Film DVD related reviews


DVD title: Gilbert & Sullivan - The Mikado / Reed, Adams, Potter, Masterson, Godfrey, D'Oyly Carte Opera Company
Productgroup: DVD
Gilbert & Sullivan - The Mikado / Reed, Adams, Potter, Masterson, Godfrey, D'Oyly Carte Opera Company - movie DVD cover picture
So Good I Had To Review A Second Time


The release of the 1966 D'Oyly Carte Opera production of The Mikado on DVD in 2003-2004 was a capital idea. Gilbert and Sullivan fans have been waiting years for the classic film to appear on DVD. VAI (Video Artists International) offers many fine and rare operas on film. Gilbert and Sullivans' light operas were the signature of the D'Oyly Carte Opera and in the 60's this cast was the leading performers of the genre. Tenor Phillip Potter portrays Nanki Poo, the son of the Mikado disguised as a wondering minstrel. His performance is top-notch and Valerie Masterson, the soprano singing the part of Yum-Yum is his perfect counterpart. Together, they make beautiful music as in their duets. The comic actor John Reed sings Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner. A short, playful and silly man, he's far from the expected strong and fearsome image of a Lord High Executioner. Christene Palmer is Katisha. Her commanding presence, dramatic mezzzo soprano voice and imperious nature make her the perfect Katisha. She's got some powerful scenes, such as the Act I Finale in which she interrupts the Wedding of Yum Yum and Nanki Poo and threatens to reveal his true identity, operatically dramatic in her cries "My Wrongs With Vengeance Shall Be Crowned !". Donald Adams plays The Mikado Emperor. He's at his silliest in the aria "My Object All Sublime" in which he lets out a high pitched shriek as he describes his fascination for torture and execution. The authenticity of the mood and setting, a Japan of fable and art, is gloriously manifested in the scenery, which gives off a Japanese "Floating World" look and the props, bridges, lakes, tea houses, aesthetically classical in space and shape. And those costumes ! Exquisite and very Oriental with colorful patterns on the silk. And the use of fans was almost over-the-top, the characters closing and opening their fans in Japanese poses, but still it works effectively. All the great numbers that made this opera famous are here- "Three Little Maids from School" and Ko-Ko's List Song. Coincidentally, this was the same production that inspired the crazed Zodiac Serial Killer who was fond of twisting the Lord High Executioner's image. He even re-wrote the lyrics to Ko-Ko's List Song. This is the best version of The Mikado ever made. It's worth the price and has value because of its camp classic appeal.

Studio: Video Arts Int'l
Actors:
John Reed
Valerie Masterson
Donald Adams
Phillip Potter




DVD title: Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1998 Re-Release of the American Version)
Productgroup: DVD
Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1998 Re-Release of the American Version) - movie DVD cover picture
Superior Value on a Classic Creature-Feature!


Godzilla, King of the Monsters depicts the Big G as he was meant to be; massive, menacing and just plain mean. There is nothing cute about this movie, and Godzilla, unlike his many later incarnations, doesn't save anyone from anything.
The Americanized version removes much of the background and detail footage from the original "Gojira", replacing it with Raymond Burr as ace reporter Steve Martin, and his Japanese colleague, security officer Tomo Iwanaga. The spliced in scenes cause some continuity problems, but not nearly enough to detract from the effectiveness of the film. An atmospheric and eerie soundtrack adds a powerful sense of foreboding to many scenes.
This disc offers many worthwhile extra features. First, the movie itself is included in both the original theatrical version (widescreen) and in the full-frame television format, including your choice of mono or surround sound soundtracks!
A Godzilla Film Trailer collection is included, alongwith a brief documentary history of Sci-Fi Monsters. There is also an interactive trivia game and some biographical data.
The disc also offers Cd-Rom features including printable photo and art galleries and full motion screen savers.
Considering the age of the original film, this DVD offers more than many more recent efforts. Well worth the investment!

Studio: Simitar Video
Director: Ishirô Honda
Actors:
Akihiko Hirata
Takashi Shimura




DVD title: The Shipping News
Productgroup: DVD
The Shipping News - movie DVD cover picture
One of the best films of the century


I have been a fan of Kevin Spacey and Judi Dench for many years. And to have them in the same film is wonderful. They give believable characters life. The story has sadness, happiness, understanding, wonder and magic. The film is wonderful and anyone who enjoys a story with depth will find this film a wonderful journey of life, death and love. Bravo also to Julianne Moore and Scott Glenn.

Studio: Miramax
Director: Lasse Hallström
Actors:
Kevin Spacey
Julianne Moore
Judi Dench




DVD title: Singing Babies - Toddler Tunes
Productgroup: DVD
Singing Babies - Toddler Tunes - movie DVD cover picture
Delightful for baby and me!


My son (Turkish speaker who lives in Istanbul) loevs this video and he maneged to learn the songs quite quickly. "Head Shoulder Knees and Toes" is his favorite.

Studio: Wonderscape



DVD title: Blade Runner (The Director's Cut)
Productgroup: DVD
Blade Runner (The Director's Cut) - movie DVD cover picture
Blade Runner


This film, while rather dark in both its photographic technique and its genre, has all the characteristics of the old-time movies: good-looking actors, stylized dialogue, depiction of good-versus-evil struggles, followed by redemption of one of the worst characters, and in the end the guy gets the girl. What more could a movie fan ask for? The scenes of mayhem and ghoulish actions of the "bad" guys are portrayed with deliberation and finesse by Rutger Hauer and his minions. For fans of the limb-flexing Daryl Hannah, her portrayal of the sexy replicant is quite fetching - she combines just the right amount of innocence with a ruthlessness of purpose and total allegiance to her leader. The casting of this movie was perfect; the proof being that their portrayals have withheld the test of time. This was one of the earliest movies for almost all the main characters, all of whom went on to do many more films. The theme of hope and love that Blade Runner exemplifies has to appeal to the romantic in each of us - yet Harriston Ford gives it just the right amount of cynicism at the end to make us wonder what happens next. That is the true test of excellence in any movie.

