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DVD Releases for September 11, 2007

September 10th, 2007

Another week where TV on DVD releases dominate the market. In fact, there's no truly wide releases making their DVD debut this week and only a handful of limited releases and special editions as well. So it comes as no surprise that it is a TV on DVD release, Supernatural - The Complete Second Season, that wins the DVD Pick of the Week.

The Addams Family - Volume 3 - Buy from Amazon
The final volume of this cult classic from the 1960s hits the home market and it should please fans. Extras are strong for a show that is 40 years old and include one audio commentary track, trivia, and even audio commentary on select scenes by Cousin Itt and Thing. ... should be interesting to see how they pulled that off. Those wishing to complete their sets should grab the DVD on Tuesday, others should wait till the full series set hits the home market.

Avatar The Last Airbender - The Complete Book 2 Collection - Buy from Amazon
After way too many volumes, the full season collection finally comes out on DVD. Pricewise, this DVD isn't that much cheaper than buying the four volumes separately, but this DVD comes with a bonus fifth disc and that's the big selling point here. Disc 5 contains interviews, shorts in super-deformation, an animated graphic novel, and more. If you've been putting off buying the single DVDs, now is the best time to pick it up. And if you have never seen the show but like anime check it out, but start with book 1 first.

Away from Her - Buy from Amazon
One of the best movies of the year, this film opened well in limited release and while it did finish with more than $4 million, it never really expanded wide. The film manages to tell an emotional story without feeling manipulative or melodramatic and features some stunning performances and accomplished directing. This is a film that should be destined to be a player during award season; however, I fear it was released way too early for that. At least the DVD should perform well with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, and a PSA about Alzheimers, which is an acceptable package for a limited release.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Replacement Killers - Extended Cut
Apparently both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD sales are in a major slump at the moment and a lot of people are wondering why. I have the answer: people are waiting for the format war to end before putting down several hundred dollars on a system that could be obsolete by next year. They need to get Star Wars on Blu-Ray, cause I really think that would end the war.

Blue Smoke - Buy from Amazon
A made for TV movie starring Alicia Witt, who should be more famous than she is. This mystery movie is about an arson investigator who thinks some recent fires may be connected to an incident in her childhood. Sadly, this is just average for a TV movie, and without any extras it's impossible to recommend buying. In fact, it's only worth a rental if you are a hard core Alicia Witt fan.

Bones - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
There are way too many police procedural shows on TV at the moment and it takes something to make them stand out. In this case, it's the chemistry between Agent Booth and Temperance 'Bones'. These two bring a great amount of drama, humor, and yes, sexual tension to the show and that helps it rise above the competition. As for the 6-disc set, it has audio commentary tracks on two episodes, deleted scenes with audio commentary, outtakes, and two short featurettes. This is a little too close to average given the quality of the show, but it is still worth picking up.

The Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down - Buy from Amazon
A mockumentary about the L.A. party scene. It's a good idea, but the execution is flawed in several ways. First of all, some of the acting is quite, quite bad, especially early on and that hurts when you are trying to get into the movie. Secondly, many of the bits go on way beyond their best-before date. Jokes that were funny at 30 seconds drag on two, three minutes. Most of the best jokes come from the narration and in a few skits it is best to ignore the onscreen actors entirely. As for extras, there's a behind-the-scenes featurette. I guess if you are really into the L.A. party scene, this might be an fun movie to watch, but that's not enough for a general recommendation.

The Burning - Buy from Amazon
One of several dozen Friday the 13th rip-offs. Better than most such films, but for genre fans only. It's more notable because it is the big screen debut of Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander, and Fisher Stevens, as well as being the first film for Harvey and Bob Weinstein.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Buy from Amazon
One of several made for TV movies coming out on DVD this week. This one is arguably the best, earning seven Emmy nominations. I'm not sure if it is a smart plan to release it now or next week, which would be right after the awards are announced. The 2-disc set feels lighter than it should as the featurettes probably could have fit on one DVD. There are also two audio commentary tracks, one with the director and one with the two stars. As is almost always the case, the one with the director has more information, the one with the stars is more entertaining.

Casper Meets Wendy Family Fun Edition - Buy from Amazon
This film is most notable for being the first role for Hilary Duff. Granted, at the moment her music career seems to be outpacing her acting career, but one of her upcoming roles she plays a slutty pop star in a movie with John Cusack, who is one of my favorite actors.

Charmed - The Final Season - Buy from Amazon
This show lasted 8 season on the WB and for almost all of those years it was the flagship program. However, the DVD releases have been weak with no extras through the first seven season, but at least this one has some commentaries, featurettes, and even some hidden extras. You can also buy the full series at a higher price than buy the individual seasons. What a bargain.

Carolina Moon - Buy from Amazon
A made for TV movie which is only somewhat above average compared to its contemporaries. The murder mystery / supernatural / serial killer story is competent and Claire Forlani does well in the lead, but there is nothing here that demands purchasing, and the replay value is too low.

