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DVD Releases for January 11, 2005

January 10th, 2005

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. Here is a list of wide releases, limited releases and a few from the growing TV on DVD section, including the winners of the DVD Pick of the Week, Monk - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon and Leon - The Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon

ABC Afterschool Specials – Buy from Amazon: Volume 3 and Volume 4
The only time I hear Afterschool Specials mentioned is when they are compared to bad movies, ‘The film has a preachy quality reminiscent of an Afterschool special.’ but they must have some fans or the studio wouldn’t be releases two more volumes, each containing 4 such specials.

The Fifth Element - The Ultimate Edition - Buy from Amazon
Most people either love or hate this film with very few people falling in-between; this is true of many films where style becomes the most important aspect of the film. Overall the reviews were above average, but the Cream of the Crop reviewers were not so kind. The Ultimate edition has more than 2 hours of bonus features with featurettes on a wide variety of topics like production design, special effects, fashion. Also worth noting, another Luc Besson film Leon is also be released tomorrow. See below for details.

Gilligan's Island - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This show must have a lot of fans because while the show only lasted 3 years is has been in syndication for decades since then. For a show that nearly 30 years old, the almost complete lack of special features is understandable as there’s only the video intro and an audio commentary on a single episode.

Hercules The Legendary Journeys - Season 5 - Buy from Amazon
The last full season of this syndicated show continues the great releases fans of the series have come to expect. Overall the show is an improvement from the previous season as it began on a more serious note, but they don’t forget their tongue in cheek roots, especially with the episode, “For Those of You Just Joining Us...”, a fake behind the scenes look at the show. Special features continue to be great with three audio commentaries, cast and crew interviews, featurettes on the creature effects and more.

Hunter - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The quickest way to describe this show is to compare it to the Dirty Harry franchise. Personally, I prefer the tough cop spoof, Sledge Hammer! - Buy from Amazon, over this series. Special features are light with just some new interviews.

The Land Before Time XI - The Invasion of the Tinysauruses - Buy from Amazon
Yet another direct-to-video sequel for this series, which began more than a decade and a half ago, and they are still selling well. Bonus features include several sing-a-long songs from this show and the previous releases.

Leon - The Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
An amazing film and even though I already own the SuperBit Edition I’ll be picking this one up on Tuesday. This was the first American film by director Luc Besson and also the first film for Natalie Portman. New special features on the 2-disc set include a tenth anniversary retrospective and cast profiles on Jean Reno and Natalie Portman. Also worth noting, another Luc Besson film The Fifth Element is also be released tomorrow. See above for details.

The Letter - Buy from Amazon
There are so many older movies that come out every week that it takes something special for such a film to stand out. And this film has it in a recently discovered alternate ending. That alone should get film buffs interested. The film stars the legendary Bette Davis and has one the best opening sequences in movie history, (and the rest of the movie is top notch as well.) Additional extras include not one but two radio drama adaptations of the same source novel.

MI-5 - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
MI-5, or Spooks as it is known in the U.K., is a spy drama centered on Britain’s intelligence agency, MI-5. If you’ve only seen the show on American TV, you are missing a lot since the shows are cut from 60 minutes to 45 minutes for commercials, which should be enough to get most fans interested in picking up the 5-disc set. Sealing the deal are the special features, audio commentary for every episode, interviews, behind the scenes featurettes and plenty more.

Monk - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Tony Shalhoub returns as Adrian Monk, the ‘Defective Detective’ who battles criminals and his own psychological problems including OCD and a plethora of phobias. Which is quite a coincidence since I have a phobia of plethoras … moving on. The second season improves on the writing of the first season and has better guest shots, but is no longer being filmed in Canada, so those things even out. The theme song also changed from the first season, which is referenced in one of the later episodes. Special features are pretty light with just a few featurettes, but the show itself is more than enough to pick up the 4-disc set.

Paparazzi - Buy from Amazon
One of several September movies that opened with awful reviews and flopped at the box office. And now the DVD release is unlikely to turn its fortunes around as the special features are not strong enough to overcome the weakness in the movie itself.

Random Harvest - Buy from Amazon
This film earned seven Oscar nominations, but went home empty-handed. The story features Ronald Colman as a man who loses his memory, twice. A classic film that was very popular with the GIs during WWII and the DVD release has great special features, for a film that’s more than 60 years old.

Silver City - Buy from Amazon
A political film from director, John Sayles that many people were looking forward to, but something went wrong. Special features are ok for a limited release, but nothing special enough to push the DVD past the rental level, if that.

Soul Showcase - Buy from Amazon: Bustin’ Loose, That Man Bolt, Trick Baby and Willie Dynamite
Four selections from 70s soul cinema hit the home market this week. Bustin’ Loose stars Richard Pryor as an ex-con given one last chance in this road trip movie. That Man Bolt is a Kung Fu movie staring Fred Williams as a money runner moving $1 million from Hong Kong to Mexico, however, he discovers the money is counterfeit and he’s been set up. Trick Baby is about to con-artists in Philadelphia, Mel Stewart as the older black gentleman and Kiel Martin as his young white protégée. Their relationship goes behind partners and is more father / son, but when they get over their head can their overcome their differences and pull together as a team? And lastly there’s Willie Dynamite, which stars Roscoe Orman as the titular character, a pimp whose big ambitions put him in trouble with corrupt cops and opposing pimps threaten his whole operation. A social worker and woman from his past tries to help him get back on track and not go out in a blaze of glory. The four DVDs are a good mix and feature some excellent music, but sadly the DVDs have no features, but that not surprising for films that are up to 3 decades old.

Touch of Pink - Buy from Amazon
A gay south-Asian Canadian living in London with his imaginary friend, the ghost of Cary Grant. A very interesting premise, but the film tries to do too much and that really hurt the film with the critics. Special features were average for limited releases with audio commentary and a featurette.

The Village - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
It’s hard to say exactly what hurt this film’s chances the most, but high expectations has to be near the top of the list. And it wasn’t just high expectations, but specific expectations. Anyone who is familiar with M. Night Shyamalan work was expecting a big Surprise Twist at the end of the film, and because of this when the final twist came it just wasn’t surprising. This and some logical problems left many moviegoers disappointed. Special features on the disc are also merely average with a documentary featurettes, Bryce Howard’s diary and the every present M. Night Shyamalan home movie. In the end the film is not strong enough for most people to add it to their collection, but it is worth a rental. Also being released tomorrow is the documentary, The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan for the really intense fan of his.

Without a Paddle - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
This film opened in late August to horrible reviews, but managed to catch the moviegoers attention finishing in the top three for four weeks in a row. Unfortunately, the special features are only average with audio commentary, video commentary, making of featurettes and deleted scenes.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Village, Without a Paddle, Paparazzi, Silver City, Touch of Pink