Follow us on

DVD Releases for December 18, 2007

December 18th, 2007

Another deceptively weak week for DVDs. Sure, there appear to be plenty to choose from, but it feels like half the top 20 are Blade Runner releases. In fact, one of the two DVD Picks of the Week are for that movie. For those who are big fans of Blade Runner, grab the Four-Disc Collector's Edition - DVD, or 5-Disc Collector's Edition - Blu-Ray or 5-Disc Collector's Edition - HD-DVD if you can. (Given the choice between those last two, pick 5-Disc Collector's Edition - Blu-Ray.) For those who are huge fans of Blade Runner, and I mean stupid level fans of the movie, grab 5-Disc Ultimate Edition - DVD, 5-Disc Ultimate Edition - Blu-Ray, or 5-Disc Ultimate Edition - HD-DVD. But good luck, I pre-ordered mine months ago and there are reports they are sold out in many places. The second DVD Pick of the Week goes to The Simpsons Movie - Blu-Ray. The light extras are disappointing, but that transfer is immaculate.

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones - Volume Two - The War Years - Buy from Amazon
Volume two sees Indiana Jones grow from a little kid to a young adult, and the show grew right along with him.

For most fans of the show, this will be the best of the three volumes that are coming out on DVD. Each episode is like a TV movie, although perhaps with a bigger budget than most. (Even so, the special effects are dated at times.) I can't get over the scope of the series. This volume deals with the World War I years, including battles in North Africa, the skies over Germany battling the Red Baron, and in the Middle East with Lawrence of Arabia.

Extras on this 9-disc set continue the tradition of Volume One with numerous featurettes with a total running time that is longer than the episodes themselves dealing with a variety of topics brought up in each episode. For instance, Attack of the Hawkmen has featurettes on aerial combat during World War I, the Red Baron, his French counterpart, and the designer of Germany airplanes. Sadly there are no featurettes focusing on the show itself. Because of this, the DVD has tremendous educational value, but fans who enjoyed the show for entertainment might be disappointed. Also, the price remains very, very high despite being 3 discs smaller than last time.

It is the last point, the price, which is the biggest sticking point for most fans. A lot would rather just have the shows plus a smattering of regular features (audio commentary track, deleted scenes, making of featurette, etc.). As I mentioned when Volume One was released, with the price of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones - Volume Two - The War Years, it will cost more than $200 to buy the entire series, and while many fans would rather have a less expensive option, it is still good value for the money.

Alice in Wonderland - Buy from Amazon
An adult musical based on the Lewis Carroll novel that was actually filmed in the city I was born in. The film was made more than 30 years ago and earned more than a little mainstream success (some sources have it earning close to $100 million worldwide). There are two cuts of the film, an R-rated cut that feels like a Benny Hill skit, just that they show the nudity that they would normally only imply, while the X-rated version is something that wouldn't feel out of place on any cable station. As for the DVD, both versions are presented, as well as a rather in-depth interview featurette with a few of the main stars. Obviously not for everyone, but if Caligula can get a full release on DVD, then why not this film? In fact, this film works better as a movie than Caligula does and the R-rated version can be enjoyed as a sexplotation romp that's almost in the same vein as American Pie.

Balls Of Fury - Buy from Amazon: DVD or HD-DVD
A low ball comedy that missed with critics and didn't do all that much better with moviegoers. In the film, Dan Fogler plays Randy Daytona, a washed up ping pong player who is recruited by the F.B.I. to go undercover in an underground, life or death ping pong tournament to avenge his father's assassination. But before he can do that, he has to train with a blind master and his sexy niece. A spoof of martial arts movies, especially Enter the Dragon, this film should prove to be a bigger hit on the home market than it was in theaters as the humor just works better on the smaller screen. Sadly, the DVD offers little reason to purchase over just renting with just an alternate ending, deleted scenes, making of featurette, and a featurette on the ball wranglers. There is also an HD-DVD release coming out this week, but it has no additional features, and this is not the kind of film you need to spend $7 extra to see in High Definition.

