Follow us on

DVD Releases for September 5, 2006

September 5th, 2006

It's another busy week with a ton of top-notch releases. Not so much from the first run releases, as United 93 - Collector's Edition is the only wide release on the list while Kinky Boots - Buy from Amazon is the best of the limited releases. Nope, to find the best of the best you have to look at the Special Editions and TV on DVD categories. For the former we have three contenders, Brazil - Criterion Collection - 3-Disc Box Set, Gojira / Godzilla - King of the Monsters - 2-Disc Set , and The Seven Samurai - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon. While from the latter we have Lost - The Complete Second Season - Extended Experience and Supernatural - The Complete First Season. Trying to limit those five picks to one was impossible, so I'm going with Brazil - Criterion Collection - 3-Disc Box Set and Lost - The Complete Second Season - Extended Experience, although I'm fairly convinced all seven of the above DVDs will find a way into my DVD collection eventually.

The Abbott & Costello Show - 100th Anniversary Collection Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
This is obviously not the 100th anniversary of the show, but the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lou Costello. The show is excellent as Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were one of the greatest comedy duos of all time and while the shows are 50 years old, the material still holds up. Also, there are more special features on this 5-disc set than one would expect give the age of the show (interviews, short film, and home movies), making it easily worth picking up for fans of the show and a good introduction to the duo for those who have never seen their work.

Ace Ventura Deluxe Double Feature - Buy from Amazon
Both movies in the Ace Ventura franchise released in one box set. The set includes Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in widescreen, which is a first for the home market, and that might be enough to make it worth the upgrade for fans, especially since the the price is right for three DVDs (including one containing select episodes from the animated series.

Alf - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon
A high concept comedy that lasted longer than most critics would have guessed, but it eventually ran out of steam and ended after this season. It is really unfortunate for fans since it ended on a cliffhanger that was never truly resolved. (Unless you count the TV movie, Project: ALF, which most fans don't.) If you have been collecting the series up to this point, there's no reason to stop now, but the total lack of special features is still disappointing.

All the King's Men - Buy from Amazon
What's the most important step in releasing a remake? Re-releasing the original on a special edition DVD. Or in this case, a not-so-Special Edition (the only extra is an ad... I mean preview for the upcoming film). My penchant for sarcasm and cynicism aside, this is a great movie and deserves to be seen by more people. I just wish the DVD was worth adding to my collection.

Almost Strangers - Buy from Amazon
A BBC mini-series about a family reunion orchestrated by a patriarch of an upper class British family who confronts his mortality. It's like a pre-funeral reunion and carries the same feel as many of those movies do, at least the dramatic ones. As an import, the film is reasonably priced, especially given its 4-hour total running time, and the special features are also better than average for the type with an audio commentary track and interviews.

The Animation Show - Box Set - Buy from Amazon
The first two volumes of The Animation Show, which is a program designed to bring animated shorts to theatres as was common in the days before TV. This 2-disc collection contains over 3 hours of animated shorts including some that are technically brilliant and serious, others that are just silly and entertaining. While volume 1 is arguably better than volume 2, both are worth repeated viewing and that makes this set easily worth picking up.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Firewall, Full Metal Jacket, and Leathal Weapon
A trio of Blu-Ray releases this week, not counting Blazing Saddles Blu-Ray, which is mentioned below. Full Metal Jacket is the best film, Leathal Weapon was the biggest hit, while Firewall is the most recent.

Brazil - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon: 3-Disc Box Set or Single-Disc Edition
This is essentially a re-release of the box set from 1999. However, the film is now in anamorphic widescreen and that alone makes it worth the upgrade. The Single-Disc Edition is there for those who own the previous release and don't want to shell out another $50.00 for the one upgrade. On the other hand, if you don't have this masterpiece, the 3-Disc Box Set is a must have and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Curse of the Hellmouth - Buy from Amazon
It's a double-dip. Skip it and stick with the full season sets, if you already have them, or the Box Set if you are a new collector.

Commander in Chief - The Inaugural Edition - Part 2 - Buy from Amazon
The show only lasted one season, but they divided the DVD release into two volumes. It's that kind of decision making that probably helped lead to the show's demise. It wasn't a terrible show, but there were enough little flaws that aided in its weak ratings and eventual cancellation. As for this 2-disc set, fans will certainly be pleased with the number of special features (one audio commentary track, deleted scenes, outtakes, interview), but that probably won't be enough to attract new viewers.

