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DVD Releases for September 18, 2007

September 18th, 2007

There are even more TV on DVD releases this week, many of them worth adding to your DVD collection. I would say that fans of TV on DVD might be tempted to mortgage their house in order to pay for all of the great sets coming out, but after the sub-prime meltdown, that's probably no longer an option. As for the DVD Pick of the Week, I decided to go with a David Hewlett double-shot with both Stargate Atlantis - The Complete Third Season and A Dog's Breakfast winning that honor.

(On a side note, this column was delayed due in part to its length (more than 50 releases are on the list), but also due to an ongoing issue I've had with recently. I've been told that it will be fixed sometime today.)

Alligator - Buy from Amazon
A cheesy creature feature flick from 1980 that features a giant alligator that grew up in a sewer and is now eating everyone. It's B-Movie material, but fun B-Movie material. Extras include an audio commentary track and some interviews, which is more than I was expecting. Fans of B-movies should give it a rental, but that's all that's needed.

Anne of the Thousand Days / Mary, Queen of Scots - Buy from Amazon
I wonder if the timing of these release has anything to do with the release of Elizabeth - The Golden Age? Regardless, these two films should entice fans of costume dramas.

Ballykissangel - Complete Series Six - Buy from Amazon
A charming, if low key British show that never recovered from the departure of its two leads. The final series comes out this week, as does a complete box set.

Barbie as The Island Princess - Buy from Amazon
Yet another Barbie release. It's clear these DVDs are selling well with their target audience, and it's just as clear that I'm not part of that target audience.

BloodRayne 2 - Buy from Amazon: Unrated or R-Rated
You have got to be kidding me. The original was one of the worst movies ever made and it completely bombed at the box office, yet it gets a sequel?? Unbelievable. What's not unbelievable is the critical response, although there are far fewer reviews. The word is that it is even worse than the first film. There are plenty of extras, including an audio commentary track where Uwe Boll claims his movies are better than 95% of films made today. Don't buy it. Don't rent it. And if you see it in the store, scream and run away.

Blade - House of Chthon - Buy from Amazon
The popular Blade franchise lasted three movies in the theaters before being turned into a TV series. This movie is the feature-length version of the pilot for that show. Since it is a TV movie / pilot, it has a lower budget and that shows. Also, it feels like it was structured for TV, including commercial breaks. On the other hand, the level of violence, gore, and even nudity is a lot higher than one would expect from a TV show. Extras on the DVD are great, all things considering, with two audio commentary tracks and an hour long documentary on the TV series. Overall, worth picking up for fans of the franchise.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Alexander Revisited, A Few Good Men, House of 1,000 Corpses, Jailhouse Rock, Troy - Director's Cut, Viva Los Vegas
Stop releasing Alexander onto the home market. No matter how many times you put it out, it will never become a hit. ... moving on. I think the highlight of the Blu-Ray releases this week are the two Elvis films, and they are two of his best.

Blu-Ray Best Of - Buy from Amazon: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3
Three box sets each with four Blu-Ray movies at a reasonable price, (roughly $15 per movie). However, for me only Volume 3 has four movies I'd want to have in my collection, and unless you want at least three of them, there's no reason to pick up the box set as opposed to individual movies.

The Boss of It All - Buy from Amazon
An owner of an IT company invents an imaginary boss whom he can blame for all the unpopular decisions, but when he wants to sell the company, the prospective buyers want to meet this boss. A funny indictment of corporate culture is a step up from Lars Von Trier's previous couple of films. However, it never found an audience during its theatrical run. Extras are good for a foreign language import and consist of a behind-the-scenes featurette, interview with the director, and more. Worth checking out for most, picking up for many.

Boston Legal - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
This season took home another Emmy last night, the second for James Spader during the show's three-year run. However, it's appeal has worn out on me. The characters don't seem real and instead are exaggerations and because of this watching it for any length of time is tiring. As for the extras, there are only two short featurettes and that is not enough for a recommendation.

Brooklyn Rules - Buy from Amazon
A film that started amazingly during its opening week, but never found an audience as it expanded. Frankly, it is just too average to survive the art house circuit.

The film tells the story of three friends growing up in Brooklyn, one of who gets involved with the Mafia. Anyone who has seen more than three such films will probably know what's going to happen throughout the movie, right down to the narration. The three friends are the liar and a cheat, played by Freddie Prince Jr., the tough guy, played by Scott Cann, and the good guy, played by Jerry Ferrara. Scott Cann gets involved with the local Mafia boss, Alec Baldwin.

