Follow us on

DVD Releases for April 4, 2006

April 3rd, 2006

The first Tuesday of the month is usually the busiest when it comes to DVD releases, and while there are certainly more releases coming out tomorrow than there are in the next two weeks, it is not as busy as I would like when it comes to top notch releases. At first glance there are only two that are even contenders for the DVD pick of the week, including Brokeback Mountain - Buy from Amazon and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Collector's Edition. But while there are a couple of DVDs that are worth picking up, none make it to the level of DVD Pick of the Week. (And a quick glance at the coming weeks suggest there might not be one till the end of the month.) One last note, if you are interested in picking up Narnia, check out our contest first.

3rd Rock from the Sun - The Best Episodes in the Universe, Really - Buy from Amazon
Normally when a TV series switches from full season sets to best of sets it's a really bad sign; sales were probably too low to justify the expense of full season sets. That is not the case here as the first three seasons have sold well and Season Four is on the way. So why are they releasing a best of set? I don't know. I could give you an educated guess, but not without resorting to insults and profanity.

The A-Team - Season Four - Buy from Amazon
I was never a fan of the show and add in yet another terrible TV on DVD from Universal and you have a 3-disc set that is best skipped.

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother - Buy from Amazon
I think uneven would be the best way to describe this film. It's not terrible, but it is one of many films that show the transition from acting to directing isn't frequently a bumpy ride. The DVD does have an audio commentary track, which is its only special features, however, taking into account the age of the movie, this is more than expected. Call it a rental, especially if you are a fan of Gene Wilder.

The Anniversary - Buy from Amazon
Bette Davis did some over-the-top performances during her career, but even so, this film stands out as one of the most over-the-top. It isn't, on the other hand, one of her best. The only real special feature on the disc in an audio commentary track, which is more than one would expect for a lesser known film that is nearly 40 years old.

Bee Season - Buy from Amazon
Simple put, this movie is busted Oscar bait. The film was obviously meant to win awards and had a lot of the ingredients needed, it just never came together properly. Because the movie never clicked with audiences, it would have been understandable if the studio had just dumped it on the home market is a relatively bare DVD, but that is not the case. The DVD comes with two audio commentary tracks, handful of deleted scenes, and a short making of featurette. Fans of the movie will be very happy, but for most people it's worth a rental at most.

Blue Thunder - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
I loved this movie when I was a kid, but I don't know if it has aged well. At least the Special Edition is a step up from the previous edition with audio commentary and a trio of featurettes. Call it a solid rental leaning towards a purchase.

Brokeback Mountain - Buy from Amazon
Easily one of the best movies of 2005 and arguably the biggest winner of Award Season. Granted, it lost out on the Best Picture Oscar to Crash, but its mountain of other wins is more impressive. I was really looking forward to this DVD, however, the special features are not up to the level I was expecting. There's no audio commentary track and only 4 featurettes with a total running time of 45 minutes. I expect a special edition is in the works.

Chicken Tikka Masala - Buy from Amazon
Jimi Chopra returns home from med school only to find himself in the middle of an arranged marriage. However, there's a small hitch to his potential marriage, he's gay. The film boasts a first time director and a first time screenwriter, but the results are surprisingly well done. On the other hand, the DVD is devoid of any real special features, but that's not too surprising given how small the film is, (it has a production budget of just $2 million and only played in limited release in the U.K. for two weeks). Call it a rental.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Collector's Edition, Single Disc Edition, or UMD Mini
The second biggest hit of 2005, the film earned excellent reviews but not quite up to the level of an instant classic, (it didn't make the top 100 for the year, for instance). It's not a bad movie, but it pales in comparison to too many other films including the Lord of the Rings franchise. The 2-disc Collector's Edition is well done with two audio commentary tracks, pop-up trivia track, outtakes, all on the first disc. Disc two offers a few featurettes with a total running time of more than an hour as well as interactive timeline, map, creature bios, etc. It's worth picking up, but it's not the obvious choice for DVD Pick of the Week like many would assume it would be.

Crash - 2-Disc Director's Cut Edition - Buy from Amazon
When this movie first hit the home market, I was hesitant in picking it up since is felt like a special edition was on its way and in the end, I didn't. Looks like that choice was the wise one as this version is a huge step up with 4 minute sof reincorporated footage, audio commentary, deleted scenes, behind the scenes, making of, featurette on the director and more. However, since this edition came out so soon after the first one, it can't be given the DVD Pick of the Week.

