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DVD Releases for July 8, 2008

July 7th, 2008

Another week without a first-run release that deserves serious consideration for the DVD Pick of the Week award. This means we are left looking at special editions, limited releases, and TV on DVD sets for the best of the week. Sadly there are not a lot of contenders here either. Batman Begins on Blu-ray Standard Edition or Limited Edition is certainly worth picking up, but it is mostly just a port of the HD DVD release and I was hoping for more (like having the extras in High Definition). The Monk / Psych two-pack offers two great shows for a reasonable price, but I'm not sure it's award-worthy. The best this week has to offer is Stargate Atlantis - Season Four - Buy from Amazon, and it is this week's DVD Pick of the Week.

305 - Buy from Amazon
A parody of 300 that was based off of a short film first posted on YouTube. It's not as bad as that sounds. In fact, it is better than Meet the Spartans, but that's not saying too much. It is worth checking out, and with the sizable number of extras on the DVD, many who do will want to purchase it. However, I would recommend trying before you buy.

American Zombie - Buy from Amazon
A mockumentary look at several "deceased-Americans" and their attempts to reintegrate back into society. Horror comedies are difficult to market at the best of times, while opening in limited release makes that task nearly impossible. Even with reviews that are better than most films earn, it still went nowhere. That said, the DVD is on par with most limited releases with an audio commentary track and a featurette, which lifts it past the rental and to the purchase level.

The Atheism Tapes - Buy from Amazon
A six part documentary series from Britain about atheism, including talks with several famous atheists. (Including evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who probably hasn't done a lick of work in evolutionary biologist in the past decade because he spends all of his time being interviewed or interviewing others.) I read a poll done last year with regards to the American presidential race. People were asked if they were willing to vote for someone who was qualified to be president but who were also... The options given included a woman, a black man, someone who was over 72, openly gay, atheist, and others. The only one that didn't get at least 50% of the votes was the atheist. Perhaps there is a place for programs like this, and Atheism - A Rough History Of Disbelief, for which the interviews were original conducted. Worth checking out, but the lack of extras and the rather high price on a per minute basis for a TV on DVD release might persuade some to rent instead of buy.

The Batman - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
The first of three Batman-related DVDs comign out this week. This one is the last season from the current TV series. Like most Warner Bros. releases in this area, this 2-disc set in very good value for the money, even if the extras are light (just a couple featurettes). If you own the previous seasons, there's no reason to stop now.

Batman - Gotham Knight - Buy form Amazon: Single-Disc Edition, Two-Disc Special Edition, or Blu-ray
Six short animated films that bridge the gap from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight done in a certain anime style. These stories are not necessary to enjoy the upcoming movie, but fans of the franchise looking for a different take on the Super Hero should be interested in this release. As for the various selection, the Single-Disc Edition has an audio commentary track and a preview for the upcoming Wonder Woman release. The Two-Disc Special Edition has that and two lengthy featurettes, the first on Batman, and the second on Bob Kane, the creator. The Blu-ray sadly has no additional extras, but only costs $1.00 more and it is easily worth the additional money. Definitely worth picking up, regardless of which version you decide on.

Batman Begins - Blu-ray Edition - Buy from Amazon: Standard Edition or Limited Edition
When Batman Begins was first released on the home market, it came out on HD DVD but not Blu-ray, despite Warner Bros. being format neutral at the time. This was the case because Profile 1.0 Blu-ray players weren't able to handle the extras that HD DVD players were, so they held back on the release till Profile 1.1, so it could handle the Picture-in-Picture commentary track. Fans of the movie, and there are plenty, will be very interested in grabbing this movie in High Definition, especially those who wisely gave HD DVD a pass. That said, the Blu-ray is identical to the HD DVD release, which is a shame. The extra room on the Blu-ray disc should have meant they could include all of the extras from the DVD in High Definition. In fact, the only difference is The Dark Knight Imax Prologue, which is certainly a selling point for anyone interested in that movie. As for the Limited Edition, it includes several physical extras including a booklet, comic book, even a coupon for The Dark Knight. That said, it is twice as much, so it is only for more hardcore fans. But for everyone with a Blu-ray player, this is a film that should be added to your collection.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Release: 10. 5 Apocalypse/Category 7: The End of the World, Batman - Gotham Knight, Batman Begins, Batman Begins - Limited Edition, Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire: Live at the Greek Theater, The Curse of King Tut's Tomb/Blackbeard, Ken Hensley - Blood on the Highway, The Moody Blues: Lovely to See You - Live, The Ruins, and Sleepwalking
This week's selection of Blu-rays is merely mixed. We do have Batman Begins making its Blu-ray debut this week, and that's pretty much the only one worth picking up. To be fair, concert films in High Definition are usually amazing, and Batman - Gotham Knight will be of interest to many Batman fans, but there's not a wide array of choices here to interest a diverse audience. That said, this is arguably the best week for Blu-ray releases until practically the end of summer.