Blade Runner - Buy from Amazon: The Final Cut - 2-disc DVD, Four-Disc Collector's Edition - DVD, 5-Disc Collector's Edition - Blu-Ray, 5-Disc Collector's Edition - HD-DVD, 5-Disc Ultimate Edition - DVD, 5-Disc Ultimate Edition - Blu-Ray, or 5-Disc Ultimate Edition - HD-DVD
When Blade Runner was first released, it wasn't a big hit with moviegoers and failed to match its substantial production budget. However, it connected with a smaller fanbase and it became a cult classic that grew in popularity over the years. This helped the film get re-released more than once. In fact, the most recent theatrical release grabbed more than $1 million during its run so far, which bodes very well for the sales of the seven releases this week. This is the third cut of the film, and it continues to improve. It is obvious that one of these releases should be the DVD Pick of the Week, but which one is it? The Final Cut - 2-disc DVD is only useful if you have all of the other DVD releases but no High Definition player, and even then, the better transfers makes the Four-Disc Collector's Edition - DVD a better deal. If you do have Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, grab the respective Five-Disc Collector's Edition. If you have both, 5-Disc Collector's Edition - Blu-Ray is slightly better for the usual reasons (more space means more features can be presented in High Definition, not to mention better bitrate). On the other hand, if you are like me and have more money than brain cells, grab either of the Ultimate Editions (DVD, Blu-Ray, or HD-DVD), which include additional physical extras including the case, miniature of the car, and unicorn figurine. Cool, but not really worth the extra cash for most.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Blade Runner - 5-Disc Collector's Edition - Blu-Ray, Blade Runner - 5-Disc Ultimate Edition - Blu-Ray, Rush Hour 3, Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour, The Simpsons Movie, Terminator 3 - Rise of the Machines, That's Entertainment - The Complete Collection, and Underdog
It comes as no shock that Blu-Ray is once again poised to win the week. Not only do they have more releases coming out this week, they have the only primetime exclusive in the form of The Simpsons Movie.

Braveheart - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Braveheart reminds me very much of Gladiator, and not just because they are both about ancient battles or both won Oscars, but also because in both cases I liked them a lot more the first time I saw them.

Braveheart takes a look at Scotland's uprising against British rule, led by William Wallace. The bad guys in the movie are the British, but much of the attacks against them are complete fiction, including the prima noces, a.k.a. right of first night. Mel Gibson admits to changing the facts to create a more cinematic experience, but this ruins the film for me. Also, for a film that was nominated for 10 Oscars and won 5 of them, the reviews were surprisingly weak. Don't get me wrong, the cinematography is amazing, but the characters simply feel flat and I wasn't able to get emotionally drawn in this time.

As for the extras, disc one just has the audio commentary track, which was on the previous release and is unfortunately sub-par with too many dead spots. Disc 2 houses the new extras, starting with A Writer's Journey, which is a 21-minute long featurette on Randall Wallace, the writer of the script of Braveheart, who is indeed related to William Wallace. Alba Gu Brath! The Making of Braveheart is a three-part making of featurette that runs nearly 50 minutes. It's your typical mix of talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips from the movie and it goes into good detail on the film. Tales of William Wallace details the difficulty in figuring out the truth about the real man. (However, they also give excuses for the inaccuracies in the movie.) Archival Interviews with the Cast of Braveheart is just what it sounds like, archival interviews. Here nine people are interviewed in seven sections totaling just over 14 minutes. With most being just a minute or so, there's not a lot of information given here. The extras end with a 6-minute long photo montage.

Braveheart as a movie is not as strong as I remember, certainly not as strong as its Oscar performance would indicate. Overall, the extras, while better than the original release, are a little soft. If you haven't seen it in a while, it is worth renting, but I wouldn't buy it first in this case. If you are a big fan of the film, it might be worth upgrading, but that's too close to call. I simply can't be more enthusiastic than that.

Bring It On - In It To Win It - Buy from Amazon
The latest direct-to-DVD sequel for Bring It On. Although they are more like remakes than sequels. This time around love blossoms between members of rival cheer teams at the world championships. It's not much of a twist from the formula, but it's better than nothing. Also coming out this week is Cheerbook Collection with all four movies, but quite frankly, if you've seen one of the movies, there's little reason to sit through the rest.

Boy Eats Girl - Buy from Amazon
A horror comedy that has more going for it than a funny name. It also has more than enough gore for gorehounds and plenty of laughs to keep the movie entertaining. On the other hand, it is a low-budget import from Britian and the extras are non-existent. Still, worth checking out for most, worth picking up for hardcore fans of the genre.

Carmen Electra's Aerobic Striptease - Buy from Amazon: In the Bedroom and Vegas Strip
The videos are supposedly aimed at women looking for a workout but I can almost guarantee most people buying it are guys who read Carmen Electra and 'Strip' in the title and didn't care about anything else. I don't know if the former group will be disappointed, but I know that latter will.

