Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Futurama, Vol. 1
Productgroup: DVD
Futurama, Vol. 1 - movie DVD cover picture

I don't want to bore anyone else with a million stats about this DVD. I have just one thing to say: Damn glad that they put the best show out on DVD so soon! Oh, and don't forget to pick up the Family Guy DVDs also. The two funniest shows on Fox. Guess they don't like comedy anymore since they were both cancelled...Yaah Futurama!

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Matt Groening

DVD title: Sex and the City - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Sex and the City - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
Where it all began...

The original! These girls are so much fun you can't help but smile the whole way through.

Studio: Hbo Studios

DVD title: Swimfan
Productgroup: DVD
Swimfan - movie DVD cover picture
Agreed. "A Poorly written but Well done film"

This is 2002's best "Guilty Pleasure". Yes, its predicatble. Sure, I've come up with a thousand better endings than the one given; but lay back! Enjoy the waves:) I'm not going to tell you what this movie is about, because, quite frankly, that is not my job. What I do feel though is a responsibility of mine, is to tell you that this movie was great! The acting is surprisingly wonderful (and despite the role given, Shiri Appleby is amazing! See Roswell), the direction is wonderfully sleek, and the pacing is fast and crisp! If you want a better story, see "Fatal Attraction", for it is far creepier and much more well-involved. But if all you're looking for is a few chills, some great acting, and a refreshing movie: SEE SWIMFAN!

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: John Polson
Jesse Bradford
Erika Christensen
Shiri Appleby

DVD title: Saiyuki - Journey Begins (Vol 1)
Productgroup: DVD
Saiyuki - Journey Begins (Vol 1) - movie DVD cover picture
Give the English dub a try - It's hilarious!

Yes, three hot biseinen and one ever-hungry bakazaru (stupid monkey)! The official review above mentions how 'loosely' this is based on the classic "Journey to the West" but frankly Saiyuki is far closer to the classic legend than the much-touted Dragonball. Which *still* isn't saying much, unfortunately... ... If you want the original legend, Amazon sells some very nice translations, but if you want broody fun, handsome main characters and plenty of off-beat adventure, give Saiyuki a try.
There are dozens of anime series out there that feature girl-heavy casts all panting after one or two main male characters - the stuff of most 15-17 year old boys fantasies, it seems - and a powerful marketing force, at least in most producer's eyes. But half the world's population is female after all... this is an action-adventure series that still appeals to the boys for it's frequent use of rather slapstick humor as well as violence, but it's slanted to the girls too with a whole pack of angst-ridden characters just trying to survive in a strange and ever-changing fantasy world. That's another point to mention; this is an odd amalgam of fantasy/modern times. Just go with it! There are guns and jeeps and cigarettes but also horse-and-wagon transport, rural life, magic and apparently fuedal political structures. There is no real attempt made to explain the rational behind the world's setting, but then a great deal of anime asks you to accept even wilder premises, so Saiyuki doesn't break the mold that much. Except for the fact that the some of the 'villians' are more sympathetic at times than our heroes!
You'll hear the term 'bishounen' tossed around a bit on anime reviews, but that just means 'pretty boy' and is more commonly used because so many anime series tend to be about high school aged protaganists - however, 'biseinen', as I used it above, means 'pretty men' and that's a huge distinction. Because the Saiyuki men certainly ain't boys... except for Son Gokuu. Expect a bit more 'adult' humor and situations because of that. I bought the NewType USA with the preview CD with the initial episode for this release on it. And the dub, frankly, stinks. The voices aren't distinct enough to make the characters unique and the 'Americanizing' done to the script drastically alters at least one of the main character's personality. Nope, sorry, Hakkai is NOT a foul-mouthed surfer-boy as he seems in the preview. He's supposed to be a soft-spoken, polite and rather reserved man. I shudder to think of what else ADV has changed about the dub story as well, given just the inital preview. So I suggest you watch the subtitled version instead to get the real Saiyuki experience. And no, this isn't a profound anime experience like "Spirited Away", but then, it's not touted as such. This is character-focused action-adventure that occasionally asks some interesting questions about loyalty, friendship and determination. But it's not deep and it leaves a great deal of it up to the viewer - or at least it did in the original.
I only gave this DVD 3 stars for ADV's version of Saiyuki based on the horrible dub preview disk. But if the subtitled version available on this DVD sticks to the actual story (and rumor has it that it does *whew*) then it's still worth the price. Frankly, I'm an otaku-anime-geek who only ever watches subtitled versions anyway but I understand the economic necessity of dubs for the general viewing audience - I just wish the material was treated with more respect by the importing companies. And while this means anime is coming over to the US faster and faster all the time, it's disturbing that companies like ADV feel it's their right to change the original stories so much. Leave it be. The cultural differences aren't *that* hard to explain - and the changes in the dub that I saw weren't improvements at all, in my humble opinion. They were just annoying.
But join Genjo Sanzo, Cho Hakkai, Sha Gojyo, Hakuryuu and Son Gokuu on their journey West! It's a heck of a ride...

