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DVD Releases for July 19, 2005

July 18th, 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's another slow week as there are no wide releases that earned overall positive reviews, and there were only a few limited and older releases to pick up the slack. Again it was the TV on DVD section that came to the rescue with Dead Like Me - The Complete Second Season and This Is Wonderland - The Complete First Season being chosen as the DVD picks of the week.

Andromeda - Season 4 Collection - Buy from Amazon
The writing on this series is uneven, really uneven. At its best the show could rival just about any other science fiction show on TV, but at its worse it was painful. And unfortunately, there were more of the latter than the former. Still, it was better than Season 3 and the hardcore fans should be pleased, but more casual fans would be better served catching their favorite episodes in syndication.

BBC History of War - Buy from Amazon
A massive 12-disc set contains 35 hours of programming starting with The Nazis - A Warning from History, a 5-hour program dealing with the rise of the Nazi party in Germany and ending with D-Day to Berlin, which chronicles the Allies march from the beaches of Normandy to Berlin and the surrender of German forces. It's rare to have a single collection be this comprehensive and the price is very low for the amount of material presented. Overall a must have for history buffs.

Cleopatra 2525 - Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
There are some short-run TV series that causes an uproar when they are canceled, this is not one of them. Even fans of the show will admit it's a cheesy show, ok, if you are willing to shut the logical part of your mind down and just go with it, it can be fun. Set in the year 2525 Jennifer Sky stars as Cleo, an exotic dancer who goes in for a boob job only to be cryogenically frozen and thawed out more than 500 years later, where she joins two freedom fighters who are battling machines for control of Earth. (I told you it was cheesy.) The other two freedom fighters were played by Victoria Pratt and Gina Torres of Firefly fame. The 3-disc set includes all 22 half-hour episodes as well as all 6 hour long episodes from season 2, plus a couple of special features, (deleted scenes, outtakes, a look at the stunts.) Also, there's a bonus episode from Earth 2, which is also be released tomorrow.

Constantine - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan & Scan or 2-Disc Deluxe Edition with Comic Book
This comic book movie earned middling reviews but still beat expectations domestically and doubled that amount internationally. If your interested in the Constantine, the 2-Disc Deluxe Edition with Comic Book is definitely the way to go. Not only do you get the comic book, but you also get an extra DVD with deleted scenes, alternate ending, and a five part making of documentary. On paper it's a very well put together DVD, but the end result it lacking a certain something to pull it all together. Very much like the movie itself.

The Crow - Wicked Prayer - Buy from Amazon
This movie was originally meant to be a theatrical release, but the end result was so bad, so incredibly bad, so unrelentingly bad that it is getting the direct-to-DVD approach. There are quite a few special features for a direct-to-DVD release, two audio commentary tracks, making of, storyboard to film comparison, etc. but none of them are really that interesting.

Dead Like Me - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
15. Fifteen. One - Five. That's how many short-lived series I have on DVD. And come tomorrow that number will be 16. Dead Like Me was a great show with excellent writing, interesting characters, great acting, it had it all... including a pretty large production budget, which is why the show got the ax. There were rumors that another network was interested in picking up the show, but nothing every came of that. So fans can only pick up the DVD in hopes that the people involved will get more work shortly. The 4-disc set has a good amount of special features including interviews, a look at the special effects, and deleted scenes, but no audio commentary tracks. Still, it's more than enough to become a DVD pick of the week.

Earth 2 - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Yet another short-lived TV series that is getting another shot at life on DVD this week, this one had potential, but the writing was not sharp enough. Too many episodes were similar enough that it felt like they were running out of creative steam before the season was halfway done. And then the network decided to revamp the show dumbing it down and turning it into a soap opera and by the end of the season it was mercifully canceled. (At the rate it was going, had it lasted another season the results could have been embarrassing.) Special features include deleted and extended scenes, some outtakes, and two bonus episodes from two other TV on DVD sets also coming out tomorrow, Cleopatra 2525 - Complete Series - Buy from Amazon and Sliders - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon.

Ice Princess - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
The best reviewed first-run release of the week, which isn't say much. That is not to say it's a bad movie, in fact, it earned better reviews than most films released this year. However, there are far to many cliches and depending on how you feel about Michelle Trachtenberg and Hayden Panettiere, they may or may not be charming enough to carry the film. Special features are on the light site with deleted scenes, alternate opening, music video and the ever-present audio commentary. Overall it hits all the right notes for its target demographic, but it probably better as a rental.

