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DVD Reviews For 9/24: “What’s In The Box?”
by Peter Sobczynski

All I’m gonna say about this week’s column is that if you like TV shows on DVD--I mean really like them--then this is the column for you. Then again, if you don’t, there are still a couple of interesting things here and there to discover.


THE BLACK CAULDRON: 25th ANNIVERSAY EDITION (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $19.99): For their 25th animated feature film, Disney Studios sunk a lot of time, money and energy into producing this adaptation of the first two books in Lloyd Alexander’s “Chronicles of Prydian” series about a young pig keeper on a quest to find and destroy the titular object before it can fall into the wrong hands. Alas, when it came out, it was perceived as being too dark and creepy for family audiences and too juvenile for fantasy buff and it was a major failure that nearly closed the studio’s animation branch for good. While it is definitely one of their weaker efforts, the visuals are often striking and it is interesting to see them working outside their comfort zone of fairy tales and cutesy animals.

BOOGIE WOOGIE (MPI Home Video. $29.98) Heather Graham, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Seyfried, Danny Huston and Alan Cumming are among the stars who pop up in this fairly tepid satire about the weirdness of the art world. However, it is almost saved by the appearance of the legendary Christopher Lee as the eccentric owner of the piece of art that all the other characters are desperately trying to acquire for themselves.

ECCENTRICITIES OF A BLONDE-HAIRED GIRL (Cinema Guild. $29.95): Still going strong at the age of 100 (not a typo), acclaimed director Manoel de Oliveira gives us a small-scale tale of a lonely and repressed accountant working for his uncle who looks outside his window one day and sees a gorgeous young woman standing in her window across the street. Mesmerized by the sight of her (and you can hardly blame her), he begins a desperate pursuit that, as you can probably imagine, doesn’t go very well for him. Admittedly slight in both size (it clocks in at only 63 minutes) and tone, this is still a pleasant enough film and proves that even a minor effort from a master like de Oliveria can effortlessly yield the kind of treasures (such as its gorgeous visual style) that most ordinary filmmakers spend their lives trying to achieve.

GLEE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Fox Home Entertainment. $59.98): Deftly blending comedy, drama, satire and elaborate musical numbers, this show about the misadventures of a high school glee club trying to regain their former glory was easily the most talked-about new TV show of last season and was actually deserving of all the hype. This collection brings together all 22 episodes with bonus featurettes celebrating the music, choreography and costumes as well as the power of Madonna, the icon who inspired what was arguably the season’s best episode. Among the mass of other TV-related DVDs currently hitting the market are “30 Rock: Season Four” (Universal Home Entertainment. $49.98), “Being Human: Season Two”(BBC. $49.98), “The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season” (Warner Home Video. $44.98), “Bored to Death: The Complete First Season” (HBO Home Video. $39.98), “Castle: The Complete Second Season” (ABC Studios. $45.99), “Community: The Complete First Season” (Sony Home Entertainment. $39.95), “Designing Women: The Complete Fourth Season” (Shout! Factory. $44.99), “Desperate Housewives: The Complete Sixth Season” (ABC Studios. $45.99), “Fringe: The Complete Second Season” (Warner Home Video. $59.98), “The Good Wife: The First Season” (CBS DVD. $62.99), “Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Sixth Season” (ABC Studios. $59.99), “How I Met Your Mother: The Complete Season 5” (Fox Home Entertainment. $39.98), “Human Target: The Complete First Season” (Warner Home Video. $39.98), “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Complete Season 5” (Fox Home Entertainment. $39.98), “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit--Year Eleven” (Universal Home Entertainment $59.98), “Leave It to Beaver: Season 4” (Shout! Factory. $39.99), “The Mentalist: The Complete Second Season” (Warner Home Video. $59.98), “Modern Family: The Complete First Season” (Fox Home Entertainment. $49.98), “Private Practice: The Complete Third Season” (ABC Studios. $45.99), “Rules Of Engagement: The Complete Third Season” (Sony Home Entertainment. $29.95), “Spartacus: Blood & Sand--The Complete First Season” (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. $59.97) and “Two and a Half Men: The Complete Seventh Season” (Warner Home Video. $44.98)

ONDINE (Magnolia Home Video. $26.98): For his latest work, celebrated Irish director Neil Jordan tackles the myth of the selkie--a female seal that can appear on land in human form (the same thing that John Sayles dealt with in his lovely children’s fantasy “The Secret of Roan Inish”)--in a story about a lonely fisherman (Colin Farrell) who captures a gorgeous but seemingly dead woman (Alicja Bachleda) in his net, falls in love with her while discovering her true and fantastical nature and goes up against the undersea lord who arrives to bring his love back home. It does fall apart towards the end when it shifts from magical realism to grim reality but for the most part, it is a reasonably enchanting work that contains beautiful cinematography from Christopher Doyle and a surprisingly gentle and vulnerable performance from Farrell.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $29.99): In an attempt to generate another lucrative film franchise from an unlikely source a la “Pirates of the Caribbean,” uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer lavished zillions of dollars to bring this videogame adaptation featuring Jake Gyllenhall as a roguish Persian prince who tries to clear his name in the death of his adopted father while protecting a magical dagger that gives its owner the power to reverse time. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out due to a combination of a dull storyline, lame action sequences and a deeply unlikable hero at its center and not even the admittedly bright presence of Gemma Arterton as a bit of fun is enough to save it.

ROBIN HOOD (Universal Home Entertainment. $34.98): Although the idea of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe teaming up for a epic version of the classic tale that would show how Robin Hood came to be sounds like a foolproof idea, it turns out to be anything but thanks to the surprisingly sluggish pacing, the lack of impressive battle scenes and the complete lack of chemistry between Crowe (who is way too old and paunchy for the part) and Cate Blanchett as an especially wan Maid Marian. Scott and Crowe have been working together a lot over the years and with this project, their weakest collaboration to date, it might do both of them well to work with other people for a change to get the creative juices flowing again.

STARCRASH (Shout! Factory. $19.95): If you are still devastated by David Hasselhoff dismissal from “Dancing With the Stars,“ perhaps you can salve the blow with this deluxe edition of the ultra-goofy Italian-made “Star Wars”-“Barbarella” hybrid that was one of his first films. Here, he plays second fiddle to Stella Star (Eurobabe cult favorite Caroline Munroe), a sexy space warrior who, along with her trusted alien companion (Marjoe Gortner), tries to save the universe from some damn thing or another. Yes, it is trash but this Roger Corman production is fun trash and it does boast a surprisingly effective score from noted composer John Barry.


AMERICAN BEAUTY (Paramount Home Video. $29.99)

BREATHLESS (The Criterion Collection. $39.95)

CHARADE (The Criterion Collection. $39.95)

MANDINGO (Legend Films. $16.95)

MERCURY RISING (Universal Home Entertainment. $26.98)

THE ORDER (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.99)

SEVEN (New Line Home Entertainment. $34.99)

THE TWILIGHT ZONE: SEASON 1 (Image Entertainment. $95.98)

VIGILANTE (Blue Underground. $29.98)

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originally posted: 09/27/10 10:21:41
last updated: 09/29/10 03:02:14
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