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page updated: 2/1/05



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 1/18/05 - 12/13/04)


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1/18/05

It's a little later than I planned, but I promised you DVD reviews today and that's exactly what I'm delivering. I've just posted my latest Spin Sheet, featuring my thoughts on 20th Century Fox's new AVP: Alien Vs. Predator and Predator 2: Special Edition, as well as the older Predator: Collector's Edition. AVP and Predator 2 street next Tuesday (1/25), while Predator is already available.

Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/17/05 - 1:30 PM PST)

Back as promised with Adam's latest Bottom Shelf column. In this edition, the first of a two-part look back at the year in review, Adam takes a moment to remember some of the great artists from the worlds of film, theater, literature and music that we lost in 2004.

Also today, we've kicked off three new Contests, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Image Entertainment's awesome The Twilight Zone: The Definitive Edition - Season 1 box set, along with Warner's Catwoman, The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Second Season and One Tree Hill: The Complete First Season. All of the contests will run until Noon PST on Sunday, January 23rd.

Back tomorrow with DVD reviews. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/17/05 - NOON PST)

Afternoon everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. I completely forgot about today being the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday - go figure.

Anyway, as many of you know, the Golden Globe Award winners were announced last night in Hollywood. Martin Scorsese's The Aviator won for Best Motion Picture - Drama, while Alexander Payne's Sideways took the statue for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Click here for the complete list of winners at the Hollywood Foreign Press Associations' official website.

A bit of DVD news today... It looks as if 20th Century Fox is going to be reissuing Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones on disc on 3/22. These will both be the same DVD editions as were previously released, in separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame editions. Why 3/22? Well, the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars, Vol. 1 arrives on DVD on 3/22 as well. It's all part of the retail build-up to the theatrical debut of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith on 5/19.

Okay then... we'll be back in a little while with new Contests and Adam's column.

Stay tuned...

1/14/05

All right... you've got your cover artwork. At least the first batch of it (more's coming). Now I'm working on reviews. I'll be posting 2 or 3 new DVD reviews on Monday, so be sure to check back for that. Our own Adam Jahnke will also return on Monday with a brand new Bottom Shelf column.

In the meantime, we've got a couple of things for you today. First (and this would normally go in The Rumor Mill, but for ease of posting we're telling you here), several retail sources have checked in to inform us that Disney's National Treasure, starring Nicolas Cage, is likely to street on 4/13. These same sources have again confirmed the expected 3/15 street date for Disney and Pixar's The Incredibles. They've also told us to expect 20th Century Fox's remade Flight of the Phoenix on 5/3.

Speaking of Fox, the studio has officially announced a trio of Three Stooges titles for release on 4/26 (SRP $9.98 each). Look for Snow White & the Three Stooges, Soup to Nuts and The Three Stooges in Color (the last title will unfortunately feature colorized shorts: Disorder in the Court, Malice in the Palace, Sing a Song of Six Pants and Brideless Groom). You know, I just wish someone would release a definitive set of all the surviving Stooges shorts in their original B&W format as they were meant to be seen.

Some other interesting stuff from around the Net today: PC Magazine's John C. Dvorak has posted an editorial column on HD-DVD that's well worth a read. His argument is that HD-DVD is likely to win the format war for a variety of practical reasons, from compression to price to backwards-compatibility to copy-protection. It's a well reasoned argument. But he left out perhaps the best argument going for HD-DVD... the letters DVD in the name. That means instant recognition. Consumers already know and love DVD, but they've never heard of Blu-ray Disc before and they have no idea what it is. Blu-ray Disc could therefore suffer just from being the new kid on the block. If HD-DVD is framed as a simple "upgrade" to the current format, while Blu-ray Disc is something totally new... consumers could gravitate to HD-DVD just because of its familiarity.

There's another fascinating story on the looming format war that worth reading as well today. It's a Reuters piece on how the porn industry is mulling over which HD format to adopt. As many of you know (but some may not), porn is a HUGE driving factor for new formats. In fact, sales of porn VHS and DVD titles far outstrip sales of mainstream fare. As strange as it may sound, the porn industry endorsement's would be a very big deal for either HD-DVD or Blu-ray Disc.

In a bit of non-DVD related news... a little something for you space geeks... NASA and the European Space Agency successfully landed the Huygens probe on Saturn's moon Titan (see ESA's mission website for more details - ESA operates the Huygens probe, while NASA operates the larger Cassini probe that launched it). Titan is about half the size of the Earth, and boasts a thick methane atmosphere, leading scientists to believe that it's probably very much like Earth was before life appeared - lifeless, but full of organic chemicals. The first images from the moon's surface suggest that it has oceans of liquid methane - pretty fascinating stuff. Keep in mind that those sites might be a little slow over the next few days as the pictures and data from Huygens start coming in.

Finally today, I want to remind you all that Star Trek: Enterprise returns tonight on UPN (at 8/7 Central) with the first of 7 new episodes in a row. On tonight's installment, Daedalus, we meet the guy who invented the transporter. Don't forget that UPN broadcasts this show in high-definition in many markets (except, naturally, L.A.) so if you've got HDTVs, don't miss it. Star Trek: Enterprise has really hit its stride in the last year or so, and it just keeps getting better and better this season. If you're a Trek fan and you tuned out after watching any of the first couple of years of this show, you really owe it to yourself to check back in now. Trek hasn't been this good since The Next Generation or the last couple years of Deep Space Nine.

Right after Enterprise in most markets (9/8 Central)... and I can't believe I'm telling you to do this given how much I hate the SciFi Network for canning Farscape... be sure to check out the first episode of SciFi's reimagined Battlestar Galactica series. It's been running in the U.K. for several months now, and it's been getting surprisingly good reviews from critics and fans alike (some of you might have seen the pilot film on NBC last weekend - it's also now available on DVD from Universal). Click here for more details on the series. Friday's shaping up to be a helluva good TV night for science fiction fans.