Cannon - Season 1 - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
Before he was the Fatman, he was Cannon. ... Granted, he was also described as fat on more than one occasion on this show.

William Conrad stars as Frank Cannon, a retired cop who is now a high-priced private investigator who charges his rich clients a bundle so he can help those in need. This is one of several similar crime fighter shows that aired around the same time and each one needed its own hook; here it was the girth of William Conrad. (On a side note, his weight was widely believed to have cost him the gig when Gunsmoke moved from radio to television, so this is a nice turn of events.) However, outside this hook, this is still a very solid show with a number of very interesting cases during the first half of the first season. Also of note, the show is a little more violent that one would expect from the early 70s, but this was before the big crackdown against violence. However, while there's plenty of violence and a lot of people get shot, there's very little blood. (And what little they show is very, very fake looking.)

On a side note, the film is a Quinn Martin production, which means something when it comes to the style of the show, including the four-act plus an epilogue format. Also of note, William Conrad was the narrator for The Fugitive, which was one of Quinn Martin's biggest hits.

(Also of note, Mark Hamill makes a short guest appearance in one episode found on this DVD. But this was before he was famous and he's only in two scenes with very little dialogue.)

As for extras, this 4-disc set only has episode promos, which is not really an extra. The 4-disc set does have play all buttons, proper chapter placements, but no subtitles.

Cannon - Season 1 - Volume 1 is a typical of too many TV on DVD release. It's devoid of extras and, furthermore, it is a split-season release. Even fans of the show will not be happy with its debut on DVD. Without anything in terms of real extras, and at a price that is rather high on a per minute basis, it is hard to be enthusiastic about this release. It is worth checking out, but for most a rental will suffice.

Chop Shop - Buy from Amazon
An award-winning film that opened with amazing reviews and a decent per theater average, but was never able to expand. (In fact, it's widest theater count was just three.) Fortunately, the DVD doesn't feel the effects of this too much and the extras include an audio commentary track and rehearsal footage for several scenes. Worth checking out, and worth picking up over just renting.

Dance Me Outside - Buy from Amazon
Directed by Bruce McDonald, who directed Hard Core Logo, among other movies. This is one of his best films, although you can't tell from its Tomatometer score. This is a Canadian movie and most south of the border have never even heard of it. Sadly that's probably true of most people north of the border as well. However, it is certainly worth checking out and with extras that include an audio commentary track and interviews with the cast and crew, it is worth picking up over just renting. And if you are Canadian, it is your patriotic duty to have this movie in your DVD collection. Support the homegrown film industry.

Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
6-disc DVD featuring Cesar Millan dealing with problem dogs. Or to be more accurate, problem owners. It's a fun show for dog lovers, but personally I'm not interested in the show unless Cesar Millan decides to start spaying and neutering some of the owners. It's clear some of these people should not be in charge of the health and welfare of another living organism. Also coming out tomorrow is Canine Makeovers and Stories of Hope and Inspiration.

Drillbit Taylor - Blu-Ray Edition - Buy from Amazon
Just a quick update for the Blu-ray edition of this home market release. I reviewed the DVD last week, so this review will just focus on the differences between the two.

There are almost none.

