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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits
page added: 11/7/06



Games People Play

Doogan's Views - Main Page

Ten days ‘til PS3 and believe it or not, here I am in line at the ol' videogame shoppe waiting. And wouldn't you know it: I'm not first. Can you believe that? Anyway, Bill tells me that the PS3 is the cheapest Blu-ray system on the market. That's just, wow... that's really the only way you'd get me to early adopt in these so-called format wars: give me a player that can also do something else. That way I can still Dance Dance Revolution and also watch M:i:III in the highest quality ever. And doesn't that just sound stupid? I'm sitting here writing that and reading it to see if it makes sense and it just sounds stupid to me. I feel dirty for even commenting on the next-gen DVD format. I so don't care. Does that make me a bad DVD journalist? I certainly hope so.

Hey, I went and watched Aronofsky's The Fountain during a press screening and really enjoyed it. It's unwatchable in the same way 2001 is, though. I mean, it's cinema and works as a film, but it's so much a perspective thing. If you're a glass is half empty kind of person, then it's really a movie about watching three people die. That's pretty much it. Then again, if you're a half full type, it's about the redemptive nature of death. But for all the people who complain about the film being hard to follow because it's about three different time lines: shut up. It's not. It's one time line. That's it. Hugh Jackman's character exists in one space. He reads a book his wife wrote and transports himself mentally in place of a Spanish Conquistador and his wife as Queen Isabella; it's not a history lesson - it's a tale his wife wrote. That's two time lines covered. As for the third - think unspoilery; he unlocked the secret and that tree is not the one the Aztecs had. 'nuff said. So maybe, when you see the film, you can apply that knowledge and have a more meaningful journey.

Anyway, back to the PS3 line. There's some young punk who's doing the "having a conversation to distract everyone behind my friend so they won't notice I'm cutting" deal. F that, my pockmarked friend. F that. Wait a second... this isn't the line for PS3, the clerk is pulling out Guitar Hero 2. Holy--!

I gotta go...


New Releases

These are the discs making their premiere on DVD this week...


Archangel

Archangel

Based on the best selling thriller of the same name by Robert Harris (no, not our Robert Harris) author of Fatherland, which gave the alternate view of a world run by Hitler who won WW2. This time, the focus is on a Soviet historian (the new James Bond Daniel Craig) who is looking for a long lost notebook written by Stalin – which may also lead to a super secret holy grail of sorts. The film suffers as most adaptations of bulky epic thrillers do, but the film squeezes some life out of the idea, and will give you a small taste of Craig as Bond. The DVD from MTI serves the film up in full frame (it was a UK TV film) with subtitles in Spanish, promotional trailers and cast and crew bios.

Cars

Cars

Disney/Pixar's Cars comes out today; and looks like it will own the day. If a CGI car epic doesn't float your boat, you're not alone. Cars has to be the weakest of all the Pixar films. Yet at the same time, a “bad” Pixar film is still a good time at the movies. Cars isn't bad per se, but it's hard to get into. Still, it's watchable and like all other Pixar films on DVD, looks absolutely gorgeous. An anamorphic widescreen presentation shows the world that standard-def can still blow you away. (If you don't like beautiful looking widescreen films, breathe a sign of relief: there's a full frame version available as well). Sound is DD 5.1 EX and for a movie about cars racing around, you better believe it sounds good. Special features show off the fact that a bigger, better edition is down the road. Here we get a couple of shorts: the Oscar nominated One Man Band and the Cars follow-up Mater and the Ghostlight. There's also the credits gag isolated by itself and blown up to anamorphic widescreen. There's also a longish short making-of hosted by director and Pixar head John Lasseter, as well as a selection of deleted scenes in storyboard form. Not a whole lot, but enough to make this one worth picking up if you saw it in theaters and want to add it to your library.

Little Man

Little Man

Ever seen the Bugs Bunny cartoon Baby Buggy Bunny? You know, “How many times do I have to tell you Not To Play With The Dirty Money!” Well, imagine that played out by the Wayans Brothers. Yeah. Anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and a nice selection of extras are on board (Baby On Board, get it?) for those who care.

Shadowboxer

Shadowboxer

Lee Daniels, who gave us Monster Ball as producer, makes his directorial debut here. It's chock-a-block with stars: Cuba Gooding Jr. and Helen Mirren as a pair of assassins/lovers/Oedipal relations, Stephen Dorff as a waaaaaay over the top crime boss and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mo'Nique as, well, uhm. Yeah. I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but here he's, uhm, yeah. Shadowboxer is by the numbers as thrillers go and ultimately it's not very good. But it has its charms, even if it gets quirky just to be quirky. The film is presented on DVD in anamorphic widescreen and looks damn good. Sound is available in both Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 and both do their job. Extras are light, with a making-of and commentary by Daniels and star Cuba Gooding, Jr.


