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DVD Releases for March 6, 2007

March 5th, 2007

It's a good week for DVD releases, with several that are worth picking up. On the other hand, while my personal shopping list contains quite a number of DVDs, there wasn't much competition for the DVD Pick of the Week. A few came close, including Borat - Buy from Amazon and South Park - The Complete Ninth Season - Buy from Amazon, but the winner was Stargate Atlantis - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon.

Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow - Buy from Amazon
Yet another Barbie release. I really don't think anything more needs to be said. You are either part of the target demographic (or have a child that is), and will be picking up this DVD regardless of what I say. Or you don't and have already moved on to the next release.

Beverly Hills Cop Collection - Buy from Amazon
With the latest, and likely last, installment of this franchise in the works, it makes sense to put out a box set with the previous three movies. However, it makes even more sense to wait before buying because there will probably be a bigger and better box set coming out when number four hits theaters, or, at the latest, reaches the home market.

Borat - Buy from Amazon
One of the best-reviewed wide releases of 2006, and also one of the biggest surprises at the box office. 19 movies from 2006 managed to reach $100 million and Borat was easily the biggest long shot to make it there. So while there are a huge number of fans of this film, I'm still on the fence on this one (and not just because it embarrassed me and crushed my prediction during its opening weekend). The titular character played by Sacha Baron Cohen is undeniably racist, and homophobic, and anti-Semitic. ... and sexist. I think that covers it all. However, it is clear the intent of the character is to get people to reveal their own bigotry and in that way the film helps promote tolerance by mocking those who are intolerant. But while that was the stated goal, there are a few scenes that don't work in that way, especially the early scenes that supposedly take place in Kazakhstan. Watching it, I feel like they crossed a line from mocking bigots to being bigots. That said, this is still one of the funniest movies to come out last year and even an average DVD would rate as a purchase. Unfortunately, the DVD is only average. There's no audio commentary track, and I was really looking for one. In fact, I was assuming there would be two (one with Sacha Baron Cohen and the other with Borat). There are some deleted scenes, a featurette on the premiere, a spoof of Baywatch, and more. It's not a terrible DVD, but just average. I almost wish it were terrible because then I would assume there was a 2-disc special edition in the works and I could safely give this one a pass. As it is, it's worth picking up but said 2-disc special edition would have been the DVD Pick of the Week. On the other hand, if they do come out with a 2-disc special edition, it will likely not be the DVD Pick of the Week because of the double-dip.

Confetti - Buy from Amazon
A mockumentary about three British couples trying to win a Most Original Wedding contest. It's so close to being really good that you can taste it. If it was just a little sharper and a little less predictable it could have been wonderful. As it is, it is still worth checking out but the replay value is limited. The extras are also limited with roughly 25 minutes in deleted scenes and three alternate endings. Overall it is worth a rental for most and picking up for fans of either the genre or British humour.

Decoys - The Second Seduction - Buy from Amazon
The original Decoys was a cheesy B-movie that didn't take itself seriously, but it was fun, for the most part. The direct-to-DVD sequel is disappointing, lacking nearly everything that made the original fun. If you haven't seen the original, give that one a rental and skip this one. If you are a fan of the original, you might want to give it a rental, but that's all.

Doctor Who - Buy from Amazon: The Invasion and The Sontaran Experiment
The BBC is trying something new with these releases. They are reducing the number of extras (and the price), while putting out more stories each year. While I prefer the fully fleshed out sets, these still have more extras than most TV on DVD releases and many fans will be happy to see more episodes coming out than before. Also important to note is that, with the total number of extras put out so far, they might be running out of things to say. How many behind-the-scenes featurettes can you have before you start repeating yourself? So while the reduction in extras is not happy news, it is not nearly enough to not recommend the sets.

Fast Food Nation - Buy from Amazon
This is a good concept; take a non-fiction book and turn it into a fictional movie. It's a good concept, but the execution was flawed. Part of the problem is the lack of focus. The book it is based on is razor sharp and very well researched. The movie, however, couldn't deal with most of what the book talks about because it would take a mini-series to come even close, so it picks and chooses some easy targets and is not as effective because of that. On the other hand, the DVD is better than expected with an audio commentary track, making of featurette, and several flash animations. It's worth checking out, but a rental will do for most people.

Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends - The Complete Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
I love this show. Yes, I realize it's made for kids, but it's still fun. For those of you not in the know, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is about a foster home ... for imaginary friends. I guess it's pretty self-explanatory. The main characters are Mac, an 8-year old who is forced to give up his imaginary friend, and his imaginary friend, Blooregard Q. Kazoo, a.k.a. Bloo. Bloo is a blue lump of trouble; he's not vindictive or mean, he just has a knack of creating a mess. Because most of the characters are imaginary, there's a lot of creativity in their designs and the writing is very off the wall at times (I particularly like the episodes with the Scribbles). Extras on the 2-disc set are non-existent, but it is still nice to get full season sets and not a bunch of Best Of releases.

The Full Monty - Fully Exposed Edition - Buy from Amazon
A small film from England, which rode amazing word of mouth and became a huge hit worldwide. Domestically, it earned more than $45 million despite never playing in 1,000 or more theaters; in fact, it never came close. This is not the first time the film has come out on DVD, but it is the best release. There are new extras including an audio commentary track and several featurettes on the making of the movie, the effect on pop culture, etc. as well as deleted scenes and much more. Easily worth picking up for those who have not added it to their DVD collection yet, and worth the upgrade for most who have.

Glow: Early Years 1 - Buy from Amazon
A little story about myself. I have family from Germany. One year my cousin came with his family for the summer. He spoke very little English and I know no German (as you can know if you've ever seen me try to translate the name of a German movie). Without a way to communicate, it was hard to connect, until we discovered GLOW. The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. This highly concentrated helping of cheese is a combination of obviously staged but athletic wrestling, and really corny comedy routines. They didn't take themselves seriously, and that added to the charm. Granted, it has been more than a decade since I've seen the show, but how could I not at least mention it. Not only is it goofy fun, it helps bring families together.

Hawaii Five-0 - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Police procedural shows have been popular on TV for almost as long as the medium has existed. And while they have evolved over the years, fans of today's shows will certainly be able to get into the old school hits like The Streets of San Francisco, Kojak, or this show. Hawaii Five-0 was a lot more political than its contemporaries, and a lot more violent as well. Another draw for the show was its portrayal of Asian and Hawaiian characters; previously these ethnic groups were almost always seen stereotypical caricatures while this show helped reverse than trend with their realistic portrayals. As for the DVD, this 7-disc set only has one extra, a retrospective, but it's very well done and adds enough to the overall value to make it worth picking up.

The Hemingway Classics Collection - Buy from Amazon
Five films based on the works of Earnest Hemingway. He wrote some amazing books that were translated into great movies, but none are here. The five films in this set are all just average. Extras are good given the age of the movies and the price is certainly reasonable. But it's not a good introduction to the man's work.

Kettle of Fish - Buy from Amazon
Two points. 1.) Gina Gershon should get more work. 2.) Gina Gershon needs to chose her projects more carefully. There's really not much here to recommend this film, even for just a rental.

Let's Go to Prison - Buy from Amazon
One of the worst movies of 2006, but unlike so many bad movies that came out last year, this one was ignored by moviegoers. The DVD is destined to suffer the same fate and even the Unrated Label won't save it.

Literary Classics Collection - Buy from Amazon
Six films based on five classic books (including two versions of The Prisoner of Zenda). On a side note, if you are like me and read that as The Prisoner of Zelda, it's probably a good idea to put down the controller and read some classic literature. Unlike the other box set earlier on this list, the films here are all very strong while the extras are also very good considering the age of the films (vintage shorts and cartoons, plus some other extras). On a side note, these are also available separately, but you'll want to pick up the box set as it is a better deal and there's not a whole lot of filler here.

The Loop - Buy from Amazon
This is one of the shows brought in by Fox to replace Arrested Development. So Fox takes a critically acclaimed show like Arrested Development and replaces it with this crap, and if that's not bad enough, they gave The Loop a second season. It's like they are trying to punish people who like quality television.

