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DVD Releases for February 27, 2007

February 26th, 2007

Looking at this week's list of DVD releases, there's not a lot that jumps out as being a must-have. There are some releases that are good movies but have weak DVDs, like Stranger than Fiction - Buy from Amazon. Then there are releases where the opposite is true, like Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny - Buy from Amazon and to an even more extreme extent Tideland - Buy from Amazon. But for the DVD Pick of the Week we have to go back, way back, to 1965 and Bob Dylan - Don't Look Back - 2-Disc Deluxe Edition.

Alexander - Revisted - Buy from Amazon
Why? Why do we need yet another version of this movie? Even if this edit is twice as good as the theatrical version was, it would still be terrible. And the DVD isn't great either. It's billed as a 2-disc special edition, but the movie itself takes up both discs and the only extra is an intro by Oliver Stone. Hopefully in six months we won't have to deal with Alexander - This Time I Got It Right, Honestly Edition.

At the Hotel - Buy from
A Canadian mini-series, but unlike the other Canuck release below, this one you have to import from The show follows a group of residents and staff at a hotel where murder, mayhem, sex and the supernatural are common. Unfortunately, because it is Canadian most people reading this have probably never heard of it. ... For that matter, most people in Canada have probably never heard of it. Definitely worth picking up, and for Canadians it is your patriotic duty to get it. Let's convince the CBC to put out more TV on DVD. (I want Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy.)

Blu-Ray Releases - Bullitt and The Getaway
Just two releases this week (not counting the concurrent releases). Of these two movies, Bullitt is better than The Getaway is, but both are worth adding to your DVD collection. On the other hand, neither really demand the high def experience.

Bob Dylan - Don't Look Back - 1965 Tour Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon: 2-Disc Edition or Single-Disc Edition
Some would argue that this film is the greatest music documentary of all time. And while that may be overstating matters a touch, this film is an amazing portrait of an American musical master and a groundbreaking cinematic achievement. This is not the first time the movie has been released on DVD, but it this the best presentation. Not only is the sound and audio improved, but there are plenty of extras including two versions of the film (the original and a revisited director's cut), audio commentary tracks on both versions, a companion book, alternate version of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," and a flipbook for the same. This is a must have for fans of Bob Dylan, the music of the era, music documentaries, etc. It's just a must have, period.

Bratz - Fashion Pixies - Buy from Amazon
I think pop culture is unfairly attacked. A lot of people like to blame music, video games and movies for the problems we face in society when the fault clearly lays elsewhere. On the other hand, it's hard to watch something like this and think it's not having a negative affect on its viewers. Yes, I realize I'm not in the target demographic, but this still makes my skin crawl.

Captain N The Game Master - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Each episode of this show was a 22 minute ad for the NES, which of course no longer exists except in the basements of hardcore gamers. ... Yes, I still have mine. This 4-disc set is a collection of 26 such ads that have not aged well. Not only are they pushing a system that no longer exists, the writing is simplistic and the animation looks cheap. There are a couple of extras here, but nothing that warrant picking it up. Even renting is unnecessary unless you are looking for a hit of nostalgia.

Conversations With God - Buy from Amazon
The books are pop-psychology masquerading as religious teachings. This movie in a nearly 2-hour long infomercial for the books. So there's little surprise it earned terrible reviews and quickly disappeared from theaters. It will be an easier sell on the home market, but not based on any merit.

Da Vinci's Inquest - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
No, this has nothing to do with The Da Vinci Code. It's a Canadian police procedural TV show starring Nicholas Campbell as Dominic Da Vinci, a city coroner. On Amazon they describe it as a mix between Law & Order and CSI and that's as good of a description as any. It's a very high quality show, but unfortunately the 3-disc set has nearly no extras. Still, it is worth picking up for fans of these shows.

Dog the Bounty Hunter - The Best of Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
Reality TV + Best of DVD = Skip it.

Dolly Parton and Friends - Buy from Amazon
... No comment.

The Doris Day Show - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon
The penultimate season of this show saw Doris Day go from widow with two kids to a single career woman. The massive changes that happened each season reflect the weak writing the show was saddled with and by now even the most diehard fan could see the show wouldn't last much longer. Extras are better than expected with an interview or two, a look at season five and an episode of The Pet Set and more. However, the show just isn't strong enough to justify picking up, even with all of the extras.

Filmation's Ghostbusters - The Animated Series - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
When I first heard the animated Ghostbusters was heading to DVD, I was really excited. Then I saw it was Filmation's Ghostbusters. There's no comparing the two. (The Real Ghostbusters has come out on DVD, but not on full season sets.) The extras on this 6-disc set are excellent and include interviews, pitch pilot, a bonus episode of the live action series that spawned this one, and more. If the Real Ghostbusters ever come out on full season sets and they are half as good, they will instantly find their way to my DVD collection. This series, on the other hand, won't.

