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DVD Releases for August 5, 2008

August 4th, 2008

Another week, another list of lackluster first-run releases. Sadly, there's very little else to back it up. In fact, the only release that was even a contender for DVD Pick of the Week was The Counterfeiters, with both DVD and the Blu-ray worthy of that honor.

Anthony Bourdain - No Reservations - Collection 3 - Buy from Amazon
Part travel show, part food show. Anthony Bourdain travels the globe going to places where tourists generally don't and experiencing the food the locals eat. It's a great show about food, as long as you don't expect to learn any recipes. You'll also need to handle Bourdain's sometimes overdone narration. Overall the 3-disc set is certainly worth checking out for most, picking up for many.

Back at the Barnyard - When No One's Looking - Buy from Amazon
The first DVD release for the TV show based on the movie, Barnyard - The Original Party Animals. The single-disc release contains 8 11-minute episodes, as well as two original animatics for a good price for this type of release. I would prefer full season sets, and Nickelodeon does generally release full season sets, so it might be worth renting this one and waiting to buy.

Beastmaster - Complete Collection - Buy from Amazon
A TV series that is based on the movie of the same name. The movie didn't earn great reviews nor did it become a major hit in theaters. However, it became a cult favorite on cable even spawning a joke over the true meaning of HBO. ("Hey, Beastmaster's On!") As for the TV series, it can be a bit silly at times, but it still has a lot of cult appeal and fans of the show should be happy with the price.

Ben 10 - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon
A cartoon series about a boy who can change into one of 10 alien forms that he uses to fight evil. It has an old-fashioned comic book feel to it, which is part of its charm. It also has more extras than most cartoon DVD releases have, which lifts it past the rental to the purchase level.

Beowulf - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
This is the third time I've reviewed this movie, so there's little reason to talk about the film itself. You can read the review for the DVD here and the HD DVD here.

As for the Blu-ray, it appears to be identical to the HD DVD release, which is not surprising. It is also not a bad thing, as Beowulf was arguably the best looking HD DVD I reviewed. The main difference here is all of the special features fit onto one disc, which makes the Blu-ray more convenient. Is it enough to make it worth the upgrade? Perhaps, but this release is mainly for people who never had HD DVD or who gave up on HD DVD after Warner Bros. dumped the format and sold their player / collection. For these people, Beowulf - Blu-ray Edition is certainly worth picking up. It may not be the best movie in their collection, but it is entertaining, and it shows off what High Definition is all about.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: The BBC High Definition Natural History Collection, The Counterfeiters, Epic Conditions - The Weather Channel, Korn - Live at Montreux, Lonesome Dove, Nim's Island, Robin Hood - Season One, Starship Troopers, Starship Troopers 3 - Marauder, Starship Troopers - Trilogy Box Set, and Wild China
Another week without a top-notch Blu-ray release. The Blu-ray release for Nim's Island is interesting due to the number of Blu-ray exclusive features, but it is not the kind of movie that screams must have. Additionally, as a movie aimed at kids, it is unlikely to be a huge seller in High Definition.

Code Monkeys - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
An 8-bit cartoon similar to 8-Bit Theater. Here we follow the lives of two programmers named Dave and Jerry as they toil away at GameaVision during the height of the Atari 2600 gaming revolution. The humor tends to be juvenile, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for its target audience. Also a plus are the number of references to classic video games, most of which are lost on today's youth. Extras are not overwhelming, but there's enough here to make it worth picking up for fans, and if you have never seen the show but enjoy dark / juvenile humor, check it out, but rent it first.

The Counterfeiters - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The Oscar winner for best foreign language film. It tells the true story of several Jews who were concentration camp prisoners forced to work for the Nazis counterfeiting British (and later American) currency in an attempt to destroy their economies and help Germany win the war. This amazing movie is clearly deserving of its Oscar nomination, and the controversy surrounding the strange rules in Oscar nomination in the Foreign Language category should not give anyone the impression that The Counterfeiters didn't earn its Oscar. As for the DVD, it is very strong, especially for an import. Extras start with an audio commentary track and it also has a making-of featurette, interviews, deleted scenes, and more. The Blu-ray doesn't have any additional extras, but it also only costs about 35% more, which is reasonable for this type of release. Regardless of which version you go with, it is certainly worth picking up.

