Weekly Release Roundup
Welcome back from Vacation Week to all of you. Hope you all had a
This week it's back to business, and business is pretty good for
those of us who focus our lives on DVD. There's a lot of great stuff
coming today, including some box sets of Tarzan
and Robocop, great TV shows
and a handful of cool samurai films.
But first, it's all about Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston...
Let's see here: Ben Stiller was in There's
Something About Mary, now we have Along
Came Polly. Did the producers think Stiller and a
girl's name in the title equals big box office bucks and yucks?
If they did, they were sorely mistaken. What Ben and Cameron
had, Ben and Jen (Aniston, not J-Lo) don't. It's not a horrible
chemistry, it's just not the comedy milkshake that Mary
was. Stiller plays Reuben Feffer (my God, Feffer, Focker --
what's the deal with Stiller formula here?), a non-risk taking
risk analyst who, after his new bride takes off with a SCUBA
instructor, meets the real woman of his dream -- someone who is
opposite everything he is -- and she shakes his world up. Will
it be for the better? One would hope. As this is a romantic
comedy, expect plenty of fish outta water elements that cater to
Stiller's comedic charms. It's not a horrible movie, but it's
not as funny as the ads will lead you to believe.
DVD from Universal looks about as good as you'd expect. This is the
widescreen version set at 1.85:1, and it showcases nice colors,
solid blacks and good flesh tone representations. Sound is in Dolby
Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 (with French and Spanish Dolby 5.1s riding
along as well). Both English tracks sound good and play with the
film nicely. Extras include a commentary by writer/director John
Hamburg, which is funnier and more interesting than the film it
supports, a short making-of featurette, a collection of deleted
scenes, outtakes, an alternate opening to the film, a featurette on
the ferret Rodolfo, cast and crew bios and trailers for this and
I'm going to leave this one short: City
of God is the best flick I've seen in a long time. It
borders on perfection. About the only thing I didn't dig all the
way was that I didn't like the lead actor who played Rocket as
much as I liked every one else -- but that's a minor quibble
considering. Just do yourself a favor and pick this flick up
The DVD from Miramax looks and sound great. It's anamorphic
widescreen (1.85:1) with Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and
clear subs. This DVD serves the film well. The only extra is an
interesting documentary looking at the current situation in
Brazil's crime drenched slums.
of Dreams: Widescreen Anniversary Edition
If you build it, we will come... and come and come. Another DVD
for Field of Dreams hits
the streets this week. If you don't know the film, you can read
our review of the original release
This new edition, dubbed the Anniversary edition, features new
deleted scenes (not edited into the film), the From
Father to Son: Passing Along the Pastime featurette
(where cast, crew and major league baseball players discuss
their father/son relationships), a roundtable discussion with
Kevin Costner and some MLB players discussing themes brought up
in this film, a visit to the real "Field of Dreams" in
Iowa, the From Page to Screen: Field
of Dreams program from Bravo, a look at the town the
film was shot in, trivia and the original commentary with the
director and DP from the first release. Not a bad re-up for this
film, so if you're a fan, you'll want to take a look.
Wolf & Cub: Baby Cart in Peril
Mmm... two Lone Wolf & Cub
films released on one day. Be still my heart. Baby
Cart in Peril, the fourth in the series, is one of my
favorites. Itto is hired to track down a female sword master,
who is cutting her way of revenge toward the sensei who raped
her. Covering her body in tattoos, she plans to bring this man
down and will kill anyone who stands in her way -- including
Itto and his son. The transfer is gorgeous and the sound in
Dolby Digital 2.0 works as well as you'd want. Extras include
trailers for other Animeigo DVD releases.
Wolf & Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons
The second LW&C DVD
release is Baby in the Land of Demons
which is another great one. This film follows a dire situation,
where a clan leader wants to set up his illegitimate daughter as
"his son" and put her next in line to lead the clan.
This of course would bring great shame to the clan if allowed,
so some people in his clan hire Itto to end it. Problems arise
when it's revealed that an abbot/priest, in the pocket of the
Yagyu spy network, is holding a secret confession. This film is
great because it's just set piece scene after set piece scene.
