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page updated: 12/19/02



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 11/6/02 - 10/14/02)


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(EARLY UPDATE - 11/6/02 - 10:45 AM PST)

We've got some news that you South Park fans are going to find pretty disappointing. It seems that Warner's dumped all of the Trey Parker and Matt Stone audio commentaries off of the episodes on their South Park: The Complete First Season DVDs. But Comedy Central.com is offering all of the commentaries on a multi-disc CD set as a bonus if you buy the DVDs through their website. Sez Matt Stone of the commentary:

"Warner Brothers would not release it on the DVD without editing some of its content for "standards" issues. Trey and I simply love the sounds of our own voices to let this happen. We also believe in a little thing called the First Amendment. After you hear it you may wonder "What was the big deal about it anyway?" Good question. And one better directed at Warner Brothers than at a TV screen. So let them know what you think. Trey and I did. And enjoy our first ever sober audio commentary."

Note that you can also get the bonus commentary CDs by sending in your proof of purchase with a small shipping and handling fee to Comedy Central, and they'll mail you the CDs. You can visit Trey and Matt's South Park Studios for the address information soon. Thanks to Bits reader Randall G. for sending the link over.

Now then... Criterion has asked us to extend a little invite for those of you who live in (or plan to be in) the L.A. area on the evening of November 13th:

"On a beautiful June weekend in 1967, at the height of the "Summer of Love," the first and only Monterey International Pop Festival roared forward - capturing a decade's spirit and ushering in a new era of rock and roll.

On November 13, 2002, The Criterion Collection and its distributor Home Vision Entertainment will host a free promotional screening of the 78-minute masterpiece, Monterey Pop, at the Laemmele Theater, 8000 Sunset Boulevard (7:30-10pm). The festival that launched the careers of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding, while securing the careers of Simon and Garfunkel, The Mamas and the Papas, The Who, The Byrds, Hugh Masekela, and the extraordinary Ravi Shankar, has been brilliantly captured by director D.A. Pennebaker, immortalizing those moments that have become legend: Pete Townshend destroying his guitar; Jimi Hendrix burning his.

The Criterion Collection is proud to present the most comprehensive document of the Monterey International Pop Festival ever produced, featuring all three films of the Festival - Monterey Pop, Jimi Plays Monterey, and Shake! Otis at Monterey - along with nearly every complete performance filmed by Pennebaker and his crew. Free passes to the screening can be obtained by visiting the Virgin Megastore, 8000 Sunset Blvd, (in the same mall as the theater)."


Note that you can also visit this site and print out an invitation yourself.

The Complete Monterey Pop Festival: Criterion Collection

Just FYI, Criterion's The Complete Monterey Pop Festival 3-disc DVD set streets on 11/12 (SRP $79.95) and includes:

Disc One - Monterey Pop (spine #168) with a new high-definition digital transfer supervised by D.A. Pennebaker, a new 5.1 mix by legendary recording engineer Eddie Kramer presented in both Dolby Digital and DTS, audio commentary by Festival producer Lou Adler and D.A. Pennebaker, a new video interview with Lou Adler and D.A. Pennebaker, audio interviews with Festival producer John Phillips, Festival publicist Derek Taylor and performers Cass Elliot and David Crosby, a photo essay by photographer Elaine Mayes, the original theatrical trailer, original theatrical radio spots, a Monterey Pop scrapbook and more

Disc Two - Jimi Plays Monterey & Shake! Otis at Monterey (spine #169) with new high-definition digital transfers supervised by D.A. Pennebaker, new 5.1 mixes by engineer Eddie Kramer presented in Dolby Digital and DTS, audio commentary on Jimi Plays Monterey by music critic and historian Charles Shaar Murray, two audio commentaries on Shake! by music critic and historian Peter Guralnick: the first on Otis Redding's Monterey performance, song by song; the second on Redding before and after Monterey, an interview with Phil Walden, Otis Redding's manager from 1959 to 1967, the original theatrical trailer for Jimi Plays Monterey, a video excerpt: Pete Townshend on Monterey and Jimi Hendrix and more

Disc Three - Monterey Pop-The Outtake Performances with two hours of performances not included in the original film from the following artists: The Association, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Blues Project, The Byrds, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Country Joe and the Fish, The Electric Flag, Jefferson Airplane, Al Kooper, The Mamas and the Papas, Laura Nyro, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Simon and Garfunkel, Tiny Tim and The Who

So there it is. If you can make the screening, you can't beat free, right? We're also going to be giving a copy of the DVD away very soon, so watch for that.

Finally this morning, we'd like to welcome a new sponsor to The Bits fold... DVD Escape.com (you can see their new logo at the top of this page). DVD Escape offers online rentals of both adult and mainstream DVD titles, and sells used copies of adult and mainstream titles as well. Keep in mind that when you click over there... well, they've got adult DVDs. But if you give 'em a try, tell 'em The Bits sent you.

All right... it's going to take us most of the day to get all the new DVD cover artwork up, because so much is still coming in from the studios. So be sure to check back late this afternoon or early this evening to see it all.

Stay tuned!

11/5/02

We've got a list of new DVDs on the way from Buena Vista for early next year. Some you know about, some are newly announced...