Doctor Who - Buy from Amazon: Episode 17 - The Time Meddler and Episode 121 - Black Orchard
Two more episodes from the longest running Sci-fi TV series ever. Of the two episodes coming out this week, Episode 17 - The Time Meddler is the better of the two, but both are easily worth checking out, and with extras like audio commentary track, restoration featurette, etc., it is worth picking up. Also coming out tomorrow is The Five Doctors, which is also worth picking up for fans of the franchise.

Family Ties - The Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
During its run, this series was one of the most popular on TV and helped to launch Michael J. Fox's career. (Although I'd like to think Class of 1984 helped somewhat.) Not only was it incredibly popular, seasons four and five were peak of the show's ratings, with it coming out number two during both seasons. (The Cosby Show was number one both times.) However, while the show was hugely successful, this DVD release has just some outtakes and the TV movie from this season as extras. If you purchased the previous seasons, then there's no reason to stop now, but that's not a strong endorsement, certainly not compared to the strength of the show.

The First Olympics - Athens 1896 - Buy from Amazon
A 2-part TV movie about the first Olympics focusing on the small group of athletes from America who beat the odds and not only competed, but won. With the latest Olympics starting on Friday, there's no better time to release this DVD, but the lack of extras hurts its overall value.

Fortress - Buy from Amazon
Just a quick note: The is a re-release with just a new slipcover. Don't get fooled into thinking it's a new release or that it is worth the upgrade.

Foyle's War - Set 5 - Buy from Amazon
The final three episodes of this W.W.II British mystery series. Fans of the show will be happy to complete their collection, others should start with Set 1.

Get Smart - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
This show has already been released on a Full Series megaset, although that was a Time Life exclusive. Now it is being released wider in individual season sets. I can see a lot of people who are interested in getting this show on DVD not picking up the Full Series megaset simply because they wanted to make sure they actually liked the show and were not being tricked by nostalgia and paying $200 is an awful risk if it was just nostalgia. That said, while this set is much cheaper, there are no extras. Personally, I would go with the megaset instead.

Handy Manny - Manny's Pet Roundup - Buy from Amazon
The third DVD release for this popular Disney TV series aimed at the pre-school set. The show stars Wilmer Valderrama as Manny, the best repairman of Sheetrock Hills, and his talking tools.

There are seven episodes on this release, starting with two that have not aired on TV yet. They include...

  • Lyle and Leland Lopart
    Manny's nephew, Pepe, entered the Soapbox derby at the last minute, so the gang are working hard to finish the car in time. Meanwhile, Mr. Lowpart's nephews, Lyle and Leland, are having trouble with their car so Manny offers to help.
  • Blackout on the Block
    Manny helps Cassie, the owner of the local pet store, after a blackout leaves her newly hatched chicks without the heat light they need to keep warm.
  • Squeeze Makes a Promise
    After helping fix a table leg, Squeeze agrees to baby-sit Mrs. Portillo's pet chameleon, Maurice. However, taking care of a pet is harder than it looks.
  • Pet Problem
    Manny and the gang head to Cassie's to fix a broken cage and the tools want get a new pet. But Manny warns them that pets are a lot of work, and they will soon find out just how much work.
  • Kitty Sitting
    Kelly comes by with a new kitten and the tools immediately want to keep her as their pet. Oh boy. Fortunately, before Manny can answer them, they have to go to a job and fix a broken doorbell, but with the kitten asleep in the toolbox, it tags along for the trip
  • Gopher Help
    A gopher it digging up the park and Manny is called in to build a gopher trap and repair the damage it has done. However, Rusty is afraid of gophers.
  • Renaldo's Pretzel Castle
    Renaldo is having trouble with the giant spinning pretzel atop his Pretzel Castle, and it's Manny to the rescue. But what could be causing it to fall apart?
In addition to the seven episodes, there's a game called The A-Maze-Ing Pet Roundup that includes five mazes for kids to complete.

