Each week DVDs come out. Some of them are worth your time and money and some aren’t. Some of them are movies I’ve seen, and some of them aren’t. Regardless, I give you my opinion on the big releases of the week. Take it or leave it, here’s the DVD Blend.
The Chorus - The only thing most people know about The Chorus is that Beyonce sang a song from it at the Oscars this year. Actually, given that Beyonce sang most of the songs at this years Oscars, they probably don’t even know that. I know I certainly started to tune Beyonce out as she continued to appear on screen stealing other people’s thunder. Expect the DVD release to get about the same amount of notice, especially since it’s a foreign film (Les Choristes from France). That’s a real shame to, because the movie looks to be a rather touching tale along the lines of Mr. Holland’s Opus. Check back with us to see what we really think of the film in our review later this week.
National Treasure - Look out Angelina Jolie, here comes Nic Cage! With an ad campaign that looks like it should have been reserved for the next Lara Croft adventure National Treasure actually surprised moviegoers by being a good movie (unlike any of the Lara Croft films). Take a trip through history with Benjamin Franklin Gates as he searches for treasure and attempts to protect it from Boromir from The Lord of the Rings. Just don’t expect the film to substitute for a real history lesson (like Boromir - he’s not real kids). The DVD contains quite a few bonus features including deleted scenes, making-of documentaries, and even a featurette about real life treasure hunters.
The Phantom of the Opera - I was lukewarm to the idea of Schumacher directing a big screen adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. As the guy who directed 8mm and Flatliners he was more than qualified to create the story’s gothic feeling, however as the brain behind Batman and Robin he also proved he could screw up that same gothic need. I made a pact that if he did Phantom right I, as a filmgoer and critic, would finally forgive him for the travesty of Batman and Robin. Unfortunately I didn’t get to catch Phantom in theaters so I’ve been able to harbor my cinematic grudge for a little while longer. With the DVD release of the film I’ll finally get to determine whether Schumacher is the world’s biggest screw-up, or still capable of making a brilliant movie.
Pocahontas - Tenth Anniversary Edition - Maybe Disney doesn’t exactly stick to history with their animated tale of Pocahontas, but does that make it a bad film? No, but that doesn’t make it a good one either. Pocahontas was the first Disney film I remember being disappointed with after watching it in theaters. I’ll be checking this one out on DVD this week to see if that disappointment holds ten years later. Still, for the completist this is another Disney film on DVD, with a decent release this time instead of the single disc edition that’s been floating around for a while. Certainly Disney capitalizes on this as it boasts “First Time on Two-Disc DVD” on the cover. I guess you have to have something to flaunt, and when you don’t you make it up, but Disney certainly seems to be grasping at straws in order to be proud of this release.
Spaceballs: Collector’s Edition - What’s not to love about Mel Brooks’ send up of the space opera? This film has everything you could possibly want in a parody, including Brooks’ razor sharp sense of humor, which was still actually razor sharp at the time instead of the more dull stuff we get from him now. Obviously Star Wars was the original inspiration for Spaceballs, which goes on to parody other great sci-fi films like Planet of the Apes and Alien. Star Wars continues to be the target with this Collector’s Edition which, from screenshots, appears to parody the DVD releases of Lucas’s masterpieces. With bonus features including a commentary from Brooks and the ability to watch the film at Ludicrous Speed, this is a DVD release not too miss. For those of you (and you know who you are) who plan to watch all the DVDs of Star Wars before the final chapter hits theaters, substitute Spaceballs for Episode III and you still get six films to watch.
Splash: 20th Anniversary Edition - Believe it or not, Splash was a significant movie for many different reasons. Firstly it brought Disney into the world of more mature films with their Touchstone Pictures label. Secondly it showed just a little spark of what Tom Hanks would eventually become, allowing him to play a funny role with a serious side, paving the way for more serious ventures in the future. I don’t know that I knew all of that the first time I saw the movie, but isn’t it great what perspective twenty years gives? This anniversary release includes a commentary by director Ron Howard, producer Brian Glazer, and writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, audition footage, and a new featurette about the making of the film.
Star Trek: Enterprise - 1st Season - I had such high hopes for this, the most recent incarnation of “Star Trek”. After the misery that was “Voyager” I was really hoping for a “Star Trek” series I could watch, and with Scott Bakula in place as both a producer and on-screen as Captain Archer, I thought this show would be the one. I knew better immediately after watching the pilot, which went out of its way to get something sexy on screen, placing barely dressed actors massaging each other, causing basement dwelling fans everywhere to massage their phasers (if you know what I mean). After that I was only able to watch a couple of episodes before I lost total interest. Maybe with the show on DVD I’ll try it again... but probably not. Use the pilot episode to substitute for low grade softcore porn if needed.
With Six You Get Eggroll - I really would love to see Cinema Blend cover more of the classic releases, and originally had this slated for review this week, until I saw how slim the bonus materials were - as in nothing. It’s hard asking our critics to review DVDs that have no bonus materials, so we’ll just briefly mention this classic Doris Day film here. It’s completely understandable that older films, which were produced before anyone even dreamed of the DVD format, don’t have much in the way of bonus materials around. There’s no making of documentaries lying around for instance. I’m sure there are probably some blooper reels hidden somewhere, or at least the classic trailer for the film could be included. Oh well, a lack of extras doesn’t keep this film from at least getting a mention, and when studios can figure out a way to pay more respect to these classic releases, hopefully we’ll be able to cover them more in depth.