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DVD Releases for September 13, 2005

September 12th, 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. For the first time in a long, long time there's a first run release that's worthy of being a DVD Pick of the Week - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Buy from Amazon. . Granted, we've had a few films that opened with a limited release before going wide, but that film is the first wide release of the year to be chosen as a DVD Pick of the Week. Another film that should be in everyone's collection is Ben-Hur - Four-Disc Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon.

Alone in the Dark - Buy from Amazon
This is the 1982 film starring Marting Landau, Jack Palance, and Donald Pleasance and not the recent film of the same name. This film earned much better reviews, but it would be hard pressed to earn worse reviews. The film has a cult following and the DVD release is amazingly well done for a small film from 1982 with an audio commentary, a few interviews, and more.

Ben-Hur - Four-Disc Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
With a running time of over 3 and a half hours, a production budget of $15 million, (which was the highest ever at the time), and the winner of 11 Oscars including Best Picture, Ben-Hur is an epic in every sense of the word. This 4-Disc set contains the movie stretched out over the first two discs, the original silent movie version on disc three, (which is better than the remake), and a bonus disc filled with special features. The special features are highlighted by two documentaries but there are also interviews, vintage footage, screen tests and more. This is one film that should be part of everyone's DVD collection and there's no better version to get.

The Brady Bunch - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
I don't even pretend to know why people still like this series. It wasn't a good show when it first aired and it hasn't aged well. Also, like the Second Season there are no special features on this 4-disc set so even fans of the show should save their money and TiVo the shows from syndication.

Cheers - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
Shelly Long is out and Kirstie Alley is in but the show doesn't miss a beat. In fact, the change helped the show avoid the dreaded They Did It! Shark Jumping curse. Like the recent releases there are no special features on the 4-disc set, which hurts the value a lot making the set worth it only for the more hardcore fans.

Chicago - The Razzle-Dazzle Edition - Buy from Amazon
Some sources have this 3-disc set being released tomorrow while Amazon has it coming out on January 1th, 2010, so I think it's safe to go with the other reports. The biggest complaint that can be level against this release is the timing, the regular edition came out barely 2 years ago, which is too short a time for a special edition. Other than that, the DVD is easily worth the upgrade for fans of the movie, and there are plenty of those.

Childstar - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian movie that takes on the movie industry, specifically the Childstar obsession and it does it very well. Like most limited releases, this one is light on special features with just an audio commentary track, but it's still worth checking out.

Coal Miner's Daughter - 25th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
One of the greatest Biopic of a singer ever and plays the Rags to Riches story nearly to perfection. The film was nominated for half a dozen Oscars and Sissy Spacek won for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn. The 25th Anniversary Edition has an audio commentary, a couple of interviews, and a short speech by George Bush Sr. That's on par with most first run releases, but a little light for a special edition, but still miles ahead of the previous release certainly worth the upgrade.

Da Ali G Show - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Sacha Baron Cohen plays Ali G, a white rapper wannabe who interviews people with a mix of enthusiasm and ignorance but still lands amazing interviews with important people. However, the humor is too British for mainstream audience.

Doctor Detroit - Buy from Amazon
I'm a big a fan of Dan Aykroyd, but this is a bad, bad, movie. And now it's being released on a featureless disc.

Everyone Love Raymond - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a safe show, which is both a compliment and an insult. On the one hand, it is consistent in its approach and what it does it does well. On the other hand, it rarely even strives to become more than a sitcom. Special features are on par with previous releases with audio commentary tracks on four episodes, (instead of the usual two), deleted scenes, and outtakes.

Fever Pitch - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan & Scan, or Boston Red Sox Collector's Edition
A romantic comedy with Drew Barrymore, whose been in more than her fair share of these films, and Jimmy Fallon, in only his second starring role. The film earned better reviews than I would have given it, I didn't think there was much in the way of chemistry between the two leads and I really don't think Jimmy Fallon can act. Special features include an audio commentary track, a couple of featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes and an ad for the upcoming film In Her Shoes.

Frasier - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
Fans of the series will know what to expect in terms of the show but it appears as if the studio ran out of special features after Season Three because there are none on this 4-disc set.

Heartbeeps - Buy from Amazon
One of the strangest movies you'll ever see, it's about two robots that fall in love and runaway to start a family. It has a reputation for being a really bad movie, mainly because it is a really bad movie. There's almost nothing about the movie that works from the poor writing, the cheap looking robots, the aimless plot. Even for a kids movie this is bad.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
I'll admit right from the start that I am a huge fan of the book the movie is based on, but from the very beginning I was willing to accept some of the book had to change in order to be turned into a successful movie. For instance, there's a lot of dialogue that goes nowhere in the book, conversations that would last 5 or 10 minutes where the point could easily be explained in 30 second, or not at all. Now these conversations are some of the funniest in the books, but when it comes to making a movie something has to be trimmed and a lot of these were sacrificed to keep to keep the running time below 6 hours. On the other hand, some of the parts they did trim should have been kept in the movie because there are some parts in the movie that are quite confusing for people who have never read the book. Overall the reviews were mixed, but just high enough to earn the film a Fresh rating. As for the special features, the disc is packed with not one but two audio commentary tracks, making of featurette, deleted scenes, fake deleted scenes, a sing-a-long, and more. Easily worth picking up and the best First Run release in a long time.

