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DVD Releases for February 8, 2005

February 7th, 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, which we'll get to in a moment. This week is further evidence in the power of the growing TV on DVD market. There are nine shows making their debut on DVD. All-in-all there are 537 DVDs being released tomorrow, but it seems like 500 of them are re-releases. There was so much that any real gem was buried under an avalanche of dreck. Nothing stood out as a must have, but two limited releases, Before Sunset - Buy from Amazon and Robot Stories - Buy from Amazon are worth a rental.

Before Sunset - Buy from Amazon
Released nearly 10 year after the original, this film is essentially a 90 minute dialogue between Jesse and Celine and thanks to award nominated writing the film works. It more than just works, it is one of the year's best. However, like most limited releases, the DVD is without special features.

Best Picture Oscar Collection - Buy from Amazon: Adventure, Drama and Musicals
To take advantage of the Oscar Buzz, 18 Best Picture winners are being released tomorrow in three sets. They include Adventure, (Ben-Hur, Around the World in 80 Days, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Mutiny on the Bounty and Unforgiven), Drama, (Amadeus, Casablanca Special Edition, Driving Miss Daisy, The Life of Emile Zola and Mrs. Miniver) and Musicals, (My Fair Lady Special Edition, An American in Paris, The Broadway Melody of 1929, Gigi and The Great Ziegfeld.) Can also be purchased in one large Complete Collection. An excellent deal and the only real drawback is the possibility that someone would already own several of these movies.

The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Bear - Buy from Amazon: Regular Edition and Special Edition
A French / Danish co-production. When a baby cub dies, its mother steals a human boy to raise as her own. The release is worth noting mainly because there are two versions, the featureless Regular Edition and the Special Edition that has interviews, trivia and more. While the Special Edition costs more, it is the better deal since if studios think they can get away with selling featureless DVDs, they will.

Bright Young Things - Buy from Amazon
A film that didn't live up to its pedigree, not that its reviews were bad. But after starting well the film couldn't find an audience and never expanded into 100 theatres or more. The DVD release has more special features than more limited releases with an audio commentary track, making of featurette and look at Stephen Fry, who was making his directorial debut with this film.

Bye Bye Love - Buy from Amazon
The movie has an amazing cast, Paul Reiser, Janeane Garofalo, Amy Brenneman, Eliza Dushku and Amber Benson. Should have been great, but is wasn't, it really wasn't. It has been nearly 10 years since the film was first released and now its hitting DVD on a featureless disc.

Deadwood - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A gritty western that takes place shortly after Custer's Last Stand in a small South Dakota town. I've seen it described as the Sopranos meet the Wild West. Like most HBO shows that have come out on DVD, this set is expensive at $70 for just 12 episodes, and that's taking into account Amazon's discount. Add in special features that are better than most HBO shows, but are merely average when compared to many TV on DVD sets, and you have a set for the hardcore fans only.

Eulogy - Buy from Amazon
This film was pushed back repeatedly in its quest to get a theatrical release and in the end it earn rather poor reviews before disappearing from theatres. The special features on the disc are better than average for a limited release, but not enough to push the film to even the rental level.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Will Smith has had one of the most prolific acting careers of the past decade starring in 8 $100 million movies, and his acting career started in this sitcom way back in 1990. This show was a huge hit in its day, and I'm a little surprised that the DVD set isn't in the top 100 on the Amazon Sales Chart. All 25 episodes from the first season are included on this four disc set, as is the featurette, "Back-to-Bel-Air: A Fresh Look." And like all Warner Bros. releases this week, there's also a bonus disc with two episodes from Warner Bros. series. This set has Family Matters and Head of the Class.

Full House - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
One of those shows that lasted far longer than anyone expected, mainly because it was a 'safe' show for family viewing on a Friday night. Best known for launching the careers of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The 4-disc set has a few special features including the original, unaired pilot, trivia track and a couple of commentary tracks. And like all Warner Bros. releases this week, there's also a bonus disc with two episodes from Warner Bros. series. This set has Growing Pains and Step By Step. Speaking of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, two of their earlier DVDs are being re-released tomorrow, You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's Greatest Parties and You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's Vacation Parties.

