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DVD Releases for April 12, 2005

April 11th, 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 winners, which we'll get to in a moment. But first I have to say this is a really bad week for DVD releases, there's a least 6 that are worth picking up and choosing just one for the pick of the week is nearly impossible. But I did narrow the choices down to two, Hotel Rwanda - Buy from Amazon and Sledge Hammer! - Season Two - Buy from Amazon... and Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law, Vol. 1 - Buy from Amazon. The Invader ZIM - House Box Set - Buy from Amazon looks too cool to pass up as well, but that's it. Ok, renting DiG! - Buy from Amazon wouldn't be a mistake either.

The A-Team - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
One of three Universal TV on DVD releases coming out tomorrow, (Knight Rider and Magnum P.I. being the other two.) This show hasn't aged as gracefully as Magnum P.I., but is still fun in a campy, kitchy kind of way. The show is perfect for fodder for syndication but is only worth picking up if the 3-disc set is loaded with special features, which it is not. There is a bonus episode of Knight Rider from the set that is also being released this week. One last note, the first season is being re-released tomorrow, but there appears to be no package deal.

All in the Family - Buy from Amazon
Season four of this groundbreaking TV series hits DVD on Tuesday. I just wish there were more in the way of special features on this 3-disc set. Unfortunately, like the previous release there's little in the way of special features with just an episode guide in a six page booklet.

Bad Education - Buy from Amazon: Unrated Version or R-Rated version
The latest from Pedro Almodovar; like the rest of his films, this one is amazing, but the subject matter is… quite strong, and that will keep a lot of people away from this movie. Special features are great for a limited release, audio commentary, deleted scenes, making of documentary and footage of the premiere. That's on par with more wide releases. Also coming out this week is Flower of My Secret - Buy from Amazon, one of director Pedro Almodovar's earlier work and while it earned praise from the critics, it is not one of his better films. Both these films can be purchased with Talk to Her and All About My Mother as part of an exclusive package deal, but a word of warning, it appears that it's the R-Rated version of Bad Education and not the original Unrated version.

Big Meat Eater - Buy from Amazon
Radioactive meat, Aliens and a Zombie Mayor all collide in this horror, musical B-Movie spoof. The essence of the film is captured pretty well in its tagline, "Pleased to meet you. Meat to please you." How cheesy is that? But its cheesy in a good way. Unfortunately, there are no special features on the disc, not surprising since the movie is more than twenty years old.

The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This is the first season of the first show, the one where Bob Newhart is the psychologist and not the show where he runs the Inn in Vermont. It's not a stretch to call this show a classic with its great cast, amazing writing, what it doesn't have is special features. Granted, the show is more than 30 years old, so the lack of special features is hardly surprising, but still disappointing.

Criminal - Buy from Amazon
Any film with John C. Reilly is automatically an award contender, well maybe not Never Been Kissed. A remake of an Argentinean film called Nine Queens, but this film isn't as good as the original. That is not to say it is a bad movie, far from it. The DVD release, on the other hand, is practically bare with just the trailer as special features. Not surprising considering its limited release.

DiG! - Buy from Amazon
A very cool rockumentary about two bands, (Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols) who start out as friends but have different views on the music industry. This 2-disc set is packed with special features including 3 audio commentaries, (one by the makers, and one each by the two bands profiled) hours of extra footage, music videos, and more. Fans of the independent movie scene should love this set. Considering the falling out between the two bands, this set could be worth checking out just to hear their different audio commentary tracks.

For Love or Money - Buy from Amazon
During the 80s, Michael J. Fox was one of the biggest TV stars with his hit show, Family Ties. However, he was never able to translate this TV success onto the big screen outside the Back to the Future franchise. The film came out during the lowest point on his career, after Back to the Future and before his career was revived by The American President and Spin City. The film itself is a good showcase for Michael J. Fox's talents, but the end result is nothing more than mediocre.

Gotcha - Buy from Amazon
Not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it is fun at times and has the extra appeal of seeing Anthony Edwards early in his career. That's the only reason to get the DVD as it has none special features.

Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law, Vol. 1 - Buy from Amazon
Harvey Birdman is a second rate superhero turned third rate defense attorney. Like the rest of the adult swim, (Sealab 2021, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, etc.) the price is a little high on a per minute basis for TV on DVD basis. But there are plenty of special features to make up for that fact including audio commentary tracks on 5 episodes, deleted scenes, Easter Eggs… and the trailer for the MOVIE! They're making a Harvey Birdman movie? Alas no, there is no movie, but they did make the movie trailer to get the fans all excited.

The Hitchhiker - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
10 more episodes of this anthology series hit DVD this week. There have been a huge number of anthology series over the years, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Ray Bradbury Theatre, Tales from the Crypt, etc. This underrated series had a darker, more mature feel than the others, mainly because it was produced by HBO and the cable environment allowed the series to explore darker subjects. The 2-disc set has audio commentary on two of the episodes, which is about what one would expect given how old the TV series is. Can also be purchased with volume 1 as part of a package deal.

Hotel Rwanda - Buy from Amazon
This is a good time to get DVDs. All the limited releases that were aiming for Oscar glory are coming out on DVD. One of the best, although I do think it was overlooked during award season. If the quality of the film wasn't enough to get you interested, the DVD release will definitely make the difference. Audio commentary track with the director and the real life Paul Rusesabagina, select scene commentary by actor playing Paul Rusesabagina, two documentaries and more.

Invader ZIM - House Box Complete Set - Buy from Amazon
Fans of Invader Zim rejoice, the box set is finally here. All three volumes of this dark, twist and incredibly funny cartoon in one set complete with bonus disc with more than three hours of extras, GIR figurine and House storage box that looks incredible cool, (or amazingly geeky depending on your personal taste.) I know what some of you are thinking, "I bought all three volumes when they first came out and now the studio is going to try and grab another $100.00 for the box set?" Don't worry, because if you already own all three volumes you can buy the bonus set separately. In fact, it appears to be cheaper to buy the bonus set and the three volumes separately than to buy the box set. Very strange. One last note, there's a bit of confusion on the release dates as Amazon has the box set being release on May 3rd, while the bonus set is being released today. Other sources have them both on sale for today, which seems more likely.

The Jeffersons - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
A spin-off of All in the Family. Like more movie spin-offs, TV spin-offs are usually quite a bit worse than the original. Fortunately this is not the case with The Jeffersons, which is every bit as funny and engaging as All in the Family was. And like all in the family, the only special feature is a 6 page pamphlet with an episode guide.

Knight Rider - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
One of three Universal TV on DVD releases coming out tomorrow, (The A-Team and Magnum P.I. being the other two.) Easily the cheesiest of the three releases and the only real value they have now is pure camp. The season starts off on a strong suit, sort of, with the two-part episode, Goliath, which features a K.I.T.T.-like semi, (awesome) driven by Michael Knight's evil twin, (pathetic.) That pretty well sums up the show, even when they had a good idea they ruined the execution reducing the show's credibility. One last note, the first season is being re-released tomorrow, but there appears to be no package deal.

Live Action Disney Collection
A handful of live action films from Disney's archives hit DVD on Tuesday from the late 60s early 70s:

None of the discs have any special features.

Mac and Me - Buy from Amazon
A rip-off of E.T. so blatant that I'm surprised Steven Spielberg didn't sue. I guess since the movie was such a huge flop, both with the critics and at the box office, there was no reason to. One a side note, the movie was produced in part by McDonalds and Coca Cola, which is why there are so many references to their products within the movie.

Magnum P.I. - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
One of three Universal TV on DVD releases coming out tomorrow, (The A-Team and Knight Rider being the other two) and of the three this one has held up the best since it was first released. Like the first season, this one has only a couple bonus episodes as special features, this time from the previously mentioned Universal TV on DVD releases and that's not enough to justify picking up this DVD set. One last note, the first season is being re-released tomorrow, but there appears to be no package deal.

Memento Mori - Buy from Amazon
Memento Mori, a.k.a. Remember the Dead is a pseudo-sequel to Yeogo goedam, a.k.a. Whispering Corridors. Less of a horror movie and more of a film about Teen Angst with supernatural overtones. The film builds a strong sense of atmosphere, but doesn't do enough with it for most American audiences. Still, fans of moody Asian horror should give this film a chance.

