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DVD Releases for July 25, 2006

July 24th, 2006

On the surface this is a big week for DVDs, but there's a lot of chaff and not much wheat. However, there are several releases that rate a purchase or higher including this week's DVD Pick of the Week, Animaniacs - Volume 1 and Pinky and the Brain - Volume 1, both of which are perfect for kids and adults alike. One last note, both Blackballed: The Bobby Duke Story - Buy from Amazon and Deck Dogz will be featured next week in our box office prediction contest.

The 2005 Academy Award Nominated Shorts - Buy from Amazon
8 of 2005's Oscar nominated shorts collected in one set including both the live action and animated winners, Six Shooter and The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation. Short films don't get enough exposure, and this is a real shame because as an art form, they fill an important niche. Two of the nominated animated shorts are not included on the set, (9 and One Man Band), but there are two bonus shorts taking their place, (Imago and The Fan and the Flower). The latter one is done by Bill Plympton, a personal favorite of mine, so while I'd rather have all 10 nominated shorts, I'm happy with the choice made.

The ACLU Freedom Files - Buy from Amazon
An interesting look at the ACLU and some of the people they have helped. This organization, which should be supported by all sides and practically every political persuasion outside fascists, has become a boogeyman of sorts. This is because they are willing to protect the rights of everyone, including those who are very unpopular. This is important because if groups like the KKK have their right to be heard, then so will you. On the other hand, if you start chipping away at someone else's liberties, yours could be next.

Animaniacs - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
Animaniacs is one of those rare cartoons that can be enjoyed equally by both kids and adults alike. It's silly and slapstick enough for the kids, but works on a higher level for adults. For instance, there are a ton of pop-culture references that would go over the heads of almost all kids, (Goodfellas, Apocalypse Now). That's not to say everything on the show was a winner, Chicken Boo was repetitive and quite frankly wasn't that funny the first time you saw it. Also, for a cartoon with such a cult following, there's little in the way of special features with just a 30-minute long look at the show through interviews with the cast and crew. It's an excellent feature, but I would have like more. Even so, it is easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Ask the Dust - Buy from Amazon
Good star power for a limited release, but that didn't help it escape the art house circuit. Part of the problem was the reviews, which didn't live up to expectations. Add in extras that are average for a limited release, (audio commentary track and making of featurette), and you have a rental, but that's it.

Awesome: I F%!#in' Shot That - Buy from Amazon
Your typical concert film, except it was shot by the fans. Beastie Boys handed out 50 camera's at their concert at the Madison Square Garden and this film is mostly edited from the that footage. On the one hand, this is a cool concept. On the other hand, the execution was somewhat flawed. Even so, diehard fans of the band will likely snap this disc up as soon as it hits shelves, but the more casual fans will best be served sticking to their CDs.

The Benchwarmers - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
There have been a lot or really bad movies to come out this year, even so, this film is so bad it stands out. However, as bad as the film was, it was still a hit earlier in the year easily cover its production budget. Extras on the disc are better than average with two audio commentaries, and a handful of deleted scenes, and a few short featurettes. But even that barely adds up to a rental, and it's only a rental if you are a fan of one of the three leads. If you have any amount of animosity toward them, avoid this movie at all costs.

Blackballed: The Bobby Duke Story - Buy from Amazon
A mockumentary in the same style as those by Christopher Guest, only not as good. That's not to say it's a bad movie, but it is certainly uneven and as a lot of critics have commented, it has an, 'overlong skit' feel to it. However, enough of the film works for it to be worth checking out, and the amount of special features, (two audio commentary tracks, outtakes, deleted scenes, video diary), makes the DVD worth picking up. One final note, the DVD is non-anamorphic widescreen. I'm not sure why this was done, but given Shout!'s usual standards, I assume it was a simple oversight.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Kung Fu Hustle, The Last Waltz, Legends of the Fall, Resident Evil - Apocalypse, Species, Stealth, The Terminator
Big batch of Blu-Ray release this week, but like the HD-DVD releases below, it's hard to justify the cost of upgrading. Kung Fu Hustle is a great movie and very visual, but the Blu-Ray isn't worth the upgrade. Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Stealth, and Species are all quite bad. On the other hand, The Terminator is an excellent movie, but fans probably already have purchased four or five different versions on DVD and buying one more could send them over the edge.

Bogie & Bacall - The Signature Collection - Buy from Amazon
Four films starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. All four are classics and even with no special features this set is still be worth picking up. On a side note, as of yesterday, Amazon had this DVD coming out in August... on 1946. I'm going to assume this is incorrect. The official site has it coming out tomorrow, and I figure that's just a little more reliable.

The Boondocks - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
I mentioned this DVD release about a month ago when I thought it was coming out, but I had the wrong release date. It was a contender for DVD Pick of the week then, and it is a contender for DVD Pick of the week now.

