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DVD Releases for March 27, 2007

March 26th, 2007

Yikes! It's a busy week for DVD releases with closing in on 50 DVDs on this week's list. Not only are there are a lot of films worth checking out, there's a very close race for the DVD Pick of the Week. It came down to Children of Men - Buy from Amazon and The Shield - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon. It's practically a coin flip here, but I'm giving the DVD Pick of the Week to Children of Men - Buy from Amazon, after all, I couldn't let the film get passed over for yet another award. That would be just too cruel.

7th Heaven - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
This long-running series is still going strong on TV, but the DVD releases have never been that strong. There are no special features on this 6-disc set, which shouldn't surprise anyone who has been keeping up with the releases, but it is still disappointing.

42nd Street Forever: XXX-Treme Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
A collection of trailers from the 1970s and 80s. So what's so special about that? They are trailers for pornos, nearly 50 of them. Obviously this is not for everyone, but it has a sort of time-capsule quality to it.

The Addams Family - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
This is the original series from 1964 and not the Canadian remake from 1998. (On a side note, the remake was surprisingly good. When I first heard of the idea I thought it would be a blight on the TV schedule, but actors did a very good job recreating the feel of the show.) Extras are very good for a show that's more than 40 years old with audio commentary tracks, featurettes, and even a trivia track. Given the number of episodes made and the number released on DVD, this is the second of three volumes and fans of the show will certainly want to pick up all three volumes.

After Dark Horror Fest - 8 Films to Die For - Buy from Amazon
Seven of the eight films from the After Dark horror festival in one package. (The eighth film, The Abandoned got a theatrical release of its own and will be released separately.) However, there are two main problems with this set. Firstly, not all seven films were worth checking out. Secondly, there's really no financial incentive to get all of them in this package since the price to buy them individually is almost identical. If I were to pick the best it would be Reincarnation, but a couple others are also worth checking out. Extras on the movies are light with the various DVDs having audio commentary tracks, featurettes, etc. Some are better than others are, but none will really wow you.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: March of the Penguins
March of the Penguins is the only Blu-Ray release this week, not counting concurrent ones. It is an excellent movie and very visual for a documentary. That said, I'm not sure if it is worth the upgrade.

The Bow - Buy from Amazon
Written and directed by Ki-duk Kim, who also made Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring and 3-Iron. Like most of his movies, this is a slow moving, but beautiful film that should please his growing fanbase. On the other hand, the story has enough strange elements (including the weird relationship between the 60-year old man and his 16-year-old bride to be), that is will turn off most moviegoers.

The Brady Bunch - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
All five seasons from the show re-released in a shag carpet case. I didn't think this show was worth picking up the first time and I certainly don't think it is worth the upgrade.

Candy - Buy from Amazon
Heath Ledger stars as Dan and Abbie Cornish stars as one of his two obsessions, the other being heroin. It's grim, it's gritty, it's depressing, which wouldn't be that bad if the film was more compelling. However, there are too many movies about addiction and this film doesn't really add much this oft-told story. As for the extras, they are better than average for a limited release with an audio commentary track and two featurettes, but it isn't enough to lift it past the rental level.

Children of Men - Buy from Amazon: Buy from Amazon or HD-DVD
One of the best reviewed films to come out at the end of last year, but it was still practically ignored by voting committees. Up until the Oscars the film didn't even earn a single nomination and went 0 for 3 on the big night. Criminal. That oversight was simply criminal. Perhaps this poor showing during award season explains why the film never really found traction at the box office. Granted, finishing with just over $35 million is good for a film that started out in limited release, but nowhere near what it needed to earn to show a profit. Fortunately, the DVD should do better, especially with the large number of extras, extras that include an audio commentary track, deleted and alternate scenes, featurettes on the futuristic look, making of the movie, etc. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Clarkson - Heaven and Hell - Buy from Amazon
Jeremy Clarkson test-drives some of the best cars in the world ... and destroys some of the worst. Fans of high performance cars, especially ones who like the humor style of Jeremy Clarkson, will get a kick out of this show. However, there's not enough to really warrant anything more than a rental.

Colour Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story - Buy from Amazon
After bombing over the weekend, this movie hits DVD just four days later. It's a reasonably good movie with a big name, but it probably failed because people would rather watch it at home. The DVD has just one featurette as an extra, but it will still do much better than the theatrical release.

