Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Lain - DVD Box Set
Productgroup: DVD
Lain - DVD Box Set - movie DVD cover picture
Love the Lain Lunchbox

Lain is one of the best sets that I have seen in a long time. The series will leave only your consciousness behind, then take you into another world, and drop you back off to reality, unknowingly. I highly recommend Lain for Anime fans because the graphic qualities are superb and the quality of the story is excellent. A must see.

Studio: Pioneer Video

DVD title: Assault on Precinct 13 (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Assault on Precinct 13 (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Classic Carpenter

Alot of people are going to disagree with me about it being the BEST Carpenter film, but if you like action mixed with horror than this is a great buy. I saw it a movie rental place and decided since it said it was a Tarintino favorite to buy it. I was a little cautious though because I'd never heard of it and I've saw and heard of a wide variety of movies. But since it was directed by John Carpenter and had Tarintinos seal on it I decided to rent it. Man was I glad I did! It is now one of my favorite movies. I have seen movies where the enemies and stalkers talked and when they talked it seemed to make them human, and to me it shatterd the scary illusion of it. But these gangbangers never talk and it seems to make them scarier if they don't! Nobody knows horror better than Carpenter, he defintly beats Wes Craven! But if you are an action fan (like me) than there still is plenty in it for you. This low-budget masterpiece made such a big impression on me that I now own it. Anyway happy viewing!

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: John Carpenter
Austin Stoker
Darwin Joston
Laurie Zimmer

DVD title: Barney Miller - The First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Barney Miller - The First Season - movie DVD cover picture
there has never been a better sitcom

It's disheartening to realize that what is arguably the greatest sitcom ever (there has surely never been a _better_ one) -- would almost certainly not have made it in today's market.
The first four episodes aren't very good. The Flicker/Arnold wit is present, but the overall tone is loud and raucous (as is the laugh track). Hal Linden - a broad and unsubtle actor - is given too many comic lines, which are not only inappropriate for a police captain, but which he handles poorly. The "goofy criminal" format is in place, but the plotting too often falls back on sitcom clich?s. Wojo is stupid, obnoxious, and mean-spirited. And the impeccable comic timing the series was justly famous for is missing.
There's a good chance that, if these episodes were aired today, "Barney Miller" would not have time to "find itself" or build an audience, and ABC would kill it after a half-dozen episodes. We would never have had "Mooshi-mooshi!" or "Too many carbohydrates?" or "Oh, my God! I ate my eraser!" (Not really. On a 36" screen, you can see it's still there.)
Episode 5 marks the turning point. The arch, over-the-top tone is gone. There is no "plot" leading up to any sort of "payoff." Barney is more of a straight man reacting to the craziness going on around him, and his wife is on her way out. The laugh track is subdued; it sounds as if it's coming from a live audience watching the performance. Wojo is morphing into a complex, sympathetic character -- and we start to see what an exceptionally fine actor Max Gail is. (God, what cute little ears!) Most significantly, the show is not afraid to have a serious moment - in this episode, Wojo's fixation on reforming prostitutes, which would become a running story element. "Barney Miller" is _finally_ "Barney Miller" -- one of the finest examples of impossibly clever writing and inspired ensemble acting ever to grace American TV.
The improvement is so substantial that the last episode of the first season is one of the greatest sitcom episodes of all time. It handles a serious subject -- how does a policeman react to having to kill a criminal? -- and reduces the audience to tears.
One of the high-water marks in the history of television. Unhesitatingly and unreservedly recommended.
A note about picture quality... The image is slightly soft and occasionally smeary. ABC's cameras are badly adjusted, with severe misconvergence and poor inter-camera matching. There is noticeable improvement at episode 8, but the image is still (no surprise) not up current standards. My gut feeling is that "Barney Miller" always suffered from a lack of sharpness and detail, and whatever problems exist with this transfer were present in the original tapes. But my memory isn't perfect -- and 30 years ago I was watching on a Sony KV-1920, which, though one of the best color TVs of its day, was not appropriate for critical monitoring.
PS: My local Best Buy ordered exactly _one_ copy of Season 1, and it sat there for over a week until I bought it. If you want Sony to release the other six seasons, you'd better darned well buy _this_ one.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Hal Linden

DVD title: Finding Nemo (Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Finding Nemo (Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Great For Adults and Kids

Here is a movie that you can enjoy with kids. The animation is wonderful to watch (like many recent movies).