Chappelle's Show - The Lost Episodes - Uncensored - Buy from Amazon
If you need any proof that Dave Chappelle is never going back to Comedy Central, this is it. He said if they released these shows, he would never return to the network. But after the first two season sold so well, I can see why the network too the risk. However, this DVD is not a good showcase for the season that never was, and without Dave Chappelle's input, there are no special features. The reason he left is simple, people in Hollywood are nuts. When the show first started the studio left him alone because the amount of money was so small. Even if he flopped, they wouldn't be out much. But when he got his $50 million contract, they decided to be a little more... hands on, in order to protect their investment. In other words, after Dave Chappelle was a proven commodity, they decide to interfere and drive him away. Pure insanity. What they should have done is said, "Here's your $50 million, keep doing whatever it is was you were doing before. We'll be over here counting our profits."

Cello - Buy from Amazon
Horror film from South Korea about a cellist who survives a car crash only to be haunted by vengeful spirits. Many may be feeling a sense of overload with regards to these types of films, but this one is a cut above most. It's worth checking out and with more special features than most imported disc have, it is worth picking up.

Deck Dogz - Buy from Amazon
The latest film featuring the sport of skateboarding. While Dogtown and Z-Boys is still the best, this film does have enough going for it to be worth checking out. And, the DVD has more than enough special features for a direct-to-DVD release.

The Enemy Within - Buy from Amazon
A better than expected TV movie about a planned military coup in America. Good story, good cast, but the lack of special features limits it to a rental.

Final Destination 3 - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The biggest hit in the franchise, Final Destination 3 earned better than expected reviews before going on to make more than $100 million worldwide. To end the trilogy, the studio went all out with this 2-disc set which includes the usual features, (audio commentary, alternate scenes, 10-part making of documentary, etc.). But the key feature is the Choose Their Fate feature; a innovated way to watch the movie where the view gets to decide the fate of certain characters at certain times. The movie itself is only average, but the 2-disc set it top notch and easily worth picking up for fans of the franchise. It is also available with the earlier movies as part of a Thrill-Ogy.

Halloween - 25 Years of Terror - Buy from Amazon
This is not a 25th anniversary edition of Halloween, but a documentary about that film and its impact on the world of horror. Also coming out tomorrow are two Divimax special editions for Halloween 4 and 5. Both these latter film are a case of really bad movies, but amazing DVDs filled with special features. However, no amount of special features can compensate for the films themselves and should be avoided at all costs.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Sahara, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and Sleepy Hollow
Another quartet of HD-DVD releases this week, and again, I can't really recommend any of them. Tomb Raider and Sahara are both bad movies and while Sleepy Hollow and Sky Captain are substantially better, there's not enough new on any of the discs to recommend upgrading to HD. Until studios end shovelware and start producing more discs that take full advantage of the format, it will not complete take off. Also, a lot of people are waiting till either HD-DVD or Blu-Ray wins the format war before they sink several hundred dollars into a new player.

Hudson Hawk - 15th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
One of the worst movies ever made and it's getting a special edition? You have got to be kidding me.

JAG - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
I'm a little surprised it's taken this long for the show to come out on DVD, especially since its spin-off, NCIS, has already been released. Quite frankly, I think the NCIS was a better show and would recommend that DVD over this one. That's not to say this is bad, but the show is not as good and the special features are kind of weak with just an audio commentary track on the pilot and three featurettes with a total running time of barely more than 20 minutes. One last note, this was the only season the show aired on NBC, who cancelled the show. It was then picked up by CBS and ran for nine more years, which explains why NBC is having such troubles in the ratings.

Ladybugs - Buy from Amazon
This is just a terrible movie. Rodney Dangerfield was an amazing comic and some of his earlier roles are considered comic classics. However, after Back to School, his choice of roles went downhill, and fast. Ladybugs isn't the worst movie he starred in, but there's almost nothing here to redeem the film and even if the DVD wasn't featureless I wouldn't even recommend renting it. Skip it.

La Femme Nikita - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
La Femme Nikita was a French film about a woman convicted of killing a man, but instead of going to prison she is trained as a government assassin. The film was remade once in movie form as Point of No Return and once as this TV series. The series is not as good as the movie was, but it's awfully close. For special features, the 6-disc set has two audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and outtakes, which is a good amount considering it was a show from Canada and not one with a huge budget. Fans of the show probably already have this set pre-ordered, but for those who have never seen it, if you like Alias or 24, then it is worth picking up. Can also be picking up with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Laguna Beach - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Reality TV that follows a group of rich, self absorbed, shallow, utterly annoying people. Skip it.

La Mujer de Mi Hermano - Buy from Amazon
The easiest way to describe this movie is to compare it to the average Mexican soap opera, which is not a compliment. (On a side note, that is not to say American soap operas are good, or for that matter, any soap operas are good. It is just that Mexican soap operas are culturally recognizable.) Add in no special features and it's not even worth a rental.