Curse of the Golden Flower - Buy from Amazon
A costume drama from China, one of the most expensive films from that country. However well the film did well in its native land and some of the surrounding markets, it struggled here and in most other markets. Its reviews don't explain this weakness, but I think this is just the downturn in the market that I was talking about when it was first released. As for the DVD, it's not bad for a foreign language import with a making-of featurette and some footage from the premiere. It's worth checking out, but not worth buying.

Dick Van Dyke - In Rare Form - Buy from Amazon
Rare is the right word to use. This DVD contains several very early TV appearances by Dick Van Dyke just before his popularity exploded. There's more than an hour of performances here, including an episode of the short-lived game show, Laugh Line, that he hosted.

Early Bergman - Buy from Amazon
Five films from early in Ingmar Bergman's career, all from the mid to late 1940s. This box set focuses on his earliest films, not is best or his most famous. It is important to note that mediocre Ingmar Bergman is still better than most films that come out and fans of the director will want to pick up this box set to see the evolution and development of Ingmar Bergman as he mastered his craft.

The Errol Flynn Signature Collection - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
Five more films from Errol Flynn. These have a more military feel than the swashbuckler feel of some of his earlier movies. There is a good mix of films and none really feel like filler (although there are a few films that could have been a better selection here, but I guess they had to same some of them for volume 3). As for the extras, one has an audio commentary track, but most just have vintage featurettes like newsreels, shorts, cartoons, etc. The movies are also available separately, but the box set is clearly the better deal.

Family Affair - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
We are now halfway through this show's run. It's a good show, but a little too old fashioned for today's audiences. Extras on the 5-disc set are limited with just a 30-minute retrospective with the cast.

Fantastic Four - World's Greatest Heroes - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
This is obviously being released to catch some synergy from the upcoming movie. However, I don't know if that's going to work since this show is nearly universally reviled. They got almost nothing right, from the characters to the writing to the voice work. Not even hardcore collectors need to pick up this DVD.

Full House - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
I hate this show. Always have, always will. However, considering how long it lasted, it must have had a lot of fans. But even these fans will not be happy with the show's treatment on the home market as yet another featureless DVD set is being released this week. You would think a show that lasted 8 years would have something that could be used as an extra.

Funny Money - Buy from Amazon
Chevy Chase tries his hardest to make you forget he once had a successful movie career. This man had a string of hits in the 80s but almost nothing since then and movies like this can't help his career.

Hacking Democracy - Buy from Amazon
One of the scariest movies you will ever see. This documentary shows just how easy it is to hack an electronic voting machines. It's even scarier since most of the problems would go away with a simple paper trail. There's not much in the way of extras on this DVD, but it's a good DVD to add to your collection if you are a political junkie.

Happy Feet - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-Ray, or HD-DVD
This year's Oscar winner for best animated film, although I still think Cars would have been the better choice. That's not to say this movie was bad, because it was one of the better releases of the year. There have been a lot of attacks against the movie for some real crackpot reasons. People claiming that the penguins were gay, for instance. My reason for not like the movie is simple, I didn't like the songs. As for the DVD, it is rather weak for such a huge hit. I expected a tricked out 2-disc edition but all we get is a few deleted scenes, a couple of shorts, and a couple of music videos. It's worth checking out, but the odds of a special edition coming out are too good to be worth picking up.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: March of the Penguins
Like Blu-Ray releases, there is just the one HD-DVD release. In fact, it is the same movie being released so there's nothing that really needs to be added.

The Jeffersons - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
This show started out great, but by this time had run its course. It's not bad, but if you have all five previous seasons on DVD, you will get a serious case of déjà vu here. This is even more appropriate when it comes to the extras as there are none, again.

The Judi Dench Collection - Buy from Amazon
Nine plays on eight discs starting with 1962's Cherry Orchard, which she also starred in when it was remade in 1982. This is another box set where the discs are available separately, but like most, it is a better deal to buy them together.

Little Dieter Needs to Fly - Buy from Amazon
An excellent documentary about Dieter Dengler, a German man who enlists in the American Air Force and fights in the Vietnam War. Interestingly, the film is being remade as a fictional film called Rescue Dawn. (Sort of like the Dogtown and Z-Boys / The Lords of Dogtown films, but obviously the studio is hoping for a better result here.) As interesting as the movie is, the DVD is devoid of any real extras. It is probably worth waiting until Rescue Dawn is released on DVD to pick it up as there could be another version coming out then with more extras, or at least some extras.

