What a night for the WWE. This year's Wrestlemania reminded us all why we pay extra for the event, and then begin the wait for the DVD. Unforgettable spots were so numerous, they could’ve opened the following night’s Monday Night RAW using nothing but clips from this pay-per-view. Its few downers were in no way enough to ruin the night, and the impressions left by some of the insanity will take years to slip from our minds.
Continue reading "DVD Review: Wrestlemania 22" »
Fans of the hockey classic Slap Shot will be the group most disappointed with The Chiefs. The sad thing is, it's aimed at them, proudly boasting its connections with the 1977 rough hockey flick and ending up nothing like that movie. If you can go in expecting something else, you'll find this a rather dry though mildly effective look at a small group of semi-pro hockey players and little else.
Continue reading "DVD Review: The Chiefs (Les Chiefs)" »
Pick any cop in Ohio, in any town, and he's probably a douche-turd. My proof (besides firsthand experience)? Five teen girls in Ravenna are facing possible charges for placing several Mario question blocks around town. Their stunt is basically being labelled an insidious video-game-inspired plot, say authorities. Just nobody let Jack get a whiff of this, or a couple Italian plumbers with a penchant for stompon' turtles and eatin' 'shrooms might get pulled off the shelves.
Continue reading "Suspicious Mushrooms in Ohio" »
Though it feels like a test market product, Peter Jackson's Production Diaries: King Kong is the first time the extra material has been released on DVD before the movie is even out in theaters. Actually, the material has been around since September of 2004 online. The question is then: why do we need this?
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Even though it was a sweep, the 2005 World Series will be remembered for Game 3. The longest game in the deciding baseball series, that 14-inning struggle kept many fans up late, and likely off work the next day. White Sox fans have a nice, short look at the season, and an hours worth of highlights from the Series on this DVD.
Continue reading "DVD Review: World Series 2005 - Chicago White Sox" »
It's understandable to go into Murderball expecting a depressing, dark look at an ugly side of life. It's not, and in all actuality, it's a remarkable look at some incredible people who just love to ram their chairs into others on a basketball court. Murderball documents the journey of the US Olympic Wheelchair Rugby team, and does so without the expected angle of feeling sorry for them.
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It's hard to think of a wrestling fan that didn't enjoy ECW. They offered everything a wrestling federation should, including the most interactive live experience you could ever ask for. That's why those ECW chants still kick up during WWE events. Obviously, Vince McMahon was listening, and brought a decent sized roster back for one night of pure nostalgic bliss.
Continue reading "ECW One Night Stand DVD Review" »
ECW was special. People can cheer the Rock all they want, but ECW was a lineup of the craziest, most dedicated wresters in the world. These guys (and women) performed solely because they loved what they did. This Sunday, Vince McMahon is taking the reigns for a one night reunion, letting his now grown superstars go back in time, yet it won't be the same. The home grown, low budget production values will be eclipsed, and the personal experiences simply can't be duplicated.
Continue reading "ECW: A personal rememberance" »
If WWE DVD's are anything, they're consistent. Not in the realm of special features mind you, but in video and audio quality, with the video seemingly ignored every time. Wrestlemania is usually the only big PPV DVD set of year, and they usually go all out. While not entirely the case this year, the inclusion of one feature is worth the asking price, especially considering they charged you separately for it last year.
Continue reading "WWE Wrestlemania 21 DVD Review" »
Everyone has the occasional slip of the tongue. We've all screwed up a word once in a while, likely making ourselves look stupid in the process. But, when you screw up enough to fill four books and an hour long DVD, you should probably start thinking before you speak. Now we can relive the current presidents worst (or best depending on your point of view) moments on DVD thanks to the fine people over at "George W. Bushims."
Continue reading "George W. Bushisms DVD Review" »
You have to give credit to some filmmakers. Tackling a topic about the assassination of a real person, specifically about the richest man in the world, takes guts, more so when that man is still alive. Brian Flemming did just that, stirring up some controversy in the process. The film itself is wildly uneven, but the effort to put together this mockumentary makes this worthwhile viewing.
During a December ceremony in Los Angeles, a sniper guns down Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates after two shots. Within a short amount of time, a group calling themselves "Citizens for Truth" begin to question whether or not the police have actually given the public the entire story. What follows is a deeper look into the sequence of events that led up to the murder. Numerous theories are presented, but the gaining the trust of the public and keeping themselves together may prove to be the downfall for the group.