Perhaps it is not filled with quite the mixture of adult/children storytelling as Shrek for instance (which I enjoyed more, and is a bit less geared solely towards children), and I would guess if there is a downside, that is it.

If you want something that will entertain children, and still hold some interest for you, this is fine, but it is not a DVD you will probably play without a younger viewer around.

So 5 stars for what it is intended to be....

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Albert Brooks
Ellen DeGeneres
Alexander Gould

DVD title: Dances with Wolves
Productgroup: DVD
Dances with Wolves - movie DVD cover picture
Dances with Wolves is a major accomplishment.

Ranked #75 on the American Film Institute's top 100 and having swept the Oscars in 1990, Kevin Costner's directorial debut of Dances with Wolves remains one of the most essential and ambitious films to explore the American Frontier. Certainly, I couldn't think of another film of this decade that has so masterfully wove the American West's history in a more compelling and earnest portrayal. While Costner's vision does askew to the romantic and sentimental disposition of the bond between a white man and Indians, the story is so authentically told and photographed that's hard not to be swept away to John Dunbar's last frontier.
Image Entertainment does a magnificent job in honoring the film with this quality assured THX transfer. The first thing I notice are the astonishing details and colors of the presentation. Everything is just so vivid and vibrant, making the opening scene of John Dunbar's nearly amputated leg so much more gruesome. The quality of the near decade old 35mm print is still terrific, much of which I am sure due to the efforts by the dedicated folks at Image. There is no trace of digital artifacts or dirt particles to mar the presentation. Images are razor-sharp and colors are fully saturated without any hint of degradation. Shadow details are clearly defined with deep blacks that look fantastic against the starry night skies. The Panavision scope picture is perfectly framed at 2.35:1 and also 16x9 enhanced. The layer switch occurs at around 1:24 and is near seamless.
Not many films can show the frontier as more vigorous and audacious than through the lenses of Australian photographer Dean Semler (City Slickers, Waterworld). He understood the force of the landscape and captured that spirit on the screen. Through his images, I can almost feel myself stepping onto the prairie and be overwhelmed with the isolation and beauty of it. Then there is the memorable buffalo hunt, which surely is one of the most thrilling sequences ever on film.
The DVD features an exclusive multichannel soundtrack from the original audio stems found in England as a result of an exhaustive worldwide search by Image. None of the previous laserdisc recording features a Dolby Digital track. That effort is much appreciated as the 5.1 channels fully engages the listener. The Oscar winning score by John Barry just get better with time. The soaring orchestration opens up like the landscape and encompasses the emotions and experiences of Dunbar throughout his journey. The John Dunbar theme like the character is simple and noble. The rest of the score is equally accessible and not overly wrought. The recording easily produces a spacious environment and reaches a dramatic tension of rolling percussion during the Pawnee attack. Sound effects are well integrated with subtle discrete surrounds. Imaging is excellent such as the sound of arrows flying through air and striking the victim. The buffalo hunt takes the viewer out of the living room and onto the path of a stampeding herd. The exciting sequence actively involves all speakers with deep bass extension. Dialogue sounds natural and the Sioux dialogue is perfectly subtitled beneath the picture.
The Special Edition comes with an immensely enjoyable commentary track by Kevin Costner and producer Jim Wilson. The three hours flew by quickly listening to them recounting experiences and telling anecdotes. Dances with Wolves is a major accomplishment and Costner's best effort to date. And like the film, everything just felt into place with this highly recommended DVD production from Image.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner
Mary McDonnell
Graham Greene (II)

DVD title: Hard Boiled - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Hard Boiled - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture

HARD BOILED is the last movie directed by John Woo in Hong-Kong, his native country. And the movie is a dazzling testament of this director who did more for the recognition of the cinema of Asia than Akira Kurosawa, Satiajit Ray and Kenji Mizoguchi together. Like these masters, John Woo is a writer-director, like these masters, John Woo explores the particular moral codes of his people in his films but unlike these masters, he specialized in a genre that is usually not the cup of tea of the intelligentsia : the action movie.
The Cinema of John Woo is the cinema of the last frontier. John Woo's movies are modern westerns without deserts or glorious landscapes, his movies are claustrophobic : there are more guns, more bad guys, more policemen stuck in Woo's saloons than in the whole movie production of John Ford and Howard Hawks. And when all these guys begin to shoot, John Wayne or Gary Cooper wouldn't have had the slightest chance against them. Because the John Woo hero, in order to survive, needs more than a star on his chest or God's benediction. He must cross the frontier.
He must cross a frontier, Law, Honor, Self-respect, Friendship, make your choice. The character of Allan, played by a great Tony Leung, is the perfect example of the impersonation of a John Woo hero ; he's working for the Hong-Kong police, he's an insider and should follow the moral codes, written or not, of his employer. But, in order to survive, he will have to kill in cold blood his aging boss. He has crossed the frontier but in the same time saved his own life. For the time being.
The Criterion DVD is superb with a handful of trailers of John Woo's movies, commentaries and other bonus features. A must.
A DVD zone out of stock.

