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DVD Releases for June 28, 2005

June 27th, 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. Yet another bad week for first-run releases, in fact, there's not a single wide release I'll be picking up till August. This week the best of the bunch is again from the TV on DVD selection, but surprisingly it isn't a full season set. Normally I refuse to buy TV on DVD, but I'll make an exception for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - Indecision 2004 - Buy from Amazon, which is easily the DVD pick of the week.

7 Seconds - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD release starring Wesley Snipes, whose career box office earnings are over $1 billion. And even though he's never been in a single movie that has reached $100 million, this is still a low point for his career.

The '70s Dimension - Buy from Amazon
A collection of commercials and PSAs from the 70s, plus remixes of these oddities which make them even more surreal. It is certainly interesting to watch, but not enough to earn a recommendation. Maybe if your really into the 70s, or grew up in the 70s and wanted a kick of nostalgia this would be worth a rental.

Bad Guy - Buy from Amazon
The cover of this DVD says it's from the director of Spring, Summer, Autum, Winter� and Spring, but this is very misleading as the two films couldn't be more different. That movie was serene and beautiful while this one is brutal and disturbing.

The Browning Version - Buy from Amazon
A classic from 1951 that was remade in 1994. Michael Redgrave stars as Andrew Crocker-Harris, a retiring schoolteacher in Britain who was hated by his students, whom he blames for his failings as a teacher. There are excellent special features for a film that is more than 50 years old, audio commentary, interviews with Michael Redgrave from 1958, interviews with the Mike Figgis, director of the remake and more.

Cadet Kelly - Buy from Amazon
A TV movie made for the Disney Channel starring Hilary Duff and Christy Carlson Romano. This is actually a pretty good movie when compared to most movies that air on the network and the DVD features are not bad either with audio commentary on select scenes and a behind-the-scenes look. Overall it's nothing too special, but should satisfy members of the target demographic.

Crazed Fruit - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
I like watching movies that were shocking when they first came out. It's an interesting lesson in how society changes and what was once forbidden in now commonplace. (Of course it works the other way as well.) This film changed movie making in Japan ushering in the taiyozoku school of cinema, (taiyozoku translated into English as Sun Tribe.) There's only one special feature on the disc, but it is an incredibly in-depth audio commentary by Japanese film scholar Donald Richie.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - Indecision 2004 - Buy from Amazon
There are two main reasons why I want everyone to buy this DVD, firstly, it is the funniest and unfortunately, the most accurate look at the 2004 Presidential Election. Secondly, if this sells well enough maybe they'll put out other sets, (Indecision 2000) and the studio will realize the timely nature of the comedy isn't a liability for the DVD sales and other similar shows will also be released on DVD, (Spitting Image.) The 3-disc set includes ten full episodes, all four shows from both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, plus The First Presidential Debate: The Squabble in Coral Gables and Election Night '04: Prelude to a Recount. Extras included are mostly bits from the show by the correspondents, however, there are a couple features made specifically for the DVDs, (intros an each disc, an a cappella version of the national anthem, etc.) The only complaint I could make is over the price, which is a little higher than most TV on DVD releases on a per minute basis, but it is still well worth buying.

Danger 50,000 Volts - Buy from Amazon
Finally, a show that tells you what you really need to know, like how to survive a Hippo attack. If only it came out last week. The show is hosted by Nick Frost of Shaun of the Dead and features actual expects that teach all manner of survival skills in case you're ever attacked by bat-wielding thugs, caught in an avalanche and of course, if your city is overrun by Zombies. Ok, that last one was just a spoof, but the rest of the series does contain real advice.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
This film is probably the biggest surprise at the box office this year, at least the biggest positive surprise. Opening in just 1,483 to awful reviews, (even the positive reviews were critical of the film), however, it surprised everyone by finishing first. On the other hand, it had short, short legs showing it was more of a niche market film. The special features are strong, but not strong enough to push the film past the rental level, and even then it's only worth it for its target demographic. Fans of Tyler Perry's work can also pick up I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Madea's Class Reunion, Madea's Family Reunion and Meet the Browns all of which come out tomorrow.

