Posts Tagged ‘DVD’

Houston Astros World Series Video Review: Can-Do Team for a Can-Do City

November 28, 2017

astros

As a longtime Houstonian, I’ve had my share of suffering with our sports teams. In fact, I’ve had more than my share when it comes to the Astros, who ended one recent 100-plus-loss season on a 15-game losing streak, and who’d come agonizingly close to glory in the years before that.

Yet for many reasons, the team named for our astronaut neighbors at NASA has always been closest to my heart. And when the Astros finally won a World Series on Nov. 1, I did what many people did.

I cried.

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I take pride in it. I cared that much. And my tears of joy made me no different than the team’s soon-to-retire veteran, Carlos Beltran, or Astros President Reid Ryan. They knew what it meant, too.

Since that wonderful night, I’ve clung to such emotions by rewatching some of the games and postgames. I’ve read everything I could find about the team and the experience. I’ve savored photos of the triumph and caught every appearance by Astros players as guests on TV.

And now, I’m watching a preview copy of Major League Baseball’s official World Series video, available Tuesday, Dec. 5, from Shout! Factory on Blu-ray and DVD. (Also due that day is an eight-disc Collector’s Edition box set with all seven World Series games and Game 7 of the ALCS.)

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MST3K Vol. XXXIX DVD Review: End of the Line

November 12, 2017

MST3K 39

And lo, it came to pass that many years of steady DVD releases of MST3K are ending. That end comes with Nov. 21’s release by Shout! Factory of Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXIX.

Eleven of the beloved cowtown puppet show’s 176 broadcast episodes remain unavailable, and you know the culprit: film rights. But before you get utterly bent out of shape, please know that rights issues are perfectly legal and are common in the TV/movie business. That’s why the original 1960s Batman TV series remained in video limbo for decades until its release in 2014.

But give the heavy thinkers at Shout! Factory this: With only three available episodes for Vol. XXXIX, unlike the usual four, and with 11 episodes taboo, what the hoo, they’ve added a fourth disc collecting all host segments from those 11 shows.

So there, balky movie rights owners. We’ve got three hours of Best Brains madness from those missing programs, at times even including stills and glimpses of the films.

Not only that, but the usual DVD extras, as so often, are special, including Showdown in Eden Prairie: Their Final Experiment and Behind the Scream: Daniel Griffith on Ballyhoo.

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Blu-ray/DVD Review Glee: The Complete Third Season

August 19, 2012

If you love Glee as I do, you record episodes as they air and quickly watch them again, so having them on Blu-ray or DVD is an archival kind of thing. One day, I plan to watch the entire series again in sequence — or “From the top!”, as Will said in the pilot. But until then, the things that grab me the most about having Glee on discs is the extras. And Glee: The Complete Third Season, new from Fox on Blu-ray and DVD, has plenty of them.

Unfortunately, Season Three on disc doesn’t have all of them, which is even more glaring given the fact that Twitter newbie Ryan Murphy has recently unveiled several deleted scenes from Glee’s third season, NONE of which, that I can see, appears on the new Blu-ray (and, I’m assuming, the new DVD). (more…)

DVD Review ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIII’: Dinos and Horses and Fu, oh my!

March 18, 2012

Remember when MST DVDs had NO extra features? That’s so Rhino.

Thanks to Shout! Factory — along with MST’s crew and often Ballyhoo Productions — the Satellite of Love is now lavished with extras on disc — extras which are even more welcome given that they’re new material for a show which ended over a decade ago. Thanks to them, at the least, MST3K lives.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIII is no exception. And since you Misties doubtless have seen the four shows making their DVD debuts March 27, here’s a rundown of their special features: (more…)

DVD Review ‘Hazel: The Complete Second Season’: Colorful comedy

February 20, 2012

Imagine the relief of Hazel fans when Shout! Factory set a Feb. 21 date to issue Hazel: The Complete Second Season on DVD. After all, it’s been 5 1/2 years since the first season appeared, that time from Sony. So give a big shout out to Shout! Factory: Thanks!