That's all she wrote for this week, folks! Enjoy the weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday. Stay tuned...

1/13/05

"Where's the cover art?"

"When are you guys gonna update your cover art section?"

"What's wrong with you guys? Where's your damn artwork?"

Okay, okay. You wanted it. You asked for it (boy, did you EVER ask for it). Well, here it is. At long last, our resident artwork guru, Russell Hammond, has just completed a major update of our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section. We've got more than 100 new cover scans, including stuff you've seen and some things you probably haven't as well. Best of all, Russell expects to check back in again in another week or so with yet another big update of the section. Just what the doctor ordered to take on that cover art craving you guys seem to have in a bad way these days.

Sheesh. Who woulda figured that one of the most popular sections of The Digital Bits was our cover art section? Anyway, we got caught up in a lot of other things over the holidays, but we'll try to keep the section up to date from here on out. ;-)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/12/05 - 3 PM PST)

Quick update on a Fox title we talked about a while back. Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut is set to street on 2/15. The information on the studio's press site incorrectly indicated that the running time for this cut was 253. The final running time for the cut is actually 132 minutes (FYI, the theatrical cut run time is 113 minutes). It's possible the 253 number refers to the feature and the extras. The final list of supplements for the 2-disc set is as follows: audio commentary with writer/director Richard Kelly and director Kevin Smith, Donnie Darko Production Diary with optional commentary by DP Steven Poster, They Made Me Do it Too: The Cult of Donnie Darko featurette, storyboard-to-screen video, #1 Fan: A Darkomentary featurette and a director's cut theatrical trailer.

We've got some awesome Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition news today. We've confirmed that the extras on the 2-disc set (which streets on 3/15) will include a pair of audio commentary tracks (one with director/actor Jonathan Frakes and a second with screenwriters Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore), text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, 3 Star Trek Universe featurettes (Jerry Goldsmith: A Tribute, The Legacy of Zefram Cochrane and First Contact: The Possibilities), 3 Borg Collective featurettes (Unimatrix One, The Queen and Design Matrix), 6 First Contact Production featurettes (The Story, The Missile Silo, The Deflector Dish, From "A" to "E", Making First Contact and The Art of First Contact), 3 Scene Deconstructions (Borg Queen Assembly, Escape Pod Launch and Borg Queen's Demise), storyboards, a photo gallery and the film's teaser and theatrical trailers. Moreover, we've confirmed that the video will be anamorphic widescreen and that the audio options will include both English Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1.

Think that's cool Trek fans? Well, we've saved the best for last. Click on over to today's update of The Rumor Mill for the VERY FIRST details on what you can expect from the extras on the forthcoming Star Trek: Enterprise - Season One DVD!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/12/05 - 12:01 AM PST)


We'll be back later with more, but I wanted to let you know that we've kicked off still another Contest today, giving you all the chance to win copies of Buena Vista's The Village and The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan. As with the others, it'll run until Noon PST on Sunday, January 16th. All the same rules apply.

We've also done a bit of archiving around the site this morning, and we've updated some of the DVD format stats we track (via the charts on the index page).

Back this afternoon. Stay tuned...

1/11/05

Today's post is going to be a little light. As you may know, we've been having serious rain here in normally sunny SoCal. I'm talking like biblical serious. I half expect to see Noah and his ark floating past my office window any minute. Anyway, we've been having a little flooding problem here at Casa Hunt, so I'm dealing with that in a big way today. Guess that's what I get for talking trash about the Packers yesterday. ;-)

All that aside, we do have a few cool things for you today. First up, Paramount has announced the DVD release of Blue Chips, Islands in the Stream and Lady in a Cage for 3/29. The studio will also release Pimp My Ride: The Complete First Season on 3/22, complete with "car tours" with Travis Barker from Blink 182 and the West Coast Customs guys, deleted scenes and bloopers. Just FYI, the studio's release of Have Gun Will Travel: The Complete Second Season, which had been announced for 2/22, has been postponed. We'll give you updated street info when we have it.

Not to be outdone, 20th Century Fox has announced The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete First Season for release on 4/12. The 3-disc set will include the show's unaired pilot in addition to the regular episodes. Fox has also announced a 4-disc Dynasty: The Complete First Season for 4/19. Extras will include commentary by Esther Shapiro, Al Corley and Pamela Sue Martin, a Dynasty Overview, the Family Tree: Pamela Sue Martin Profile, the Family Tree: Al Corley Profile and outtakes. Other April titles from the studio will include Hand of Death, Spooky Encounters, Winners and Sinners, Legacy of Rage and Warriors Two on 4/5, Moto Cross Kids on 4/12 and That 70's Show: The Complete Second Season on 4/19.

There are some new Columbia TriStar announcements today as well. Look for Being Julia, Batman and Robin: The Serial Collection (2-discs), Stand by Me: Deluxe Edition (with CD), Art Heist and Face of Terror, all on 3/22. Batman and Robin: The Serial Collection contains all fifteen episodes that were shown in theaters (before the main feature) back in 1949. They were written by Batman creator Bob Kane himself, were directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and starred Robert Lowery, Johnny Duncan, Jane Adams and Lyle Talbot. Nice.

Around the site today, we've added one more Contest, giving you the chance to win copies of MGM's Wicker Park. All the usual rules apply.

And there are a couple of interesting things from around the Net today. First up, our friends over at Ain't it Cool News have an awesome contest going on for the upcoming Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy feature film. If you submit the most gnarly bit of Vogon poetry, you can win a set of Vogon "bureaucratic" prop replicas from the upcoming film (including a mug, a stapler and a pen). It sounds odd, I know, but if you know the Guide, you'll definitely want a set of these babys. Todd and I are REALLY looking forward to this flick, let me tell you.