Studio: Home Vision Entertainment
Director: John Woo
Yun-Fat Chow
Tony Leung Chiu Wai

DVD title: Fushigi Yugi OVA Boxed Set
Productgroup: DVD
Fushigi Yugi OVA Boxed Set - movie DVD cover picture
Complete Guide to a BEAUTIFUL DVD!

It's nice to see FY nicely animated (in consistency) for once. The 1st OVA was strange, the manga hadn't gotten to the OVA story yet so they just made the first part up resulting in weird stuff (Tamahome is Nakago?). The 2nd part was pretty good, but it got too sappy in some places. Also, why did monsters keep appearing out of NOWHERE and attacking everyone (the teddy bear) so our happy heroes can go "Ugh oooh, energy.....ugh, going out.... of me....". So then Miaka can be saved by Hotohori or one of the Suzaku shichiseishi and say in her mind "Taka......" or "Hotohori........" or "Tasuki........" or "Chichiri.......". That's very annoying and incredibly predictable which is why Fushigi Yugi can never be as good as it could be, because of little things like these, and they just pepper the whole series and OVA. Anyway the ending was good and the whole thing was well-animated with good music. I'm still trying to find the CD with some of the FY 2nd OVA music.

Studio: Pioneer Video
Fushigi Yugi-Mysterious Play

DVD title: The Longest Day
Productgroup: DVD
The Longest Day - movie DVD cover picture
Longest Day true to history

If you want to see what really happened at Omaha Beach (as opposed to Private Ryan's 'Hollywood' fictionalized account about an infantry squad ordered to fight their way thru the entire German army to find a private in an area of 400 square miles, while gliders are flying in... figure that one out. Spielberg's sense of reality is as bad as his sense of history) then you should view the Longest day: the closest Hollywood has ever came to providing an accurate account of an historical event.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Richard Burton

DVD title: More American Graffiti
Productgroup: DVD
More American Graffiti - movie DVD cover picture
Good film!

I had heard many reviews on this movie. I heard that it was the worst thing he ever had anything to do with. I was a big fan of the original Graffiti and its soundtrack ((dispite my age of 15)). I heard More American Graffiti, the less sucessful sequal, was being rerealesed on VHS. A relative gave it to me for Christmas and I enjoyed it just as much as the first. The songs that were picked were all very good and I hope a soundtrack is released ((dispite the fact the Beatles were not included)). The stories were amazing. It shifts from year to year and tells us what each of the characters ((minus Richard Dreyfuss)) are up too. In 1964 John Millner is on his way to becoming a proffesional racer as he falls in love with a girl who does not even speak the same language as him. In 1965 Terry the Toad is trying to injury himself so he is sent out of Vietnam and back home to his girlfriend. No matter what he does he just gets into deeper doo doo ((seriously)). In 1966 we follow Terry's old girlfriend Debbie in her new life as a flower child. She really longs for a traditional marriage which her current boyfriend refuses to give to her. Dispite this she waits on him hand and foot. In 1967 Steve and Laurie are married with kids. Laurie wants to be more than a housewife but Steve just won't let that go. She runs away to her brother who is involved in a campus riot. Look for a cameo by Harrison Ford in this movie. I loved it and will cherish it in my video collection.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Bill L. Norton
Candy Clark
Bo Hopkins
Ron Howard

DVD title: To Hell & Back Boxed Set
Productgroup: DVD
To Hell & Back Boxed Set - movie DVD cover picture

I thought this one was a good adaptian to the trilogy. This one brings back old characters and sets a front a good storyline. The acting isnt bad and in a way scary. The story of this one is based all in the name. This one is about the Curse of Michael Myers of hime returning to Haddonfield, Illinois and killing a plethora amount of people and searching for jaime Loyd and her baby. The movie is well worth to buy and is scary and freakish and i must say pretty gory. I think this one is one of the bests in the series and lives on the legend and curse of Michael Myers.

Studio: Dimension Home Video
Dimension Thriller Theater

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