Dead Man's Shoes - Buy from Amazon
The film stars Paddy Considine as a returning soldier who is out to get the man who killed his younger brother. A bloody revenge flick that some critics complained was just a Teenage Slasher while others felt there was more to the movie that its simple premise initially promised. The film disappeared from theatres almost as fast as it arrived and that is a shame since it deserved better. The DVD should sell much better especially with extras like audio commentary, deleted scenes (including an alternate ending), and more.

District B13 - Buy from Amazon
Stylized action flick from France that utilized the extreme sport, Parkour as well as plenty of fight scenes and other stunts. The film earned amazing reviews, but crashed and burned during its theatrical release. (Personally, I blame the Select Cities release strategy.) It should become a bigger hit on the home market, but with so few people aware of the film, it might take a while for word of mouth to build. Helping its cause are the extras, which include a nearly hour-long long making of featurette, deleted scenes, and extended fight scene. Easily worth picking up for hardcore fans of these movies and worth checking out for most others.

Dr. Who - Buy from Amazon: Inferno and The Web Planet
Two more entries from the Dr. Who saga are coming out on DVD. Inferno is arguably the best story for its era while many consider The Web Planet one of the worst with the first Dr. Who. Strangely, that latter story was one of the highest rated. Like the rest of the releases from this series, there are a ton of special features making them easily worth picking up for hardcore collectors. The more casual fan should only consider Inferno.

Family - The Complete First and Second Seasons - Buy from Amazon
This show, which was a midseason replacement, was groundbreaking for its day. The key phrase there: for its day. Groundbreaking, like shocking, lessens as every day passes and what was once gripping drama as been reduced to commonplace. Without the sense of taboo, the topics dealt with in this show, and the manner they are dealt with and simply not as engaging. Add in zero special features and this 6-disc set is not worth purchasing.

The Flintstones - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
The final season of this record-breaking show finally comes out on DVD. For those who have been collecting the series, nothing I say will stop you from picking up this 4-disc set. Nor should it. Granted, the special features are light, with just two features (one of the Great Gazoo and the other of pop culture influences), and while I'm sure an audio commentary track or two would have really helped its value, it is still worth picking up.

Fraggle Rock - Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
When people think of Jim Henson, almost everyone thinks of the Muppets. And while it is hard to argue that they are his most famous creations, he also helped to create several other TV series and movies. One of his most beloved creations were the Fraggles. They were, along with Gorgs, the Doozers, Sprocket and Doc, the stars of Fraggle rock. While the show only lasted 3 three seasons, there are still plenty of fans that will be happy with this release, especially since it has more extras than most kids shows with interviews, retrospective, overview and more. Worth picking up for fans of Jim Henson in generally and of the show in particular.

Gojira / Godzilla - King of the Monsters - Buy from Amazon
This 2-disc set contains the original Japanese Gojira plus the American re-imaging that featured new footage with Raymond Burr. The original is darker, moodier, and better. It has also never been released on DVD in North America and that along makes it a must-have for fans of the Franchise. That's really all I have to say, at least for now. Look for a full review to come shortly.

Guys and Balls - Buy from Amazon
A gay themed soccer film with ample cliches from both genres. Even so, there is a charm to the film that should please its target audience.

Hu$tle - Complete Season One - Buy from Amazon
I've always been a fan of con-man movies as well as British TV, so I was really looking forward to this show. However, while it is entertaining, it was not as strong as I was hoping for. Call it the curse of high expectations. Add in a 2-disc set that is a little bare bones (just the making of featurette), and you have a DVD that can only earn a marginal recommendation.

Jackass: The Movie - Unrated Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
What's the most important step in releasing a sequel? Re-releasing the original on a special edition DVD, of course. The movie's crap and the DVD is not substantively different from the original edition. It does come with a free ticket to the upcoming movie, however. Still, I'm going to have to say skip it.

