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DVD Releases for May 10, 2005

May 9th, 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. It usually takes over four months for a film's theatrical release till its debut in DVD, and just over four months ago was the middle of January, which explains why there are some real low quality films on this week's list. However, there are also some top-notch choices, leading the way is the DVD pick of the Week - In Good Company - Buy from Amazon.

Alone in the Dark - Buy from Amazon
One of the worst movies of the year; only King's Ransom opened wide with worse reviews. The film is the second of five planned video game adaptations by director Uwe Boll, but if the next one is as bad as the first two, I can't see how he could get backing to make the rest. As bad as the film is, it might be worth a rental just for Uwe Boll's audio commentary to hear how he justifies the film. Although The Onion will probably review the audio commentary soon so you don't have to.

American Chopper: The Series - Buy from Amazon: Season 1 and Season 2
For a reality TV show, this sure seems scripted. It seems like every episode the same things happen, Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. getting into a shouting match being the most common. Unlike the Monster Garage DVD releases coming out tomorrow, this show has the same core people throughout and their personality clashes quickly get repetitive. Special features are also very light with just some outtakes and a short interview.

Assault on Precinct 13 - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of several films that failed to impress at the box office this past January. Not that is was a bad film, at 59% positive its reviews were just shy of the overall positive level. The main problem is the film is a remake of a cult classic and this film just can't live up to its predecessor. But those that haven't seen the original should find something to entertain them here. Special features include HBO's 30 minute previews, deleted scenes and several making of featurettes focusing on weapons, stunts, etc.

Controversial Classics Collection - Buy from Amazon
Seven films from 1932 to 1964 make their DVD debuts in this box set and while the films can also be purchased separately, the box set is nearly half price. The movies were chosen for this set for their controversial nature (hence the name), and for their challenging portrayal of hot button issues. Most of the discs have audio commentary tracks while some have featurettes or vintage shorts.

  • Advise and Consent - Reviews - Buy from Amazon
    The under-workings of the political machine are exposed with controversial candidate for Secretary of State, Henry Fonda is accused of being a communist. Both sides of the fight resort to dirty tricks in order to win votes from perjury to blackmail. Like many of the films on this list, this one has become more relevant with age.
  • The Americanization of Emily - Reviews - Buy from Amazon
    Set during World War II just before the Invasion of Normandy, PR man James Coburn decides to turn James Garner from living soldier into dead hero to help sell the battle back home. Classic Black Comedy that was ahead of its time.
  • Bad Day at Black Rock - Reviews - Buy from Amazon
    Spencer Tracy stars as MacReedy who's come to Black Rock looking for a Japanese-American farmer, but the residents would rather nobody asked questions about him. One of the first films to deal with Japanese Interment Camps and the film could be even more relevant today.
  • Blackboard Jungle - Reviews - Buy from Amazon
    One of the first, and most effective, inspirational teacher / tough student films, it is also the film usually credited with making Rock 'n' Roll mainstream. Often compared with Rebel Without a Cause, but this film is grittier and more realistic.
  • A Face in the Crowd - Reviews - Buy from Amazon
    Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes was not your typical role for Andy Griffith. The film is about Lonesome Rhodes, who becomes an overnight sensation due to his folksy charm, but he is really a megalomaniac who uses his newfound popularity to push his fascist ideas on the nation. The film was originally considered too unrealistic but has become a lot more plausible over the years.
  • Fury - Reviews - Buy from Amazon
    Spencer Tracy stars as an innocent man attacked by a lynch mob and apparently killed, however, he survives and takes his revenge on those who tried to kill him. The first Hollywood film by famed director, Fritz Lang.
  • I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang - Reviews - Buy from Amazon
    From 1932, this is one of the first films to tackle social issues as it attacked the brutal chain gangs of Georgia and eventually helped end the practice.

Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy - Season 1 - Volume 1 - Buy from Amazon
The first DVD release of this Canadian Cartoon centered on three boys whose entire goal in life is scamming people so they can buy jawbreakers. The disc contains 6 14-minute episodes as well as three featurettes making the DVD quite expensive on a per minute basis compared to most TV on DVD releases. Another reason to wait for full season sets instead.

Hair Show - Buy from Amazon
The only noteworthy aspect of this movie is that it was originally called Beauty Shop but changed its name due to the Queen Latifah spin-off of the same name. The film earned atrocious reviews and disappeared from theaters mercifully quick. The only special features on the disc are some deleted scenes, making this disc entirely skippable.

Have Gun Will Travel - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Like the first season, this 6-disc set contains 39 episodes of this classic western featuring Paladin, the educated gunslinger from San Francisco who hires his gun for $1,000. The series is nearly 50 years old, which explains why there is no real special features on the set.

In Good Company - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the best reviewed films of the year, and with the DVD choked full of special features it is easily the DVD pick of the week. The story centers around Dan Forman, a middle-aged man whose life it turned upside down when he is demoted after the company he works for is taken over, and to add insult to injury the man who replaced him is half his age. The performances in this film are universally excellent, the writing is charming and the directing is sharp. Special features on the disc include the ever-present audio commentary, 16 minutes of deleted scenes and a behind the scenes featurette.

In Living Color - The 'Complete' Third Season - Buy from Amazon
Music licensing difficulties rears its ugly head once again. Music video parodies became a staple on In Living Color, but because the music rights cost so much the studio instead decided to simply remove them. Add in the total lack of special features and this 3-disc set is best left on the shelf.