January 7th - Signs: Vista Series

January 14th - Summer Fling, Roadracers, Ethan Frome, The Journey of August King, The Substance of Fire, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, Gus, The Moon Spinners, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, The Absent-Minded Professor, Tangled, Time Out

January 21st - 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, Tadpole, Ordinary Decent Criminal

February 4th - ESPN's Ultimate X: The Movie, Sweet Home Alabama, The Night and the Moment, Jane Eyre, Into the West, The Star Maker, Citizen Ruth

February 11th - Spider-Man vs. Daredevil

February 18th - Cinema Paradiso: The New Version, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams - Collector's Edition

February 25th - Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World

March 4th - Blue, White, Red, Blue in the Face, Smoke and Stepfather II, The Duke, Blank Check, Heavyweights, Man of the House, First Kid, A Kid in King Arthur's Court, Basil, Gone Fishin', Boys, The Ref, A Low Down Dirty Shame, Born Yesterday, Green Card, One Good Cop

March 11th - Stanley: Hop to It, Stanley: Spring Fever, Inspector Gadget 2, MVP Extreme

March 18th - Pokemon 4ever

March 25th - Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Vista Series

And yes, that is Krzysztof Kieslowski's long-awaited Three Colors Trilogy (Blue, White and Red) listed for March 4th. Unfortunately, there's no word yet on extras on these DVDs. We'll post more details when we have them.

Here's a look at the DVD cover art for three of the just mentioned titles, including the newly revised Signs: Vista Series art. We've also thrown in the art for the new Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Criterion Collection 2-disc DVD we mentioned yesterday...

Signs: Vista SeriesFear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Criterion Collection

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams - Collector's EditionSweet Home Alabama

Also today, we have word of two additional D-VHS, high-definition titles coming in December from 20th Century Fox. On 12/3, look for Cast Away and From Hell (SRP $34.98 each).

We've got 4 new DVD reviews for you this morning. Dan Kelly's checked out Anchor Bay's The Cliff Richard Collection, which includes The Young Ones, Summer Holiday and Wonderful Life. And Graham Greenlee's got another Woody Allen DVD review today... MGM's Hannah and Her Sisters.

And on the high-resolution audio front, I've given the DTS 5.1 CD The Police: Every Breath You Take - The Classics an in-depth look. Gotta tell you... music in surround sound takes some serious getting used to.

We'll be back tomorrow with a big Upcoming DVD Artwork update. Until then... stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/4/02 - 2 PM PST)

We've got a pair of DVD reviews for you this afternoon. Adam Jahnke's given MGM's recent Windtalkers a spin, and Graham continues his look at Woody Allen films with MGM's Radio Days.

Also we've got some great Criterion DVD news for you. Criterion has just announced a mess of terrific titles coming through January.

First up, look for Ernst Lubitsch's Trouble in Paradise on 11/26 (SRP $39.95) featuring a new digital transfer with restored picture and sound, audio commentary by Lubitsch biographer Scott Eyman, a new video introduction by Peter Bogdanovich, Lubitsch's 1917 short film Das fidele Gefängnis and text tributes to Lubitsch written by Billy Wilder, Leonard Maltin, Cameron Crowe, Roger Ebert and others.

On 1/7, look for Jean-Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders ($29.95), featuring a new digital transfer, a visual glossary detailing cultural references in the film, exclusive video interviews with Raoul Coutard and Anna Karina, interview excerpts with Godard from 1964 along with behind-the-scenes footage on the making of the film and 2 theatrical trailers (including the original).

Also on 1/7, look for Julien Duvivier's Pépé le Moko ($29.95), featuring a new digital transfer made from restored film elements, a 1962 French television interview with Duvivier, excerpts from the 1978 TV documentary Remembering Jean Gabin, excerpts from Ginette Vincendeau's BFI classics study of the film addressing its historical background and the French crime novel genre, a story of the film's influence including a video comparison of the film to the 1938 U.S. remake, Algiers, the theatrical trailer and more.

On 1/28, Criterion bows the 2-disc release of Ernest Hemingway's The Killers, featuring BOTH the 1946 Robert Siodmak-directed film version AND the 1964 Don Siegel-directed version (SRP $39.95). You'll get new digital transfers of each film, the 1949 radio adaptation, actor Stacy Keach reading the original short story, production and publicity stills, original essays, a music and effects only track for each, production correspondence and much more.

And finally, saving the best for last, Criterion will release Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on 1/28 as well (SRP $39.95). You'll get a new digital transfer of the film, new Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 sound mixes, 2 audio commentary tracks (one with Gilliam and one with Johnny Depp, Bencio Del Toro and producer Laila Nabulsi), an audio interview with author Hunter S. Thompson, deleted scenes with director's commentary, storyboards and production design sketches, a collection of original artwork by illustrator Ralph Steadman, the BBC documentary Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood, a selection of Hunter S. Thompson's correspondence read by Depp, rare material on the real attorney upon which the character of Dr. Gonzo is based, production photos and more.

If all that isn't cool DVD news, we don't know what is folks. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/4/02 - 10:45 AM PST)

Morning everyone! We've got a new update of The Rumor Mill that you fans of Akira Kurosawa, Fritz Lang and Robert Wise won't want to miss. There's also a John Carpenter update too. Some good new information about upcoming titles in there, so don't miss it.

Also today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts to reflect the 350,301 DVD players shipped in the States in the week ending 10/18. All charts have bene updated accordingly.