"Nothing So Strange" comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders. The first half-hour (maybe even a bit longer) is an absolutely flawless look at the murder and the various evidence the group has compiled. In fact, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this film and something on Court TV. Complete with computer-generated scenarios, visits to the crime scene, pictures, magazines covers, and video shot after the assignation, the film covers all of its bases quickly in entertaining fashion.
Then, without any warning, the film suddenly tumbles into oblivion, completely changing the focus from the assassination to an inside look at the group trying to find the truth. Viewers who were glued to the screen, forming their opinions about the events, are tossed to the wayside. The final hour continues on this path, hardly ever mentioning the evidence again. The films ending is also highly unsatisfying, though the purpose it obvious. Watch this one for the earlier portions and then try and forget the rest. (** out of *****)
Shot in standard full frame, as expected, "Nothing So Strange" looks awful on DVD. The look of the film is obviously not very important here, but it's so jarring, you can't help but feel disappointed. The lower resolution and subdued colors are understandable due to the way the film was shot. Not acceptable are the garish compression issues that hinder every single frame of this film. The opening assassination is just a mess of giant blocks and rest of the running time is no better. The too-few scenes of clarity are still soft and lacking in fine detail. Regardless of the way the film was shot, this is just not acceptable. (*)
The sound quality, while uneven, is still better than the visual presentation. Surprisingly presented in 5.1, the majority of the film is center loaded. A few of the crowded sequences use the rears effectively, but these are rare moments. Some of the minor dialogue sequences can be a bit difficult to hear (and no subtitles are provided), but anything important is loud and clear. (***)
Extras here are definitely innovative, but just about as controversial as the film itself. Included on the disc is an audio commentary from director Brian Flemming. In character the entire time, it's actually a follow up to the film and is required listening after watching the film. You'll be allowed to go deeper into certain moments in the film including extended interrogation segments (quite long) and multi-angle segments of the assassination. The back of the DVD states that there is something called "The Kill Zone," but unless I'm blind, I missed it.
Now, visiting the Bitpass website allows you to purchase extra features that supposedly make up a second disc. These features range in price (from as little as a nickel up to a dollar) and length. I did not purchase any of them nor am I in agreeance with the whole process. If I was to pay $15 for a DVD, I should get everything and not have to shell out even more money to get the entire package when the disc gets home. I see the purpose (to allow smaller companies to compete with the massive special editions put out by the big studios), but as a marketing tool, it's awful. (***)
The idea to create this film is one of the best in a long time. Wholly innovative and engrossing for a while, "Nothing So Strange" is commendable, but it seriously needed more focus. The delivery of the extras is also absurd, but picking this one up as a rental is still recommended.
DVD games are not very commonplace, but they do exist. A few of the classic laserdisc games like Dragon's Lair and Space Ace are certainly worthy of your cash. One of the latest is an edutainment title from the History Channel and b Equal
called "Time Troopers." A board game on disc, this family product provides some mild fun, but numerous problems keep it far from greatness.
Continue reading "Time Troopers DVD/Game Review" »
The Discovery Channel created a huge hit with their Walking With Dinosaurs series. Since it's debut a few years back, they have created a franchise out of it with features like Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, Caveman, and a short DVD exclusive entitled Allosaurus. All of these have been exceptional releases and the latest in the series was co-produced with the BBC. Chased by Dinosaurs is a step down from all the previous entries, but is still a quality piece and well worth checking out for fans of the series.
Chased by Dinosaurs features Nigel Marvin who goes back in time to the age of dinosaurs. In a Crocodile Hunter like quest, he sets off searching for specific creatures and shows them to the viewers. All the creatures are CG generated, save for a few close ups. The disc is split into 5 episodes, 3 which take place under the sea, couting down the most viscous predators the water has ever seen. Each episode runs around a half hour long.
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You've got the HDTV, you've got the proper DVD player, now it's time for sound. Lots and lots of loud sound. Having the proper sound system can truly make home movies the cinematic event they are in the theater. In fact, with a truly powerful system, you'll never have to leave the house again. These 8 discs prove this point better than any others on the market.
(Note: Most of these discs are the DTS versions. The 5.1 tracks on these discs are also excellent if your unable to play the DTS track, but you'll lose some of the impact the bass produces and take a minor loss of clarity. Minor issue that most people won't even be able to notice.)
