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DVD Releases for December 26th and 27th, 2005

December 27th, 2005

It's a relatively strong week for DVD releases with several contenders for DVD Pick of the Week. This shouldn't be too surprising since Boxing Week sales have become much more important in recent years. However, it is still not as strong as it has been in the past several weeks and there are also a lot of releases that look like they are simply being dumped on the market. In the end, Toy Story 2 - 2-Disc Special Edition was the clear choice for DVD Pick of the Week, but there are some others worth picking up. One last note, some DVDs were released yesterday to take full advantage of the Boxing Week sales and this list includes them as well.

2046 - Buy from Amazon
Strong reviews helped this film have a healthy run on the limited market, and the packed DVD should help it top that run on the home market. Deleted scenes, alternate ending, interviews, featurettes, and more. Granted, it's not as packed as the 2-disc set made for France, but it is still miles ahead of most limited releases.

America's Funniest Home Videos - Volume 2 - The Best Of Kids & Animals - Buy from Amazon
Reality TV with low production values and Bob Saget as host. Skip it.

American Pie Presents - Band Camp - Buy from Amazon: Unrated Widescreen , Unrated Pan & Scan, or R-Rated Pan & Scan
A direct-to-DVD sequel from a franchise that was hit and miss to begin with. This film is the weakest of the four and no amount of special feature can lift it past the rental level, and it only rates a rental if you truly loved the trilogy.

Black Dawn - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD Steven Seagal film, which is all you really need to know. Skip it.

Criss Angel - Mindfreak - The Complete Season One - Buy from Amazon
I'm not a big fan of stage magicians. It's just not something I find interesting. Because of this, I'm obviously not going to be interested in a TV series focusing on the exploits of a stage magician. Also, I don't like his stage presence, as it is too much like David Blaine. On the other hand, the special features are on par with most current releases with audio commentary tracks on 2 of the 15 episodes plus interviews and more and fans of his act should be happy with the 2-disc set.

Dark Water - Buy from Amazon: Unrated Widescreen, PG-13 Rated Pan & Scan, or UMD Mini
Released on what is likely the downside of the Japanese Horror Remake trend. The movie was not greeted with enthusiasm by either critics or moviegoers. I think the main problem is cultural; what scares you depends a lot on your culture and I don't think ghosts or hauntings are a prevalent in our culture are they are in Japan. Even so, those that find Japanese Horror films fascinating will still find something to like here, and in the roughly hour's worth of special features. But for the rest, it barely rates as rental.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman - The Play - Buy from Amazon
For those that loved the movie so much that you want to see the play it was based on. The DVD has an intro and an audio commentary track, but that's it in terms of special features.

Empire of the Wolves - Buy from Amazon
Jean Reno is one of my favorite actors, but unfortunately this is not one of his best films. Add in no special features and I have a hard time even recommending renting this film.

Grizzly Man - Buy from Amazon
One of the best reviewed movies of the year, and one of several documentaries to break $1 million at the box office. It's a fascinating look at amateur bear expert, Timothy Treadwell, but not for the right reasons. Treadwell comes across as slightly unhinged and since his obsession ended... poorly, the film takes on a creepy train wreck vibe. This reduces the film's replay value, but it's still worth a rental.

Happy Here and Now - Buy from Amazon
The movie opened in theatres less than two weeks ago and now it's already on DVD. I've heard that the window between theatrical release and home market is shrinking, but this is ridiculous. Lack of any real special features adds to the, 'dumped on the market' feel.

Into the Blue - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
First the good news, this movie contains some amazing looking underwater cinematography. Bad news, that's about all the film has going for it. Ok, it also has beautiful women in bikinis, but the action is slow and uninspired, so is the acting for that matter. Special features are below par for a first-run release and the DVD isn't even worth a rental.

Nowhere Man - Buy from Amazon
This show had so much potential but it was on too early... about seven years too early. It's one of those shows that has a season long story arc, which means if you miss one or two episodes you are completely lost. These shows are much better when you can watch them on all at once on DVD, or in the correct order with minimal interruptions at the very least. But back in 1995, the concept of selling TV series on the home market was almost totally foreign to most studios. Fans of the series can now relive the one and only season complete with audio commentaries on 9 of 25 episodes, video commentaries, interviews and much more. Definitely a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Roger Corman Collection - Various DVDs
This week twenty, that's right, twenty DVDs from super-producer Roger Corman are hitting the home market. While he was a prolific producer, a lot of his work is decidedly B-Movie quality. Here's a list of all 20 titles, many or which are low-budget sex comedies or Women in Prison sexploitation flicks, but some transcend the budget limitations and these best of the bunch films are highlighted in bold

SeaQuest DSV - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The show started out as a realistic and intelligent look at what a near future underwater exploration vessel might be like. But it quickly turned into a cornball, anything for ratings kind of show. Fortunately it didn't jump the shark till season two. While this season easily has the best episodes of its three-season run, there are not enough special features to make the 4-disc set worth picking up unless you are a rather hardcore fan.

The Shield - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The weakest season so far, but it's still better than practically any show on network TV. The show had great chemistry but I think the addition of Glenn Close and / or Anthony Anderson may have thrown that balance off. Special features are on par with Season 3 but not as good as earlier releases. However, if you bought and enjoyed those sets, there's no reason not to continue adding this show to you collection. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

Toy Story 2 - 2-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Like the original, this film has been released several times on DVD. Also like the original, this latest DVD release is an amazing 2-disc set and is most definitely worth picking up with loads of special features include audio commentary, interviews, making-of, games, and more. Essentially, everything I said about Toy Story - Tenth Anniversary Edition when it was released holds true for this DVD and it's the DVD Pick of the Week.

Tracey Takes On - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Originally scheduled for release on November 22nd, 2005, it was pushed back to boxing day the day before its release. There's not much to be added from what I wrote originally, except that the sudden change in release dates seems to have hurt sales.

The Twilight Zone - The Definitive Collection - Season 5 - Buy from Amazon
Those that have been keeping up with this series don't need me to tell them why they should pick up this release. Those that haven't picked up the previous released need to know only one thing, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." That's the story with William Shatner as the airplane passenger who sees the monster on the wing. It was redone in the movie with John Lithgow taking over his part. Just thinking about that episode still gives me goose bumps. (Another stellar story is, "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross.") Add in more special features than most TV series from the era and you have another contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Undiscovered - Buy from Amazon
This film had the worst box office performance for any wide release this year. In fact, it had one of the worst box office performances for any wide release, ever. It has the fourth worst opening ever for a wide release ($676,048 in 1,304 theatres); the worst second weekend drop-off of all time (86.43%); and it didn't even make it to the third weekend. That makes Gigli's run look like Titanic's by comparison. Did it deserve to flop this badly? In a word, yes. It's generic, insipid, puerile, and just plain putrid. The DVD, on the other hand, has quite a few special features, but it's more a case of quantity over quality.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill - Buy from Amazon
Another stellar documentary that connected with audience members this year. A look at a flock of parrots that have made the city their home, and the man trying to protect them. In its general themes, reviews and even box office performance, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill has a lot of similarities to Grizzly Man, but it is the better film. And with special features than have a total running time longer than the movie itself, the DVD is the better deal as well.


Filed under: Video Releases, Dark Water, Into the Blue, Grizzly Man, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Undiscovered, 2046