Also, our friend over at TVShowsonDVD.com have some interesting DVD information to report. Some of it definitely goes in the category of Rumor Mill worthy, but they've got updates on what happening with Twin Peaks: Season Two, The Amazing Race, Return to the Batcave, The Greatest American Hero: Season Two, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and more. Don't miss it!

Finally, there are a few more plaintive calls for a unified HD disc standard from the industry today, although I seriously doubt the manufacturers are listening anymore.

We're going to leave you today with some awesome new upcoming DVD cover artwork. Here's a look at 20th Century Fox's The Lone Gunmen: The Complete Series (3/29) and revised final art for their I Heart Huckabees (2/22), as well as Columbia TriStar's Batman and Robin: The Serial Collection...

The Lone Gunmen: The Complete SeriesI Heart HuckabeesBatman and Robin: The Serial Collection

And YES, before this week is out I swear we'll have that long overdue Upcoming DVD Cover Art update. I'm going to try and bang out the rest of those DVD reviews I mentioned last week as well.

So, you know... stay tuned.

1/10/05

Morning, everyone! Hope you've got your coffee hot, because we've got a great post for you today - TONS of DVD reviews.

First up though, let me just thank the Minnesota Vikings today. Spanking the Packers is sweet anytime, and doing it in Green Bay during the playoffs is sweetest of all, especially considering that the Pack took the Vikes TWICE this season already (doh!). Revenge is best served cold, and it was awfully cold at Lambaugh yesterday. If Minnesota doesn't win another game this post season... it's okay by me and my old pal Weatherman Dave.

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. No offense Packers fans. I'm sure you understand. Me and Dave, we take our Vikings football seriously. It's been like that since we were kids back in Fargo. Yes... it's a curse. ;-)

A bit of DVD release news... New Line has just announced its After the Sunset: Platinum Series for 3/29 (SRP $27.95). The DVD will be available in separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions, and will include audio commentary with director Brett Ratner, deleted/alternate scenes with optional director's commentary, a blooper reel, the Before, During and After the Sunset documentary, the Interview with a Jewel Thief featurette and more.

Around the site today, we've kicked off a pair of new Contests today, giving you each the chance to win copies of Warner's Gilligan's Island: The Complete Second Season, the BBC's MI-5: Volume 2, and 20th Century Fox's Napoleon Dynamite, The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season and Garden State. The contest will run until Noon PST on Sunday, January 16th.

Okay, you want reviews? Here you go: Our own Barrie Maxwell has chimed in today with a HEROIC review effort. In his latest edition of Classic Coming Attractions, Barrie gives you his thoughts on more than 27 recent classic DVD releases! That's right, we said 27. Included are More Treasures from American Film Archives, Judex, The Viking/White Thunder, Freaks, Broadway Bill, Riding High, Legong: Dance of the Virgins, Crackerjack, Gunga Din, Beyond Christmas, Music in My Heart, Rough Riders Triple Feature #1-3, Unpublished Story, The More the Merrier, The Chase/Bury Me Dead, Arrowhead, Three Coins in the Fountain, Conquest of Space, Alligator People, Last Train from Gun Hill, Hannibal (1960), How to Steal a Million, The High Commissioner, George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey and George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin. That ought to keep you busy for a while.

By the way, Barrie originally meant this column to be posted BEFORE the holidays, but I got so caught up in things that it slipped by me. Apologies to Barrie for the delay.

That will do it for today. We'll be back tomorrow with lots more. Stay tuned...!

1/7/05

Well folks, this DVD format war is for real. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today, Electronic Arts, Vivendi Universal Games, Sun Microsystems and Texas Instruments pledged their allegiance to Blu-ray Disc format.

Oh, but that's not all. It gets even more serious. At the HD-DVD presentation at CES today, Toshiba, NEC and Sanyo Electric all said that HD-DVD players will be available to consumers in the U.S. starting as early as September. Thomson Consumer Electronics was announced as the newest member of the HD-DVD group. What's more, Warner, Universal and Paramount together announced some 89 titles that will be available on HD-DVD in time for the format's 4th Qtr launch. Warner and its affiliates (New Line, HBO) alone will release some 50 titles (click here for another story on this).

Here's the COMPLETE list of titles announced today:

Paramount HD-DVD

New Titles - The Manchurian Candidate, Spongebob Squarepants, Elizabethtown, Coach Carter, The Italian Job, School of Rock, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Catalog Titles - Forrest Gump, Braveheart, Ghost, Grease, Mission Impossible 2, Black Rain, Save the Last Dance, Sleepy Hollow, U2: Rattle and Hum, Vanilla Sky, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Star Trek: First Contact, We Were Soldiers

Universal HD-DVD

New Titles - The Bourne Supremacy, The Chronicles of Riddick, Van Helsing

Catalog Titles - Apollo 13, U-571, 12 Monkeys, Dune, The Thing, End of Days, Backdraft, Waterworld, The Bone Collector, Spy Game, Pitch Black, Conan the Barbarian, Dante's Peak

Warner Bros/HBO/New Line HD-DVD

New & Catalog Titles - Above the Law, Alexander, Angels in America (HBO), Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (New Line), Batman Begins, Blade (New Line), Catwoman, Contact, Constantine, Charley and the Chocolate Factory, Dark City (New Line), The Dukes of Hazzard, Eraser, Executive Decision, Final Destination (New Line), Friday (New Line), From the Earth to the Moon (HBO), The Fugitive, Gothika, Hard to Kill, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, House of Wax (2005), The Last Samurai, The Mask (New Line), The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Maverick, Million Dollar Baby, The Music Man, Mystic River, Next of Kin, North by Northwest, Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, Passenger 57, The Perfect Storm, The Phantom of the Opera (2004), The Player (New Line), The Polar Express, Red Planet, Rush Hour (New Line), Se7en (New Line), Soldier, The Sopranos (HBO), Spawn (New Line), Swordfish, Troy, Under Siege, U.S. Marshals, Wild Wild West

Whew! That's a pretty serious line-up. All the Matrix and Harry Potter films? Batman Begins? Dune from Universal? Wow. This should go a very long way toward convincing consumers just how serious the HD-DVD camp is about supporting their format. One thing we DON'T know however, is whether any of these discs will feature significant bonus material, or if they'll just be movie-only releases with special editions to follow later.

