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DVD Releases for August 23, 2005

August 22nd, 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 a strange week with several special edition releases coming out for movies that range in age from just a couple of years to a couple of decades. The quality also varies from guilty pleasure to award winning classic. It's hard to pick just one DVD pick of the week, and usually I just pick all of the DVDs I'm planning on picking up. However, this week I'll just highlight the top few choices: Harakiri - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon, The Truman Show - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon, and Witness - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon. Any of those would make excellent additions to most people's DVD collections. And out of the guilty pleasures selection, The Transporter - Special Delivery Edition - Buy from Amazon is the best choice.

Adam-12 - Season One - Buy from Amazon
From the creator of the original Dragnet, which is all you need to know about the show. Adam-12 has the same straight-laced approach as Dragnet, but this series follows two cops on a beat who tackle whatever crime comes along. All 26 episodes from the first season are on this 2-disc set, but there are no special features.

Alf - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
Alf went from a TV series to a cultural phenomenon in the mid-80s, which shows there was something wrong with the 80s. It was a high concept show that started to run out of steam by the second season but nostalgia will probably cloud people's judgment. Even worse, the episodes are the syndicated versions and not the original broadcast version reducing the value further. There are a couple of episodes from the animated series, but that's not nearly enough to recommend the 4-disc set.

Beauty Shop - Buy from Amazon
This spin-off just couldn't live up to the franchise it was spun from. The reviews were weaker, it opened poorly and in the end barely made more than half the average of the Barbershop films. The DVD has only a few special features, (scene specific audio commentary, outtakes, behind the scenes) further reducing the DVD down to the rental level, if that.

Billy Madison - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Typical Adam Sandler fare, and whether or not that's a good thing is entirely a matter of personal choice. This special edition has deleted scenes, outtakes, and an audio commentary, which isn't enough to deserve the special edition label so skip it.

Boudu Saved From Drowning - The Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
The movie Down and Out in Beverly Hills was based on. This version, which is directed by the French master Jean Renoir, is even better than the remake was. And since this is a Criterion Collection, it is packed with special features like introduction, interviews, interactive map of Paris, etc. Given the age of the movie, it will appeal mostly to film students and the like, but a more widespread audience should give it a try. On a side note, hopefully Down and Out in Beverly Hills will have a special edition release soon.

Boy Meets World - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
One of those shows that lasted longer than logic would dictate. Fans of the series will know what to expect in terms of the show, but will be disappointed by the lack of special features on the 3-disc set. There are no audio commentaries, just a quiz.

Cape Fear - Buy from Amazon
In a week filled with special editions, this is a single disc release of a film that has already had an anniversary edition release. And since the previous release has more special features for the same price, there's no reason to pick this one up.

Dust to Glory - Buy from Amazon
The film has great visuals but lacks emotional resonance so unless someone is a real big fan of this type of racing, they will find the film dull. Special features are good for a limited release with deleted scenes, behind the scenes, etc. but in the end it can't rise above the rental level.

Emergency - Season One - Buy from Amazon
Another show created by Jack Webb, the mind behind such hit shows like Dragnet and Adam-12. Like those shows, this one has the same no nonsense approach to telling the story, you won't see a lot of soap opera aspects here. All 11 episodes from the first season plus the 2-hour TV movie are on the 2-disc set, but there are no special features.

Essential Alfred Hitchcock Collection - Buy from Amazon
This collection is not essential and is certainly not as strong as some of the previous collections. This 5-disc set contains nine films from the legendary director, mostly the lesser known works from earlier in his career. Sure, the price is very low, but I'd rather spend more than have nine movies crammed on five discs.

Flowers of St Francis - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
Also known as, Francesco Giullare Di Dio or Francesco: Jester Of God. Directed by Roberto Rossellini, co-written by Federico Fellini and released on a Criterion Collection disc so you know it's going to be a high quality release. It is a religious movie with monks acting out vignettes based on the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, but it isn't preachy or limiting in its audience. Special features include a handful of interviews, the intro from the original American release and a booklet with new and reprinted material.

Futurama - Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection - Buy from Amazon
Stick with the previously released 'season sets,' they are a much better deal.

Gladiator - Extended Edition - Buy from Amazon
I watched the previous release not too long ago and while I was watching it I couldn't help think that it simply wasn't as good as I remembered it. It's still a good movie, I just don't think it was worth the five Oscars it won. This 3-disc set is crammed with special features: the extended version, the theatrical version, audio commentary, a three-hour long making of documentary, behind the scenes featurettes, galleries and more. The obvious question is, is it worth the upgrade? For me, no. For fans of the movie and the genre, only for the more hardcore fans.

