ReelThoughts: March 18, 2008

"Video View"

Commentary by James Berardinelli


Battlestar Galactica fans, your week has arrived! At long last, Season 3 is available on DVD, so those who savor the benefit of watching the DVDs before the new episodes air on TV can get the marathon underway (Season 4 is only two weeks from broadcast). The Season 3 box set features 20 episodes on six discs with a fair amount of supplemental content. Counting the episodes and the special features, that's about 31 hours of material, which justifies the asking price for those who like the show. While this is by far the biggest DVD release of the week, it's not the only high-profile title. In fact, one can make a compelling argument that this is the best DVD week of 2008 thus far. (And, considering what's coming out in the next few weeks, it might be the best for some time to come.)

Other TV shows hitting the shelves this week are The Wild Wild West Season 4, Married with Children Season 8, and McHale's Navy Season 3. The Adventures of Robin Hood has a sub-$20 price for a four-disc collection, so if you have any affinity for that series, now's the time to buy. There's also The Bionic Woman Volume 1. This is the new show not the old one. If you stop by message boards and forums that discuss new DVD releases, you'll see the same comment repeatedly echoed: We want the original not the remake. Maybe that chorus will result in the distributors taking some action to resolve the rights-issue roadblock that prevents both The Six Million Dollar Man and the '70s The Bionic Woman from making their ways to Region 1 stores. (They are available pretty much everywhere in the world except North America.) However, as we saw with the high-def DVD format war, the only thing to trump greed in Hollywood is stubbornness. To make a point and assert their "manhood," the studios will lose money.

Those that love family films, Disney, and romantic comedies will be purchasing Enchanted this week. It's available on standard DVD and Blu-Ray. Action fans don't have to get their hands dirty with Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey - they can go straight to Will Smith. I Am Legend is available in all sorts of different packages, including Blu-Ray, a single-disc DVD, and a Special Edition two-disc DVD. The Oscar-nominated Atonement also receives the double standard/high-def treatment (except the high-def in this case is the defunct HD-DVD format). Those are the only high-def releases this week. Other movies coming out in only plain-vanilla DVD packages include Love in the Time of Cholera, Revolver, and the infamous Southland Tales, which I never got around to reviewing (but I can assure readers it's as bad as its reputation suggests). Criterion is giving Ang Lee's The Ice Storm the full treatment, so it's unfair to consider this a "double dip." Less kindness is needed when describing Eight Men Out, Bull Durham, and Pride of the Yankees, three baseball-themed movies repackaged to help celebrate Opening Day. All three are worthwhile but if you own a copy of the previous editions, there's no reason to buy the "new" ones.

Finally, this week's box set is for horror fans. It's a pricey collection, weighing in around $100, but that's still only about $15 for each of the seven discs. The After Dark Horrorfest set features these titles, each of which is also available individually: Unrest, Penny Dreadful, The Hamiltons, The Gravediggers, Wicked Little Things, Dark Ride, Reincarnation. These are the titles that played in theaters in late 2006 as part of the - you guessed it - After Dark Horrorfest. Seven films is too much horror for me, but fans of the genre should be delighted.


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