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DVD Releases for August 22, 2006

August 22nd, 2006

It was a more reasonable week for DVD releases with around 350 newly available disks, and not an episode of Charlie Rose in sight. There were plenty of contenders for DVD Pick of the week including the bizarre and underrated Silent Hill - Buy from Amazon, the classic Double Indemnity - Special Edition, and from the TV on DVD section, the fantastic Veronica Mars - The Complete Second Season. In the end, however, I went with another TV on DVD release, House, M.D. - Season Two, but all four releases will find their way into my DVD Collection.

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure - Buy from Amazon
The sequel to The Poseidon Adventure was quite terrible in nearly every way. Add in a single, 22-minute long featurette and there's no reason to pick up this DVD unless you want to complete your Poseidon collection tomorrow.

The Bill Cosby Show - Season One - Buy from Amazon
I mentioned this release a while ago when I thought it was being released.

A Bit of Fry and Laurie - Buy from Amazon: Series 1 and Series 2
A sketch comedy show starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. A cynical man might suggest the only reason it is coming out tomorrow is to take advantage of this week's release of House, M.D. Season 2. Quite frankly, I don't care why it's coming out, as long as it is. These two men have a chemistry together that compliments their comedic sensibilities perfectly, and even with a relatively bare bones release (Series 1 features their Christmas Special while Series 2 has an hour long documentary), these two DVDs are must-haves for fans of British comedy. Can also be purchased together as part of a package deal, but at no savings.

Blue Thunder - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Blue Thunder the movie was a great action movie. Blue Thunder the TV series, was crap. Worse than Airwolf, and I hated that show. To compound the problem, there are no special features on the 3-disc set, which should be skipped entirely.

Conviction - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
The latest Law & Order spin-off didn't use Law & Order in its title, and it didn't last. I'm not sure if those two events were connected. It was a good show while it lasted, but there's simply too many courtroom dramas / police procedural shows on right now, and the audience is being split up way too much. If the 3-disc set was packed with extras, it might have gotten a second life on DVD, but that is not the case here.

Double Indemnity - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
One of the first Film Noir films ever made and it has everything such a film should have... lust, murder, infidelity, greed, double-crossing, etc. This two disc set does give justice to such a wonder film with two audio commentary tracks and a documentary on Film Noir in general and Double Indemnity's place in that genre. On the second disc is the 1970s TV remake, which is definitely an inferior version and only has limited appeal. Any serious fan of Film Noir will want to add this DVD to their collection. In fact, any serious fan of the genre probably already has this one on pre-order. It's a must-have and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Film Geek - Buy from Amazon
The film stars Melik Malkasian as Scotty Pelk, a video store clerk with an encyclopedic knowledge of movies and an highly irritating personality. In fact, his personality may be too irritating for some people as it was the biggest complaint by the critics, which otherwise gave the film good reviews. Overall the film is worth checking out, and with extras that include making of featurette, outtakes, a short film, and more, many who did give it a chance will end up buying it.

HD-DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: The Bone Collector, Caddyshack, Good Night, and Good Luck, The Searchers, Spy Game
Of this week's list of HD-DVD releases, Good Night and Good Luck is clearly the best, but it hardly needs the HD experience to be enjoyed.

House, M.D. - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
I'm addicted to TV on DVD. I have more than 150 such releases in my DVD collection, comprising dozens of different series, a good chunk of which I never watched on TV. What I'm trying to say is, TV on DVD has replaced TV on TV for me. Even so, I watched House, M.D. every week, even if it was a repeat - it's just that good. The six-disc Season 2 release has more than enough special features to make it worth picking up including two audio commentary tracks, outtakes, a couple of alternate takes, and an 18-minute long Q&A with the cast and creators of the show. One last note, the season finale for this show was easily the best I saw this year. The second best was for Ghost Whisperer.

Invasion - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
One of three similarly themed shows to come out last year, and to no one's surprise, all three were cancelled. It's not that were all bad, just the opposite, but with three shows going after the same audience, none of them were able to reach their potential. Invasion was arguably the best of the three and a great DVD could have been a thank you to the fans. However, while there are more special features than many short-lived DVD releases (featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes), it's still not as much as fans would have liked.

Just My Luck - Buy from Amazon
One of the worst reviewed movies of the year and the biggest bomb of Lindsay Lohan's career. The DVD is coming out tomorrow with only the barest of extras including three deleted / extended scenes, a loot at the costume design, and another featurette on the band, McFly, which is apparently a real band and not something made up for this movie. You learn something new every day.

Kicking & Screaming - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
This is not the recent Will Ferrell film, but the 1995 film directed by Noah Baumbach, who also directed last year's Squid and the Whale. The dialogue is well written and for the most part interesting, but there's a feeling that's we've all seen this before. The extras are also not entirely up to Criterion's standards with no audio commentary track, but there are a few interviews, deleted scenes and even a short film.

On Native Soil - Buy from Amazon
A documentary look at 9/11 including the stories of some of the survivors and the families of some of the victims. However, the heart of the film deals with the massive intelligence failure that led up to the attack. 9/11 Commission's official report showed quite definitively that there was more than enough intelligence gathered prior to the attack to stop it, if only departments would have shared information, if only they was better leadership from the top, if only the threat was taken more seriously. It's powerful stuff. The DVD includes only a couple of extras, including additional interviews and the 9/11 Commission's official report in its entirety. Worth checking out.