D.O.A. Dead or Alive - Buy from Amazon
This film was jerked around by the studio a lot, being moved from release date to release date before finally being dumped on the market in just over 500 theaters. Overall it earned surprisingly good reviews and with a half decent ad campaign, it could have done well at the box office. Granted, 35% positive is not a Tomatometer score I'd normally call surprisingly good, but I honestly thought it would only manage single digits. Then again, I also thought it would come out on an Unrated DVD, so obviously I've been wrong a lot with this movie. I guess making it unrated would involve actual work and since the DVD is featureless, that's too much to ask for. That said, it is still a good bad movie and entertaining in a mindless, laugh-at-it kind of way.

Dirty Sanchez - Buy from Amazon: Theatrical Version or Unrated Edition
Four guys doing stupid things for an hour and a half. Skip it.

Face/Off - Two Disc Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
I thought this was a terrible movie featuring some of the worst overacting ever, but my opinion is apparently in the minority here. This 2-disc set has plenty of extras including two audio commentary tracks, an hour long making-of documentary, biography on John Woo, deleted scenes, and more. However, fans of the movie might want to hold off as it is being released on HD-DVD soon.

The Film Crew - Wild Women of Wongo - Buy from Amazon
Fans of MST3K rejoice! The latest installment of the spin-off is coming out Tuesday and it is the best yet. The first two were good, but not among the classics of the original series. This one is. Not only is the movie perfect for the type of humor the three commentaries bring, the host segments are getting better as well. Can't wait till Giant of Marathon, which comes out next month.

The Food of the Gods - Buy from Amazon
Based on a book by H.G. Wells, this movie proves that even the greatest authors can have their work turned into terrible movies. On the other hand, this creature feature is so bad it is good. Fans of such movies will want to check it out, but the replay value isn't high enough to warrant purchasing over renting.

Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends - The Complete Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
A cartoon set in the home where imaginary friends go when the kids who imagined them outgrow them. This award-winning show (it has taken home four Emmys and five Annies), is great fun for kids and will even entertain some adults. As for the extras, they are on par with most cartoon releases and overall the 2-disc set it worth picking up.

Fraggle Rock - Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The third and final season of the Jim Henson series hits DVD this week. Fans of Jim Henson's Creature Shop will love the world they created and even though the series is aimed at kids, those who grew up with it will enjoy watching it with their kids today.

From Beyond - Unrated Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
One of the best movies based on the work of H.P.Lovecraft. Unfortunately, that's not saying much. In the movie, Jeffrey Combs plays Crawford Tillinghast, corrupt inventor from Providence who made The Ultraviolet, which makes invisible monsters visible but adds 1 to their value. (Personally, I like to keep a Mist Projector around instead; they can also turn a steadfast ally corrupt, should you need that.) The DVD has plenty of extras including an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, two making of featurettes, interview, storyboard-to-screen comparison, etc. Easily worth picking up for fans of the author or low budget horror films of the era.

The Graduate - Buy from Amazon
An amazing movie that is not new to DVD. In fact, this isn't even the first special edition to come out. So we can bypass talk of the movie and move right to the extras, which include a few new, and a few returning features. The big new ones are the audio commentary tracks, the first with the two stars and the second with two directors. As it is in nearly every case, the audio commentary track with the stars is more entertaining while the one with the directors is more informational. Other extras include two retrospectives (one new, one from the 25th anniversary edition), featurettes, screen tests, and more. Easily worth the upgrade, and if you don't own it on DVD yet, you should.

Grey's Anatomy - The Complete Third Season - Seriously Extended - Buy from Amazon
Another prime time soap opera; one that is being weighed down by the overlapping storyline and characters are being turned into caricatures.

Part of the problem with this season was the behind-the-scenes issues (which we don't need to go into), overshadowed the onscreen product. Not only overshadowed, but also probably distracted from the end product, as the issues caused last minute changes that the writers were not equipped to deal with. But to be fair, I don't think many writers could.

However, one of the main problems is just the style of the show. The show started out great; it was an ensemble medical drama focusing on a group of interns. But what could have been an ER with interns quickly turned into just another prime time soap opera where drama takes a back seat to sex lives, and this is a shame since there's a lot of inherent drama here and some really good actors to back it up.

The Season 3 DVD is stretched over 7 discs including plenty of extras. These start with audio commentary tracks on three episodes with the rest of the extras on disc seven. The featurettes start with Making Rounds with Patrick Dempsey, a 10-minute long extra on Patrick Dempsey at the racetrack. Shades of Grey: One on One with Ellen Pompeo, is just what it sounds like, a featurette on the star, Ellen Pompeo. It runs just under 9 minutes and like the rest of the featurettes is a mix of talking heads and clips from the show. Next up is the 8-minute long Presecriptions of Success: Jane Doe Unmasked, which deals with the recurring character played by Elizabeth Reaser. There's eleven deleted scenes from nine episodes underDissecting Grey's Anatomy: Unaired Scenes, a montage of favorite moments from season three, Good Medicine: Favorite Scenes, and finally In Stitches: Season 3 Outtakes gives us four minutes of outtakes. As for the Seriously Extended label, it is seriously marketing hype. Just a handful of episodes are extended by a few minutes.

