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DVD Releases for August 15, 2006

August 14th, 2006

It is another insanely busy week with 1,250 DVDs coming out, at least according to Amazon. However, like last week, the majority of those are episodes of Charlie Rose. (I really wish the studio released them as full season sets and not flood the market with individual titles that most people will skip over without a second thought.) Three releases immediately jump out as the best of the best, Apocalypse Now - The Complete Dossier, Masters of Horror - Dario Argento - Jenifer, and The Simpsons - The Complete Eighth Season - Collectable Maggie Head Edition. I could have spent hours trying to determine which of those was the best, but instead I will just award all three the title of DVD Pick of the Week.

3rd Rock From the Sun - Season 5 - Buy from Amazon
The penultimate season of this sci-fi comedy series hits the home market. Despite NBC's best efforts to kill the show through gratuitous scheduling changes, 3rd Rock lasted 6 seasons, earned 8 Emmys and garnered a total of 31 nominations. The show is still great, but the studio release is a 4-disc set devoid of special features. Very strange.

Apocalypse Now - The Complete Dossier - Buy from Amazon
This is the third time this movie has been released on DVD, but the first real, 'Special Edition' release. On this 2-disc edition there are both the original cut and 2001 Redux version. Special features include an audio commentary track (it's on both versions with the Redux version having additional commentary seamlessly added at the appropriate spots), as well as deleted scenes, intros, Marlon Brando's complete reading of T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men," a look at the post-production, including the creation of the Dolby 5.1 sound, making of featurettes, etc., etc., etc. All we need now is Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse to finally be released on DVD (legal problems have been preventing that for years), and every fan of this amazing film will be satisfied. ... maybe. In all honestly, there are a couple of problems. Firstly, the little special features that were on the previous discs were not ported over and it would have been nice to see more features on the actors as opposed to the technical side. Perhaps that will be fixed for the 30th anniversary edition, which will be on Blu-Ray or HD-DVD or whatever format replaces them. Regardless, this is a must-have DVD and easily a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Into the Blue, Memento, and Robocop
Three Blu-Ray releases this week, not counting R.V.'s simultaneous DVD and Blu-Ray release mentioned below. Of the three, Into the Blue is the most visual, and not just for Jessica Alba in a bikini. Memento is the best while Robocop has the best special effects and is a good movie in its own way.

Clark Gable Collection - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
There are two main perils when it comes to picking up DVD Box Sets: Double-dips and Filler. And quite frankly, I would consider two of these films to be filler. On the other hand, none of these movies are double-dips and for Clark Gable completists, this is a great set to pick up at a very reasonable price.

Don't Tell - Buy from Amazon
This film deals with a very difficult subject, but does it in such a melodramatic and emotionally hollow way that it loses all effectiveness.

L'Enfant - Buy from Amazon
In nearly every way -- acting, writing, directing -- this is a great movie. However, as great as it is, it is a difficult movie to watch, mainly because the main character of Bruno is just so unsympathetic and unredeemable. Those that do have the fortitude to sit through it will be rewarded, but I can image that many will not be eager to repeat the experience.

The Flying Nun - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Nostalgia is the only explanation for why this 3-disc set is selling so well. It is a TV series about a nun, who can fly, not through divine power, but because her hat is so big and she is so light. Compared to this, TV series about talking cars seem so realistic. Add in zero special features and I can't even recommend renting it. On the other hand, if you grew up watching the show, you might get enough of a nostalgia kick to want to add it to your collection.

Full House - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
How this series lasted nine seasons is beyond me. It was everything negative about family sitcoms: it was schmaltzy, it was corny, its was intellectually and emotionally unchallenging, etc. And with no special features, this 4-disc set is not worth renting. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

The Hard Corps - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD release from one-time famous person, Jean-Claude Van Damme. In all fairness, the film is a hell of a lot better than most direct-to-DVD releases providing enough action to take your mind of real life for most of its 110 minute running time, but there's almost no replay value and exactly zero special features. Give it a rental, but have Bloodsport on hand for the second part of the double-feature.

Hardcastle and McCormick - Complete Second Season - Buy from
Like season 1, this season is only being released in Canada at the moment. Not sure why, but it probably has something to do with licensing rights. This is a fun, action-packed show that doesn't take itself too seriously and fans should be happy it's on DVD, even if the 5-disc set it devoid of special features.

Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
I hate this show. I really do. But there are a huge number of fans out there that keep buying these season sets, despite the flimsy plots and the total lack of special features. And who am I to judge them? Still, it is my job to judge the actual DVDs, and I say skip it.

Hong Kong Phooey - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
This Hanna-Barbera cartoon lasted only one season, which is collected here. In addition to all 31 episodes, there are audio commentary tracks on 3 of them, retrospective featurette, and storyboards. This places it well ahead of most TV on DVD releases for animated shows and makes the set well worth picking up.

Hoot - Buy from Amazon
This film broke records when it was released earlier in the year, none of them good: lowest opening for a film opening on 3,000 or more theatres, lowest box office for a film opening on 3,000 or more theatres, and largest drop in theatre count. Granted, this is a bad movie, but not nearly that bad. Add in a pretty good package of special features (audio commentary track and six featurettes), and it is worth a rental for its target audience, but that's it.

I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer - Buy from Amazon
The latest, and probably last, installment of the I Know What You Did Last Summer franchise takes the direct-to-DVD route, and it shows. The DVD does have more special features than many direct-to-DVD releases, but even so I can't even recommend a rental. Can also be purchased with the previous movies as part of a box set, but sticking with the first two movies is the better deal.

James Stewart - The Signature Collection - Buy from Amazon
The latest Signature Collection features six films from Jimmy Stewart's long and illustrious career. Three of them, The FBI Story, The Spirit of St. Louis, and The Stratton Story have Stewart portraying real life individuals. The other three are all Westerns with The Naked Spur earning the best reviews in the set. All four of the above movies are available separately with the last two, The Cheyenne Social Club & Firecreek, available in a double-set. However, like it usually is, the Box Set is the better deal at less than half the price.

The Jeffersons - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
This is an excellent show that lasted 11 seasons before being unceremoniously cancelled. You would think for a show that lasted that long, the studio could come up with some special features, but that is not the case.

The L.A. Riot Spectacular - Buy from Amazon
Based on the L.A. Riots that occurred after the Rodney King cops were acquitted. A lot of people at the time thought that the trail showed that the judicial system was hopeless racist, however, history has shown that it is medically impossible to get a conviction in Los Angeles. The movie brags that it will offend everyone that watches, but its worse crime is the near total lack of humor. Skip it.

Magilla Gorilla - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
The second Hanna-Barbera cartoon series to come out tomorrow, and quite frankly, Hong Kong Phooey is the better of the two series. That said, I'm sure there are a lot of people who would love to see this cartoon again and there are just enough extras to lift the 4-disc set past the rental level and up to a purchase.

Masters of Horror - Buy from Amazon: Dario Argento - Jenifer and McNaughton - Haeckel's Tale
First of all, Amazon has Dario Argento - Jenifer coming out tomorrow while Haeckel's Tale is a November release. However, the two pack is also coming out tomorrow, at least according to them. Anchor bay doesn't have a release date for the latter two, so I assume they are not coming out tomorrow regardless what Amazon says. Back to the actual movie, Jenifer stars, and was written by Steven Weber, who is best known for his starring role in Wings. He plays detective Frank Spivey, who rescues the deformed Jennifer from a violent killer. But after he takes the orphan into his home, he discovers she isn't what she seems to be. This is one of the better releases in the Masters of Horror series and with special features that are equally impressive (audio commentary, several interviews, making of featurettes, and more), it is easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week. As for the other release, wait until there's confirmation on Anchor Bay's site before ordering it.

R.V. - Buy from Amazon: DVD and Blu-Ray
Not the worst movie to come out this year, but it was close. It's what we in the business call a, "Paycheck Movie." When an actor is clearly slumming it just for an easy paycheck. Normally when this happens, you can really tell as the person in question just phones in their performance, and this is certainly the case here. The special features are not bad with a tele-strator commentary, outtake, and a handful of featurettes, but there's nothing here that lift the DVD to even a rental. One last note, as I mentioned in April's preview, I found exactly one line in the trailer to be funny, "Oh my god, it's your husband." Well, they changed that line for the DVD ads. I'm not sure why, but it reduces the funny bits in the ads to zero.

