New DVD Releases 12.31.02

As expected, it’s another soft week, with only one or two big releases. This list is ripped from the pages of

# The Art of Action (2002)

Double Whammy: Special Edition (2001)

Eye See You (2002)

Hey Arnold! The Movie (2002)

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Seven (7-disc set)

Did anyone else notice how all of the TNG boxed sets seemed to multiply for the Christmas rush? They released 6 sets in the past 6 or 7 months, but you usually couldn’t find them in stores. If you could, you’d only find a spare copy here and there, and usually not more than two of the most recent seasons’ releases at a time.

But once the gift giving season started up — look out. All 6 seasons were available and on shelves. I wonder if they sold well as gifts?

# Wisegirls: Special Edition (2002)

XXX: Special Edition (widescreen) (2002)

XXX: Special Edition (pan-and-scan) (2002)

XXX is your big release of the week. It certainly beats out last week’s PLUTO NASH. I haven’t seen XXX yet, though. I reserved the DVD, so hopefully I can get to it in the next couple of weeks…

Posted in DVD

Another reason to hate other drivers

4 wheel drive is a great thing to have while driving in the snow, but there are two things you need to know first:

1. How to drive in 4WD and what it’s good for. 4WD does not give you 4 wheel stop on ice.

2. Just because you have 4WD, it doesn’t mean those idiots in their sports cars do. They’re the dangers. I’ll never forget driving home from Baltimore in a snowstorm a couple of years ago. I watched a helpless Corvette trying to make his way around a bend and getting nowhere fast. Even my pitiful little Kia Sportage made it around that bend…

And a quick request to everyone else who leaves their cars out when it snows: Before driving out of your driveway or off your street, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE clean the snow off your car. This means more than just a hole in the front of the windshield and a small section of the rear window. You know all that snow on top of your car? That stuff likes to freeze over in the course of time and go flying off the roof and directly at cars behind you on the road. So clean off your &*^% car, @$$hole. I don’t care how short you are or how tall your car is. There’s no excuse. If you don’t clean off that snow, you’re an ass.

Thanks. I feel much better now.

Blade 2

Finally saw BLADE 2 this morning. Since I had the place to myself, I fired up the DVD player and surround sound with breakfast. Ah, yes, nothing more appetizing than a good cinnamon raisin bagel with a vampire movie spewing lots of blood all over the screen.

I liked this movie better than the first BLADE movie. I didn’t expect to. This one felt like a live action superhero team comic book. It’s got two enemies teaming up to take on a bigger enemy, the prerequisite double-crosses and twists, and lots of team-oriented action with new challenges and new surprises at every turn. Yes, the characters are often two-dimensional and not blessed with the sharpest of dialogue. The one-liners are a bit much (but they were with Gimli in THE TWO TOWERS, too), and the CGI effects were too noticeable far too often.

But the manic feel of the movie is right there were it needs to be. There are lots of extended hand-to-hand combat scenes. The CGI isn’t used as a big blockbuster special effects point the way it was in the finale of the first movie. (That’s where the first movie fell apart to me, when it became this fantastic thing of glorified special effects that didn’t look all that special.) The CGI is used to enhance the more mundane fight scenes by including characters that leap around more and act more quickly.

It’s a decent popcorn flick. Nothing deep here.

The picture and sound on the DVD are both remarkable. It’s a New Line Platinum edition two disc set, so you get the anamorphic picture that brings out all the colors. There are better than a dozen deleted or extended scenes with commentary from director Guillermo Del Toro, who is entertaining throughout.

All in all, it’s an inventive flick with nice action scenes and a cool look overall. It’s entertaining, and that’s all I asked for at 9 o’clock this morning.

Posted in DVD

White Christmas

Well, this is lovely. We’re going to get the first full-on snowstorm on Christmas Day that I can remember having in my 26 years on this earth. The family gathering for today was cancelled for only the second time. (The first was when my sister and I were both really sick on Christmas Day. So I’m told. I was a week tyke at that point.)

So what to do? We pulled out the Sega Genesis and have been playing NHL Hockey ’95 (which hurts my thumb something fierce) and Dr. Robotnik, a Tetris-like game that’s a lot of fun for two players head-to-head action.