Miami Vice - Seasons One and Two - Buy from Amazon
To take advantage of the movie's opening on Friday, the first two season of the series are being re-released on DVD tomorrow. This is simply a re-release and is not worth the upgrade.

Pinky and the Brain - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
A spin-off of Animaniacs and it is just as brilliant as that show. Some have complained that Pink and the Brain is too repetitive, and while there is a definite formula to the show, there is an amazing amount of variety that can be explored in the simple World Domination framework. Like Animaniacs there is only one special feature, but it is an excellent look at the show. I would have welcomed more special features, including some audio commentary tracks, but even so, it is still easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

The Prisoner - Complete Series Megaset - 40th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the best TV series ever made, and the new 40th Anniversary edition is worth the rather hefty price, (although to be fair, it is a reasonable price considering it is an import). Is it worth the upgrade? Hard to say, the only new special feature is the limited edition booklet and while it is something every fan will want, but I don't think it's worth the $100 price tag. On the other hand, if you haven't picked up the series yet, now is the perfect time to do so.

Punky Brewster - Season Three - Buy from Amazon
I think it is fair to call this series a guilty pleasure for some, but even most fans will admit the show was in decline by season 3. This is also the first season the show was in syndication and there were a couple of cast changes as well. As for bonus features, there are a whole whack of episodes from the animated series, It's Punky Brewster, but none interviews like the earlier releases. At this point, if you've purchased the first two series, there's little reason to stop now.

Rawhide - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Rawhide ran from 1959 to 1965 and was the show that made Clint Eastwood a star. It also spawned one of the most memorable theme songs in TV history. This 7-disc set contains all 23 episodes from the first season, but nothing else. You'd think if the studio tried they could have gotten Clint Eastwood to do an interview or maybe even an audio commentary track. Given the age of the show, the lack of special features is not that surprising, but it is still disappointing.

Scorpius Gigantus - Buy from Amazon
It has long been joked that people end up in marketing because they lack the skills to find a real job. While this is unfair to the profession, there are times that this seems all too accurate. For instance, plenty of times films are advertised as from the same writer / director / producer as a previous film, and this makes sense. Disney has been known to advertise their latest Inspiration coach movie with, 'from the same studio that brought you...' which is ridiculous. This film, on the other hand, is being advertised on the box as, "In the tradition of Starship Troopers." In the tradition of...? That's a new low for the profession. But in the end, probably not low enough to help this film. Skip it.

Shirley Temple Collection - Volume 4 - Buy from Amazon
Three more movies starring the world's most famous child star: Captain January, Just Around the Corner, Susannah of the Mounties. None of the films are her best work, nor are they her worst. I'd put them solidly in the middle third. There are no special features, although each movie is presented in both the original black and white and the heretical colorized version.

Somersault - Buy from Amazon
A critical darling in its native Australia, the film did almost no business here. The DVD looks to perform much better even if the special features are only average for a limited release, (no audio commentary, but there is a making of featurette, interview, and deleted scenes). Worth checking out.

Stupidity - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about stupidity. What does the word mean, are we getting dumber as a society, do we in fact reward stupidity. The film is interesting, but uneven while the DVD contains more than enough special features to be worth checking out. However, for most people a rental will suffice.

Tales from the Crypt - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Not the most serious horror anthology series ever made, but it is one of the most fun. Filled with black humor and puns a plenty, this season includes not only some of the best shows, but amazing special guests including Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Christopher Reeve, and others. There was also an impressive collection of guest directors, including Richard Donner, John Frankenheimer, and more. The special features are light with just one audio commentary track, (on the episode, What's Coooking), and a montage on the various guest shots, (hosted by the Crpytkeeper), the 3-disc set is still easily worth picking up. Also available with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Three's Company - Season 7 - Buy from Amazon
The penultimate season of this series hits the home market tomorrow, along with the penultimate seasons of La Femme Nikita and Punky Brewster. What a strange coincidence. Moving on... by this time the series had long since jumped the shark, but let's face it, if you own the previous six seasons, there's little stopping you from picking up this 4-disc set.

White Coats - Buy from Amazon
Also known as Intern Academy, this Canadian film stars Dave Thomas and a surprising amount of recognizable actors for a Canadian film. The film itself is hit and miss, arguably more of the latter than the former, but it is still worth checking out. As for the DVD, it has an adequate number of special features, (behind-the-scenes, outtakes, auditions), but not enough to lift it past a solid rental.

Will Rogers Collection - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
The last four films made by Will Rogers before his tragic death. Starting with his four last films may seem like a strange place to start, and it is. Each movie has a commentary track, and other special features include restoration comparisons, the biography episode on Will Rogers, and other featurettes. Easily worth picking up for Will Rogers' fans.


Filed under: Video Releases, Sahara, The Benchwarmers, Final Destination 3, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Stealth, Kung Fu Hustle, La mujer de mi hermano, Ask the Dust, Awesome: I F%!#in' Shot That, Somersault, Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story