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DVD Releases for November 11, 2008 - Part II

November 11th, 2008

I have just one word to describe this week's DVD Release Report, and that word is, 'Ggrrghfuul.' 'Ggrrghfuul' is the sound one makes after reviewing 19 DVDs in one week, and I wasn't even able to put a dent in my pile of late DVDs. (On a related note, I have never been late reviewing a movie, as long as it arrives before the weekend before the movie is released. Given how busy some weeks have been, that's quite a feat.) As for the actual releases, there are a number of top-notch offerings coming out on Tuesday, and one that came out on Sunday. These include Firefly - The Complete Series - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon, Hellboy 2 - The Golden Army - Buy from Amazon: 3-Disc DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Collector's Edition, and Sunset Boulevard - Centennial Collection - Buy from Amazon. All three are worthy of the DVD Pick of the Week, and I'm not going to bother to narrow it down further. Additionally, there are two late releases featured on this week's list, Futurama - Bender's Game - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray and Kung Fu Panda - Buy from Amazon: DVD, With Secrets of the Furious Five, or Blu-ray, and both of these are also worthy of DVD Pick of the Week Honors. As expected with such a massive amount of releases, the list has been split into two and the first part can be found here.

The Mickey Mouse Club Presents - Annette - Buy from Amazon
The third and final release from Wave 8 of the Walt Disney Treasures line.

One of several serials presented during the final season of The Mickey Mouse Club. The series ran for 19 installments, each installment being about 11 minutes long. This one starred Annette Funicello as Annette McCleod, an orphaned girl from Nebraska who moves in with her affluent aunt and uncle. It's a fish-out-of-water story with Annette having to deal with her new surroundings, and her new school. She has the help of her new friend, Jet, and the most popular boy in school, Steve, but she also has to deal with her rival, Laura. (Strangely, the first installment, called Introduction deals with the plot of the show most of the way through the second disc, so you might want to skip that one if you don't want any spoilers. Fortunately each installment is one chapter, so it will be easy to skip.)

Extras on the first disc include the full episode of The Mickey Mouse Club from February 11th, 1964, which was the episode that introduced Annette. Musically Yours, Annette is a 12-minute featurette about Annette Funicello's music career. Extras on the second disc include the full episode of The Mickey Mouse Club from March 7th, 1964, which was the episode in which Annette was concluded. The final extras is a featurette called To Annette, With Love, which has a lot of clips of interviews where people praise Annette Funicello.

For those who grew up watching The Mickey Mouse Club, Annette Funicello likely holds a special place in their heart. For these people, Annette is a great 2-disc set to pick up. For those who are a fan of Disney TV shows from the era should also check it out. Granted, it is a little old-fashion, and maybe a little corny at times, but it is fun to watch.

Mind of Mencia - Season Four - Uncensored - Buy from Amazon
Whatever I've done to annoy the gods of comedy, please forgive me.

The last two comedy DVDs I've reviewed have both been Carlos Mencia DVDs, and I really don't like his comedic style. And I'm not someone who thinks you have to be P.C. to be funny. Offensive can be funny. For instance, the racist word association skit on Saturday Night Live with Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor was one of the funniest things ever put on TV. Carlos Mencia is not funny. It's like he thinks he can make a skit funny just by adding the word 'Beaner' a few dozen times. Additionally, while his stand-up is poor, his acting is worse.

Extras on the 2-disc set include deleted / extended / alternate scenes on all ten episodes. However, it is worth noting that some episodes only have less than a minute here. There is also a longer, 26-minute Between Breaks section that deals with some of Mencia's stand-up and crowd interactions. Over on disc two we find 15 minutes more Between Breaks, as well as six Mencia Minutes.

Comedy Central's killing me with too much Carlos Mencia. At least in a couple weeks I get to review Stephen Colbert's Christmas DVD (assuming I can find it again, as I appear to have misplaced it). In the meantime I have to finish my review of Mind of Mencia - Season Four - Uncensored. Personally, I would recommend skipping this 2-disc set. On the other hand, it is not like season four took a sudden turn for the worse and fans of the show that bought the previous seasons won't want to stop here.

Mister Foe - Buy from Amazon
This film opened in limited release with good reviews, but its reviews were not good enough, as it never found an audience theatrically It is worth checking out, but since it struggled at the box office, the DVD doesn't have a whole lot of extras, maybe. I think it has just an interview and some deleted scenes, but I've seen mixed reports with some saying there are no extras.

MXC - Most Extreme Elimination Challenge - Volume 4 & 5 - Buy from Amazon
One of the strangest shows on TV. For those who don't know, this show takes footage from Takeshi's Castle, a Japan game show, and replace the audio. It's great fun, but I'm not sure the replay value is there to warrant purchasing over renting.