And the rest of the present exchanges and family moments will wait till Saturday.

Today, however, I did pick up DVDs for LILO AND STITCH, BACK TO THE FUTURE (widescreen, so two of the discs will get sent back), and the GOOFY collection. Watched a couple of those Goofy shorts. They’re still as funny as I remember them from my childhood.

Merry Christmas!

In celebration of the holiday, here, have a new movie trailer. It’s MASTER AND COMMANDER, the next Russell Crowe movie. It’s an action flick on the high seas. Ships, cannons, swords. Gotta love it.

Posted in DVD

Behind the scenes

Warren Lieberfarb is one of those names you’ve probably only heard of if you followed the DVD Revolution from very early on in its development. If you were around for the nightmare that was Circuit City and DIVX, it’s name you’ve undoubtedly heard. He was DVD’s biggest champion as a format, and now Warner Bros. has let him go. I can’t explain it. It’s a pity and a shame, and Warner Bros. is a lesser company today for it. You can read more about him at articles here, here, and here.

Posted in DVD

New DVD Releases for Christmas Eve

As expected, this isn’t a terribly big release week. In fact, I think the musical world is even worse off. I saw one list that indicated only two titles were being released on Christmas Eve.

Here’s the complete DVD list from

# The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)

Black Mask 2: City Of Masks (2001)

Desperation Boulevard (1998)

First $20 Million (2002)

Harrison’s Flowers (2000)

Trapped (2002)

Trois 2: Pandora’s Box (2002)

I can’t even be bothered doing much commentary on that sad sack of releases. When the week’s highlight is the release of PLUTO NASH, you know you’re in trouble.

Posted in DVD

Firefly postscript

I watched what might possibly be the series finale for FIREFLY this afternoon. Ironic, isn’t it, that it would be the pilot episode?

Normally, I’d be all for dispensing with an origin episode and going right to the action. Most pilot episodes are boring and hackneyed attempts to fit in all the exposition to set up the characters. Wouldn’t it better to pick that kind of information up, as needed, along the way? Focus on one or two characters per episode, and give us a full introductions as you go along. I like that idea.

It could have worked with FIREFLY, too, except that this pilot two hour movie did the job so well that it wasn’t needed. FOX spent $8 million dollars on these two hours and television and then almost didn’t air them, saying it was too boring and not necessary. My mind boggles. This was one of the best two hour premieres I’ve ever seen for a series. It brings together the second half of the crew and throws in enough exposition to explain them all to you. But it isn’t a boring talking heads episode with nothing going on. There’s a good dramatic action bit in every act. The characters shine. THe dialogue is sparkling. Joss Whedon’s direction is excellent. This looks more like a movie than a tv show.

And FOX spiked it.

Grrrr. Argh.

Keep your fingers crossed and perhaps we’ll see UPN or someone else pick up the series and do it justice. If that fails, I’d love to buy a DVD box set of all the episodes that were made.

Posted in TV

Another reason I’m happy to be a guy

I don’t have to wear all those shoes that don’t have heels on the back. I don’t mean the two or three inch blocks under your feet to make you look taller. I mean the back half of the shoe that keeps the heel of your foot inside the shoe.

Why would you want to wear sneakers, for goodness’ sakes, if your foot might just fly out of them at any moment?

Furthermore, if it’s 30-some-odd degrees outside, is a pair of capri-length pants really a good idea? I was told by someone last summer that they were comfortable when it was hot out. OK, so why are they comfortable when it’s near the freezing point?!?

It’s amazing what you see at malls when Christmas shopping these days…

Survivor Finale *Spoilers*

Well, Brian won. I’m glad. If Clay had won, it would have seemed a complete waste. He was the guy who was scheming and lying to everyone the most, and in a reprehensible fashion. Brian was smooth and played the game. He only turned his back on Helen when he (mistakenly, as it turned out) thought she had done the same to him. Helen, in the end, proved herself to be an incredibly annoying person. She’s just a vengeful angry person. Usually, it’s all water under the bridge in the time between when the final Tribal Council happens and the live reunion show airs. Not with Helen. She’s still the mean ogre, months later.