You can bet the list of initial Blu-ray Disc titles will be heavy-duty as well when its announced later this year. FYI, it's now looking as if Blu-ray Disc titles and hardware will launch here in the U.S. in early 2006.

Looks like only a miracle is going to stop this format war now.

Given the scale of this news, and the work we've been doing to chase it all down, we'll be back with Barrie Maxwell's reviews on Monday.

Have a good weekend and stay tuned.

1/6/05

Let's start today with some DVD release news, shall we?

20th Century Fox has announced its DVD release lineup for March. Look for a new single-disc Ice Age: Special Edition, Chisholm '72, Incident at Loch Ness and Lost in Space: Season 3, Volume 1 on 3/1, Volcano High and Woman Thou Art Loosed on 3/8, Call Northside 777, House of Bamboo (1955), Panic in the Streets, The Pretender: Season 1 and What the Bleep Do We Know? on 3/15, Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume 1 on 3/22, and Mel Brooks' High Anxiety and The Lone Gunmen: The Complete Series on 3/29. You Star Wars fans will be pleased to know that the Clone Wars DVD will contain fan commentary, commentary by director Genndy Tartakovsky, a galleries or poster, sill, sketch and storyboards artwork, an EPK featurette, the Clone Wars Connections featurette, videogame trailers and demos and (best of all) the full teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

Buena Vista has announced Miramax's Finding Neverland for March 22nd (SRP $29.99 in separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions). Extras will include audio commentary with director Marc Foster, producer Richard Gladstein and writer David Magee, deleted scenes with optional commentary, and 3 featurettes (The Magic of Finding Neverland, Creating Neverland and On the Red Carpet). Disney's Sacred Planet is set for April 5th. The Last Shot is due on May (specific date TBA). Street dates for National Treasure and The Incredibles are still officially TBA, but we're hearing from retail sources that The Incredibles is expected to street on 3/15.

Columbia TriStar will deliver Rameses: Wrath of God or Man? on 3/1, Christmas with the Kranks and Lightning in a Bottle on 3/8, and Dead Birds and Starsky & Hutch: The Complete Thrid Season on 3/15.

MGM has announced its April DVD release slate. Streeting on 4/5 are The Graduate, The Amityville Horror, Amityville II: The Possession, Amityville 3-D and a 4-disc Amityville Horror Special Edition Giftset (SRP $39.96, containing all three films plus the Amityville Confidential bonus disc). Following on 4/12 are a group of catalog drama, family and foreign film, including Convicts, Staying Together, Hawaii, Trip to Bountiful, C.H.O.M.P.S., Mac and Me, Namu: My Best Friend, The Golden Seal, Hey Babu Riba, The Crook and Viva Maria! Finally, streeting on 4/19 are catalog war films, including Ambush Bay, Beach Red, Attack on the Iron Coast, Submarine X-1, The Purple Plain, The Quiet American, Beachhead and The Four Feathers.

Just to recap, the studio's March titles will include Virginia's Run and the Hoosiers: Collector's Edition on 3/1, Arrowsmith, Charly, Dead End, Stella Dallas, Barbary Coast, Come and Get It, Enchantment, We Live Again, Green Acres: Season Two and The Best of Mr. Ed: Volume Two on 3/8, Lucky 13 on 3/15, and Crossplot, Eye of the Tiger, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Krakatoa, East of Java, Crack House, Electra Glide in Blue and Firewalker on 3/22.

Paramount has announced Li'l Abner and Darling Lili for 4/19. Suspect Zero is also coming in April (street date TBA). Still no confirmation on that rumor that's been going around that Paramount would be releasing Star Trek: The Animated Series on 3/15. We know the title is on the way sometime this year, but the studio has yet to confirm a specific date.

Warner Bros. has revealed that it will deliver Friends: The Complete Ninth Season to DVD on 3/8. The studio has a Miss Congeniality: Deluxe Edition set for 3/15. The Flintstones: The Complete Third Season arrives on 3/22. Space Ghost Coast to Coast: Volume Three is set for 4/15. Finally, Cathouse streets on 5/24.

Anyone up for some new Universal DVD news? The studio will release Columbo: The Complete Second Season and Kojak: Season One on 3/8, with The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries: Season One following on 3/22 and Murder, She Wrote: The Complete First Season expected on 3/29. Looking into April, the studio will release Seed of Chucky on 4/12 and a Shirley Temple: Little Darling Pack (featuring Little Miss Marker and Now and Forever) on 4/19.

Back later with more. Stay tuned...

1/5/05

Hey... what do you know! I've managed to post two more new DVD reviews for you all to enjoy today! Today's installment of The Spin Sheet features my take on Columbia TriStar's forthcoming 2-disc editions of director Luc Besson's The Fifth Element and Léon: The Professional. Both are Superbit titles, both are special editions and both street next Tuesday (1/11).

Before I forget to mention it, George Bennett over at our MusicTAP site has also posted some thoughts on Aimee Mann's Live at St Ann's Warehouse on DVD.