The beloved Emmy-winning show deserved a better fate than that of too many series, with earlier episodes being issued digitally but later ones forgotten. (My Favorite Martian Season Three, anyone?)  And this 32-episode batch is a special treat, since it’s the first prime-time sitcom in TV history to be presented in color–and boy, does NBC go for the tints and hues, from Mrs. Baxter’s (Whitney Blake’s) scarlet inside-and-out convertible to Hazel’s (Shirley Booth’s) red hair and little Harold’s (Bobby Buntrock’s) blond locks.

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DVD Review Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXII

November 15, 2011

Yes, there’s nothing like a thoughtful Christmas gift. And what could be more thoughtful than The Brute Man, The Violent Years, Time of the Apes and Mighty Jack, MST3K-style?

That’s what you’ll get in Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXII, due from Shout! Factory Dec. 6 in a four-disc box set also bulging with lots o’ extras. And since most Misties already know these films — though all four are making their DVD debut — let’s get straight to the juicy new stuff.

In terms of extras, best of these four discs is The Brute Man, which sports another ambitious featurette from Ballyhoo, the half-hour Trail of the Creeper: Making of The Brute Man. Handsomely produced, it’s really less about the movie and more about Rondo Hatton, the disfigured and tragic boogeyman of the film, and how he led a vanguard of new “monsters” for Universal when the studio cooled to its classic fright fiends in the mid-1940s.

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DVD blog review ‘X-Men: First Class’ — The name gets it right

September 5, 2011


As a prequel, reboot, preboot, redo, re-imagining, whatever, X-Men: First Class is first-rate. And I say this with some authority, being old enough to have purchased X-Men #1 in the ’60s when it first appeared. (No worries, it’s now tucked safely inside a safe deposit box.) Now First Class makes me proud to be an aging Marvel kid.

Though we’ve seen such pre-X-Men history before (the opening Nazi concentration camp scenes seem downright recycled), I loved the way director Matthew Vaughn then cut to the Cold War chase, with a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) starting as allies as the U.S. and U.S.S.R. teetered toward nuclear annihilation. Only the mutants can stop this, right?

Action is aplenty, and exceedingly well staged, while the characters grapple with genuine dramatic heft — and add some cheeky humor. The Kennedy-era trappings, now in vogue, also work well, while Kevin Bacon as vile villain Sebastian Shaw (fun German accent, Kevin) steals the show big-time. And that’s in a rare superhero film that feels more character-driven than action-driven — not that First Class skimps on the latter bent.

With the glut of superhero movies it’s hard to stand out, but this one does–and rightfully earned $350 million at the global box office.

Whether you’ve seen previous X-Mens or not, it works, so make a note: On Friday, Sept. 9, X marks the spot with Fox’s Blu-ray and DVD release of the year’s best superhero movie, X-Men: First Class. Face front!

DVD review: ‘Machete’ exploits exploitation flicks’ power to the mad max

January 4, 2011

A good rule for exploitation flicks is to get busy and exploit. Blood, gore, violence, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll — such films need to come out with it, and get on with it, in the very first scene.

Texas filmmaker Robert Rodriguez knows how to do this, and with Machete — his feature-length spinoff of a make-believe movie’s trailer in Grindhouse — he gets going from the get-go.

At the start, beleaguered but honorable Mexican “federale” cop Machete (Danny Trejo) suffers the kind of bloody injustice which can propel a plot from then on. He then winds up across the border in Austin, where a corrupt state senator (Robert De Niro) is calling for a brutal, racist, border-wall crackdown on illegal immigrants.

What follows is not just a lurid revenge fantasy that’s more wryly amusing for its cartoonlike excesses than it is truly disturbing (you didn’t really think Trejo could use a victim’s entrails as a rope, did you?). Oh no. It’s also got thematic meat on its sharp bones in the form of a sermonette — or sermon — on today’s southern border focus on racial profiling.

The only trouble is, Machete gets bogged down by its fitting yet repetitious preaching about the film’s good guys (mistreated Mexican illegals who deserve a fair chance). We get the message early on, but then keep getting it, hammered into our heads like its blade-wielding hero making sure a victim’s dead.