The Reunion Special was the most entertaining it’s ever been this year. Jeff Probst should have been hosting this thing from the beginning. Bryant Gumbel hated the show and had his nose stuck up too far in the air to enjoy doing it. And Rosie O’Donnell is annoying and too geeky a fan to be a good host. Probst is a knowledgeable questioner who was into the game and asked questions directly related to the events of the show. He asked the questions of strategy that I wanted to ask. Let’s hope they let him repeat that with the next Survivor, and that they don’t get some outside celebrity fan to host the next one.

The next Survivor is set to debut in February, which I honestly think is too soon. I guess they filmed it already? I can remember a time when rumors of the next Survivor and stories from its production would be hitting the rumor mill as it happened. This next season seems to have gone off without anyone caring. How the mighty have fallen. Still, the series gets great ratings. It’s just not the surprise hit it was for the first season.

They’re promising a bold new twist to the next season. Personally, I hope that means they’re starting off in one big tribe. They have to do something to eliminate the post-merge advantage, where one tribe methodically eliminates the other. It’s anticlimactic and stalls out the game for those weeks while the underdog tribe is still around. Starting the series with one large group means the creation of alliances in a much more random fashion. It might also mean votes at Tribal Council for the first few weeks in which you get more than two names gathering votes.

The only other possibility is to start with 3 teams instead of 2. There are ways to handle a merge or two after that to make it interesting, as well.

We’ll see. I still like the show. I still think it has legs left on it. They do have to continue mixing things up a bit, though, and they have to eliminate some of the alliances that are being formed these days.

Posted in TV

I’ve succumbed to a quiz

Perhaps my fondness for the Muppets and Sesame Street has gone too far and now I’m doing a quiz on this blogger. I never thought I would, but hey — it’s Sesame Street. I lived and died by the show when I was a wee lad. I promise that this will not become a regular feature. (And, yes, I’m well aware of the irony of apologizing for not updating this blogger more often on a day when I’ve done four separate entries before 2 p.m.)

Which Sesame Street Muppet’s Dark Secret Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Posted in TV

Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines

Yes, updates around here have been a little slow this week. They probably won’t get better around here for the next week or two. It’s not the Christmas holiday madness. No, it’s deadlines. Between now and January 2nd, I’ve got 7 writing deadlines to make, between writing the Pipeline columns and a couple other things I’m not opening my yap about just yet. I have the week after Christmas off. I’ll spend much of it with my butt in the chair behind the computer, typing away.

On the other hand, I might just have one of those days where I’m bored, surf the web, and find twenty things to post back here about. Who knows?

I’m covering my bases just in case. Thanks for your patience.

Back to the Future screw up

Word is out: The second and third movies in the long-awaited BTTF DVD are screwed up. The widescreen presentations are “badly misframed” and Universal will be pressing new discs as replacements. Word on this can be had at all the usual suspects.

Unbelievable. Merry Christmas, Universal.

Update: It just gets better. It seems this same transfer mistake was used in the R2 release which came out quite some time ago. People did complain about it then. Universal didn’t sort it out before the big R1 release. Whoopsie.

Posted in DVD

The Amazing Race 3 Finale *spoilers*

I blew that one. Ken and Gerard finished in a triumphant third, largely because they couldn’t get a taxi in Seattle quickly enough. Go fig.

On the bright side, Teri and Ian didn’t win.

I was surprised to find myself cheering on Zach and Flo. It’s not because I was rooting for the triumph over diversity storyline that Flo’s bi-polar mental state made the game out to be. It’s because Zach has the patience of a saint. The man belongs on the wall of fame somewhere. He’s amazing. I’m glad he won. And now he can let Flo loose on the Wonder Twin. Women. Go fig.

Please note that I have no desire to guess SURVIVOR for tomorrow night. I gave that up a long time ago. Things change too quickly and there’s rarely a logic to it. Brian looks like the obvious choice for winner, so I’d have to guess that Jan will finish on top. ;-)

Posted in TV