Overall I felt the soap opera aspect of the show got in the way of the real drama and despite the impressive performances by many of the main cast members, I couldn't get into the show. I could see a lot of fans holding off on buying this season till after season four is underway to check to see if it rebounds or gets weaker. If it does get weaker, it might be time to cut it loose. On the other hand, if season four is good enough to own, you might as well get season three as well.

I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Another 60s show to come out on DVD tomorrow. Like The Addams Family, this one is the product of the times and I don't think it would work today. Not that that's going to stop them from trying -- the adaptation is planned for a 2010 release. This is the fourth of five seasons and the full season should be out before your memories of the show are destroyed by the movie, but the lack of extras prevents me from giving the 4-disc set a warm recommendation.

Judge Judy - Justice Served - Buy from Amazon
Reality TV. Not only that, but it's the soul-crushing kind where you feel like you are spying on the misery of others and are being encourage to be entertained by it.

Las Vegas - Season Four - Buy from Amazon
I'm still amazed this show lasted this long. The show was way too superficial to start with and gradually got worse. However, it is starting its fifth season soon, so it obviously has some fans out there. As for the 4-disc set, is has two featurettes and a recap of season three, which is not really all that much, especially for a current show.

The Lost World - Special Edition - 1960 & 1925 versions - Buy from Amazon
Irwin Allen's films were considered extravaganzas when they were made in the 1960s. Now they would be considered cheesy and campy, but they still have their fans. This 2-disc set contains both the 1960 version and the original silent version from 1925, but outside that, there's little in the way of extras.

McHale's Navy - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
One of several 1960s shows coming out on DVD this week. Strangely, all of them either were turned into movies or are in the process of being adapted for the big screen. This World War II slice of military life has more to do with conmen than it does with combat, but that's what made this lighthearted show so much fun. This isn't award-winning TV, but it is entertaining. As for the 5-disc set, there are just two extras in the form of interviews with Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway. Worth picking up for fans.

Return of the Living Dead - Buy from Amazon
One of the great zombie movies in a genre that is overloaded with crap. This special edition DVD has an audio commentary track, a retrospective, and a documentary of 80s horror films. Worth picking up, but avoid the rest of the franchise.

Snow Cake - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian movie that was originally set for a release right at the heart of award season but was pushed back at the last minute till April. When it did finally come out it earned only average reviews before crashing at the box office. That's a shame since it deserved a wider audience. The DVD should prove to be a better selling with an interview with Sigourney Weaver and some deleted scenes to add to the movie. Worth checking out for most, and many who do give it a try will want to add it to their collection.

Supernatural - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This show quickly evolved from the freak-of-the-week show to one with an evolving mythology. Most shows go through this transition, as you need the freak-of-the-week aspect to draw people in. After all, early in a show's run you can't expect everyone to see every episode; they are still checking out all the new shows are haven't got their schedule fixed. However, once you've gotten an audience to pay attention, you need to hook them with something more. This show quickly developed an ongoing storyline thanks to strong writing and great characters. This season improved upon the first for a number of reasons, including a guest shot by Amber Benson. This 6-disc set not only improves upon the episodes, but the extras are also an improvement with audio commentary on three episodes, deleted scenes, outtakes, audition tape, and an interactive map of urban legends. Excellent set all around and easily worth picking up.

Ten Till Noon - Buy from Amazon
A piece of experimental filmmaking that should be of interest to fans of art house cinema, but its mainstream appeal is limited.

Tom and Jerry - Spotlight Collection - Volume 3 - Buy from Amazon
Oy. Another Tom and Jerry DVD, another set of problems. This time it is two cartoons left out because they are too controversial. (Which is a polite way of saying blatantly racist.) On the other hand, the 2-disc set does have more extras than most collections of shorts do, including historical information. I just wish they'd label the cartoons, maybe even include both the original and the edited versions, not just censor them.

Two and a Half Men - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This show is such an average sitcom I'm amazed it has survived as long as it has so far. Granted, during its first season it had prime spot in the schedule (it came just after Everybody Loves Raymond and just before CSI: Miami). Given this prime piece of real estate, and lowered expectations of most sitcom fans, it has been able to last four seasons so far and is starting its fifth. As for the first season DVD, there are only some outtakes, behind-the-scenes featurette, and a making of featurette. Nothing fancy enough to warrant buying over renting, or for that matter, just catching it on syndication.

Vincent Price - MGM Scream Legends Collection - Buy from Amazon
This is an excellent bargain and some of these films are quite good. Even the films that are weaker still have Vincent Price to add to the cool factory. Extras include an biography on Vincent Price and a couple other featurettes making the box set worth picking up for fans of the actor and his work.


Filed under: Video Releases, Away From Her, DOA: Dead or Alive, Snow Cake, Ten 'Til Noon