I'll catch you all up on the latest DVD release news tomorrow. I've also got some new stuff to post then from our own Barrie Maxwell (possibly including some new classic DVD reviews). And with a little luck, I'll have more or my own new DVD reviews for you on Friday. Among the titles I'm prepping reviews for at the moment are Columbia TriStar's Spider-Man 2, 20th Century Fox's Alien vs. Predator and Predator 2: Special Edition and Paramount's Top Gun: Special Collector's Edition. So watch for those Friday or early next week. Adam will be back in the next couple of weeks too, fresh from his latest literary collaboration with Troma legend Lloyd Kaufman.

Stay tuned!

1/4/05

Well, damn. I'd planned on posting this yesterday afternoon, but my broadband access went out on me. Go figure.

Anyway, here's a trio of new DVD reviews for you to check out in the latest edition of my very own Spin Sheet... Touchstone's King Arthur: Extended Unrated Version, Lions Gate's Danny Deckchair and 20th Century Fox's i, Robot. All three titles are now available in stores.

I'm going to be posting more new DVD reviews every day this week if it kills me. I've got a fat stack of great recent and forthcoming DVDs to get cover, and I'm spinning 'em like crazy. So be sure to stay tuned...

1/3/05

We'll be back with more later, but first I wanted to let you all know that the nominees for the fifth annual DVD Exclusive Awards have been announced! The winners will be announced at a special ceremony on February 8th. Here are the top four categories (below). You can visit this link at DVD Exclusive.com for the complete list of nominees. You can also right click here to download the complete list in MS Word.doc format:

Overall DVD, New Movie (including all bonus features)
Capturing the Friedmans (HBO/Warner)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Special Extended Edition (New Line/Warner)
School of Rock (Paramount)
Spider-Man 2 (Sony)
The Ultimate Matrix Collection (Warner)

Overall DVD, Classic Film (including all bonus features)
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (MGM)
Gone With the Wind: Four-Disc Collector's Edition (Warner)
The Great Escape (MGM)
Mary Poppins: 40th Anniversary Edition (Disney)
Star Wars Trilogy (Fox)

Overall DVD, TV Program (including all bonus features)
24: Season 3 (Fox)
Arrested Development: Season One (Fox)
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete First Season (HBO/Warner)
Seinfeld: Seasons 1 & 2 (Sony)
The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season (Fox)

Overall DVD, Music Program (including all bonus features)
The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit, producer TBA (Capitol)
Hilary Duff: The Girl Can Rock, producer TBA (Disney)
Peter Gabriel: Play, producer TBA (Warner Strategic Marketing)
Josh Groban: Live at the Greek, producer TBA (Warner Reprise)
Live Aid, Jill S. Sinclair (Warner Strategic Marketing)

Congratulations to all the nominees!

In other site news this morning, we've kicked off pair of new Contests, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Lions Gate's Open Water, as well as Universal's Wimbledon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Collector's Edition. The contests will run until Noon PDT on Sunday, January 9th.

Finally this morning, we've got a brand new Artist of the Month to start the new year off in style! Jackie Battenfield creates stunning landscapes and abstractions, rich with texture and vibrant colors. Be sure to visit her artist page here at The Bits (and her own website) to check out her wonderful work.

Back this afternoon with more. Stay tuned...

1/2/05

Well... it seems there's always someone who reads my comments out of context. Over the last couple of days, I've gotten several rather testy e-mails from people who seem to think (based on our comments on Friday) we're encouraging our readers to e-mail DreamWorks to complain about the fact that there's captions on the studios' Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence DVD. Come on you guys. Seriously. We're encouraging our readers to e-mail DreamWorks to complain about the fact that there's ONLY captions on the DVD. Most major studios include BOTH English subtitles and captions on their foreign language titles. Including standard subtitles on the DVD PRESERVES THE THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE, and this is what we believe all DVDs should do. We have nothing against captioning and we ALWAYS encourage the studios to include captions on their DVDs for those who need and appreciate them. In fact, we've worked hard behind the scenes on several occasions to ensure that certain studios included captions on their DVD releases. The idea that we're somehow encouraging readers to write in to DENY the deaf community their rights is preposterous, and anyone who has been a reader of The Digital Bits for any length of time knows this. I'm really frankly stunned that I have to even say this for some of you. But there it is.

Just FYI, our friend Joe Clark used to maintain an excellent online list of all the DVDs that include captioning. When it became too difficult for him to continue maintaining this list himself, he open-sourced it to Wikipedia where anyone can add to it to help keep it accurate. Curiously, no one has yet done this. We encourage those of you who are interested to take up his cause and help maintain this valuable online resource.

Moving on, there are two quick issues I want to address. The first of them is MGM's Rocky Anthology box set. As I mentioned the other day, some copies of these box sets include a 6th bonus disc that contains the A&E Biography episode Sylvester Stallone: The Rocky Road to the Top. As it turns out, ONLY a limited number of these sets include the disc - not all of them. The box sets that do have the disc feature a silver/gray sticker on the front of the package, specifically noting that the set has the disc inside. Here's what it looks like...

Rocky Box Sticker

So just to sum up, no sticker... no bonus disc. Keep that in mind when you're out hunting for the set.

The other issue I wanted to mention is in regards to Universal's new Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries DVD. The title was originally announced as a single-disc edition - a double-sided disc. However, due to (we suspect) replication problems, many copies are finding their way into stores on TWO single-sided discs. There's a lot of confusion resulting from this, because the menus still refer to the single disc edition. They instruct you to "flip the disc over" to access additional special features. When you do just that... there's nothing on the other side. It seems that Side One of the original master has been included on Disc One, and Side Two is on Disc Two. Just be aware of that when you're watching the disc.

We'll be back tomorrow with a couple of new contests and some new DVD reviews. Stay tuned...