Moonlighting - Season Five - The Final Season - Buy from Amazon
This series never recovered from the moment Maddie and David did it. In fact, it crashed and burned so far after that, that the show has become the archetypal example of how releasing sexual tension can kill a show. Because this happened previously, it was clear before the season started that the show was ending and they were at least able to plan a going away with the final 13 episodes. The 3-disc DVD set is better than average with audio commentary tracks and screen tests and overall is worth picking up, for completion's sake at the very least.

Nadine in Date Land - Buy from Amazon
Janeane Garofalo stars as the titular character, a woman who runs a dating service but who is completely unlucky in love. It's a TV movie, but it's not as bad as most. Even so, it's only worth a rental, especially with the total lack of extras.

Night of the Comet - Buy from Amazon
A horror / comedy from 1984 that even most fans will have forgotten about. It's a great movie but due to its end of the world / valley girl / zombie plot, it's destined for cult status forever. Given the nature of the film, it is not surprising that the extras are non-existent, but that is disappointing nonetheless.

Northern Exposure - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
The sixth and final season of this quirky show. This is the second series finale on this week's list, and like the last one, this one ran out of steam well before the end came. Northern Exposure held up marginally better, but not by enough for this DVD to earn an enthusiastic recommendation. Then again, if you've been collecting them up to this point, you might as well finish the set.

A Perfect Fake - Buy from Amazon
An hour-long documentary about the virtual love industry, specifically the life-like love doll fetishists in Japan. This is super creepy, but undeniably fascinating. It is only an hour long, which is not nearly enough to delve into this complex subject, but any longer might be too much for just one sitting.

Peter Pan - 2-Disc Platinum Edition - Buy from Amazon
The latest Disney film to get the Platinum treatment on DVD. With a movie that is this well known, there's little to say about the quality that hasn't been said a hundred times before. The real question is if the DVD is worth picking up or not. And since this is a double-dip, the really important issue are the extras and whether they are a big enough improvement over the previous editions.

Extras are divided pretty evenly between those meant for adults, those made for kids and those that should be equally entertaining to both.

Disc one has a full-length audio commentary track. However, it is not a screen commentary. The participants just talk about the movie without referencing what is happening on the screen. These types of audio commentary tracks are generally better suited for talking head documentaries. In fact, a lot of what is mentioned here is mentioned in the featurettes on disc 2. Other extras on disc one include a read-a-long story and selection where you can jump to your favorite song.

Disc 2 has the bulk of the extras, starting with Music and More. Under this section, there are three songs to listen to, one that was deleted from the movie, one that was lost in the archives for nearly 70 years, and a music video made for the DVD. The lost song also has a featurette about its creation.

Games and activities includes a read-a-long version of Peter Pan, which is the only feature here that has any replay value. The rest are set-top games. Most games made for a DVD player are quite terrible, and the ones found here, while better than average, have little replay value. Granted, kids might be entertained by them, but they'd probably rather watch the movie again.

Backstage starts out with a making-of featurette. It's only 15 minutes long, but does contains some interesting information as well as a lot of concept art. Why I Made Peter Pan is an abridged article written by Walt Disney read by a actor and features photographs, reenactments, concept art and more. Again it is interesting, but at just 7 minutes not that in-depth. The next 8-minute featurette is on the design for Tinker Bell while the final one is on the various differences between the early incarnations of the story and how they differ from the final version. At 21 minutes it is more in-depth than the other featurettes and should interest those who have loved the story since their childhoods. Finally there are several image galleries and a vintage featurette on the movie from 1952.

Lastly there's a flying tour of the London from the movie and the world of Neverland. There's very little replay value here.

As well as the generally good content, there are some negatives as well. For instance, this is the third time the movie has been released on DVD, and you know it will be released in high definition sooner or later. Also, this is a limited time release, and I hate that marketing ploy. If you already own the previous special edition, I would recommend waiting a couple of years until the high definition version comes out. I figure it shouldn't take any longer than that. On the other hand, if you don't have the film on DVD yet, give it a rental.

On a side note, I never liked Peter Pan. I found him to be a selfish jerk, someone who really needed to grow up. The way he treated Tinker Bell was awful. I guess I related more to John that Peter Pan, even when I was a kid.

