Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Kung Fu - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Kung Fu - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
Quality of DVD matches quality of the show

I got my DVD today and I've watched the first episode, plus the two very interesting documentaries on the first DVD. The other two DVD's do not have added bonus material. The actual DVD's are constructed rather tame, with no frills; I don't think elaborate motion menus would have been appropriate - somehow the zen like minimalist approach seems to do Kung Fu justice.
Now the important part - the image quality! The episodes look like they were shot on film yesterday. It has true 16:9 ratio, so we are seeing more than when it first aired. At least it seems this way to me. Includes subtitles in English, French and Spanish. Having the entire first season of a kung fu vegetarian hero is the treasure of my collection.

Studio: Warner Home Video
David Carradine

DVD title: Dawn of the Dead (Widescreen Unrated Director's Cut)
Productgroup: DVD
Dawn of the Dead (Widescreen Unrated Director's Cut) - movie DVD cover picture
"Reimagining" of Dawn a stunning achievement

I was one of the skeptics. I didn't want Dawn of the Dead "Hollywoodized". The original Dawn is my favourite zombie film ever and this remake could only taint the memories I had of the original. There was no way I told myself that the remake would ever be able to capture the wild, reckless and rebellious 70's feel of the original. The sublime gore effects of Tom Savini, the bright fake blood, the gunsmoke, the loud sound of motorcycles in a shopping mall. If anything, the remake of NOTLD taught us that classic zombie films should not be remade right?
Well, the important point to remember here is that screenwriter James Gunn never intended this as a remake but instead as a reimagining. Gunn after all was quoted in interviews as saying he was a humongous fan of Dawn growing up so he certainly didn't want to trash the spirit of the original either. Instead of copying Romero, Gunn made a bunch of wild changes that seemed foolhardy to me at first but really work out well. First off, no more shuffling zombies. These zombies run, and run fast at that, as fast as T-1000's. They don't moan, they screech. Loudly. Working-class Pittsburgh is replaced by working-class Milwaukee. And then there's the explosions and cool special effects thanks to the higher budget. Despite all the changes, it doesn't forget its roots, like the ol' gunshot to the head formula and even a newscaster uttering the quote "When there's no more room in hell..."
In the original Dwan, Romero created a semi-satire that spoofed the increasing materialism of our society. It played for a lot of laughs and the zombies were not to be taken very seriously. In the remake however, the tone is extremely bleak. This new Dawn is filled with nihilism and pessimism, the picture dark, the mood one of despair. There seems to be no hope whatsoever, and the survivors of the plague take no pleasure in the freedom or sudden possession of materialistic goods that are now in their possession. Thankfully and surprisingly, there is no self-referential elements to this movie. As a matter of fact, there is no mention of the specific time or era this is supposed to take place in. There are no advertising or product plugs, not even in the mall. No cellphones or rap music. The only problem with this of course is that all the characters seem to act as though zombie movies were never in existence(they take half the movie to figure out that zombies must be shot in the head) but I prefer this minor annoyance to an entire movie of wink-wink nudge-nudge self-referential doodoo anyday.
The action is unrelenting the whole way through, the actors extremely good, especially Canadian indy queen Sarah Polly. She looks just as comfortable tending to the injured (she's a nurse) then she does blasting zombies with her shotgun. Her supporting cast is also strong. In my opinion, this new dawn is the best zombie movie I've seen in at least ten years, miles ahead of 28 days later and even better IMO than the Spierig Brothers' amazing "Undead", an Australian splatterfest that premiered at the Toronto Intenational film festival last year. My only complaints are that I wasn't satified at the end, I wanted more. Oh, and the absence of a biker gang. I really would have loved bikers to break into the mall again this time around but this isn't the 70's anymore so I guess that wasn't meant to happen.
If anything, my viewing of the new Dawn taught me a valuable lesson: do not judge a book by its cover. This film has exceeded all my expectations and I'm sure will be looked upon as a classic ten years from now. Apologies are in order for James Gunn, Zack Snyder and everyone else involved with this film who had to listen to blind skeptics such as myself pour their rage all over the internet without having seen the movie first. Coming from a previous skeptic whose favourite zombie film was the original Dawn I will say this; I was wrong, and if the next logical step is a remake of Day of the Dead, I will now welcome it with open arms, especially if the same crew are involved.

Studio: Universal Studios Ho
Director: Zack Snyder
Sarah Polley
Ving Rhames
Jake Weber
Mekhi Phifer

DVD title: Peter Pan (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Peter Pan (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
The Only Peter Pan

For the first time in my life, I got the message of the story. The kids did a spectacular job. The theatre audience gave a standing ovation at the end. Kids under school age got scared, but all other kids and adults should love all of it.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: P.J. Hogan
Jason Isaacs
Jeremy Sumpter
Lynn Redgrave
Olivia Williams

DVD title: Babylon 5 - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Babylon 5 - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
A great start

I first joined the babylon 5 universe in the middle of season 2. I was hook very quickly but was always wondering what lay behind me.
When TNT started showing reruns I was able to see what I missed!
Boy did I miss a lot. There was a few bad episodes (TKO comes to mind) but all in all this was a very strong season. In fact by the time it has over I found myself missing Michael O'Hare.
The amazing thing about this season is, even though I knew what was coming, these episodes held me entrapped.
Part of that is the first season is a lot more self contain then the rest of the series (with the exception of season 5) another part is the style. This was one of the few seasons were there were other writers (including my personaly favorite -Peter David).
It was also interesting to watch were these characters came from knowing were they ended particualy Londo and G'Kar.
This is one of my favorite seasons and has probably the best season finale of the lot.
This is a must buy for any B5.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Michael O'Hare

