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DVD Releases for March 30, 2004

March 30th, 2004

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 and a few from the growing TV on DVD section. It was a much richer week in terms of choices, but for me choosing a DVD pick of the week was easy, (Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t!.) Although I also picked up House of Sand and Fog - (Buy from Amazon) as a rental.

Note: As I mentioned yesterday I had some technical difficulties. Well, 24 hours, 5 trips to 4 different stores and over $180.00 later I'm back up at 100%. Unfortunately, due to the time involved I wasn't able to devote as much time as usual to this column so it's shorter than I like.

Here's the highlights, (and some lowlights) of the DVDs released today, January 20, 2004.

Brother Bear - (Buy from Amazon)
This could be one of the last 2D animated movies to come out of North American for some time. While Finding Nemo was breaking animation records around the world, Brother Bear was struggling in second place. It is obvious we have entered a new golden age of animation and 2D cartoons weren't along for the ride. For a two disc set, there is not much in the way of extras; don't get me wrong, there's more than the usual release, but not enough to justify a second disc. Combined with very mediocre reviews results in this DVD being for little kids only.

C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Third Season - (Buy from Amazon)
Anyone else stop watching these shows because they can buy the whole season on DVD, or am I the only one? Like seasons 1 and 2, there is a good mix of extras on the set, some commentaries, behind the scenes stuff, etc.

The Final Countdown - (Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan and Scan or 2 Disc Special Limited Edition)
When the U.S.S. Nimitz is mysteriously transported back in time to the day before Pearl Harbor, then crew must decide whether to stop the devastating attack or not get involved and try and preserve history. Not all the effects have held up after 20 years, but it's still a fun ride. The 2 disc limited special edition has some fun extras, like the interviews with the actual fighter pilots. Still, there are not a lot of extras considering it's a special edition, but still worth paying the extra money.

Going in Style - (Buy from Amazon)
Movies involving retirees taking one last stab at life isn't a new story line, but what sets this movie apart is the near perfect cast. George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg play the retirees who plan a daylight bank robbery just to add some excitement to their dull, repetitive lives. Because it's the 25th anniversary of the movie's release I was hoping for more extras than just a couple of clips from a talk show. However, since Art Carney's death late last year none of the principle cast members are alive to work on such features. On a side note, The Late Show, also staring Art Carney, was released on DVD today.

House of Sand and Fog - (Buy from Amazon)
Released during the very competitive award season and while it wasn't shut out during Oscar nominations, the studio was clearly hoping for more. Reviews were very good, as was its run in limited release. Speaking of limited releases, there amount of extras is excellent for a limited release, which usually don't have the budget for lots of special effects.

Jem! - The Complete 1st & 2nd Seasons (Buy from Amazon)
I was never a fan of this cartoon growing up, but its release makes me happy because it means we could be closer to seeing other 80s classic cartoons released on DVD. Specifically, M.A.S.K.!

Panic Room - 3 Disc Special Edition - (Buy from Amazon)
Finally, a special edition worthy of the moniker. 3 commentary tracks, more than 2 dozen featurettes dealing with almost every aspect of making a movie, and more. An excellent movie who's previous DVD release was an almost featureless Superbit Edition.

Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t! - (Buy from Amazon)
Penn Jillette and "No First Name" Teller comprise one of the most unique comedy magic teams working today. Like Harry Houdini, The Amazing Randi and other magician throughout history, Penn and Teller not only perform magic, they debunk other magicians who claim they use real supernatural powers to perform their tricks. This show doesn't deal with magicians but with alternative medicines, diet fads, the end of the world. One of my favorite quotes comes from that particular episode; one survivalist interview was so convinced that the end of the world was upon us that he said the episode would never be broadcast. I wonder if he'll be buying the DVD set? The special features are great, including a bonus episode on ghosts.

Ripley's Game - (Buy from Amazon)
The sequel to The Talented Mr. Ripley was bounced around more than a few release dates before being dumped direct-to-video. The reviews are fantastic, but the studio felt John Malkovich wasn't marketable enough. So for that reason, among others, it is being dumped on a featureless disc without sufficient marketing.

Something's Gotta Give - (Buy from Amazon)
Opening last winter, this film has an unassuming start but had such strong legs that it easily beat $100 million domestically, a feat it repeated internationally. Further proof that you don't need to pander to youth to have a hit. Review are strong but the extra features are only average.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre - (Buy from Amazon: Single Disc or Platinum Series Special Edition)
If you are interested in buying this movie, buy the special edition. If you buy the single disc version you'll send the wrong message to the studio, namely, special features don't increase sales. And that would result in even less special features than we get now. If you are interested in this movie, you probably don't care that it earned very poor reviews, but I would be negligent if I didn't at least mention it.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Something's Gotta Give, Brother Bear, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of Sand and Fog