Continue reading "8 discs for a home theater" »
There is soon to be a new DVD player on the market, sold at Wal-mart and a possibly a few other locations. This "fabulous" item (note: sarcasm) will censor out the parts of the film deemed inapropriate by the player/company. Whether it be muting certain seuqences or simply skipping an entire sequence, this DVD player has the ability to make Pulp Fiction viewable to a 5 year old.
Though the announcement is a bit old, some new facts have been brought out and a lawsuit has followed. This story by CNN has more details [link
Continue reading "Clearview DVD player lawsuit" »
So, you decided to plunk down the cash and become an early adopter of HDTV. You also dropped a bit more cash for a progressive scan DVD player. Well, in order to make your purchase seem like it was worth a 3rd mortage, your going to need some discs to show off what that TV can do. Rest assured that not all discs are created equal. These remain the best of the best and probably will stay that way until HD-DVD finally becomes a reality. Make sure to nab these 8 discs when you head out for that new HDTV. In no particular order....
1. A Bugs Life: All of Pixars discs feature digital-to-digital transfers (right from the computer to the disc..no time for film degradation), from Monsters Inc. to Toy Story. Still, none of them look as good as Bugs Life. The colors here are superb and city sequence about a half hour in is mesmerizing. There are little to no compression problems and the clarity of the picture is stunning. In fact, this is the best looking disc I've ever seen. This disc can be purchased as a single disc or a packed 2-disc set for an added price. Either way, your eyes will never be happier.
2. Star Wars, Episode 2: Regardless of how you feel about George Lucas at this point, you have to admit his DVD's rock. Again, a direct digital tranfser (the first and still the only time it's been done for a live-action movie) that is a pure showcase disc. The corny love sequences are made better by the flawless print which showcases every grain of grass in immaculate detail. The gorgeous CGI vistas look even better thanks to the video quality and your TV will get a major workout when this disc is in place.
3. Texas Chainsaw Massacare (2003): Where did this one come from? This is a very dark movie that has simply incredible contrasts. Up close, you can see every pore on the dimly lit actors faces. From a distance, the rock solid black levels hold together and the flesh tones have never looked better. The complete lack of any grain even when you set the brightness a bit higher on your set is an amazing achievement unlike any other disc on the market. Again, there are 2 seperate editions, a single and 2-disc set. Both feature the same print that must be seen to be fully appreciated.
4. Ice Age: Though never reaching a Pixar level of popularity, this Dreamworks CG flick easily reaches their level of DVD quality. Snow is simply a must on HD. This movie has alot of it. You can almost count the fur on the Mammoths hide and the snowflakes on the ground. I'm not 100% positive if they followed Dinsey's lead with a digital tranfser, but I would be stunned if they didn't. There isn't as much color in this one as say Finding Nemo, but that disc suffers from some severe compression problems. This one doesn't.
5. Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers: Though I'm pretty sure Return of the King will end up surpassing this one, you can't go wrong with this disc for now. Gollum looks even more incredible here than he did in theaters. If anything goes wrong here it's that the extreme clarity of the disc makes some of the special effect shots way too obvious. Some of the sweeping battle sequences are obviously CGI which probably wouldn't be noticeable on a lesser disc.
6. The Wizard of Oz: I know, I know. "But it's from 1939!" Yeah, well it looks like it came out last year. Though the opening sequences in Kansas are a bit grainy, once Dorothy lands in Oz, this miraculous remaster kicks into high gear. You've never seen a yellow brick road this yellow. The only real problem here is that the movie is in the academy ratio of 1.33:1. You'll either have to stretch it or live with the black bars on the side if you bought a widescreen TV (and chances are that you did). Minor issue that hardly detracts from one of the meticulous remasters of all time.
7. Alien: Again, an older movie that looks like it came out last year. I'm referring here to the recent re-release of the film in the Quadrilogy (and available seperately as a 2-disc set), not the ancient "Alien Legacy" set. Though the print was more than serviceable in that box set, this one simply destroys it. Not only have all the scratches and spots been removed, the color has been tweaked and made a bit brighter. Blood doesn't get much redder than this. Those long dark corridors look even lonelier now and it really does add to the film.
8. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms: This 50's classic is here not only because it's one of the greatest 50's movies of all time, but because every HDTV DVD collection needs a black-and-white movie. I was torn between this and "Them," the classic 50's giant ant movie, but the nod goes here (just barely). Ray Harryhausen created an outstanding creature for this film and all the details of his model show through. Grain is always a problem in movies lacking color and this is no exception, but it hardly detracts from this great new print. The contrast level is perfect here and that can end up being a major issue if it's not done right.
