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DVD Releases for June 14, 2005

June 13th, 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 is a much slower week for DVD releases when compared to last week, but that's not surprising since last week was the the busiest week for DVD releases in a few years, at least. There are a few choices for the DVD pick of the week depending on a couple of questions. Do you own any version of Jaws? If not, pick up the 30th Anniversary Edition. Are you Canadian? If so, pick up Degrassi Junior High - Season 2, (I know I mentioned it last week, but it isn't available in Canada till tomorrow.) Otherwise, Hitch, (Buy from Amazon) is probably your best choice.

The Bette Davis Collection - Buy from Amazon
Like the Joan Crawford Collection below, this set contains too many double-dips, of the five films only 2 are completely new on DVD with one other new version. The two films that were previously released are also the two best films, however, there is no filler on this set. On a side note, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is being re-released tomorrow. The cult classic stars both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

Casino - The Tenth Anniversary - Buy from Amaozn: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
This film has a lot of similarities with Goodfellas: same director, same writer, many of the same stars and both movies are based on real life Mafia stories. However, while Goodfellas is my favorite Mafia movie of all time, this one left me cold and while I'm not alone in feeling this way, I'm in the minority. Extras are a massive step up from the previous release with audio commentary, deleted scenes and outtakes and several documentary looks of the making of the film and the real-life events that inspired the film.

Cracker - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
The US remake starring Robert Pastorelli and not the superior British version with Robbie Coltrane. That is not to say this is a bad show, in fact, if it was made today, and on a cable channel, it would earn a lot more praise and probably last a few seasons at least. All 16 episodes are on this 4-disc set but there are no real special features.

A Dirty Shame - Buy from Amazon: Neuter Version or Unrated Edition
John Waters's return to the gross-out comedy with mixed results. Special features are very, very good for such a limited release with two audio commentary tracks, a feature-length behind-the-scenes look at the movie, a glossary of dirty terms used in the movie and more. A fun release, but so outside the mainstream that most people won't enjoy it. Also available as part of a box set, but more on that later.

Good Neighbors - The Complete Series 1-3 - Buy from Amazon
This set plus the previously releases Final Season represents the entire Good Neighbors run, which is one of the most beloved Britcoms of all time. The 4-disc set contains all 21 episodes from the first three seasons plus the 1977 Christmas Special.

H.G. Wells the War of the Worlds - Buy from Amazon
Arguably the most faithful adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel ever. However, it is also arguably the worst adaptation as well. Bad acting, bad directing, bad special effects� there is almost no redeeming qualities. But at least they didn't mess with the story to appease a big name star. I guess I'll have to wait till the adaptation of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds comes out in 2007.

Heaven Can Wait - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
The recently departed Henry Van Cleve finds himself at the gates of hell, but instead of being let in like he assumed he would he has to prove his qualification by recounting his life of indulgence. A film that is unfairly ignored since most people who think of Heaven Can Wait think of the 1978 remake, which wasn't based on this film in the first place. This is a shame since it is an excellent movie and now that its getting the Criterion Touch it should be added to many more DVD collections.

Highlander - Raven - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
A spin-off of a spin-off of a cult movie franchise. The popularity of the show was winding down before this series began so it's no real surprise that it wasn't renewed. (It was also a mistake to mess with the winning formula.) Extras include audio commentary tracks on four episodes, extensive interview clips, outtakes and a CD-Rom full of scripts, bios, etc., basically an electronic press kit.) Overall, the 8 disc set is only really worth it for hardcore fans of the franchise.

Hitch - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan & Scan or UMD for PSP
The biggest hit of the year till Revenge of the Sith came along. The reviews were better than expected, but not strong enough to put it in the upper echelon of films, but it's a safe bet for fans of romantic comedies. Special features include deleted and extended scenes, and behind-the-scenes featurettes on a variety of subjects from the fashion to Kevin James' ... I guess unique is the best way to describe his dancing style. Overall the whole package is certainly entertaining and worth picking up.

Jaws - 30th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen - Pan & Scan
One of the first blockbusters and arguably the prototype for the summer popcorn flick. Of course it's about 100 times better than your average popcorn flick that comes out these days. Compared to the previous release, which was released five years ago, this version has the full feature-length making of documentary that was first released on the Laserdisc and hasn't been released in full since then. This is an excellent look at the making of the movie and is worth the price all by itself. Other special features include other interviews, deleted scenes, outtakes a photo booklet and more. Worth the upgrade and if you don't have any of the previous versions in your DVD collection this is a must own.

The Joan Crawford Collection - Buy from Amazon
The dreaded double-dip strikes again. Of the five films presented in this box set, two have already been releases, and to make matters worse, those are the best two movies in the set. If you own those two releases, then this set isn't worth the price. Otherwise, it's not a bad deal.

