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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 5/11/04




5/11/04 Weekly Release Roundup

There really isn't a pick of the week this time around, but there are a lot of good titles in stores today, so let's just get right into it...


Scary Movie 3 Scary Movie 3

The Scary Movie franchise isn't one of my favorite comedy franchises. It was gross, sophomoric and virtually unwatchable in every sense of the word. So to say I didn't give a crap about part 3 is an understatement. That said, I'm glad I gave it a second chance on DVD. The third film doesn't mirror the previous films, except it brings lead character Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) and the always dying Regina Hall back. After that, all connections are lost, thanks to new director David Zucker and writers Pat Proft & Craig Mazin. Zucker and Proft have worked their comedy magic on the Airplane and Naked Gun films, and this is a throwback to that style. Part 3 is essentially a parody of The Ring, with Signs, 8 Mile, The Others and The Matrix Reloaded thrown in for good measure. It's cute and funny, but more so if you're literate in the above mentioned films. The DVD presents the film very well in anamorphic widescreen (a full frame version is available separately), with sound in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras include a funny as hell commentary track, three making of featurettes, hilarious bloopers (I'm still laughing at the "Ben-Hur" dog wiping out) and about 30 minutes of deleted scenes including an alternate ending which goes further into the Matrix parody, adding The Hulk and A Beautiful Mind in for kicks. If you were like me and thought this one was going to suck, go ahead and give it a try. It really is silly fun.


Lady Snowblood
Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance


Lady SnowbloodLady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance

Lady Snowblood is one of my all-time favorite films. I love it. It's not the greatest samurai film made, nor is it an especially great film by itself. But it has the passion that sums this genre up. It features one of the most beautiful actresses of all-time (rivaling one of my favorites Soledad Miranda), Meiko Kaji as Yuki, a girl born for revenge to a woman in a prison. Her life is simply there so that she can kill the men and woman responsible for the deaths of her mother's husband and her half brother. And she does so very well. Created in part by Lone Wolf and Cub writer Kazou Koike, Lady Snowblood is a must see for fans of samurai films. Most may know the film from the inclusion of its theme song in Kill Bill, Volume 1, but it's so much more than that. Pick it up today. The DVD has a beautiful anamorphic transfer with a standard and clear Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Extras include liner notes and trailers for other AnimEigo films. The less important (and not so good) sequel Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance is also available and features video and sound quality as good as the predecessor, with similar extras.



Lone Wolf & Cub: Baby Cart to Hades Lone Wolf & Cub: Baby Cart to Hades

I'll be doing an overview of the Ogami Itto films (a la the Zatoichi films) sooner rather than later, but if you love samurai films, this is a great series. Baby Cart to Hades is the third film in the series and still follows our hero Ogami Itto (and his son Daigoro) as he travels the Japanese countryside wreaking havoc on the villainous Yagyu clan who framed him and killed his wife. This episode finds Itto killing a group of mercenaries who rape a woman and her daughter, enduring torture for the honor and freedom of a young prostitute, and taking down a corrupt politician and his crew. Although not the best of the six films, it entertains nicely. The video and sound quality are wonderful, and the extras include liner notes explaining the historical context and Japanese terms, as well as trailers for other AnimEigo samurai films. This one joins the first two in stores today. You'll be able to buy the last three in stores in a few months, or go to AnimEigo.com to pick 'em up today.


The Godfather The Godfather

Not much to report on this one. Paramount broke it free from the box set with no changes. You'll find the same transfer, the same sound and the wonderful commentary track from the box set. If you don't have the box and just want the first film, then pick this up. But if you already have the must-own box, then you won't need this release.


In America In America

Jim Sheridan's very personal film about the American experience comes at a time when all of us need a little bit of reminding just how good we have it. A family of illegal immigrants live, love and learn in New York City, as they face every possible hardship and every possible joy. It's a lovely little film with smart and sincere writing, masterful direction and some incredible acting by everyone involved. You really want to check this one out. The DVD is beautiful in a widescreen anamorphic transfer on one side and full frame on the other. The sound is also nice in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras include a poignant commentary by Sheridan where he discusses the film and his personal connections to it, deleted scenes with optional commentary, and a short featurette. These extras are spread over the two sides.


Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

A documentary about film in the seminal 1970s - should be good. Watch for Brad's review tomorrow.


The Fog of War
The Fog of War

Honestly and truly, this is one of the best films of 2003. It won the Oscar for Best Documentary and rightfully so. The film is brilliant and will change the way you think about Robert Strange McNamara. This disc couldn't be better timed for release. The transfer is gorgeous in anamorphic widescreen and sound is good in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras include about 30 minutes of additional footage, TV spots, a trailer and an elaboration on the 10 lessons of war discussed in the film. One word for you: Wow.