And there's an interesting bit of news today. You may recall that, a while back, we reported on a St. Louis company called 321 Studios, which intended to begin selling a piece of software called DVD X Copy that could make exact copies of DVD via DVD-R drives. Well... today is the day they officially begin selling their software, which has raised the ire of the studios. 321 Studios has already initiated preemptive legal proceedings against Hollywood, asking the courts to affirm that consumers have the right to make copies of products they own (giving them time to release their software in the meantime). Watch this space, 'cause you can bet this will be the next battle in the entertainment industry's war against piracy.

We'll be back with a couple of new DVD reviews this afternoon, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/1/02 - 12:30 PM PST)

Okay... we're back! As promised, our own Graham Greenlee's given New Line's forthcoming Austin Powers in Goldmember: Infinifilm DVD a spin (widescreen version, naturally). The disc streets on December 3rd. And Adam Jahnke's checked in with a look at MGM's just released Y Tu Mamá También (Unrated Edition). Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/1/02 - 11 AM PST)

Welcome to November, DVD fans. You know what that means... Spider-Man is on store shelves today, and the Lord of the Rings 4-disc and Star Wars: Episode II are less than two weeks away!

We've got more great new DVD reviews for you this afternoon, including New Line's new Austin Powers in Goldmember: Infinifilm, so be sure to check back.

But first I wanted to pop in here with some interesting news. 20th Century Fox has officially announced that their CGI animated Ice Age will be the first title to be released day-and-date on both DVD and the high-definition D-VHS format on 11/26. It will also be the first D-VHS release mastered directly from its digital source material - no film involved. As such, it should look amazing. The D-VHS will street for $34.98, and it will also include the animated short Scrat's Missing Adventure.

Also today, Columbia TriStar is claiming record sales of its Spider-Man, with worldwide sales of over 40 million copies, 26 million in the States alone. This includes both DVD and VHS formats (no DVD only numbers are as yet available).

Stay tuned...

10/31/02

Okay... yes, we didn't get any reviews posted last night. But we're going to make it up to you today, by posting no less than SIX reviews of new and recent discs. And this being Halloween and all, half of them are of the horror milieu.

First up, Todd Doogan checks in with his latest Doogan's Views column, in which he takes a look at Warner's new Horror of Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein, classic Hammer films both. Then, our own Robert Smentek passes judgement on New Line's Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Graham Greenlee switches gears to review a couple of recent Woody Allen classics on DVD from MGM - Broadway Danny Rose and The Purple Rose of Cairo. And finally, Brad Pilcher guards our flank, with a look at Artisan's recent Made & Swingers: The Money Collection double feature DVD. Not too bad for one day, right?

All right, you kids have fun, watch some good scary flicks on DVD and keep yer eyes peeled for all those zombies, ghosts and monsters that'll be haunting your neighborhoods tonight. We'll see you tomorrow!

(LATE UPDATE - 10/30/02 - 3 PM PST)

We've got something you fans of My So-Called Life should find interesting. Our own Jeff Kleist has spoken with the driving force behind the DVDs... Jason Rosenfeld. Jason is the person who originally pushed BMG to release the complete series on DVD, and after leaving BMG, Rosenfeld was the person who continued to champion the project. And as you know, the series has finally arrived on DVD... but not without a lot of heartache, both for fans and for Rosenfeld. I think you'll find his story fascinating, as it provides a taste of the kind of difficulties involved in trying to bring TV series to DVD. And for those of you diehard fans of the show, who pre-ordered the discs and were charged two and three times by mistake, it should explain a lot of things. So here's My So-Called Nightmare. Enjoy!

Back with reviews soon...

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/30/02 - 11:30 AM PST)

Morning all! We've got more stuff to post today, including a number of DVD reviews. But first I wanted to jump in here this morning with some interesting news and good little tidbits we've gleaned over the last couple of days.

First of all, I know a LOT of you are eagerly awaiting word on Artisan's new Stargate: Ultimate Edition. We've heard from the studio that the title is now slated for early next year, with an announcement expected probably in the next few weeks. We'll have more details for you as soon as they come in.

You fans of director Peter Jackson will be thrilled to learn that Anchor Bay is busily preparing a DVD release of his Meet the Feebles for the fall of 2003. Other major releases in the offing for 2003 from the Bay are: The Three Musketeers/The Four Mustekeers (February), The Man Who Fell to Earth (Spring), Winter Kills (Spring), Day of the Dead (April), Fear No Evil (Summer), The Incredible Hulk Returns/Trial of the Incredible Hulk (TV movies - Summer), Halloween: 25th Anniversary Edition (Fall) and Dawn of the Dead (Fall/Winter). But that's not all. Be sure to check out this link over at the Anchor Bay website for a list of even more great titles that are in the works for DVD release.

We've got word that Warner Bros will be releasing Eddie Murphy's The Adventures of Pluto Nash on DVD on December 24th, with Clint Eastwood's Blood Work following on December 27th. Here's the cover artwork for both, along with Buena Vista's upcoming Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Vista Series DVD (due on 3/25)...

Blood WorkThe Adventures of Pluto Nash

Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Vista Series

And sources are telling us that Pioneer's upcoming DTS 5.1 DVD version of the anime Akira will reportedly feature full bit-rate DTS (1.5 mbps). Good news for those of you who have been waiting for this option.

Finally this morning, and this falls in the rumor category, our sources are again telling us that the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine will arrive on DVD here in the States in March. A March release has also been confirmed for the UK by our friends at the R2 Project.