Handy Manny is bright and colorful, and should be a lot of fun for pre-schoolers, and while it is rather repetitive (they sing the same two songs in every episode) the animal themed Manny's Pet Roundup should please fans.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe - Volume 3 - Buy from Amazon
I'm running out of things to say about these DVD releases. I was never a fan of this show and thought the writing was weak, even for a kids show, even when I was a kid. That said, there are lots of fans and they should be happy that the DVD releases remain packed with extras. If you bought the first two volumes, then there is no reason not to continue collecting this series.

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

Human Lanterns - Buy from Amazon
The Shaw Brothers made a lot of classic martial arts movies. They also made a lot of exploitation films. This is a mixture of both.

Lung and Tan are two rivals who have hated each other for a long time and are constantly in competition with each other. They decide to take their rivalry to the next level and both enter a lantern contest. ... Huh? It probably makes a lot more sense if you understand the significance the lantern festival has in Chinese culture. Personally, I was just willing to go with it. These two hated each other, and they were using this competition as one more way to show off. Simple enough. Lung enlists the help of a master lantern maker, Chun-Fang, to give him the edge. However, Chun-Fang has a dark secret, one that might have something to do with all of the women who keep disappearing.

Human Lanterns is a combination of martial arts action and macabre horror and for the most part it works, but it works better as a gruesome horror film than a martial arts movie. That said, there are some serious flaws here, namely the lead character of Lung. Lung is a jerk. A complete jerk and I had no sympathy for him. Don't get me wrong, Chun-Fang, who spends a great deal of time flaying women alive, is worse, but Lung is still nearly impossible to root for. In the end, I was hoping the two would kill each other in the final battle.

As for the extras, there are more than you would expect given the type of release. Things start with a 14-minute interview with Shawn Yin Yin, who talks about her career and how she was blacklisted from movies at the height of her career because someone once called her a China Doll. (It's a strange story and I can't do it justice here.) There is also an alternate take of one of the more gruesome scenes, and a still gallery.

Human Lanterns is not a classic of the genre, but it should please those into moody, gruesome martial arts horror movies. Additionally, the DVD has more extras than expected and will be worth picking up for many. However, I suggest renting it first.

I Got the Feelin' - James Brown in the 60's - Buy from Amazon
This 3-disc set includes the documentary, The Night James Brown Saved Boston, which was about the 1968 Boston concert that helped avert riots in the wake of Martin Luther King's assassination. Additionally, there's the actual Boston concert and a second 1968 concert, this time at The Apollo Theater. Extras are better than expected with additional interviews from the documentary, as well as plenty of additional performances (some that are audio only). Easily worth picking up for fans of the singer, worth checking out if you've never seen him perform and many that do will become fans.

I Love the 80s - Buy from Amazon: 48 Hours, Airplane, Airplane II, American Gigolo, Back Roads, Better Off Dead, Beverly Hills Cop, Beverly Hills Cop II, Big Top Pee Wee, Children of a Lesser God, Crocodile Dundee, Crocodile Dundee II, D.A.R.Y.L., The Escape Artist, Explorers, Falling in Love, Fatal Attraction, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Footloose, Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th - Part II, Grease 2, Hot Pursuit, King David, Major League, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Popeye, Pretty in Pink, Racing the Moon, Reds, Rustler's Rhapsody, She's Having a Baby, Some Kind of Wonderful, Summer School, Terms of Endearment, Top Gun, Uncommon Valor, Urban Cowboy, We're No Angels, and Witness
A metric boatload of DVD releases under the banner I Love the 80s. Many of these are classics from the decade, others are forgotten favorites, and a few others are justifiably forgotten. I received screeners for five of the above films, so here are the spotlight reviews...

Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Buy from Amazon
Matthew Broderick stars as the titular Ferris Bueller, a high school student who is much beloved by his fellow students. One day he decides to take a day off and head with his best friend and his girlfriend over to Chicago. Meanwhile, his principal and his sister try to catch him playing hooky so they can bust him for good.

One of the most beloved films of the 80s, and if you asked people today, still the movie that most people will associate Matthew Broderick with. (Although I've always been a fan of his film debut, Max Dugan Returns.) Having just watched the movie for the first time in probably a decade, but the ninth or tenth time in total, I have to say that it still holds up. Sure, some of the fashion is a little too 80s to be legal in all 50 states, but the script is right on key, and the comedic timing of the cast is fantastic.

On to the bad news, there's only one extra on the DVD, an audio commentary of with the director, John Hughes. However, this is more special features than many of the DVDs in the I Love the 80s line have. In addition, the DVD comes with a CD with four 80s songs by the bands Erasure, INXS, a-ha, and Echo & the Bunnymen, but it appears to be the same CD that comes will all of the I Love the 80s DVDs.

Footloose - Buy from Amazon
Kevin Bacon stars as Ren McCormack, a new kid in town who runs afoul of the authoritarian Reverend Shaw Moore who has banned from the town the very vice that Ren lives for. But Ren will help the other kids rise up and overturn the status quo, because Ren's just got to dance!

Oh lord, this is a silly movie. I know a lot of people remember this film fondly, but looking back, it's just silly. Whenever Ren gets angry, he's compelled to perform some elaborate dance to blow off steam. Dancing out of anger; it's just too much to handle. I have a hard time suspending disbelief long enough for the frequent dance numbers to pass. Additionally, the huge conflict between Ren and the Reverend ends far too fast and clean. The movie spends far too much time building it up, just to have Rev. Moore change his mind suddenly.

Moving onto the extras, there are none on the DVD, but it does come with the same 4-song CD as above.

Pretty in Pink - Buy from Amazon
Molly Ringwald stars as Andie Walsh, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is in love with Blane McDonough, who is part of the affluent crowd Andie can never be a part of. As well as having to deal with her crush on the unobtainable Blane, she has to deal with her alcoholic father and friend / stalker, and the usual teen angst.

I am not a huge fan of this movie, but I will still admit it is entertaining and it is very close to a very good movie. My biggest beef is with the ending, which was reshot thanks to poor reactions by test audiences. In the original ending, Andie ends up with Duckie and not Blane, who was a much more charming character. Jon Cryer ruled as Duckie, and without him the movie would be nothing. So changing the ending was just wrong.

Like most of the I Love the 80s releases that are coming out this week, there are no extras on this DVD, but it comes with the same 4-song CD mentioned above.

Some Kind of Wonderful - Buy from Amazon
With a plot that is nearly identical to Pretty in Pink, just with a reversal in genders. This time is it a poor boy, Eric Stoltz, who pines after the rich girl, Lea Thompson while his best friend, Mary Stuart Masterson, is secretly in love with him.

Perhaps it is this familiarity that caused Some Kind of Wonderful to become one of John Hughes rare box office flops. He practically owned the 80s, but after writing eight hits in three years, this film ended his winning streak. That said, it is still a very good movie and arguably better than Pretty in Pink, certainly with a more satisfying ending.

Like most of the I Love the 80s releases that are coming out this week, there are no extras on this DVD, but it comes with the same 4-song CD mentioned above.

Top Gun - Buy from Amazon
Due to a strange set of circumstances, I'm reviewing this movie twice this week. However, I also reviewed it once in the past. There's little need to rehash my review of the movie, and I'll just jump right into the extras.

Surprisingly, there are extras. Things start with an audio commentary track filled with participants including the director, the producer, technical advisors, and more. Additionally, there are four music videos for a number of the better known songs from the soundtrack. Most have not aged well.

The I Love the 80s line of DVD releases does have a lot of variety of films from the 80s. Some that are classics like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, while others like Some Kind of Wonderful where unfairly passed over when they first came out. Still others like Top Gun and Footloose were huge hits when they first came out but have not aged well. Sadly, they are double-dips and outside the 4-song CD that comes with every DVD, the same 4-song CD that comes with every DVD, there's little reason to buy these versions as opposed to the previous releases.