Along with a script that's weak, none of the acting really shines. The lead is Freddie Prince Jr., who I've seen in a number of films but who's never wowed me. And after watching this movie, he still hasn't. Alec Baldwin is a great actor, but here it felt like a cliché. Meanwhile, Mena Suvari barely registered.

Moving onto the extras, the DVD only has two. Starting things off is an audio commentary track with the director and the writer, but there's a lot of dead air and even when they are talking, it's not that engaging. The only other extra is a short, 6-minute long interview featurette with the cast.

This isn't a terrible movie, but it is just terribly average. I know I'll wake up tomorrow and I won't remember a thing about it. Fans of these types of movies will want to give it a rental, but the replay value isn't high enough to warrant purchasing.

Brothers and Sisters - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
An ensemble drama about a dysfunctional family, not so dysfunctional that they could appear on Springer, but dysfunctional enough to add to the drama.

The show focuses on the Walker family, all seven hundred members of it. One of the problems with shows like this is the number of characters, by the time you learn their names, the first episode is over. Taking into account all of the various relationships, it's nearly impossible to keep track at first, and for me, by the time I figured out all of the players, I stopped caring about many of them. Characters that are the focus of the show do better, but many of the mid-tier characters are too forgettable and get lost in the shuffle. (Like keeping track of all of Kitty's boyfriends; couldn't care less.) On the other hand, the drama works more than Desperate Housewives but is not as engaging as Ugly Betty.

As for the extras, there are four audio commentary tracks spread over the six discs, deleted scenes, outtakes and a handful of featurettes. The biggest of these is Creating the Walker Family Tree clocking in at just under 30 minutes. The other two featurettes, Behind the Scenes with the Brothers and The Family Business are just over 10 minutes combined. Strong enough to be a selling point but not enough to be a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

The Camden 28 - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about a group of people who were arrested for breaking into a government facility and destroying draft cards. During the trial they argued it was their moral obligation to destroy them as they felt the Vietnam War was unjust. This is a powerful film that never found an audience. However, with an audio commentary track and some deleted scenes, the DVD should perform better.

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things - Buy from Amazon
Directed by Bob Clark, who made some classics like the original Black Christmas as well as A Christmas Story. He also made some utter crap like the two Baby Geniuses films. This film is unfortunately closer to the last two in terms of quality, but as a low budget zombie flick, it has developed a cult following. The DVD release is strong for a film that most people have never heard of and includes audio commentary track as well as other smaller features. Worth checking out for fans of zombie mayhem, and there are plenty of people with worn out VHS tapes just itching for an upgrade.

Closure - Buy from Amazon
A revenge flick starring Gillian Anderson that's a mess thanks to a script that just doesn't work. That's too bad, because the performances are excellent. Worth renting if you are a fan of Gillian Anderson, but with a featureless disc, that's as strong a recommendation as it will get.

Commando - Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
One of those releases that make you say, "This film needed a director's cut? Really?" One of Arnold Schwarzenegger's earliest films, it is effective for its genre, but even most fans are not going to call it high art. Also, the "Director's Cut" label implies that directing was of major importance in the first place. This is not the case here. So it comes as no surprise that the additions are weak: only a few scenes are changed and half of them are so minor you would barely notice them unless you were watching the versions side-by-side. Extras include an audio commentary track, more deleted scenes, and a couple of featurettes.

The Condemned - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
The latest film produced by WWE Films, and quite possible the last. At least the last that makes it to theaters. It's hard not to figure out why: they've only produced three movies (the others were co-productions), and all three bombed. This movie was widely attacked for numerous reasons, and the moviegoers stayed away in massive numbers. As for the DVD, it should do better, as extras are strong with two audio commentary track, five-part making of featurette, and more. Even so, I can't even recommend a rental.

Cruising - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
One of the earliest, and most graphic, depictions of the gay lifestyle ever made by a mainstream studio. Although it is mostly a collection of harmful myths about the gay lifestyle than it is an accurate depiction of said lifestyle. Because of this, and other issues, reviews are mixed. This is the first time the film has been released on DVD, but the Deluxe Edition moniker is a bit misleading as the only extras are an audio commentary track and a documentary. However, it might be enough that the movie is coming out at all giving all of the controversy surrounding it.