Back later this afternoon with more, so stay tuned...

10/29/02

We have officially announced the winners in our special Lord of the Rings Trivia Contest! 50 lucky people out of some 881 who entered will get to attend the private DVD screenings in New York and Los Angeles, and will take home the 4-disc set free as well if they attend the screenings in costume. Click on the link to see the complete list of winners. Congratulations to them all and thanks to everyone who entered. Special thanks also to New Line for offering a lucky group of Bits readers this fun opportunity! Note that details and attendance information will be e-mailed to the all winners soon, either by us or by New Line directly.

Have a great morning and stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 10/28/02 - 9 PM PST)

As promised, we're pleased to bring you Robert Harris' new regular column here at The Bits this evening. This time around Robert ponders great films starring Alec Guinness, Columbia TriStar's SuperBit DVDs and the misconception of THX. And he ends it all with the words "Kevin Bacon" in his closing sentence. No kidding! So enjoy SuperBit, THX and Six Degrees.... And don't forget that when you're done reading, you can discuss the column with Robert and others over at The Home Theater Forum.

Also today, we've got a rundown of the titles you can expect from MGM in February, along with a couple new January titles too (still no official word on the Escape from New York: SE, but more on that soon enough).

In January, look for the Barbershop: Special Edition (street date: 1/1), Our Song (1/14) and 24 Hour Party People (1/21).

February 4th will finally see the release of the Thelma and Louise: Special Edition (SRP $24.98). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a "collectable slip cover", 4 documentaries featuring brand new interviews (with Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Michael Madsen, Brad Pitt, director Ridley Scott and writer Callie Khouri), audio commentary (with Ridley Scott), a second audio commentary (with Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Callie Khouri), 30 minutes of newly found deleted scenes, and alternate ending with director's commentary, multi-angle storyboards for the final chase scene, the Part of Me, Part of You music video by Glenn Frey and more. By the way, that art below is only the outer sleeve (the actual keep case art features the girls).

Thelma and Louise: Special EditionBarbershop: Special Edition

That same day, MGM will also release Larger Than Life, Joey, The Water Babies, The Black Stallion Returns, Road House, A Prayer for the Dying, No Man's Land, all 5 of the Stargate SG-1: Season Two discs individually and a series of Charles Bronson action movies, including 10 to Midnight, Assassination, Kinjte: Forbidden Subjects, Messenger of Death, Mr. Majestyk and Murphy's Law. There will also be a Charles Bronson Action Pack (containing 10 to Midnight, Kinjte: Forbidden Subjects and Messenger of Death).

Then on February 18th, look for a series of catalog comedies, including Basic Training, Life Stinks, Meteor Man, Bank Shot, How to Beat the High Cost of Living, Maxie, Mr. North and Waiting for the Light.

Don't forget - our Lord of the Rings Trivia Contest ends at Midnight, so get your entries in quick!

Back in the morning...

(LATE UPDATE - 10/28/02 - 3:30 PM PST)

We'll be back with Robert Harris' column soon, but I wanted to chime in here quickly with news on Fox's X-Men 1.5: Collector's Edition DVD, which is due on 2/11 (SRP $26.98). The spec list for the 2-disc set has been revised. Here's what to expect now:

Disc One features will include an "enhanced viewing mode" allowing access to 6 deleted scenes and 17 behind-the scenes featurettes while watching the film, and audio commentary by director Bryan Singer. The film will be in anamorphic widescreen video with English DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, along with French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Surround. Subtitles will be available in Spanish and English.

Disc Two features will include an introduction by Bryan Singer, The Uncanny Suspects casting featurette, the X-Factor: The Look of the X-Men costume featurette, The Special Effects of the X-Men featurette, storyboard-to-animatic-to-film comparisons, the Reflection of the X-Men featurette, exclusive movie premiere footage from Ellis Island and around the world, multi-angle scene studies, a still photo gallery, 3 theatrical trailers, 14 TV spots, 12 web interstitials and the X-Men 2 sneak preview teaser.

Back soon...

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/28/02 - 11:30 AM PST)

Morning gang! Boy... is anything in sports more exciting that a World Series Game 7? Damn - great baseball. Congratulations to you Anaheim Angels fans. You've been waiting a long time for this. And beating both the Yankees and Twins to get there, you deserved the win.

We're starting off today's post with a trio of new DVD reviews. Brad Pilcher makes a long overdue appearance with two reviews - 20th Century Fox's The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and Miramax's recent Swingers: Collector's Series DVD. And Adam Jahnke's got a look at 20th Century Fox's new The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete First Season box set. More new reviews are on the way tomorrow, so stay tuned.

In other news today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales chart to incorporate the players shipped to retail here in the States in the first two weeks of October. All charts have been updated accordingly.

We'll return later this afternoon with Robert Harris' new column, so be sure to stop back in. Also, watch for an Upcoming DVD Artwork update in the next few days.

And don't forget that our special Lord of the Rings Trivia Contest ends tonight at Midnight. You could win one of 50 tickets to exclusive marathon screenings of the 4-disc DVD in New York and L.A.. And if you do win (and attend the screening appropriate Rings costume) you WILL receive a free copy of the 4-disc set. How cool is that? If you're a serious fan of these films... VERY.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 10/25/02 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Word out of London is that actor Richard Harris passed away today at age 72, after a long battle with Hodgkin's Disease. Active professionally until the end, he can be seen as Professor Dumbledore in Warner's upcoming Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He leaves behind a legacy of great films, that include Gladiator, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (long overdue on DVD), Camelot, The Guns of Navarone, A Man Called Horse and many others I'm sure I'm forgetting. All of us here at The Bits doff our pointy wizard's hats in his honor.