Machete also becomes so enthralled with its perversely grandiose gut-grabbing that it forgets another rule of exploitation filmmaking: After you’ve gotten busy and exploited, don’t forget to leave ’em laughing (or gagging). In short, keep it short.

Rodriguez fails to do this, spinning his torrid tires in ruthless brutality laced with Hispanic consciousness-raising for one hour and 45 minutes. That’s at least 15 minutes too long, and it hurts his film, new on DVD today from Fox.

But not much else hurts Machete, including the fact that stone-faced Trejo is no great shakes as an actor (the solution: he gets few lines) and the fact that Rodriquez relied on so many actors who are has-beens, disreputable or dysfunctional — yet got the most out of them.

That includes Lindsay Lohan as an allegedly “beautiful” model type (that’s what the script says) who looks more like a washed-up alley-way hooker (sorry, but it’s true); Steven Seagal in a typically whispery role as a Mexican crime lord; Don Johnson (“introducing” goes his credit, inexplicably) as a cooly callous border patrol vigilante; and Michelle Rodriguez as a steely Hispanic superwoman.

She, especially, is outstanding in the kind of tough-gal role that Rodriguez and his Grindhouse co-conspirator, Quentin Tarantino, adore. (The movie, in fact, could have been all about her.) And Jeffy Fahey and Cheech Marin impress in their bad-bad-guy and good-murderous-priest parts. (Also, it’s good to see Romero makeup maestro Tom Savini as a hitman.)

The action is state of the art for this sort of thing: overheated and over the top but always deliriously entertaining despite itself. And marquee-value actors like De Niro and Jessica Alba give the film some heft whenever amateurism creeps into the cast. (Don’t miss Alba’s deleted scenes playing her federal agent’s slutty twin sister. Nice contrast work.)

Shot in Austin, which it showcases adroitly, Machete — aside from its overkill length — is  just what we wanted it to be when its mock trailer enlivened Grindhouse.

So I say, well done, Robert Rodriguez. Here, as in that film, you got busy and exploited (unlike amigo Quentin Tarantino, who dallied in dialogue in his half of Grindhouse). And you entertained the hell out of me.

Now we can look forward to the (hopefully not make believe) sequels promised at the end: Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again.

Now that’s exploiting!

Glee Season 2: Volume 1 DVD: Extra, extra — but do you want it now?

December 23, 2010

I know: Fox did this last year, and some Gleeks howled. It issued the first 13 episodes of Glee’s Season 1 on DVD mid-season, before the spring “back nine” episodes had aired. Then it issued a full Season 1 set just before Season 2 aired. So if you bought both, you bought the first 13 episodes twice.

Now Fox seems to be doing it again by issuing Glee Season 2: Volume 1 on DVD Jan. 25. That title will feature the first 10 episodes of the current season (Fox is wisely spreading out the shows more this year, and there are three additional episodes overall to make 25, so no four-month hiatus causes Glee-us Interruptus). The new DVD also will feature some potentially tasty extras.

The only problem with this is with what happened last time, provided Fox does the same thing again.

For Season 1, when all episodes had aired and it was time to release them all on DVD, Fox offered two options: Those who’d already bought the Volume 1 episodes could buy a separate set featuring only the “back nine” episodes of Volume 2, thus completing the season. Or they could buy the full season set with a $10 “Glee-bate.”

But the problem with buying just Volume 2 of the first season was that it had no extras. You had to buy the full-season set to get those (including extras from the Volume 1 set, along with new ones for the full-season set). Plus, both Volumes 1 and 2 for Season 1 came only in DVD, with no Blu-ray.

But really, would you rather Fox not do this, and rather sit idly by without issuing any of Season 2’s Glee on DVD until the full season had aired — and even then, probably not until early September of 2011? (The full Season 1 set arrived Sept. 14, 2010.) Or are you happy to have the option of getting Season 2’s 10  fall shows on DVD — with some extras, btw — starting  Jan. 25, 2011?