For instance, there are no additional extras on the Blu-ray over the Extended Edition, although they are all presented in High Definition. Additionally, the movie is not the type that truly benefits from the High Definition treatment as it is a fairly average comedy and is in no way a visual feast. There are a lot of extras on the Blu-ray disc, including audio commentary track, deleted scenes, alternate lines, making-of featurettes, and an interview between the two writers.

The price difference between the two versions is a bit confusion. The MSRP for the Blu-ray Edition and the Extended Edition is a mere $5.00, or about 15%. However, after taking into account Amazon's discount, it's $11.00, or 65%. It is nearly impossible to recommend the Blu-ray upgrade at that price. Especially for a disc that offers so little in High Definition.

Drillbit Taylor is a film with a potentially fun premise that was marred by flawed execution. The titular character was supposed to be a loveably loser, but he was just a loser. And not a very sympathetic one at that. I ranked the Extended Edition as merely a rental, and there's nothing on the Blu-ray Edition to change that.

Fastlane - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Two cops, fast cars, and lots of action added up to a derivative cop show. A derivative cop show that cost a bundle to make, which quickly lead to its cancellation when ratings dipped. (It was the show that moved to Fridays after Fox canceled Firefly, which is really the only noteworthy part of the show.) Part of the reason for the high cost was for the soundtrack, however, they only licensed the music for the TV broadcast, and not for DVD, so it is very likely that there will many, many music cuts made, so even fans of the show should be wary of the DVD release.

Flakes - Buy from Amazon
Zooey Deschanel is an excellent actress and is wonderful in nearly everything she does, including this movie. However, too often the projects she chooses are well below par, including this movie. Perhaps if you are a really big fan of hers, then this movie is worth a rental. But even then I'm not so sure.

I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
The final season of this show suffered from a dramatic decline in quality. I won't get into details, but the network wanted changes to the show to spice things up and revive slumping ratings. As it usually is the case, these changes did more harm than good. That said, if you bought the previous seasons, then I would assume you will want to complete your collection, and that isn't too outrageous to do. However, that is hardly a glowing recommendation.

It's a Boy Girl Thing - Buy from Amazon
The DVD came out three weeks ago, but the screener only arrived last week, hence the delay in the review.

Samaire Armstrong stars as Nell Bedworth, a nerdy high school girl, and Kevin Zegers co-stars as Woody Deane, the high school quarterback and her next door neighbor. While on a high school field trip to a local museum, they fight in front of an Aztec statue Tezcatlipoca, who was the Aztec god of discord, sorcery, strife, as well as many others. While arguing in front of this statue it appears to cast as spell on them and the next day they wake up in each other's bodies. At first they fight and try to figure a way to ruin each other's reputation. Then they work together to try and refute the spell. Then they fall in love. And no, I don't consider that a spoiler. After all, it is a romantic comedy.

Originality is not the film's strength. Not only is it a romantic comedy, it is also a body swap film, and those have their own list of clichés to deal with, including the gender switch sub-genre. Additionally, it's a football movie, so you are guaranteed one training montage, and of course there's the big game. That said, it does have its charm and fans of the genre should be entertained.

As for the extras, they are better than expected, but still merely average for a limited release. Things start with your standard making-of featurette, which runs seven minutes and is a mix of talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips from the movie. Samaire Armstrong and Kevin Zegers sit down for two separate interviews, each of which are seven minutes long. There are also a couple of text based extras: a personality quiz and a 'history' of the statue.

Overall you can't call It's a Boy Girl Thing a classic. It is merely a lighthearted romantic comedy that suffers from the clichés of its genre. That said, the cast does have enough charm to please fans of the genre. I'm not sure that the replay value is high enough to warrant a purchase for most people, but it is a solid rental leaning towards a purchase.

Jake and the Fatman - Season One - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
In 1987, William Conrad returned to TV in his second crime fighter drama. This time he was the district attorney Jason McCabe, a.k.a., The Fatman. He is aided by his private investigator partner Jake Styles, played by Joe Penny. Together, they fight crime.

The second William Conrad TV series that is making its debut on DVD this week, this one is not as good as Cannon was. Part of the problem are the stories, which tend to be more salacious and less compelling. I believe this was the height of the nighttime soap opera, so this show had to compete with the likes of Dynasty and other similar shows. The two men have to deal with politics, sex, professional hitmen, prostitutes, gangs, etc. but only to mixed results. The 80s vibe is too strong and the adds to a cheesy quality. The show was actually canceled after the first season, and I'm not entirely surprised given the episodes presented here.