12/31/01

No, it's not the long-awaited announcement of a Blade Runner: Special Edition. But short of that, on this last day of 2004, I can't think of a cooler thing to tell you about than this: 20th Century Fox has just launched the official website for Ridley Scott's forthcoming film, Kingdom of Heaven, which opens May 6th (just two weeks before Episode III). It's an epic Crusades film, starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Ghassan Massoud, Jeremy Irons and Eva Green, and visually it looks to be one of Scott's most impressive films to date. Here's the best part... you can view the trailer in glorious Quicktime right now. So what the heck are you waiting for? Click on the link and enjoy.

It's gonna be a HUGE 2005 for blockbuster films, folks. Kingdom of Heaven, Star Wars: Episode III, War of the Worlds, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Chronicles of Narnia, Batman Begins, Fantastic Four, King Kong (just to name a few). Some will be great and some will blow chunks, but either way, it's sure gonna be interesting.

We've got a TON of new DVD reviews on the way for next week, including Spider-Man 2, and we'll post a long-awaited new Upcoming DVD Cover Art update as well.

In the meantime, we hope you all have a very happy and safe New Year. We'll see you in 2005 (Monday to be specific)!

Peace out. ;-)

12/30/04

We're going to round-up some interesting bits of news today.

First of all, a lot of you have been e-mailing us about DreamWorks' new Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence DVD. Unfortunately, it seems the studio decided to kill two birds with one stone with regard to the subtitling. Instead of including separate English subtitles and captions, the DVD includes just the captions. So when you're watching the film in the original Japanese audio, instead of just getting the English dialogue text, you're also forced to read sound cues, like [dog barks] or [phone rings]. Yeah, it's annoying. On the positive side, the studio also captions their audio commentary tracks, so you can tell who's speaking (which is nice). Ah well... what can you do? Unfortunately, the studio doesn't have online consumer e-mail, but you can contact them from the information on our links page if you need to. Remember to be polite.

On a similar note, a lot of people are reporting that MGM's new Rocky Anthology box set is missing the bonus disc which it's supposed to contain. This 6th disc includes the A&E Biography episode Sylvester Stallone: The Rocky Road to the Top. Studio reps have been unavailable due to the holidays, but rest assured we're looking into this. We'll let you know what's up with this as soon as we can contact them.

Before we forget, we should take a moment to remember actor Jerry Orbach, who passed away on Tuesday. Most people will probably best remember him for his role on TV's Law & Order, or as the voice of Lumiere in Disney's animated Beauty and the Beast. It should be noted that he was also an accomplished song and dance man, with a long list of Broadway credits. He'll certainly be missed.

On a more positive note, 20th Century Fox has announced the DVD release of TV's Remington Steele: Season 1 for 5/24 (SRP $39.98).

Also, we've learned that Good Times plans to release a title we've been hoping for on DVD for a long time - one of those 80s guilty pleasure films from when we were kids... The Double McGuffin. Look for that on 2/22. Thanks to Bits reader John W. for the heads-up on that.

On the Blu-ray Disc/HD-DVD front, JVC has revealed that it's created a combo Blu-ray/DVD that is backwards compatible with all current DVD players. These discs use a triple-layer structure. One layer can store up to 8.5GB of standard definition (regular DVD) video signals. The other two layers can store up to 25GB of high-definition (Blu-ray Disc) video. We have no idea how widespread the use of these combo discs will be, but it's certainly an interesting development. You can read MUCH more on this here at the always excellent PhysOrg.com website.

In other news today, our friends at The Virginian-Pilot's online site have posted their list of the top 10 DVDs of 2004. Their pick for best of the year is Warner's Gone with the Wind re-issue.

Just FYI, we'll be gearing up for our annual Bitsy Awards in mid-February, right in the thick of Oscar season as always.

Stay tuned...

12/29/04

We're going to get right back in the swing of things today with a whole mess of new DVD release announcements.

First up, Paramount has announced that they'll deliver Team America: World Police on 4/5/05. This will be a single-disc edition of the theatrical version of the film. No other details are yet available. Paramount has also announced The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie for DVD release on 3/1. Other titles due in March from the studio include The Brady Bunch: The Complete First Season, Max and Ruby: Springtime for Max & Ruby and South Park: The Complete Fifth Season (all 3/1), Candy Land: The Great Lollipop Adventure (3/8), Alfie (2004), Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition, Hogan's Heroes: The Complete First Season, Strange Frequency 2 and Survivor: The Australian Outback - The Complete Season (all 3/15), Dora the Explorer: Big Sister Dora (3/22) and Lady in a Cage, Islands in the Stream, Blue Chips, Save the Tiger and America's Next Top Model: Cycle 1 (all 3/29).

Universal has announced Easy for 3/1, with The Ring Collector's Set following on 3/8 and Bad Girls from Valley High and Blood Angels set for 3/22. The studio also has a number of new "studio selections" catalog titles set for 3/1, including D.C. Cab, Ghost Dad, Paradise Alley, White Palace and Yanks.

Columbia TriStar has just announced Lightning in a Bottle for 3/8, along with Rameses: Wrath of God or Man? on 3/1.

Disney has added Miracle at Oxford, Edges of the Lord and Speakeasy to its 1/4 slate.

Touchstone is soon to announce The Last Shot for release early next year (street date TBA).

Criterion has announced a number of new titles for release in March (street date TBA), including Jean Renoir's The River (cat #276), Kihachi Okamoto's The Sword of Doom (#280), Volker Schlöndorff's Young Törless (#279), Michelangelo Antonioni's L' Eclisse (#278), François Truffaut's Jules and Jim (#281) and Andrzej Wajda's A Generation (#283), Kanal (#284) and Ashes and Diamonds (#285), all three of which will be available in the Andrzej Wajda: Three War Films box set (#282).