Count me in the latter group, because I’m always stoked to get Glee on DVD or Blu-ray. (Again, no Blu-ray for this partial season release.)

In part my enthusiasm is due to having pristine copies with no commercials to enjoy for eight months (before the full-season set arrives). But it’s also due to the extras provided.

In this case they will be:

GLEE MUSIC JUKEBOX: One of the best features of Season 1’s full-season set, this enables you to zip instantly to your favorite songs and savor the music alone. A menu offers song lists for each episode — even fragments of songs, like Piano Man.

Such a jukebox was NOT provided on last year’s Season 1 Volume 1 set, or even for its 13 episodes on the full-season set–just for spring shows. So it’s great to see it now as an ongoing extra feature.

After all, music is a huge appeal of Glee. And just as you play individual Glee tracks on your iPod or CD player, you can do so on DVD. Keep in mind, though, that these are the broadcast versions, which often are shorter than formally released full studio tracks, and sometimes have overlapping dialogue.

BONUS SONG FROM ROCKY HORROR: I’m thinking this is Carl’s (John Stamos’) version of Sweet Transvestite, which was issued as a studio track but did not appear in the telecast. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s footage to go with it, or simply the audio.

GETTING WAXED WITH JANE LYNCH: This’ll be a featurette on Madame Tussaud’s wax museum creating a likeness of Sue Sylvester. Choosing a costume shouldn’t be hard — just pick the color of a track suit.

THE WIT OF BRITTANY: I’m not sure “wit” is the right word. Perhaps “witlessness”? At any rate, Heather Morris’ character has emerged, big-time, as has Heather. (A Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot anyone? Or Flirt makeup endorsements?)

GLEE AT COMIC-CON 2010: You know the drill. Cast members sit on panels to extol the show for eager fans.

All these extras sound fun-worthy, and I’ll be glad to see them and savor them between Jan. 25 and the inevitable full Season 2 DVD/Blu-ray early next fall. For those who’d rather not, that’s your choice. Just don’t complain about it. No one’s making you buy anything, and some of us are eager to get on with it.

That includes waiting for the Super Bowl post-game show to end Feb. 6. In case you didn’t know, that’s G-Day for Glee’s Season 2 to resume on Fox in a one-time special time slot.

Until then, I wish you all happy Glee holidays and a safe, warm New Year. From the top!

Review: ‘The Wild Wild West: The Complete Series’ puts it all in one box

November 4, 2008

If you’ve put off picking up each of the four individual season sets for The Wild Wild West,  now’s your chance to get them all in one swoop, along with two TV reunion movies not previously released on DVD. The handsomely boxed The Wild Wild West: The Complete Series, new from Paramount, doesn’t come cheap, but collectively it sure beats buying the four seasons individually.

Of course, many loyal fans already may have purchased the individual season sets, and there’s the rub. Despite the relatively low quality of the two TV movies added to this full-series set, those movies are desired by fans who are completists. And such fans shouldn’t have to pay $90 or so just to get those two movies and an attractive box when they already have the four season sets.

It’s hoped that Paramount will issue the two TV movies individually at a later date, and at a reasonable price, of course. Until then, the only place to find 1979’s The Wild Wild West Revisited and 1980’s More Wild Wild West is in this big boxed full-series set.

Well, we can’t have everything, and have it all whenever we want, now can we?

Besides, I already know of one friend who’d held out on buying the season sets and is thrilled to get the entire series — and two movies — in one package. And let’s not forget the big picture: that The Wild Wild West was one of the more entertaining and original hybrids of ’60s TV, blending James Bond-style secret agents with Old West settings, though its villains’ crimes went far over the top at times, and anachronisms (as in the dreadful Will Smith theatrical film) prevailed.

After its more earnest first season — which also was the only one in black and white — WWW tended to topple over into fantasyland, and thus lose its endearing western identity. Still, stars Robert Conrad and Ross Martin remained an engaging pair of agents, and as in many shows, it’s the characters, not the stories, that most enthrall us. So saddle up and enjoy these “oaters” in whatever format suits you. The trail ahead is eventful, entertaining and long.