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2005 DVDs In Review

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PHOTOGRAPHY

by David Blackwell

BEST SINGLE DISC RELEASES:

The most interesting releases have to be LAYER CAKE, MAJOR DUNDEE, SERENITY, and THE GRUDGE Director's Cut.  LAYER CAKE was a crazy film starring the next actor to play James Bond.  SERENITY was the great follow-up to a great short-lived TV series with some fine extras on the DVD to boot.   MAJOR DUNDEE was a the presentation of a longer version with 12 unseen minutes and an alternate score included (and various extras including an unfinished deleted scene due to part of it still being lost).   Who knows if more lost footage will show up and bring the film even closer to what Sam Peckinpah envisioned?!  THE GRUDGE Director's Cut is a definite improvement over the PG-13 version and you get 30 minutes of deleted scenes too.

1. LAYER CAKE

2. SERENITY

3. THE GRUDGE Director's Cut

4. MAJOR DUNDEE

5. CRIMSON RIVERS: ANGELS OF THE APOCALYPSE

6. SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW

BEST TWO DISC RELEASES: The two disc releases are making their mark on me more this year. Whether it is THE FIFTH ELEMENT The Ultimate Edition or BATMAN BEGINS, two disc special editions are loaded with content in 2005. KINGDOM OF HEAVEN had a good disc of extras, but the Director's Edition in 2006 will blow that away and be an improvement. THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU shows that any Criterion release is worth checking out. The top honors go to SIN CITY: RECUT, EXTENDED, AND UNRATED. It is my favorite two disc release of the year due to it's wide range of extras and the design to the discs and case art. The two disc Special Editions for the STAR TREK movies for this year are also good efforts, but the commentaries and some repetitive featurettes make them far from perfect. The best title in the FOX Collector Edition series had to be I, ROBOT due to the way the menu system was designed for disc two and the range of extras to choose from.

1. SIN CITY: RECUT, EXTENDED, AND UNRATED

2. I, ROBOT: COLLECTOR'S EDITION

3. BATMAN BEGINS Deluxe Edition

4. KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

5. THE FIFTH ELEMENT Ultimate Edition

6. THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU (two disc Criterion released through BVHE)

7. A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT

8. THE GREAT RAID Unrated Director's Cut

Honorable Mention:  TAE GUK GI- THE BROTHERHOOD OF WAR

BEST TV ON DVD RELEASES.: 2005 saw the release of many cult favorites and popular shows to DVD. Cult shows like WONDERFALLS, POINT PLEASANT, and THE LONE GUNMEN finally arrived on DVD while the first two seasons of THE PRETENDER were available by the end of 2005 (with season 3 due on 2-14-2006). FOX even finished releasing MILLENNIUM and ROSWELL as the third season of both series made their ways to North American release (where Europe already had the third season out on DVD in 2004). Paramount released all four seasons of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE warped to DVD with very sturdy cases to protect the digipack cases and a wealth of extras not seen on other STAR TREK series DVD sets. LOST Season One had plenty of LOST extras, but BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Season One was a perfect TV on DVD release for Universal (who usually have problems with their TV on DVD releases whether it is having Non-Anamorphic Widescreen episodes for HOUSE Season One, no attempts to place episodes that aired out of order in their proper order (AMERICAN GOTHIC, EARTH 2), or several types of DVD players experiencing problems with playing the DVD-18s they use for most TV on DVD releases). DEAD LIKE ME Season Two proves how unfair it was unfair for Showtime to cancel such a dark comedic gem. MURDER ONE Season One receives the award for most creative case, box, and disc art.

1. BATTLESTAR GALATICA Season One

2. WONDERFALLS

3. LOST Season One

4. STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE Season One to Four

5. DEAD LIKE ME Season Two

OTHER DVD Releases: The Batjac films released to DVD this year provided a wealth of good extras including releasing two John Wayne movies never before seen on DVD: ISLAND IN THE SKY and THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY. It is disappointing that four titles (TRACK OF THE CAT, RING OF FEAR, PLUNDER IN THE SUN, and MAN IN THE VAULT) originally scheduled for release on 12-20-2005 have been postponed. Paramount released many catalog titles to DVD (many without extras and yet with good transfers). The transfers on several catalog titles from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment had mixed results (some good transfers while others could have been better). Kudos go to SPHE for releasing several foreign films and direct to video sequels. Also special editions of great movies are nice efforts, but I think they could do less with release of titles to cash in on the release of a sequel (THE MASK OF ZORRO Deluxe Edition). The next cash-in release is a Limited Edition of the UNDERWORLD Unrated Extended Cut which comes with a bonus disc that gives a sneak peek at the sequel, UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION. the only good thing about tie-in re-releases are they provide new consumers the chance to buy a DVD they don't own yet and sometimes even a free movie ticket to use to go see the sequel. The ones left out in the cold are the people who already bought the DVD without the tie-in extras.

FOX went to bat with their Collector Edition DVDs, but a little editing on the featurettes would have made extras on the ELEKTRA Director's Cut and the AVP: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR The Unrated Edition even better. Miramax and Dimension released some DVDs to mixed results with half of the titles receiving extras and other having no extras (where other regions had extras). I hear WARNER has paid special attention to their release of old movies, but I do like the fact they offer a one disc and two disc edition of big theatrical movies when they come to DVD. It gives the consumer the option of buying one disc for the movie or two discs for the movie plus extras. It is a better option instead of releasing a one disc release only to have a two disc special edition come out months later with extras that diehard DVD collectors wait for. I know some DVD releases are fast due to the fears of DVD pirates and illegal downloading of a movie (or DVD). I rather have longer waits for some movies to give the best attention to releases and avoid the sometimes dreaded double dip.

Go to the 2005 DVD Review page for more info on many titles in this article:

http://enterline2.tripod.com/dvd2005.html

 

COMING IN 2006:

SPHE has THE LEGEND OF ZORRO and THE FOG remake hitting DVD in the first month of 2006 while FOX has extended cuts of FANTASTIC FOUR and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (4 disc release) planned for release later in the year. I await Paramount's 4-18-2006 release of the EVENT HORIZON Special Edition. FOX has many series coming to DVD like THE TIME TUNNEL, HILL STREET BLUES, and VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA and others continuing their run (THE PRETENDER and NYPD BLUE with their third season releases). Sony releases the Cult comedy series ACTION to DVD next month (only if they could finally put out the third and final season of FOREVER KNIGHT to DVD). BBC America Worldwide brings the new series of DOCTOR WHO to DVD (also next month) despite the fact it hasn't even aired in the USA yet.   So many suprises and great DVDs are in store for 2006.

this article is (c)1-2-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com