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DVD Releases for July 12, 2005

July 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, classics and a few from the growing TV on DVD section. We finally have a big box office hit as the best DVD release of the week with Million Dollar Baby - Delux Edition with Soundtrack being the clear favorite. But that doesn't mean there are no TV on DVD releases worth picking up as both Titus - Seasons 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon and Sealab 2021 - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon and included on the list DVD pick of the week releases. On the flip side, there are a dozen films on this week's list that range from really bad to atrociously bad. It's like the stars have aligned and unspeakable cinematic horrors from another dimension are flooding in. That might be a tad overly dramatic, but I can't recall a time when there were more really bad movies being released in one week.

The Adventurers - Buy from Amazon
At best this film can be called a guilty pleasure. This film is bad, and even though parts of it are entertainingly bad, it's way too long even for that purpose. And with no special features and this DVD is best left on the shelf.

Agatha Christie's Poirot - The Classic Collection - Buy from Amazon
At first glance this seems like an expensive set, but with a total run time of more than a day it's not that bad on a per minute basis. Dame Agatha Christie is one of the most heavily read authors in the world and she created two of the most recognizable sleuths, Hercule Poirot being one and Miss Marples being the other. While I prefer Peter Ustinov's portrayal, no one would deny that David Suchet does an amazing job as Hercule Poirot in this series. All 36 one-hour episodes are on this 12-disc set, but there's precious little in the way of special features.

Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection - Buy from Amazon
The first movie is a classic in a genre I like to call, Adventures in Stupidity, movies in which the main characters have amazing adventures and somehow always come out on top despite their single digit IQs. There are usually two characters and they are almost always male: Dumb and Dumber, Dude, Where's My Car?, Beavis and Butt-head, etc. Why is that? I actually prefer the second movie, but I admit my opinion is in the minority. As for the special features, this 3-disc set is stacked with making of documentary, interviews, bonus episode of the cartoon, and even an Air Guitar tutorial. Definitely worth picking up.

The Boys & Girls from County Claire - Buy from Amazon
If you a fan of Celtic music, this is a good film, if not, there's not much here worth recommending.

The Chronicles of Narnia - Buy from Amazon
I assume the studio is looking to benefit from cross-promotional buzz from the movie, but it's a little early for that. These three adaptations were produced for the BBC starting in the last 80s and have a running time of nearly 8 and a half hours, which explains why there's almost nothing on the DVDs except for the shows. They are showing their age both in terms of special effects and in pacing; the shows move slowly and don't have the action most kids movies have today. On the other hand, the price is excellent considering the runtime. All three series can also be purchased separately.

Cry Baby - Director's Cut - Buy from Amazon
One of director John Waters' more commercial movies, which isn't saying much. It is also one of those films that proves Johnny Depp isn't scared off by an unconventional role. Cry Baby did earn some of the best reviews of his career so far, but barely managed to open in the top ten. However, it did go on to become a cult classic on the home market. The Director's Cut contains about 7 minutes more material as well as audio commentary, additional deleted scenes and a making of featurette. This is a great buy for people who like John Waters' sense of humor, but think he goes too far too often as the film is the most approachable. And if you picked up Very Crudely Yours, this DVD is just one more step in completing your John Waters collection.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story - Unrated Edition - Buy from Amazon
I'm not a real fan of the Unrated Label, it is usually just an attempt to get people to buy the DVD with the vague promise of seeing a nipple. At least with this DVD there's quite a bit more in the way of special features over the previous release, but not enough to justify the upgrade.

Dracula 3 - Legacy - Buy from Amazon
The second direct-to-DVD sequel for a movie that wasn't all that good to begin with.

Freaked - Buy from Amazon
Directed by Alex Winter, a.k.a. Bill from Bill & Ted, which is also coming out tomorrow. One might think this release is a cheap money grab sponging off the attention the other release is generating, but this warped film is a cult classic in its own right and the DVD release is incredible. This is a film that disappeared from theatres practically before it was released, so if it was dumped on the home market it would be completely understandable, however, the 2-disc set is packed. There's the ever-present audio commentary, interviews, deleted scenes, rehearsal version, shorts and more. It's incredible and a must have for those with a demented sense of humor.

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie - Buy from Amazon
One of the worst movies ever made, and not even bad in a good way.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe - Best 10 Episode Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
On the one hand, this isn't a bad set with a reasonable amount of special features for the price. On the other hand, it's a TV on DVD release that's not a full season set. Skip it.

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys - Season 6 - Buy from Amazon
The final season of the popular syndicated series hits the home market tomorrow on this 5-disc set. Yes, that's a lot of discs for just 8 episodes, but one of them is a CD-Rom disc, so it doesn't count. Other special features include audio commentary on 2 episodes, interviews on 3 more, the third part in the documentary look at the making of the monsters and the behind the scenes look at the making of the final episode. The set is a must have for fans of the show and those who haven't given the sets a chance might want to check out Season 1, it's been marked down to $15.00.

Hercules / The Adventures of Hercules - Buy from Amazon
Two stunningly bad movies starring Lou Ferrigno as Hercules.