Good Times - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
This is the season that the show Jumped the Shark. Too much behind the scenes fighting, introduction of Penny Gordon, and other factors led to a decline in viewers during this season. Like many of the other TV on DVD sets being released this week, there are no special features on the 3-disc set.

Happy Gilmore - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Another not so special special edition of an Adam Sandler movie. Marginally better than the other such release on this week's list, but still only for the hardcore Sandler fans.

Harakiri - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
The Samurai code has been romanticized in films for a long, long time, but this film is incredible in its exposure of the hypocrisy. Set in 17th century Japan, a time where the samurai class has been disbanded due because of the peace leaving many of these honorable soldiers without reason to live or even the means to feed themselves. Many have turned to the ritual suicide called seppuku, or harakiri, so that at least they'll die in honor. Others start using the threat of seppuku as a way of begging a living from local lords. Of the three Criterion Collection releases coming out tomorrow, this one is the best. The movie is close to perfect, the DVD quality is amazing, and the 2-disc set has plenty of special features, mostly in the form of interviews. It's a must have for fans of Samurai films looking for another side of Samurais.

Homeland Security - Buy from Amazon
Homeland Security is a busted pilot, a pilot that was not picked up by a network, and while there are busted pilots for several shows that I would buy if they were released on DVD, this is not one of them. Speaking of busted pilots I would love to see again, there was this one about a military squadron made up of rejects, it starred Bruce Boxleitner, there were these two huge twins, this sharpshooter that had a second personality that hated guns, (whenever he heard a bell ringing he'd switch between the two.) I only recently found out what it was called, The Road Raiders. It I remember loving it when I first saw it, but that was more than 15 years ago.

Hood of the Living Dead - Buy from Amazon
When I first saw this title I thought, "Oh please tell me this is a spoof." But alas no, it's a serious movie and seriously bad. Skip it.

The Howling Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Low budget werewolf movie that is effective, for the most part, but is now known for all the crappy sequels that followed, (one of which is also being released this week.) Special features are good for a special edition, considering the age of the movie, audio commentary, making of, behind the scenes, deleted scenes, outtakes, etc. but there are better werewolf movies out there.

The Howling 2: Your Sister Is a Werewolf - Buy from Amazon
I have a hard time believing someone thought that was a good name for a movie. I have an even harder time believing anyone would think this would be a good movie. This is... this is... wow, this is a bad movie. It's so bad that fans of really bad movies have to check it out, but the rest of us should stay far away from the film.

Kissed - Buy from Amazon
A movie for people who thought David Cronenberg's Crash was a too conventional love story. It's actually quite good but the difficult subject matter limits the film's audience.

Kung Fu - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
I hated this show and the reason is simple, it was originally made for Bruce Lee but the network thought American audiences wouldn't accept an Asian leading man so they replaced him with David Carradine instead. This is the last season of the series, which ended production due to the number of injuries that David Carradine sustained during the filming of the show. For a show from the 70s, there are most special features than one would expect with audio commentaries on two episodes, featurette on David Carradine's return to the Shaolin Temple, and an introduction. It's a nice thank you to the fans who supported the show.

Layer Cake - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
A British gangster movie with a huge cast of characters, in the same vein as Snatch. The film earned strong reviews but didn't connect with moviegoers and struggled to hit $2 million at the box office. It should easily top that on the home market as the disc is loaded with special features, especially compared to most limited releases. Audio commentary, deleted scenes, (including two alternate endings), making of featurette, and a Q&A session. Worth checking out.

Life As We Know It - Buy from Amazon
This show really never had a chance, most people saw that Kelly Osbourne was in it and assumed it was going to be really stupid. It wasn't that bad, but it also wasn't good enough to survive especially in the crowded field of teenage dramas. This 3-disc set contains all 14 episodes that were made, including 2 that were unaired, as well as audio commentaries, deleted scenes and outtakes.

A Lot Like Love - Buy freom Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
A romantic comedy of the most generic kind. It wasn't a particularly bad movie, but without a solid hook to help it stand out against others in the genre it failed to connect with audiences. The DVD release also has a very generic feel with just the audio commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes and a music video. Again, not a bad release, but there isn't anything that makes it stand out.

Monty Python's Meaning of Life - Buy from Amazon
Another single disc edition of a previously released special edition. The cost is the same so there's no reason to buy this DVD.

New Jack City - Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Set in the 80s, the film is about the rise and fall of a drug kingpin, Nino Brown, played by Wesley Snipes in arguably is best role ever. That's not to say the film doesn't have flaws; it is overly preachy at times and there's little here that's truly original or unique. It is also the directorial debut for Mario Van Peebles, at least when it comes to theatrical releases, (he had done some TV work previously.) The previous release was a featureless disc while this 2-disc set contains an audio commentary by Mario Van Peebles, interviews, retrospective, history or Harlem, music videos, and more. Well worth the upgrade.

