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July 29, 2008

"Sorry, I smoked weed with the president and I totally forgot what I was going to say."

Hello again and welcome to another round of new DVD fun!

Beverly Hills, 90210: Season 5

Centennial: The Complete Series (1978)

Dark City Director's Cut The 1998 Sci-Fi/Noir gets a new release with a different cut of the film. The set also includes the theatrical version plus a Blu-Ray disc is available. I really liked this film last time I saw it and look forward to checking out the new cut. It should look great in HD.

Doomsday (2008) Also on Blu-Ray.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008) Also available as an EXTREME BLU-RAY!!!!

Inglorious Bastards (1978)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The Seventh Year

Lips of Blood (1975)

Shine a Light (2008) Also on Blu-Ray.

Stargate Continuum

Tyrone Power Matinee Idol Collection

War Games (25th Anniversary Edition) Yep, this one's 25 years old now. This DVD has a new film transfer, which was needed, as well as a second DVD of new bonus features.

Witchblade: The Complete Series

Vengeance (2008)

July 21, 2008

"You steal The Bible, you go to Hell."

We didn't get out to a movie this past weekend, but we did manage to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End last night. I really enjoy the first one, thought the second one was just okay, and this one? A critical quote that sums it up for me would be, "an entertaining mess." First off, this was never going to top the original; it was fresh at the time. This time, the cast is still very good, natch. The effects are flashy and expensive-looking. however, the real issue here is that the whole thing is way too long, perhaps an hour too long. This screenplay could have used some serious chopping; entire subplots should have been axed. I have to wonder if Bruckheimer and co. knew that this was going to rake in the cash and didn't need to be careful about details like that. At times, the film really took itself too seriously, which is a problem for a film like this. It's a shame, really. This could have been a fun, if frivolous installment in the franchise. Instead, I felt as though I had to endure a lot of nonsense to get to the things that are worthwhile: the quirky, over-the-top performances and the action set pieces. Next on my list of newish films to catch up on: Batman Begins so I can get to The Dark Knight (since everyone and their dog seems to think it's the greatest thing since sliced bunloaf...sorry, inside joke).

So, what do we have coming on DVD this week?

21 (2007) Also on Blu-Ray.

Bird: Special Edition (1988) The Clint Eastwood-directed biopic gets the 2 disc treatment. I remember liking this pretty well, last time I saw it (a number of years ago), with Forest Whitaker's performance standing out.

Blues in the Night (1941)

Earth: The Biography (2008, BBC) Also on Blu-Ray.

High and Low (1963)

Robot Chicken Star Wars

Vampyr (1932) Criterion releases a restored version of the Dreyer classic. Apparently, the public domain DVDs out there really stink, so this should be most welcome. DVD Savant reviews it here.

July 15, 2008

TOS Rewind #18: "Tomorrow is Yesterday"

Today's episode: Tomorrow is Yesterday (1/26/1967) The drink: beer (Blue Moon).

I'll have Eric take the first crack at this one:

“Tomorrow is Yesterday� holds the distinction of being the first Star Trek episode that featured time travel in a significant way. There was a brief instance of time travel at the very end of “The Naked Time,� but it was inconsequential and had no impact on the story. In “Tomorrow is Yesterday,� however, the Enterprise ends up in 1969 and accidentally destroys a US Air Force jet (an F-4 Phantom, I believe). The pilot, Captain John Christopher, is rescued, but Kirk and crew are then faced with three big problems: how to get back to the 23rd century, how to avoid disrupting the timeline, and what to do with their “guest.� These problems are further compounded when Spock discovers that Captain Christopher is destined to father the man who would command the first successful Earth-Saturn probe.

These problems are solved by using what they call the “light speed breakaway factor� to travel back to the instance when the Enterprise intercepts Captain Christopher’s jet and return him at that point. (Trivia note: This is the same technique they use in Star Trek IV to time travel back to 20th century Earth.) I won’t get into the scientific implausibility of this—suffice it to say it’s another instance where suspension of disbelief is required. Otherwise, it’s a perfectly decent story. In particular, I like the fact that the 20th century characters aren’t portrayed as ignorant, incompetent primitives in comparison to their 23rd century counterparts. One thing that surprises me about this episode, however, is that there is little or no commentary on the social/political situation in the United States of the late 1960s. It isn’t a big deal—later time travel episodes, like “Assignment Earth,� did so very effectively—it’s just surprising given Roddenberry’s passion for such commentary.