DVD title: Tadpole
Productgroup: DVD
Tadpole - movie DVD cover picture
Full of Biting and Sardonic Wit

Summary:Oscar Grubman (Aaron Stanford) is a 15-year old high school sophomore who is deeply interested in literature and has lately been reading Voltaire. Perhaps in conjunction with or more likely as a result, Oscar has developed a very deep romantic and sexual interest for older women and one woman in particular, his stepmother, Eve Grubman (Sigourney Weaver). When Oscar comes homes for Thanksgiving with his father and stepmother, Oscar has committed himself to break the news to Eve. Before he gets a chance, he gets drunk and, imagining Eve's best friend, Diane Lodder (Bebe Neuwirth), to be Eve because she is wearing Eve's scarf, Oscar has sex with her. Perhaps it wouldn't be a problem except, remember, Oscar is 15 and Diane is over 40 and Eve's best friend. Now Oscar has to convince his dad, Stanley Grubman (John Ritter), that he is a normal 15 year-old and also explain to Eve why he slept with her best friend when he actually wanted to be sleeping with her.
My Comments:I don't know that my summary did the movie justice. I think I may have made it out to be more malicious than humorous and if that's the case, then you'll just have to see this movie to understand how what might be a seen as disturbing situation is actually a very funny comedy.
The story is superb and the acting is pretty good overall. Bebe Neuwirth and Aaron Stanford are very convincing and Sigourney Weaver is only slightly less so. The only problems with this movie, and I hate to make this criticism because I really do advocate a change from film to digital, are the picture quality and the cinematography. I'm guessing the movie was filmed using lower quality digital cameras. The cameras have a hard time focusing at times and a lot of quick motion turns into blurred motion. I believe digital is the way of the future, but perhaps the technology for anyone to make a major motion picture using their Circuit City bought digital camera isn't quite there yet.
Despite the picture problems, the movie is loads of fun and lots of laughs. I should also point out that young men sleeping with much older women, in case you haven't already realized this, is going to be very disturbing to some people. Well, if you find it very, very disturbing, you may want to skip this one. If you think you can look past that to be entertained by a very enjoyable movie, then you should definitely see this film.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Gary Winick
Aaron Stanford
Sigourney Weaver

DVD title: Balto II - Wolf Quest
Productgroup: DVD
Balto II - Wolf Quest - movie DVD cover picture
W00t! W00t I say! wolves rule!!!

If the creators were to work on the movie a little longer, it probably would've been a lot better. The story line, it has the weak points and strong points. The animation, same as story line. The songs are great, they work well with the story line, something a lot of movies with music don't have. So in all, it's all right, but like I said, if they put a little more effort in the movie, it could've been better.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Phil Weinstein

DVD title: The Muppet Christmas Carol
Productgroup: DVD
The Muppet Christmas Carol - movie DVD cover picture
Age doesn't matter...

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Brian does his father much kindness in this work. I wasn't aware Jim had died before the making of this film, so it takes on more significance. I'm buying a copy so that when I get down I'll watch and have my spirit lifted. Great job Brian.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Brian Henson
Michael Caine

DVD title: Airplane!
Productgroup: DVD
Airplane! - movie DVD cover picture
An instant cult classic, one of the best comedies ever!

Winner of an astounding, yet not unprecedented zero Academy Awards, Airplane is arguably one of the funniest movies ever made. Long before The Naked Gun, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker teamed up to write this outrageous comedy hit which spoofs the airline disaster movies prevalent throughout the 1970s. Starring a diverse cast with a wide range of experience from Hollywood, Broadway, and the NBA, Airplane follows the exploits of a number of characters such as Ted Striker (Robert Hays), Roger Murdock (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), and Otto The Inflatable Pilot (as himself) - all of whom will keep you laughing in the aisles for one hour plus...

When ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker is released from the hospital following the mental strain of his war experiences, he decides to go out and find the love of his life, Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty), a woman who broke off their relationship due to Striker's various problems (among which is a "drinking problem" - Striker's inability to pour liquid into his mouth!) Now an airline stewardess, Elaine is emphatic in her assertion that she will not get back together with Ted when he tries to renew their romance. Unwilling to take no for an answer, and certain he can prove he's overcome the problems of his past, Ted follows Elaine onto her flight.

All goes well until several passengers begin to get sick. Victims of spoiled food, almost everyone on the plane stands on the brink of death as all of the pilots pass out as well. One of the few who is not ill, Ted is called upon to land the plane in the pilots' absence. But his war memories and fear of flying threaten to cause a disaster. With the help of Elaine, Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen), and Otto The Inflatable Pilot, Ted faces his fears and attempts to bring the plane in for a safe landing. Helping him from the ground are Steven McCrosky (Lloyd Bridges) and Capt. Rex Kramer (Robert Stack), a military man intimately familiar with the abilities of Ted Striker...

The DVD Report

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Robert Hays
Julie Hagerty
Leslie Nielsen

DVD title: Down with Love (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Down with Love (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

At first I thought no movie could ever outdo the recent version of Chicago (Miramax.) But unbelievably I found Down with Love to be an excellent movie! Not only was it's every womans dream of a perfect movie...full of love AND laughter. Renee Zellwegger was absolutely outstanding in this movie and Ewan MacGreggor was also great. I'm 15...all I can say is that I wasn't expecting such OUTSTANDING things from a sixties movie produced in 2003. Go see it if you haven' won't regret it!

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Peyton Reed
Renée Zellweger
Ewan McGregor
David Hyde Pierce

DVD title: Man on Fire
Productgroup: DVD
Man on Fire - movie DVD cover picture
Man on Fire

Revenge flick shows no mercy. For those who like watching the bad guys get theirs.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Tony Scott
Denzel Washington
Dakota Fanning
Christopher Walken

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