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DVD Releases for May 3, 2005

May 2nd, 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, classics and a few from the growing TV on DVD section. Not a strong week for releases as there are no major releases, and very few limited releases, on the week's list that were also big hits with the critics. Fortunately there was a TV on DVD release and a classic of sorts to fill the gap - Gilmore Girls - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon and Spaceballs - Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon

American Dreamer - Buy from Amazon
A mildly interesting premise is rendered useless in this utterly generic film. Combined with the lack of special features on the DVD and this is one best skipped.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan & Scan or Special Edition
Meant to be one of the major hits this past December, the film instead was attacked by critics and mostly ignored by moviegoers. There are two versions of the DVD: the regular version that is all but featureless and the special edition, which costs just a tiny bit more but contains almost two hours of special features. These are divided up into two sections, the first deals with the story's journey from novel to silent movie to stage production and finally this film. The other is a more conventional making of feature.

Les Choristes - Buy from Amazon
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for both the Oscars and the Golden Globes but didn't really have the critical praise to back that up. It was a huge hit in its native France (and Quebec), but the story was too conventional to be a big hit here. It should do better on the home market despite the lack of special features on the DVD.

Dawson's Creek - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
Fans of the series know what to expect in terms of the quality of the show but they are trying something new with special features (not having any). Add in the music replacement and this is a disappointing release for fans of the show. On the subject of music replacement, I would much rather the producers change the music than pay the extortionate fees. However, producers should really demand DVD rights when they use music in their shows to avoid this situation in the future.

Dogtown and Z-Boys - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is a good documentary but a horrible DVD release. It is essentially the previous release plus a couple of ads for the upcoming release, The Lords of Dogtown.

Enduring Love - Buy from Amazon
A tale of tragedy, guilt and obsession. The film was able to garner middling reviews and never found an audience during its domestic release and now its being released on a featureless DVD.

Everybody Loves Raymond - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
Fans of the series will know what to expect when it comes to the quality of the show. There are some minor changes from the previous seasons as Patricia Heaton was pregnant during the filming of this season so her role was cut back. However, the quality of the role was higher than the previous seasons. Special features include audio commentary tracks on two episodes as well as deleted scenes and outtakes. But the big feature is the Museum of Television & Radio discussion panel, which is over an hour long. There is a minor problem as the video and audio for that feature is not the best, but it is still worth watching. Can also be purchased with the first two seasons as part of a package deal.

Gilmore Girls - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
One of those shows I stopped watching on TV because I prefer sitting down and watching an entire season in a row. In fact, this was the last season I watched the series on a regular basis. The quality of the show continues to be stellar while the special features are an improvement over Seasons 1 & 2 with two featurettes, love scenes montage and deleted scenes. I'm still waiting for audio commentaries, hopefully there will be some for season four when Rory goes to University, especially if those audio commentaries involve Danny Strong. Can also be purchased with the first two season as part of a package deal.

Hayley Mills Triple Shot - Buy from Amazon: In Search of Castaways, Summer Magic and That Darn Cat!
Three live-action Disney films starring Hayley Mills are being released tomorrow, although none of them are her best work. Also, none of the DVDs contain any special features.

I Love Lucy - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Like the rest of the releases from this series, this 5-disc set contains more special features than most releases for shows currently on the air. Those special features include behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes, 5 more episodes from Lucille Ball's radio show, My Favorite Husband and more.

Invader ZIM - House Box Complete Set - Buy from Amazon
I mentioned this release a while ago, but at the time the Complete Set wasn't scheduled to be released on But even though it is being released now it is still cheaper to buy the bonus set and the three volumes separately.

John Wayne Legendary Heroes Collection - Buy from Amazon
Five films starring John Wayne hit the home market tomorrow either as part of a box set or sold separately. Unfortunately, none of his really good films are part of the collection and most feel like filler. The best of the bunch is Tall in the Saddle, while The Train Robbers has the best special features.

King of the Hill - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The quality of the show is excellent but the special features are non-existent. And given that the show is currently in syndication and DVD burners are so cheap there's little reason to buy the 3-disc set instead of just burning copies for yourself. What's even more aggravating is the first two seasons had plenty of special features.

License to Drive - Buy from Amazon
Given the critical scorn heaped on this film, its lackluster box office performance and its age I'm surprised that this film isn't being dumped on the home market on a featureless DVD. After all, the inclusion of both Coreys may be the only part of the film that makes it stand out. The reason why this film is getting such a great release is simple, it's an Anchor Bay Entertainment release. This company does amazing work on what would otherwise be dumped on a substandard release or not released entirely. (I know what you're thinking, I'm hyping the company like I own stock. But I don't, I'm not even hyping the company so they'll send screeners my way, although I wouldn't say no. They are just a great company that deserves the praise.) Special features include audio commentary, a half-hour of interviews with the aforementioned two Coreys, deleted scenes and more. An amazing release and a must have for any Child of the 80s.

