Follow us on

DVD Releases for January 3, 2006

January 2nd, 2006

After the recent shopping frenzy, it's no wonder this week's list is a little on the light side. There are a couple of releases that piqued my interest (Alien Nation - The Complete Series, for instance), but the winner of the DVD Pick of the week was a limited release, Broken Flowers - Buy from Amazon.

Alien Nation - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Based on the movie of the same name, this series developed a small but loyal audience, but it was too expensive to survive on a fledgling network like Fox was back in 1989. Given the age of the show and its short run, it is no small feat that it came out on DVD at all, however, I really would have liked more than an audio commentary track on the pilot and a 5-minute behind-the-scene featurette. Even so, it is still worth picking up. One last note: hopefully this set will sell well enough to get the made-for-TV movies released as well as a special edition release for the movie.

All in the Family - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
As with most long-running series, there's not much to say about All in the Family that fans won't already know. This season was less edgy than previous ones, but just as funny. Also, like previous seasons there are no special features and that really limits the value of this 3-disc set.

Broken Flowers - Buy from Amazon
It may be unfair to describe this film as a disappointment since it did very well at the box office for a limited release. Let's face it, not many limited releases are able to break $10 million at the box office. However, people were expecting another Lost in Translation like run, and compared to that film, this one suffered. Part of the problem was the reviews, which were excellent, but not up to the level set by Lost in Translation. I'm disappointed with the special features on the disc (behind-the-scenes featurette, extended scene, and outtakes), but it is the best movie on this week's list and it is the DVD Pick of the Week.

Cartoon Adventures Starring Gerald McBoing Boing - Buy from Amazon
Four cartoons from the 1950s about a boy who can only speak in sound effects. These shorts were the brainchild of Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss and was so popular that it became one of the first prime-time animated shows on TV. However, I can't recommend the DVD for several reasons. Firstly, the total running time is only 30 minutes and these probably would have been better as special features for a TV on DVD release. Also, the sound and video are quite bad and there are no special features, all of which is understandable given the age of the show. Still, it's worth a rental for those interested in Dr. Seuss or cartoon shorts from that era.

The Cave - Buy from Amazon: Widescreens or Pan & Scan
One of the worst reviewed movies of last year, and the film couldn't even match lowered expectations at the box office. The special features are better than I would have expected given its performance at the box office with two audio commentary tracks and two featurettes. However, no amount of special features would make up for the quality of the movie and in the end the DVD is just a renter, if that.

Dumb and Dumber - Unrated Edition - Buy from Amazon: DVD or UMD Mini
I can't believe its been more than a decade since this movie was first released. It was the first Farrelly Brothers film and it really launched their careers. It is still one of their best. On the other hand, the DVD release is not that great, amount to essentially a special edition. There's about 8 minutes of footage reincorporated into the movie, nearly a dozen deleted or alternate scenes (including two alternate endings), short retrospective, and plenty of trailers for the movie. All in all, it's not a bad DVD, but there's not enough here for a full recommendation.

The Gospel - Buy from Amazon
Great music, mediocre movie at best. The DVD is pretty good with audio commentary, extended music numbers and more, but that's not enough to lift the film past the rental level.

Gunsmoke - 50th Anniversary Collection - Buy from Amazon: Volume 1, Volume 2, or Giftset
The longest running prime-time drama ever on American TV, lasting 20 years and 633 episodes. Maybe the studio thought that was too many episodes to put out on DVD because these sets are best of releases. Granted, they are amazing releases for a TV show that's 50 years old with audio commentary tracks on several episodes, introductions, interviews, outtakes, behind-the-scenes, and much more. If this is just the studio's way of testing the water to see if the demand is there, then it is worth picking up the Giftset, but if they are just going to put out best of sets, a lot of fans will be really disappointed.

Have Gun Will Travel - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
All 39 episodes of the third season, plus some text based special features. The lack of special features is to be expected for a show that's nearly 50 years old, but the price is great and it's easily worth picking up for fans of the series. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Hunter - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
The series started out well, but quickly slid into mediocrity. Even so, it did last several more seasons. The DVD releases are devoid of special features and are only worth it for hardcore fans.

