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DVD Releases for July 10, 2007

July 9th, 2007

Another slow week with little in the way of top-notch DVD releases. The best of the bunch is Extras - The Complete Second Season, but I'm a little worried about the inside nature of the humor. That said, it is still worth picking up, especially if you are the kind of person into movies enough to check out box office numbers, and I think that includes most people reading this column right now. On a side note, we only have two spotlight reviews this week, both of them for DVDs that were released last week. However, the double-shot of Canada and Independence Day meant they didn't arrive until it was too late for last week's column.

24x24 Wide Open with Jeff Gordon - Buy from Amazon
A TV documentary about NASCAR driver, Jeff Gordon. Fans of the sport should enjoy the documentary, especially with extras like extended scenes, deleted scenes, and behind-the-scenes, but I'm not sure it will appeal to anyone else.

After the Wedding - Buy from Amazon
The Oscar nominated foreign language film from Denmark. While the film lost out to The Lives of Others, it is still a great film. The lack of extras are disappointing, but not unexpected since it is a foreign language, limited release import. Overall, worth checking out for most, picking up for many.

Anaheim Ducks - NHL Stanley Cup 2006-2007 Champions - Buy from Amazon
Another year without a shave and a haircut. And give the inactivity of the Canucks so far this off-season, I don't think they'll be raising the Cup next year either. Argh.

The Astronaut Farmer - Buy from Amazon
What could have been the last attempt for Billy Bob Thorton to avoid being typecast as the Bad News Scoundrels he's played recently. Unfortunately, while the film earned better reviews than he has managed over the past few years, it still flopped at the box office. This probably led to the weak DVD release as the only extras are a making-of featurette and some outtakes. Nothing special but enough for a rental.

Beauty and the Beast - The Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This show as a rabidly loyal fanbase. Unfortunately for everyone involved, they were as small as they were loyal. The show only lasted 2 and a half seasons, and for most fans, the show ended with Linda Hamilton left the show due to her pregnancy. Extras are a set up from Season 1 with intros on a handful of episodes from the two leads, but that's not enough to satisfy hardcore fans, and they are the only ones who will still be interested after all of this time.

Bewitched - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
The series is hitting the home stretch as we are officially half way done now. The quality of the show maintains the quality of the show, but like the last few releases, there are no extras on this 4-disc set.

Bizarre - Buy from Volume 7, Volume 8, and Volume 9
Great sketch comedy show from Canada, but there are two important notes. One, you have to import them from Canada. And two, they are best of DVDs and not full season sets.

The Contractor - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD film in which Wesley Snipes stars as an ex-marksman who is coaxed out of a quiet life of retirement on his Montana ranch for one last job, which goes horribly wrong and his hunted by the police. ... Sound familiar. (On a side note, this movie used to be called The Shooter, but I guess that was just too close and they didn't want moviegoers to get confused.) The film itself is only average for the genre and fans of Wesley Snipes should know what to expect, but keep expectations low. As for the extras, there's making of featurette, but it is fluff.

Ever Since the World Ended - Buy from Amazon
A post apocalypse film in which a plague killed off more than 99.99% of the population. San Francisco was reduced to just 186 people, two of which make this mockumentary describing the various survival techniques of the remaining people. An excellent film and one that deserves to be seen more. The extras on the DVD were rather light with some deleted, but that's to be expected. Still worth picking up.

Extras - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Ricky Gervais had a massive break-out hit with The Office and there was a lot of concern that his follow-up series, Extras, wouldn't be able to live up to that standard. It's hard to compare the two as the subject matter is vastly different, as least when it comes to the average viewers' experience. Almost everyone will have had a boss that was as arrogant as they were incompetent; on the other hand, very few people have tried being an actor, or even been an extra. Extras on the 2-disc set include three behind the scenes featurettes, outtakes, and hidden Easter eggs. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

The Film Crew - Hollywood After Dark - Buy from Amazon
Think of it as the offspring of MST3K. And if you don't know what that is, you probably have no interest in this DVD. Since this is a direct-to-DVD affair, it can go in a direction that wouldn't be allowed on TV and that gives it a slightly more adult edge, but that doesn't hurt the humor at all. Extras are practically non-existent, but there's still enough here for fans of MST3K to check it out and many who do will end up buying this DVD, and others in the planned series.