Night Gallery - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
Rod Serling's follow-up to The Twilight Show. It didn't last as long as the previous show, but it is just as good. Additionally, there are better extras than most shows from its era with audio commentary tracks, featurette, and more. Easily worth picking up for fans of the show, and you've never seen the show but loved The Twilight Zone, it is worth checking out.

Noelle - Buy from Amazon
A Christmas movie aimed squarely at the Churchgoing set that are looking for a faith-based film.

David Wells wrote, directed, produced, and stars as Father Jonathan Keene, a specialist priest of sorts. He's the one sent it by the Catholic Church to parishes that don't have enough parishioners to survive and closes them down. That's why he finds himself in a tiny fishing village just before Christmas. The film is low-key, rather slow moving affair that is meant to be an uplifting story of redemption, but it tends to drag too much to be effective. (And some of the acting was a little suspect, to be generous.) It does avoid some of the pitfalls many religious films tend to become trapped in. It's not overly preachy, for instance, but I fear it will still just preach to the choir.

(On a side note, there are some that claim this movie is Anti-Catholic because of how it presents the two priests, both of whom are flawed. However, their flaws make them seem more human, which is not Catholic bashing. At least not in my opinion.)

There are no extras on this DVD.

Noelle opened last year to mixed reviews before disappearing from the box office. The DVD should perform better, but I don't think it will have much appeal outside of its target audience, nor will many of those need to buy the DVD over just renting it.

The Perfect Holiday - Buy from Amazon
I really like Gabrielle Union, but I question some of her movie choices. Like this movie, for instance, which has been described as a pile of clichés with a holiday story propping it up. It also bombed at the box office, but the DVD has better than expected extras (an audio commentary plus a couple featurettes). Perhaps if you are a sucker for Christmas movies, this one could be worth renting, but that's it.

The Pink Conspiracy - Buy from Amazon
A movie about a guy who starts to think every woman in his life is involved in a conspiracy to make him as miserable as possible. And it turns out he is right. It's a cute film that is worth checking out, but a rental will be enough for most.

Planet B-Boy - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about breakdancing. This movie earned amazing reviews and even those who have little interested with breakdancing will walk away from this movie with a newfound respect for the dance form.

Quo Vadis - Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
A great movie, but a poor DVD. There are not a lot of extras on the 2-disc set, and additionally, there have been some sharp complaints thrown against the transfer here. The latter is more disappointing, especially since the movie was reportedly restored for its DVD debut. Maybe they will get it right next time.

Roman Holiday - Centennial Collection - Buy from Amazon
The first of three Centennial Collection releases coming out this week. At least it is the first if you go alphabetically. If you go numerically, it's second.

A classic from 1953 starring Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann, in the role that would net her first of five Oscar nominations, and her only win. Princess Ann is a young monarch who is on a tour of European capitals meeting with politicians and other dignitaries. However, while in Rome she grows tired of all of the rules and her burdensome schedule, so she escapes her holders goes into Rome anonymously. There she fails asleep on a park bench, only to be found by Joe Bradley, an American reporter stationed in Rome. Once he realized who she is, he decides to take advantage of his dumb luck and promises his editor an exclusive interview, but this is a romantic comedy, so you can pretty much guess how this ends.

Extras on the 2-disc set are all found on disc 2 starting with Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years, which is a 30-minute featurette on Audrey Hepburn's work during her Paramount years. Remembering Audrey is a 12-minute retrospective on the actress. Rome With a Princess runs 9 minutes and talks about the Roman locations featured in the movie. Dalton Trumbo: From A-list to Blacklist talks about Dalton Trumbo, the Oscar winning screenwriter who was blacklisted in 1947 by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Restoring Roman Holiday runs just under 7 minutes and is from the previous DVD release. Behind the Gates: Costumes is five-and-a-half minutes long, and I think it's also from the previous DVD release. Paramount in the 50s runs just under 10 minutes and talks about Paramount ... in the 1950s. (Kind of obvious from the name.) Wrapping things up are the trailers and image gallery.

One of three Centennial Collection releases coming out this week, and quite frankly they should all be in everyone's DVD collection. If you don't have Roman Holiday on DVD yet, now is the perfect time to do so. If you do, this DVD is worth the upgrade.

Sabrina - Centennial Collection - Buy from Amazon
The second Centennial Collection release of the week, although it carries the number 3 on its spine.