David Gilmour - Remember That Night - Live from the Royal Albert Hall - Buy from Amazon
Fanboys are funny creatures, and I say this as a Fanboy of several franchises. They become fanatically devoted to whatever they obsession is, but will turn on it if they think the creators have, 'ruined their vision.' This is true of films like Star Wars, just as it is true of bands -- just ask people about Van Hagar if you don't believe me. Here, there are a lot of people who have deep, deep hatred for David Gilmour and what they feel is his audacity to continue to use the name Pink Floyd after Roger Waters left the group. Personally, I found this funny as I am a fan of all three eras of the band and indeed enjoy the solo work of both men as well. As for the DVD, there's an amazing collection of songs and is worth picking up for fans of Pink Floyd or David Gilmour solo work. And as for the haters, you need to calm down. ... And Han Solo shot first.

Deliverance - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-Ray, or HD-DVD
I heard a few years ago that they were making a sequel to this movie. I am not kidding you. Personally, I think the rumor was started just to see how many comedians could come up with sequel / squeal jokes. The film is one of the best from an era of American filmmaking that won't be repeated. The Deluxe Edition is a major step up from the previous DVD release with an audio commentary track, and nearly hour-long retrospective, vintage promotional piece, and the original trailer. Normally I don't consider trailers to be extras, but this film is old enough and the way trailers are made has changed enough that seeing how it was advertised adds to the overall experience. Worth picking up and worth the upgrade.

A Dog's Breakfast - Buy from Amazon
Written, directed, and starring David Hewlett. A lot of people are probably saying, "Who?" at this moment. He's Canadian, well technically he was born in the U.K., but does most of his work in Canada, which probably explains why most people reading this have never heard of him. He's biggest role is in Stargate Atlantis as Dr. Rodney McKay (a character he started with on Stargate SG-1), which is also coming out tomorrow. This is not a coincidence. Now, when actors turn to directing, the transition isn't always a smooth one, but here David Hewlett wrote a script that plays to his strengths and the dark comedy works very, very well. (Sadly, there are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but there are several positive reviews that can be found here, here, and here. Extras on the DVD are excellent for a direct-to-DVD release and include an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, making of featurette, another featurette on the cast, and more. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Dragon Ball Z - Season Three - Frieza Saga - Buy from Amazon
Essentially this is a 20-episode duel between the two of the most powerful forces in the Dragon Ball Z universe, but it isn't as cool as it sounds. Because it is a TV show with a limited budget, animation has to be reused, a lot. When it is just people talking this isn't too much of an issue, but it is with the action scenes. And with practically nothing but action scenes, by the time you get to the end of the series, you will have nearly all of the most common bits memorized. (Watching the episodes daily or even weekly isn't that bad, but watching them in a marathon session like I prefer to watch TV on DVD just doesn't work.) Also, like the previous season in this series, there are some cropping issues as the series was made to fit a widescreen TV. Not sure why, but I've heard rumors that damage to the original prints had something to do with this.

Emmy Rossum - Inside Out
Emmy Rossum is the latest in a long line of actors who have tried their hand at singing. While this transition is not usually successful, her previous experience should help her make it.

Her first CD is called Inside Out and is being released in October, but you can already get three of her songs, as well as a making of featurette, on iTunes. The songs are Slow Me Down, Stay, and Falling. After her performance in The Phantom of the Opera, she was given many offers to record classical music. She chose instead to make contemporary music that is more pop inspired, although I'm not sure I'd call it pop exactly. The melodies and the harmonies have more in common with Enya than they do with Briteny Spears. Emmy Rossum is incredibly talented and the songs certainly show off her vocals and this is especially true with Slow Me Down, which features 150 harmonies, all sung by Rossum. Stay is the most emotional of the three songs while Falling probably has the most commercial potential. However, I prefer the amazing sound of Slow Me Down.

My taste in music is certainly eccentric. Much of the music I have on my play list was written before I was born and I'm not a fan of much of what plays on the radio these days. The last CD I bought was Cake's B-Sides and Rarities (MAHNA, MAHNA!), which was released directly from the band and entirely outside the label system. So with nearly no contact with mainstream music, it is hard to judge whether this music will catch on, but it certainly is an amazing showcase of Emmy Rossum's vocal talent and I look forward to the full release next month.