Joan of Arcadia - The First Season - Buy from Amazon
Not a big fan of this show mainly because it went head-to-head with the similarly themed, and in my opinion far superior, Wonderfalls and beat it in the ratings. That caused the latter show to be cancelled after just four episodes and more importantly before Jewel Staite's guest appearance began. As the title would suggest, the show is inspired by Joan of Arc and while the show is definitely religious it is not preachy. Special features are good for a show currently on the air, with audio commentary on five episodes, deleted scenes, and three featurettes.

Kim Possible - So the Drama - Extended Edition - Buy from Amazon
The series finale for the Kim Possible series is coming to DVD and although I normally despise TV on DVD that's not full season sets, I have to recommend this DVD. The disc contains the full movie (the extensions are hardly noticeable), plus an unaired episode, "Gorilla Fist", which has been shown in Canada. Special features include two deleted scenes and two music videos, including one by Emmy nominated star Christy Carlson Romano. This is an excellent show and I just hope Disney decides to put out full season sets before long.

The Last Shot - Buy from Amazon
This film's theatrical run was so short that it's practically a direct-to-DVD release. This is strange since the film wasn't a bad movie and the cast has some serious drawing power (it's currently in 190th place in our all-time list for drawing power). Special features include audio commentary, deleted scenes, making of featurette and more. It's definitely worth a rental for people who are interested in the inner workings of Hollywood, which should be a good chunk of our readers.

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers - Buy from Amazon
Geoffrey Rush stars as Peter Sellers in this award winning made for TV movie. (The film did play in several Film Festivals before airing on TV.) Special features include two audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes and making of featurette.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Buy from Amazon: Criterion Collection or 2-Disc Special Edition
Wes Anderson's fourth film and for most people it was his most disappointing. There have been many reasons offered for this, but the most compelling is the film is too similar to his previous works. The DVD comes in two versions, Criterion Collection that contains the usual features for a recent release, audio commentary, deleted scenes and cast and crew interviews. The 2-Disc Special Edition has all the above features plus a second disc with nearly 3 hours of bonus features like making of documentaries, music videos, character profiles and more. That's more than enough to keep fans of the film happy.

The Longest Yard - Lockdown Edition - Buy from Amazon
What's the most import step in remaking a movie? Re-releasing the original on a special edition DVD, and don't forget to include an ad... I mean preview for the upcoming version. It's a good movie and is well done, considering the age of the movie, but the lackluster sales might be a troubling sign for the prospects of the new movie.

The Merchant of Venice - Buy from Amazon
Often called William Shakespeare's most controversial play, this movie adaptation isn't the best adaptation of the Bard's work, but despite some unevenness, it is still a worthy film. Special features on the disc are strong, for a limited release, with an audio commentary and a documentary featurette.

Monster Garage - Buy from Amazon: Season 1 and Season 2
Jesse James and his band of outlaw mechanics turn ordinary vehicles like a 1990 Ford Mustang GT into the world's fastest lawnmower or a 1984 Porsche 944 into a Golf Ball Collector. This is a great show to watch but the DVD release has a couple of problems. Firstly, they are not full season sets, but the first season divided into two volumes (plus two episodes from season 2). Secondly, the only special feature on the two 3-disc sets is the bonus episode, Under the Hood, which is on both sets. In the end the DVD treatment is too shoddy to recommend. Also coming out tomorrow is Motorcycle Mania 3 - Jesse James Rides Again, which is only for the extremely hardcore Monster Garage / Jesse James fan.

Quantum Leap - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the best season in the franchise's five-year run. However, the lack of special features and the music replacement really hurts the DVD's value, and while the latter is the fault of the music industry, there is no excuse for the former.

Racing Stripes - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of several films released this January that failed to impress critics but went on to beat expectations at the box office. Starring Hayden Panettiere and the voices of a dozen or so name actors, the film and DVD release are both geared toward kids and worth a rental for families. But neither the movie nor the special features have the replayability needed to make it worth buying.

Red Green's We Can't Help It, We're Men - Buy from Amazon
This DVD contains two specials, both of which are more than an hour long, as well as 30 minutes of bonus clips. The first special is We Can't Help It, We're Men and offers advice on how to live with your better half includes important tips like never buy your wife a set of socket wrenches for your anniversary, no matter how nice the set is. The second special is Red Green's Of Cars and Men and deals with man's obsession with his car. The feel of the show can best be summed up by the Men Anonymous pledge, "I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess." Definitely worth picking up for fans of the show, and a good introduction for those who have never seen Red Green before.

Twelve Monkeys - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Terry Gilliam's post Monty Python career as a director has produced some amazing films, but not the box office hits he deserves. This stunning film is his biggest box office hit and has been released as a Collector's Edition in the past. How do the two versions compare? The Special Edition does have better video, but that is the only real change, so if you own the original release you can skip this disc. If you've been meaning to pick the movie up but just haven't gotten around to it, there's no better time to do so.

The Wacky Races Spin-Offs - Buy from Amazon: The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines
Warner Bros. is the only studio to do cartoons right when it comes to TV on DVD. The people buying these shows are not kids who never heard of them, they are adults who grew up on them, and the special features should be geared accordingly. Audio commentaries that talk about the more technical aspects of the show, interviews with the artists, behind the scenes, etc. are all here. There are not as many special features as the Looney Tunes collections, but enough to make the DVDs worth picking up for fans of the series.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Racing Stripes, In Good Company, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Assault On Precinct 13, The Merchant of Venice, The Last Shot, Hair Show, Alone in the Dark