Los Angeles Lakers 1985 NBA Champions - Return to Glory - Buy from Amazon
This is an excellent championship DVD with all six games for the finals as well as a end of year wrap-up. Near perfection. I do have a couple of minor complaints though. Firstly, I don't like basketball in general, and secondly, I don't like the Lakers in particular. So for me there's no point in buying this DVD, but any fan of basketball should snap it up just to encourage more leagues to release DVD box sets with complete games.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
This is a show I didn't think would come out on DVD for two reasons. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is a spoof of daytime soaps and played daily not weekly, so while it only lasted a couple years, 325 episodes were made. Secondly, this was a very controversial show when it first came out and was too much for the networks so it only ever played in syndication. Both of those suggest it was just not the right fit for TV on DVD, but tomorrow the first volume is being released. However, while the 3-disc set contains the first 25 episodes, it doesn't have every last bit of these episodes. Yep, they are edited and cut, which is a cardinal sin when it comes to TV on DVD, and one that is almost never corrected. To make matters worse, like most Norman Lear productions, there are no extras on the DVD. On the one hand, if fans don't support the series, it won't continue its run on DVD. On the other hand, if they support such a terrible release, studios will be willing to cut corners in the future. Renting it might send the message, but I'm not sure how effective that will be. Regardless, that's the most this set is worth, a rental.

Midsomer Murders - Set Eight - Buy from Amazon
Further proof that small towns in rural Britain are the most dangerous places on the planet. This is the final three episodes from season seven of the long-running TV series and even though the extras are light, fans will want to pick up the 3-disc set.

New Adventures of He-Man - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
I was never a fan of this show. Even as a kid I knew the writing was simplistic and lazy. That said, this is a good DVD set for fans with several extras to go along with the final 32 episodes. Extras include a couple of featurettes, a trivia track, etc.

One Foot in the Grave - Buy from Amazon: Season 1 and Season 2
An amazing BritCom starring Richard Wilson as Victor Meldrew, a retired security guard who is constantly angry with the world, much to the consternation of his long-suffering wife, Margaret Meldrew who was played by Annette Crosbie. This is a very funny show, but like too many DVDs from the BBC, there are no extras.

The Pebble and the Penguin - Family Fun Edition - Buy from Amazon
The movie here is just terrible. Even the high points of the film are merely average. As for the DVD, it is little better with a couple featurettes and some games. It might entertain the youngest members of its target demographic, but even then there are too many other entertainment options to settle on this one.

The Pickle - Buy from Amazon
This movie stars Danny Aiello as a director wanting to make the next great American film but who instead ends up working on a terrible sci-fi flick called The Pickle. The problem with making a movie about making a terrible movie, you often end up with a terrible movie. The DVD has an interview with the director, but overall it is not even worth the rental.

Princesas - Buy from Amazon
Princesas stars Candela Peña as Caye and Micaela Nevárez as Zulema, two prostitutes living and working in Madrid. When they first meet they hate each other, but the harsh reality of their circumstances forges a strong friendship.

Written and directed by Fernando León de Aranoa, this film continues his amazing streak. Since Familia, his films have earned 25 nominations for the Goyas (the Spanish equivalent to the Oscars), winning 12 of them, including 9 nominations and 3 wins for Princesas. These include two very deserving wins for the two leads. The film was not treated as kindly by critics here and was all but ignored by moviegoers. I think the former has a lot to do with cultural differences while the latter has to do with subtitles. It's a great movie and deserves to be seen more. Will it get seem more? Given its short theatrical run, it would almost have to.

Extras are limited, but that's no surprise since it is a foreign language import. There are two deleted scenes with a combined running time of just under 3 minutes. There's also a making-of featurette that clocks in at 15 minutes. It's a mix of interviews, behind-the-scenes, and clips from the movie and is in-depth for its running time. Rounding out the extras is a music video that features many clips from the movie as well as simple footage of the song being played.

Overall the DVD is worth checking out and many who do give it a shot will want to add it to their DVD collections.

The Pursuit of Happyness - Buy from Amazon
Not the best-reviewed movie to come out this past award-season, but it did well enough with critics and moviegoers alike to have a very strong run, easily topping expectations. (On a side note, the two $100 million movies that opened the same weekend as The Pursuit of Happyness, Charlotte's Web and Eragon, combined earned less than this movie despite both costing twice as much to make.) Extras on the DVD are average for a first run release with an audio commentary track, making of featurette, interviews, and even a segment on the Rubik's Cube. Overall it is worth picking up, but not a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

School for Scoundrels - Buy from Amazon
This is the British original and not the lame remake. This film is far superior in every way, but the DVD is devoid of extras. Even so, it is worth a rental.

