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DVD Releases for January 18, 2005

January 17th, 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. This week the list may seem abridged. However, the truth is it is just a really slow week. So slow that the winner of the DVD Pick of the Week is Monk - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon, which was actually released last week.

The Aladdin II and III Collection - Buy from Amazon
While the original Aladdin was a classic, the two direct-to-video sequels were definitely not. In fact, with a runtime of just 67 minutes, Return of Jafar barely qualifies as a feature length film. Unfortunately, the DVD releases do not compensate for the poor reviews with special features. That adds up to a collection that is better passed over.

Catwoman - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The film was brutalized by critics when it was released and went on to become one of the most expensive bombs of the summer. The DVD release was better than expected with two featurettes, (one on the cast and crew and the other on the many looks of Catwoman throughout the years), deleted scenes, and as it is being called, "an exciting new alternate ending." However, considering how poorly the film was received, they should have included an alternative film instead. Can also be purchased with Batman Returns as part of a package deal.

Cellular - Buy from Amazon
At just 54% positive, this was one of the better reviewed September releases, but even critics who gave the film a positive review were quick to point out it's a B movie at heart. The DVD has the usual features, audio commentary, deleted and alternate scenes, and a trio of featurettes. However, this is not enough to push the film past the rental level.

The Cookout - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen and Pan & Scan
A poor effort, even when compared to the typical September release, both in terms of its critical reception and its final box office. Add in a DVD release that is wholely unremarkable and this is a film best left on the shelf.

Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
On the plus side, the third season of this series was a major success, earning 10 Emmy nominations. On the down side, that's equivalent to one nomination per episode. The price is a little high, given the short run-time, at least when compared to most TV on DVD sets. If the studio would have fleshed it out with more special features then it would have been different, but with just some interviews and favorite scenes, it is not enough. Can also be purchased with the first two seasons as part of a package deal.

Farscape - The Peacekeeper Wars - Buy from Amazon
A four hour thank you to the dedicated fans of the TV series. The mini-series is a great way to end the series and a "must have" for long time fans, most of whom are hoping the sales are strong enough that it won't be where the story ends. Helping the cause is the special features, which include a making of featurette, several galleries and more. Also being released tomorrow is Farscape - Season 1 - Collection 2 - Starburst Edition.

The Forgotten - Buy from Amazon
An effective thriller right up until the surprise twist, which ruined the movie for many people. However, that didn't stop the film from becoming the highest grossing film released this past September, and the only film to beat predictions by a significant margin. The DVD release is just average however, with the commentary track, a couple of featurettes, deleted scenes and an alternate ending.

Friday Night Lights - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
This film opened with better reviews than many had anticipated, but it couldn't translate that into a bigger than expected box office. The inspirational coach story, while clichéd in many aspects, is compelling enough gain the attention of even those who are more apathetic towards sports in general and football in particular. The DVD release includes a commentary track, deleted scenes, behind the scenes featurette, and more.

I Have Found It - Buy from Amazon
The Bollywood version of Sense and Sensibility. Stars Aishwarya Rai, who is arguably the biggest star in Bollywood and should find much mainstream success once she crosses over into Hollywood films.

Kung Fu - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
For a man of peace, Kwai Chang Caine, played by David Carradine, got into a lot of fights. The second of three seasons comes out on DVD on this 4-disc set. I could never get into this series because Bruce Lee was passed over for the lead role because the studio felt audiences wouldn't accept an Asian lead on TV. That ruined the experience for me. Like the first season, this set is a little light on special features, with audio commentary tracks on just two episodes and a Now and Zen featurette with conversations with David Carradine and others, including some of his Kill Bill co-stars. Can also be purchased with the first season as part of a package deal.

Maya - Buy from Amazon
A difficult but powerful film about the coming of age of a 12 year old girl in remote India. The film starts out innocently enough showing Maya's day to day life as a child and then her and her parents' preparation for her "Prayer Ceremony," which she is told will usher her into adulthood. But the film takes a horrible, and quite graphic, turn at the end. The emotional affect of the film is made more guttural by the fact that it is based on real life and although the practice is banned in India, it still takes place in remote regions.

The Merchant Ivory Collection - Buy from Amazon: The Ballad of the Sad Café, The Deceivers and The Perfect Murder
Three movies from the Merchant Ivory Productions are being released tomorrow on practically featureless DVDs. A lone commentary track on the first disc is the only extra to be found.

Rosenstrasse - Buy from Amazon
Tells the story of a group of woman who stood up to the Nazi government and protested when their Jewish husbands were taken from them and imprisoned in a factory. Considering the subject matter the film should be very powerful, but it fails to live up to its potential. To make matters worse, the DVD is devoid of special features.

Touchez Pas au Grisbi - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
A French masterpiece involving two aging criminals who have finally made the score of their lifetimes and are looking forward to their retirement when one of them lets word of their loot slip out. A very influential film that nears perfection, and to top things off, the DVD release is a Criterion Collection as well. However, the fact that the film is black and white, mono sound and in French will limit its appeal with a wider audience. Another film being released on DVD tomorrow is, Casque d'Or, which is also a French gangster film from the 50s getting the Criterion touch.

Who’s Your Daddy - Buy from Amazon: R-Rated or Unrated
A direct to video, teenage sex comedy in the vein of the American Pie series, only much, much worse.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Forgotten, Friday Night Lights, Catwoman, Cellular, The Cookout, Rosenstrasse, Touchez Pas au Grisbi