The O.C. - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
To some this show is a guilty pleasure, to others it is just a soap opera willed with shallow, whiney people complaining about self-inflicted problems and pseudo-dramas. I'm in the latter group, but even fans of the show will admit that the writing took a bit of a his during the second season as it just wasn't as fresh. Special features are about par for TV on DVD releases with audio commentary on 2 episodes, interviews, outtakes, featurette on the fashion, (which is a clear indication on how shallow the show is.)

Oldboy - Buy from Amazon
This film has been mentioned quite a few times within the past week or so because the first film of this trilogy was just released in theatres domestically over the weekend and the last film was released in South Korea not too long ago. A complex and compelling story that will surely be ruined by the American remake that's in the works. In the meantime, fans of Korean filmmaking, especially the stylish revenge flicks should give the film a try, but no matter how well done the movie is, its brutal nature will limit the film's appeal.

Once and Again - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
A very high quality show that struggled with ratings, and the controversy surrounding the lesbian relationship didn't help as people were writing and complaining to the show's sponsors. Strange thing is, even though it's not that old, it probably would have lasted longer if it were on the air now. Like the first season, which is being re-released tomorrow, this 5-disc set is light on special features with just some audio commentaries.

La Petite Lila - Buy from Amazon
A French film based on the play, The Seagull. The film only earned middling reviews, was largely ignored by moviegoers and looks like it will struggle on the home market. At least that's what its ranking on the Amazon sales chart suggests. That's a shame cause it didn't deserve its fate. Special features on the disc include some interviews, and little else, but that's on par with other limited releases.

The Ring Two - Buy from Amazon: Unrated - Widescreen, Pan & Scan or Theatrical: Widescreen
One of several sequels that hit theatres this year that were really bad, so bad that it tarnished the image of the original in some minds. Special features are good with half-a-dozen featurettes, deleted scenes and more, but the DVD is still only worth picking up for hardcore fans.

Ringu 2 - Buy from Amazon
The sequel to the Japanese original is hitting DVDs the same day as the sequel to the American remake does. Like The Ring Two, this one is a huge step down in quality compared to the original and the DVD release is only worth a rental to the curious.

Six Feet Under - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The series finale was just aired yesterday so its perfect timing to release this set tomorrow. The show itself was perhaps not as good as previous seasons, but was still one of the best shows on TV. And the 5-disc set is the best released so far with audio commentaries on 7 of the 12 episodes, interviews, a featurette on the editors, and deleted scenes. If you own the previous releases, then there's no reason not to buy this set.

Swamp Thing - Buy from Amazon
A surprisingly good film written and directed by Wes Craven. However, while the movie is very good, in a campy, cheesy kind of way, the DVD is crap with no real special features. Wait for the inevitable Special / Anniversary / Collector's Edition.

That's My Mama - Buy from Amazon: Season 1 and Season 2
The show only lasted two seasons but both of them are being released on DVD tomorrow. Season 1 was 26 episodes long while Season 2 was just 13, however, they are both the same price. I guess they figure if you're going to buy one set, you'll buy them both.

The Transporter - Special Delivery Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is a film that is 90% style and only 10% substance, if that. But when you have such amazing choreography for the fight scenes that it doesn't matter. I'll admit that the film isn't great, more of a guilty pleasure, but you can't live on award winners alone, you need the fun popcorn lick every once and a while. This releases is certainly not worth the upgrade from the previous release since most of the special features are the same, the only new features are the extended making of featurette, the promo for the upcoming sequel, and a free ticket for the latter film. However, if you missed out on the film when it first came out, this DVD is worth adding to your collection.

The Truman Show - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Jim Carrey's first dramatic leading role, and his most successful. Not only did it earn nearly perfect reviews, it earned more than $100 million domestically and almost $250 million worldwide. The previous release was put out on a nearly featureless disc, but this release has more than a hour of bonus features, but no audio commentary track. Like all special editions the main question is, is it worth the upgrade. In this case, that is an enthusiastic yes.

What's Happening!! - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The third, and mercifully the last, season of this series hits the home market tomorrow. While the first two seasons were quite good, it all fell apart here. And with no real special features on the 3-disc set, it's for completists only.

Witness - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Another Special Edition DVD, and another one that earned incredible reviews when it came out in 2005. Special features are much better than the previous release with a five part making of documentary that runs roughly 45 minutes and a few minutes of deleted scenes that are used in the TV version of the movie. What you won't find is an audio commentary, which is not surprising since director Peter Weir doesn't seem to do those. Still, it's worth the upgrade and is especially worth it for those who missed out on the DVD the first time around.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Ring Two, Beauty Shop, The Transporter, A Lot Like Love, Layer Cake, Oldboy, Dust to Glory, La petite Lili