Also today, I wanted to take a moment to honor the memory of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, who died today in a small plane crash along with his wife, daughter and members of his staff. My wife, Sarah, and I lived in Minnesota for many years, and Wellstone was a man who we both respected tremendously. Whether you agreed with his politics or not, he was someone who always passionately stood up for what he believed was right, whether it was popular or not (and most often it wasn't). He embodied the best spirit of what it means to be a public servant... and he'll be greatly missed.

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/25/02 - 12:30 PM PDT)

We've got some GOOD news for you Pink Floyd fans. Roger Waters' manager, Mark Fenwick, had confirmed that Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii - The Director's Cut is being prepped for DVD release in March 2003. Not only that, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is going to be released on DVD-Audio on 3/3/03 in honor of its 30th anniversary! We're still waiting for an update on Pulse, so we'll let you know if we hear anything.

We've announced the winners of our last Trivia Contest, and we've already kicked off a new one! And this one is VERY special. Thanks to our friends at New Line, we're giving you the chance to win one of 50 tickets to special private screenings of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Extended Edition that will be held in New York and Los Angeles on November 11th! The screenings will start at Noon and run until Midnight. You'll get to see NOT ONLY the 3 1/2 hour version of the film on a big screen, but also much of the extras on the 4-disc set. AND... if you dress up as your favorite Rings character, you will receive a coupon redeemable for A FREE COPY of the 4-disc Extended DVD set at the Virgin Megastore at the end of the event! A judging will also be held at the events - those judged to have the best costumes will also win a free copy of the Collector's Gift Set! Seating for the events will be first come, first served. Note that no travel expenses are provided - you're on your own as far as transportation. We'll have specific details as far as screening locations for the winners. The contest runs until 12:01 AM PDT on Tuesday, October 29th. So click here to get started and good luck!

SPACE IS LIMITED, SO PLEASE ONLY ENTER THIS CONTEST IF YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU CAN ATTEND!!

In other news today, we've got word in The Rumor Mill about an upcoming Star Trek movie on DVD, as well as a major Artisan title that fans have been waiting eagerly for. Be sure to check it out.

Also today, we've updated our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to its current version, dated 10/10. The AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list has been updated as well to reflect the release of E.T..

Now then... we'll be back Monday with a huge Upcoming DVD Cover Art update, Robert Harris' new column and more news and reviews. Have a great weekend!

10/24/02

How about some more reviews, folks? We've got an interesting batch of titles for you today. First up, Jeff Kleist has his thoughts on a really wonderful animated film available on DVD from Central Park Media... Grave of the Fireflies. And I've taken a look at a fun disc geared toward the serious home theater enthusiast... CinemaWise's Movie Night: Custom Edition.

But that's not all. Our resident music guru, Matt Rowe, kicks off our coverage of high-resolution music on disc, with a closer look at a pair of new DVD-Audio titles from 5.1 Entertainment/Silverline... REO Speedwagon: Live Plus and Wishbone Ash: Bare Bones. In the coming weeks and months, you can expect lots more reviews of both DVD-Audio and SACD titles, and in-depth coverage that will compare and explain both formats.

In other news today, Universal has officially launched their Back to the Future DVD website, so be sure to check that out if you're interested. And Video Store has word that Wal-Mart is going after a little of Netflix's business with an online DVD rental program. Wonder if they offer free ammo via mail with those full frame discs? Speaking of which (here's an interesting segue), go see the new Michael Moore movie if you get the chance, Bowling for Columbine. It's as good as anything Moore's done yet and is at once powerful, scary and bitingly funny. We Americans have a hard time turning a critical eye on ourselves, but this film is a rare, unflinching gem. And I think it's an important film given the kind of fear and paranoia TV news coverage broadcasts daily into our homes. Can eggs kill you? New health concerns about laundry detergent... tune in at 11! Exciting footage of today's deadly freeway chase... and only Channel 2 can bring it to you! Watch for our continuous coverage of the Maryland sniper investigation...! It's enough to make you want to turn off the TV for good and pick up a good book...

Back tomorrow with news and more, so stay tuned.

(LATE UPDATE - 10/23/02 - 3 PM PDT)

We've got some reviews for you as expected. Matt Rowe has checked in with a look at Image Entertainment's recent Dave Mason: Live at Sunrise. Dan Kelly's got a review for you of Warner's just-released remake of Insomnia (widescreen version). And Graham Greenlee adds his take on an older title, Columbia TriStar's The Thirteenth Floor: Special Edition.

We've got more reviews on the way for tomorrow, including our first in-depth look at a DVD-Audio title. You can expect a whole series of DVD-Audio and SACD reviews from Matt in the coming weeks, as these two high-resolution audio formats begin to pick up momentum.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/23/02 - 10 AM PDT)

So I woke up this morning to check my e-mail, and BAM... I get hit with a couple hundred angry messages from readers who purchased E.T. and aren't too happy. Some didn't know about the missing DTS track on the 3-disc collection, but many are upset at the packaging on the 2-disc version. Specifically, Universal (or someone) added up to 3 security stickers to seal the packaging on some copies of the set. Problem is, when you remove them, the glue is so strong that they take a bunch of the color artwork from the front of the packaging with 'em. Several people have noted that you can remove the stickers off without destroying the packaging art IF you go VERY slowly when peeling the stickers off. But it isn't easy. And the sad reality is that there are a LOT of people today who have packaging that looks like this...

