Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Ella Enchanted (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Ella Enchanted (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Whimsical & Fantastical

This movie was great, and very cute!! I love to be able to sit down and watch a story that ends happily without violence. This reminds me of when I was kid & in awe of the Willy Wonka's seems so real, and yet it's not. This show has a good story line, and they tie in songs that people my age (late 20's/early 30's) would know. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"..."Let me Entertain You" from Bye, Bye Birdie...etc...It's a fun movie, and good for kids

Studio: Miramax
Anne Hathaway

DVD title: Contact
Productgroup: DVD
Contact - movie DVD cover picture

A wonderful story written by a wonderful man, Carl Sagan. Highlights mankind's weaknesses and strengths, and shows the difference between blind faith and true science.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Jodie Foster
Matthew McConaughey

DVD title: Autumn Heart
Productgroup: DVD
Autumn Heart - movie DVD cover picture
"Powerful movie about the effects of divorce on adults"

This ia a movie that deals with the effects of divorce in a powerful way. Everybody knows the effects of divorce on a child. But this movie explores the effects on children who are now adults. It centers around three sisters (Ally Sheedy, Marla Sucharetza, Marceline Hugot) who decide to grant what becomes their mother's last wish: locating their long-lost brother (Davidlee Willson). They find him studying at Harvard. But before bringing him to meet his mother (Tyne Daly) they decided to get acquainted with him first. They have no grudges against him, but Deb (Ally Sheedy) has plenty of anger at her father for having supposedly, abandoned his family. Ally Sheedy gives a performance worthy of an Oscar, complete with a phony accent. Deb's anger at her father apparently has escalated over the years, and she rants and raves at him, without allowing him to tell his side of the story, which reminds us that there are two sides to every divorce. Only after her mother dies does she learn the truth. The scene towards the end where father and daughter are emotionally reconciled is touching, powerful and heartbreaking, and further proof that Ally deserved an Oscar. Now Deb's anger is directed at her deceased mother, for not having told her the truth. This movie serves as a lesson that we should be honest with our children no matter their age. And if secrets are taken to the grave not much can be resolved for the living. This DVD has nothing in terms of special features but don't let that stop you from seeing this profound movie. It will be worth it.

Studio: Ventura Distribution
Director: Steven Maler

DVD title: Anastasia
Productgroup: DVD
Anastasia - movie DVD cover picture
Historically correct? I hope not.

Okay, so some people criticize this movie by saying it is not an accurate adaptation of the political and historical events going on at that time. Well, how exactly DO you intend to incorperate the (rather grim) history into a children's movie? And that is exactly what it is: a movie for CHILDREN. It's supposed to be FUN, not teach you history. If you want to see a portrait for the political struggles in Russia at that time - go read a book about it! Yes, the movie's characters are portrayed as black and white - the Romanovs are good, Rasputin is bad. Has it ever been different in Disney movies (yes, I do realize this is not a Disney movie)? Yes, maybe Lenin would've made a more logical bad guy, but Lenin didn't have magic powers (as far as that goes, Rasputin is the way more interesting character). Why yes, maybe they should have portrayed the hardships of revolution and the two years that the Romanov family had been held captive. Why YES, maybe they should have made Alexei a sickly boy and the whole thing utterly hopeless. It would have been more realistic and appealing to all you fine members of the politically aware adults. But no seven-year-old (as I was at the time I watched this movie) would be particularly interested in that kind of story.As to my personal opinion, I love this movie. The songs ("Once Upon a December" is beautiful), the characters, the dialogue, the graphics, the mood, everything is just stunning. Sometimes it gets a little mushy, I suppose, as in the starting scene - but those parts are easy to overlook when viewing the wonderful whole.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Meg Ryan
John Cusack
Christopher Lloyd

DVD title: Back to the Beach
Productgroup: DVD
Back to the Beach - movie DVD cover picture
The Bird is the Word

I can't even remember when I first saw this movie or how I heard of it, but I swear I have been watching it since I was like 8! As a 21-year-old, it only got funnier. This movie is pure parody brilliance. I wasn't alive in the 60's, but this movie is hysterical, from the bad ... son to Becky from Full House and Pee Wee Herman dancing, what more could you ask for!? Watch this movie, own this movie, watch it again! One of my favorites, though no one seems to understand why....

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Lyndall Hobbs
Frankie Avalon
Annette Funicello

DVD title: Wayne's World 2
Productgroup: DVD
Wayne's World 2 - movie DVD cover picture
Hysterical, and full of Aerosmith! What's better?

I love Aerosmith, so I really loved this movie. More than that, however, is that has a million great one-liners, and I've always been a huge fan of Garth's! If you see one movie, don't see this one, but if you see two, by all means, go for it!

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Stephen Surjik
Mike Myers
Dana Carvey

DVD title: VeggieTales - Madame Blueberry
Productgroup: DVD
VeggieTales - Madame Blueberry - movie DVD cover picture
Charmer whose message packs a punch!

