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DVD Releases for August 8, 2006

August 7th, 2006

According Amazon, there are nearly 900 DVDs being released this week, half of which are episodes of Charlie Rose. Even if we ignored those releases, it was still a busy week, especially at the high end with several contenders for DVD Pick of the Week. In the end I could narrow it down to three selection, Brick - Buy from Amazon, CSA: The Confederate States of America - Buy from Amazon and Inside Man - Buy from Amazon. But I couldn't decide between those so all three earn the title: DVD Pick of the Week.

Adam & Steve - Buy from Amazon
Your typical romantic comedy only it's about two men. Romantic comedies are so predictable that they really have to be judged based on others in the genre, and in this case it is better than most. The film is entertaining and with more special features than most limited releases, (audio commentary, making of featurette, outtake, etc.), and it is worth a rental for most, purchasing for the target demographic.

Beautiful People - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Beautiful People was your typical teenage nighttime soap opera. Too typical as it was unable to separate itself from the pack and it was cancelled after just 16 episodes. The DVD release is better than expected given its short run with audio commentary tracks, behind-the-scenes, deleted scenes, outtakes and more. Fans of the show will be very happy, but the show is not good enough to go in blind.

The Brak Show - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
Out of all the Adult Swim shows I've seen, this is the only one I've never gotten into. Compounding that is the total lack of special features. Normally Adult Swim releases are packs, but all reports have this one with nothing. Very strange and hopefully not the start of a new trend.

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Buy from Amazon
A classic directed by Blake Edwards during the peak of his career. This is the same DVD that was released in February, but some sources have it coming out tomorrow.

Brick - Buy from Amazon
A film noir featuring an impressive cast of young actors, especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lukas Haas. Overall it has an excellent mix of new and old; it plays to the conventions of the genre while adding enough fresh to remain intriguing. On the other hand, the stylized lingo might be too much for some as it is difficult to follow along with the slang and with the odd behaviors of the characters, it might make becoming full absorbed with the story difficult. Assuming that's not a problem, the DVD with its ample extras, (audio commentary track, deleted scenes, audition tapes), to make it a a must have and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. However, I am particularly biased towards film noir and you have to take that into consideration when judging my recommendation.

Bring It On: All or Nothing - Buy from Amazon
The latest installment in the Bring It On franchise again takes the direct-to-DVD route. It is barely a sequel and closer to a remake with those who watched the original will recognize a lot of the situations, and even some of the jokes. Still, quality-wise it is closer to the first than it is to the second. The extras are also a step up with featurettes on the making of, the cheer camp, and more plus some outtakes. It adds up to a rental, but that's it. And if you are interested in this movie, check out our Ultimate Super Hero Contest for your chance to win a copy of the original on DVD.

Cavite - Buy from Amazon
A taut thriller about a man whose mother and sister are kidnapped and what he has to do to get them back. The special features are only average with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, and outtakes; however, that's enough for the DVD to be worth a rental, and many that give it a try will end up buying it.

CSA: The Confederate States of America - Buy from Amazon
A faux documentary dealing with an alternate history in which the Confederacy won the Civil War. The movie is a film-inside-a-film and is presented as the first airing of a British documentary on the history of the United States complete with commercials. This is a powerful movie and even the lack of special features it still is a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. One last note, the movie mixes reality and speculation so seamlessly that it's hard to tell where one stops and the other begins. For instance, it mentions how slaves who try to escape are labeled mentally ill having, "Runaway Slave Syndrome." This is actually based in the truth as for many, many years there was there was a condition in the DSM called Drapetomania, which was defined as the irrational urge to escape from slavery. Also, some of the ads are for products that really existed.

Damon Wayans - The Last Stand? - Buy from Amazon
Just a couple of weeks ago, Damon Wayans - Still Standing was released on DVD. That performance was superior to this one and unless you are a diehard Damon Wayans fan, it is best to stick with that one.

Don't Come Knocking - Buy from Amazon
This is a movie that really should have been better than it was. But even with a meandering and somewhat pointless story, the beauty of the film will be enough for some. However, that's not enough to rate past a rental, even after taking into account all the special features.