Hunter - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
One of a dozen TV series created by super-producer, Stephen J. Cannell, which is both a blessing and a curse. He had so many shows going he had to hand the reigns to someone else, which meant the show lost its sleazy edge. It still had a Dirty Harry feel, but wasn't gritty enough anymore.

Illegally Yours - Buy from Amazon
There are a lot of bad movies being released tomorrow, and this is one of them. Moving on.

Love at First Bite - Buy from Amazon
A romantic comedy starring George Hamilton as Dracula. A campy but fun movie that is unfortunately being released on a featureless disc.

Manna From Heaven - Buy from Amazon
This film tries hard, but comes up short. It's a little too complicated, a little too long, has a few too many characters and is way too sweet for its own good. Special features are great for a limited release film with audio commentary, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes, interviews and more.

Max Dugan Returns - Buy from Amazon
An underrated gem from the early 80s. Jason Robards Jr. stars as the titular character who tries to reunite with his daughter, whom he walked out on 30 years before. Short on time he tries to buy the love of his daughter and her son, using money he got through less than legal means. I'll admit that the film lacks substance and has been accurately described as a fable, but with excellent writing by Neil Simon and a great cast, (including big screen debuts by both Matthew Broderick and Kiefer Sutherland) this is not a problem. The lack of special features reduces the value of the disc, but it is still worth a rental for most and I'll probably be picking it up.

The Mickey Mouse Club - Buy from Amazon: The Best of the Original Series and The Best of Britney, Justin & Christina
This smells like a fishing trip to me. I think Disney is just testing the waters to see if full season sets are really worth releasing. The lack of special features would seem to confirm that. In the end these are not worth picking up on their own merit, however, real hardcore fans might want to buy them to convince Disney that there's enough demand to create full season sets. Quite frankly, I don't think that will work. On a side note, biographies for Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears are also coming out tomorrow.

Million Dollar Baby - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan & Scan, or Delux Edition with Soundtrack
The big winner at the Oscars this year; while The Aviator won more awards, Million Dollar Baby won more of the most prestigious categories. One of the best reviewed movies of last year and went on to become one of Clint Eastwood's biggest hits. There are two versions of the DVD coming out, the Regular and Deluxe Edition. The only difference between the two is the CD Soundtrack, and at $6.50 more on Amazon, it is much cheaper than getting the soundtrack separately and that should be taken into account. However, the special features are the same, and a little light for a 2-disc set. No audio commentary, and less than an hour of featurettes on the second disc. Still, it's the best film of 2004 and should be in everyone's collection.

Mondovino - Buy from Amazon
A documentary for people who watched Sideways and really, really got into wine. It's not a bad movie, but paradoxically the film is too long and not in-depth enough.

Moving Violations - Buy from Amazon
From the same writer that brought us Police Academy, and that's pretty much all you need to know. It's one of those lowbrow comedies with tons of characters so the writers don't have to spend a lot of time on each one, after all, it's easily to write for a dozen 1-dimensional characters than 2 or 3 well rounded ones. I guess if you're looking for a movie that's so stupid it's funny you could do worse than this one, but not by much.

The Nanny - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
I don't think anyone would accuse this show of being overly intellectual, it was just your typical sitcom with rather stereotypical characters and for the most part cliched situations. On the other hand, it was obviously made by people who enjoyed their job and as long as your are only looking for laughs it's not a bad show. Special features are above what I was expecting with three audio commentary tracks with Fran Drescher and a 20 minute retrospective filmed last summer and featuring much of the cast. Overall it's a great deal for fans of this long running comedy.

National Geographic - Guns, Germs and Steel - Buy from Amazon
According to Amazon, of the nearly 500 DVDs coming out tomorrow, this is the second best seller. It's an interesting look at why certain parts of the world thrive while others struggle and looks at the geography that seems to be the determining factor.

National Lampoon's Class Reunion - Buy from Amazon
Movies like this are so bad that they taint the very name National Lampoon, which used to mean something.

National Lampoon's Movie Madness - Buy from Amazon
Same as above, only this movie is twice as bad.

Night Moves - Buy from Amazon
A great Film Noir film from the 70s that is unfairly compared to Chinatown, which came out a year earlier. And yes, Chinatown is the better film, but that's hardly a valid complaint and is certainly no reason to dismiss this film or Gene Hackman's brilliant performance. Special features on the disc include two promo pieces, Day of the Director and the Trailer; that's not much, but expected given the age of the film.

Le Notti Bianche - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
An adaptation of a Fyodor Dostoyevsky story directed by Italian master, Luchino Visconti, and it's arguably his best work. Mario has a chance encounter with Natalia and tries to woo her, but she is in love with another man and is waiting for his promised return. Now Mario has to convince her she's waiting in vain without destroying her dreams and causing her to hate him instead. Special features are a mix of new and old with interviews, screen tests, and an audio reading of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's original story, which is also downloadable in mp3 format.

Paranoid - Buy from Amazon
An early film with Jessica Alba and is probably being release to coincide with Fantastic Four and for no other reason.

The Party Animal - Buy from Amazon
What's with all the bad movies coming out tomorrow? It's like an epidemic of some kind.