I don’t really have much more to say about this episode. The acting and directing are both good. It isn’t brilliant episode, but it is thought-provoking and entertaining, and that’s enough—they can’t all be gems.

First off, now that I've taken my long-ass vacation, it's time to get back on track with the Trek blogging.

As Eric said, this isn't one of the greats, though it is an entertaining one. He also mentioned that this was the first real time travel episode, aside from The Naked Time. I was reading today that this episode was originally intended as an immediate follow-up to that episode, which makes sense. It would have been interesting to have had these two as a 2 parter.

The time travel plot device has since become a staple of the Trek story ecosystem (some would say a tired one). Wait, is there such a thing as a "story ecosystem?" Sounds like BS to me, but I'm going with it. I remember really liking this one as a kid. In those days, the time travel thing hadn't been done so much and it was very compelling. The idea of the Enterprise hovering over "present day" Earth sounded cool.

Looking at it today, it comes off as a bit shallow, or a waste of a dramatic opportunity. However, it does lay some important groundwork for the time travel stories to come. One of the things that I noticed in this viewing was just how unfazed Kirk and the rest are about being in the past and having a guy aboard from the 60s. Kirk seems to be actually amused by the whole thing and almost acts disappointed when we learns that they have to return Capt. Christopher to Earth. It's so sad when your amusement is thwarted by history. The time travel idea would soon be used for a far more serious end in City on the Edge of Forever. Some of the very same ideas thrown about casually in this episode get more serious exploration.

Eric talked about the "slingshot" time warp trick already. The other thing it reminded me of was the kooky ending of Superman: The Movie when he flies around the Earth to turn back the clock. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples of this idea being used in the sci-fi/adventure/action realm.

I sampled the "remastered" version of this episode. I think this time it does improve on the original. For one, you actually get to see the Enterprise flying into the Sun and the breakaway. In the original, the Enterprise model just bounces around in place. Of course, like all the "updates," the new f/x just add a superficial layer onto the the show. Fun to see, but hardly essential.

Next time: “Court Martial�

"I don't have a Liverpool accent."

Hmm, a pretty ho-hum week in DVD country.

On the plus side, I caught Wall-E over the weekend and liked it pretty well. The first half or so is really something; the visual imagery alone is worth the price of admission. The ending was a bit of a letdown for me, but overall, I liked it. Pixar still has the stuff, no question. And bonus: very little celebrity voice talent!

Here's the list for this week:

The Bank Job (2008) Also on Blu-Ray.

The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell It has a funny name at least.

College Road Trip

Dallas: Season 9

Eureka: Season 2 Anyone ever watched this show?


Saving Grace: Season 1

Shutter Also on Blu Ray.

Trafic (1971) Criterion issues another Tati film.

July 7, 2008

"Jeff used to play the trombone in high school."

A couple of things before this week's list.

Much of the missing footage from Fritz Lang's Metropolis, believed lost since 1927, has been unearthed in Argentina. Details can be seen here. It's also been announced that the missing footage will be part of a new DVD/Blu-Ray release for 2009.

The Godfather films have had a complete restoration by Robert Harris and will be coming out on DVD and Blu-Ray on 9/23. The films supposedly look fantastic and I have to say that this is one of those films I will want to own in HD.

Now, on to this week's new stuff:

Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)

Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan: Season 3

I Dream of Jeannie: Season 5 She's gonna get us high!

Monk: Season 6

Mon Oncle Antoine (1971)

The Mummy (1932) Universal gives you yet another chance to buy this one with some new bonuses.

The Ruins (2008) Also on Blu-Ray.

Stargate Atlantis: Season 4

Superhero Movie (2008)

My, that was quite the pantload!

My brother says it all.

Here you go, Rob telling you all, in a nutshell, what was great about our trip: