Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Alien Legacy
Productgroup: DVD
The Alien Legacy - movie DVD cover picture
Aliens rock!

The Alien Movies are indeed some of the greatest sci-fi movies to come out in the late 1970's. This DVD set in particular shows the movies in the best way possible, the DVD format. The second movie Aliens, which other reviewers have mentioned as having a "grainy" picture and therefore leading the people to believe that this transfer was not a good transfer, are very mistaken. The Director James Cameron filmed the movie like this to add more of an effect. But in since this is the only one out of the four to have a high definition transfer also makes it the best out of the four. Also, the movie has 17 minutes of footage from the laserdisc version. So, while the DVD box states that the footage is brand new, it is if you don't already own the laserdisc version. The other special features include interview with James Cameron and interesting shorts on the making of the queen alien. Alien, the first movie includes a documentary and deleted scenes. The best by far is an early "Cocoon Scene", this shows an early version of the cocooning by the Alien in which is shown in greater detail in the second movie. Alien also contains original isolated scores which for a person interested in sound or film production is quite interesting. Alien also contains 500 production photos and artwork, posters, theatrical trailers, TV spots. It also contains a very well done commentary by Ridley Scott, the director of Alien. The commentary is very good and worth listening to one of the best directors in movie history. The third movie Alien 3 is still a good movie but not as good as the first two is still a decent movie. The fourth movie Alien Resurrection is perhaps the most horrible because it had to find a way of bringing back the main character, which the story itself strays, way too far off track and really doesn't fit that well into the other three also because of so many loopholes in the story as well. The special features on these two DVD's only offer trailers and the third movie offers a "making of ". The picture and letterboxing is all your truly getting out of the these two DVD's. This box set as a whole is worth it. The widescreen ratios are all 2.35:1 for the first, third and fourth movies while, Aliens has a 1.85:1 ratio. Alien and Aliens are the only two worth buying unless your a fan of the movies then by all means buy the box set. But also since I'm writing this review in light of 20th century fox is putting out a 9 disc collector's box called "Alien Quadrilogy". This will feature Alien 3 in its 2 hour 50 minute cut and Aliens in two different cuts the theatrical version and the Director's cut offered on this version of Aliens. The fourth movie will also get an alternate beginning and ending. So, while you probably still can find a copy of this great set it's better to wait for the 9 disc "Alien Quadrilogy" later in the year in October of 2003.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Sigourney Weaver

DVD title: Land of the Dead (Unrated Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Land of the Dead (Unrated Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
A Legend Returns.

Legendary filmmaker George A. Romero returns to the sub-genre that he reinvented some 30+ years ago. Things aren't the same this time around. This time he had a decent budget to work with, a big name studio behind him, and a few recognizable stars, but the outcome is just as good. Even though LOTD had a decent sized budget, Mr. Romero still stayed clear of making the same mistakes that other filmmakers that attempted this sub-genre have made. Instead of filling it full of CGI, he used a small amount, instead of focusing more on a soundtrack full of Top 40 hits he relied on scores, and instead of blowing the whole budget on action scenes and explosions filled with Matrix style effects he chose to use old fashion action scenes only when they were approtiate. I've heard alot of reviews for this film and it seems the opinions are a bit mixed. The ones that didn't like it much claimed that they were no plot. I assume they just missed it because the plot was there and it was a rather deep one. I won't go into the plot because it would be hard to do w/o spoiling something. I will say this, if you are expecting a movie with the right amount of character development, political commentary, and gore this is the movie to get it. If you are looking for tons of fast paced, Matrix style action with alot of young good looking kids from your favorite WB show, look elsewhere.

Studio: Universal Studios Ho
Director: George A. Romero
Simon Baker
John Leguizamo
Asia Argento

DVD title: The Brave Little Toaster
Productgroup: DVD
The Brave Little Toaster - movie DVD cover picture
Favorite Movie

I remember watching this movie over and over again when I was just a kid. It scared ... me every time, but I fell in love with it instantly. The scene with the evil clown, when lampy got struck by lighting, when all of our beloved appliances were devoured by the quicksand, and that poor poor blender *sniff* I cry every time I see the flower die. BUT THAT'S NOT THE POINTThis movie is incredible (I'm not sure Disney even made it originally, they may have bought it later) The plot, the chracters, the animation, the camera angles. . . Everything about this movie is outstanding. That's why it inspired ... so many ideas >*koff!*-->TOYSTORY!<. AND DON'T JUDGE THIS MOVIE BY HOW A CHILD PERCEIVES IT! Animation is art, cartoons and comic books aren't just for kids, when will America realize this???? Anyways, The Brave Little Toaster is an absolutely amazing film.
"Good night, slot head."-Lamp

Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Director: Jerry Rees

DVD title: The Notebook (New Line Platinum Series)
Productgroup: DVD
The Notebook (New Line Platinum Series) - movie DVD cover picture
A True Love Story

Just when you think their is no hope for true love in this world today, A movie like this comes out. The movie took you away from reality and you wanted to be in a relationship just like that one.
I was overcome with emotion and for the brief time I was watching this movie, all the problems that we face in this world today seemed non existant. I can't wait to buy the dvd. 6 stars to Nick Cassavettes.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Gena Rowlands
James Garner
Ryan Gosling
Rachel McAdams

DVD title: The Wire - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
The Wire - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
HBO Strikes More Gold

Yet another hit from HBO who seems to have discovered they're better at developing movies than the movies they typically buy to show on the network. The Wire is one of the finest things HBO's done.

