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DVD Releases for June 6, 2006

June 5th, 2006

It's like the week of the Western with that genre making appearances in nearly every category, Special Edition, Box Sets, TV on DVD. But while there are certainly some that were in the running for DVD Pick of the Week, (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - 2-Disc Collector's Edition, for instance), it was a limited release that is the DVD Pick of the Week. And that film is Sarah Silverman - Jesus is Magic - Buy from Amazon, but I fully admit my pro-Sarah Silverman bias has something to do with this decision.

Air America - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Based on the 1990 movie and not the radio station, this show lasted just one season. Fans of the show, of which there are not many, will be happy it is available on DVD, even though there are no special features.

The Batjac Suspense Collection - Buy from Amazon
Four films produced by John Wayne's production company. The films vary in quality, but none of classics. On the other hand, Track of the Cat and Plunder of the Sun do have more special features than one would expect given the age of the film.

The Big White - Buy from Amazon
This film has an excellent cast, terrible reviews, and a theatrical release that may or may not have happened. (A lot of sources have it opening on the 12th of December last year, but there's no box office data.) The film aims for a Fargo level of quirkiness, but overshoots its mark and suffers because of that mistake.

Black Hawk Down - Extended Cut - Buy from Amazon
Simply put, the 8 extras minutes in the movie are not worth the upgrade from the Delux Edition.

The Boys of Baraka - Buy from Amazon
A group of at risk boys are sent from their violent neighborhood in Baltimore to an experimental school in Kenya. The documentary is well done but flawed enough that it limits its replay value. On the other hand, the DVD has more extras than most limited releases with commentary track, update, deleted scenes, and more. This places it right on the boarder between the rental and purchase levels. I think it leans slightly to the latter category, but it is close.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - 2-Disc Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
One of the best Westerns ever made and one of the earlier Buddy Comedies as well. An excellent Special Edition came out several years ago, but even so, this 2-disc set is worth the upgrade as it has all the old special features, (audio commentary track, making of feature, interviews), plus a ton more including an additional audio commentary track, another making of feature, more interviews, deleted scenes, etc. Easily worth picking up and a contender for the DVD Pick of the Week.

Celebrity Packs - Buy from Amazon: Angelina Jolie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colin Farrell, Denzel Washington, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Natalie Portman
Several collections, each with three movies from one celebrity. The value per DVD is reasonable, but the average quality is not. In most cases there is only one movie worth owning, which is available for cheaper on its own. One last note, there is also an Adam Sandler Collection, but Amazon has it coming out next week.

Charlie Chaplin: The Little Tramp Collection - Buy from Amazon
Dozens of short films staring Charlie Chaplin with a total running time of more than a dozen hours spread over five disc. There's not a whole lot here in terms of special features, which is a shame considering Charlie Chaplin's position in movie history, however, these shorts are rare enough that any fan should be happy that they are coming out on DVD at all.

Charmed - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
Any worry that the replacement of Doherty with McGowan would ruin the show ended this season as the latter woman really got into her role and made the show better than ever. However, while the episodes for season five were better than ever, the DVD release continues the series run of featureless DVDs. I wish more studios understood that putting out featureless DVDs only encourages piracy, as they are very easy to rip and burn. Fans should still buy the DVDs, but studios should put out better products.

Cheyenne - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
One of the first, and the best Westerns to every appear on TV, this show debuted more than 50 years ago. More and more shows from that era are earning DVDs releases spurred on by the high sales of I Love Lucy and Have Gun, Will Travel. Fortunately, this is encouraging studios to spend a little more money on the DVD release meaning more special feature are included. This 5-disc set includes a featurette on the show and an interview with its star, Clint Walker. Considering the age of the material, that's very good.