As for extras, there are none. Well, practically none. There are promos for select episodes, but that hardly counts.

I've seen a lot of detective shows in my day. A lot of them. Jake and the Fatman is not a bad show, but it struggles against the competition, especially on DVD. It is merely average and lacks the replay value needed to be a top-notch choice. Add in zero extras and a split-season release, and it is hard to recommend Season One - Volume One for anything more than a rental.

Joe Strummer - The Future Is Unwritten - Buy from Amazon
A documentary biopic about the Clash's singer, Joe Strummer. The film earned excellent reviews and started off well enough in limited release, but it couldn't expand. Extras on the DVD include an audio commentary track and 100 minutes of additional interviews. Easily worth picking up for fans of the band, or of fans of the music from that era.

Journey to the Center of the Earth - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie adaptation likely being released on DVD the week solely to take advantage of the upcoming theatrical release of the same name. The DVD does have a couple of featurettes, which is better than expected, but it is still worth no more than a rental.

Just Add Water - Buy from Amazon
One of four discs that arrived late, I've already mentioned the DVD when it first came out, but here's the full spotlight review.

Dylan Wash stars as Ray Tuckby, a man with a dead-end job, living in a dead-end town, with a generally dead-end life. When he discovers his wife has been having an affair with his brother, he reaches rock bottom and this is the impetus he needs to take control. This is part of a particular brand of indie comedy where they take a bunch of quirky characters, stick them in a strange setting, have a bunch of strange events occur, and hope comedy ensues. It rarely does. And not just with this movie, but this genre in general. For every Little Miss Sunshine, there are half a dozen films like this one. As I watched the movie, I kept waiting for the film to show some genuine wit and comedic timing. It never happened.

There are no extras on this DVD. None.

Just Add Water is a movie where not enough happens and merely tries to survive on quirkiness. It under-uses its actors, its location, and the end result is nearly completely forgettable. I watched it the day before I wrote this review, and I had to re-watch it to remember the ending. It wasn't worth it. I have a hard time recommending this movie, even for a rental.

Left Behind - DVD Collection - Buy from Amazon
All four movies from the Left Behind franchise, but even at just $17 for four movies, it is still not worth it. These are incredibly bad movies in nearly every way. (Production value, story, acting, etc.) Additionally, they are aimed at a Christian audience, and not a general Christian audience, but an apocalyptic Christian audience with almost no crossover appeal. There's not even a token effort for crossover appeal.

Little Chenier: A Cajun Story - Buy from Amazon
The film opened to no reviews, opened in too many theaters, and never made a peep during its limited run. It should do better on the home market, but with just some deleted and alternate scenes, a rental should suffice for most people.

Monk - Season Six - Buy from Amazon
With season seven beginning in just over a week's time, there's no better time to release season six on DVD. Season six was an improvement over season five and includes several excellent mysteries (as well as the return of Sarah Silverman as Monk's obsessed groupie / stalker). I wouldn't call season six the best of the show's run, but those who were worried after season five that the show had jumped the shark will be relieved to know it is back to the levels we've come to expect. Extras are also excellent with audio commentary tracks on several episodes, which is more than enough to lift the DVD to the purchase level. Those interesting in this show should also check out Monk / Psych two-pack, which is $10 cheaper than buying the two seasons separately.

The Mummy - Universal Legacy Series - Buy from Amazon
This movie is 75 years old, but it still a masterpiece. It was first released on DVD in 1999 to capitalize on The Mummy, and once again in a box set in 2004. (One must assume its release now is to correspond with the release of Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which is just around the corner.) Given the number of DVDs that have previously come out, it is a lot harder to recommend upgrading to this 2-disc set. However, the number of new extras are impressive including a second audio commentary track, while the second disc has three featurettes on make-up artist Jack Pierce, the legacy of the Mummy, and Universal's monster movie legacy. Easy worth picking up if you do not own it already, and for most, worth upgrading if you do.

