Video View

December 18, 2007
A thought by James Berardinelli

New Movies on DVD: This is the last chance for distributors to get their movies onto store shelves before the holidays, so there are a fair number of late-summer, high-profile titles debuting this week. After today, things get quiet for a while. The biggest bully on the block is The Simpsons Movie, which will have no trouble making the transition from the big screen to the little one. One could argue, in fact, that it will play better on a TV set, where the characters belong. Another film that won't be injured much by going smaller is one of 2007's Little Indies That Could: Once. A small musical that became known more for its soundtrack than its screenplay, the DVD arrival provides an opportunity for everyone to see it once or once and again. Rob Zombie's Halloween continues its bizarre chronology by heading to DVD at Christmastime. Consider this: a movie named "Halloween" arrived in theaters at the end of August, was gone from multiplexes by early October, then came out on DVD in December. Didn't someone think there might be value in synchronizing the movie with its namesake holiday? Wouldn't it have made sense to hold back the DVD until next October? Also on video: the enjoyable fantasy Stardust and the pallid and pointless Rush Hour 3. (Have people finally gotten tired of this lifeless series?) Finally, if you have kids, avoid the urge to buy them Underdog. There are plenty of other, better options available. This is a live-action money-grab designed to tweak the nostalgia of those who watched the "Underdog" cartoon. It wasn't all that good in short, animated sequences, but it's immeasurably worse when blown up and stretched out.

TV on DVD:: This week, there's almost nothing new when it comes to TV on DVD. The lone entry: The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones Volume 2. I guess it's for completists. The whole Indiana Jones canon contained one truly memorable adventure: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Everything else was disappointing, repetitive, trite, or some combination of the three. And the TV series, the second piece of which is presented here, didn't even have Harrison Ford.

Other Things of Interest: The big release this week is Blade Runner. The so-called "final cut" is available in countless versions: two-disc, four-disc, five-disc, collector's editions with swag, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, and so on... If you love Blade Runner, this is as "don't miss" as it gets. The centerpiece of all the versions is a newly remastered version of the film that's close in content and approach to the 1992 "Director's Cut" but has been carefully re-edited and touched up to eliminate errors both small and large. The five-disc versions contain no less than five cuts of the movie (the Final Cut, the Theatrical Cut, the International Cut, the Director's Cut, and the so-called "Workprint"). It also includes over 60 minutes of deleted scenes. Discs two and four are packed with extras and documentaries so those who want to immerse themselves in Blade Runner lore will get their chance. Over the years, only a few movies have gotten this sort of exhaustive treatment - this is one of the best box sets around and is worth purchasing as a gift either for someone else or yourself.