The Killing of John Lennon - Buy from Amazon
Mark Chapman is a loser. And an uninteresting loser as well. Both this movie and Chapter 27 show that despite the enormous effect his assassination of John Lennon had, he is just too much of a loser to base a movie around. Extras include an audio commentary track and more than a dozen deleted scenes, however, it is still not worth picking up. I can't even recommend renting.

Life in Cold Blood - Buy from Amazon
Another BBC nature program, which have grown in popularity after the release of Planet Earth. This series discusses reptiles and amphibians and is hosted by world-renowned naturalist David Attenborough. For fans of this type of show, it's worth picking up.

Little Einsteins - Flight of the Instrument Fairies - Buy from Amazon
The second Disney TV series aimed at the pre-schoolers to come out this week. This show is firmly in the pause and repeat school of kids shows. Throughout the show one of the characters will ask a question, pause for the answer, and say 'You're right!' And this happens over and over again. At least the show teaches kids about art and music (and some other topics) along the way.

There are four episodes on this DVD starting with one that has not aired on TV yet.

  • Flight of the Instrument Fairies
    The team half to rescue instrument fairies that become trapped in a cave, a cave that belongs to a polar bear. I don't want to give away the ending, but Stephen Colbert is not going to be happy with this episode.
  • The Puppet Princess
    "Funeral March of a Marionette" makes another appearance on the show. It was also featured on the previous release that I reviewed here. This show the kids go to a puppet show and have to help the puppets that were accidentally left behind.
  • The Glass Slipper Ball
    June is practicing her dancing and tries to get to the Glass Slipper Ball for her to have a chance to win a glass slipper, but there are many obstacles in the way. All of which can be conquered with the help of the "Blue Danube Waltz. " On a side note, the artist of the day was Andy Warhol, which is almost as weird has having the theme song to Hitchcock Presents as the song of the day.
  • Little Red Rockethood
    Rocket and the kids travel to Poland to visit Grandma Rocket. ... Huh? Anyway, along the way, Big Jet tries to stop them, or at least steal the Rocket soup Rocket made for his Grandma and the gang has to get it back.
The only extra on this DVD is a game called Music Mix-Up, which has two difficulty levels, each with two questions. At least the questions are not the same each time you play it so there is some replay value here.

Fans of Little Einsteins should continue to be pleased with the DVD releases and Flight of the Instrument Fairies is just as good of a value as the older releases.

Love Story - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about the psychedelic rock band Love, and their effect on the music industry. The band helped influence a number of bands, but sadly drugs prevented the band from lasting long enough to see their greatest success. "Forever Changes" failed to connect with listeners when it was first released, but it now seen by many as one of the greatest albums ever made.

Masters of Science Fiction - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Produced by the same people who made Masters of Horror, which was also recently canceled. Granted, neither show truly lived up to its potential, but both should have lasted longer than they did. The Masters of Horror DVDs were filled with extras making them feel more like mini-movie than TV on DVD releases. However, this single-disc release has no extras. A complete shame. Even so, it is still worth picking up, but a fully fleshed out 2- or 3-disc set would have been a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Miss Conception - Buy from Amazon
Starring Heather Graham, whose box office numbers have been... inconsistent recently. I think that's a generous way of describing it. This movie opened in limited release but was all but ignored by moviegoers, and for good reason. The DVD does have a making-of featurette, but even so it is still worth absolutely no more than a rental, and for most they can safely skip it.

My Brother is an Only Child - Buy from Amazon
An Italian film about politics tearing a family apart. The film earned strong reviews and opened well on the per theater chart, but never managed to really expand. This could explain why the DVD has no special features. Even so, it is still worth checking out, but for most a rental will be enough.