Frankie & Annette MGM Movie Legends Collection - Buy from Amazon
Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello starred in a series of inexplicably popular movies during the 60s. However, while they were money makers, no one would call them quality cinema and they haven't aged well. Nostalgia is the only reason to pick these up now.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Billy Madison, Dante's Peak, The War, and The Wedding Date
There's not a single HD-DVD release this week that is worth the upgrade. In fact, there's not a single HD-DVD release that's worth owning on DVD in the first place.

Hustle - Complete Season Three - Buy from Amazon
More exploits from the gang of British con-men. Depending on who you ask, this is the last great season for the show as there were some changes in season 4. (Others think season 2 was the last great season while still others think season 4 bounced back. The show still ranks among the best out there and even with light extras, (an interview featurette with the cast), it is still worth picking up.

Iraq in Fragments - Buy from Amazon
One of a number of documentaries about Iraq to come out in recent years. This one focuses on the everyday lives of the people of Iraq and the three separate ethnic groups, which helps set it apart. The movie is amazing and the extras are better than most limited releases with an audio commentary track, interviews, and more. Worth checking out for most and picking up for many.

The Joan Collins Superstar Collection - Buy from Amazon
Five early films in Joan Collins's career, none of which are her best. Then again, given the average quality of her career, they at least don't feel like filler. Girl in the Red Velvet Swing is the highlight of the set and is the only film to have any real special features with an audio commentary track, interview and more. Worth checking out for fans of the actress, but I'm not sure that it reaches the level of a purchase. Also of note, these movies are also being released separately, but at a substantially increased price. Unless you only want to pick up a single film, but the box set instead.

Kansas City Confidential - Buy from Amazon
A solid film noir starring John Payne as a man who's accused to participating in a bank heist. He's let go by the police when they discover he is innocent but help track down the real thieves. There are three film noir being release tomorrow which would have made a good box set. All are worth checking out, but with not extras renting will do.

The Last Mimzy - Buy from Amazon
The second wide release of the week. Both films earned reviews that can be described as average while bombing at the box office. Fortunately the studio here decided to not compound a weak theatrical run with a DVD so weak that most people will pass it over on the home market as well. Extras include audio commentary track, featurettes, nearly a dozen deleted scenes, fact track, music video, and more. The highlight of the featurettes are a 6-part making of documentary thank clocks in at nearly an hour and another 6-part documentary that focuses on the science in the movie. This latter feature is nearly half-an-hour long meaning to total running time of these two features is almost as long as the movie itself. The movie was better than its short theatrical run would indicate and the DVD adds more than enough to the experience to rate it a purchase over just a rental.

My Super Sweet 16 - Seasons 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon
Reality TV focusing on the super rich who spoil their kids. I assume this show is still on the air because the target audience either identifies with these brats, or they are waiting for one of the parents to snap and start killing them all. I hope it's the latter.

Napoleon Dynamite Flippin' Sweet Collector's Set - Buy from Amazon
Oh, you have got to be kidding me. I liked the movie the first time I saw it, but the second time showed it had no replay value. And this is the third time it has been released on DVD in less than 3 years, (and you know there's going to be a Blu-Ray and / or HD-DVD release coming out soon). Reeks of a cash grab.

Neverwas - Buy from Amazon
A movie with a cast this good should be better than this.

Let's look at this cast: Aaron Eckhart, Ian McKellen, William Hurt, Jessica Lange, and Nick Nolte. Between them they have 3 Oscars, more than a dozen nominations, countless Golden Globes, etc. Yet their combined efforts produced a movie that earned no positive reviews over on Rotten Tomatoes. This review won't change that fact.

That's not to say it's a terrible movie as there are some elements that work but first time director, Joshua Michael Stern, can seem to emphasize those parts of his script and the acting doesn't rise above. (A lot of the time the actors are playing roles that will seem very familiar to their fans and being reminded of stronger performances in better films doesn't help one appreciate this film more.) Additionally, the movie moves too slowly for most of its running time and the end too many improbably turns are taking and it is very likely that the viewer will simple tune out before then.