Private School - Buy from Amazon
An 80s sexploitation flick. After Porky's came out, these films were a dime a dozen and there's almost no way to tell them apart. This one, like most of the genre, is apathetically mediocre. I can't even recommend it for a rental. You might be tempted to check it out for Phoebe Cates, who never made it as big as I thought she should have. But if that is the case, rent Fast Times at Ridgemont High instead, it's a much better movie.

Requiem - Buy from Amazon
Based on the same real life events that inspired The Exorcism of Emily Rose. This movie stuck more closely to the facts, and was therefore a far superior film. That was also part of the reason it never caught on with moviegoers, though. As for the DVD, it is a foreign language limited release and it is not surprising that it has no special features. Even so, it is worth checking out for most people.

Revenge of the Nerds - The Atomic Wedgie Collection - Buy from Amazon
They are making yet another Revenge of the Nerds movie, if they can get the project off the ground. The university where the film was supposed to be shot pulled out and the studio shut production down. However, if this box set sells well enough, they will put it back into production. On the other hand, even hardcore fans of the franchise will admit that the first film was the only one that was really good and the others are best ignored. Fortunately, you can pick up that film separately. And even though the box set is three more movies for 50% more money, for most people get the single film is the better deal.

Sabrina, The Teenage Witch - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Okay, I have to admit, this show was a guilty pleasure for me. I used to watch it while babysitting my nephew and it was a fun, safe show. Yes, it is very predictable and the replay value is a little low, but it is still a very fun show to watch. On the other hand, there are no extras on the 4-disc set and that further reduces the DVD's overall value to just a rental.

Solarbabies - Buy from Amazon
One of the guys I went to high school with loved this movie. Thought it was awesome. I won't give you his name because I'm pretty sure saying someone likes this movie might be considered defamation of character. For those who like to MST3K a movie, this is a great one to check out, but even then it is only worthy of a rental. For the rest, skip it.

South Park - The Complete Ninth Season - Buy from Amazon
The ninth season of this long-running show was particularly strong and includes several classic episodes like the Terri Schiavo inspired episode, Best Friends Forever, and Trapped In The Closet, the Scientology episode. That last one is the one that got Isaac Hayes to quit. ... Oh yeah, then there's the season finale, Bloody Mary. Wow. For a lot of this season the satire was at its sharpest and its most offensive. And in many ways, those two go hand-in-hand. Extras are average, with each episode having a mini-commentary track that runs a few minutes. I would prefer full commentary tracks, but I have a feeling they would run out of things to say before the episodes were halfway over. Overall, it's worth picking up, but not quite a DVD Pick of the Week material.

Stargate Atlantis - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This spin-off is a great show, maybe even better than the original. I particularly like Dr. Rodney McKay, played by David Hewlett; you probably know him best from Cube. ... Oh, who am I kidding, you probably don't know him. He's a Canadian character actor who has starred in some strange but fascinating movies. Check out Treed Murray — it's about a man named Murray who's stuck up in a tree. I know, I know it sounds totally weird, but it will draw you in and won't let go of you. Anyhoo, back to the TV show. Not only is the franchise still going strong after a collective 12 seasons, but the DVD releases are also top-notch. Extras are dominated by the audio commentary tracks that appear on every episode, but there are also featurettes, image galleries and more. Excellent overall presentation, and a clear contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Strange Circus - Buy from Amazon
Strange is a great way to describe this movie. It's about a young woman who is the victim of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her parents. ... Or it's about a metally disturbed young woman who thinks she is the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her parents. ... Or it's about a author writing a book about a young woman who is the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her parents. ... Or possibly a combination of those. It's the kind of movie that, after it ends, you immediately want to see it again, if you can make it through the film the first time. The DVD does have more extras than most imports, but this is not a film you can buy sight-unseen. If you are willing to risk it, rent it first.

Zach Galifianakis - Live at the Purple Onion - Buy from Amazon
Zach Galifianakis is a stand up comic who has appeared in a few movies / TV shows including Heartbreakers and Tru Calling. His sense of humor is self-deprecating, random, and off the wall, but certainly funny. Extras are much better than the average for a stand-up DVD with deleted bits, behind the scenes, additional interview clips and various outtakes. Easily worth picking up.


Filed under: Video Releases, Borat, Let's Go to Prison, Fast Food Nation, Confetti, Requiem, Kettle of Fish