Dazed & Confused - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
The 2-disc set is coming out to celebrate the 30th anniversary, not the 30th anniversary of the movie, but the 30th anniversary of the day the movie was set, May 28, 1976. As a Criterion Collection release there are two things that are immediately apparent: This is an expensive DVD and it is worth it. Included on the 2-disc set are an audio commentary track, making of featurette, interviews, the 10th anniversary retrospective, deleted scenes, auditions and more. Also include in a 72-page book with memories from the cast & crew as well as other features. Easily worth picking up and contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Doctor Who - Buy from Amazon: Story #78: Genesis of the Daleks and Story #143: Doctor Who - Revelation of the Daleks
Two more stories from the longest running Sci-Fi TV series ever, both centering on the most famous nemesis of Doctor Who, the Daleks. Like other releases in this long-running series, the DVDs are excellent but the prospect of spending a few thousand dollars to have a complete collection has kept me from starting.

Dumbo - Big Top Edition - Buy from Amazon
Created during the golden era of Disney's Animation Studio, Dumbo deserves to be called a classic. However, this DVD is simply not worth the upgrade from the previous edition as there isn't a large enough difference in the quality presented here.

Entourage - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
An insider look at the superficial and shallow side of Hollywood. This show is quickly turning into a serious hit for HBO and the DVD sales are brisk; however, there is some concern as to the quality of the DVDs. Season 1 was only 8 episodes long, but there were audio commentary tracks on 3 of them, plus a featurette. This time around, there are 14 episodes and an interview, but no audio commentaries. Seeing as they are the same price, it is hard to say which one is the better deal. What is easy to say is that I would have been whiling to spend $10 more to get audio commentary tracks and half a dozen episodes. Also available with the first season as part of a package deal.

F Troop - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A military life TV series in the same vein as Sgt. Bilko and McHale's Navy. The show is more than 40 years old and only lasted two seasons, so it is amazing that it is coming out on DVD, even if the 6-disc set is featureless.

Farewell to the King - Buy from Amazon
Nick Nolte stars as Learoyd, a soldier during World War II who avoids being executed with the rest of his fellow soldiers. He then wanders into the jungle, meets a tribe of Headhunters and becomes their king. There are some aspects that work, but as a whole the film fails. As for the DVD, there are no special features and no reason to buy it.

The Fast and the Furious Franchise Collection - Buy from Amazon
The first two movies in the franchise, plus an ad for the third movie. Even if you are interested in these movies, wait a few months till all three will be released in a better box set.

Firewall - Buy from Amazon: DVD or DVD and HD-DVD Combo
The expectations for this film were widely divided. Some thought it would be Harrison Ford's return to box office supremacy while others thought it would crash and burn. In the end it finished somewhere in-between those two extremes finishing with nearly $50 million at the box office, about what it cost to make, despite the critical drubbing it received. As for the DVD, it also deserves to be savaged by critics as it has no audio commentary and only two short featurettes. This is simply unforgivable for a first-run release and limits the DVD's value to a rental, at best. On a side note, the HD-DVD release is simply unacceptable as it doesn't come close to taking advantage of the medium.

Fried Green Tomatoes - Extended Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
Great movie, terrible DVD. What makes it so terrible is it is nearly identical to the previous release and isn't worth the upgrade by a mile.

Glory Road - Buy from Amazon
One of nearly a thousand Inspirational Coach movies released by Disney every year. Average is a good way to describe most of these movies, and this one is no exception. average reviews, average box office numbers, average DVD release. Worth a rental, but not much more than that.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Constantine and The Perfect Storm
Two more movie hit HD-DVD this week, (three if you count Firewall, but I've already discussed that movie). Niether film is that good, but at least they are visual enough to benefit from the HD-DVD treatment. The more interesting releases is Constantine, which is the first HD-DVD release to have special features that differ from the DVD release and that makes it special enough to warrant the upgrade. However, until there are several HD-DVDs in that can make that claim, buying a player isn't worth the money.

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things - Buy from Amazon
Based on the short stories of JT Leroy, who based those on his own life. At least that's what everyone thought until it was revealed that JT Leroy didn't exist. This was revealed shortly before the movie was released, but this controversy didn't help it overcome weak reviews. The DVD promises to do better, especially with special features that are a cut above the norm for limited releases, (audio commentary, featurette, footage from the premiere, etc.).