I Know What You Did Last Summer - Doubleshot - Buy from Amazon
The first movie isn't bad, at least not compared to most Teenage Slasher flicks. The second film... well, that's another story. This set is simple the two previous released DVDs in one set and not a special edition release.

Las Vegas - Uncut and Uncensored - Season Two - Buy from Amazon
This show is a guilty pleasure for some people, not me, mind you, but some people seem to enjoy it. Even most fans will agree the second season wasn't as strong as the first and this 3-disc set seems to reflect that in the special features. There are only one featurette and some outtakes on the set compared to more than twice the number special features on the previous season.

Madison - Buy from Amazon
This film sat on the studio shelf for four years and given the critical and financial reaction it received when it was finally released, it should have stayed on that shelf.

Nina's Tragedies - Buy from Amazon
The big winner at the 2003 Israeli Film Academy Awards winning 11 trophies. Here, on the other hand, it struggled barely earning overall positive reviews and made little impact at the box office. The DVD should marginally better, but with only a couple of special features it can't rise above the rental level.

Oliver Hardy Collection - Buy from Amazon
Before he teamed up with Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy already had an amazing film career starring in hundreds of films and shorts. This DVD contains more than half a dozen such films, but unfortunately they are not the best of Oliver Hardy's work, nor are there and special features to give them a historical context. Still, fans of his work will be glad to see these rare works restored.

One Tree Hill - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
A typical WB Teenage Soap Opera. This show went from a little formulaic to drowning in cliches in just one season. However, it still has plenty of fans and those people should really enjoy this 6-disc set, which is loaded with special features. Three audio commentary tracks, a behind the scenes look, a featurette on the music, and even a bonus disc with an episode of What I Like About You, which I assume is coming out on DVD sooner rather than later.

Palindromes - Buy from Amazon
One of the more unusual you'll see. The character of Aviva is played by several actresses of varying ages, races and even sex. It's certainly a bold choice by director Todd Solondz, but not one that entirely works. To compound matters, the DVD is completely devoid of special features; if there's just one movie coming out this week that needed an audio commentary, this is it.

Psycho - Doubleshot - Buy from Amazon: Psycho II and Psycho III
The original Psycho is a classic. The sequels are not. However, they are not as bad as one would expect. As long as you are willing to judge this films on their own and not compare them to the original, then they are worth renting. But without any special features they are not worth buying.

Rock School - Buy from Amazon
A documentary on the man who inspired School of Rock, which seemed like a sure fire hit when it came out, especially with the great reviews. But the film really struggled at the box office and quickly disappeared from theatres. The DVD should perform much better on the home market, and has more special features than most limited releases with an audio commentary track and deleted scenes.

Rumble Fish - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
This film is unfairly dismissed as one Francis Ford Coppola's lesser works and while it isn't as strong as The Godfather or Apocalypse Now, it is still a good film in its own right. The previous release did have much in the way of special features but that was fixed this time around. The Special Edition includes the ubiquitous audio commentary, making of featurette, deleted scenes, featurette on the score and more. That's pretty good, but maybe not quite up to the special edition label. We'll let it slide due to the age of the movie.

SCTV - Volume 4 - Buy from Amazon
This show is like the Canadian version of Saturday Night Live, only this show is funny. Granted, it took a major hit in talent when Catherine O'Hara, Dave Thomas, and Rick Moranis left, but there still lots of laughs to be had. The 6-disc set includes audio commentaries, interviews and more, which is great for a show that's more than 20 years old.

Smallville - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
There was a change in tone this year on Smallville and while some people liked it other were left cold. Also, there was some debate about whether the actress who played Lois Lane was right for the role. Depending on what side of the debate you landed on, this was either the best season, or you were convinced the show jumped the shark. Special features on the 6-disc set are very similar to the previous releases with audio commentary tracks on 3 episodes, a couple of featurettes, deleted scenes and for a limited time only, a bonus disc with an episode of The Flash.

Taxi - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
Great show, lousy DVD. This 4-disc set is completely devoid of real special features which really limits its value.

Today You Die - Buy from Amazon
At first I thought the title was referring to Steven Seagal's career. But then I remembered that died a long time ago. (Ouch. That was a low blow.)

Twin Sisters - Buy from Amazon
This Dutch film earned excellent reviews, an Oscar nomination for Foreign Language film, but its stay in theatres was so short it's practically a Direct-to-DVD release. And with no special features, its home market run will not be that much better. That's a shame since the film deserved a better fate.

Winter Solstice - Buy from Amazon
This film really struggled at the box office and a lot of that had to do with the reviews. That is not to say it is a bad film, but a Tomatometer of 60% positive just doesn't cut it for a limited release. And without any special features, the DVD is likely to struggle on the home market.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Fever Pitch, Palindromes, Madison, Winter Solstice, Nina's Tragedies, Rock School, Twin Sisters