My Date With Drew - Buy from Amazon
An ultra-low budget film with a simple concept: Brian Herzlinger takes the money he won on a game show and films his attempt to meet Drew Barrymore, with whom he has had a crush on since seeing her in E.T. It's a cute concept, but it can't really sustain a whole film (then there's the whole stalking vibe that some people picked up). Add in zero special features and the disc is only worth a rental.

NOVA: Sinking the Supership - Buy from Amazon
NOVA looks at the sinking of the Yamato, the world's largest battleship. NOVA programs are quite expensive compared to most TV on DVD releases, but the quality is always high. On a side note, there's a Japanese movie doing really well in its home market right now about the sinking of the Yamato and if it gets a release stateside, it would be advantageous to have this background knowledge before seeing the dramatization.

Or (My Treasure) - Buy from Amazon
An Israeli film about a daughter trying to get her mother out of prostitution. The film earned excellent reviews but could never get any traction at the box office. The disc has little in the way of special features, but should still perform better on the home market.

School of Life - Buy from Amazon
An inspirational teacher story starring Ryan Reynolds and David Paymer. Most people know who Ryan Reynolds is, but the name David Paymer is not as well know, although you'll recognize him as soon as you see him. This film is actually a made-for-TV movie, and while it is better than that origin might suggest, it's not good enough to warrant buying. In fact, it's hard to even recommend renting since if you were really interested you could have watched it for free.

Secuestro Express - Buy from Amazon
This film opened during a very busy week for limited releases and with reviews that there were merely mixed it was unable to escape the art-house circuit. On the other hand, the DVD is packed for a limited release with two audio commentary tracks, two featurettes, music video, and more. It's a solid rental, but many who see it will want to add it to their collection.

Silk Stalkings - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon
A guilty pleasure, at best. This 3-disc set has all 22 episodes of this cheesy detective series, but no special features.

Snatch - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is the 104th DVD release for this movie and the only difference between this one and the Special Edition is the deck of cards, poker chips, and scrapbook that comes with the set. There's absolutely no reason to upgrade, but if you haven't added this great movie to your DVD collection, there's no better time to do it.

Stuart Little Collection - Buy from Amazon
Both movies in the Stuart Little franchise in one set, plus a sneak peak at the upcoming direct-to-DVD animated film. The first film was the much bigger hit at the box office, but number two earned much better reviews than the first one earned. The package here is a good price, but is a double-dip and there's no reason to upgrade. One last note. If you already own one of the movies on DVD but really want the preview disc, you can pick it up with just Stuart Little or Stuart Little 2.

Timeless Tales - Volume 3 - Buy from Amazon
Half-a-dozen cartoon shorts from the Disney vaults. While the cartoons are great (especially Casey at the Bat), there are no special features on the disc. I'm sure if the studio tried, they could have found something to pad the 65 minute running time.

The Valachi Papers - Buy from Amazon
Charles Bronson stars as Joe Valachi, a high-ranking member of the Cosa Nostra. When he's sent to prison he boss turns on him and tries to have him killed, so in retaliation he turns on the Cosa Nostra and tells the authorities everything he knows. Charles Bronson was in a lot of amazing movies, but he's best known for starring in the Death Wish series, which lasted five film and 20 years while killing any chance of having a credible film career. So it's nice that one of his better films comes out on DVD. It would have been even nicer if there were any special features at all.

The Wedding Crashers - Buy from Amazon: Uncorked Widescreen, Uncorked Pan & Scan, R-Rated Widescreen, or UMD Mini - Uncorked
One of the few pleasant surprises at the box office this year. The film started out well, but its opening wasn't even in the top ten for the year; however, thanks to great word-of-mouth it was able to become a top five hit. I wish I could say the DVD lives up to the movie, but it doesn't. There are two audio commentary tracks and a couple of featurettes that clock in at under 20 minutes combined. Quite frankly, I was expecting more. Even so, it is still worth adding to your DVD collection.


Filed under: Video Releases, Wedding Crashers, The Gospel, The Cave, Broken Flowers, Secuestro Express, My Date With Drew, Or (My Treasure)