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DVD Releases for February 1, 2005

January 31st, 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 this week's winner Penn & Teller: Bullshit! - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon and Sealab 2021 - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon and Wonderfalls - The Complete Season - Buy from Amazon and Degrassi Junior High - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon. Wow - busy week.

Babe Family Double Feature - Buy from Amazon
The first film was a critical darling and a worldwide hit. The sequel was far from bad, but flopped at the box office nonetheless. This 2-disc set contains both films, which had already been released as part of a 2-Disc set.

Balto III - Wings of Change - Buy from Amazon
The second direct-to-DVD sequel to a film that was only mediocre to begin with.

The Blue Lagoon and Return to the Blue Lagoon - Buy from Amazon
One of several multi-movies package deals on this week's list. This one is possibly the worst of the bunch but there was a real race for that prize. The two movies are stunningly bad and the only redeeming aspect was the fact that the movie was spoofed in Top Secret!.

The Bodyguard - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
A not-so-special special edition. Combine an average film with just an audio commentary, interviews and music video and you get a DVD that doesn't deserve the Special Edition label.

The Brak Show - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
Out of all the Adult Swim cartoons I've seen, and I've seen most of them, this is the one I like the least. And like Sealab 2021 - Season 2, the 2-Disc set is expensive for its running time. Unlike that release, however, the amount of special features are not as impressive.

The Broadway Melody of 1929 - Buy from Amazon
Skip it. It's coming out next week as part of a massive package deal, which is a much better value.

Carolina - Buy from Amazon
After sitting on the studio's shelves for more than 3 years, this film is finally going the direct to DVD route. Not exactly the plan the producers were going for, but at least it's getting released.

Chariots of Fire - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Skip it. It's coming out next week as part of a massive package deal, which is a much better value.

Charmed - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Considering this show's target demographic and the fact that it's a drama, one would have expected it to be released on DVD quite a few years ago. However, the show has been stuck in legal limbo for over a year with Paramount only able to release the first season starting this year. Unfortunately, like so many TV on DVD releases from Paramount studios, this one is without special features.

Criterion Collection - Triple Shot - Buy from Amazon: La Commare Secca, Night and the City and Thieves' Highway
Three more classic films get the Criterion Touch.

  • La Commare Secca - quickest way to describe this movie is to compare it to Rashomon. Flashbacks are used to tell contradictory accounts surrounding the death of a prostitute washed ashore in Italy.
  • Night and the City - A film noir classic set in the London Underground with Richard Widmark as Harry Fabian, a small-time con whose vast ambition get him over his head. Remade in 1992 with Robert De Niro.
  • And lastly, Thieves' Highway - The last film Jules Dassin directed in America before being blacklisted. It deals with a ex-G.I. trucker trying to get revenge on the gangster / market operator who crippled his father

Degrassi Junior High - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
Fans of Kevin Smith will have at least heard of this show, which has run in one incarnation or another for more than 10 years. The 3-disc set contains all 13 episodes from the first season plus three featurettes, pop-up trivia and more. And speaking of Kevin Smith, he has a 3 episode guest appearance on Degrassi: The Next Generation starting tonight, on Canadian TV at least. Check your local listings. Overall this is an excellent show and a mandatory purchase for all Canadians.

Dr. Frasier Winslow Crane Double Shot - Buy from Amazon: Cheers - the Complete Fourth Season and Fraiser - the Complete Fourth Season
Two more seasons of these long, long running shows featuring Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane hit the home market. Unfortunately while the shows are great, the DVDs are completely devoid of special features. Both series can be purchased as part of package deals, Cheers - The First Four Complete Seasons and Frasier - Five Season Pack - The Complete Seasons 1-4 and the Final Season.

Dude Where's the Party - Buy from Amazon
For a movie with such a stupid name, this film is surprisingly good. The only star most people will recognize is Kal Penn from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. In this film he plays a recent Indian immigrant. Some of the humor is based on inside jokes in the Indian culture and may be lost on other members of the audience.

The Grudge - Buy from Amazon
The American remake wasn't as good as the original, but it was more accessible. On the other hand, the film did become one of the surprise hits of the fall, taking in more than $100 million on a $15 million production budget. Special features are on par with most first run releases with an audio commentary track, 5 part making of featurette and more.

Henry Rollins - Shock and Awe - Buy from Amazon
Henry Rollins is a spoken work artist, singer, actor, writer and more. This DVD is from the Shock and Awe tour, which deals not only with politics, but more personal stories as well. If you haven't seen his work, it is quite and experience, but it not for everyone.

I Love Lucy - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
For a show that's more than 50 years old, the special features on this 5-disc set are very strong. Better, in fact, that most of the newer shows on this week's list. Fans of the franchise will also be impressed by the lower prices in comparison to the earlier releases.

IMAX - Triple Shot - Buy from Amazon: China - The Panda Adventure, The Hidden Dimension and Mark Twain's America in 3-D
Three movies originally released on the IMAX screens hit the home market. While it is nice to be able to see these at home there are two major problems. Firstly, runtimes for IMAX films tend to be very short, so the price is high for the amount of entertainment here. Secondly, part of the appeal of these movies is the size of the screen, and unless you have a really, really large screen TV that will be lost on the home market.