Dawson's Creek - The Complete 6th Season - Buy from Amazon
The sixth and final season of this series. This show started out well enough and had potential, but fell into the same trap as some many other teenager dramas. It quickly became stale and felt like one of a dozen other such shows. The 4-disc set is not filled with special features either with just an audio commentary track on the series finale as well as a booklet.

Dirty - Buy from Amazon
After a very short and unmemorable stint in theatres, Dirty hits the home market. The tale of corrups cops isn't bad, but the movie is filled with too many cliches to work. The DVD is better than expected given its short run in theatres with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, short making of featurette and more. However, it still adds up to a rental, at best.

Far Side of the Moon - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian film that is good, but moves at a very slow pace. The DVD is sub-par, even for limited releases with just a short featurette. However, it is still worth a rental for those who like their films less frenetic.

Films of Faith Collection - Buy from Amazon
The Nun's Story, The Shoes of the Fisherman, and Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, available in a box set or as three separate DVDs. The Nun's Story is the best of the three, but the Box Set is a much better deal at roughly half the price. On the other hand, only The Shoes of the Fisherman has any special features, (a short promotional film from 1968), and that reduces the overall value somewhat.

Full House - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
A safe, family friendly series that lasted far longer than its quality otherwise indicated it should. Season 3 is no different from the previous releases, which is not a complement. The only special feature on the 4-disc set is a montage from the season 3 but since you own season 3, it is not a very useful feature. Also available with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Garbage Pail Kids - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
This parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids has never been shown in the United States because an advocacy group had it banned. When I heard it was banned, I assumed it was because the Garbage Pail Kids trading cards were quite horrific and a cartoon series based on it would be too much. However, apparently the real complaint was that the cartoon was filled with too much commercialism. Very strange. This 2-disc set has all 13 episodes made, but no special features but I can't even recommend renting it, unless curiosity gets the better of you. And if you really want to punish yourself, buy the movie instead.

The Glamour Collection - Buy from Amazon: Carole Lombard, Mae West, and Marlene Dietrich
Three box sets dedicated to three glamorous women from the 1930s and 40s. The movies here are very rare, and the box sets are very cheap. And cheap refers to both the price and the quality. Double-sided DVDs suck as they tend to have serious playback problems. Sure, you can't beat the price, but I'd rather pay more and getting a better product. But considering this is a Universal releases, I don't plan on holding my breathe waiting for them to change.

Knight Rider - Season Four - Buy from Amazon
Bad show, even worse DVD. Yet another TV on DVD release from Universal with no real special features, just that stupid 80s Flashback.

Little Manhattan - Buy from Amazon
Your typical romantic comedy, just with the two leads being 11-year olds. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the film works better than most in the genre. The DVD is also better than most limited releases with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes, and a making of featurette. It's worth a rental and many who give it chance will like it enough to buy it.

Liza with a 'Z' - Buy from Amazon
This Liza Minnelli multi-Emmy winning TV special has been unavailable for decades and is finally coming out on this amazing DVD. The concert itself is only about an hour long, but the DVD has a total running time of four hours and includes audio commentary, interviews, biographies, and more. Well worth picking up for fans of her work.

The Long Good Friday - Explosive Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
An early film in the career of Bob Hoskins and still one of his best. A violent film about a British gangster whose on the brink landing a deal that will help revitalize the docks where he lives, but his whole world unravels over the course of the day. (Also worth noting, this film is Pierce Brosnan's first film.) The film was previously releases in a Criterion Collection edition, but that was not one of their best releases. The Explosive Special Edition has a better transfer, (it's anamorphic widescreen), and much more special features including an audio commentary track, hour-long documentary, Cockney Slang glossary, and more. Definitely worth the upgrade.

Magnum P.I. - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Another Universal release that's not worth picking up because of shoddy DVDs. I'd give out an e-mail address so fans of the show could complain, but apparently, they don't care. Skip it.

Mel Brooks Box Set Collection - Buy from Amazon
Out of all the releases on this week's list this is the one I'm most interested in. Eight films from Mel Brooks including four that have never before been on DVD. New to DVD are To Be or Not to Be, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Silent Movie, and High Anxiety, which are arguably the four weakest movies in this box set. Also included are his two best movies, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles as well as History of the World, Part I and Twelve Chairs. Extras on the 8-disc set run from reasonable on Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles to mediocre on Robin Hood: Men in Tights and To Be or Not to Be to non-existent on the rest. (Also of note, the Blazing Saddles is the original DVD and not the recent 30th Anniversary Edition.) In the end, the value of this set is directly proportional to how many of the movies you already have. If you have all four that have been previously releases, then it's hard to justify the price for the rest, especially considering how little there is in terms of extras. If you have none, then chances are you don't like Mel Brooks enough to bother buying the DVD. This box set had the potential to be amazing but in the end was just adequate.