Remington Steele - Season 4 and 5 - Buy from Amazon
My reaction to this release is equal parts happiness, sadness, and anger. On the one hand, I'm glad that the show is now fully out on DVD, but I'm a little sad that's all there is. Also, it reminds me how Pierce Brosnan was screwed over by the producers. He was scheduled to take over the Bond franchise back in the late 80s after Remington Steele was cancelled. Then it was brought back so he had to back out, only to have the series canceled again after it was too late to take the role. To make matters worse, season five was clearly the worst of the bunch. For that matter, season four suffered from a serious drop-off in quality as well. However, if you've purchased the previous seasons, there's little reason to stop now.

Rome - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The first season of this series cost a mind-blowing $100 million to make, so it's no surprise that the DVD release is on the pricey side. However, it's worth every penny, both the $100 million the producers paid and the $70 the consumer will. Not only is the show great (it is also very intense and too violent for many people), but the 6-disc set contains a mountain of extras. They include audio commentary tracks on 8 of the 12 episodes, text commentaries on all 12, and five featurettes with a total running time of more than 90 minutes. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Ronald Reagan - The Signature Collection - Buy from Amazon
I'm not sure why Ronald Reagan is getting a Signature Collection, he wasn't that good of an actor and most of his movies were poor, at best. Kings Row and The Hasty Heart are good movies, Knute Rockne All-American is probably the most famous but solely for the, "Win one for the Gipper" speech. But overall it is a pretty weak collection compared to other Signature Collections. On the other hand, maybe it will sell well enough that the Spitting Image Ronald Reagan special will be released on DVD. It almost certainly will not, but one can always hope.

Safe Men - Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
I say this as an irrationally large fan of Paul Giamatti: this is a bad movie, worse than the reviews would indicate. When I first saw the DVD I thought, "Why is this getting a Collector's Edition release?" Then I realized it wasn't. The only special features are an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, and a short film. That hardly counts as a special feature and isn't enough to lift the film to the rental level.

Scary Movie 4 - Unrated Edition - Buy from Amazon
Another bad movie on this week's list. It's not the worst spoof to come out this year (that would be Date Movie), but too many of the jokes fail to be worth recommending. The special features are merely average and the Unrated label is more marketing hype than anything else.

The Simpsons - The Complete Eighth Season - Buy from Amazon: Regular Edition or Collectable Maggie Head
If you have been collecting this series from the beginning, you know what to expect in terms of special features: audio commentary on every episode, featurettes, etc. The real question is, is this the year The Simpsons jumped the shark? I don't think so as there are several classic episodes starting with the Treehouse of Terror VII, ("I created Lutherans!"), and includes the boxing episode, the X-Files parody, that one with the insanity pepper, the return of Sideshow Bob and his brother, the one with Hank Scorpio, that other one with Burn's long lost son, etc. Of the 25 episodes, I would consider more than half to be classics and the other hand are almost all worthy of repeat viewing. This is another set that is easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Surface - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
This series debuted last fall and lasted just 15 episodes before getting the axe. This was one of three shows that were just too similar for all of them to survive. Surface, Invasion and ... I can't remember the other one. Threshold. That's it. Had there not been such direct competition, either of the three shows could have lasted, but as it is, they were all cancelled by the time the season ended. The 4-disc set doesn't have much in the way of special features, but as a short run show that is to be expected and fans will be happy just to have all 15 episodes on DVD.

Survivor Palau - The Complete Season - Buy from Amazon
I think we all know what my opinion of Reality TV is. Skip it.

The Weird Al Show - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
The creative genius of Weird Al crammed into a Saturday morning kids show. The fit is not quite right, and when you add in a network that had no idea how to promote it, you end up with a very short-lived show. However, looking back, it was entertaining and surreal enough to be worth checking out, and with audio commentaries on all 13 episodes, it is easily worth picking up. One last note, we will be having an in-depth review on this release shortly. In the meantime, I seriously suggest picking it up.


Filed under: Video Releases, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, World Trade Center, Step Up, Little Miss Sunshine, Accepted, Snakes on a Plane, Pulse, Zoom, Material Girls