Join us each week as Rob Hunter takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs.
And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below. This week sees five Buy recommendations! And all but one of them are decades old! Insane I tell you, insane! Anyway. Titles out this week include Centurion, the HBO miniseries The Pacific, the uncut version of the absurdly entertaining The Visitor, The Hungry Ghosts, reissues of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Goonies, and more.
Click on any of the titles below to magically head over to Amazon.com and pick up the DVD. And don’t forget to check out Neil Miller’s hilariously titled This Week In Blu-ray for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Pitch: My nomination for ‘Scariest scene in a kids movie goes to…’
Why Buy? A singing and dancing single dad entertains his kids and a fine young lady with his flying car but soon finds there are more disturbing things in the world than being named Dick Van Dyke. Like top hat-wearing, musical pedophiles luring your children into cages with candy. Seriously, that scene still creeps me out. This is a fun and energetic flick for families as well as singing and dancing single dads. Hell, musical pedophiles with an aversion to sweets could probably find a use for it too.
Extra Features? Sing along version, blu-ray disc (?) loaded with extras
The Goonies: 25th Anniversary Edition
Pitch: The true test of a film is whether or not people are still quoting it decades later. I used the “Booty trap!” line just this past weekend…
Why Buy? A group of kids go on a treasure-hunting adventure in an effort to save their homes from greedy developers. There’s a recent backlash against adults who claim to still enjoy this movie, but that’s just ridiculous. It’s a kids movie, clearly, but even as a grown-up there’s fun to be had here. From Robert Davi’s operatic singing to the truffle shuffle to a young Josh Brolin this is still an entertaining adventure for young and old. If you already own this on DVD then you already have all the special features included here, but this set does add in some new physical extras including an actual board game.
Extra Features? Commentary, making of, music video, deleted scenes, trailer, board game, storyboard cards, magazine reprints
The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series
Pitch: May just be the greatest late night talk show ever if it weren’t for the fact that it’s not real…
Why Buy? Garry Shandling plays Sanders, the host of a popular late night talk show similar to ones we’ve seen from Carson, Letterman, and O’Brien. The show follows him before, during, and after taping as he interacts with co-workers, family, and guests backstage. Co-stars include Rip Torn, Jeffrey Tambor, Scott Thompson, and Jeremy Piven. A cavalcade of celebrities play themselves too with the best of the bunch being a hilariously dry David Duchovny. It’s 89 episode worth of solid laughs, but if the investment is too big Shout! Factory is also releasing individual seasons. No matter how you get it though… if you enjoy smart and sharp comedy this is not a show to miss.
Extra Features? Introduction, deleted scenes, commentaries, featurettes, interviews, booklet
The Sound Of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition
Pitch: A defrocked nun takes some precocious kids into the mountains only to find Nazi zombies hungry for their flesh…
Why Buy? A young nun not quite ready to give herself over to god is instead sent to work as a nanny for a very serious baron and his multiple spawn. Together they sing and dance their way out of Nazi-occupied Europe. I’m no fan of musicals in general, and yet here sits the second musical in this week’s Buy section. I could claim it has something to do with my nun fetish, but the truth is this is simply an energetic and solid piece of entertainment. The songs are catchy, the film is beautifully shot, the kids are adorable, and there’s even a little bit of suspense.
Extra Features? Featurette, sing-along
Pitch: The original title was Stridulum, which I have to assume means “Nonsensical” in some alien language…
Why Buy? John Huston! Glenn Ford! Lance Henriksen! Shelley Winters! Sam Peckinpah! Mel Ferrer! Franco Nero! Kareem Abdul-Jabbar! Aliens! Jesus Christ! Immaculate conceptions! Religious cults! Monster kid! Star Wars homage! Exploding basketballs! Jive-talking African Americans! Bird attacks! Violent videogames! Abortion! I could go on, but let’s just say this is entertainment of the lowest order, and a column like Junkfood Cinema should cover this flick immediately. Do you hear me Mr. Salisbury? Immediately!
Extra Features? Commentary, interviews, trailers
Pitch: Bloody action, Olga Kurylenko, and Axelle Carolyn. Every film should be so lucky…
Why Rent? A Roman legion heads into Pict territory to clear up resistance and is instead slaughtered. A handful of survivors are forced to make their way through enemy territory, but the odds are stacked against them. Michael Fassbender stars as the conflicted Roman unsure of his place in this war but sure of his will to survive, and he’ll need all the help he can get when the warriors come hunting for blood. Kurylenko plays a mute but deadly tracker. Director Neil Marshall has crafted a bloody (sometimes CGI), action filled romp that should satisfy folks looking for high-energy entertainment.
Extra Features? Behind the scenes, deleted scenes, outtakes, interviews, photo galleries, commentary
Not Of This Earth (Roger Corman’s Cult Classics)
Pitch: May just be Traci Lords’s greatest legal role ever…
Why Rent? Aliens planning an invasion of Earth decide to scope out the situation first and hire a pouty-lipped nurse to help. Lords took her first non-penetrating stab at acting here and comes off as well as you’d expect. Think Sasha Grey on Entourage. The movie is exactly what you’d expect from a Corman produced remake of a Corman classic… some laughs, some boobs, and then an end credits roll. B-movie fans should definitely give it a watch.
Extra Features? Interview, commentaries, trailer
Pitch: The Nazis usually get all the media attention, but the Japanese threw a pretty exciting shindig too…
Why Rent? HBO’s latest epic mini-series takes a ten-part look at World War II on the Pacific front. Like Band Of Brothers before it, The Pacific does a fantastic job balancing the epic nature of the conflict and battles with the personal stories of the men who lived it. Action junkies will appreciate the assault and battle scenes across beaches and through jungles while drama fans will enjoy the individual stories that intertwine throughout the death dealing and politics.
Extra Features? Making of, featurettes
V: The Complete First Season
Pitch: To be honest, if Morena Baccarin wanted to eat me I’d have to give it serious thought…
Why Rent? An alien race appears in the skies above Earth offering to trade knowledge for assistance, but the visitors have a hidden agenda that involves a reissue of the intergalactic bestseller, To Serve Man. This originally appeared as a mini-series in the eighties and it was awesome thanks to a mix of action, dramatic narrative, and very cool special effects. It’s new incarnation manages two of the three but fails to find the same weight in its story. But as light sci-fi action? Definitely worth a rental.
Extra Features? Featurettes, commentary, deleted scenes
The Hungry Ghosts
Pitch: A handful of uninteresting people complain and talk about stuff. Then they go to yoga…
Why Avoid? Writer/director Michael Imperioli takes a look at a few intersecting lives in New York City. This is more of a character study than narrative film, but it fails to connect with the viewer or the characters in even the slightest way. Frank is an absentee father constantly fighting with his ex and son. Gus is a dysfunctional romantic recently released from a mandatory treatment program. Nadia is looking for a fresh start. None of these three are interesting or compelling. The entire film, from acting to directing, is a flat and uninspired affair. Hell, even the teenager who gets roped into a threesome with a freaky couple in the park fails to engage.
Extra Features? None
In the interest of full disclosure, I received review copies of the following DVDs for this week’s column:
The Hungry Ghosts
The Sound Of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and review material was unavailable:
Love & Distrust
Terror Within/Dead Space (Roger Corman’s Cult Classics)
The Toughest Man In the World
Toy Story 3
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?