The Mummy - Two-Disc Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is the second special edition release for this movie, the first came out when The Mummy Returns and now that Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is about to be released, it makes perfect sense to release this Deluxe Edition DVD. Actually, it would make perfect sense if the movie was making its debut on Blu-ray at the same time, but I guess they are waiting until the fall when they can release the trilogy together in a nice box set. Also coming out tomorrow is The Mummy Returns - Two-Disc Deluxe Edition, which makes sense, and Van Helsing - Two-Disc Collector's Edition, which make less sense. Of the three, The Mummy is the best movie and the most fun, but regardless I still think waiting for the box set is the best deal here. Perhaps rent the first two to get you in the mood for the third, but wait to buy the box set.

NHL - Stanley Cup Champions 2007-2008 - Buy from Amazon
Another year without a shave and a haircut. Maybe I'll get a trim if the Canucks make it past the first round of the playoffs next year.

Psych - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
And speaking of Psych... another mystery show that clutters the TV landscape. Each one needs a hook to draw in viewers, and with this show the hook involves psychic phenomenon, or at least faked psychic phenomenon. In the show, James Roday stars as Shawn Spencer, a man who uses his highly developed sense of observation to solve crimes for the police. But when they suspect he is actually involved in one of the crimes he helps to solve, he pretends he is psychic to explain all of his insights. Extras on the 4-disc set are incredible with audio commentary tracks on 8 of the 16 episodes, podcasts for most of the rest, deleted scenes, outtakes, a bunch of montages that are of little value, and even some animated shorts. Granted, not all of the extras are top notch (Is there a demand for montages that I am unaware of?) but for the most part, the extras are excellent and overall the DVD is easily worth picking up. However, it is better bought as part of the Monk / Psych two-pack.

Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band Live 2006 - Buy from Amazon
I read once that for a while after the Beatles broke up, Ringo Starr had the best selling solo career. I'm not entirely sure if that is true or not, but there is something about that factoid that makes me smile. He has maintained a strong musical career throughout the years mainly through his All-Starr bands, where he collaborates with a group of musicians. This has been going on for nearly two decades now with changes in the line-up nearly every year. Fans of his should be happy that the 2006 concert lineup is coming to DVD, and probably are eagerly awaiting this year's line-up when it hits DVDs, probably next year or the year after.

The Ruins - Buy from Amazon: Theatrical Version, Unrated Edition, or Blu-ray
A horror film about killer plants. The amount of suspension of disbelief needed to make this film work would put the Golden Gate Bridge to shame.

I am not a purist when it comes to adapting novels into movies. Sometimes the book is better, and sometimes the movie is better. Sometimes the material just doesn't work as a movie. I believe the latter is the case here. The film is about killer plants, and when you are reading a story about killer plants, you are more willing to accept them as real, because you are filling in a lot of the details. However, they are not very visual, so in the movie they become a little... well... silly. It's a lot harder to be scary, so the filmmakers tried to compensate by being gory, but gore can only go so far to save a horror movie that lacks atmosphere. Additionally, the characters are not very sympathetic, which further hampers the film's effectiveness.

Extras on the DVD are better than expected, especially considering how poorly the movie did at the box office. Extras start off with an audio commentary track featuring director Carter Smith and editor Jeff Betancourt, who directed some of the second unit shots. The track moves swiftly without too many dead spots. There's also a trio of making-of featurettes: one general one, one on the killer plant, and one on the making of the set. Combined these run roughly 36 minutes, and they are well worth checking out for fans of the movie. Finally there are three deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and the original theatrical ending. Solid, which is better than expected.

On a side note, the Blu-ray hasn't arrived yet, but I will update this review when it does.

The Ruins only managed average reviews when it came out, but completely failed at the box office. The DVD is better than expected, but it is still very hard to recommend anything more than a rental. Better yet, skip the movie and read the book.

Sleepwalking - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Many critics praised both AnnaSophia Robb and Nick Stahl for their performances in this movie, some went so far as to say they were Oscar-worthy. However, most agreed that they were the only praise-worthy part of the movie. The may explain why the film never made much noise at the box office, and its box office struggles further explains why the only extra on the DVD is a making-of featurette. As for the Blu-ray, I'm impressed that is it even coming out on High Definition, but with no additional extras, it is not worth the nearly 60% increase in price. Then again, it is not worth buying in either format. It's hard to call it a rental, but the performances by the two leads are worth checking out.