Jim Henson Fantasy Film Collection - Buy from Amazon
Three films, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and MirrorMask, in one box set. The price isn't a huge drop from the previous releases, and the only new addition is a booklet. If you don't own any of the movies, then this is a good deal. If you own one or two, it's probably best just to pick up the other(s) separately.

Kinky Boots - Buy from Amazon
This film opened to mixed reviews and was never able to escape its limited release roots. It should perform substantially better on the home market, especially with extras that are a step above most limited releases (audio commentary track, deleted scenes, and two featurettes, including one on the real life Kinky Boots factory). Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week, but my pro-British bias might be getting the best of me. One last note, Chiwetel Ejiofor is quickly becoming on of my favorite actors and if he is in a project my interest immediately doubles.

Lost - The Complete Second Season - Extended Experience - Buy from Amazon
Okay, I have a confession to make. I haven't watched the first season of this show yet. The problem is it would take about 17 hours to watch it all in a row, and I know that if I start I'd likely do that, and I just have too much on my plate to dedicate that much time to one show. Other shows I can watch an episode or two at a time, but this one needs a bigger commitment. I do know several people who watch the show religiously, and they've all commented that this series doesn't seem quite as strong as the first season, and more than once thought that maybe not even the writers know where the show is going. (Perhaps the creators didn't think the show would last and planned to end the show after just 24 episodes.) However, this will not prevent me from picking up season two tomorrow as it is still one of the best shows on TV and the 7-disc set is one of the best produced, filled with tons of special features like audio commentary tracks, making of featurettes, interviews and much, much more.

Mel Brooks Collection - Buy from Amazon: High Anxiety, History of the World, Men in Tights, Silent Movie, To Be or Not to Be, Twelve Chairs, and Young Frankenstein
Seven of the eight films from Mel Brooks' career released on individual DVDs for almost the same price as you would for all 8 films in the Box Set. Obviously not worth the upgrade, but those who just want the best (High Anxiety, Young Frankenstein, etc.), can pick and choose. On a side note, the eighth film, Blazing Saddles is also being released tomorrow, but on Blu-Ray.

National Lampoon's Dorm Daze 2 - Buy from Amazon: Unrated or R-Rated
I'm shocked this film was made as the original earned zero positive reviews and then barely made a peep at the box office. This movie is taking the direct-to-DVD route, and boy does it deserve it. On the other hand, there are more special features than one would expect for a film such as this (audio commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, featurette on Vida Guerra). Speaking of Vida Guerra, she will be at the Virgin Megastore in Hollywood California signing copies of this movie. Check out the official site for more details.

Our Brand Is Crisis - Buy from Amazon
American pollsters take their particular brand of politics to help an unpopular Bolivian president win re-election, which works about as well as one would imagine. Without a deep understanding of cultural divide, they were just lost. An excellent film that is worth checking out for political junkies.

Oz - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a show that you don't watch as much as you endure. It's brilliant, but so brutal and depressing at times it is hard to watch. Also, many consider season 6 the weakest of the show's run, but that shouldn't stop fans from adding it to their collection. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Population 436 - Buy from Amazon
A census taker arrives at a small town investigating why the population has remained 436 for the past 100 years. But when he decides to stay he becomes the town's 437th resident, which is something his new neighbors don't like. This isn't a terrible movie, but you can see the surprise twist coming miles away... In fact, I bet most people reading have already figured it out. That wouldn't be so bad if the journey getting there was better, but it seems the filmmakers were convinced nobody would figure out it ahead of time so they spend too much time trying to play up a mystery that simply isn't there. Fans of the genre might want to check it out, but a rental is the absolute most it needs.

Pretty Poison - Buy from Amazon
Anthony Perkins was a great actor, but ironically starring in one of the greatest movies of all time killed his career. People couldn't see past his role as Norman Bates. Pretty Poison is an underrated, practically unknown entry in his career, but it one that is worth picking up.

Red Dwarf - The Complete Collection - Buy from Amazon
Every season in the Red Dwarf run in one box for about 30% less than had you bought them individually. These things could seriously hurt the TV on DVD market as people are becoming less and less willing to shell out to buy each season and waiting to see if a full series set will be released.