Frat Boy Collection - Buy from Amazon
Three previously released DVDs in one box for one low price. The three movies are Porky's, the highest grossing Canadian film of all time; Bachelor Party, an early comedy with Tom Hanks; and PCU, an underrated slice of college life. Since there are just re-releases, there is zero reason for upgrading, but it's otherwise a good time to add the films to your collection. On a side note, the Canadian film industry really needs to work on producing and advertising more commercially viable products because having Porky's hold the record is becoming embarrassing.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
At the end of season three, this show was canceled. However, a letter writing campaign helped revive the show and it went on to run an further three seasons. That isn't the only factoid of note for season four as there was a change in the cast with Janet Hubert-Whitten out and Daphne Reid in as Vivian Banks. As for special features, this 4-disc set has none. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Grounded for Life - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
This was a tumultuous season for the show as it was cancelled by Fox only to movie to the WB, and along the way they seemed to have misplaced a kid. (Actually, the lose one of the kids at the end of the season.) The season only lasted 13 episodes combined, but there are audio commentary tracks on 6 of them and with a discounted price it is easily worth picking up for fans of the show.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Aeon Flux, The Italian Job, Ray, U2 - Rattle and Hum
More shovelware for HD-DVD owners this week. I've said it before and I'll say it again, HD-DVD won't take off as a format until the studios start adding more special features to these releases than what's available on the regular DVD. Looking at the releases, Aeon Flux is the worst quality but also the most visual. Ray is the best while The Italian Job was the biggest hit. Finally, there's U2: Rattle and Hum, which is not the kind of film that I would expect to see on HD DVD this early as it not likely to convince many people to spend the several grand upgrading their home theatre systems.

Hellraiser III - Hell on Earth - Buy from Amazon
This franchise outstayed its welcome and this film is arguably the low point of its theatrical run. (In addition to the four theatrical releases, there have been four direct-to-DVD releases, including two last year alone.) The movie's terrible, the DVD is light on special features and overall it is only worth picking up for the most diehard Pinhead fans.

The Hidden Blade - Buy from Amazon
One of the best reviewed recent releases on this week's list, the film was practically invisible during its theatrical release. The DVD should perform better for three reasons, one, there are a lot of fans for these types of movies, most of which don't live near the few theatres that showed the movie. Two, the special features are a cut above most limited release / foreign language film. And third, it would be really hard for it to perform worse. It is certainly worth a rental and many who do give it a shot will end up buying it.

Inside Man - Buy from Amazon
Easily Spike Lee's biggest box office hit neating Malcolm X's final box office by more than $40 million. (On a side note, both films starred Denzel Washington and the fact that the two men have worked together four times is the basis of one of the special features.) Not only was it his most successful at the box office, it was one of his most critically acclaimed as well. As for the special features, they are strong, but not overwhelming with an audio commentary track, and there are also two short featurettes and some deleted scenes. Much like last week's V for Vendetta's 2-Disc Special Edition, I was expecting more. Unlike that release, they are not spreading one disc's worth of material over two and charging extra. Add in the fact that is it a heist movie and it's a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Jayne Mansfield Collection - Buy from Amazon
Throughout her career Jayne Mansfield was compared to Marilyn Monroe. This box set contain three of her films, including her two best, (although her most notorious movie, Promises! Promises! is not included). The special features are what you would expect given the age of the movies with audio commentary on two of them, the A&E Biography special and archival Fox Movietone News footage.

Laguna Beach - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
A Reality TV show that follows a group of people who have never done anything of note. Skip it.

Larry the Cable Guy - Health Inspector - Buy from Amazon
One of the worst reviewed movies of the year, no wait, one of the worst movies of all time. It barely made the top 10 when it opened and quickly disappeared after that. Add in a short featurette as its only special feature and this DVD should be ignored.

