not with buying, renting, or looking directly at without the aid of protective gear.

You Belong to Me - Buy from Amazon
A tale of obsession with a gay twist and a few other twists that play up the horror. This low, low budget film should please its target audience, regardless of their sexual orientation. It's worth checking out, but give it a rental first.


Filed under: Video Releases, Jumper, There Will Be Blood, The Other Boleyn Girl, Witless Protection, The Signal, The List, Otis