The Flip Wilson Show - Best Of - Buy from Amazon
At one time Flip Wilson was the man when it came to TV comedy, creating some of the most popular characters of the day. For two years he ruled the genre. Then the Waltons came along and crushed him in the ratings. Two years later his show was canceled and he was all but forgotten. This 3-disc set includes 6 episodes from the show's 4-year run and is an excellent showcase for why the show became popular in the first place. In addition to the six episodes, there are 2 half-hour animated specials, as well as a few interviews. I would have preferred full season sets, and maybe those are coming, but in the meantime, this DVD is worth picking up.

George Carlin - Life Is Worth Losing - Buy from Amazon
One of George Carlin's weaker efforts. It seems as if he has moved away from Stand Up Comic to Stand Up Philosopher, which is a subject Mel Brooks dealt with in History of the World: Part I. George Carlin's wit is still as sharp as ever, but the material here just isn't as funny as his previous work.

Girlfriends - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Out of all of the networks, UPN seemed the least concerned with taking their shows to DVD, which explains why one of their longest running shows didn't make the leap until after the network merged with the WB to form CW. Overall, this is a good series aimed at a demographic that is under-served but the lack of extras limits its value to a rental.

God, the Universe, and Everything - Buy from Amazon
Three men, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen Hawking, and Carl Sagan, discuss various topics from the Grand Unified Theory, the Big Bang, aliens, and more in this educational program. Fascinating topics discussed by brilliant men, but at under an hour it will leave you wanting more.

A Good Year - Buy from Amazon
On paper this movie looked like a sure hit. ... On paper. On film, it was a mess, and at the box office, it was a huge disappointment. Extras are also below average with an audio commentary track and a featurette. It's worth a rental for fans of Ridley Scott or Russell Crowe, but I can't be enthusiastic about that recommendation.

Great Cars Collection - The Television Series - Buy from Amazon
A series from PBS that discusses some of the greatest cars ever made. Nine cars are featured on this 6-disc set including the Porsche... and that's all you need to know. There was a survey done in 2006 that awards Porsche the most prestigious automobile brand while the Porsche 911 was named the fifth most influential car ever made. The only four that beat it were the Model-T, the Mini Cooper, the Citroen DS and the Volkswagen Beetle, all of which could legitimately be called peasant vehicles; cars meant for the mass market. The Porsche is the only sports car / high end vehicle to have as much influence of the mass market. Besides the Porsche, they talk about other cars like the Corvette (whoopee!). But the real draw here is the Porsche. Extras are also strong with several featurettes, archival footage and more. Easily worth picking up for any car enthusiasts.

HD-DVD Releases - Bullitt and The Getaway
A pair of Steve McQueen movies are the only HD-DVD releases this week. Strangely, there are the same pair that were the only Blu-Ray releases as well.

The Heart of the Game - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about a girls basketball team that runs into trouble when their star gets pregnant and is forced off the team by league rules. One of the better reviewed documentaries to come out last year, it nonetheless failed to find an audience. The DVD should prove to be a much better seller especially with extras that include audio commentary track, making of featurette, deleted scenes, interview with narrator Ludacris, and more. Easily worth picking up, even for people who are not big fans of the sport.

Journey to the End of the Night - Buy from Amazon
After a schedule change or two, this film is finally coming out on DVD. The film isn't bad, but it is a very hard film to like. Most of the characters are just nasty and are really hard to sympathize with. If you are a fan of some of the cast, it might be worth checking out, but a rental will suffice.

The Land Before Time XII - The Great Day of the Flyers - Buy from Amazon
Now this is a franchise that has lasted a long time, going back nearly 20 years as 12 installments to the original. Granted, it's been a direct-to-DVD franchise for nearly as long. The series has long since jumped the shark and there's little here to convince customers that it's worth a rental never mind a purchase.

Magnum P.I. - Buy from Amazon
Great show, bad DVD. The only extra is a bonus episode from season seven, but if you are buying this 5-disc set, you will be buying that one as well.

NFL Super Bowl XLI - Indianapolis Colts Champsionship DVD - Buy from Amazon
Who cares about the Indianapolis Colts? The B.C. Lions are the only football champions that matter.

Nine Inch Nails - Live - Beside You in Time - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-Ray, and HD-DVD
2 hours, 24 songs from their 2006 LIVE: With Teeth plus 3 songs done at rehearsal as two music videos. Great buy for fans of the band, but most notable for the High Def releases. It will be interesting to see if these can get a foothold on the format and maybe even lead people to upgrade.