Everybody Loves Raymond - The Complete Ninth Season - Buy from Amazon
The final season of this long-running series hits the home market. Extras are impressive with audio commentary tracks on 8 of the 16 episodes as well as the TV special, and deleted scenes and it is a very nice send-off to a show that many, many people enjoyed over the years.

Family Guy - Volume 5 - Buy from Amazon
Wow. There's a lot of vitriol over this DVD release. Like season four, season five is being split into two volumes at a price that is high on a per theater minute compared to other TV on DVD releases (although it is in line with previous releases). Another issue is that the quality of the show doesn't seem as high as in previous seasons. It's still worth checking out, but these issues have convinced some fans to hold off buying the 3-disc set at the moment. However, given the extras (audio commentary on all episodes, lots of deleted scenes, animatics with audio commentary for three episodes, and a couple of featurettes), it is still worth picking up in my opinion.

The Flying Scotsman - Buy from Amazon
With what looked like an interesting story, this film was originally scheduled for a limited release during the heart of award season, but was then pushed back a couple of times before being dumped on the market. Granted, at 51% positive, the film wasn't going to win many awards, but it still deserved better than this. Given the film's struggles at the box office, there's little surprise that the DVD release is featureless, but it is still worth a rental.

Ghost Whisperer - The Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Just to get it out of the way ... There are no such things as ghosts. When the producers try to convince me otherwise, it ruins an otherwise fine show.

Jennifer Love Hewitt stars as Melissa Gordon, who, since she was a very young child, could speak to the dead. In the first season, we learned a lot of her abilities and those of the ghosts she talks to. This year we find things changing. Ghosts were becoming more powerful and able to affect the real world, which it turns out is a sign of more powerful things to come. Without getting into too much spoiler territory, I did like the evolution of the mythology around the ghosts, even if it started to come a little close to another similar show (Tru Calling). There were also a number of good stories that had little or nothing to do with the overall season two arc, including Mean Ghosts while just about every episode with Jay Mohr in it was also a highlight.

Extras start with audio commentary tracks on four episodes, but sadly Jennifer Love Hewitt is not involved in any of them as I've enjoyed the audio commentaries she's done in the past. Granted, they people who are on them do a good job, for the most part. We did get a full, 'Ghosts are real' types comments (they're not), and a mention that Jennifer Love Hewitt can play teenagers still (she can't). There are also a handful of featurettes including Conversations with the Living, which runs 22 minutes and is your typical making of featurette complete with talking heads and clips from the show. Ghostly visions deals with the special effects for the ghosts; it was quite in-depth for 10 minutes and dealt with several ghosts from season 2. Grandview Graveyard deals with specific ghosts and you can choose from six of them. Unlike the previous featurette, this one doesn't deal with the makeup as it does with the story issues. Most are quite short at just a couple of minutes, but combined they are one substantial extra. The final featurette is the 15-minute long Melinda's Closet, which deals with the $500,000 wardrobe department the show has. No wonder Jennifer Love Hewitt always looks fantastic in the show.

The next set of extras deals with The Other Side, a web series used to help promote the TV series online. Included in the trailer, all 8-episodes, and the making of featurette. Each episode is only 2-minutes long and a good chunk of that repeats what the previous episode showed. (If you can only watch one a week, this makes sense. However, if you watch them all in a row, it quickly becomes repetitive.)

Other extras include a speed painting of Jennifer Love Hewitt, which was very cool, a Crystal Ball Game, which was not. It's a simple math trick. If you follow the instructions, you will always get a multiple of nine and each multiple of nine is associated with the two wavy lines. If they just mixed it up it wouldn't be so obvious. ("Every time I do this, it comes up with the wavy line. Wooow!")

On a side note, I've often mentioned the big three when it comes to TV on DVD releases: closed captioning, a play all button, and proper chapter placements. This one is missing all three. The first two are just absent while with proper chapter placement I might be willing to give it extra credit. Here the first chapter is after the opening credits so you have to watch the 40-second preamble every single time. That may not sound like much, but if you watch all 22 episodes in a row, that is a full 15 minutes.

Overall, this is good escapist entertainment and Jennifer Love Hewitt is wonderful in the series. As for the 6-disc set, it has more than enough extras to be worth picking up for fans of the show. Maybe if it was a slower week, it could even be a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Gracie - Buy from Amazon
Inspirational sports movies based on real life events tend to be very predictable. This film adds in a few more cliches including the, 'Overcoming tragedy' and the, 'Underdog / Outsider' aspects into the mix, but despite these issues, it is still effective due in no small part to Carly Schroeder's performance. However, due to the lack of interest in soccer, as well as a marketing campaign that was too muted for its initial theater count, it failed to make any impact at the box office. Extras on the DVD include two audio commentary tracks and a behind-the-scenes featurette; nothing special, but more than expected given its collapse at the box office. Worth a rental, and maybe more if you are a fan of these types of movies.