Nim's Island - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
An adventure film for kids than earned mixed reviews and then under-performed at the box office. The main problem is with the script (which is usually the case), as the characters were not compelling enough and there were a few too many times that the viewers were asked to suspend disbelief a little too much. On the other hand, the movie looks amazing. Extras on the DVD include two audio commentary tracks, three featurettes, and several deleted scenes. In addition, the Blu-ray has a BonusView mode and four games. Granted, it does cost more than 50% more than the DVD, but you get what you pay for; early adopters should be looking for releases that push the technology and this is one of them. That said, the movie is just average, and for most a rental will be enough.

Pete Seeger - The Power of Song - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about the folk singer Pete Seeger, and his influence on folk music, its revival, and indeed American culture.

For the longest time, Pete Seeger was politically active and he knew the power of music to connect people and spread a message. A message that the government was not always keen on and this got him into trouble a number of times. We hear about his work in helping unions and fighting racial discrimination, among other causes, which is why he joined the communist party, which caused no end of trouble later in his life. We also hear about his apolitical goals of spreading music and teaching people to play the banjo, preserving folk music, learning about folk songs from around the world, and more. (I would include environmental causes he supports as apolitical, but sadly opponents have made these causes political.) It's fascinating to watch, and there's more than enough music to satisfy fans.

Probably the biggest problem with the movie is the compression. Pete Seeger is nearly 90 years old, and he is still active today, so this movie had to compress nearly 90 years into under 90 minutes and you lose a lot of the details when you try to do that. Although to be fair, I don't think there's a way to work around that problem and any film long enough to do Pete Seeger's life justice would be too long to sit through in one sitting.

As for the extras, they are lighter than I would like. There's no audio commentary track, but there are three deleted scenes, five short films made by the Seeger family, and two DVD Rom features on two of Pete Seeger's biggest causes and

Pete Seeger - The Power of Song is a must see for fans of folk music, politically active music, and especially for fans of Pete Seeger. However, while the movie is excellent, the DVD is rather weak. It is still worth checking out for most, and picking up for many, but I can't be more enthusiastic than that.

Queen Sized - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie starring Nikki Blonsky of Hairspray fame. Here she plays a high school student who is nominated for Prom Queen by the mean girls of school who plan to humiliate her. It's is a TV movie, and feels like it at times, but Nikki Blonsky does have enough charm to lift the movie above its roots and it is worth checking out. However, a rental will suffice for most.

Rogue - Buy from Amazon
A killer croc movie from Australia. This horror movie went nowhere during its short limited release, but it didn't flop because of bad reviews. In fact, it is being called the best killer croc movie ever, and it is certainly better than most horror movies that earn wide releases. Extras on the DVD are much better than expected given the film's short run. Things starts with an audio commentary track, while there is a making-of featurette, another featurette on the real saltwater crocs, a gallery, and more. Easily worth picking up for fans of the sub-genre or of horror movies in general.

Route 66 - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The first season of this show has already been released, but in two volumes and with lackluster presentation. The studio heard the consumer complaints and actually fixed the problem, so those that were wisely holding off on buying this great road trip TV series, now is the time to grab it.

Shine a Light - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Just a quick update of last week's review, as the Blu-ray finally arrived. Since this is just an update, I'll just go right into the differences between the DVD and the Blu-ray.

There are almost no differences between the two, actually, as there are no additional extras on the latter, but at least they are all in High Definition. Speaking of which, this is one of the best-sounding Blu-ray releases I have reviewed and while seeing the Rolling Stones in High Definition is not a selling point, hearing them is. Normally for a price difference of 40%, I would want at least something additional on the Blu-ray release, but with the nature of this release, the $7 more is worth it to upgrade to Blu-ray.

Star Trek - The Original Series - The Complete Second Season - Remastered - Buy from Amazon
I feel sorry for my fellow Trekkies. The original plan for this release was to remaster the original series, update the special effects, and release it in High Definition for the first time ever. However, because Paramount bet on the losing format, we only got the first season of Star Trek - The Original Series in High Definition. This 8-disc set is an improvement from the original release, but I still think it is worth waiting until it comes out on Blu-ray. I don't have any insider information, but I would suspect the last season will come out this Christmas, while the Blu-ray releases will start Christmas of 2009 and end Christmas of 2010. (To be followed by a full series megaset in 2011.) I know there will be a lot of Trekkies who can't wait, and I can't blame you, especially since this is arguably the best season in the show's entire run.