Both In the Bedroom and Vegas Strip are run of the mill exercise videos. The burlesque nature of Vegas Strip and the bedroom setting of In the Bedroom are not enough to set it apart from the numerous other exercise videos that are released every single weak. Granted, I'm not a big consumer of exercise videos, as anyone who could see my physique would know, but I can't see this being even an average workout compared to what else you can get.

As for guys hoping to see Carmen Electra get all sexy, these people will also be disappointed. Don't get me wrong, she's a beautiful woman and looks great in these two DVDs, but there's nothing here that's overtly sexy. In fact, her cameo in Scary Movie was sexier than this.

As for the extras, Vegas Strip has a trio of interviews, but they don't add much to the DVD as a whole.

Overall, I can't image either ladies looking for a workout or guys looking to ogle Carmen Electra will be entirely satisfied with this DVD. It works better as an exercise video, but there are just too many others out there for this to be worth picking up.

Cinderella II - Dreams Come True - Buy from Amazon
A re-release of the reprehensible direct-to-DVD sequel from 2002 that wasn't worth picking up in the first place and certainly isn't worth upgrading now. Utterly skippable.

Clone High - Complete 1st Season - Buy from Amazon
This release has been out in Canada for a while now and it's about time it came out in the States. The show is about a typical high school, except that all the students are clones of famous people like Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Ghandi, etc. It's a spoof on teenage melodramas like Dawson's Creek and has some amazing talent providing the voices. Of course, calling the 2-disc set the Complete First Season is misleading, it's the only season. I still can't believe it was canceled. Easily worth picking up, but the lack of extras prevents it from being a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Deep Water - Buy from Amazon
An unbelievably powerful documentary about Donal Crowhurst, an amateur boater who decided to participate in the first round-the-world solo boat race. The film attempts to answer the big questions, questions like what the hell was he thinking? The replay value of the movie alone will be enough for many people to want to own this movie, especially if they liked other adventure documentaries like Touching the Void or Riding Giants.

Eastern Promises - Buy from Amazon: DVD or HD-DVD/DVD Combo
Warning: This DVD is coming out this Sunday and not this Tuesday.
Obvious Oscar bait that was a hit with critics but missed with moviegoers. It still picked up three Golden Globe nominations and could do the same for the Oscars, but it won't be a big player during awards season. That said, the DVD is certainly worth checking out, but with just two featurettes as extras, it is only worth renting. As for the HD-DVD/DVD Combo, there are no additional extras and the HD-DVD/DVD combo means the MSRP is about $5 more than it should be and it's not worth the upgrade.

The Evil Dead - Ultimate Edition - Buy from Amazon
How many times has this movie been released on DVD? I don't care how much more is on this one compared to the last DVD that was released; it's not worth upgrading for the 30th time. Wait until it comes out on high definition; that'll be the only reason to buy this movie again.

Halloween - Unrated Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
Stop giving us the origins for famous movie slashers! Being told why they are messed up lessens the horror.

The movie starts with Michael Myers as a 10-year old and shows his home life, but I'm not sure why. Was Rob Zombie trying to make Michael Myers sympathetic? Is that why they had him escape after a the orderlies rape an inmate? In teenage slashers you should feel sympathy for the lead potential victim, a.k.a., the survivor, not the killer. Also, teenage slashers should have slashed teenagers. We don't see the first kill until 17 minutes into the movie and we don't see the adult Michael till 35 minutes into the film. Dealing with Michael Myers background caused a large delay in the action, and by the time it started, many members of the audience have lost interest.

(On a side note... a little advice for those who are being chased by a mad man... if you get a weapon and stop him momentarily don't run -- finish him. Especially if you have a gun and can do it at a distance. Put a bullet in his brain. I hate seeing people who are supposedly in a life and death fight pull half measures.)

While I disliked the movie, I will admit the 2-disc set is really well done. Extras start with an audio commentary track by Rob Zombie, who does an excellent job filling the track with information. (However, it struck me as odd when he called Laurie Strode crazy at the end. Given what she went through, her reactions were perfectly normal and could not be seen as a sign of mental illness. Disc 2 starts with more than a dozen deleted scenes with optional audio commentary while there is also an alternate ending, again with audio commentary. There are also 10 minutes worth of bloopers. We then get into the features starting with The Many Masks of Michael Myers, which is 6 minutes and about the iconic mask from the movies (and the many other masks we see). There is a three-part featurette on the re-imaging the original that totals 18 minutes. The final significant extras all deal with the cast, starting with an 18-minute featurette, casting sessions with more than a dozen members of the cast, and finally a screen test with Scout Taylor-Compton.

