ReelThoughts: April 01, 2008

"Video View"

Commentary by James Berardinelli


Sorry for the late, short post today. I'm pressed for time...

It's a slim week for movies on DVD. The big release is Alvin and the Chipmunks, which was a surprise hit when it reached theaters last year. By mixing the nostalgia factor with its inherent family friendliness, this film was able to overcome its narrative shortcomings and lure in huge groups of film goers, reinforcing the importance of G and soft PG rated films to the industry. Alvin is being released both in standard DVD format and Blu-Ray. Its shelf counterpart this week is Sweeney Todd, Tim Burton's bloody barber movie, which attracted fans of the stage show and not many others. There's a two-disc special edition and a one-disc movie-only version, but nothing in high definition. Three noteworthy Blu-Ray catalog titles are being released: Unbreakable, Hidalgo, and Coyote Ugly. There's also the direct-to-DVD Cutting Edge 3, which shamelessly panders to the surprisingly large fan base of the original Cutting Edge by using the title. None of the actors from the original make an appearance, although the storyline is pretty much a retelling. The only tenuous plot link to The Cutting Edge is that the coach of the skaters in film #3 is the daughter of the skaters from film #1. She was also the main character in film #2. Got it? I can't recommend this film to anyone, not even Cutting Edge die-hards. (Confession: I have seen the original more than a half-dozen times and am sorry to say I forced myself to watch this so-called sequel. It can't appear on my Bottom 10 list because it wasn't released into theaters.)

Lots of TV-related stuff this week. Two old Doctor Who stories, "The Time Warrior" (featuring the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee) and "Timelash" (with the Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker), make their DVD debuts. Joining them are Murder She Wrote Season 8 (scary to realize the series lasted so long), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 6, Martin Season 4, That '70s Show Season 8, Becker Season 1, and John from Cincinnati Season 1. Also, for those of you who love old-time television and dream of the days when everything was in black-and-white, there's the long-awaited Father Knows Best. Yes, Father Knows Best has beaten Steve Austin to North American DVD.

There is one box set worth singling out: the Bette Davis Collection #3. It includes six Davis titles: The Old Maid, All This, and Heaven Too, The Great Lie, In This Our Life, Watch on the Rhine, and Deception. At a discounted price of $45, that works out to $7.50 per movie - just about the same price one would pay for a single admission ticket to a new movie. Not bad, which is more than can be said about this week's overall roster of home video titles.


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