Humphrey Bogart and William Holden star as the Larrabee brothers, Linus and David. Linus is the no nonsense type who works all of the time, while David is a playboy who has already been through a couple of short-term marriages. The live on their estate with their many servants, including their British chauffeur, who has a daughter named Sabrina. The two brothers never paid attention to her while she was growing up, even though she has a crush on David. But after she returns from a culinary school in Paris, they are both drawn to her. The love triangle combined with the cross-class romance done nearly to perfection.

Like the previous Centennial Collection release, all of the extras here are found on the second disc starting with Audrey Hepburn: Fashion Icon, an 18-minute featurette on Audrey Hepburn's fashion, and not just how it applies to this movie. Sabrina's World runs eleven-and-a-half minutes and deals with the locations from the movie. Supporting Sabrina deals with the support cast of Sabrina and the number of excellent character actors found in the film. William Holden: The Paramount Years runs just under 30 minutes and talks about the movies William Holden made at Paramount. Audrey Hepburn: In Her Own Words is a 12-minute making of featurette. Behiind the Gate: Camera talks about the Camera department and some of the older cameras used by Paramount. Finally, there's the return of Paramount in the 50s and an image gallery.

Sabrina is another film that should be in everyone's collection. And if you don't have it yet, the Centennial Collection is worth picking up. Even if you do have the previous release, the Centennial Collection is worth the upgrade.

Scrubs - Season Seven - Buy from Amazon
There's a term used to describe shows that have lived past their prime. It is "Jumping the shark." There are many ways shows can jump the shark, adding a new character, having an old character leave, having two characters get married, or just have sex for the first time. ... Then there's giving birth. That brings us to Scrubs - Season Seven.

As I mentioned when season six was released, it started out poorly before recovering. This time around, there was no recovery. In fact, the season ends on a rather low point. Granted, the show's run was cut from a shorter than usual 18 episodes to a very short 11, and perhaps the strike did cause enough disruption to harm the season's flow. But, I'm now starting to think that Season Five is the last of the great seasons. Hopefully things will bounce back when the show debuts on ABC later this season.

On the other hand, the extras on the 2-disc set are amazing with audio commentary tracks on all eleven episodes. The rest of the extras are over on disc two, and they include a making of featurette on the season finale, an interview with Ken Jenkins who Dr. Bob Kelso, deleted scenes, alternate lines, and finally outtakes. That's a huge amount of extras, and I just wish the quality of the episodes lived up to the extras.

To be fair, Scrubs - Season Seven is not bad. But it is average, which is a huge step down from the first five or so seasons. I can see a lot of fans giving this one a pass, even if it is just to see if the show bounced back with season 8. If it does, perhaps it will encourage more to try this season again.

Smashing Pumpkins - If All Goes Wrong - Buy from Amazon
A 2-disc set that is part documentary / part concert release, and both parts are worth checking out for fans of the band.

Son of the Beach - Volume Two - Buy from Amazon
Just a quick note that this Baywatch spoof is coming out on DVD this week and I should be getting a screener to review it. However, it is late, but I will review it as soon as I can.

Star Wars - Clone Wars - Buy from Amazon: DVD, 2-Disc Collector's Set, or Blu-ray
Basically the pilot movie for the upcoming TV series, and as long as you take that into account, it's not a bad movie. The animation looks cheap, that's because it is cheap. It was made for less than $10 million, compared to nearly $200 million for WALL-E. It was also made to be split into 30-minute chunks for TV, which does give the story a bit of an episodic feel to it, but I think for fans of the franchise who are interested in the TV series should still check it out. As for which version they should grab, the DVD has an audio commentary track, while the 2-Disc Collector's Set has that and featurettes on the voice-acting, the music, how the film fits into the franchise, etc. It even as a bonus portable copy of the movie, but not on disc, it's a code to get a free download. The Blu-ray has these features, with the audio commentary track upgraded to a Picture-in-Picture track and a game. Easily worth the extra money for the upgrade.

Storm Hawks - Showdown in the Skies - Buy from Amazon
The last half of the first season of this Canadian cartoon hits the home market this week. The show's heroes are a group called the Storm Hawks, who are a mixture of knights and fighter pilots. They all pilot transformable motorcycles that turn into flying machines, most of which remind me a lot of World War I biplanes. (There are a few that transform into helicopters.) They battle various forces of evil including the Cylconians, Raptors, and a crime lord called The Colonel.

Episodes on this 2-disc set include...