Mona Lisa - Buy from Amazon
Another British gangster moving starring Bob Hoskins that's coming out tomorrow. It is also one of his lesser know but equally brilliant films. Compared to the previous release, this one is in anamorphic widescreen while the Criterion Collection has an excellent audio commentary track. It would be brilliant if you could somehow mix the two DVDs as the trade off is nearly equal, (unless you don't own a widescreen TV, in which case, go with the Criterion Collection edition.

New York Doll - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about former New York Dolls bassist, Arthur "Killer" Kane. One of the best movies on this week's list, and a great film for fans of the music and the DVD is better than most limited releases even if it doesn't have an audio commentary track. (It does have a few interviews and a musical performance.)

Nine to Five - Sexist, Egotistical, Lying Hypocritical Bigot Edition - Buy from Amazon
One of the longer names on this week's list. When the film as first released in 1980 it earned excellent reviews and became the second highest grossing film of the year, (Stir Crazy was third while The Empire Strikes Back was first). Special features on the disc live up to the special edition moniker with an audio commentary track, retrospective, deleted scenes, outtakes, karaoke version of the theme song and more. Easily worth the upgrade from the previous edition.

The President's Last Bang - Buy from Amazon
Contrary what you might think, this movie is not about Bill Clinton. A look at the assassination of the President of South Korea in 1979. It's a black comedy of sorts based somewhat on events, with loads of violence. Even with difficulties in translation, (both linguistically and culturally), there's enough here to entertain, especially if you are a fan of South Korean cinema. Special features, on the other hand, are light, but that is to be expected for a foreign film, especially one that never played in more than 3 theatres.

Star Trek Fan Collective - Time Travel - Buy from Amazon
There have been full season sets releases for every show in this long running franchise as well as a full franchise set, so why are they releasing themed Best of sets? As a cash grab, pure and simple. The price is a little high on a per minute basis, the special features are weaker than on the full season sets, and add in several double dips from other Fan Collective sets and this is just a waste of money for real fans of the show.

Swept Away - Buy from Amazon
This is the original, and vastly superior Italian version on not the horrendous remake from 2002 starring Madonna. Of course, in this case vastly superior still means just average and without any special features the DVD only rates a rental.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Original Series - Volume 4 - Buy from Amazon
At one time the longest running cartoon series ever on American TV, (one guess to figure out which series broke the record). The first two seasons were very short so they took up only one volume each while season three is being spread over four volumes. Personally, I would have included season 1 and 2 in one volume and split season 3 into just two volumes. As they are doing it now, it will take a dozen more volumes before the full series is released. On the plus side, each volume is cheap. On the down side, cheap can be used to describe both the price and the quality. For the more enthusiastic fan while they wait for the upcoming movie.

Thank God It's Friday - Buy from Amazon
A terrible movie that will only appeal to those that grew up during the era and want a hit of nostalgia. But even then, this featureless DVD isn't worth anything more than a rental.

Tripping the Rift - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
Aimed at a mature audience... let me rephrase that. Aimed at an adult audience, Tripping the Rift is a digital animation series that is heavy on sleaze, for a lack of a better term. Too often they take the easy road to cheap laughs instead of trying some character development or something that might a little more effort. And with only a short featurette and some outtakes, this is a 2-disc set that I just can't recommend.

Ushpizin - Buy from Amazon
Another great movie coming out on a substandard DVD. Granted, it was a limited release / foreign language film, and those usually have little to no special features, but it did make more than $1 million at the box office and that should have been enough to encourage the studio to something. As it is, it is still worth a rental, but not much more.

The World's Greatest Lover - Buy from Amazon
Gene Wilder's second shot a directing wasn't as successful as his first attempt, and that movie wasn't that good to begin with. The DVD has an audio commentary track as its only special features, but that's more than I would have expected. Even so, it's a rental, at the most.


Filed under: Video Releases, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Brokeback Mountain, Crash, Ushpizin, Bee Season, Little Manhattan, Dirty, Far Side of the Moon, New York Doll, The President's Last Bang