The Seven Samurai - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
Arguably Akira Kurosawa's best film, although I would entertain arguments that Rashomon is a more challenging and rewarding film. For that matter, even his worst movies are head and shoulders above 90% of the sludge that is filtered out of the industry today and served to moviegoers. As for the quality of the DVD, it's a Criterion Collection, and you know what that means. The 3-disc set is loaded with extras including 2 audio commentary tracks, an installment of "Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create," which concentrates on this movie, obviously, a second documentary on the film, and a feature-length interview / look at the director himself. Yes, it is pricey. But it is worth it, even if you have the previous edition.

Shock Treatment - 25th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
A sequel of sorts to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. There's very little continuity between the two movies and this one is not as good as the original. In fact, some hardcore fans have even disavowed the films existence, but that seems a little extreme. This special edition is the first time the film has been released on DVD but the extras are a little weak given its label with an audio commentary track and two retrospectives (one on the movie and the other on the music). It is also available with The Rocky Horror Picture Show in a box set, although odds are if you are interested in this movie, you already have its predecessor on DVD.

Shooting the Past - Buy from Amazon
This is the second British mini-series on this week's list, and both have amazing performances by Timothy Spall. Like Almost Strangers, this is an amazing production at a very reasonable price and has more special features than imports normally do (audio commentary, interviews, and two short films). Easily worth picking up.

Silk Stalkings - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
Cheese. Not even high quality cheese. It was the kind of cheese that relied on T&A to sell, but fortunately for the studio T&A sells and sells well. The show lasted 6 seasons, but original leads left the show after the fifth season, and most fans agree that it really went downhill because of that.

Summer Storm - Buy from Amazon
The second gay themed sports story on this week's list. This time the sport is rowing, which is even less popular than soccer. Add in the foreign language aspect and it is easy to see why it struggled at the box office. Given its mixed reviews and no real special features, its value is limited. It is still worth checking out for its target audience, but even then a rental will suffice.

Supernatural - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Several science-fiction / fantasy shows have come out last season. Surface / Threshold / Invasion were way too similar to allow all to survive, and in the end, none did. Supernatural and The Night Stalker were also too similar and audience splitting was destined to hurt ratings for both shows. Or it least that could have happened if The Night Stalker wasn't cancelled so fast that it may have broken the laws of causality. Out of all five shows, Supernatural was the best of them. It started out as a, 'Freak of the Week' show, with each episode nicely wrapped up at the end of the hour. However, about halfway through, once the audience was hooked, they started introducing an overall mythology and that's what created a more satisfying experience. Special features are abundant enough to be a selling point: two audio commentary tracks on two episodes, deleted scenes, outtakes, making of featurette, and a behind-the-scenes featurette. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Twitches - Betwitched Edition - Buy from Amazon
Twitches, which is short for Teen Witches, was a moderate hit on family channel when it first aired last year, but these films are proving to be good sellers on the home market, even if the extras are not all that special.

United 93 - Buy from Amazon: Single Disc Edition - Collector's Edition
The first theatrically released film to deal with the terrorist attack of 9/11 and it had the Herculean task of trying to create a dramatically compelling story without offending people. While I'm sure there were plenty who thought the film was too soon, an opinion that I can certainly sympathize with, there were many more who praised the film than condemned it. The Single Disc Edition has just the basics (audio commentary and look at the families of the victims), while the Collector's Edition has this and a look at the witnesses to 9/11. Quite frankly, I was expecting more. That is not to say either version is poorly done, it just didn't live up to my expectations.

Unknown While Male - Buy from Amazon
A film about a man who finds himself on a subway travelling to an unknown destination, only to realize he not only has no recollection of where he is, how he got there, or where he is going, but he has no recollection of who he is. If this was a film it would stretch suspension of disbelief to the breaking point, but this is a documentary and the case was very much real. The film earned strong reviews, although there were some complaints about the use of recreations in the film, especially since they were unlabeled as such. However, that's a minor complaint given the film's fascinating subject and when you add in the number of featurettes on the DVD (but sadly no audio commentary track), you have a final product that is easily worth picking up.


Filed under: Video Releases, Jackass: The Movie, Firewall, United 93, Kinky Boots, Banlieue 13, Our Brand is Crisis, Unknown White Male, Sommersturm, Männer wie wir, Dead Man's Shoes