Starship Troopers 3 - Marauder - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The second direct-to-DVD sequel to the original Starship Trooper release. This is strange as Starship Troopers was a bomb costing $100 million to make and bringing in less than $55 million domestically. (I also feel it was not as good as its Tomatometer score would indicate. At times it deviated from the book substantially and there were other problems that might have been acceptable in a book where suspension of disbelief is inherently stronger, but not in a movie. For instance, why were there no tanks? Given the battlefield and the enemies they were facing, there should have been an armored division involved in the fighting. (In the book the soldiers fought in power armor, which is at least more believable) Additionally, how could the 'Bugs' attack Earth using natural weapons? It lacks credibility to see them squid something out of their butts and then have it travel faster-than-light and reach Earth.) However, while the original was weak, the first sequel was much worse, as it had most of the above problems, and also lacked the budget of the original. Starship Troopers 3 - Marauder fits somewhere in-between; worth checking out for fans of the franchise, but that's it. On the other hand, the DVD is packed with extras including two audio commentary tracks, two making-of featurettes, and a music video. The Blu-ray has the above extras, as well as a Picture-in-picture track that is better than most. It also has as 'Internet Portal' that allows you to download additional features, but they are all ads for other releases. If you liked the movie enough to want to watch it a second time, then there's enough here to be worth picking up and the Blu-ray is worth the extra money. Also coming out this week is the franchise box set on DVD and Blu-ray.

Top Gun - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
When this movie first came out, I loved it. However, in the 20+ years that have followed, something has changed. I like to think my taste in movies has improved, but regardless of what changed, I now look at this movie as rather silly. Loud and silly.

As I've mentioned previously in this list, I've reviewed the movie before and there's little reason to go over old ground, so let's jump right into the extras. And there are plenty of extras, unlike the other two versions I've reviewed. In fact, it has all of the extras of the 2-Disc Collector's Edition, plus some. Things start with the same extras that the I Love the 80s release (audio commentary track and music videos). It also has a massive, and I mean massive feature-length making-of documentary that covers every single aspect of the movie you could want during its two and a half hour running time. Additionally, there are two multi-angle story-boards presented, interview, behind-the-scenes featurette, and a survival training featurette. New to the Blu-ray is a nearly 30-minute featurette on the real Top Gun school that talks about why it was set up, how it has changed over the years, etc. I found it interesting, and better than the movie itself. Sadly, all of the extras are in Standard Definition, nor is the High Definition presentation top notch. It's not bad given the age of the movie, but it is not something you will use to show off your home theater system. (Of the two Blu-ray reviews on this week's list, Beowulf does that job far better..)

When Top Gun came out on HD DVD last year, I hated it. And that had nothing to do with the quality of the movie, as the disc was 100% devoid of special features. It didn't even have a menu. The Blu-ray release, on the other hand, is packed and has more extras than any other release of the movie thus far and at a price that is in line with other catalog releases. For fans of the movie, it is certainly worth upgrading to High Definition for.

Wire in the Blood - Prayer of the Bone - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie based on the popular British crime series, this time set in America and featuring a suspected who had previously been on the original show. A very strong installment of the series that is worth checking out, even if you have never seen the show. However, without any extras, it is only worth picking up for fans of the show that want to complete their collection.

WWE - Summerslam - The Complete Anthology - Buy from Amazon
20 discs and 60 hours of wrestling. This is either a dream come true or a nightmare depending on your view of the 'sport.' I fall into the latter category.


Filed under: Video Releases, Beowulf, Nim's Island, Die Fälscher, Shine a Light, Mio Fratello è Figlio Unico, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, Rogue, The Killing of John Lennon, Miss Conception, Starship Troopers 3 - Marauder