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry - Supercharger Edition - Buy from Amazon
Best way to describe the quality of this movie is substandard in nearly every way, except for the car chases, which are legendary. Special feature are on par with other Special Edition for movies from that are this old, audio commentary, making of and promotion spots, (trailer, TV and radio spots, etc.) Fans of recent car chase movies might get a kick out of watching a classic of the genre, but even then it's a rent before you buy situation. Another Peter Fonda movie, Race With the Devil - Buy from Amazon, also comes out tomorrow. In that film, Peter Fonda is on the run after witnessing a human sacrifice.

Doris Day Show - Season 1 - Buy from Amazon
During the first season of the show, Doris Day was a widow who moved back to the country with her two sons. During the second season she was a single gal in the city. You don't often see such dramatic changes in a show from season to season. While the show was reasonably popular during its run, it hasn't held up well over time. Special features on the 4-disc set include interviews, promos, preview for season 2 and more.

The Even Stevens Movie - Buy from Amazon
Someone explain to Disney that fans really want full season sets of their popular shows, not the TV movie version, (and certainly not best-of sets.) Most fans of the show would agree that the movie isn't as good as the average TV episode was, it just wasn't funny. The special features aren't bad with an audio commentary track, game, party planner, etc. however, they are strong enough to make the DVD worth picking up unless you are a serious Even Stevens fan. On the other hand, it might be worth picking up just to show Disney that there's a market for full season sets.

La Femme Nikita - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The French film, La Femme Nikita, spawned an American remake and eventually this Canadian TV series. The show ran four and a half seasons in syndication and over that time developed a very loyal following and to thank them the studio has put out a fine DVD release. The 6-disc set includes audio commentary on two episodes, deleted scenes, outtakes and a behind-the-scenes look at the production design. Can also be purchased with the first two season as part of a package deal.

Game Over - The Complete Collection - Buy from Amazon
The lowest rated show of the entire 2003-2004 season and it's coming out on DVD. And it's not just being dumped onto the marketplace on a featureless disc either. Granted, there are not a lot of special features, but more than you would expect from a series that lasted just 6 episodes. This upsets me because like most people out there I've been fans of short run shows that have never seen the light of day after being cancelled, and if this show deserves a DVD release then so does Grosse Pointe. Anyhoo, the show itself has an interesting premise, amazing voice actors and tons of special guests. What it didn't have was good writing. The show is set within the video game world and dealt with the day-to-day life of video game characters. But instead of using that premise to its full potential, the show were basically the same as any other sitcom, just with video game characters. And the writing wasn't even well done compared to the average sitcom. Very disappointing.

Gunner Palace - Buy from Amazon
A frank and honest look at the soldiers in Iraq. This not a technically great film, at times the direction, video and audio is so bad it's distracting, but it succeeds in showing what it is really like on the ground in Iraq. Special features are on par with other limited releases in the form of nearly half-an-hour of extra scenes.

Homicide Life on the Street - The Complete Season 7 - Buy from Amazon
The final season of the best cop show of its day is finally released on DVD. The episodes in this season are incredible, just as strong as in any other season. There is one minor complaint with the Law & Order crossover episode, namely the first part isn't included. It was an episode from the ninth season of and given the current release schedule, it won't come out on DVD for another 4 to 5 years. The special feature are also on par with the previous release, i.e. light but serviceable and it's a great way to cap off an excellent run.

Jimi Hendrix - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
Part biography, part hero-worship. Granted, the man was an amazing musician and an incredible performer, but you can't tell the story of his life and gloss over the dark bits. I'm not saying tear him down or commit character assassination, but tell the full story; it's much more interesting. On the other hand, Jimi Hendrix's performance that are included in the documentary and the special features make this DVD worth picking up for his fans.