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe - Season 2 - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
Even though I was the target age when this show first came out, I could never get into it. I just thought the writing was too poor and lacked imagination, the animation was cheap and the morals were shoehorned it in such a clumsy manner that it interfered with the entertainment value. That being said, I recognize that the show has a huge following and these people will certainly be happy with this 6-disc set.

Home Improvement - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
This was a good show, if a little repetitive. ... Okay, it was very repetitive. Not only that, it seriously outstayed its welcome lasting at least three years too long. Fortunately, this season the show was arguably at its peak, but unfortunately the DVD releases continue to be sub-par with this 3-disc set having only a blooper real in terms of special features.

The John Ford Film Collection - Buy from Amazon
The first of two box sets features the films of John Ford and this one is the weaker of the two. The five films here, Cheyenne Autumn, The Informer, Sergeant Rutledge, Mary of Scotland, and The Lost Patrol, are all making their DVD debuts and most rank in the top third of John Ford's career. The extras a good, but not great, and while it is worth picking up, it pales in comparison to the next box set.

The John Wayne - John Ford Film Collection - Buy from Amazon
8 movies on 10 discs spanning nearly 2 decades available in one box set or separately. The box set is easily the better deal as the three best films included here, (Stagecoach, The Searchers, and Fort Apache), cost almost as much as the who box set. If you are going to buy those three DVDs, and every John Wayne fan should, then you might as well spend the extras $10 and get the five other movies as well. On the other hand, it might be better to spend the extra $40 and get The Searchers - Ultimate Collector's Edition instead.

Kate & Allie: Seasons 1 & 2 - Buy from
When this series made its DVD debut in the States not too long ago, people complained that the first season was only 6 episodes long but cost nearly as much as some full-season sets. But now you can order Season 1 and 2 from and spend less getting two seasons than you did for one, and that's before you take into account the exchange rate. I have no idea why Universal would screw over so many fans in the States while doing it right in Canada.

Like Mike 2 - Streetball - Buy from Amazon
Like Mike was a terrible movie, (despite what the critics said), but it made more that $50 million theatrically and more on the home market. So I can't fault the studio for making a sequel. On the other hand, I can fault them for making a terrible sequel and releasing it on a sub-par DVD. Skip it.

The Missing - Extended Cut - Buy from Amazon
Too many times extended cuts of films are released on an inferior DVD; because of the added footage, they have to lose the original audio commentary. However, in this case Ron Howard recorded a new audio commentary track and the only thing missing from the 2-Disc edition are the outtakes and the alternate endings. This is very nearly worth the upgrade, but I'd give it a rental first to see if you prefer the extended or theatrical version of the movie.

Mommie Dearest - Hollywood Royalty Edition - Buy from Amazon
As a biography, this is a terrible movie. But as a Camp Classic, it is one of the best. For anyone interested in Camp movies, this is a must have and there's no better time to pick it up as the DVD is great. Extras include an audio commentary track by John Waters, and three featurettes with an average running time of about 15 minutes. It's not the best special edition I've seen from the era, but it is better than many and worth picking up.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith - Unrated 2-Disc Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
There are only two things that need to be mentioned about this DVD. Firstly, the Unrated label is pure marketing as there is nothing here that would push the film past a R-rating. Secondly, there is not enough of an upgrade from the previous release and this one when you consider that one was released less than a year ago. Even worse, there are features on the previous release that are not on this one meaning if you want to see everything you have to buy both DVDs. That alone earns this 2-disc set a big, "Skip it!"

N.C.I.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Yet another police procedural show, this time set on a naval base. A spin-off of JAG, which was more of a courtroom drama, this is a great show, but there are just so many similar shows it is hard to justify buying this one over Without a Trace, for example. Not only are those two shows very similar in quality, the special features are nearly identical. N.C.I.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Complete First Season has all 23 episodes on the 6-disc set with an audio commentary track on the pilot, plus features on the cast, the look, and the making of. It's worth picking up for the more hardcore fans of the show, but for most people it will be just as easy to catch the reruns.

Preaching to the Choir - Buy from Amazon
Great gospel music can't lift this cliched mess. Fans of the music might want to rent the DVD while picking up the soundtrack instead.

