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DVD Releases for May 18, 2004

May 17th, 2004

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. It's the week of the Special Edition with no fewer than a dozen DVDs sporting that title, or a title very similar, (Limited, Collector's, etc.) And while a few are actually worthy of the Special Edition moniker, it is a selection from the TV on DVD section, Smallville - The Complete Second Season (Buy from Amazon) that is my DVD pick of the week.

Angel Heart - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is one of those, "Did they really need a special edition?" releases. Largely ignored when it was first released, hell, it's not even a highlight of Mickey Rourke's career. And while this DVD is barren like the previous release, there isn't enough special features to make it worthy of being called a special edition.

Around the World in 80 Days - Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The most important step in remaking a movie is to release the original on a special edition DVD. Ok, maybe that's a little cynical. There are plenty of special features and none of them are blatant advertisements for the remake.

Enter the Dragon - Two-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The best movie in Bruce Lee's tragically short career and arguably the best martial arts movie ever. It is also one of those films that you swear you've seen because it's been, copied, parodied and outright ripped-off so many times. Unlike some of the other special editions on today's list, this one actually deserves to be called that. The extras on this set are particularly intriguing with newly produced features for the 30th anniversary and features originally made when the film was being produced.

The Great Escape - 2-Disc Collector's Set - Buy from Amazon
Another, "arguably the best …" film. This time the film is arguably the best World War II adventure film ever made. Also, it also has arguably the best theme song every written. Admit it, as soon as you read the title you had than unforgettable music running through your head. There are quite a few special features, including historical information. This is one of those DVDs that should probably be in everyone's collection.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - Extended Version Collector's Set - Buy from Amazon
One of the greatest westerns ever made. This is such a great movie I'm tempted to pick it up even though I already have a copy of the movie on DVD. There's quite a bit on the Special Edition that's new including audio commentary by a film historian, five featurettes, deleted scenes, etc. And with a running time of nearly 3 hours there's almost 20 minutes of new material.

Miracle - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Miracle is the highest grossing hockey movie of all-time. Granted, the previous record holder was The Mighty Ducks, so it's not a strong performing genre. The film earned some of the strongest reviews of the year so far and the DVD set is very impressive. It's a double box set that includes half a dozen features highlighted by full-length commentary, making of featurette and a Roundtable Discussion.

Paycheck - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
A film loosely based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. A few extra features can't overcome dismal reviews. And that's a shame since the short story it is based on is so strong.

The Reagans - Buy from Amazon
This TV biopic was too controversial for CBS and was attacked for being a character assassination. In reality, it is rather balanced made for TV movie, if a little sensationalized. And is a much more accurate portrayal of Ronald and Nancy Reagan than the partisan attacks on political figures we hear on talk radio on a daily basis.

Sex and the City - Season Six, Part 1 - Buy from Amazon
I'm not sure why HBO decided to break up the DVD release of season six into two parts. Ok, I know, it's money. But it may have been the wrong decision as it's causing a bit of a backlash against the company. It's taking advantage of hardcore fans while alienating the moderates.

Smallville - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Superman, the early years. The second season of this series saw a real dramatic change of pace from the "Freak of the Week" type shows of the first season to a more traditional teenage drama, a Dawson's Creek with superpowers. That is not to say the show was weaker in the second season. Far from it - most fans would say it only got stronger. The DVDs are not over-burdened with features, but they are not bare either; there are three featurettes, a gag reel, deleted scenes and two commentary tracks. Personally I'd prefer more commentary tracks, but that's not going to stop me from buying this set tomorrow.

Speed Racer - Limited Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Never got into this show as I couldn't stand the theme song. Only reason it's on the list is because it's part of the dozen or so Special Editions coming out this week.

Star Trek Voyager - Buy from Amazon
I'm a little surprised this DVD set is selling as well as it is. The last movie flopped and the latest series is struggling so much that rumors abound that it might not last past next season if it doesn't turn things around. Heck, Jeri Ryan isn't even on the series yet. There have been more than a dozen seasons of Star Trek put out on DVD and chances are if you are buying this out you bought all the rest as well. And if you haven't bought any of those, you probably won't start with this one. Because of that there's little to say about this DVD set that you either don't already know or don't actually care.

Torque - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
A mostly forgettable film in the vein of Biker Boyz and the Fast and the Furious Franchise. There are a couple of extras on the disc, but nothing that makes the movie worth renting.

Undercover Borther - The Animated Series - Buy from Amazon
I have no idea what to say about this other than, "Why?"

Walt Disney Treasures - Buy from Amazon: The Chronological Donald, Volume 1, Mickey Mouse in Living Color Part 2, Tomorrowland: Disney in Space and Beyond and On the Front Lines
Four more DVD sets from the Walt Disney Treasures containing more than 90 cartoons. These collections are well done with some historical information and other special features, maybe not as much as I would like. Personally, I always preferred Warner Bros. cartoons, but if you are a fan of the work put out by Walt Disney's studios, these are invaluable collections.

The West Wing - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
One of the most highly praised dramas on TV, this season it won 8 Emmy Awards, just one shy of the record, which is held by the first season. And that's a bit strange as season 2 is widely regarded as the best season so far. Like the first season DVD release, there's a good amount of special features including four commentary tracks, gag reel, deleted scenes and two featurettes. Pretty standard stuff for TV on DVD. Granted, when the show is this high quality you don't need special features to sell DVDs, they are just bonuses.

Wyatt Earp - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Was filmed at the same time as Tombstone. Unfortunately for Kevin Costner, Tombstone was the better film in nearly every way. Better reviews, (80% positive to 39%, better box office, ($56 million to $25 million) and in the end a better Special Edition DVD. For a special edition there's simply not enough special features on the discs.

You Got Served - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
One of the worst reviewed films released earlier in the year. It is the equal lowest ranked movie on IMDb's Bottom 100 Films. Yet it made $40 million at the box office. How? To top it all off, the studio is releasing a 'Special Edition' DVD with hardly any special features.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Miracle, Paycheck, You Got Served, Around the World in 80 Days, Torque