Scarecrow - Buy from Amazon
The second of three film starring Gene Hackman that are coming out tomorrow. This one stars starring Gene Hackman and Al Pacino as two drifters that meet up and decide to hitchhike across the country and is almost as good as Night Moves, (although I much prefer the Film Noir genre.) Special features are again light with just the trailer and another promotional piece called On The Road With Scarecrow.

Sealab 2021 - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
Season 3 of this twisted series hits DVD, and like the previous releases, there's plenty of extras on the 2-disc set: audio commentaries, interviews, bonus episodes and more. More than enough to make the set a must have. Can also be purchased with the first two seasons as part of a package deal.

Sinbad of the Seven Seas - Buy from Amazon
Yet another film being release tomorrow that clearly falls under the, "So bad they're good" banner. Shows like this make me wish MST3K would last forever. You could have a bad movie marathon with all the stinkers coming out tomorrow.

State Property 2 - Buy from Amazon
This film was only able to earn two positive reviews, which is two more than the original earned. The film started off better than expected earning more than $200,000 on opening day, but quickly collapsed from there. The DVD release is hardly better with just an audio commentary track as the only special feature.

Tales from the Crypt - The First Season - Buy from Amazon
All six episodes of the first season of this anthology horror comedy coming out on a 2-disc set. Since each episode is only 30 minutes long, and a single DVD can easily hold all 3 hours, you'd expect this set to be packed with special features. But the set only has a few features, an intro and 'history' done by the Crypt Keeper full of puns like you would expect. The only real special feature is a documentary, which has already been released on DVD. That adds up to a DVD release that's only for hardcore fans. Disappointing.

Teen Witch - Buy from Amazon
Want to know the plot of Teen Witch, rent Teen Wolf instead as they are practically the same movie, expect the latter film is the better of the two movies, but that's not saying much.

Titus - Seasons 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon
One of a couple of dozen high quality shows that Fox cancelled far too soon. The show was based on the one man show, "Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding", which was in turn based on the life of Christopher Titus. It dealt with his dysfunctional family and was so close to reality that they had to sign a disclaimer; keep that in mind when you watch the show. Unlike so many sitcoms, Titus was dark and edgy, which is what made it so compelling and that was also what led to its early cancellation. Special features are excellent with audio commentaries on two episodes, rehearsal footage and an interview with Christopher Titus. One last note, when I grab this set on Tuesday, it will be the seventh short-lived Fox TV series I own on DVD, and Undeclared comes out in just over a month.

Twice in a Lifetime - Buy from Amazon
The final film starring Gene Hackman being release on DVD tomorrow and this one's crap. Ok, that's a little harsh, the movie is actually quite good, but the DVD presentation is awful. The DVD is Pan & Scan only, grainy Pan & Scan. To not release the widescreen version of the movie is simply unforgivable and if you were looking forward to this release I would complain.

Unfaithfully Yours - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
The original from 1948 and not the remake from 1984. This version is a black comedy classic telling the story of Sir Alfred De Carter, a conductor who has come to believe his wife is cheating on him. While conducting the orchestra he comes up with three elaborate ways to deal with his unfaithful wife, however, when he decides to turn his fantasy into reality things don't go as planned. Special features include an audio commentary, an introduction by Terry Jones, interview with Preston Sturges' wife, Sandy Sturges, and image galleries. On a side note, the remake was release on DVD just a month ago, but it isn't worthy of the same name as the original.

A Very Long Engagement - Buy from Amazon
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's follow-up to Amelie. This film also starred Audrey Tautou, which may explain the great expectations put upon the film. And while this film was well received by critics, it simply wasn't a good as Amelie and it suffered at the box office. Special features on the 2-disc set include the ubiquitous feature length audio commentary, deleted scenes, and three featurettes, including a making of documentary.

Vintage Mickey - Buy from Amazon
I've said it before and I'll probably have to say it again, I think Warner Bros. is the only studio to do cartoon compelations right. The disc contains 9 early shorts featuring the world's most famous mouse, but the total lack of special features hurts its value tremendously.

Weekend at Bernie's - Buy from Amazon
Not nearly as bad as it should have been considering it's a one joke film. One-joke films rarely last 10 - 20 minutes before the joke wears so thin that the audience no longer cares. In this case it lasts longer, but not long enough to sustain the whole film, and certainly not long enough to warrant a sequel. As for the DVD, there are no real special features on the disc. If you remember the film fondly, I would suggest renting it first, it probably won't live up to your memories.

When Puppets and Dolls Attack - Buy from Amazon
Yeah, I don't know how to react to this movie either. In fact, it's not really a movie but a bunch of clips from other movies featuring murderous living toys. It does contain a lot from the Puppetmaster series, which is a plus.

Wishing Stairs - Buy from Amazon
The final film in the Whispering Corridors trilogy, and like the previous films, this one is a moody, suspenseful film that builds on a sense of dread, and is not scare a minute shocker like many Hollywood horror films.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Million Dollar Baby, Un long dimanche de fiançailles, State Property 2, Mondovino, The Boys from County Clare