The Shield - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
One of the best shows on TV, and while season 5 isn't as strong as some of the earlier seasons, it is still better than 90% of the shows on TV right now. (I'm not sure why, perhaps the show is just showing its age.) As for the DVD, it is brilliant. There are audio commentary tracks on all episodes, deleted scenes for most, a 90-minute documentary on the season finale, a 15-minute preview of the upcoming sixth season, and more. I also particularly like the ability to skip the episode recaps. These are usual when the show airs once a week, but when you have the DVD, they get repetitive very quickly. Amazing show and an incredible DVD adds up to a clear contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Shirley Temple - America's Sweetheart Collection - Volume 5 - Buy from Amazon
Three more films from Shirley Temple, but of the three only The Little Princess have much replay value. I guess after the four previous volumes, they are starting to run out of material.

Shutter - Buy from Amazon
A horror film from Thailand, and yes, like practically every other horror film from that general area, it is being remade. But at least fans of the genre get a chance to see the original before it is likely spoiled by Hollywood. The film is excellent and should more than please fans of the genre while the DVD is better than most foreign language imports with a making of featurette and interviews. Worth picking up.

Sleepers - Buy from Amazon
This isn't the movie Sleepers, this is the British mini-series about undercover Russian spies. Spies so undercover that they've forgotten what their mission was and when the KGB tries to reactivate them, they are none too pleased. This is a very good show and even though there are no real extras, it's certainly worthy checking out. Call it a solid rental leaning toward the purchase level.

Sonic The Hedgehog - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Turning a video game into a cartoon series is not a good idea. And even compared to the average for such series, Sonic was lacking in several ways. On the other hand, the 4-disc set is very well done with interviews, storyboards, deleted scenes, and more. I can't say I'm the least bit interested in picking this up, but fans of the show will be happy.

Tempest - Buy from Amazon
A loose, very loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Tempest. And while it wouldn't be wise to study for a test by watching this movie, it is still worth checking out for the movie itself. On the other hand, there are no extras on the DVD so a rental will do for most people.

Touched by an Angel - The Fourth Season - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
I always thought this show was too preachy and was light on the drama. To make matters worse, the DVDs are overpriced and have no special features. Even fans of the show can't be happy with shelling out $30 to $40 for half a season. They'd be better off renting it instead.

Trailer Park Boys: The Movie - Buy from Amazon
First of all, Trailer Park Boys: The Movie is an awesome movie, but a list price of over $50 is insane. Buy it on and you will save a bundle.

Turistas - Unrated Edition - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
It appears as if low-budget horror films are losing their appeal. Granted, the film didn't exactly wow critics, but even a poorly made, poorly marketed film should make more than $7 million at the box office. Extras are better than expected given the film's short run and include both versions of the movie, audio commentary track on the theatrical version, several deleted scenes, and a featurette on the special effects make up. Nothing spectacular, but for more hardcore fans of the genre it is enough for a rental.

Van Wilder Deux - The Rise of Taj - Buy from Amazon: Theatrical Version or Unrated
When the character in the title isn't in the movie, you know you have problems. One of the worst movies of 2006, this film barely made a peep at the box office. Even people who liked the original will hate this movie. (On a side note, I really like Kal Penn as an actor and a comedian, but he needs to choose better films in the future.) As for the DVD, it's okay with a few extras like a making of featurette and some outtakes, but nothing comes close to compensating for the more. Skip it. Skip it and run screaming from the store.

Whose Line Is It Anyway - British Version - Seasons 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon
This is the original, and superior, version of the show. I have nothing against Drew Carrey, but Clive Anderson was a better host; his chemistry with Greg Proops really added something to the show. This DVD should be a big hit with fans of either version of the show with bits never seen on this side of the pond, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette. Easily worth picking up for fans of improve comedy. (On a side note, fans of the show should note that Ryan Stiles didn't start until season 2 while Colin Mochrie wasn't on the show until season three. So you will have to wait until the next release before you see them work together. And trust me, seeing those two together is worth the wait.)


Filed under: Video Releases, Happy Feet, The Pursuit of Happyness, La marche de l'empereur, Children of Men, Turistas, Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia, Van Wilder Deux: The Rise of Taj, Trailer Park Boys: The Movie, 8 Films to Die For, Colour Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story, Candy, Princesas, Funny Money