There are certainly plenty of discs out there that can show off your purchase. Don't think only 8 of them are worthy. These are some of the discs I put in all the time simply to stare in awe. Browsing the shelves will certainly bring up more and I can also recommened the Toy Story series, Terminator 2 (Artisans latest re-release) and Walking with Dinosaurs off the top of my head.
For those who may be unaware, Wrestlemania is THE event for professional wrestling. Much like the World Series to baseball or the Super Bowl to the NFL, each year every fan waits with anticipation for Vince McMahons big one. With the WWE continually improving their DVD product, this years event gets the presentation it deserves with the usual array of picture problems that bog down all of their discs.
This years event was a mixed bag of good and bad, though certainly not the "greatest ever" as their marketing department would lead you to believe. Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg will undoubtedly end up being one of the worst matches in the history of the event. Still, the crowd was on fire for the majority of the event and the final triple threat match was an outstanding piece of athletism all around. A dozen matches span 2 discs with a running time of over 4 hours and a 3rd disc packs in some great features.
Video quality, simply put, is dissapointing. The compression problems are far too noticeable and distracting to be ignored. Every one of the WWE pay-per-view event DVD's suffer from this issue and it really needs to be taken care of soon. It is better than some of their earlier discs, but there is no excuse for so many little flickering blocks making their way into the picture. The colors are bright and it does look better than the original broadcast, but the issues are impossible to ignore.
The sound gets a full blown true 5.1 presentation this year unlike the faux 5.1 used in previous years. Pre-match graphics swirl all around the sound field in spectacular fashion. The immersion of thousands of fans packed into Madison Square Garden has never been better either. All of the commentary is front loaded (of course), but there are some great echo effects from the ring and stadium speakers. Kudos to the WWE for a great live event presentation.
Extras begin on disc 2 and continue on the way to a packed disc 3. Things start with 2 WWE Confidential featurettes (which sadly has been cancelled as of this week) looking at the Rock & Sock Connection and the Press Confrence for the event. There are a bunch of pre and post match comments from various superstars and a "Byte This" segment with Eddie Gurrero. There are various TV promos that bombarded viewers during the weeks leading up to the event and an extra match featuring the Dudley Boyz taking on Lance Storm with Val Venis from Sunday Night Heat.
Disc 3 has two 40+ minute features that aired on Spike TV and UPN the week of the event. "The Mania of Wrestlemania" is an outstanding look at the behind the scenes drama that took place before Wrestlemania 19, narrated by Jesse Ventura. Deleted scenes that were cut to fit it into the TV time are also included. They are just as good as the rest of the feature.
The second featurette is the "10 Greatest Matches." Though the list is certainly up for debate (ALOT of debate), it's a great look back at the history of the event. Ric Flair hosts the show and pumps up his match that took place at WM XX.
Also included is a Wrestlemania gallery that not only features still phots, but complete results and facts from all the previous events. The final extra is a trivia game with a stack of questions. Whether your right or wrong, you'll get a short clip of a WWE superstar telling you whether your right or wrong. Should you be wrong, they won't tell you the correct answer so you'll have to wait until it comes around again.
As a final note, credit must be given for the excellent packaging this set resides in. The 3 discs are housed on hard plastic inside an extremely sturdy cardboard casing. When fully outstretched, the 3rd disc is actually upside down (oddly enough), but the insides feature a collage with a timeline of the previous Wrestlemanias. It's gorgeous to look at and the already flashy cover looks even better with thi detail.
There are curretly 5 Wrestlemanias on DVD, starting with WM 15. Should they find a way to improve the video quality, it's time to have all 20 on DVD. This is exactly how these events should be presented, from the packaging to the extras. The only thing keeping this from a perfect score is that infuriating video problem. Regardless, this is a disc any self respecting wrestling fan needs to have in their collection.
Fox's long running show has finally made it's way to DVD. Coming in a 3-pack (each disc can also be purchased seperately), the hour long discs are all packaged seperately without any special box. Cheap on Fox' part to say the least. The 3 discs are entiled: Shots Fired, Bad Girls, and Caught in the Act. Each disc contains various snippets from recent seasons that relate to the title of the disc.