The Ron White Show - Buy from Amazon
I like this concept, but the execution is terrible. The Ron White Show is a busted pilot, a pilot made for a TV show that was never picked up. Dozens of these are made every year, sometimes several episodes are filmed before the series is axed. I'd love to see if there were any hidden gems that the networks missed. However, this is just a 22-minute show being sold for $10, which is a ridiculous price. What the studio should have done was package several busted pilots on one DVD and sold it for the same price as average first-run movie. On a side note, I really think the Jennifer Love Hewitt TV series, In the Game, should be released on DVD. There were two pilots and a handful of episodes made, which means it had a longer run than some shows that have made it to DVD.

Running Scared - Buy from Amazon
This film's theatrical run was so short it practical qualifies as a direct-to-DVD release. There are a lot of reasons for that, poor reviews being one, Paul Walker being another. It promises to only do slightly better on the home market as the DVD is light on special features with just an audio commentary track and a behind-the-scenes featurette. Adds up to a rental at most.

Sarah Silverman - Jesus is Magic - Buy from Amazon
Out of all of the new release on this week's list, this is the one I'm looking forward to the most. It's not the best film on this week's list, nor is it the biggest, but I'm a huge fan of Sarah Silverman. On the other hand, this is not her best work and the film could have used some work to help the flow and trim some of the parts that don't work. The concert starts out well, and several of the music numbers are great, but there are too many jokes and skit that don't work for the film to truly showcase her talent. However, the DVD is still easily worth picking up especially with extras like the audio commentary track, making of featurette and Sarah Silverman's appearance in The Aristocrats. I especially like that last feature since her version of the joke was the only one I found funny and worth hearing again.

Star Trek Fan Collective - Q - Buy from Amazon
Double-dipping at its worst. Moving on.

The Syrian Bride - Buy from Amazon
One of the best reviewed films on this week's list, this film deals with a number of very difficult subjects and tries to do it with a slight comedic touch, a very slight comedic touch. This is a good approach because if there were no light-hearted touches at all the film would quickly become to depressing to watch. Overall the film is nearly flawless and with a DVD release that is a step above most limited releases, (audio commentary, making of featurette, interviews, etc.), this is a must have and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada - Buy from Amazon
Release just at the end of 2005 for an Oscar qualifying run, and then again in February of this year, the film did well in limited release despite never placing well on the per theatre charts. The film's theatrical run was aided by its strong word of mouth, but could never escape its Select Cities approach. The DVD looks to easily top its limited run especially with special features that include an audio commentary track, behind-the-scenes, featurette on its appearance at Cannes, and more. Worth picking up.

Time Tunnel - Season 1 - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
One of Steve Irwin's better projects, it was also his shortest-lived show lasting just the one season. This volume contains the second 15 episodes as well as plenty of special features, mostly in the form of interviews. Worth picking up for fans of the show, but it is too outdated to earn many new recruits.

Underworld - Evolution - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Pre-Order the Blu-Ray
This film earned terrible reviews but still outperformed its predecessor at the box office. The Special Edition DVD doesn't live up to that label and is merely average for a first-run release with no audio commentary track but a series of featurettes instead. That doesn't come close to compensating for the quality of the movie leaving it as a rental, at best. On a side note, the film is one of the first to come out on Blu-Ray, but it won't come out in that format till the 20th.

The Wild Wild West: The Complete First Season - Collector's 40th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
The TV series was turned into a movie not too long ago that was so bad it may have ruined the TV series for anyone who watched it. That's too bad since the show is so good, (although I do have a personal bias towards Steampunk, shows that have high tech gadgets in the past). The 7-disc set has quite a bit of special features, but its more a case of quantity over quality; however, it is still worth picking up for fans of the show.


Filed under: Video Releases, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Constantine, Underworld: Evolution, Firewall, Glory Road, The Missing, Running Scared, Los tres entierros de Melquiades Estrada, Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic, Preaching to the Choir, The Syrian Bride, The Boys of Baraka, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, The Big White