TV on DVD this week:

Friends: The Series Finale - Limited Edition
Friends: The Series Finale - Limited Edition

That was quick. Wasn't this just on TV, like, last Thursday night? Fans of the show will probably want to pick it up; but then again, it probably hasn't even been deleted off your TiVo yet. This "limited edition" features the American broadcast version and an extended version with "never before seen" footage. You'll also find the original series pilot. A review copy was not made available before press time, but I'm sure it looks and sounds fine enough.


Invader Zim Volume 1: Doom, Doom, Doom
Invader Zim Volume 1: Doom, Doom, Doom

One of my favorite cartoon series - ever. Zim is a slacker alien who screws everything up, so to get him off the backs of his leaders, he and his malfunctioning robot assistant Gir are sent to Earth to survey our ability to be enslaved. He sets himself up as a student with robot parents, dresses up Gir as his dog and gets to work... messing it all up along the way. His plot is soon discovered by MiB-in-training Dib, who makes it his personal mission to foil Zim... if only he can get his videogame addicted Goth sister off his back. Created by comic genius Jhonen Vasquez, Invader Zim is a badass toon deserving to be on DVD. This first volume contains the first 16 episodes on 2 discs. Media Blasters provides full frame transfers that work, along with commentary by Vasquez and crew for most of the episodes, including the original pilot episode, as well as animatics for select episodes. Fans of animation will definitely want this set.


The Jetsons: The Complete First Season
The Jetsons: The Complete First Season

Everyone's favorite family of the future (1996 is the future?) hits DVD and I feel fine. Every episode of the first season of the first series is here and they all look and sound good. Full frame transfers and mono audio present the show in all of its original glory. There are a few special features that will pique your interest, like commentary by Janet Waldo (the voice of daughter Judy) on the first two shows and a handful of featurettes on the show, the gadgets, Rosey the robot maid and some fun character bios. It's not loaded, but it's nice to get the show on disc.



Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season

Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season

After churning out goofy TV sitcom inspired animal characters, Hanna-Barbera gave us the sci-fi inspired action toon Jonny Quest. And it was good. Very good actually. Quest is still good after all these years. And this DVD set proves that. All 26 episodes of season one are here on 6 discs, presented in full frame and mono sound. The transfers are okay, but the source material could have used a better clean up for lint and dirt. The extras are alright - a tad bit better than what we expect on these H-B sets from Warner. There's a pop-up video trivia feature for the Double Danger episode, a featurette on the show from the prospective of comic and animation legends like Brad Bird and Alex Ross, an overview of characters and gadgets from the show, and a vintage commercial. Not bad. Not even close to what COULD have been done for this show. But not bad. I'm still glad to get it on disc.


The X Files: The Complete Ninth Season
The X Files: The Complete Ninth Season

Bill will be popping in later this week with a comprehensive look at this set, but in the meantime - it's a nice send off to a groundbreaking series on DVD. The final set houses the show in pristine quality (including all the episodes in anamorphic widescreen), and adds a nice set of extras that include a look at the making of the final episode, commentaries, deleted scenes and documentaries about the series. If you love X-Files as much as Bill (even half as much) you'll want this to complete your collection.


You'll also find TV favorites Survivor: The Complete First Season and The Waltons: The Complete First Season in stores today for your libraries.

Also available... gear up for Troy with 1962's The 300 Spartans, Jack Nicholson works The Border, Rita Hayworth is Down to Earth, a new release of Independence Day is timed with Emmerich's new film Day After Tomorrow, Toni Collette tells us a Japanese Story, Peter O'Toole is The Man from La Mancha, the classic Nighthawks is re-released by Universal, mmmm... Playboy: 2004 Playmate Video Centerfold, Kirk Douglas starts a Posse, Tom Berenger sings in Rustler's Rhapsody, Jahnke is happy because Kieslowski's two films A Short Film About Killing & A Short Film About Love hit DVD from Kino, those of you looking to fuel up on all-things Shrek can do so with the two-pack Shrek/Shrek 3-D, incest and lesbianism lives with Sister My Sister, Starring Pancho Villa As Himself stars Antonio Banderas as Pancho Villa, Henry Fonda has The Tin Star and finally Van Helsing gets animated in the cartoon prequel Van Helsing: The London Assignment

Hey ho. That will do it for this week. Be here next time when we explore even more new DVD releases. I can't wait. Can you?

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


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