Reno 911! - Reno's Most Wanted - Uncensored - Buy from Amazon
Here's a question for all you budding studio executives out there. If you have a movie coming out that is based on a cult TV series, when do you release a Best of DVD? Do you release it the week before the movie comes out to take advantage of the synergy? Or do you release the week after? It's a good DVD for those who haven't seen the series and want an introduction, perhaps just before seeing the movie, which is why it should have been released last week. But for fans, stick with the full season sets instead.

The Return - Buy from Amazon
Scooby-Doo helped Sarah Michelle Gellar make the transition from TV star to movie star and The Grudge solidified her reputation as a box office draw. However, since then, she's has three box office flops and this was the worst of them. According to the critics, The Return was the best of those three, but that's not saying much. At the box office, on the other hand, it was the worst, managing just $7.7 million during its entire run. It would take a lot for the DVD to be worth more than a rental, but there's not nearly enough here. There are some deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and a making-of featurette. To call it a rental is being generous here.

The Rockford Files - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
One of my favorite P.I. series of all time. It's so good that the total lack of real extras is that much more disappointing. Bonus episodes don't count unless they are crossover episodes from another series.

Secret Agent - a.k.a. Danger Man - The Complete Collection Megaset 2007 - Buy from Amazon
Patrick McGoohan stars as John Drake, a secret agent working for Her Majesty's Secret Service. Patrick McGoohan is best known for playing Number Six on The Prisoner, but this series is almost as good. (The Prisoner is arguably the best TV series ever made, so it is not an insult to call this one weaker.) This 18-disc set contains all 86 episodes, including the 39 half-hour ones, the 45 hour-long ones and the two-episode series finale that was in color. Easily worth picking up for fans, even if the extras are practically non-existent.

The State Within - Buy from Amazon
A mini-series from the U.K., about an ambassador to Washington who gets mixed up in a terrorist plot. It's a good show for what it is, but doesn't add enough new to what is an overdone subject. There's a making-of featurette on the 2-disc set, but it doesn't add enough to warrant a purchase.

Stranger than Fiction - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
Will Ferrell's attempt to branch out from his usual role met with a lot of praise, at least from critics. It was met with apathy from most moviegoers. This is a real shame, as the movie deserves to be seen. As for the DVD, there's no audio commentary track, which is also a shame, but there are several featurettes with a total running time of over an hour, but they are mostly promotional in nature and are not as in-depth as one would expected for a metaphysical comedy like this. There are also a couple of extended scenes that are more entertaining, but don't add much to the movie. Even so, the movie is excellent and the DVD is worth picking up. Just a little more depth to the extras could have made it a DVD Pick of the Week.

Super Fuzz - Buy from Amazon
Wow. This brings back memories. I remember loving this movie as a kid. But I don't know if the film has aged well since I haven't seen it in roughly two decades. I'm tempted to pick it up even though the DVD is pretty bare bones. Perhaps I'll give it a rental first.

Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny - Buy from Amazon
A lot people assumed this movie would be a total train wreck when it was first announced. So when the reviews came in there was some hope that the movie would rock at the box office. It did not. The film was a huge box office bomb. After it failed to capture moviegoers' attention, one would almost assume it would be dumped on the home market on a featureless disc. It was not. The DVD does rock. There are two audio commentary tracks, deleted / extended / alternate scenes, a making-of featurette, another featurette on the score, another on the making of the music video, the music video itself, and more. Easily worth picking up for Fans of the D and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Tideland - Buy from Amazon
More than one critic has called this movie the worst of Terry Gilliam's career. That's harsh. Granted, the movie has ... issues, including a low, low budget that hampered the auteur's visual style. Also, the film deals with a subject that makes one very uncomfortable while watching it. While the film never made an impact theatrically, the DVD is amazing as the 2-disc special edition is packed with an audio commentary track, a 45-minute featurette entitled Getting Gilliam that was directed by Vincenzo Natali (who also directed The Cube and Nothing), audio commentary track on said featurette, deleted scenes, audio commentary on the deleted scenes, two interviews, and two more behind-the-scenes featurettes. This film is certainly not for everyone, but those who like it, will love this DVD.

You Are Alone - Buy from Amazon
Jessica Bohl plays Daphne, a depressed 18-year old who works as an escort until she is caught by an next door neighbor. It's a depressing film at times, but a exceedingly well made depressing film. The lack of extras on the DVD is disappointing but it is still worth checking out for most and picking up for many.


Filed under: Video Releases, Stranger Than Fiction, Alexander, Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny, The Return, A Good Year, The Heart of the Game, Conversations with God, Tideland, You Are Alone, Journey to the End of the Night, Land Before Time XII, The - The Great Day of the Flyers, Bratz - Fashion Pixiez