The dual perspective - working both the drug dealers world and the law gives it a distinctive edge lacking in even the best television crime dramas. It does the impossible, making you care about the criminals and putting the law in an often unflattering light, exposing infighting, career move climbing, backstabbing and corruption by those enforcing the law as much as those breaking it. Everyone is revealed in the myriad complexity that humanity is. Nothing so simple as black and white here.

Everything about The Wire has the feel of authenticity to it - and with good reason, it was written by masters of crime writing in the real world. The cast is remarkable down to the smallest of roles.

Even if you've watched the series on HBO - the DVD set is indispensible and provides the best way to really watch the
show - 13 hours straight, no chaser!

Bravo HBO! Long Live The Wire!

Studio: Warner Home Video
Wood Harris

DVD title: The Alamo (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Alamo (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
The Alamo

Just 15 years removed from a hard-fought struggle for its independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico found itself unable to bridge the cultural gap with the aggressive Texas settlers looking for their own country. After establishing a provincial government, the Texans appointed Sam Houston commander of their army in early 1836.

Thus began a back and forth grudge-match for control of San Antonio, the heart of Texas, punctuated by a massacre at a tiny, unfinished missionary known as The Alamo. A band of no more than 200 Texan settlers held off a siege of some 4,000 Mexicans, who were commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

Under the direction of Cols. William Travis and James Bowie, as well as the legendary frontiersman and Congressman Davy Crockett, the men held their post for almost two weeks awaiting reinforcements from Gen. Houston.

Assistance never arrived. Finally, on the evening of March 6, 1836, the Texans relinquished The Alamo to the Mexican troops in a bloody onslaught. Not a single Texan life was salvaged, with many corpses mutilated and beheaded at Gen. Santa Anna's request.

When reinforcements did arrive at The Alamo a grisly sight lay ahead. All that remained of their comrades was a towering heap of smoldering flesh. However, six months later, exclaiming the mantra, "Remember The Alamo" through clenched teeth, Texans would get their revenge at San Jacinto. In a matter of 18 minutes, though outnumbered three to one, Gen. Houston conquered the Mexican forces and captured Gen. Santa Anna, sparing his life in exchange for Texas' independence.

This is a story some of us have come to know quite well. Being a San Antonian by birthright, this tale has an unshakable foundation in my upbringing.

This brings me to the multi-million-dollar remake of John Wayne's Western classic, "The Alamo," a first-rate period piece starring Billy Bob Thornton as Crockett, Dennis Quaid as Houston and Jason Patric as Bowie.

Surprisingly, for a picture that was so breast-fed by a major studio, "The Alamo" rubbed off as very non-Hollywood. The raw intensity, the breathtaking shots of the Texas landscape and, most importantly, the seemingly unrehearsed virtuosity of the cast make this film an immediate sibling to such notable Texas-rooted cinema as "Giant" and "Hud."

Thornton captures Crockett in such a fetching style that viewers can't help but bow their heads and take a knee in mourning his valiant death. Patric is rough-and-tumble as the disturbed Bowie, twirling his oversized knife like a baton whenever slightly threatened. As for Quaid as Gen. Houston, well, by God, I know I'd charge headstrong into battle for him with the phrase, "Remember The Alamo," clanging my vocal chords.

Director John Lee Hancock has fashioned a film that truly captures the essence of those gallant Texas men who refused to submit to far superior numbers for 13 long days. I commend him on that. In this day and age it's rare for an epic with a hefty purse to carry such an attribute.

Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Director: John Lee Hancock
Dennis Quaid
Billy Bob Thornton
Jason Patric
Emilio Echevarría

DVD title: Robin Hood (Disney Gold Classic Collection)
Productgroup: DVD
Robin Hood (Disney Gold Classic Collection) - movie DVD cover picture
A never-dying love story

Well ... who does NOT know the story of Robin Hood? This is most definitely one of the best versions of the story. Sweet and innocent. A must have.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Brian Bedford
Phil Harris

DVD title: Iron Monkey
Productgroup: DVD
Iron Monkey - movie DVD cover picture

I've seen this movie being advertised for ages then finally decided to get it. I enjoyed it throroughly. It was funny and the action scenes were done with great precision. There is also an element of suspense. This is a great buy for your martial arts movie collection.