E.T. security tape damage

Readers are also complaining that the spine of the package has no title to identify the package on your video shelf. You know, it's really unfortunate that all of this stuff (the missing DTS track, the version/content swap, the packaging problems) happens on a title this important. The real shame, of course, is that this is otherwise a nice release.

Anyway, in other news today, we have word that Rhino is going to be releasing a Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD boxed set on 11/12 (SRP $59.95). The new-to-DVD collection includes the much-requested episodes Catalina Caper, The Creeping Terror, Bloodlust and The Skydivers. The set also includes the full features without cast commentary, original trailers from three of the films and "interactive" packaging (maybe it heckles you?).

We'll be back with several new DVD reviews this afternoon. Stay tuned...

10/22/02

We're working on more reviews and other stuff today here at The Bits, so today's post is going to be limited to a new Trivia Contest. Most of you guys are probably out buying Star Trek III and E.T. anyway, right? ;-)

We'll be back with some new reviews tomorrow, so stay tuned...

10/21/02

How's about a nice Hawaiian Punch this morning? No? Okay... how about Todd Doogan's review of Columbia TriStar's 2-disc Spider-Man: Widescreen Special Edition DVD, which streets on 11/1? Ah... that's more like it. I've seen the disc as well, and I can tell you that if you liked the film, you should be quite happy. Hard core DVD fans will find it a little wanting however. Having seen all of the major releases for the 4th quarter now, I'm even more confident that the LOTR: Fellowship Extended Version is the DVD of the year. Looking back over the last 8-10 months, only the Pearl Harbor: Vista Series DVD comes close. One note... unfortunately the much talked about WTC teaser trailer is NOT included on the Spider-Man set (the Easter egg is a gag real of CGI footage). Just FYI.

Now then... we've got some exciting information in The Rumor Mill for you Snake Plissken fans this morning. Seems MGM's long-awaited special edition of Escape from New York might not be too far away.

Also today, I wanted to follow up on the information we posted on Friday about Fox's My Neighbor Totoro. Many of you have noted that the disc is set to be full frame only, and unfortunately you're right. The rights to all of the Miyazaki films are currently owned by Disney... except Totoro (which is owned by Fox). That said, Totoro will pass to Disney in 2004, and so this is just a quick release to make a few bucks on Fox's part before their rights to the title expire. We expect Disney will re-release the title eventually in its original 1.85 aspect ratio (we'll try to find out more from them for you).

And finally, we've got a bit of strange news for you. It seems that the 3-disc version of E.T. DOESN'T include a DTS track on the 1982 version of the film... which IS available on the 2-disc set (both sets have DTS on the 2002 version of the film). So diehard collectors who would normally buy the set with more discs WILL NOT get the DTS track they usually also want. Doh!

Stay tuned...

10/18/02

We've got some details on upcoming titles from 20th Century Fox, as well as a few pieces of upcoming artwork. The studio will be releasing My Neighbor Totoro on 12/3, with Like Mike following on 12/10, Unfaithful, The King of Comedy and Big Shots: Confessions of a Campus Bookie following on 12/17 and The First $20 Million on 12/24. Then in January, the studio will release The Good Girl, The Shield: The Complete First Season and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Third Season on 1/7, with Python II following on 1/21 and One Hour Photo due on 1/28. We can also confirm that X-Men 1.5, the long awaited special edition of the original X-Men movie, will street on 2/11.

Here's a look at the cover art for One Hour Photo, The Good Girl, My Neighbor Totoro and The Shield: The Complete First Season.

One Hour PhotoThe Good Girl

My Neighbor TotoroThe Shield: The Complete First Season

Now then... we'll be back on Monday with several new DVD reviews and more. Have a good weekend and we'll see you then!

(LATE UPDATE - 10/17/02 - 4:30 PM PDT)

We've just posted our other new DVD review of the day for you - my thoughts on Paramount's Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - Special Collector's Edition (also due on 10/22). Long time Trek fans will find it another welcome upgrade to the previous movie-only release. But I will tell you that the featurettes on the disc leave a lot to be desired in terms of production quality. I'm hoping the studio puts a little more effort into the Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - Collector's Edition.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/17/02 - 11:15 AM PDT)

As promised, we've got a review of E.T. for you today. Specifically, our own Todd Doogan has given Universal's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Limited Edition 2-disc set (widescreen version of course) a good hard look. So not only can we confirm that the set does in fact include BOTH versions of the film, we can also give you an idea of the set's overall quality. The disc streets on 10/22. Also this afternoon, we WILL be back with a review of Paramount's Star Trek III: Collector's Edition.

By the way... for those of you who DON'T watch South Park, Todd makes a funny reference in the E.T. review to a recent episode of the show about filmmakers going back and digitally altering their films. The reference MIGHT involve the words "terrorist" and "hippy". Just FYI, 'cause several former hippies have apparently already e-mailed Todd in indignation. Click here for the original quote in wav format.

Jeez... you can't even make a hip pop culture reference anymore without the PC police breaking down your door. Doh! If E.T. were real, he'd take one look at our planet and say to his buddies, "On second thought, let's not go to Earth. It is a silly place."

Now... you guys had better get THAT pop culture reference, or we're giving up on you! ;-)

Other news in brief - Star Wars producer Rick McCallum talks with CNN about the Episode II DVD and digital piracy. Worth a quick read. And there's more on the Who Framed Roger Rabbit special edition via a Variety story at Yahoo.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 10/16/02 - 4 PM PDT)

Okay gang... we've been really swamped with questions about this E.T. thing today. And we've been shakin' our tail feathers to get the official skinny. Let me say that all of your questions about the 2-disc E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Limited Edition should be answered tomorrow. We've gotten our hands on a copy of the widescreen version of the set and we'll post our review sometime before tomorrow afternoon.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/16/02 - 11:15 AM PDT)

Folks... Universal's really screwed the pooch on this one. So word comes in that now both the 2-disc and 3-disc versions of the E.T. DVD here in the States will have the 2002 and 1982 versions of the movie, right? Well, since that time, confusion and outright anger have been boiling over among DVD fans all around the world. Confusion because Universal apparently hasn't seen fit to inform retailers, who are continuing to use sales materials that steer fans toward the more expensive set as the only way to get both versions of the film. And anger because apparently director Steven Spielberg's decision to make sure both DVDs have both versions of the film ONLY extends to Region 1. And international fans are NOT happy about it, judging by the outraged e-mails we've been getting from them. What a mess...

(LATE UPDATE - 10/15/02 - NOON PDT)

It's done! I've just posted my complete, 2-part, in-depth review of what is sure to become the DVD release of the year... New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (4-Disc Special Extended Version). The first part (posted yesterday) has been updated with new information and the second part now details the complete and exact supplemental content. I think you'll enjoy the review and I'm quite confident that you'll enjoy the set itself. So there you have it. ;-)

Back tomorrow with a look at Paramount's new Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - Special Collector's Edition. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/15/02 - 10 AM PDT)

Morning everyone! I've updated my review of the Lord of the Rings 4-disc set to include the complete spec list for Discs Three and Four. I'll have my review of the the rest of the set up by early this afternoon, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, we've gotten word from Buena Vista that they'll be releasing the Signs: Vista Series DVD on 1/7. We've posted the cover art previously (and I don't think it's final), but here's the spec list. Look for anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, the Looking for Signs diary by writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, Shyamalan's Making Signs documentary, Building Signs storyboard featurette, The Effects of Signs special effects featurette, Signs: The Music featurette, Full Circle featurette, 5 deleted scenes (Graham and Merrill, The Flashbacks (x2), The Dead Bird, Alien in the Attic and The Third Story), 2 Story-Reel multi-angle featurettes, M. Night's first alien movie and more. SRP is $29.99.

Also today, we've gotten confirmation that BOTH the 2-disc and 3-disc versions of Universal's upcoming E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on DVD will include the original 1982 version of the film as well as the recent 2002 re-release version. As many of you know, Universal originally planned to include both versions on the $70 3-disc boxed set. But director Steven Spielberg vetoed the idea... "When people buy E.T. I want them to know they have the original movie, not just for collectors and aficionados, but for everybody who remembers it and wants to continue remembering it just that way." Click here for more via NBC4. Thanks to Spielberg for imposing a little consumer-friendly common sense. Definitely good news for you E.T. fans!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 10/14/02 - 4:30 PM PDT)

Yes indeed... we have the discs, and we've posted the first part of the review. I'm going to say this right now. New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (4-Disc Special Extended Version) is hands-down, the DVD release of the year. And I believe it's also the most thoughtful, extensive, well-rounded and qualitatively deep special edition that's been released on the format to date.

I'm going to be posting my in-depth review in two parts, the first of which is available now. Part One looks closely at the first two discs in the set, which contain the film itself, as well as the audio commentaries. I'll address the new cut and the quality of the new version, both in terms of picture and sound. Part Two, which we expect to post sometime tomorrow, will take you deep into the second half of the set, which contains the majority of the special edition materials. Guess it's only fitting that our biggest review yet is for the most impressive DVD we've seen yet.

So enjoy Part One and we'll see you back here for Part Two tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 10/14/02 - NOON PDT)

Okay... just a quick update. My Star Trek III review is on hold for 24 hours while I work furiously to complete another review that you kids are definitely going to enjoy. I'm gonna to try like a madman to get it posted before the clock strikes Midnight. Might take every last minute of that time too... ;-)

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/14/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Well folks... I have seen the new extended cut of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Matt and I attended a special screening of the contents of the new 4-disc DVD at New Line on Saturday. The event ran from 9 AM to after 9 PM, and even after 12 hours of viewing, they still didn't have time to show everything that's included in the set (the 4 audio commentaries and thousands of production artwork gallery stills went unseen). To be fair, Matt and I only stayed to see the new cut of the film shown in a big-screen, theater environment with DTS surround sound. 12 hours is, after all, a LONG damn time to sit on one seat! But I can tell you that the new cut of the film is absolutely wonderful.