The Karate Kid - Buy from Amazon
All four movies from the Karate Kid franchise on four, mostly featureless DVDs. The series started off amazing, but quickly fell into mediocrity before ending with a thud. About the only real selling-point is the price: the set is quite cheap for four movies. But since there's really only one movie in the set worth paying for, even that isn't enough.

The Life of Emile Zola - Buy from Amazon
Skip it. It's coming out next week as part of a massive package deal, which is a much better value.

Look Who's Talking - Buy from Amazon
All three movies from the Look Who's Talking franchise on featureless DVDs. Perfect for people looking for proof of the Law of Declining Returns. The first film wasn't that good and the last two were completely awful.

Mr. 3000 - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Bernie Mac's first starring role wasn't the success the studio was hoping for. This was a bit of a surprise since the reviews weren't bad and Bernie Mac has considerable star power. The DVD release has a few special features to put it on par with most first run releases, but not enough to make it stand out.

Mulan II - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD sequel to the 1998 Disney hit. The quality is about what you would expect from a direct to DVD sequel and so are the special features. In other words, this DVD barely reaches the rental level and that only for parents of younger kids.

Oz - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
There are many ways to describe this show, 'Tame' is not one of them. One of the most violent shows on TV, this show is not for the faint-hearted, but those who can tough it out will be rewarded with one of the most compelling prison dramas of all time. Special features on the 3-disc set are inline with other releases in the series with 2 audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, etc. Can also be purchased with the first three seasons as part of a package deal.

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
Penn Jillette and "No First Name" Teller return to go after PETA, 12 Step Programs, Profanity, War on Drugs and much more. No matter what you believe, chances are these people will go after at least one thing you hold dear. Unlike the first season, the special features on this 2-disc set are practically non-existent, however, the price is cheaper. (I personally would rather spend $5 more to get some extras.) One last note, while there are two versions of this set, the Uncensored and the Regular edition the only difference is the packaging. Some stores won't stock the DVD set with the word Bullshit on the cover so there's two versions of the cover art.

Ray - Buy from Amazon: Regular Edition - Widescreen, Regular Edition - Pan & Scan, Regular Edition - Widescreen with Descriptive Video Services or 2-Disc Special Edition
There's not much I need to say about the quality of this film or the awards and nominations the film has earned. But I should mention that unfortunately the regular edition is outselling the special edition. If the studios think they can get away with less special features, they will, and it's not like this film isn't good enough to spend a few extra dollars on so if you are planning on picking up the DVD, go with the 2-Disc Special Edition.

Ray Harryhausen: The Early Years Collection - Buy from Amazon
Early work from the legendary special effects pioneer including short films, special effects tests, commercials, instructional videos for the military and much more. With an amazing amount of special features, this is a must have for hardcore fans of Harryhausen, but has limited appeal outside that group.

Sealab 2021 - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
A great, and incredibly twisted cartoon that is part of Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. This 2-Disc set contains 13 episodes from Der Dieb to Return to Oblivion plus plenty of special features: audio commentaries on all 13 episodes, behind the scenes look at the 70/30 studios, interviews and a tribute to Harry Goz, (a.k.a. Captain Murphy) who tragically died in 2003. The only complaint I have about the show is the price, like Season 1 the price it quite high given the short running time, (13 episodes at just 11 minutes each). But the high quality and extensive special features make up for that problem. Can also be purchased with Season 1 as part of a package deal.

Shall We Dance? - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
A rather pale imitation of the Japanese original, which is also being released tomorrow. And even though the American version has better special features, the original is the better deal.

She Hate Me - Buy from Amazon
Easily the biggest misstep in Spike Lee's career as a director, both in terms of box office and critical appeal. The DVD does have an audio commentary track, deleted scenes and a behind the scenes featurette, which is good for a limited release. If you are interested in this movie, pick up School Daze instead. This is one of Spike Lee's earlier and superior movies, and is getting the Special Edition treatment tomorrow.

Taxi - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Good news: Christopher Lloyd, Carol Kane and Rhea Perlman all join the cast this year. Bad news: there are no special features on this 4-disc set. Hardly shocking since the first season was also released without any special features.

Wonderfalls - The Complete Season - Buy from Amazon
I'm getting sick of watching smart, inventive TV shows only to have them cancelled before their time, but at least fans of these shows can now pick them up on DVD. And given the high placing on the Amazon Sales Chart, I'm not alone in waiting for this set. Although the show only lasted 4 episodes when it first aired , the set contains all 13 produced, including almost half with commentary tracks. I'm particularly impressed by the special features considering how short the show's run was, it would have been excusable for the studio to simply dump the show on a couple of featureless DVDs. Not only are there 6 commentary tracks, but a more than 20 minute long featurette, a shorter featurette on the special features and a music video.

Vanity Fair - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The film was made more for being a player during award season that being a box office hit. However, its reviews were not up to the task. Special features are also a little light, making this DVD for fans of the genre only.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Grudge, Ray, Shall We Dance?, Mr. 3000, Vanity Fair, She Hate Me