Soul Food - The Final Season - Buy from Amazon
Wow. With so many full seasons being split into two volumes, it is nice to see a studio release two half seasons combined into one DVD. This 4-disc set has the 20 episodes from seasons 3 & 4 at a price most fans will be willing to pay. Nice to see greed not getting in the way.

The Spiderwick Chronicles - Blu-ray Edition - Buy from Amazon
The second Blu-ray update for a previously released DVD. Like the previous one, I won't be dealing with the quality of the movie and will instead delve right into the Blu-ray and what makes it better than the DVD. Again like the previous release, there's little here that's an obvious upgrade.

There's a strong selection of extras here, including a pop-up trivia track; additionally, all of the extras are presented in High Definition. However, there are no additional extras for the Blu-ray disc. That said, this is a very visual film and it greatly benefits from the High Definition upgrade. So much so, that it is not unlikely that many will consider the price of upgrade worth it just for High Definition.

What is the price to upgrade? The MSRP difference is... nothing. (This is partly thanks to the release being a single-disc Blu-ray vs. a double-disc DVD.) However, with Amazon's discount the price difference is $4.00, or about 17.5%. This is very reasonable for this type of release.

I didn't enjoy The Spiderwick Chronicles as much as the average critic. However, I will admit that the target audience should enjoy the movie enough that they will want to watch it more than once. For most adults a rental will do, though. Given the price of the Blu-ray Edition, there's little reason not to grab it over the DVD.

Stargate Atlantis - Season Four - Buy from Amazon
It never ceases to amaze me that a midlevel hit like Stargate could spawn not one, but two amazingly successfully TV series (not to mention a few more movies as well). Stargate SG-1 lasted 10 seasons while Stargate Atlantis starts its fifth season on July 11th, which explains why the DVD is coming out this week. (Actually, I think it would have been preferable if it had come out last week, because that would have given fans a weekend to get caught up on season four.) This season is arguably the best in the show's run so far, and not just because Jewel Staite joins the show, although that's a big reason. (I'm not just saying that because she was on Firefly. She's also Canadian.) Extras on the 5-disc set include audio commentary tracks on 19 or the 20 episodes (no, I can't explain why they didn't have audio commentary tracks on Midway as well). Also, there are featurettes on each disc ranging from a season recap, to episode specific ones. Finally there are plenty of deleted scenes, outtakes, and photo galleries. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Stop-Loss - Buy from Amazon
Perhaps it is still too early to make a movie about the Iraq War.

Stop-Loss details the lives of three soldiers returning from the Iraq War who are having difficulties adjusting to their new lives. Tommy is going back, he has to go back because he can't handle life outside the military. Steve wants to go back as a sniper, but his girlfriend wants him to stay stateside so they can get married. And Brandon, the leader of the group, is getting out for good, that is until he is stop-lossed and forced to return. To combat this, he decides to go AWOL and travel to Washington to meet with his Senator.

This is a frustrating movie to watch because it had the potential to be much better than it actually was. If a movie is really bad, you can dismiss it as trash and move on. However, this was almost a really good movie. There were some problems, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Tommy. In my opinion, Tommy was the most interesting character and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the best actor of the four leads. However, out of the four characters pictured on the cover, he's in the movie the least amount of time. Secondly, the road trip was never really satisfying. Brandon's big plan was to get to Washington to fight for what he felt was right, and he was willing to risk everything to get it. However, one phone call was enough to convince to give up and try something else. It just didn't seem right and made the whole trip pointless. And since the trip was a huge part of the movie, it really hurt the movie as a whole. Still, the movie is worth checking out, but it is not amazing like it could have been.

As for the extras, they are better than expected, especially considering the film's box office troubles. Things start off with an audio commentary track that is informative, but perhaps a little dry at times. Also, there are a few dead spots here and there. There's also a 21-minute making-of featurette, and a 10-minute featurette on the boot camp the actor's underwent to prefer for the movie. Finally, there are nearly a dozen deleted scenes, which are presented with option audio commentary track. Solid for a first run release.