As for the infamous "3-Disc DVD" rumor, various sources are reporting those involved in the DVD's production say legal issues have halted it :(

HOWEVER, According to DVDTalk.com forums, there's supposed to be some sort of release is coming in 2005, but it ain't the BIG edition that is in Limbo due to legal issues. Maybe just a 2 disc set of the current DC. NY Times (12/13/2003): The avidly awaited, definitive version of Ridley Scott's science-fiction classic, "Blade Runner," won't be out on DVD anytime soon for stranger reasons. When "Blade Runner" was being shot in the early 1980's, Bud Yorkin, a veteran television comedy producer, and Jerry Perenchio, now the C.E.O. of Univision, were the film's bond-completion guarantors. When the film went over budget, by contract they assumed ownership of the film. Paul Sammon wrote in his book "Future Noir: The Making of `Blade Runner' " that they hated the film, had bitter disputes with Mr. Scott and tried to take it away from him altogether. The studio release, in 1982, contained superfluous narration and a tacked-on rosy ending. Mr. Scott removed both when he was allowed to make a "director's cut" in 1992, but it was, by his own account, a rush job. Three years ago, Mr. Scott announced that he was working on a three-disc box set, which would offer all the versions of the film, including a new and polished director's cut with previously unseen footage and scads of bonus features. Then, at the end of 2001, Warner Brothers, which was planning to distribute the discs, pulled the plug. It did so, according to a producer who worked on the project, because Mr. Perenchio gave no sign that he would let them be released. Mr. Perenchio, speaking through an assistant, had no comment on the situation."

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Ridley Scott
Actors:
Harrison Ford
Rutger Hauer
Sean Young




DVD title: The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
What a "Special Edition" SHOULD Be


I was fortunate enough to see the extended edition on the big digital screen. Some important scenes were restored and others were extended. What we end up with is something much closer to the heart of the books than the original release (which I thought was excellent).
The extended edition is not the original release with new scenes accessible from another menu or with a little flashing icon that allows you to add them in--this is a newly-edited film with music written and recorded for the new scenes.
This DVD set is an example to all DVD producers as to what a special edition should be. From the outside in:- The packaging is elegant- The booklets are well-produced and give interesting information- The DVDs have simple, elegant navigation- The documentaries are exhaustive without being tedious. For Tolkein fans, it's great to get inside of every aspect of the production and to see not just HOW makeup, costumes, scenery, and FX were made, but WHY. I really got a sense that Peter Jackson did this as a labor of love and that no one else could have or should have taken on this project.
The caveat here is that we can't really expect for any other DVD set to contain content like this. Jackson thought ahead of time and made sure that every aspect of filmmaking was thoroughly documented. This takes time, money, and a hell of a lot of resources. He did this because these stories have meant so much to so many for a half century. Any other director who would document his film to this extent would just be conceited, so I guess we can look forward to James Cameron doing it in his next release.
In summary, if you only own one version of the Fellowship DVD, make it this one.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Peter Jackson
Actors:
Ian McKellen



DVD title: Ever After - A Cinderella Story
Productgroup: DVD
Ever After - A Cinderella Story - movie DVD cover picture
Absolutely fantastic!


This is my most favourite movie ever! I have seen it 7 times at the cinema, and I have it on order to buy! I also bought the book, and the CD, which is so beautiful- all the memories of the film come rushing back to you! Drew Barrymore was excellent as Danielle, and Dougray Scott was absolutely dashing as Prince Henry! I recommend this movie to anyone- it has the right blend of everything in it, and is very romantic!

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Andy Tennant
Actors:
Drew Barrymore
Anjelica Huston
Dougray Scott




DVD title: Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella
Productgroup: DVD
Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella - movie DVD cover picture
The Prince was my First Love


At 6 years old, I watched this movie with my mother and cried my eyes out. My mother asked what was wrong and I said, "I'll never meet a handsome prince like this.." Believe me, I was so in love..(at least I thought I was..) I only wish I could get a copy of this movie and see it again through the eyes of a 40 year old. I'm sure I would still love this movie as I love beautiful stories.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Charles S. Dubin



DVD title: Commando
Productgroup: DVD
Commando - movie DVD cover picture
My favorite Schwarzenegger


The storyline of this movie is so cheesy, that you'll have to laugh again and again. Arnold has 11 hours to find his kidnapped daughter and free her from the bad guys. And while doing this he shows his fans all they want to see him doing: Being a one-man-army with major firepower. Especially the scenes in the mall are unforgetable: When he lifts up the phone booth with the bad guy in it and throws it away. And then his one-liners: "Let's take Cook's car, he doesn't need it anymore" or "please leave my friend alone, he is dead tired." And so on. For anybody who likes Arnold an the eighties it's the perfect movie!I wish Arnold would do more movies like this today!

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Mark L. Lester
Actors:
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Rae Dawn Chong




DVD title: Casper the Friendly Ghost
Productgroup: DVD
Casper the Friendly Ghost - movie DVD cover picture
Great DVD with great cartoons


There's nothing fancy about this DVD, no real extras to speak of. But you just get a bunch of solid, good-looking Casper cartoons from the 1950s. The picture and sound is good, the stories delightful. My children love watching them and they make a nice compliment to some of the more hyper cartoons of today. The only note is that because they are from the 50s, there are some things that are not so P.C., such as sterotypical portrayals of Native Americans, etc.

Studio: Digital Disc Entertainment
Director: Izzy Sparber



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