And Warner has announced The Band Wagon: Special Edition (2 discs), Bells are Ringing, Brigadoon, Easter Parade: Special Edition (2 discs) and Finian's Rainbow, all for 3/15.

This last bit of news this morning should be considered Rumor Mill worthy, because we haven't been able to confirm it (most of the studio staffers we deal with are out on holiday until next week). But several online sources have been reporting that Paramount will release Star Trek: The Complete Animated Series on 3/15 (which would coincide with the release of Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition that same day).

Speaking of First Contact, retail sources are telling us that the 2-disc set will include a pair of audio commentary tracks (one with director/actor Jonathan Frakes and a second with screenwriters Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore), text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, 3 Star Trek Universe featurettes (Jerry Goldsmith: A Tribute, The Legacy of Zefram Cochrane and First Contact: The Possibilities), 3 Borg Collective featurettes (Unimatrix One, The Queen and Design Matrix), 6 First Contact Production featurettes (The Story, The Missile Silo, The Deflector Dish, From "A" to "E", Making First Contact and The Art of First Contact), 3 Scene Deconstructions (Borg Queen Assembly, Escape Pod Launch and Borg Queen's Demise), storyboards, a photo gallery and the film's teaser and theatrical trailers.

Before we go this morning, how about some new cover art? Here's a look at Universal's Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition (3/29), Paramount's The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Criterion's Sword of Doom, Anchor Bay's The Greatest American Hero: Season One (2/8) and Beastmaster: Divimax Special Edition (1/25), and Lions Gate's SAW (2/15)...

Apollo 13: Annniversary EditionThe SpongeBob SquarePants MovieSword of Doom

The Greatest American Hero: Season OneBeastmaster: Divimax Special EditionSAW

We've got more new DVD reviews on the way for the rest of this week. And yes, we know the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section hasn't been updated in months... and yes, we ARE working on it.

Stay tuned!

12/27/04

We felt it important today to take a moment and say a few words in regards to the terrible tragedy that's currently unfolding in Asia right now. Obviously, most of you have probably heard that a massive earthquake under the Indian Ocean triggered terrible tsunamis over the weekend that struck seaside resorts and villages in India, Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and a host of other countries. More than 23,000 people are believed to have been killed and it's very likely that tally will rise. It's just hard to really even comprehend tragedy of that scale. We know we have many readers in that region of the world, so we just wanted to let you all know that we're thinking about you. We hope your loved ones are okay, and our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

We'll be back with our normal posts on Wednesday.

12/22/04

Well... as expected, this is our last post this week, given the upcoming Christmas holiday. But we've got a good one for you today.

First up, our own Barrie Maxwell has delivered another great Classic Coming Attractions column. In this edition, Barrie updates his look at classic Christmas films, and also runs down the latest classic release announcements.

In addition, Robert Harris has delivered an excellent, year-end edition of his Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings, in which he looks at the year in review in terms of classic film restoration work on DVD. He ranks the Hollywood studios on the quality of their classic DVD releases.

I think you'll enjoy both columns. They're well worth a look, as always.

Before I sign off, Todd and I would personally like to thank Sarah, Erin, Matt, Barrie, Robert, Adam, Russell, Jeff, Dw, George, John, Marco, Lindsay and the entire staff of The Bits and MusicTAP for all their great work over the past year. I know I've probably missed a few people, but those of you who have contributed to our sites over the past year know who you are. You have our respect, friendship and thanks.

To all our industry friends, to you folks at the studios and to all our peers in the DVD press... thanks for a great 2004! Keep up the great work!

And to you loyal readers out there... what can we say? Thank you seems so inadequate. You're the best. You continue to inspire us and honor us with your support.

So from all of us here at The Digital Bits and MusicTAP, a very happy and safe holiday to you and yours.

See you after Christmas!

12/21/04

Well... Todd and I saw SAW at Comic-Con and didn't think it was all that. Jahnke saw SAW too on his own and disliked it as well. But hey... we know there are some of you out there who loved this thing, so you can today rejoice in the fact that Artisan has officially announced it for DVD release on 2/15. The DVD (SRP $28.98) will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video (a separate full frame version will also be available) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with director James Wan and writer/actor Leigh Whannell, an On the Set featurette, trailers, TV spots, production artwork, Fear Factory's Bite the Hand That Bleeds music video and a featurette on the making of the Bite the Had That Bleeds music video. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Just FYI, we've kicked off a new Contest today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's Troy on DVD! The contest will run until Noon PDT on Sunday, January 2nd. Good luck!

We'll be back tomorrow with one last update before the Christmas holiday, so stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 12/20/04 - 3 PM PST)

Okay... I've just posted a trio of new DVD reviews: 20th Century Fox's Garden State (street date 12/28) and Napoleon Dynamite (streets tomorrow), and Geneon's Last Exile: The Complete Series Box Set (now available). Garden State and Napoleon Dynamite are perfect if you're entertained by offbeat fare. Last Exile is a Japanese anime TV series. Its 26 episodes are available on 7 individual DVDs or collectively in the box set. All three titles are well worth your time.

I've posted the three reviews together in a new strip format I'm calling The Spin Sheet. It's not a column per se, just a more efficient way of reviewing discs. I'll be doing this a lot for titles that don't necessarily require full, in-depth treatment, but are still worth bringing to your attention here at The Bits. With a little luck, the format will allow me to cover a lot more titles, supplementing the work of Todd, Barrie and the rest of our review staff.

Okay... that's all for now. Back tomorrow!

(EARLY UPDATE - 12/20/04 - 10:30 AM PST)

No worries, Bits fans! Bill and Todd are still alive and kicking. Things got a little hectic here with Todd visiting. We only find ourselves in the same city once a year or so, so there were screenings, writings and many, many other things that needed to be done. Todd's back in Atlanta now, however, so we're getting back into the normal swing of things. We watched a number of discs while he was here, so there are reviews on the way. In fact, I'll be checking back in this afternoon with several of them. We also have a couple of new columns on the way for this last week before Christmas and maybe some other stuff too.

