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DVD Releases for December 07, 2004

December 6th, 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 winners of the DVD Pick of the Week, The Bourne Supremacy - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen and M - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon.

24 - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This show has one of the best premises of any show on TV. Each season is a real-time day in the life of Jack Bauer told in 24 hour long episodes. However, the premise is starting to wear a little thin and there's going to be several changes in the up-coming fourth season starting in January, including the lost of several characters. So six months from now this season will either be looked at as the last of the good ones, or the low point before the revival. The special features on the set continues to improve on the previous releases and includes audio commentary on several episodes, dozens of deleted scenes, a few featurettes and more.

Armed and Dangerous - Buy from Amazon
A really bad movie that is only sporadically amusing and for hardcore fans of John Candy only.

Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again - Buy from Amazon
Follow up to last year's hit, Blue Collar Comedy Tour - Buy from Amazon. The comedy troop, which includes Jeff Foxworthy, has a successful comedy tour, two DVDs and a TV series, making them one of the most popular comedy teams today.

The Bourne Identity - TV Miniseries - Buy from Amazon
This is the British TV mini-series and not the theatrical release. The mini-series has a less intense pace, but that works in its advantage, as it is a much more faithful adaptation of the book. Fans of the book who didn't like the movie will probably like this version better.

The Bourne Supremacy - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen and Pan & Scan
A strong sequel to 2002's hit, The Bourne Identity. The first was a huge hit on the home market, and the second looks to be following in its footsteps as it's the top seller out of this week's new releases. There are plenty of special features on the DVD including several featurettes, but there is the concern that a Special Edition will be released shortly before the theatrical release of The Bourne Ultimatum, like they did with The Bourne Identity, but that won't stop me from picking it up tomorrow.

Buster Keaton Collection - Buy from Amazon
Buster Keaton was a master of Slapstick comedy during the silent film era, but unfortunately studio interference meant he never earned the fame he deserved. The 2-disc set contains three of his films from his MGM days including the very good The Cameraman from 1928, but the other two films, Spite Marriage and Free and Easy pale in comparison to his earlier work. Special features include audio commentary tracks and a new documentary.

Carnivale - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
This is one of those TV shows that could only be done on cable: too dark and too outside the mainstream to work on network TV. It has been compared to Twin Peaks, American Gothic among others. The series is moody, slow moving at times and without any sense of closure, so it is not for everyone. Those who can get past those barriers will be rewarded. The 6-DVD set contains all 12 episodes from the first season with 3 audio commentary tracks and a promotional featurette.

Crusade - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
Follow-up series to popular Babylon 5 series. This show only lasted 13 episodes because the creator, J. Michael Straczynski, killed the series rather than bow down to studio pressure to change the show into something he didn't like. There are a few special features, two episodes have commentary tracks and there are two featurettes, one making of and the other on the ships.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
This is one of the surprise hits of the year earning much better than expected reviews, (at a mere 68% positive) and surprisingly hit $100 million domestically. However, I still fail to see the appeal of this movie. How many time can you see Justin Long hit in the face before it loses its comedic charm? Three, four, five dozen times? For those of you who can't wait to see that happen again and again … and again, can pick the film up on DVD tomorrow and get rewarded with special features like audio commentary, deleted scenes, alternate ending, outtakes, featurettes and more.

Dracula 3000 - Buy from Amazon
Good news, this is not a sequel to Dracula 2000. Bad news, it's even worse.

The Flintstones - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
At one time this was the longest running prime-time cartoon on TV, until it was surpassed by The Simpsons. The second season shows are better than the first, and so are the special features with a few audio commentaries, documentary, music videos and more. In all there are almost an hour of bonus features. Can also be purchases with the first season as part of a package deal

Garfield and Friends - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
The second volume of this long running cartoon is released tomorrow. Arguably better than the first volume but the lack of special features is still a problem.

Gargoyles - The Complete First Season - Special 10th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
A Disney cartoon with a darker edge, that alone makes this DVD set interesting. The show tells the story of a race of Gargoyles who were turned to stone 1000 years ago revived and made the defenders of New York City. The show had a loyal, but ultimately too small audience and they are rewarded with special features including several audio commentary tracks, "The Gathering of the Gargoyles" featurette and the original show pitch. Hopefully this set will sell well enough to get the other 65 episodes released on DVD shortly.

Gilmore Girls - Buy from Amazon
The fact that this show has been practically ignored by the major award committees is criminal. In four years the show has only managed one Emmy win, (for best non-prosthetic make-up) and just one Golden Globe nomination, (which went to Lauren Graham. The whole WB network is like that, despite having some very high quality shows they are always almost shut out during award season. While the show itself is excellent, the DVDs could use work. Like the first season, this set is light on special features with a pop-up trivia track on one episode, montage of the best fights, deleted scenes and little more. Still worth picking up for fans of the show. Can also be purchased with the first season as part of a package deal.

Hero - Buy from Amazon
Just a word of warning, this is the mediocre film from 1992 starring Dustin Hoffman and not excellent film starring Jet Li that was recently released.

How to Steal a Million - Buy from Amazon
Audrey Hepburn stars as the daughter of an art collector / forger whose best work will quickly be uncovered with the aid of new technology. So she hires a charming thief, Peter O'Toole, to help her steal it before its discovered. An amazing cast and a lighthearted touch help this charming film's appeal. Special features include an audio commentary track and the A&E Biography episode of Audrey Hepburn.

Howard Hughes Double-Shot - Buy from Amazon: Hell's Angels and His Life, Loves and Films
With the release of The Aviator just a few weeks away, a couple more films related to Howard Hughes are being released. The first film was a WWI movie directed by Howard Hughes. The story, acting, drama, is quite bad, but the aerial stunts are amazing. The second film is four hour long documentary, but even four hours isn't nearly long enough to tell the whole story.