Stop-Loss is certainly worth checking out, even though part of the narrative seems muddled and the most interesting lead character is seen the least. Add in a very strong DVD release in terms of extras, and this is a solid rental, leaning toward a purchase.

Superhero Movie! - Buy from Amazon
The latest in a long, long line of spoofs that started with Scary Movie back in the year 2000. Most of the latest wave of parodies suck, not to be too blunt about it. In fact, most have no idea what it takes to make a parody, and merely throw as many pop culture references on the screen as they can and hope audiences laugh. Real spoofs need to written by someone who understands the source material and know how to tweak it to get the humor out of it. Is Superhero Movie! one of the good ones?

Drake Bell stars as Rick Riker, your typical, if unlucky, high school student who one day while on a field trip is bitten by a genetically altered dragonfly and gains super powers. Thus he becomes the Dragonfly. He must rescue the damsel in distress, fight the super villain, all while getting sage advice from his uncle. This is a spoof, but it is a spoof with a plot that would work even if it wasn't a parody, and that is the key to success. That said, while I did laugh at the movie more than I thought I would, a lot more than I thought I would, it is not 100% successful either. There are a few pop culture references that seem out of place, and the middle of the film that spoofs Professor X and the X-men doesn't really work. Also, the ending was kind of weak. However, enough worked that I enjoyed the movie, which is not something I expected before I watched it.

As for the extras, they are better given the film's box office struggles. (This is a phrase that is common with this week's spotlight reviews as all of the first run releases that I reviewed struggled at the box office.) As usual, extras start off with an audio commentary track. Here the three participants talk about a number of subjects including the struggle over the name. (They wanted Superhero! to invoke Airplane!, Top Secret!, and Hot Shots!, while the studio wanted the Movie name to invoke Date Movie and Epic Movie. I have no idea why.) They also talk a lot over the cast (and get oddly quiet when Sara Paxton does her poll routine), and how the studio made them change the ending at the last minute, which explains why it doesn't really work. Other extras include an alternate ending and more than 20 deleted scenes, but they run less than 11 minutes combined, so most are very short and some are just a few seconds added into an existing scene. Finally there are two featurettes, one of the cast and the other on the making of the movie.

Too many spoofs are made by people who don't even know the definition of the word. Superhero Movie! is at least an attempt at an old-school, real parody of the super hero genre. While it wasn't perfect, I will admit I laughed. I laughed a lot more than I thought I would. That said, I will admit I am in the minority here and I would recommend renting over purchasing. It is certainly a try before you buy situation.

Teen Titans - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
This show is fading fast, but it isn't so bad that it is no longer worth checking out. However, it is only worth buying for the more hardcore fans.

The Tracey Fragments - Buy from Amazon
Ellen Page stars in this slice of experimental filmmaking that confused critics and was completely ignored by moviegoers. The film is told mostly in flashback and with a split-screen effect showing the "fragmented" nature of the mind of Ellen Page's character. I think this is a film that will worth better on the home market and it is worth checking out. That said, with just a making-of featurette, most people would agree than the DVD is probably a better rental than a purchase.

Wire In The Blood - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
A British TV series about a criminal psychologist who works with the police to capture the criminals. An excellent series, but the DVD suffers from the twin problems with most imports. A.) The extras are practically non-existent, and B.) the price is high on a per minute basis. Worth checking out, but at that price, most people would agree than a rental would be enough.

WWE: Nature Boy Ric Flair - The Definitive Collection - Buy from Amazon
A 3-disc retrospective of the career of Ric Flair. Fans of wrestling should be very happy with this DVD. I am not one of them and people like me with no interest in the sport can safely skip it.

X-Files - Revelations - Buy from Amazon
A select group of episodes from the long-running series that apparently helped inspire the upcoming movie. Personally, it smells like a cash grab to me. This show has been released on DVD so many times, that it is nearly impossible to recommend any further double-dips. On the other hand, those interested in the movie might want to rent to it get caught up and reacquainted with some of the plots.


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