Monsieur N. - Buy from Amazon
A fictionalized account of Napoleon's exile on the island of St. Helena. Enough of the film works that fans of the genre should be intrigued, but not enough works to earn a recommendation.

Nero Wolfe - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The second and unfortunately the last season of this TV series hits DVD. Maury Chaykin stars as Nero Wolfe, an eccentric detective obsessed with food and orchids, and Timothy Hutton is Archie Goodwin, his right-hand man and the guy who does all the legwork. I loved this show, I especially loved how they had the group of actors show after show after show playing different characters, some actors played more than a dozen characters in the shows 2-year run. Some might find that confusing, but I think it added a certain charm to the show. Special features include the bonus movie, The Golden Spiders and a making of featurette.

Overnight - Buy from Amazon
We've heard the story a million times, someone becomes an overnight success, their egos inflate to incredible proportions, they alienate friends and family and then it all comes crashing done. This is one more such story... without the success. The documentary was originally supposed to be about the behind-the-scenes of The Boondock Saints and the rise of its writer / director Troy Duffy. Instead it showed an ego out of control, destroying everything it comes across. The movie is a must see for fans of Schadenfreude and the DVD release is better than most limited releases.

The Pacifier - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Another film that beat box office expectation despite earning terribly reviews. Extras are also weak, but more in terms of quality than numbers, (only the audio commentary is worthy, and even that won't demand repeat viewing.) It's worth a rental is you have younger kids, but otherwise skip it.

The Ren and Stimpy Show - Seasons Three and a Half-ish - Buy from Amazon
There are so many lessons to be learned from the fate of Ren & Stimpy. Firstly, if you are the executive in charge of a show is popular, it doesn't matter if you get the jokes or not. Secondly, don't mess with a popular show. And lastly, if you are the creative mind behind something, don't sell your rights to a studio. Fans of the first two seasons will notice a real decline in quality in the set, which is not surprising since John Kricfalusi was replaced. Sure, there are a few good episodes, (Ren's Pecs, for instance) but no real classics. The only special features on the disc are the audio commentaries, but with 11 of them that's plenty to make the set worth picking up for fans of the real Ren & Stimpy.

Revelations - Buy from Amazon
NBC really hyped this mini-series, but quite frankly, it didn't live up to the hype. The writers got much of the theology wrong, nearly all of the science wrong, the dialogue was wooden, the plot was filled with cliches and had the cheap feel of a TV movie.

Thumbwars / Thumbtanic - Buy from Amazon: UMD Mini For PSP
The first two Thumbmation films created by Steve Oedekerk, writer of Bruce Almighty, Jimmy Neutron and other. These parodies are very funny in a warped way, but the others in the series are even funnier. Batthumb's the best with Fred the Butler, "If you're going out be sure to take an umbrella because there's bacon outside."

Time Barbarians - Buy from Amazon
This is a bad movie. A bad, bad movie. But if you are a fan of bad movies, there are few that are as entertainingly bad as this.

A Touch of Frost - Season 6 - Buy from Amazon
This is the second to last season of this series, (not counting the three specials aired between this season and season 7, which are being sold as Seasons 7 & 8.) David Jason is back as Detective Inspector Jack Frost in the great series, which is so much different than the typical criminal investigation TV show made in the States. The shows are meticulous, deliberate, certainly not flashy and well worth checking out. Unfortunately, the 2-disc set has no special features.

The Twilight Zone - Buy from Amazon: Definitive Edition - Season 3 and 1985 Series - Seasons 2 & 3
The original was arguably the greatest anthology TV series ever made and while the 1985 version wasn't as strong, it was still one of the better shows on TV. If I were forced to choose one of these sets, Definitive Edition - Season 3 would be the obvious choice, not only are the stories better, but so are the special features, (which is surprising since the show is much older.) But both sets will certainly please fans of the series.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Pacifier, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Gunner Palace, Monsieur N., Overnight