Cult Releases

So, here's were we can talk about the really fun discs coming out this week. You know you want 'em. Well, come and get them.

Playboy 2007 Video Playmate Calendar: Kara Monaco

Playboy 2007 Video Playmate Calendar: Kara Monaco

I'm putting Playboy in with the Cult Releases. Just because I don't know where else it should go. Kara's a bit too blonde for my tastes. Then again, I'm probably too Doogan for hers so, take what I say with a grain of salt. Fans of the usually stellar Video Playmate Calendar series from Playboy should be sure to check this release out.

Pusher Trilogy

Pusher Trilogy

I know nothing about these films, but they look so very cool that I may be checking them out in the Netflix cue.

Godzilla Raids Again & Mothra Vs. Godzilla

Sony releases two more early Godzilla flicks. Available only on their website. Click the art to go there and buy ‘em up.


Godzilla Raids AgainMothra Vs. Godzilla


The Ol' Double Dip

Here's some titles that have made more than one trip to the woodshed on DVD so far...

Cinema Paradiso: Limited Collector's Edition

Cinema Paradiso: Limited Collector's Edition

Giuseppe Tornatore's 1989 love letter to film is one of modern cinema's most loved and acclaimed films and this box set is a super cool double (actually triple at this point) dip worth checking out. It's worth noting that along with the Collector's Edition; a two-disc edition is available with many (but not all) extras included in this set. This discs pretty much represent the 2003 release of the Director's Cut with the Theatrical Cut on the flip side. Nice anamorphic widescreen transfers with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, complement the film. Contained here in the box is the original theatrical release on disc one, with commentary by Yale professor and Italian cinema expert Millicent Marcus along with Tornatore in a limited capacity. There is the typical collegiate film theory, but also some nice behind-the-scenes recollections.

Also included are a 15-minute retrospective, a featurette, trailers for this and the director's cut and an episode of The Food Network's Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello. Disc Two is the director's cut with no bonus features whatsoever. Disc Three is a soundtrack featuring Ennio Morricone's wonderful score. Included in the box (which is worth nothing: is very sturdy and well-done) is an envelope containing 3x5 reproductions of the poster art for both versions, eight lobby cards and recipe cards showcasing Chiarello's creations in the Easy Entertaining episode on Disc One. The only things not on the two disc version are the contents of the envelope and the Morricone's soundtrack. I really like the box set and recommend all to pick it up, but if you're not into the extraneous, the two-disc will do you.


Transformers: The Movie - 20th Anniversary Special Edition

Transformers: The Movie - 20th Anniversary Special Edition

I can't say I was ever a fan of Transformers. The cartoon or the toys. But let's see, they were huge, what? In 1985. Movie came out in 1986. I was 14 and 15. That was the period when I didn't want to be a kid. I grew out of that and went right back to collecting comics and toys by 16. Anyway, I'm the wrong person to be reviewing this film. So I won't. Just know that the 20th Anniversary Special Edition comes out today and it kicks the ass off the previous Rhino release. Kicks its ass and then eats it. Which is kinda gross; but very true. I have actually seen this one, and the transfer is beautiful. It's not perfect mind you, but it looks really good. Presented both open matt and in anamorphic widescreen, fans of the film will be quite satisfied with this transfer. Even the sound is vastly improved upon, finally giving us a Dolby Digital 5.1 track along with a nice 2.0.

Extras are spread over two-discs and include two commentary tracks: one with the filmmakers and one with a collective of fans. Both are quite entertaining and worth delving into. There's also a running trivia subtitle feature called the Autobot Matrix of Knowledge - any more geeky and I think we'd explode. Rounding out disc one are trailers, a opening credits test, a restoration comparison, TV spots, art galleries, trailer for the live action film and an episode from Japan that serves more as a curiosity piece, in that it features fan commentary instead of dialogue due to clearance issues. Disc Two is all about the featurettes with behind-the-scenes galore, deleted sequences in both rough and finished format, vintage commercials for the toys, storyboards, access to DVD-ROM content and some Easter eggs. All in all, for fans of the robots in disguise, this is a good disc to pick up.


Zeiram

Zeiram

Image released this one a long time ago, and now Tokyo Shock's got it. I haven't seen it, but if you like live action anime, Zeiram is pretty okay.