My 6yo son is a big Veggie Tales fan, but he absolutely LOVES this episode. It's not hard to see why, as a parent, because the animation is adorable and vivid and the songs are instant classics (the chorus to "His Cheeseburger" cracks me up every time.) I'm surprised anyone thought that the concept that "stuff does not make you happy" is too hard for kids to comprehend. These days, virtually all of children's programming is basically made up of half-hour commercials for merchandise and toy lines, so this was extremely refreshing to see. The end is very concrete and leaves no room for confusion in a young child. My son was becoming extremely greedy and Mr. Asky McGrabby every time we went to any store, but it seems like he actually *learned* something with this video, because a gentle, "Are you gonna be like Madame Blueberry was?" makes him smile AND stop the constant toy-pleading.
I don't disagree, though, that this video delivers a message that many adults would do well to internalize as well. =)

Studio: Warner Home Video

DVD title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Second Season
Productgroup: DVD
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Second Season - movie DVD cover picture
Great, just great

Overall, this set is fantastic. If you're already a fan of Buffy, then you know that the second season was one of best for the series. This is the season for the big Buffy-Angel drama. The commentaries are pretty cool, and this time around Marti Noxson and David Greenwalt got to play too. The featurettes are neat, and nice and long.
This set is a bit improved over the first season set. The menus are visually nicer, and easier to navigate. They added some pretty cool 3D digital images for the DVD menus. The sound is great, but in a couple of places the picture is *very* grainy, almost like VHS taped off of broadcast, not what you'd expect from DVD made from the original masters.
Like last season, they didn't include the short "Previously on Buffy..." montages at the beginning of each episode. In the first season this was jarring in terms of the musical scoring, but with this set it was *much* improved. Most of the time, I didn't notice at all. For some episodes they included the "She is the slayer...the one girl in all the world... " intro, but for others they didn't. I don't know what the rhyme or reason was for including or skipping it.
Overall, it was definitely worth the wait. An improvement in every way over owning a VHS box set. Now we just have to wait 6 mos. for season 3!!

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Joss Whedon
Seth Green
Charisma Carpenter
Sarah Michelle Gellar
David Boreanaz

DVD title: Traffic
Productgroup: DVD
Traffic - movie DVD cover picture
An eye opening film!

Traffic was an amazing film about the different views of drug trafficking. It shows you what it is like to be some one addicted to drugs, an officer trying to bring down drug businesses, a corrupted officer that helps drug businesses, the owner of a drug business, and the father of a drug attic. It really showed me what it was like to be each of these people. I definitely recommend buying this movie.

Studio: Universal Studios Ho
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Benicio Del Toro
Michael Douglas

DVD title: Van Der Graaf Generator: Godbluff - Live 1975
Productgroup: DVD
Van Der Graaf Generator: Godbluff - Live 1975 - movie DVD cover picture

This release contains two selections from a 1971 appearance by Van der Graaf Generator on Dutch television - 'Theme one' and their magnum opus 'A plague of lighthouse keepers' - as well as a performance filmed in France in 1975 that features all four songs from their GODBLUFF reunion album. According to Peter Hammill, these two performances are the only video records of Van der Graaf in existence - so for their fans (and we're a pretty die-hard lot, let me tell you), this is an absolutely essential item.
The sound quality on the older tracks is a little thin, but the mix isn't too bad once you get past 'Theme one' (on which it's hard to hear Hugh Banton's organ once Guy Evans (drums) and David Jackson (multiple saxophones) enter. When Peter Hammill joins for 'A plague of lighthouse keepers', the mix seems to improve a good bit. The camera work is pretty good - the director seems to know pretty much when to feature the different band members - and the set design is imaginative but not overbearing (referring to the use of candles at the beginning of 'A plague...'). This material (about 30 minutes worth) has been available before by itself (it's usually listed by the title MASTERS FROM THE VAULT) - just a few months ago, the film of the GODBLUFF performance in France from 1975 showed up, and Peter convinced the company to combine the two onto one DVD in order to give fans more for their money.
The French concert was filmed on the tour in 1975 mounted to promote their recently released album GODBLUFF - they had split up four years before, after the release of PAWN HEARTS in 1971, and Peter had been concentrating on solo projects. The musicians knew each other well, and had no trouble at all recalling the spirit of the band when they got back together. There are little glitches visible from the film print - tiny dots here and there, possibly dust or damaged places in the emulsion of the original - but overall, the video quality is good. As another reviewer noted, the camera work is a little odd at times - there are some EXTREME close-ups of the band members, and in a couple of places, it looks like the camera shooting Guy Evans is resting on one of his bass drums (judging by the bounce in the picture). As far as the sound quality of this section of the DVD goes, it's not bad - it could have been mixed a little better, but we have no way of knowing what the people who did the final mix had to work with. The concert was filmed almost thirty years ago, after all.
It's easy when watching something like this to think 'Gee - I wish they had shot David Jackson from a little more distance, so we could see his technique in playing two saxes simultaneously', or 'That shot of Peter Hammill's throat muscles contracting while he strains is interesting, but...' - but more often than thinking such things, I found myself mesmerized by the experience of seeing a band that I've revered for thirty-five years (who only ever played ONE GIG in the US, thankyouverymuch...!) perform some of their greatest songs in a concert setting.
I think the DVD is a treasure. Fans should pick this up immediately, before it goes out of print - and anyone who has the slightest interest in 'progressive' rock music (Peter Hammill DETESTS that label, sorry...) owes it to themselves to investigate this band. Actually, unless you're just starting out on that road, I can't imagine that you haven't run across them yet. The instrumentation of the band combined with Hammill's voice and his amazing lyrical gift, make them something very special indeed.

Studio: Navarre Corporation/

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