While I dislike Halloween and can't recommend even renting, I will admit that the DVD is worth picking up for fans of the movie. However, most of those who enjoyed the original can simply give this film a pass.

Hatchet - Buy from Amazon: Theatrical Version or Unrated Director's Cut
Another low budget horror film that bombed in limited release this year. Limited release is just not the place for horror films, especially teenage slashers. They just don't fit with what the typical limited release fans go for. That said, it's probably better than releasing the movie direct-to-DVD. Due to its nature, this is a film that was very unlikely to win over many critics, but fans of old school teenage slashers should find more than enough to enjoy here. Extras including an audio commentary track and a very in-depth, multi-part making-of featurette, and outtakes; an excellent selection given the film's short theatrical run. Worth checking out for most, picking up for many.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Balls of Fury, Blade Runner - 5-Disc Collector's Edition , Blade Runner - 5-Disc Ultimate EditionThe Moody Blues - Lovely To See You Live, Roy Orbison - Black & White Night, Stardust, and That's Entertainment - The Complete Collection
The only HD-DVD release worth picking up this week is Blade Runner; however, it is a better deal on Blu-Ray as more extras are in high definition. Stardust is a good movie and is very visual, but there are not enough extras to warrant buying the HD-DVD.

The Kingdom - Buy from Amazon: DVD or HD-DVD/DVD Combo
Warning: This DVD is coming out this Sunday and not this Tuesday.
One of several recent films that have dealt with the current war on terrorism. Like most others, this one eared merely average reviews while failing to connect at the box office. Extras on the DVD include and audio commentary track, a trio of featurettes, and an interactive timeline, while the HD-DVD/DVD Combo also has Picture-in-Picture video commentary track. It is also a Combo disc, meaning it is nearly 50% more than the regular DVD. I like the additional features, especially since they are something you can't get on DVD, but the price difference is just too much.

Kiss - Kissology - Volume 3 - 1992-2000 - Buy from Amazon
Kiss fans rejoice, and mourn, as the third, and final, volume of the very popular Kissology series comes out on DVD. This time around, the 5-disc set features the band from 1992 to 2000 and includes such concerts as Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit Rock City to the final Kiss concert ever filmed at The Continental Arena in New Jersey. A total of six concerts are here with a combined running time of roughly 10 hours. Simply put, a must-have for any Kiss fan and a great Christmas gift.

The Last Legion - Buy from Amazon
A big-budget epic that tells the legend of Excalibur before the days of King Arthur. Like many similar films, this one was panned by critics and was ignored by moviegoers. It seems unlikely things will change dramatically on the home market.

Watching this movie, one is constantly reminded of other, better films. Unfortunately, some of those films were not that good to begin with. When the movie you are watching feels like a pale copy of King Arthur, you know you are in trouble. There are a lot of excellent actors here and they give fine performances, but they are too often dealing with underwritten parts. Additionally, too often the film seems much cheaper than a film with a $67 million production budget should be. (Too many matte paintings were used and they were poorly done at times.) There are some good fight scenes, but not enough to make up for the rest.

As for the extras, there are more than I expected considering it bombed at the box office. Things start with an audio commentary track with the director, who fills the track with enough information to make the movie pass by a lot easier. (Although not all of the information is particularly insightful.) Next up are ten deleted scenes, again with audio commentary track. Several of the scenes, especially the extended battle scenes, should have been in the final cut of the movie. There's a making-of featurette and another on the fight scene choreography, both of which are interesting but lack replay value. Finally, we get storyboard-to-screen comparisons.

I wanted to like this film, I really did, but in the end, The Last Legion left me cold. I wasn't drawn into the movie enough to care about the characters and without that it lacked an emotional edge. Perhaps the film is worth a rental for fans of ancient battles, but for most it is safely skipped.

The Mod Squad - Season One - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
The tagline for this DVD release is "Justice Never Goes out of Style." But wow, clothes and haircuts certainly do.

The Mod Squad was about three youths arrested for minor crimes who were given a choice: go to jail or become undercover cops. During the show's five-year run they went undercover in places the regular cops couldn't, dealing with crimes involving kids, but they didn't just bust kids, but also help kids who have gotten into trouble. The show was one of the first to deal with the counter-culture at the time, the youth culture, as well as one of the first to have an inter-racial lead cast. While some of these are now commonplace, the show didn't rely on these hooks; it still works and does not feel dated.