Infernal Affairs - Buy from Amazon
The film didn't make much of an impact stateside, but like every other movie coming out of the Asian movie industry, this one is being remade by a Hollywood studio, (with the new title, The Departed.) The DVD has better than average special features for a limited release with an alternate ending and a couple of featurettes.

Kim Possible - The Villain Files - Buy from Amazon
This is a great show, but they got to stop putting of these multi-episode discs and start putting out full season sets.

The Lion King - Collection - Buy from Amazon
All three movies in the Lion King Series on 6 discs with plenty of special features. A good deal if you don't own any of the three movies already, or would make a great gift. But if you already own some of these DVDs it's best to pick up the rest of the collection separately.

M - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
This is one of the first talkies, the film that made Peter Lorre a star, one of the first serial killer movies, and Fritz Lang's greatest work, (and that is saying a lot.) And now it's getting the Criterion touch. The 2-disc set includes the new and improved transfer, improved subtitles, commentary, interviews, documentaries about the film's historical significance, and more. Definitely a must have item.

M*A*S*H - The Complete Seventh Season - Buy from Amazon
This series continues to be a popular seller on DVD. Since the show lasted 11 years and was one of the most popular shows on TV during that time, there's little to say that anyone who's interested in the show doesn't already know about. An interesting piece of trivia, this is the last season for Gary Burghoff, who played Radar O'Reilly on both the show and the movie, (the only actor from the movie to continue his role as a regular on the show.) There's little in the way of special features on the discs, but at least you can watch the shows without the laugh track.

Maria Full of Grace - Buy from Amazon
The film earned stunning reviews, opened strong and despite never playing in much more than 100 theatres it finished its run with a very respectable $6 million in the theatres. And most recently earned five Independent Spirit Awards nominations. But even with all this success, the only special feature on the disc is the audio commentary track.

The Ultimate Matrix Collection - Buy from Amazon: 10-Disc Set or Limited Edition Collector's Set
This should be the top-selling item on this week's list. But thanks to the disappointing box office of the second film and the complete collapse of the third film, (especially with the critics) fewer people will are willing to shell out this much money for this much Matrix. It's a shame really; had the last two films been as good as the first, then this would have been a must have item.

Naked Fish - Buy from Amazon
From the DVD case, "Transform your TV into a fish tank with this beautiful underwater adventure." This is the kind of gift you give to someone when you want them to stop calling you.

Neil Gaiman's A Short Film About John Bolton - Buy from Amazon
Neil Gaiman is the creator of the Sandman comic book, co-author of Good Omens and director of the upcoming movie, MirrorMask. John Bolton is an artist who specializes in painting busty Vampire babes. The movie itself is less than 30 minute long, but the are plenty of special features on the disc to make up for that, including a feature length documentary. So really this is a documentary about Neil Gaiman with a short film about John Bolton as an extra.

Nova - Origins - Buy from Amazon
An amazing look at the origins of the universe, life on our planet, the possibility of alien life and more, told in a way that's engaging to both children and adults. Nova is an excellent program and purchasing these DVDs helps support some of the best TV around. Special features include a printable Educator's Guide.

The Phantom of the Opera - Buy from Amazon
In what has got to be one of the worst attempts to sponge off the publicity of another film, the slasher version of The Phantom of the Opera starring Robert Englund is being released on DVD this week. There's surprisingly little in common between this film and the upcoming movie considering they are based on the same story.

Rodney Dangerfield - The Ultimate No Respect Collection - Buy from Amazon
The timing of this release with Rodney Dangerfield's recent death is suspect and one could be tempted to call it a cash grab of the most crass kind. However, this 3-DVD set was in the works before his death with Rodney Dangerfield picking the specials, stand-up bits, etc included in this set. This is a must have item for fans of his stand-up, and for people who have only seen his movie work it is a treat to see the man do what he did best.

Species III - Buy from Amazon: R-Rated or Unrated

Star Trek: Voyager - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
Paramount is quickly releases the last of the Star Trek series out on DVD while there's still some life in the franchise. Those of you who have purchased the previous releases know what to expect in terms of show and special feature quality and the rest of us have already stopped reading. Of note, in just two weeks time the final season is being released on DVD.

Top Cat - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
All 30 episodes and over an hour of special features are released on a 4-disc set. Top Cat centers on the exploits of a con-man kitty and his band of naïve cohorts who are trying to make their latest swindle work will staying one step ahead of Officer Dibble. If this set sells well, expect other Hanna-Barbera cartoons to follow shortly.

Walt Disney Treasures - Buy from Amazon: The Complete Pluto, Volume 1, Mickey Mouse Club and Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Volume Two
Disney has a lot of cartoons in their vault, but the DVD releases are not as strong as those from Warner Bros., like the Golden Collections. (And this is reflected in the sales, Volume 1 came out over a year ago and its still outselling these releases.

Warriors of Heaven and Earth - Buy from Amazon
A lot of films have been released recently trying to recapture the magic of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Most can't even come close. This film earned merely mediocre reviews and made little impact at the box office.

The Yakuza Papers - Buy from Amazon: Volume 1: Battles Without Honor and Humanity, Volume 3: Proxy War, Volume 4: Police Tactics and Volume 5: Final Episode
I know what you're thinking, "Where's Volume 2: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima?" It's being released next week along with the Box Set. "Why?" I have no idea.

Young Doctors in Love - Buy from Amazon
A great cast of up and comers is wasted on this sitcomy spoof of medical flicks.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Bourne Supremacy, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Maria Full of Grace, Mou gaan dou, Warriors of Heaven and Earth