The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy - The Complete Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
I have two opinions on this DVD. Firstly, I love cartoons that get full season releases and not just a scattering of best of sets. However, I hate Billy. The character is instantly annoying, as is nearly every character in the show apart from Mandy and the Grim Reaper. If there are episodes with just Mandy and the Reaper, I could watch those, but as soon as Billy came on the screen, I would change the channel. Or throw something through the TV, I hate him that much.

Grindhouse Presents - Death Proof - Extended and Unrated - Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Quentin Tarantino, along with Robert Rodriguez, bring back the Grindhouse, a form of exploitation theater popular in the 70s that most people today have probably never heard of. It's a daring challenge that wowed critics, but one that didn't pay off in the theaters. However, far from dumping the film on the featureless DVD, we get a packed, 2-disc, special edition DVD.

First of all, you are not being ripped-off by being forced to buy two DVDs to get one movie. This is a full-length movie and runs a full 25 minutes longer than the version show in the theaters, so there's no reason to think you aren't getting good bang for your buck.

The movie itself is ... well ... hard to describe. It's like a serial killer who uses his car to kill. But it's not your typical serial killer movie because instead of a several death scenes with one or two victims each, there's really only two. Because of that, there are a lot of in-between scenes that are rather dialogue driven. Some of these add background information, but most are just excuses for Quentin Tarantino to write dialogue the way only Quentin Tarantino does. (This may or may not be considered a compliment, depending on who you talk to.) However, the heart of the movie is of course the end car chase. For fans of car chase movies, it's like a glorious seven-course meal. If you are not a fan, however, I can see you finding the chase tedious well before it was over. Of course, I can't see those people interested in the movie enough to rent anyway, so it's a rather moot point.

(On a side note, there were a couple, "What are they thinking?" moments in the movie. The one that stands out the most is early in the car chase when the two cars are right side-by-side. The whole time I was thinking, "They both have their windows open, they can literally touch each other, throw something at him. Whip a shoe at Stuntman Mike and see if you can make him wipeout. Then when the first part of the chase ends, Kim shoots him. If she had a gun, why didn't she shoot him while he was right beside them?)

Moving onto the extras, we have whole series of featurettes, and not short fluffy ones either. Things start with Stunts On Wheels: The Legendary Drivers Of Death Proof, which runs just over 20 minutes and as you can probably tell by the name, deals with the stunt drivers. Next up is Introducing Zoe Bell, which does just that. I really like her work in the film, including the acting side (The way she bounced up and said, "I'm okay" was a perfect, perky compliment to the action sequences that proceed and follow). Kurt Russell As Stuntman Mike is another 9-minute featurette this time focusing on Kurt Russell. Finding Quentin's Gals runs 21 minutes and details the female cast while The Guys Of Death Proof is much shorter at just 8-minutes, but there's far few guys in this movie. The Uncut Version Of Baby It's You Performed By Elizabeth Winstead runs under 2 minutes and features Mary Elizabeth Winstead singing to her iPod. Finally there's Quentin's Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke, a 4-minute discussion on Sally Menke, who has worked with on his previous films.

Overall, this is not a movie that will appeal to everyone, but it will have cult like followers. Additionally, the 2-disc set is great (I would have liked an audio commentary track or two and the trailers shown during the intermission during the theatrical run), but the package we get is certainly worth picking up for those who checked it out in theaters. And if you didn't, give it a rental and see if you want to add it to your collection.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Alexander Revisited - The Final Cut, Elizabeth, For the Love of the Game, Jailhouse Rock, The Last Starfighter, Troy - Director's Cut, and Viva Los Vegas
Highlight of this week's list is The Last Starfighter. I love that movie and I'd love to see the very early CG effects in high definition.

HD-DVD Best Of - Buy from Amazon: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3
Three box sets each with four HD-DVD movies at a reasonable price (roughly $15 per movie). However, for me only Volume 3 has four movies I'd want to have in my collection, and unless you want at least three of them, there's no reason to pick up the box set as opposed to individual movies. (The only good thing about the Format War is the increased use of Cut and Paste with some releases.)

