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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 6/16/04

6/16/04 Weekly Release Roundup

It's a pretty light week for DVDs. Not too much to really satisfy that digital hunger inside. But there may be a few choice cuts here. Let us take a look...

50 First Dates 50 First Dates

Sandler and Barrymore are together again, and guess what? No one cared. It probably would have helped if 50 First Dates was actually funny, but it's not. Sandler plays a marine vet in Hawaii and Barrymore the girl he loves. Problem is, she has no short-term memory and so they have to keep reliving the day they meet over and over and over again. Uhg. Groundhog Day this ain't. The good news is it looks gorgeous in anamorphic widescreen. There's also a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that serves the film well. This DVD showcases the film quite nicely. Extras include a dull commentary with Drew and director Peter Segal, a few featurettes (including Comedy Central's Reel Comedy), a blooper reel, and some deleted scenes with optional commentary. Nothing funny, don't worry. There're also some music videos, a TV spot for Sandler's upcoming comedy album, filmographies and trailers. Do yourself a favor and rent this one first.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury
The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury

A review copy for this wasn't available to me by press time, so I won't be able to discuss video and audio quality. But for you Riddick fans out there, be aware that it streets today. It's animated, a little over 30 minutes in length and concerns a mysterious woman who captures Riddick with the intention of making him a trophy for her "killer men" collection. Vin stars as Riddick's voice and the story takes place in-between Pitch Black and Chronicles. Extras include the featurettes Bridging the Gap (which looks at the making of this short), Peter Chung: The Mind of an Animator (which is an interview the director) and Into the Light (which focuses on Vin and creator David Twohy discussing the character of Riddick). You'll also find the feature Animatic to Animation (which looks at the storyboards).

Tupac: Resurrection Tupac: Resurrection

In his own words, this is the life and death story of Tupac Shakur. Slowly making his way up to the upper echelon of fallen "rock" stars, Tupac deserves the attention he's getting as a voice and poet. I haven't always enjoyed his music, but he was definitely someone worth listening to. Sadly, his light was snuffed before we got a chance to hear his true potential. This documentary shows us his life, using photos and videos of the man and a narration provided by Tupac himself, pieced together from various sources. Most eerie is the opening "I got shot" juxtaposed with his death scene. Fans of his, of documentary filmmaking or of biographies docs should really appreciate this. The video and sound quality are only as good as the source materials used, but they're fine and serve the film well enough. Extras include an audio commentary with Shakur's mother, the director, Snoop Dog and Jada Pinkett-Smith. There's also two archived interviews including one never before seen, his "Malcolm X" dinner speech, court depositions, interviews with Eminem and 50 Cent, deleted scenes, interviews with family and friends (tied together in the Remembering Tupac section, a look at a proposed arts center dedicated in his name, and the usual trailers and TV spots. It's a nice set of features and a worthwhile documentary. Check it out.

As far as TV on DVD, I've got two picks for you this week...

Rita: Collector's Edition Rita: Collector's Edition

From Image and Playboy comes the Turner Classic Movies documentary about the misunderstood, but hauntingly beautiful, Rita Hayworth. Rita was a very fragile soul, and this documentary - although well produced and thoroughly entertaining - doesn't really go too far into the life and soul of this enigmatic woman. Maybe that was the intention, and that's fine, but if you're going to explore the life of a Goddess from the Golden Age of Hollywood, we should explore it, not just summarize it. Still, it's an incredible look at Rita in this cursory state. The special edition DVD presents the original documentary along with additional interviews, outtakes, a handful of home movies, Hayworth's filmography and the extended clip of her appearance on The Carol Burnett Show, which is shown in abbreviated form in the documentary. A second disc is included that contains the rarely seen Hayworth starrer Trouble in Texas.

The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season

The Simpsons season four is THE season to own. Sure, EVERY season is worth owning, but four is the season when The Simpsons became everything we all know it and love it to be. The animation became flawless, the humor gut busting and the pop cultural references rapid fire. Some of the best episodes of any season can be found in this set, and that's not a boast of any kind: A Streetcar Named Marge, Kamp Krusty, Mr. Plow, Marge vs. The Monorail, Selma's Choice, The Front. I could keep going, but I won't. Like the previous three seasons on DVD, these episodes are presented in full frame video and look gorgeous. Sound is in Dolby Digital 5.1, which is bigger than necessary for these shows but serves them fine nonetheless. Extras include illuminating and hilarious commentaries on each and every episode from cast and crew alike, animation showcases (with storyboards and animatics for select episodes across the four disc set), historical overviews of key events like then President Bush and First Lady Barbara's comments about the show and the controversy caused by the Streetcar episode, commercials starring the Simpson clan and a "making-of" piece on Disc One. Oh... and creator Matt Groening starts Disc One off with a promise of more to come. Hope he hurries. Fans of the show will want this set in their collection, and non-believers can start their collection off with this brilliant season.

You'll want to check out these other TV releases as well...

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Second SeasonDead Like Me: The Complete First SeasonMonk: Season One

You'll also find Beverly Hills 90210: The Pilot Episode in stores for some reason, the slowly growing on me HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Second Season, Showtime's Dead Like Me: The Complete First Season, Comedy Central's The Man Show: Season One - Volume Two, the critically acclaimed Monk: Season One, one of my favorite TV shows from last year - Nip/Tuck: The Complete First Season, and who could resist the charms of Xena Warrior Princess: Season Four?

Also coming to DVD this week...

Black Hawk Down (Superbit)The Station AgentThe Stepford Wives

Also available today: the Superbit version of Black Hawk Down, High School Confidential!, the John Huston version of Moulin Rouge, Prick Up Your Ears, Spartan, The Station Agent, the original (re-released in time for the new theatrical version) The Stepford Wives, Teacher's Pet, Touching the Void, Ang Lee's brilliant comedy The Wedding Banquet and The Wild Party.

Next week looks to be a bit better in terms of volume. Be sure to come back right about this time next week so we can examine further.

Until then, keep watching the skies.

Todd Doogan

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