Godzilla - Buy from Amazon: Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla II and Godzilla VS. The Seamonster
Two more releases from the long running Godzilla franchise. The former is more of a remake than a true sequel while the latter is from the 'Kids' Movie' phase of the franchise. Neither disc has any real special features.

The Grid - Buy from Amazon
A 4 and a half-hour long mini-series that was an American / British co-production. The show starts in London after sarin gas is released due to a botched terrorist attack. And while the show is strong in most parts, there are just enough flaws that watching it makes you really wish they had gotten it right. The DVD release is a little better with commentary tracks on two parts, scene specific commentary with stars Julianna Margulies and Dylan McDermott, deleted scenes and a couple of featurettes.

Highlander - The Series - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
The first Highlander movie was a great cult-classic, the rest were, and I'm saying this as a fan, almost without redeeming value. On the other hand, the TV Series was top notch blending equal parts drama and action, and as one of my friends used to say, 'You're practically guaranteed one beheading a show.' This is the last season, which only lasted 13 episodes, but the DVD release is amazing, (not surprising since it is an Anchor Bay Entertainment release.) Special features include interviews, audio commentaries on four episodes, deleted scenes, (including previously lost material), guide to all the major characters, behind the scenes, featurette, retrospective and more. Also available with the rest of the series as part of a package deal.

The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
One of several shows being released by Warner Bros. tomorrow. This one stars Jamie Foxx, obviously, between his performances on In Living Color and his turn as movie star. As with the other Warner Bros. releases for tomorrow, this one has a bonus disc containing two episodes, one from Living Single and one from Whose Line Is It Anyway.

The Mad About You Collection - Buy from Amazon
This is bad. This is really bad. The First Season was release late in 2002, the Second Season came out just six months later. Then for nearly two years, nothing. And now the studio is releasing a best of collection, which makes me believe that they've given up on full season sets. Granted, this best of collection is great with 21 episodes, couple of audio commentary tracks, bloopers, featurettes on the guest spots, and more. However, most fans of the Mad About You would rather have the third season released on DVD instead.

Malcolm X - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Arguably Spike Lee's greatest film and the only real complaint is the certain deification of the controversial civil rights leader. The special edition is loaded with two feature length documentaries, one on the making of Malcolm X and one on Malcolm X himself, (which was nominated for an Oscar), as well as audio commentary and deleted scenes.

The Martin Scorsese Film Collection - Buy from Amazon
Two movies by legendary director Martin Scorsese are being released tomorrow in this box set, which includes two re-releases. The new films are Raging Bull and New York, New York. Raging Bull is one of the greatest boxing movies ever made and the DVD is loaded with special features, 3 audio commentary tracks, and five featurettes on various topics from making of, to the fight choreography and even a comparison between Robert De Niro and the real Jake La Motta. New York, New York is a Musical that is uneven but worth a look. The special features on the disc, (audio commentary as well as deleted and alternate scenes), are good for a film released more than 25 years ago, but maybe not up to the Special Edition label.

Miami Vice - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A TV series firmly stuck in the 80s. Still popular obviously since the DVD set is in the top ten on the Amazon Sales Chart and there's a movie coming out next year. Because the show was so focused on style over substance, it has not aged well and the special features are merely adequate, with roughly 30 minutes of featurettes about the fashion, music, etc. Speaking of music, there are no music substitutions, which is quite a shock considering a couple of years ago everyone assumed the series would never be released because of the prohibitive costs for the licenses.