Phat Girlz - Buy from Amazon
The film was saddled with weak reviews, almost no promotion, and a tiny 1,060 opening theatre count. So there's really no surprise it failed to make much of an impact at the box office. However, it also cost only $3 million to make and should be able to show a profit during its initial push into the home market, especially with a DVD that has plenty of special features. Included is the ever-present audio commentary track, extended / deleted scenes, outtakes, making of featurette, video diary, and more.

Poseidon - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc Edition or 2-Disc Special Edition
It's not often that a remake will make less money at the box office than the original, especially when they are made more than 30 years apart. Poseidon cost more than $200 million to get into theatres and made a mere $60 million domestically and $120 million internationally. The only hope for the film is huge home market numbers, so it makes little sense that the studio is releasing a 2-disc special edition that seems bare bones compared to most non-special editions for first-run releases. The first disc has one featurette while the second has two more. The movie itself is not as bad as its box office would indicate, but with this shoddy DVD treatment, it doesn't deserve to earn a dollar more. Skip it.

The Robinsons - Complete Series One - Buy from Amazon
Martin Freeman (best known for his work in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and The Office), stars as Ed Robinson, the only unsuccessful member of his clan. The show is funny, in a decidedly British way, but in a more low-key way. The DVD is better than most imports with audio commentary tracks on all 6 episodes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and outtakes. Worth checking out, but of limited replay value.

Silent Hill - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-Ray
One of the best video game adaptations ever, but that's not saying much. Even though the film is very visual, it works better on the home market because you can pause, rewind, and re-watch any section that you find confusing. And unless you've played the video game series obsessively, that will be a lot of times. At times this can be a frustrating experience for viewers but many horror aficionados will be sucked into the strange and bizarre world and will be willing to take the extra effort. On the down side, the DVD is not as strong as I would have hoped; it does have a long and in-depth making of featur(ette) that clocks in at nearly an hour. However, I was really looking forward to listening to an audio commentary track. One last note, the Blu-Ray doesn't even have the making-of documentary. It's completely devoid of special features. What the hell is wrong with these people? Are they trying to kill the format?

Sketches of Frank Gehry - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about architect Frank Gehry, who has designed some of the most impressive, and unusual buildings in the world. Strong reviews helped, but the movie never found the audience it deserves. And while it should do better on the home market, there's not enough special features here to push it past the rental level.

State of the Union - Buy from Amazon
Spencer Tracy plays Grant Matthews, an idealistic politician urged to run for president, but forced to compromise by the political machine. The film also stars Katharine Hepburn and Angela Lansbury, and was directed by Frank Capra. And while it is funny, it feels like it should be better than it is.

This Island Earth - Buy from Amazon
Most famous for being the movie used for Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie, and is one of the better films targeted by that film. However, it is slow moving and doesn't make a whole lot of sense. (If the aliens can fly to Earth and back, it doesn't make sense that our scientists would be more advanced than their own.) Add in no special features and the disc is only worth a rental. On the other hand, maybe if this DVD sells well enough, they will re-release Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie on a Special Edition DVD.

Threshold - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
The second of three similarly themed shows to come out last year, the others being Invasion, mentioned above, and Surface, released last week. While Invasion is arguably the better show, this 3-disc set is the better release with audio commentary track on the pilot, 4-part making of featurette, deleted scenes, and more. Fans of the show will certainly want to pick it up, newcomers might want to give it a chance, as long as they are willing to invest time in a show that they know will end without resolution.

Transporter Box Set - Buy from Amazon
Both movies in the Transporter franchise re-released in one box set. Since this is a re-release, there is absolutely no reason to upgrade, but the price is right for two movies.

Veronica Mars - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
I have not seen a single episode of season two, at least not a full episode. I watched the first few episodes of Season 1 before I decided to pick it up on DVD. However, season 2 started before season 1 came out on DVD, so I decided to check out the season opener, which spoiled the ending of season 1. I changed the channel and didn't watch a single minute of the show from then on. (On a side note, I wouldn't have minded so much if the DVD had come out before season 2 started, then it would have been my own fault for not watching it ahead of time.) According to nearly everyone I've talked to about the show, Season 2 is not quite as good as its predecessor as it's less personal and doesn't focus as much on Kristen Bell, which is a nearly unforgivable sin. However, it is still one of the best shows on TV. The special features are a step up (two featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes), but that's still a little light, and I really want cast & crew commentaries for season 3. Overall the 6-disc set is easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD pick of the week. Can also be purchased with the first season as part of a package deal.

When Do We Eat? - Buy from Amazon
This film, which tells the story of a Jewish family during Seder, is lightweight affair that has too little crossover appeal outside its target demographic. On the other hand, it is charming enough to be worth checking out, and with extras that include audio commentary track, making of featurette, deleted scenes, audition tapes, and more, it is worth picking up.

The Wizard - Buy from Amazon
This is basically a 90-minute ad for Nintendo with 10 minutes of story added in. Not the worst movie on this week's list, but it is close. Add in zero special features, and this DVD isn't even worth renting.

The Worst Week of My Life - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The third BritCom on this week's list, it tells the story of two people about to get married and the week of horror they have to deal with before the big day. It's a great show and is cheaper than most imports, but there's not much in the way of special features. One last note, the show is being remade for American TV, and it's probably going to suck so bad that it will make people retroactively hate this show.


Filed under: Video Releases