Studio: Tai Seng Video
Director: Woo-ping Yuen
Rongguang Yu
Donnie Yen

DVD title: Music in High Places - Collective Soul (Live from Morocco)
Productgroup: DVD
Music in High Places - Collective Soul (Live from Morocco) - movie DVD cover picture
Discovering Collective Soul

If you have not seen Collective Soul in concert (which you must do before you pass from this earth), and are only slightly familiar with their music, buy this DVD! Collective Soul is unplugged and at their best! The photography and sound are excellent. This is truly a revealing piece on the tremendous talent of Ed Roland, a fantastic performer and one of the premier singer/songwriter/guitarists of this generation! Enjoy!

Studio: Image Entertainment
Collective Soul

DVD title: Book of Shadows - Blair Witch 2
Productgroup: DVD
Book of Shadows - Blair Witch 2 - movie DVD cover picture

"Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" may very well be the most maligned sequel of all time. I have read more positive reviews for "Airplane 2: The Sequel." I have heard more compliments handed out to "Friday the 13th Part 2." There have been far more words of praise lavished like so much lumpy sausage gravy over "The Matrix Reloaded." What gives?
Actually, I think the answer lies in the very hype surrounding the first "Blair Witch" which this film so succesfully spoofs. I mean, think about it. You start out with an unexpected cultural phenomenon on the level of "Star Wars." You wait barely a year before issuing a sequel (not nearly enough time for memories of the first film to become hazy, but plenty of time for the inevitable backlash against it to firmly take root in the popular psyche). Then you have the audacity to release a film that not only pokes fun at the very people who are most likely to rush right out and buy a ticket for the opening night showing, but you make the film in a style completely different from the first film. Whereas the original "Blair Witch Project" was groundbreaking and unique, "Book of Shadows" is groundbreaking and unique... But in a very different way.
Joe Berlinger is more than well aware of his roots and pulls no punches when it comes to honoring and lampooning them all in the same breath. This is not to suggest that ol' Joe has gone the route of McG and is pandering with one hand while he smirks and winks the whole time. "Book of Shadows" is far too subtle and made in too much good faith for that kind of nonsense. Berlinger's point has more to do with questioning reality and fantasy and the complicated dance between the two which most of us take so much for granted. What is the truth of the Blair Witch? If it is only a story then how can it so deeply effect people and at what point is a story not merely a story any more?
This is a question most people (at least in this country) tend to shrug off, but which, ironically, is a question that most people (especially in this country) need to start examining. This is, after all, the native land of one Mark David Chapman who murdered a peace-loving cultural icon because he thought it was prescribed by a J.D. Salinger novel. This is the place where hordes of people came out in protest over "The Last Temptation of Christ" because it was a story that did not live up to the other stories they had been told all of their lives. This is still the same America where Charles Manson founded a faithful cult following willing to kill or die for him based upon a science fiction novel. And this is the same country where three boys were jailed and await execution on the strength of a popular myth that says they look like (and therefore must be) witches.
When is a story not a story? What is the boundary between sanity and insanity? Is it when fantasy begins to take precedence in the mind? Here Berlinger confronts us with a whole town full of characters who have been washed away by a fiction. You have tour groups roughing it out in the middle of nowhere hoping to find... Something... Anything. You have townspeople who find their quiet way of life destroyed. You have a sheriff driven to the point of vigilantism. All in the name of a fiction.
What Berlinger is trying to show us is how none of these responses are appropriate to the situation. You cannot kill a myth simply by deconstructing it. The amount of time and attention means that the myth has already won. It has become just as much an obsession for the naysayer as it has for the fanatic and the results can be just as damaging either way.
Want proof? Well, not so very long ago, in a town quite close to where I reside, there was a little incident known as the Columbine Massacre. In the days, weeks, months and years that followed, everyone began extending their index fingers in the direction of everyone else. The vast majority of these fingers were leveled directly at popular culture. The music of one Marilyn Manson was usually singled out for the greatest abuse. Pundits and so-called experts appeared on television nightly to discuss the relative merits and demerits of Mr. Manson's wailings and shoot off (no pun intended) an opinion as to just how much, if any, blame should be laid at his feet. Only months later did we learn, to our collective shock, that neither of the perpetrators of the Columbine killings was all that big a fan of Marilyn Manson. Oops. By then, however, it was too late. The myth had taken root. The pundits and so-called experts laughed all the way to the bank. Mr. Manson rescheduled his canceled concert dates. The so-called news networks stuffed yet more money in their collective coffers and none of us learned one damn thing. We simply supplanted one fiction with another. And the beat goes on.
For this, if for no other reason, "Book of Shadows" deserves a second look. Despite Mr. Roger "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" Ebert's gripes about how horribly this movie reflects on Berlinger's previous documentary efforts, I think a closer inspection will reveal just how wrong the portly one really is. If you haven't seen it, then do yourself a favor. Now that all the hype has died away, put on a fresh set of eyes and keep your mind open. You're in for a fast-paced, stylish, genuinely scary ride with something more on its mind than simple shock value.

Studio: Artisan Entertainment
Director: Joe Berlinger
Jeffrey Donovan
Erica Leerhsen
Stephen Barker Turner

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