  • A Little Trouble - The DVD starts with Junko agreeing to be a babysitter for his second nephew's third uncles first cousin's kid, who might be the most dangerous force in Atmos. Meanwhile, the Storm Hawks have discovered Snipe's nearly completed a new Battle Airship, which once completed would outgun anything in the quadrant, so it must be destroyed before then.
  • Escape! - The episode starts with Aerrow and Radarr prisoners on a terra that is obviously in the Deep South and they must find a way to escape. When the episode started, I thought it was the second part of a two-parter, because we are never even given a hint as to how they got there in the first place, but it is a good episode and watching them escape is fun.
  • Terra Neon - The gang heads to Terra Neon for a little R&R, but a terror from the Borscht Belt forces them to audition for their Reality TV show. I don't know many kids who will get the Borscht Belt reference, which might be a problem here.
  • Talon Academy - The first episode of season two has Aerrow, Piper, and Radarr infiltrating a Cyclonian recruitment camp that is tricking kids into joining their arming. The training camp is led by Snipe, much to the delight of Aerrow, who causes a lot of trouble during their mission.
  • Siren's Song - The Condor is trapped within The Great Expanse, an area where no ship has ever returned from. They all blame themselves for getting trapped there, until they come face to face with the real reason they are there, the Siren.
  • Dude, Where's My Condor? - The last episode from season two... short season. Here the group sells their ship, The Condor, and upgrade to a bigger, better model. Or so they think. When they realize what a mistake they made, it is too late to get it back as The Colonel has become the new owner of and tries to break the record for faster airspeed. But will the Condor survive the attempt.
Extras on the 2-disc set are very limited. In fact, there's just one extra, a 360 degree look at some of the ships from the show. (I do like the design of these planes.)

This is a very good show, if a little predictable at times, but it is a kids show, so that's more forgivable. The target audience should enjoy Storm Hawks and while there is almost nothing in terms of special features, fans of the show will still likely want to pick up Showdown in the Skies.

The Streets of San Francisco - Season Two - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
A great show, but I hate the DVD releases. Zero extras and the season is split into two volumes. Arg.

Studio One Anthology - Buy from Amazon
On the one hand, there is an amazing collection of programs from this drama series from the 1940s - 1950s. On the other hand, it is very expensive for a TV on DVD release. Back to the original hand, if you consider it a series of TV movies, then this 6-disc set is worth the money.

Sukiyaki Western Django - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Steelbook Packaging, or Blu-ray
The English-language debut of Japanese director, Takashi Miike. It is presented by Quentin Tarantino, who also has a small role. The movie is a remake of Yojimbo, which was previously remade as A Fistfull of Dollars, and latter as Django and Last Man Standing. I've seen at least one version of this story, but even so, I had a devil of a time keeping up.

The main problem I had with this movie was its style. Or more specifically, all it had was its style. Garish, overblown, overindulgent, and more. It is also too self-referential is a 'film geek' kind of way. If you are not intimately knowledgeable of Spaghetti Westerns, you will likely be lost here. ... Even if you are knowledgeable, you will likely be lost here. On a side note, as I mentioned above, this is Takashi Miike's first English-language film, and it shows. The actors say their lines like they don't actually know what they are saying, and their accents are so thick at times I had to put the subtitles on. Sadly, even though Quentin Tarantino speaks English, he still isn't able to stand out for his acting in this movie. He really should stick with directing.

Extras on the DVD include a nearly hour-long making of featurette that is in Japanese with English subtitles. There are also 6 minutes of deleted scenes, but there are no English subtitles here. Also, they play in one block and you can't choose to view just one.

The Steelbook Packaging just has cool packaging as an added draw.

Finally, the Blu-ray has the above extras, including 8 more minutes of deleted scenes, but neither is presented in high definition. The disc is also BD-Live enabled, but there's nothing online at the moment. There is also a second disc with a Digital Copy of the movie and it doesn't cost significantly more than either DVD version.

Critics were split on Sukiyaki Western Django with some amazed by its visual flair and excessive nature and others turned off by these same elements. I fall into the latter category. That said, if you are interested in buying this movie, the Blu-ray is the way to go, as it presented the best deal. However, I would instead recommend picking up Takashi Miike's Audition instead.

Sunset Boulevard - Centennial Collection - Buy from Amazon
This is the first of the new line of Centennial Collection releases, at least that's the number on the side of the case. It is certainly the number one release in my book.

William Holden stars as Joe Gillis, an out of work screenwriter who has just about given up on Hollywood. One day while trying to avoid the repo men, he drives into driveway of Norma Desmond, an aging movie star that is planning her comeback, I mean return to the silver screen. After a brief confrontation, she hires him to help clean up her screenplay, but since the movie starts with Joe's corpse floating in a pool, you know the movie won't end well.

On of my favorite movies of all time, and I'm not alone in that assessment. Arguably the best movie ever made about Hollywood, it combines Film Noir with dark humor that will still draw in audiences nearly 60 years after it was made.