Many of you already know a little about the 30 minutes of material that's been added back in, but here's a list of SOME of the new scenes: an extended opening with Bilbo writing his memoirs, a new introduction to Samwise Gamgee, a scene at the Green Dragon Inn, the Hobbits witnessing the departure of the Elves from Middle Earth on the way to Bree, Aragorn singing the ballad of Beren and Luthien, Aragorn at his mother's grave, new moments during the departure from Rivendale in which we see Arwen's emotional reaction to Aragorn's leaving as well as Elrond seeing the Fellowship off, a scene in the mines of Moria in which we learn how the Dwarves unleashed the fire-demon, Galadriel's complete gift-giving scene at Lothlorien and more footage of the battle at Amon Hen.

That's impressive enough, right? But there are also many smaller scenes, scene extensions and additional brief moments that have been added in throughout the length of the film. The cumulative effect is to make this film seem vastly more epic in scope - something I would never have guessed possible. There's a greater sense of distance to the Fellowship's journey, with many more points of interest along the way. We get to learn much more about Hobbits in the new opening, and there's more interaction between Frodo and Bilbo, which illuminates their fond relationship. You see that Gollum has continued to follow the Fellowship after leaving Moria. Lothlorien is depicted in much greater detail. The battle scenes are all much more intense now, and several characters are given added moments that make them feel more rounded, particularly Boromir (his last stand is now much more heroic and emotional). There's more humor in this cut. And the new footage adds significant texture and depth to the film - particularly welcome as much of this directly references material in the original book. The result, ultimately, is a much more satisfying viewing experience. I have no doubt that those who disliked the film because it was too long will bemoan the new version. But for fans, if you liked Fellowship in its theatrical form, you will absolutely love this. The 15 or 20 people in the preview audience with us were in complete agreement - the new cut of this film is nothing short of extraordinary. We'll be back with our in-depth review of the entire 4-disc DVD set later this week. But I just wanted to chime in this morning with the good word on the film itself.

Now then... as promised, we do have a couple of big new reviews for you today. First up, you've got my thoughts on HBO's Golden Globe-winning mini-series on DVD, Band of Brothers (street date: 11/5). And I'll be back this afternoon with a review of Paramount's new Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - Special Collector's Edition. Tell you right now... both titles are well worth a look.

CEA has released the final DVD Player Sales numbers for September, revealing a record-setting month. Some 2,213,302 players were shipped from manufacturers to dealers during the month. That takes the format total to date to just shy of 37 million. All charts have been updated accordingly.

We've also announced the winners of our Trivia Contest which ended last night. Congratulations to them all and thanks to everyone who participated. Watch for another contest to start in the next few days.

Some new DVD announcements for you... Anchor Bay will release The Amazing Howard Hughes, The Criminal (aka: Concrete Jungle), Frightened City, Handgun (aka: Deep in the Heart), Hell is a City: Special Edition and Slayground all on 12/3. Buena Vista has Tangled (aka: Conspiracy of Weeds) set for 1/14, with 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure following on 1/21, Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams on 2/11 and Inspector Gadget 2 on 3/11. Columbia TriStar will release Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (English dubbed) on 12/17. Goodtimes has set Casper the Friendly Ghost (cartoon collection), Criminal Instincts: A Colder Kind of Dead, Criminal Instincts: The Wandering Soul Murder, Felix the Cat (cartoon collection), Love, Murder and Deceit (aka: My Stepson, My Lover) and Top Ten Forgotten Cartoons all for 11/5. Lion's Gate will release One Way Out on 12/10, Speed of Life (aka: Saturn) on 12/17 and Wisegirls on 12/24. Lion's Gate/Trimark titles for 12/20 will include Season the Brink, Double Whammy and Gang Tapes: Special Edition. Music Video Distributors will debut Ozzy Osbourne: Crown Prince of Darkness on 11/19. New Line's Cherish and Human Nature will arrive on 10/29. Paramount has officially announced Hey Arnold! The Movie for 12/31, with Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown following on 1/7. Red Distribution/Redline is releasing Andre Rieu: Dreaming, Andre Rieu: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, Fatboy Slim: Live on Brighton Beach, Op King of Skate and Six Feet Under: Double Deal on 11/5, followed by Deep Purple: Machine Head, On the Scene #1: The New Automotive Movement and Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks on 11/19. Rhino has Elton John: Live in Barcelona due on 11/12. Synapse Films has Bacchanales Sexuelles due on 12/17. Universal will release Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Born in East L.A., CB4, Imitation of Life, Matchmaker, North Shore and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, all on 1/7. And finally, Warner Music has set Barenaked Ladies: Barnaked Ladies, Eric Clapton: One More Car, One More Rider, Miguel Bose: Los Videos and P.O.D.: Still Paying Dues for 11/5, with Phish: Live in Las Vegas following on 11/12.

And finally this morning, I want to say congratulations to you Anaheim Angels fans. Damn... 13-5! Guess it was just your year. I'll definitely be rooting for you in the World Series. Anaheim is, after all, my local team. And your outfielder, Darin Erstad, is a fellow North Dakota boy. In fact, he grew up just down the road from my old stomping grounds in Valley City. I also want to thank my Minnesota Twins for a helluva run. When I think back to the way this season began... UGH! It was a great year and (thankfully) Twins fans can now look forward to many, many more. Meanwhile, for you Minnesotans... get busy and build 'em a decent ball park, okay?

By the way, the news wasn't all bad for Minnesota sports fans. After all... the Vikes picked up their first win this weekend. Doh! ;-)

Stay tuned...


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