I'm Reed Fish - Buy from Amazon
An indie movie that feels like it was made by someone who watched way too many indie movies and tried to copy the success. It's not a bad movie, but you won't walk away thinking you've seen something fresh and new. As for the DVD, there's only one extra and it is a short and rather pointless behind-the-scenes featurette. It's still worth a rental, but the replay value just isn't high enough to be worth picking up.

L'Iceberg - Buy from Amazon
A woman has a mid-life crisis after being locked in a freezer all night but her husband and kids don't even notice she was missing. The film earned good reviews, but not great reviews and never escaped limited release. As for extras, there are none, but the DVD is still worth checking out for fans of foreign language films.

Jekyll - Buy from Amazon
A British mini-series based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jykell and Mr. Hyde. This modern adaptation walks the fine line between modernizing the story and staying true to its heart. This two-disc set has all six hour-long episodes as well as an audio commentary track on the first and two making-of featurettes that run a combined 50 minutes. Fans of British TV will want to rush out and grab this DVD, while those who aren't should check it out and odds are they will become fans of British TV after watching it.

The Johnny Cash Show - The Best of Johnny Cash 1969-1971 - Buy from Amazon
64 live performances from The Johnny Cash Show, which ran for two seasons. This is not just a DVD of just Johnny Cash performances either, as there are plenty of duets and even solo performance by many of his guests including Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and many, many more. Easily worth picking up for fans of the man and his music, especially since there's little chance of full season sets being released.

Josie and the Pussycats - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Nostalgia is a funny thing. I remember thinking this was a good show as a kid. Then again, I can remember thinking there was more than 16 episodes and apparently I'm wrong on both counts. The series was made by Hanna-Barbera and it was incredibly repetitive, but that's redundant as the pair was notorious for 'borrowing' character archetypes from previous shows. (Just how many Shaggy Clones are there?) There is an interesting featurette on the creator, Dan DeCarlo, but that's not enough to lift the 2-disc set past a rental. And renting is only for a hit of nostalgia.

Lucky You - Buy from Amazon
A movie that proves poker is just not cinematic. Very few poker movies do work, indeed, very few gambling movies work because the allure of the game is knowing anything can happen, but in movies you know every step of the game is scripted. So the ones that do work, work because of the drama that surrounds the game, not the game itself. In this case, there is no drama at all. As for the extras, there are light with just some deleted scenes and two featurettes on the cast (a lot of whom are professional poker players). If you are a fan of poker, you can probably turn on your TV and watch a game right now. If you are not a fan of poker, you probably stopped reading by now anyway. At the very most it is a rental, at the absolute most. And for most people, they can safely skip it.

Married... with Children - The Complete Seventh Season - Buy from Amazon
Ugh. Seven. One of the worst things to ever happened to Married with Children. Fortunately, the producers realized the character was a flop and got rid of him partway through the season (they never even explained what happened to him), meaning Married with Children was able to perform the reverse shark jump, a very difficult feat indeed. As for this season, there are a few classic episodes like Peggy and the Pirates ("Verily thine flatness has saved me."), but this is the weakest season so far. That said, if you own the first six seasons and are planning on picking up the other four, there's little reason to skip this one. On the other hand, I can see some ending their run with season six.

Masters of Horror - Buy from Amazon: Sounds Like and The Washingtonians
Skip 'em and wait for the full season set.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
A low budget but effective science fiction film from the 60s that was inspired by the novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. The more cerebral storyline might help viewers get passed the limited special effects. Meanwhile, the DVD has enough extras given the age of the movie (audio commentary track, featurette, and a music video). Worth checking out for most and worth picking up for fans of cinema from the era.

Saturday Night Fever - 30th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
John Travolta plays Vinnie Barbarino, which is one of only two characters he can play. The other is the manic bad guy like he played in Face/Off. (You get a third character if you include whatever the hell he did in Battlefield Earth.) I admit, I hate this movie. I don't like John Travolta's acting style, and I certainly don't like disco. However, I will also admit my opinion is in the minority here. As for the special edition DVD, it isn't all that special compared to the previous release. In fact, there are a couple of extras that were not ported over, but the multi-part retrospective should be enough to encourage fans to pick it up. However, a word of warning, there was an HD-DVD version planned and while it has been delayed, it might be worth the wait.