It's baffling, but everything on these discs is CENSORED. Language is bleeped, the finer points of gratuitous nudity is lost, and it's simply no different than catching these episodes on TV. Well, not everything is cut...see, Fox has been kind enough to include "bonus footage" which is all uncensored. These brief 15-20 minute hodge podge of clips are the only special features on these discs. If they can include this footage, why can't they simply leave the entire disc uncensored? The warning labels all over the disc about violence, language, and nudity are seriously misleading.
Video quality is as expected for something filmed as it is. Same goes for the sound. Even as single discs, this DVD series is a major dissapointment. All the VHS releases of the show were uncensored, so it's even more baffling as to why these are all cut up. Certainly NOT worth a purchase unless your looking to snag a few new clips on a new format.
Barry Blaustein's much adored documentary on professional wrestling gets re-released in a special edition this week. Though hardly without massive issues, any fan of the documentary itself may as well have this release. New features include a sit down dinner/interview with a cynical Jesse Ventura and much more light hearted Mick Foley. Clocking in at 16 minutes, it's criminally short, but still worth a look.
The commentary with Terry Funk and Blaustein is still present from the original release as is a newly recorded one with Ventura and Foley. This is where the disc falls apart. The commentary is in the vein of Mystery Science Theater with the speakers overlapping the video, only in full color and right in your face. Each time these two make an appearance, the DVD needs to stop, load up the footage, and then continue. When their done, the same process occurs only removing the speakers. I'm sure a few cheaper/older models of DVD players will have some serious issues. Worse yet, you can't even skip to a scene to watch specific commentary sequences. You need to watch the entire thing.
Video and sound quality are as expected for a documentary. Some of it is horrible, some of it is fantastic. The new sit down dinner/interview is crystal clear though. It's not the be-all-end-all edition, but it's a fair upgrade if you can live the with constant stoppages that come with the video commentary.
For those of you out there who view professional wrestling as a joke, it only takes one look at Mi ck Foley to change your mind. Mick has taken more punishment throughout his career than 99% of other wrestlers, firmly proving pro wrestling is a sport. This outstanding 2-disc DVD set is not quite a perfect collection, but as it's title suggests, these are his "Greatest Hit and Misses."
Disc one takes us through some of Micks early work, mostly while wreslting under Cactus Jack. You'll see some great bouts from ECW, WCW, and SMW (Smoky Mountain Wrestling). Disc 2 deals entirely with his WWE/WWF career. Yes, the undeniably classic "Hell in a Cell" bout against the Undertaker is present. Each match also features a brief commentary from Mick himself as to why the next match was chosen for this set.
While there are some matches missing that I'm sure fans would've probably included (Boiler Room Brawls anyone?), everything here is a blast to watch. A match in which Catcus tagged with Maxx Payne (who is now suing Rockstar video games over the use of his "name") against the Nasty Boys is a great example of Micks early hardcore stuff. Other matches like the Texas Death match against The Sandman from ECW is a complete mess, but you'll know why thanks to the pre-match commentary.
As is to be expected, video quality ranges from outstanding to downright abysmal. The first match featured on the disc against Vader from 1993 has most of it's footage taken from Mick's own home video library. No, it doesn't look good at all, but nearly this entire match was edited by WCW since it featured blood. It's the first time this match has ever been shown uncesnsored. I doubt the quality of the video will really matter to the die-hard fans. Note that the orignal WWF logo has to be censored out of every match featuring it (in ANY form) thanks to those wonderful people know as laywers. Just the "F" though....the 2 W's are ok. It's annoying and distracting, but it's no fault of the organization. Sound is likewise hit or miss depending on the source of the footage. Some of the later WWE matches surprisingly have some rear speaker usage putting you right inside the arena.
Special features have been strewn across this disc and even include a few more matches. You'll see some of Micks personal favorite promos, his farewell speech from ECW, his very first match ever in the WWF (from 1986!), WWE Confidential features, and simply more of everything. Still, there is some more missing here as well. Where is the "This is your life, Rock" segment, one of the highest rated segments in RAW history? How about another match or two against Terry Funk, his lifelong rival?
I'm sure we'll eventually be treated to some of the missing items on DVD since the WWE is notorious for milking every cent out it's fans. Still, it's hard to go wrong with 6+ hours of Mick Foley on DVD regardles of what form it's presented in. While a minor step down from the Ric Flair 3-disc set recently released, Foley's career hasn't spanned 20+ years like Flair's. This is a no-brainer for any fan of pro wrestling at it's best.