King of Queens - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The studio is obviously hoping to cash in on a little cross-promotion with Hitch, and it makes sense as Kevin James stars in both. (Ok, while it's true he's more of a supporting character in Hitch but he steals every scene he's in.) The show's fun and the interplay between the cast is great, (especially with Nicole Sullivan joining the cast.) But unfortunately there are no real special features on the 3-disc set.

Little House on the Prairie - The Complete Season 8 - Buy from Amazon
The eighth season of this long running show is the last to feature Michael Landon and the rest of that cast. Fans of the series know exactly what to get in terms of episodes and special features. Those of us who are not have already stopped reading and moved onto the next DVD release on the list.

The Nomi Song - Buy from Amazon
"He came from outer space to save the human race." A documentary look at one of the most unusual characters in the New Wave scene of the 80s. His odd vocal styling and theatrics could have made him a huge star, but in 1983 he died of AIDS complications. (It is often noted he was the first celebrity to die from AIDS.) This is a fascinating look at a fascinating man, and the DVD release is amazing for a limited release, audio commentary, deleted scenes, (nearly an hours worth), a look at the films premiere and bonus performances by Nomi of three of his songs plus audio remixes of a few more songs. A must have for fans of New Wave.

Northern Exposure - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
While this was the third season to air, it's the first full season. It is also the most acclaimed season as it won 6 Emmys and was nominated for 10 others. Pricewise, the set costs the same as the first two seasons, despite being three times as long. The second season also suffered from the dreaded music replacement, which is very peculiar since the high price was justified because of music licensing problems. There's no word if this set suffers from the same problems, but that seems likely at this point. Can also be purchased with the first two seasons as part of a package deal.

Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament - Series 1 - Buy from Amazon
I do believe this is the show that killed the NHL on ESPN. Since the NHL is locked out they had to find replacement programming and since this show was cheaper to make and earned better ratings than national games, they dropped the NHL from their lineups. Ouch. I love playing and watching poker, but these DVD sets don't have the replay value necessary to warrant purchasing them.

Reno 911 - The Complete Second Season - Uncensored - Buy from Amazon
Most fans of this series will agree that this season was even better than the first season. And the DVD release is just as much of an improvement: audio commentary on four episodes, 90 minutes of deleted and extended scenes and a live performance of the Reno Sheriff's Department "Drug Arrest Prevention Seminar." Easily worth the price.

Richard Jeni: Big Steaming Pile of Me - Buy from Amazon
After his co-starring role in The Mask, it looked like Richard Jeni was on the fast track to success, but that never happened. He still does a lot of stand-up and is very popular on the club circuit, but big time stardom has alluded him. This particular set, which first aired on HBO earlier in the year, isn't his best work but should amuse most people. However, without any special features it's not worth the price except for hardcore Richard Jeni fans.

Rory O'Shea Was Here - Buy from Amazon
Two severally disabled men leave a residential care home to strike it out on their own. The film was only able to earn mixed reviews before quickly disappearing from theatres, but it deserved a better fate. The DVD release is better than most limited releases with deleted and extended scenes, plus an alternate ending.

Saved By the Bell - The New Class Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
This is quite a stunningly bad show, but obviously people keep buying these DVDs because they keep making more. If you want a quality show that deals with highschool life get Degrassi instead, either the original or the next generation.

Tarzan II - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD sequel to one of the last Disney 2-D animated films that was an event film. The best thing you can say about this release is it's not as bad as some other such releases.

Tilt - Season One - Buy from Amazon
Tilt is a term used by poker players to refer to playing on emotion after a bad beat. When a player is tilting it means they will make bad decisions, generally betting heavily on weak hands. This show is trying to capitalize on massive craze surrounding poker right now, but the show just isn't high enough quality to justify picking it up. And the more you are into poker the more you will dislike this show, the poker is too unrealistic and too contrived to be compelling. On the other hand, the special feature are great with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, outtakes, behind-the-scenes, etc.

Very Crudely Yours, John Waters - Buy from Amazon
Seven John Waters movies in one box set for those who want as much bad taste as possible. Includes a bonus disc, John Waters DVD Scrapbook, which was previously only available through mail order. Some box sets are a great way for casual fans to be introduced to the works of a particular director, genre, star, etc. This is not one of them. Either you are a massive fan of John Waters's brand of gross-out comedy already, or you should stay away from this release. I'm not saying this is a bad deal because fans of his work should pick it up, but so few people will appreciate the movies that it is definitely not something you go into blind. If you're interested but haven't seen his films before, I suggest renting Pink Flamingos first to see if you'll enjoy his tales of bad taste.

Walker Texas Ranger - The Final Season - Buy from Amazon
I was surprised to see this set being releases because I didn't remember the previous seasons being released on DVD yet. After a quick check I found out that they hadn't been released. Why the studio would release the final season first is beyond me. I could understand releasing the final season of a long-running show that had just ended like Fraiser did. But to release the final season first for a show that ended four years ago baffles me.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Hitch, A Dirty Shame, The Nomi Song, Rory O'Shea Was Here