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DVD Releases for October 26, 2004

October 25th, 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, including the winner of the DVD Pick of the Week That 70's Show - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon.

21 Jump Street - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The first show to launched on the Fox TV network and is also the show than launched Johnny Depp's career. This season was excellent mix of teen drama and social commentary, but unfortunately the show quickly jumped the shark. The special features on the disc are just average, but that won't stop fans from rushing out a picking it up.

America's Heart and Soul - Buy from Amazon
The behind the scenes story of this documentary might be more interesting than the film itself. It has been suggested that Disney released this film as an antidote of sorts to the controversial film, Fahrenheit 9/11, which it also tried to stop from being released. They later claimed their decisions were not politically motivated, but the fact that they had an advanced screening for Move America Forward suggests otherwise.

Bill Engvall - A Decade of Laughs - Buy from Amazon
One of the members of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. He is best known for his, "Here's your sign" bits.

Bill Hicks Live - Satirist, Social Critic, Stand-Up Comedian - Buy from Amazon
Bill Hicks was a comedian / social commentator in the same vein as Lenny Bruce. His star was on the rise, especially outside of America, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he died at the age of 32. This is the first official DVD of his work and will hopefully finally give him some of the recognition he deserves.

The China Syndrome - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
The film that predicted the Three Mile Island meltdown. Ok, that's being a little inaccurate, but it is an effective, if dated disaster movie. Like most Hollywood movies, the science takes a back seat to the story, but that's almost unavoidable in these cases. The special features are mixed. There are good for a film that's 25 years old. But a little weak for a Special Edition film.

Control Room - Buy from Amazon
An amazing documentary about the Al-Jazeera news network and how its portrayal of the war in Iraq differs from the way the American news covered the same events. Unlike most political documentaries released this year, on both sides, this is a truly fair and balanced look and that makes it is perhaps the most important one to watch. The special features on the disc are excellent for a limited release film with three audio commentary tracks and deleted scenes.

Dawn of the Dead - Buy from Amazon: R-Rated - Widescreen or Pan & Scan or Unrated Director's Cut - Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the more successful remakes this year, both at the box office and with the critics. Not as good as the original, but not many films are. If you are planning on picking up this movie but don't know what version to grab, the Unrated Director's Cut - Widescreen Version is definitely the way to go. Not only does the film have 9 minutes of additional features, but also extra bonus features like " Splitting Headaches: Anatomy of Exploding Heads."

Deadly Spawn - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
This is one of those movies that falls under the, "Did they really need to release a Special Edition DVD?" category. The film is a low budget Alien Invasion flick from the early 80s. It's a bad movie, but the DVD release is quite good considering the age of the source material.

Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Fans of the franchise know what to expect in terms of the show and the extras. One last note, the fifth season is already available to pre-order and will be released in January.

Father and Son - Buy from Amazon
A Russian film for people who thought the subject matter in Spanking the Monkey was too tame.

Forgotten Silver - Buy from Amazon
Probably the best way to judge if a Mockumentary is good is by figuring out how many people thought it was a real Documentary. And if that's the case you don't need the critics to tell you that this movie is a winner. This story of the forgotten genius of the film industry, whose innovations in movie making include creating the first talkies and developing color films. It is made more believable by the addition of real-life movie big shots like director Peter Jackson and actor Sam Neill.

Frankenfish - Buy from Amazon
One of those low budget Creature Feature flicks that populate the Direct-to-Video market. In this case the creature is a huge mutant Snakehead trout, wide mouth Bass, or something like that. It really doesn't matter, as the name is the best part of the movie.

Garfield Holiday Celebrations - Buy from Amazon
Contains the Halloween, Thanksgivings and Christmas specials. The movie may have gotten rotten reviews, but it sure helped bring back the popularity of the tubby tabby.

Grand Theft Parsons - Buy from Amazon
Gram Parsons was one of the most influential musicians of his time, but never received the wide spread populous appeal he deserved. He's probably best known for what happened to him after he died, and this film tells that story. One of the most unique stories in the history of Rock 'n' Roll, this should be a great movie. It should be, but sadly it's not. One a side note, there's a documentary about Gram Parsons called Fallen Angel; it's currently making the Film Festival circuit and by all reports it's a much better film.

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown - Buy from Amazon
I want the sale of Christmas specials before December outlawed. And that goes double if they involve Sonny and Cher.

Jimmy Hollywood - Buy from Amazon
Too many insider joke about the movie industry help kill what could have been a funny movie.