Ocean's Twelve - Buy from Amazon
The cast is back for sequel but they weren't able to capture the magic of the original either at the box office with the critics. Still, the movie's good enough to rental and with just a few special features and the DVD would be worth picking up. Unfortunately, the only special feature on the disc is the trailer, which is hardly constitutes a special feature in my books. Also available with the original as part of a package deal

The Phantom of the Opera - Buy from Amazon
This is the 1943 version and not the most recent version, which is coming out in about a month. If the reviews are any indication, this version is better than the latter film.

Really Bend It Like Beckham - Buy from Amazon
When I first saw the title I thought it could be some cheesy direct to DVD sequel to Bend it Like Beckham. But the DVD is in fact an instructional video on soccer. It is very well done with plenty of extras that help it maintain a good educational / entertaining mixture.

Reconstruction - Buy from Amazon
The feature length directorial debut of Christoffer Boe, who also co-wrote the screenplay. Excellent plot, strong execution, ignored by moviegoers and now the film will hopefully get a second chance on DVD. The only special feature on the disc is some interviews with the cast and crew, but that's expected for such a limited release film.

Sledge Hammer! - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
The second and final season of the great Dirty Harry spoof hits DVD tomorrow. Special features are better than Season 1 with audio commentary tracks on four episodes, interviews, a documentary or two, and more. Also worth pointing out that season 2 is closed captioned for the hearing impaired. Season 1 was supposed to be closed captioned, but there was mixed up with the studio to which the show's creator, Alan Spencer, has apologized for that and the special features on this set more than make up for that small problem.

Space Ghost Coast to Coast - Volume Three - Buy from Amazon
Another Adult Swim DVD release. Space Ghost aka Tad Ghostal is a former superhero turned talk show host. Season three includes such guests as Jon Stewart, Mark Hamill, Steve Smith, (a.k.a. Red Green) and more. Compared to most other DVD releases for shows in the Adult Swim stable, this one is about half as expensive on a per minute basis. As an added bonus, the special features are still awesome with audio commentaries on 5 episodes, extra interviews, featurettes and more. Great collection. Can also be purchased with the first two volumes as part of a package deal.

Sunset Story - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about two residents in an old folks home, Ira and Lucille. Even though these two women are in their 80s and 90s respectively, they remain politically active going to protests, signing up new voters, etc. The film earned universal praise and the special features are good for a limited release with audio commentary, deleted scenes and interviews.

Suspect Zero - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The film sat on studio shelves for more than two years, and given the film's reviews and box office performance, it probably should have stayed there. Special features are good, (audio commentary, alternate ending with optional commentary, documentary featurette and more) but not good enough to push the film to even the rental level.

Trailer Park Boys: The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from
A show that proves there's something wrong with Canada. Two friends deal with living in a trailer park, at least that's where they live when they are in-between jail sentences. Like season 3, season 4 was only eight episodes long, which means the DVD set is a little pricey on a per minute basis when it comes to TV on DVD. However, the show is a hilarious mockumentary about Canadian white trash and it's worth importing if you're American. And if you're Canadian, it's your patriotic duty to buy it, which explains why the DVD set is currently the number one seller at

Twin Sitters - Buy from Amazon
Twin body builders called The Barbarian Brothers star in this movie. The film is completely atrocious, but amazingly, it isn't the worst film of their career.

Viva La Bam -The Complete 2nd and 3rd Seasons - Buy from Amazon
Perhaps not the worst example of Reality TV, but awfully close. No redeeming quality whatsoever and the extra 2 hours of bonus footage just adds insult to injury, (and there's far too much of both already.)

The Woodsman - Buy from Amazon
Another limited release geared for Oscar glory and while this film earned excellent reviews, it didn't make a lot of noise on the award scene. Special features are strong for a limited release with audio commentary, extended scenes, making of and more. It's worth a rental, but be warned, it is difficult material to watch.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Ocean's Twelve, Hotel Rwanda, Suspect Zero, La mala educación, The Woodsman, Criminal, Dig, Reconstruction