Severance - Buy from Amazon
A bloody, dark comedy that earned average reviews but just couldn't last in theaters. Extras on the DVD are a better than expected given its short theatrical release with an audio commentary track and some deleted scenes. Overall I would recommend the film to those who want a more adult slasher flick, those who like their humor dark, or those who like British cinema.

Smallville - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-Ray or HD-DVD
One of the best seasons for Smallville as the show is really moving toward the full comic book super hero mythology. There are less freak-of-the-week episodes, fewer soap opera sub-plots, and some more action (especially in Combat, one of the highlight episodes of the year). The extras are also good with plenty of deleted scenes, a few featurettes on subjects like the fans, the making of, etc., and a couple mini-series that may or may not add anything to your viewing experience. I would have preferred some audio commentary tracks, but this is still a strong package and overall the 6-disc set is worth picking up. Also of note, this is one of the few TV on DVD sets coming out on both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, so it will be interesting to see which one outsells the other. If recent numbers are correct, it will be close.

Stargate Atlantis - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The spin-off to Stargate SG-1, which in turn was based on the movie Stargate. For a film that was only a mid-level hit, it sure has spawned a popular franchise, one that has lasted 13 seasons without feeling tired. This 5-disc set offers plenty of extras including audio commentary tracks on most episodes, several behind-the-scenes featurettes, a look at the special effects department, etc. Easily worth picking up and a clear contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Superman - Doomsday - DC Universe Animated Original Movie - Buy from Amazon
The death of Superman storyline was one of the greatest the Superman had in a long time. So an animated movie based on that story should be great. Should be. It isn't bad, but doesn't live up to the level of the recent Marvel direct-to-DVD releases. On the other hand, with an audio commentary track and two featurettes, the DVD is still worth picking up for fans of the super hero.

Troy - Director's Cut - Ultimate Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Why? This is the third DVD release for this film in three years, and it not that good of a film to begin with. This two disc set presents close to an hour of new material, just over half in the form of restored scenes and the rest in the form to extras. However, unless you are a diehard fan, a complete fanatic, there is no reason to spend another $25.99 on this DVD.

Two Weeks - Buy from Amazon
Sally Field won an Emmy over the weekend for her work in Brothers and Sisters. She won't be winning any awards for this movie. No one will be winning any awards for this movie. Calling it melodramatic is an understatement and comparing it to a TV movie is the best way to describe it. On the other hand, the DVD is better than expected with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, and a featurette. I still can't recommend buying it, or even renting, but those who enjoyed the movie should be happy with the overall package.

Upright Citizens Brigade - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
A sketch-com show that ran for three seasons on Comedy Central and fostered a devoted, if small fanbase. Season 1 was released on DVD several years ago and most fans had assumed the other two were not going to make it to the home market. However, this week we see the release of season 2 (as well as the re-release of season 1). Extras include audio commentary tracks on all 10 episodes as well as deleted scenes, found footage, and a Q&A session. Worth picking up, which I recommend all fans do A.S.A.P. if they want to get season 3 by the end of the decade.

The Valet - Buy from Amazon
A French farce about a powerful businessman trying to hide his martial indiscretions by hiring a lowly valet to pretend to be dating his supermodel mistress. It's the kind of film that's lighthearted enough for mainstream audience but won't be seen by many because its in French. (On the other hand, there's a lot of critics who think it will be remade and turned into a mediocre English movie.) Extras include an audio commentary track with the director and a making of featurette. That's not much, but more than most imports get and the overall package is worth picking up.

Wall Street - 20th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
A cautionary tale of the 'Me' decade that some still see as a love poem. Perhaps this is why it is still so compelling. Extras are a step up from the previous release including a new audio commentary track (to go with the old one), deleted scenes with audio commentary, making of featurette, and more. My only concern with this DVD is buying it might convince the studio to give the go-ahead to the upcoming sequel.

We Are... Marshall - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-Ray, or HD-DVD / DVD Combo
An inspirational sports movie based on real life events. The film was just average while the extras are below average with just a look at legendary coaches and a couple ads. Call it a rental, at most.


Filed under: Video Releases, Troy, We Are Marshall, Alexander, Grindhouse, The Condemned, Lucky You, Gracie, La doublure, Brooklyn Rules, Severance, The Flying Scotsman, Direktøren for det hele, Two Weeks, L'Iceberg, The Camden 28, I'm Reed Fish