Studio: A.D. Vision

DVD title: I'm Not Scared
Productgroup: DVD
I'm Not Scared - movie DVD cover picture

Great film with a haunting soundtrack. It's too bad these types of movies aren't typical of US film makers. The one thing I've always appreciated about foreign film makers is their honest portrayl of children and fear of sending the wrong message to a paranoid culture. If you love boys or boyhood and can remember your own childhood you'll love this film. It's endearing, suspensful, and stays with you. It's definitely one of the best of the year...foreign or otherwise, and I'm an avid moviegoer with little tolerance for bad films. Check it out!

Studio: Buena Vista Home Vid
Director: Gabriele Salvatores
Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
Dino Abbrescia
Giorgio Careccia

DVD title: In Cold Blood
Productgroup: DVD
In Cold Blood - movie DVD cover picture
Lock Your Doors At Night!

This film is the perfect example of what happens when you don't lock your doors at night! Your home gets invaded and, you may even get killed!
But that's not the point of this film (not really, anyway). This is a stark, cold, real film that is based on a true story that happened in 1959 in Kansas. Based on Truman Capote's 1965 novel, it became an excellent film in 1967 - starring Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, as low-life killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickok.
The film is about two men who hatch a plan in finding a safe which held a supposed fortune inside. In a rural town of Holcomb, Kansas, the Clutter family, the victims of this horrible tale, are murdered in cold blood all for a measly $40 - $10 for each life! There was Herbert Clutter (John McLiam), the father; Bonnie Clutter (Ruth Storey), the mentally unbalanced mother; Nancy Clutter (Brenda Currin), their 16-year-old daughter; and Kenyon Clutter (Paul Hough), their young son. All were killed at night for what? Nothing! A well-to-do family killed in a senseless act of violence.
But the film has a shocking twist! In some moments, we actually (or at least I did) come to like these characters! No, not for what they did, but for their dreams - like Perry's "Captain Cortes" bit or his dream about playing in Las Vegas. I even sympathized for him when he talked about his father pointing the shotgun at him and saying, "look at me, boy, 'cause this is the last face you'll ever get to see!" and they pulls the trigger without any bullets inside. (It was revealed that his father was the reason for Perry's explosive tempers, which also caused Perry to single-handedly kill the Clutters.) Even Dick can't believe it! And you're sure he had something to do with the murders, but it was all Perry's doing! Dick is slime, but you have to feel sorry in a way. They just wanted the money.
Then, in a surprise move by both author Capote and Richard Brooks, who directed and wrote the screenplay, showed a new side of these "villains." By showing their cross-country adventure in Mexico and back to the States, their adventure with a kid, a sick old man, and bottles (you'll just have to watch this film to see what I mean)!
But it is also not for the squeamish! I admit to crying during the murder scenes. Truly is heartbreaking. It balances between a drama, a film noir, and even a buddy/road film. Eventually, Dick and Perry are caught and sentenced to be hanged!
There are many familiar and very good character actors here: John Forsythe plays Alvin Dewey, the man in charge of finding the killers; Jeff Corey is Dick's father, Mr. Hickok; Will Geer is the prosecuting attorney who convicts them; and Paul Stewart (Raymond from CITIZEN KANE) as Jenson the reporter.
IN COLD BLOOD was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including: Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay - Richard Brooks; Best Cinematography - Conrad Hall; Best Film Editing; and Best Score - Quincy Jones.
A sad, but thoughtful film that is as compelling and surreal as the book itself!

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Richard Brooks
Robert Blake
Scott Wilson
John Forsythe

DVD title: The Sound of Music (Five Star Collection)
Productgroup: DVD
The Sound of Music (Five Star Collection) - movie DVD cover picture
An Absolute Must See

After 30 years, the hills are still alive with the Sound of Music and this movie is as popular as ever. I am not a big fan of musicals, but i know a classic movie when i see one and this is it. Julie Andrews plays her part magnificently and i don't think anyone else could have played it as well as her.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Robert Wise
Julie Andrews
Christopher Plummer

DVD title: The Spike Lee Collection (Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, and Crooklyn)
Productgroup: DVD
The Spike Lee Collection (Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, and Crooklyn) - movie DVD cover picture
All great films

These are Spike Lee's best work, with great plots and interesting characters, Spike Lee is able to make every race, color, and creed relate to these great movies. My personal favorite of the three was "Crooklyn" which is a film the whole family will enjoy.

Studio: Universal Studios
Spike Lee

DVD title: Spider-Man - The New Animated Series (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Spider-Man - The New Animated Series (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Really enjoyed this... wish there were more

I didn't see this series while on TV... not an MTV fan... but I like Spider-man, loved the movies and read the comics, so I bought it. Very glad I did!

It took just a little while to get used to the graphics, but then I found myself really getting into the stories. Sure, the stories and situations are different from the comics, but the characterization of Peter/Spider-man is spot on. I think this series captured his angst and personality as Peter and his wit and agility as Spider-man. His abilities have never been more accurately portrayed. Awesome to watch.

The only downer is that the cliffhanger at the end is never to be resolved as the series only went for one season. Very sad. I would have LOVED to have seen more of this!

BTW - I'm female, and over 30, so even though the target audience here is younger, this series, like Spider-man himself, can be enjoyed by all generations.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom

DVD title: The First Wives Club
Productgroup: DVD
The First Wives Club - movie DVD cover picture
The First Wives Club


Studio: Paramount Studio
Director: Hugh Wilson
Bette Midler
Goldie Hawn
Diane Keaton

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