Microcosmos - Buy from Amazon
An amazing look at the life of bugs based on years of filming using a special macro-camera to get extreme close-ups. There are memorable scenes after memorable scenes from the caterpillar traffic jam, dung beetle Sisyphus to the Godzilla-like pheasant attack on an ant colony. This DVD would easily be worth picking up with just minimal special features (like a look at the camera technology used), but unfortunately there are none. Still, it is worth renting, especially if you have children.

National Treasure - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan & Scan or UMD Mini for PSP
While this film was mostly scorned by the critics it went on to do really well at the box office becoming Nicolas Cage's biggest hit ever. Special features are good, but not great, with a few featurettes, deleted scenes, alternate ending and more, but not enough to overcome the low ratings and push the DVD past the rental level.

The Partridge Family - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
One of those shows from the 70s that is really helped out by nostalgia. (On a side note, did you know that nostalgia used to be considered a mental disorder?) The special features on the 3-disc set are very strong considering the age of the show with audio commentary on 2 episodes, several featurettes and more. But the show itself simply hasn't aged well and that's the deciding factor when it comes to picking up the set.

Pocahontas - Tenth Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
One of the rare Disney animated films that missed with critics. The biggest complaints were directed at the revisionist history that happens in the film, a complaint that star Mel Gibson tried to deflect by saying it was just a cartoon with singing animals and shouldn't be taken as a history lesson. (On a side note, there are no singing animals in the film; it's the first Disney animated film that didn't have such animals.) Also hurting the film were the songs, which weren't up to Disney's high standards. Special features are strong, but the overall package is lacking in enough areas to reduce the film below the purchase rating, especially if you own the previous release.

Radio Free Roscoe: Season One: Greatest Hits - Buy from
A Canadian TV show for teens focusing on four diverse teens who run a Pirate radio station to protest the conformity of the official school radio station. The show is well done and doesn't talk down to its target audience. The special features are good with audio commentaries and behind-the-scenes. However, it's not a full season set so it gets a pass.

Sandlot 2 - Buy from Amazon
The original Sandlot is one of my favorite films, so when I heard they were releasing a direct-to-DVD sequel, I was skeptical. OK, perhaps skeptical isn't a strong enough word. Mortified would be better. And while the film isn't as bad as I had feared, it isn't as good as the first either. Special features are also a pleasant surprise, with an audio commentary track and featurettes focusing mostly on the actors from this movie and the original, which is a fun look for fans of that film. Bottom line, this DVD is better than most direct-to-DVD releases and its worth a rental. Can also be purchased with the original as part of a package deal.

Spaceballs - Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Mel Brooks may be the King of Spoofs , and while this one isn't his best it is still a worthy addition to most people's DVD collection. (On a side note, this is probably the last of his film's where that's true, at least until the remake of the Producers hits the home market some time in 2006.) Special features on the 2-disc set include the audio commentary track from the previous release and the second disc has an hour of featurettes on the making of, the writers and a tribute to John Candy. Other special features include trivia game, storyboard / film comparison and more. But sadly there are no deleted scenes, which would have been almost as long as the film itself. Still, an excellent release and worth picking up.

Star Trek Enterprise - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The show ends its 4-year run in mid-May while the first season finally hits DVD. Like most DVD releases from the Star Trek franchise from The Original Series to Voyager the special features are amazing. However, the show just isn't that good, or at least it wasn't that good till this last season. The show was mismanaged from the beginning, it ignored previous Star Trek lore and the less said about that theme song the better.

Three's Company - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Another show that has nostalgia to thank for its appeal. Well, nostalgia or chemical impairment. Like the previous releases, this 4-disc set has plenty of special features including an audio commentary track, interviews, montages and more.

With Six You Get Eggroll - Buy from Amazon
Doris Day's final movie appearance as well as George Carlin's first. The story is about a widow with three sons who marries a widower with one daughter; it's a similar plot to The Brady Bunch or Yours, Mine and Ours except with fewer kids. Not one of Doris Day's better movies and the DVD has no special features, but for those who picked up the Doris Day Collection it's one more film till your DVD collection is complete.

World War II Collection - European Warfare - Buy from Amazon
Like the previous collection, this one is far cheaper to buy as a set than individually. But unlike it, this set actually has some movies worth buying. The Big Red One, The Dirty Dozen and Where Eagles Dare are all worth the price individually. And their combined price is more than the Box Set so there's no real reason to settle for the individual DVDs.

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Filed under: Video Releases, National Treasure, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Choristes, Enduring Love