Extras are better than expected for a 40-year old show starting with two featurettes on disc 1. Forming the Squad is a 15-minute featurette on the origins of the show, while Inside the Teeth of the Barracuda 1968 deals with the pilot and how it really showed the times. This 9-minute featurette also includes a lot of information on what was happening in real life and is worth checking out. The other extra is on disc three and is a 16-minute featurette on the guest shots from the show called Friends of the Mod Squad.

In addition, the 4-disc set has a play all button and proper chapter placement, but there are no subtitles. Also, the season is divided into two volumes, which is not completely unexpected. Not only were seasons longer in 1968, so were the episodes. To have all episodes on one DVD would be equivalent to nearly 32 episodes today. This wouldn't be excessive for a single DVD release, but might be more costly. I'll settle for two volumes per season and some extras instead of one volume and no extras to save money.

After the Mod Squad movie, I think a lot of people's opinions of the original TV series dropped dramatically. However, that's a shame since this show really works. The extras on the 4-disc set are better than expected for the age of the show and it is worth checking out for those who only have a vague knowledge of the show. Fans of the show should be more than happy to add it to their DVD collection.

National Treasure - Two-Disc Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
I'm a little worried that this release isn't ale to crack the top 1,000 on Amazon. That suggests the sequel won't be a big hit. Additional extras include several featurettes, deleted scenes, and of course a preview for Book of Secrets. Can't really call it worth the upgrade, and when the next film hits the home market there should be a combination deal that will be better bang for your buck.

Once - Buy from Amazon
One of the best-reviewed movies of the year, and one of the few limited releases from this past summer to have any real mainstream success. Thanks to this box office success, the DVD has more than enough extras, including a feature length audio commentary track, a song specific audio commentary track, as well as two behind-the-scenes featurettes and a short webisode. Easily worth picking up for fans of romance movies or musicals.

One Tree Hill - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Another season of the teenage soap opera. It feels like a knock off of Dawson's Creek but the characters are not as interesting here. However, even fans of the show will admit season four is the weakest so far. Extras are good with audio commentary tracks on three episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, etc., but for most fans a rental will suffice.

Rawhide - The Second Season - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
The show that made Clint Eastwood a star. What more do you need? This is absolutely a classic of the Western genre and anyone who likes the genre today should at least check out this show on DVD. Sadly, since this 4-disc set has no extras, a rental will do for most casual fans.

Rush Hour 3 - Buy from Amazon: Single Disc DVD, The 2-disc Platinum Edition, or Blu-Ray
Warning: This DVD is coming out this Sunday and not this Tuesday.
2007 could legitimately be called the Year of the Trilogy with at least six such movies. Of those six, Rush Hour 3 felt like the least necessary. Its reviews were terrible and it also earned the weakest box office of the three films, and that's without taking into account inflation. The Single Disc DVD has just an audio commentary track and is completely skippable while the The 2-disc Platinum Edition has plenty of extras, but while the number is high, the quality is not. Neither that version nor the Blu-Ray is worth the extra money. Also coming out tomorrow is a trilogy gift set, but since the last film was so terrible, it's not a very good deal.

The Simpsons Movie - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
The Simpsons Movie opened with incredible reviews and simply smashed expectations. There's little doubt this will be the biggest selling DVD of the week, and could lead High Definition releases as well. Extras on the DVD include two audio commentary tracks, including the main one with Groening and several others where they actually pause the movie to talk about scenes in more detail than the rapid delivery of the movie allows. I first saw something like this in the Telestrator version of Waiting..., which I still consider one of the best extras I've seen on a DVD and I'd wish more movies would do similar extras. (This should be increasingly easy with Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.) The rest of the extras are merely average with deleted scenes and bonus scenes. There are some laughs to be had here, but not as much as in the movie itself and the replay value is limited. The Blu-Ray version doesn't have any extra features, but the film really pops in High Definition. This could very well be the best looking High Definition release of any format so far. The Simpsons Movie had a lot to live up to, especially when compared to the show's early seasons, and while it may not live up to the best of the best, it is still a worthy addition to any fan's DVD collection and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. And despite the lack of additional extras, the Blu-Ray version is worth the upgrade for the video quality alone.

Sonic Underground - The Series - Buy from Amazon
One of about a hundred video games that were turned into cartoons aimed at kids. Most video games don't have a deep enough plot to handle the transition, and this one is no different. In fact, it's weaker than the two previous Sonic the Hedgehog series. A big selling point for the series was the music (all 40 episodes feature a music video), but this just didn't work. There are more extras than most cartoon releases get, including featurettes and a bonus CD with some of the songs, but this is not a release that will win over a lot of new converts.