TV on DVD

As usually, I got nothing to say this week TV related. Bill's actually written about Harveytoons: The Complete Collection. You can read Bill's review here. As for the others, if you're a fan of these shows, then you're of course gonna want these releases.

Ark II: The Complete Series, Beverly Hills 90210: The Complete First Season, Dr. Who: The Complete First Season Volumes 1-4, Grounded for Life: Season 4, JAG: The Complete Second Season, M*A*S*H: Season 11, Melrose Place: The Complete First Season, Police Squad: The Complete Series, She-Ra Princess of Power: Season 1, Volume 1, The Sopranos: Season Six, Part 1, Totally Awesome and The West Wing: The Complete Seventh Season

And for the heck of it, and because I love you: here's the art ...

Ark II: The Complete SeriesBeverly Hills 90210: The Complete First SeasonDr. Who: The Complete First Season Volume 1

Dr. Who: The Complete First Season Volume 2Dr. Who: The Complete First Season Volume 3Dr. Who: The Complete First Season Volume 4

Grounded for Life: Season 4JAG: The Complete Second SeasonM*A*S*H: Season Eleven

Melrose Place: The Complete First SeasonPolice Squad: The Complete SeriesShe-Ra Princess of Power: Season 1, Volume 1

The Sopranos: Season Six, Part 1Totally AwesomeThe West Wing: The Complete Seventh Season


The Criterion Collection Corner

So, because I've supported Criterion even before they took a wait and see approach to DVD, I've decided to pull them out and spotlight them for you each week. You know you want these, because having a gap in your collection sucks.

The Fallen Idol

The Fallen Idol

Carol Reed is one of cinema's unsung heroes. His films are always good, and The Fallen Idol is no different. Told from the perspective of a young boy who idolizes his Ambassador father's embassy concierge (read: family butler) (played by Ralph Richardson), the film at first seems quite simple. But on so many levels, it becomes a deep and layered tale of betrayal, deceit, psycho-sexual discovery and murder. Based on Graham Greene's short story (Reed directed another Greene adaptation: The Third Man) the film is a marvel and deserving of the Criterion release. If you aren't familiar with this film, do yourself a favor and go in blind. This Criterion release presents the film in all its black and white glory with a nice booklet and a small selection of recollective supplements.


Special Mention Box Set

This is where we can showcase a super expensive but worthwhile product. In this case, it's...


The James Bond Ultimate Edition - Volumes 1 & 2

Gearing up for Casino Royale? Have lots of money to throw around? Then check these suckers out. I'm actually a bit mad at these for some reason (‘cause I didn't get them to review, maybe) and came this close (this close!) to leaving them off just to spite the studios. Bill wouldn't let me, so here they are. The James Bond Ultimate Collection Volumes 1 & 2 together contain 10 films (Volume One: Goldfinger, The World Is Not Enough, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun and The Living Daylights & Volume Two: Thunderball, Die Another Day, The Spy Who Loved Me, A View to a Kill and License to Kill) in two-disc slimcases with brand spanking new fully restored Lowry Digital enhanced anamorphic transfers bringing all of these films into the 2000s. Audio is Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. Extras are so vast writing about them would take too long. Just know that the effort gone into these special editions is mind-blowing. Think: two commentaries for each film, never before seen deleted scenes, brand new supplemental features... that just scratches the surface of what's on these things. If you have $160 bucks, then feel free to pick both these up. That's the only way you'll get them by the way. There's no piece-meal here. For the time being, you can only get them in the boxes - none are available separately.


The James Bond Ultimate Edition - Volume 1The James Bond Ultimate Edition - Volume 2


Gary Cooper: The Signature Collection

Gary Cooper: The Signature Collection

Gary Cooper was one of Hollywood's greatest leading men. Here you can see him at his best in film like Sergeant York, The Fountainhead, Dallas, Springfield Rifle, and The Wreck of the Mary Deare.

It just so happens that we're giving away copies of this set here at The Bits this week. Click here to enter.

The Marlon Brando Collection

The Marlon Brando Collection

Who doesn't love Brando? He was Hollywood's greatest leading man character actor, paving the way for so many to come. Warner gives us some of his best MGM films with Julius Caesar, Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Teahouse of the August Moon and The Formula.

I'm gonna rock out with Guitar Hero 2 (360 version, bitches) and see what's coming out next week. Join me here then, and maybe I'll challenge you to “War Pigs."

‘til that time, you spin discs, I'll rock my Gibson X-Plorer.

Til then, I remain,

Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com
Game Stop - Atlanta, GA 11/07/06


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