The Last Mogul: Life and Times of Lew Wasserman - Buy from Amazon
An engrossig but frustratingly shallow look at the one-time most powerful man in Hollywood. I say shallow because it tries to cover too much ground in its 110 minute running time. I was hoping the DVD would add more depth with deleted and extended scenes / interviews, but there are no extras on the disc. Still, it's worth a rental for those interested in the history of Hollywood.

The Lost City - Buy from Amazon
Critics were not kind to Andy Garcia's directorial debut calling it bloated and overdone. Even so, the film performed very well in limited release earning nearly $2.5 million during its run, (and it is still managing a per theatre average above $1000 showing it has staying power). With this success you would expect the DVD to have more special features than most limited release and the studio does deliver with an audio commentary track, making of featurette, and deleted scenes. However, that still only adds up to a rental.

Manderlay - Buy from Amazon
The second installment of the USA - Land of Opportunities trilogy by director Lars Von Trier uses the same surrealistic set design as the first. However, the reviews were not as kind and its final box office was a mere two percent of Dogville's. There is something interesting here to watch, but it only needs a rental as the replay value is limited.

Popular Mechanics for Kids - Buy from Amazon: Lightning and Other Forces of Nature and Firefighters and Other Life Saving Heroes
Two more Best of releases from the popular kids show. However, while the show is great, the DVD releases are Best of, and we all know how much I hate that, and the price on a per-minute basis is too high.

Prison Break - Season One - Buy from Amazon
I could never get into this movie as the premise was just too... stupid. One brother is framed for a murder and sent to death row. Then his brother, who just happened to design the prison his brother was sent to, commits a crime and is sent to the same prison. Here's my question, what moron working in the correctional department would send the designer of the prison to that prison. Was there no other option? Is it the only prison in the country? This was a big enough barrier for me to enjoy the show, but I will admit that the show it otherwise well done and the 6-disc set is just packed with extras. If you are a fan of the show it is a must have and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. I'm just not a fan of the show.

Sealab 2021 - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon
The final 13 episodes of this demented TV series hit the home market tomorrow, and it is clear that had the series had jumped the shark. That is not to say it is bad, it's just not the best season out there. Add in special features that are not up to the high level of the previous seasons and I'm disappointed. I'll still be picking up the 2-disc set tomorrow, but it is not a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. Can also be purchased with the previous volumes as part of a package deal.

Sorry, Haters - Buy from Amazon
The film was, in a word, muddled. There are some good performances here, including the always reliable Sandra Oh, but overall there's not enough here to warrant a rental.

Tromeo and Juliet - 10th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
A Shakespeare adaptation by the folks over at Troma. That alone makes it worth renting. Written by James Gunn, who wrote and directed the criminally ignored Slither, this is a great bad movie. Add in special features like two audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and more and it is a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. It's a little too out there to take that honor, but it is a contender.

Ultimate Avengers 2 - Buy from Amazon
The sequel to the direct-to-DVD release, Ultimate Avengers. The film is a moderate improvement on the original, both in terms of the movie and in the extras, and it selling extremely well for a Direct-to-DVD release. If you are interested in the DVD, don't forget to check out our Ultimate Super Hero Contest, which started today.

The Wire - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The this a great show and the 5-disc set has plenty of special features, (audio commentary tracks on 5 of the 12 episodes as well as two interview featurettes). However, it is just too much money given the short running time. When TV on DVD first started sell a full season set for $100 was the norm, but now selling 12 1-hour episodes for that much is completely unacceptable. Even half that amount would be pricey on a per minute basis. However, I'm sure there are a huge number of fans that are more than willing to put down that kind of cash, but I think the studio would be better off charging less and attracting people who perhaps have never seen the show because they don't have cable. Can also be purchased with the first two seasons as part of a package deal for about as much as half a month's rent.


Filed under: Video Releases, The Italian Job, Inside Man, Ray, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, The Lost City, Brick, CSA: The Confederate States of America, Don't Come Knocking, Manderlay, Cavite, Kakushi-ken: oni no tsume, The Last Mogul: Life and Times of Lew Wasserman, Sorry, Haters, Aeon Flux, Adam & Steve