Unlike the other two Centennial Collection releases coming out this week, this one has an audio commentary track by author Ed Sikov. It can be a little dry, but there's a huge amount of information presented. The rest of the extras can be found over on disc two, and they include a number of featurettes, both new and those ported over from the previous Special Edition. Sunset Boulevard: The Beginning runs close to 23 minutes and is a making of featurette that hits all of the right notes along the way. The Noir Side of Sunset Boulevard is a 14-minute featurette with Joseph Wambaugh, a writer whose work has been turned into a number of movies. Sunset Boulevard Becomes a Classic talks to several people about the lasting legacy of this movie. Two Sides of Ms. Swanson an 11-minute featurette on Gloria Swanson, both her movie career and her other interests. Stories of Sunset Boulevard has more stories on the making of the movie, including the original opening. Mad About the Boy: A Portrait of William Holden takes an 10-minute look at the actor and his career. Recording Sunset Boulevard runs just under six minutes and talks about the film's Oscar winning score. The City of Sunset Boulevard looks at some of the locations featured in the movie. Behind the Gates: The Lot is yet another look at Paramout Studios, this time focusing on the lot.

The rest of the extras, Franz Waxman and the Music of Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Location Map, and more are all from the previous special edition. Sunset Boulevard remains one of the best movies ever made and not only is the Centennial Collection worth picking up, it is worth upgrading to, and it is worthy of the DVD Pick of the Week.

This Christmas - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This film came out last year to mixed reviews, but did very well at the box office, especially given its opening theater count and its production budget. This Christmas show aimed at African Americans, but there is more crossover appeal here that with Tyler Perry's offerings so far. On the other hand, the extras on the DVD are just average with an audio commentary track, making of featurette, deleted / extended scenes, and a music video. The Blu-ray has no additional extras, and costs 40% more than the DVD.

Tinker Bell - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Just a quick update from the previous review now that the DVD has arrived. Usually the Blu-ray version is late, but this time the DVD arrived second. This actually makes a lot of sense; if you are pushing the new format, you should send the Blu-rays out first.

I don't need to recap the quality of the movie itself, so let's jump right into the extras. The DVD has Magical Guide to Pixie Hollow where you can learn about where the fairies live and work. Tinker Trainer is also here, but it is DVD-ROM only (I assume this is because Blu-ray players have more than enough CPU power to run the game while the average DVD does not). The short film Ever Wonder is also here, as is the music video for "Fly to Your Heart" by Selena Gomez.

Is that is for the extras? Yes and no. That's all you will find on the menu, but there's an Easter Egg in the Bonus Features menu that takes you further. (I won't spoil it here, but it would be more difficult to navigate through the menu without finding it than it is to stumble onto it.) This section has the 10-minute making of featurette, Creating Pixie Hollow, and a selection of deleted scenes, with optional introductions.

On a side note, Tinker Bell's wings on the DVD slipcase are fuzzy, but not so on the Blu-ray. This is not the first time I've noticed the packaging being better for the DVD than the Blu-ray. This doesn't help sell the new format.

I was very happy with Tinker Bell as a movie and I see no reason why it could not have been released theatrically. Both the DVD and the Blu-ray are worth picking up. If you have the option, go with the latter, but the former is worth grabbing as well. In fact, and I hate to say this, you might want to have the Blu-ray for the main room, and the DVD so your kids can watch the DVD in their room while you are watching a different movie.

Tracey Ullman's State of the Union - The Complete Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Tracey Ullman is incredibly funny, but her show's never seem to last as long as they should. That said, this is not her best work. Extras on the DVD include outtakes, deleted scenes, make-up tests and more, but the price is very high on a per-minute basis when compared to other TV on DVD releases.

TV on DVD Releases - Full Series Sets - Buy from Amazon: The Cosby Show - 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, Firefly - The Complete Series - Blu-ray, I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series, Little House on the Prairie - The Complete Television Series, M Squad - The Complete Series, and The Sopranos - The Complete Series
A good collection of TV on DVD Megasets being released this week, including Firefly making its debut on High Definition. Woo hoo!

Yo-Yo Sexy Girl Cop - Buy from Amazon
In Japan there's a movie series called Yo Yo Sexy Cop and a movie called Yo-Yo Girl Cop, this movie is a mash up of those two. There's a lot of weird things coming out of Japan, and I have no idea of the quality of this movie, but as a fan of weird movies from this area, I'm going to have to check out this movie.


Filed under: Video Releases, Kung Fu Panda, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, This Christmas, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The Perfect Holiday, Planet B-Boy, Noëlle, Les Chansons d'Amour, Sukiyaki Western Django, Tinker Bell