In the meantime today, we've got another cool new shot of the packaging for Paramount's Star Trek: Enterprise - Season One set, which we tentatively expect to street on (5/3/05). This is the U.K. package - the U.S. version may differ slightly, but the outer case will be the same...

Star Trek: Enterprise - Season One

Some quick new DVD announcements for you today: Buena Vista will release Nirvana and The I Inside on 3/1, with Sweet Valley High: Season One and Felicity: Season Four following on 3/8. Disney's JoJo's Circus follows on 3/22.

Universal is releasing The Ring Collector's Set on 3/8 (SRP $26.99), including the anamorphic widescreen version of The Ring along with The Ring: Full Circle bonus disc.

Columbia TriStar will deliver Rameses: Wrath of God or Man?, Wubbulous World of Dr.Seuss: The Cat's Play Pals, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, Doing Hard Time, Pursued (2004) and Unstoppable, all on 3/1.

And New Line will release High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story on 3/15.

Back this afternoon. Stay tuned...

12/15/04

I'm working on a few reviews, so today's post is going to be brief. But...

Universal has officially announced the DVD release of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Blood Angels and Bad Girls From Valley High for 3/22/05. Three different DVDs of Bridget Jones will be available, including PG and R-rated versions in full frame and the R-rated version in anamorphic widescreen (SRP $29.98 each - so no widescreen PG edition). Each will be a single disc - no word yet on extras.

In addition, Warner has announced the 4-disc Friends: The Complete Ninth Season for release on 3/8 ($44.98). Also coming from Warner is the recently delayed La Femme Nikita: The Complete Second Season, now due on 3/15. No word yet on what may have changed from the previous almost release.

Here's cover art for Bridget Jones, Friends and 20th Century Fox's I Heart Huckabees (due on 2/22)...

Bridget Jones: The Edge of ReasonFriends: The Complete Ninth SeasonI Heart Huckabees

Back in the morning. Stay tuned...

12/14/04

Things are starting to slow down in Hollywood, what with the fast approaching Christmas holiday. So today we're all about updating the stats and figures we track here at The Bits, and doing some archiving of news and other content. We've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include all the weekly data from November and the first week of December (format to date, we're now up to 84,518,530 players here in the States). We've updated the Top 10 Sales and Rental numbers we track for DVD software (in the charts above). We've updated the AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list to account for Warner's recent announcement of Bringing Up Baby: Special Edition (due on 3/1). And we've updated our official mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to its most recent version (dated 11/11).

A bit of DVD news for you today - Anchor Bay has officially announced that they're going to be releasing The Greatest American Hero: Season One as a 3-disc set on 2/8/05. The company also has The Beastmaster: Special Edition and Renegade: Season One set for 1/25/05.

And New Line has announced the DVD release of Robert Altman's Kansas City for 2/15 (SRP $19.97). The disc will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio. Extras will include audio commentary and the film's theatrical trailer. Also coming from New Line on 2/15 are Legalese and Normal Life.

There's also news that a company called Memory-Tech is working on a hybrid disc that would include both a regular DVD layer as well as an HD-DVD layer. This is an interesting curiosity, but the problem is that neither layer would really be able to hold more than about an hour of high-quality video content.

By the way, a lot of you have asked what's up with the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section. Rest assured there's a new update in the works.

We'll try to be back tomorrow with some reviews, and we're working on Spider-Man 2 for later this week.

Stay tuned!

12/13/04

Afternoon, folks!

Some interesting news on the HD format war front this week. One of the founding members of the Blu-ray Disc Association, Thomson Consumer Electronics (RCA, GE, Proscan) has announced that they intend to support both the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD formats. This is important, because it's manufacturers that support both formats that ultimately MAY produce actual hardware (combo players) that work with both formats. You can click here for more on this.

Of course, the big news today in the film world is that the Golden Globe nominations have been announced. As expected, The Aviator looks to be the front runner for Best Picture this awards season. Click here for all the details on that.

In other news, Buena Vista is gearing up to announce the early 2005 DVD releases of Disney and Pixar's The Incredibles, Miramax's Finding Neverland and Walt Disney Picture's National Treasure. We don't have street dates and official specs yet, but we do have a sneak peek at cover art for all three titles:

The IncrediblesFinding NeverlandNational Treasure

Meanwhile, Columbia TriStar has announced the release of a Funny Girl/Funny Lady Box Set, Behold a Pale Horse, Bitter Victory, It Happened to Jane, My Sister Eileen, Strangers When We Meet, Twentieth Century, We Were Strangers and King of Queens: The Complete Third Season, all for 2/22.

In addition, Warner will release Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State (for PBS), The Bunker and The Wall (for HBO), all on 3/29. Also coming from HBO via Warner is The Hitchhiker 2 on 4/12.

Hope you guys all had a great weekend. As I mentioned on Thursday, Todd's here in L.A. for the next week or so. The two of us, joined by our own Adam Jahnke, had dinner and a few pints at the Pig & Whistle in Hollywood, and then took in a Russ Meyer double-feature at the Egyptian on Friday night. There's nothing quite like seeing Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens on the big screen, let me tell you. On Saturday, Todd and I trekked out to Joshua Tree National Park for a little sight-seeing (see pic - I'm on the right, Doogan's that piece of work on the left).

Bill & Todd in Joshua Tree

Then yesterday, we caught a screening of Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou which is every bit as great as you might be hoping. Maybe Anderson's best film yet.

Anyway, nothing like a little R&R. So if updates are a little light this week, well... now you'll know why!

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...


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