As for extras, there are none unless you count the trailers.

Overall it is a missed opportunity and it is difficult to rate it as even a rental.

Our Very Own - Buy from Amazon
A coming of age story set in 1978 Tennessee starring a number of familiar faces like Allison Janney, Cheryl Hines, and newcomers like Jason Ritter, Autumn Reeser, and Hilarie Burton. However, the film was made in 2005 and has sat on a studio shelf ever since. Bad sign? Sure, but it doesn't have to be fatal.

The film is about five teenagers living in a small town with really nothing to do. On the positive side, it really captures what it's like to live in a small town with nothing to do. On the down side, that means a lot of the time nothing is happening. This wouldn't be so bad if more of the characters were compelling, but for the most part their felt like stereotypes that populate small town films. Some of these characters worked better than others, but overall there were not enough of that were to compensate for the ones that didn't.

Like the other spotlight review this week, there were no extras on the DVD.

Overall it is worth checking out for the best performances in the movie, but there's not enough replay value that it needs buying. Call it a rental.

The Page Turner - Buy from Amazon
This film earned good reviews, better than most wide releases, but not good enough to help propel this film out of the art house circuit. The DVD should perform better on the home market, even if it is devoid of extras.

The Stranger - Buy from Amazon
The second film noir release this week, this one was directed by Orson Welles. Arguably his most accessable film, which is both a blessing and a curse. Fans of his more artistic films won't like this one's mainstream approach. On the other hand, it is his only film to be financially success upon its initial theatrical release. As long as you go in expecting a conventionally told story, you should be more than satisfied and even without extras the movie has high enough replay value to lift it above the rental level.

Super Sweet 16 - The Movie - Buy from Amazon
Yes, this movie is based on the Reality TV series of a similar name that is also coming out tomorrow. Not as soul crushing, but not worth picking up either.

Sweet Land - A Love Story - Buy from Amazon
This film was nominated for a won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, and it's easy to see why. The film was able to crack $1 million at the box office, which is better than most, and should do the same at the home market. Not only is the film strong, the extras are better than average for a limited release with an audio commentary track and a making of featurette, the former is stronger than the latter, but both add to the overall experience. Worth checking out for most and those who do give it a try will likely want to add it to their DVD collections.

Three Stooges Collection - Buy from Amazon
When will someone put out releases that does this comedy troupe justice? I'm sure there are plenty of fans like myself waiting for a definitive collection to come out. One that has not only the comedy shorts, but also enough extras to put it in its proper historical perspective. And if the studio doesn't know how to do that, use Looney Tunes Golden Collection as a template.

Thunderpants - Buy from Amazon
Looking at the cover a lot of people probably have two questions that I'd like to answer. Yes, that is Rupert Grint of the Harry Potter series. And yes, that boy is farting. In fact, it's about a boy you has such powerful gas that he's called on to help rescue some astronauts. Granted, the film isn't as bad as that makes it sound, but it is strictly or the kids, and even then it is worth a rental at the very most.

Wild Tigers I Have Known - Buy from Amazon
A gay coming of age story that only earned middle of the road reviews, certainly not enough to escape limited release. Since it did go nowhere during its theatrical run, it is not surprise that the DVD is devoid of real special features.

The Woman in the Window - Buy from Amazon
The final film noir coming out tomorrow. This one stars Edward G. Robinson and was directed by Fritz Lang, so there's little surprise that the film is so good, In fact, it is so good that it deserves more than a featureless DVD release. It is still worth checking out, but most fans of the genre, the star or the director will be left wanting more.

You're Gonna Miss Me - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about Rock'n'Roll pioneer, "Roky" Erickson that earned good reviews, but went nowhere at the box office. Fortunately the DVD isn't as bare as it might have been; the two short updates and the deleted / extender scenes are interesting, but it is the clips from musical performances that should add the most value for the fans.


Filed under: Video Releases, Napoleon Dynamite, The Wedding Date, The Last Mimzy, The Astronaut Farmer, Sweet Land, Efter brylluppet, La Tourneuse de Pages, Iraq in Fragments, Wild Tigers I Have Known, You're Gonna Miss Me, Neverwas, Ever Since the World Ended