Murder One - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A show that was ahead of its time, sort of. The first season focused on one case, which meant missing one episode could ruin the experience. Nowadays this isn't a huge problem since you can just pick the season up on DVD, but way back in 1995 when the series debuted this wasn't the case. Fans of the show have been waiting a long time for this DVD, but they won't be rewarded with a ton of special features, as there are audio commentary tracks on just two episodes and a making of featurette.

Murphy Brown - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This long running show was nominated for dozens of Emmys during its 10-year run and took home 18 of them, including 4 for its first season alone. Great acting combined with great writing, as well as running gags, (count the number of secretaries during the first year) and this was a fan favorite. The DVD set includes 2 audio commentaries and a retrospective, and like all Warner Bros. releases this week, there's also a bonus disc with two episodes from Warner Bros. series. This set has My Sister Sam and Room for Two.

Night Court - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a show that lasted a couple of seasons too long and what started as a fresh, funny show is probably best remembered for the stale recycled humor of the last few seasons. The first season, the show was a mid-season replacement and thus was only 13 episodes long. The special features on the 2-disc set include audio commentary on one track and a retrospective featurette. And like all Warner Bros. releases this week, there's also a bonus disc with two episodes from Warner Bros. series. This set has Perfect Strangers and Whose Line Is It Anyway.

The Notebook - Buy from Amazon
Despite some strong performances, including a SAG Nominated performance by James Garner, this film suffers from a very, very syrupy story line. The DVD release is impressive with 2 audio commentary tracks, handful of featurettes, deleted scenes, Rachel McAdams screen tests and DVD-ROM features. Even so, there's little appeal for the film outside its target demographics.

P.S. - Buy from Amazon
A strange romance between Laura Linney and Topher Grace, who may be the reincarnation of her one true love. The romance between the two is strong, but the metaphysical aspect just detracts from the rest of the film. Special features are on par with most limited releases with just an audio commentary track and deleted scenes on the disc.

Punky Brewster - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
22 more episodes of the spunky Punky Brewster, played by Soleil Moon Frye, are coming to DVD. Like the first season, this 4 disc set contains just some interviews and select episodes from the animated series. It's a nice shot of nostalgia for people who grew up watching the show, but it probably won't make any new fans now.

Robot Stories - Buy from Amazon
A quartet of vignettes revolving around robots. A self-distributed film, which explains why its theater count never made it past 3, but one that is worth checking out on DVD. Special features are on par with other limited releases with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes and a bonus short.

Scooby Doo-athon
Roughly 2 dozen Scooby Doo DVDs are being released or re-released tomorrow. And here they are in no particular order

Yes, some of those releases do have the same name. No, I don't know why either.

Seventh Heaven - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The second season of this long running series comes out on DVD this week. Like the first season, this season is released on a featureless set.

Shark Tale - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
A surprise Oscar Nomination, especially given its lackluster reviews. Most people were expecting The Polar Express to snag the third nomination. Hell, SpongeBob SquarePants would have been less of a surprise. Most of the special features on the disc are aimed at kids, which further reduces the film's crossover appeal, but makes it a must have for youngsters.

Spies Like Us - Buy from Amazon
Two words: guilty pleasure.

Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation: Caught In The Act - Buy from Amazon
Warning: These cartoons are not for kids! More than a dozen cartoons from the long lasting Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted festival including the 3-D Here Comes Mr. Tan. But don't worry, the set includes a pair of 3-D glasses.

The Wayans Bros - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The last of the Warner Bros. TV on DVD releases this week. Like so many UPN sitcoms, this one lasted long enough to be put into syndication before being cancelled. This 2-disc set has no special features apart from the Warner Bros. bonus disc with an episode of Hangin' with Mr. Cooper and The Redd Foxx Show.

Zelary - Buy from Amazon
Oscar nominated WWII story set in Czechoslovakia. Despite strong reviews the film could never capture an audience and while the DVD has more special features than most limited releases, it is unlikely to do much better on the home market.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Shark Tale, The Notebook, Before Sunset, Bright Young Things, Zelary, P.S., Robot Stories, Eulogy