Laguna Beach - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A reality TV series about the rich and the beautiful who have no real problems so they have to whine loudly about the petty concerns they do have. The only way this show could be remotely interesting would be if they took all 8 of these brats, dropped them in the Serengeti and take bets on who gets eaten first. Ok, that might be a little harsh... no, no it's not. Hell, I'd rather be forced to fend of lions than watch these self-obsessed twerps.

Lost in Space - Season 3 - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
This is the final release for this campy, 60s show that seems to survive purely on nostalgia. This set contains the episode, "The Great Vegetable Rebellion" which is arguably one of the worst TV shows ever made. It was so bad that Guy Williams and June Lockhart laughed so much during the making of it that they were written out of the next two episodes. Special features include interviews and outtakes, which is more than a 40-year-old show usually gets.

Man of the House - Buy from Amazon: DVD or UMD for PSP
Simple put, this is one of the worst movies of the year and while no amount of special features could compensate for the quality of the movie, this DVD doesn't even try with just two, short featurettes. Skip it.

Michael Palin - Himalaya - Buy from Amazon
Yet another travel show starring the Monty Python alum, this time he climbs the Himalayas and meets royalty, travels to Katmandu, participates in religious ceremonies and play polo with school kids. Visually this 3-disc set is unbelievable and Michael Palin makes the perfect host with a combination of wit and awe. And in addition to the six hour-long episodes, there are more than 2 hours of bonus footage and 30 minutes of interviews as well. Is this the best of Palin's five travelogues? Possibly. I personally prefer the two earlier ones, "Around the World in 80 Days" and "Pole to Pole", but until those sets are released on DVD it’s a moot point. Overall, this is a must have for anyone who likes to travel, or if you are like me, prefers to watch other people travel.

Paranoid - Buy from Amazon
I swear this was being re-released last week, but according to Amazin it's coming out tomorrow.

Saved By the Bell - Season Five - Buy from Amazon
The fifth and final season is hitting DVD. It's sad that shows like this have been released on DVD but I'm still waiting for quality shows like Duckman to come out.

Sliders - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This season was the beginning of the end for the show. First of all, the moved the filming from Vancouver to Los Angeles, which is never a good idea. Second, John Rhys-Davies left the show half way through the season followed by Sabrina Lloyd at the end of the season. Also hurting the show was the change at the top as new executive producer, David Peckinpah, revised the show from "What if" alternate histories to thinly veiled movie rip-offs. Special features include a short gag reel and bonus episodes from Cleopatra 2525 - Complete Series and Earth 2, which are also being released tomorrow. Overall, there are enough good episodes to make the set worth picking up for most fans of the show, but it is the last season that is true. The First & Second Seasons are also being re-released tomorrow.

Space Station - Buy from Amazon
I have mixed feelings about IMAX films being released on DVD. On the one hand, they tend to be great movies, but on the other hand, they tend to be short and are meant to take advantage of the huge IMAX screens. They're just not as impressive at home. And taking into account the short running time and they are expensive as well.

This Is Wonderland - The Complete First Season - Buy from
This set was supposed to be released in Canada tomorrow, but checking and it looks like the release date has been pushed back till September 6th. However, other sites still have the July 19th release date. If it has been pushed back it will be the second time that has happened, and hopefully it is the last. The show focus on Alice De Raey, played by Cara Pifko, a young lawyer thrust into the chaos of Toronto's lower courts; the tagline sums it up perfectly, Law & Order... Without the Order. Special features include audio commentaries, (include not just the cast but actual lawyers), behind the scenes, auditions, and more. More than enough to make this 3-disc set worth importing for Americans and any Canadians out there have a patriotic duty to buy it.

Up and Down - Buy from Amazon
The Czech entry for best foreign language film at this year's Oscar and while it didn't get nominated its reviews are strong enough that it was a definite contender. It was nominated for 14 Czech Lions, winning 5 of them. Special features are good for a limited release with a making of featurette, music video and the international trailer. Fans of director Jan Hrebejk's previous film, Divided We Fall should check out this release as well.

Urban Legends - Bloody Mary - Buy from Amazon
The latest film from the Urban Legends franchise hits the home market as a direct-to-DVD release. It's not as bad as that would suggest, but it's also not terribly good either. It's better than the second, but not as good as the first. There's not much her in terms of special features, just a making of featurette. Can also be purchased with the first two movies as part of a package deal.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Constantine, Ice Princess, Man of the House, Up & Down, Wicked Prayer