Stardust - Buy from Amazon: DVD or HD-DVD
A film that earned strong reviews and seemed poised to earn enough money to be considered a late summer surprise, Stardust instead failed to connect during its opening weekend. It did show better than average legs, but it was too little, too late. This weakness at the box office seems to have led the studio to decide not to risk more money on a big DVD release, which is a shame because the movie is wonderful and the DVD should be an easy recommendation.

Stardust stars Charlie Cox as Tristan, a shop boy living in a small English town of Wall who is hopelessly in love with a woman that his out of his league. In order to win the heart of this woman, he decides to cross into the magical kingdom of Stronghold to find the fallen star, but things become complicated as soon as he gets there. For instance, the fallen star isn't a lump of meteorite, but a woman named Yvaine. And things take a turn when the last remaining princes are after her, as well as a trio of evil witches led by Michelle Pfeiffer.

Stardust is a fantasy film set in a world created by Neil Gaiman who also created the Sandman graphic novel series, as well as Good Omens. It boosts not only a sense of magic, but many, many intriguing characters including the lightning harvesting pirate, Captain Shakespeare, the slick salesmen, Ferdy the Fence, and others. I'm still at a loss to explain exactly why this movie didn't succeed at the box office, but my best guess is weak marketing. The trailers made the movie feel too similar to too many other movies and I think that was the fatal blow to the film's chances at the box office, but we will never know for sure.

As for the DVD, I'm disappointed, to be frank. On the DVD there are only three extras: Good Omens: The Making of Stardust, deleted scenes, and outtakes. Granted, the making-of featurette weighs in at a healthy 30 minutes and is in-depth, but that's not enough to make up for the lack of additional extras. I would have liked an audio commentary track at the very least. The HD-DVD release has all of those three extras, but nothing additional.

(On a side note, not only does Neil Gaiman make an appearance on the making-of featurette, but so does his daughter, Maddy. Maddy's blogged a few time on her dad's site, and even interviewed him once. This got me thinking that she should host a behind-the-scenes featurette for one of his upcoming movies. Perhaps Good Omens, if that ever makes it into theaters.)

Overall the movie is certainly worth recommending, but the extras are light and that makes it hard to be enthusiastic. I'm recommending purchasing over just renting as the replay value of the movie is high enough to compensate for the weak extras, but will a full disc it could have been the DVD Pick of the Week.

Underdog - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
There have been a number of live action cartoon adaptations over the past few years, but given their track record, I'm not sure why. Sure, there have been a few hits, but many more misses.

Underdog is your typical kids movie, and yes, that's an insult. I understand this movie is aimed at kids, but while kids are young, they are not stupid. If you are going to make a movie for kids, you can't aim so low. The art to making a great kid's movie is to make a movie for adults that kids can also enjoy. Make a movie that makes sense. For instance, if I come home and see my house trashed, and I mean the couch is upside down, I'm not going to blame the dog, I'm going to assume there was a break in and I've just been robbed. On a side note, I don't know if the narration by Jason Lee was a last minute addition, but it sure feels that way.

As for the extras, they are light, with just a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes, a music video, and a short film of the original cartoon. The making-of featurette is clearly aimed at kids, but at least it's well done. The deleted scenes have short intros explaining why they were cut, which was mostly for pacing. (By the way, if a bit is funny, keep it. Films used to have a lot more leisurely pace and fast cuts don't always improve a movie.) As for the Blu-Ray, there are additional deleted scenes, but only a total of 6 running all of 8 minutes and an additional short of the original Underdog. (These cartoons show that while the rhyming works in a 5-minute short, it becomes grating for a feature-length film.)

Underdog was scorned by critics and while it did marginally better business with moviegoers, I simply can't recommend this movie even for a rental. There are far better alternatives out there, even for kids.

Also coming out tomorrow is the Underdog - Ultimate Collection, which is better than the movie. However, those hoping for a comprehensive collection will be disappointed that there are less than a third of the cartoons here. That said, the extras add enough that it's worth picking up while you wait for more volumes to come out.


Filed under: Video Releases, The Simpsons Movie, National Treasure, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Rush Hour 3, Halloween, The Kingdom, Underdog, Stardust, Balls of Fury, Eastern Promises, Once, The Last Legion, Deep Water, Hatchet