The beginning is the "hiring" of Itto, where five men,
each holding 1/5 of Itto's fee and 1/5 of the information he
needs, have to be killed in such a way as to let them live for a
few moments in order to tell Itto what he needs to know. It's a
pretty neat sequence. The next follows Daigoro who promises to
help a lady pickpocket and when caught, is tortured to reveal
who the woman is, but refuses with the fortitude of a samurai --
yet he's only a child. After that is the assassination of the
abbot under water, a battle in the sand and the confrontation
with the mad clan leader and his twisted family. It comes off as
a great film.
Animeigo does another great job with this one and delivers a
nice widescreen anamorphic transfer, solid Dolby Digital 2.0
sound and a selection of trailers, much like Baby
Cart in Peril.
River: Deluxe Edition
Mystic River is a flawed
film, but as for an actor's showcase, it's pretty much flawless.
Hollywood must agree because they gave the two leads, Sean Penn
and Tim Robbins, Oscars for their work. Taking a look at how
childhood trauma can effect our adult lives, Mystic
River is modern crime noir, a whodunit with a
psycho-babble undercurrent. Penn shines as the tortured father
whose daughter turns up murdered, Robbins is a childhood friend
and chief suspect who was abducted and raped as a child. Did he
do it, and will he do it again?
In stores, you'll fine two other versions - single disc full
frame and single disc widescreen sets - and then this special
edition with 2 discs of special features and a third which is
the CD soundtrack for the film. Disc One is the film in
anamorphic widescreen (set at 2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1
sound. Both are beautiful and serve the film quite well.
Extras include dry, unassuming commentary by Robbins and Kevin Bacon
on Disc One, with Disc Two holding three Charlie
Rose Show interviews with Bacon, Robbins and director
Clint Eastwood, two making-of documentaries (one featuring source
novelist Dennis Lehane discussing the script and the cast and crew
discussing the Boston locales, while the other is a more straight
forward making-of with talking heads and butt-kissing). You'll also
find the teaser and trailer. It's not as important film as you'd
expect, but Mystic River is a
good film with great acting. The disc doesn't shed too much light on
the film, but if you're a fan you'll definitely want to check it
Another samurai flick this week from Animeigo. Read our
a big week for TV on DVD as well. The best of the lot to me is...
Volume 1: Network 90
This should really be Volume 4,
as it covers the fourth season of SCTV,
but since this was the first "U.S. produced" version
of the Canadian show and the episodes were a full hour longer
than the episodes in seasons 1 - 3, I guess it makes some sort
Time has been good to this show, as the mostly unknown cast has
all gone on to be recognizable and important players in the
history of comedy, and the show itself is still incredibly
funny. If you like television comedy, you owe it to yourself to
know this show, and this is as good a way as any. For those who
already know it and are pissed that Shout! Factory didn't start
with season one... chill. The other seasons will come.
This volume covers the first 9 episodes of season 4 and are as
funny as anything you'll see on TV today. Each of the 5 discs in
this set has a half-hour documentary with talking head
interviews about the origins of the show, the comedy troupe that
created it, John Candy and production design. Disc Five has an
hour-long reunion Q&A taped at the 1999 US Comedy Art
Festival. There are also two commentary tracks (for episodes 2
and 6 - by Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty) that are quite funny.
The episodes themselves look and sound as good as a show taped
on video in the 80s is expected to look. All and all, this is a
set you'll definitely enjoy, and one of the best TV releases
this year. With this and Freaks and
Geeks, Shout! is looking to get themselves a Bitsy
or two come next March.
definitely want to check out these other TV releases as well...
A-Team: Season One,
Dame Edna Experience: The Complete Series One,
Dead Zone: The Complete Second Season,
Shoot Me: Seasons 1 & 2,
Season Six Collector's Edition,
Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story,
The Complete Series,
Leap: The Complete First Season,
The Complete First Season,
of Duty: The Complete First Season and
the Boss?: The Complete First Season
Also coming to DVD this week...
... the neat WWII horror flick
Day of the Locust,
Return of the Giant Monsters,
Columbus, the Criterion release of
Bites: 10th Anniversary Edition, the
Tarzan Collection (which includes the films: Tarzan
the Ape Man, Tarzan Escapes,
Tarzan and His Mate, Tarzan
Finds a Son, Tarzan's Secret
Treasure and Tarzan's New York
Adventure) and you'll also find outside the box, the 80s
The Ape Man starring Bo Derek as well as
The Legend of Tarzan.
See you next time!