Little House on the Prairie - The Complete Season 6 - Buy from Amazon
Fans of this franchise remember it as a reminder of a simpler time. But others consider the show overly emotional and too sentimental.

Lost Boys of Sudan - Buy from Amazon
A powerful film about two refugees from Sudan. For a film that never played in more than 7 theatres, it is getting an excellent DVD release. Audio commentary, interviews, deleted scenes, where are they now update and more. Usually limited releases are just dumped on the market without any special features at all.

Mulan - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
With the demise of their 2-D animation studio, Disney has been releasing a lot of the massive hits on special edition DVDs. Despite earning very good reviews, Mulan's box office was down from previous animated fare from the studio. The extras on the disc are good, but perhaps not as strong as we've come to expect from a 2-Disc special edition from the studio.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 6 - Buy from Amazon
Normally I don’t like TV on DVD that isn't full season sets. However, with this show I have to make an exception. Due to the treatment some of the films received, they studio isn't able to get the rights to release some shows on DVD, so you have to take what you can get. In this case it's three more 'classic' films and a collection of shorts.

No Quarter - Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded - Buy from Amazon
Led Zeppelin is arguably the greatest band of all time. No wait; make that easily the greatest band of all time. (Just as a side note, the second greatest band is Pink Floyd.) This DVD is footage from the Unledded tour from 1994 and contains reworkings of some classic songs, as well as some new songs. The lack of special features is the only downside.

The O.C. - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A surprise hit when it debuted last summer. The O.C. could have been a typical teen soap opera, but it was able to take that premise and do something more with it. The extras on this set are good, with a couple of audio commentaries, a few features and more. The most impressive aspect of the DVD release is the speed, the second season only just started and we already have the first season on DVD. I really like this trend for TV on DVD.

The Profiler - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The fourth and last season of this franchise hits the home market. Quality on the series started to dip in Season 3 and the departure of the main star led to the departure of most fans. This is more for completists than for general fans.

Spartacus - Buy from Amazon
Just a quick note, this is the TV mini-series starring Goran Visnjic of E.R. fame and not the classic movie starring Kirk Douglas, which is already available on DVD.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Seven Seasons - Buy from Amazon
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Seven Series - Buy from Amazon
For those who really like Star Trek and are willing to spend $1300 in one shot, but never bothered to buy the seasons when they came out individually.

Superbit Edition - Various Films
For those who don't know, Superbit is a different form of encoding used on some DVDs to maximize the quality of the audio and video. However, this encoding takes up more space on the DVD, the space normally taken up by special features. Whether to get the SuperBit edition or the regular edition depends on how many special features the regular edition has and the quality of your Home Theatre System. Don't have a Home Theatre System, then chances are you won't notice the difference in the quality anyway. This week we have more than half a dozen such DVDs being released, of which all have been previously released.

The Swan Princess - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon: The Swan Princess I and The Swan Princess III - The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure
The first film was a disappointment when it was first released, both critically and at the box office. So I'm surprised there were not one but two sequels. You can also buy both films in a 2-Pack.

Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - Non-musical Version - Buy from Amazon
It's just not the same without the songs, so I'd stick with the musical instead.

That 70's Show - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
When I first heard about this TV series I thought to myself, 'This is going to suck.' The reason for this reaction is simple, the 70's sucked. Then one day halfway through the first season a caught an episode and I've been hooked ever since. With the seventh, and probably the final season just underway, the timing couldn't be better for this release. Extras include an interactive trivia game, cast auditions, music video, but no audio commentaries, which is a real shame.

The Thing - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
Quite possible the greatest remake of all time, although it was largely ignored by audiences when it first came out. And even though I already own the Collector's Edition of the movie, I'm tempted to pick up Special Edition. I'd be even more tempted if I could tell if there were any differences in the special features. I don't think there are.

White Chicks - Buy from Amazon: PG-13 Version or Uncut and Unrated
The film generated some scathing criticisms when it was released. But reviews matter little to its target audience and the film made more than $70 million at the box office. The DVD release is better than the movie, but that's not saying much. On an interesting note, one of the special features is a featurette on the make-up used in the film, which is strange considering how unconvincing the make-up was.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Bad Boys II, S.W.A.T., White Chicks, Dawn of the Dead, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Underworld, The Missing, Control Room, America's Heart and Soul, Lost Boys of Sudan, Father and Son, Grand Theft Parsons