Saturday, March 26, 2005

An Island Adventure - Grand and Realistic...

I was amazed to see this addition on sale at Walmart for a mere $6.99 - Imagine - what is probably one of the all time greatest adventure movies available for only $7 bucks.

The Guns of Navarone is a fantastic movie, however it's been long enough since I've seen it (I think I was 11 the last time I saw it: EEK!) that I'll have to view it to give you my adult insight! I'll give that and the features a shot here in the next couple of weeks.

Look for more information on The Guns of Navarone DVD soon!

Pencils, Ink, Computers, and Clones...

My newest addition, is the animated sure-to-be-classic "CLONE WARS - Season 1" DVD released offically as a "Bridge" to the next installment for STAR WARS being showcased in May this year.

The DVD is a compilation of short animated entries that were put together and finished by the same team that animated "Samauri Jack" for the Cartoon Network and is very high quality. It harkens to the Anime fan in all of us, but stays outside the solid bloodline of Anime nicely and offers something really special - because after all, it's STAR WARS.

The quality of the animated pieces, now all in a "Play All" compilation is stellar. The sound effects, the music and the overall dynamics are there from the original libraries giving the feel of each installment untold value. The new voice talent (the only original actor to provide input was Anthony Daniels, the voice of C-3PO) is excellent and even had more cartooish flair that really adds to the overall punch of the presentation. Both of the commentaries are excellent and provide solid insight into the creative process, but even more - they offer a bit of a better understanding of how the collaborative effort with George Lucas himself works.

All it all this is a disc that is a required piece of inclusion for anyone that has any of the previous cinematic installments. The flavor is all here and you will be supremely satiated with it. I look very forward to the next edition of the animated shorts on DVD.

The commentary on this disc is one of the all-time treats that I wish more items would offer. You get to hear the straight=poop from the guy that was sanctioned by Lucas to do the job, many of the details of the conversations they had, AND -- what this dude though of those conversations which is just something I enjoy the hell out of.

I just recently found out that the next set of discs will arrive on December 6th, 2005 - guess who'll be in THAT line? :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

March 15th Additions - Incredibly Hot Initial Touching...

While the title is surely meant only to garner attention and oogling eyes, the truth is that I've made three additions to my collection this evening.

The first is the animated-sensation, "The Incredibles", which struck theaters by storm last year and lead the animated Oscar recipients just recently. I look forward to reviewing not only the film but also the tons and tons of special features that these disks include. It came in a two-pack that included not only the two-disc DVD but a PC-CDROM that offers an Icredibles Print Studio that I thought would be cool for Jade's room.

The second: "Always", which is a movie that I can remember watching this movie in a year after I had moved out of my parents house and as "always", it's a Steven Spielberg-directed film. It's one of the great corny buddy films of the late 80's and is actually a re-make of a WWII film "A Guy Named Joe". I will take great pleasure in reviewing this movie when I get to it.

Third and last: "STAR TREK: First Contact Special Edition" -- All of these re-releases of the STAR TREK feature films have all been absolutely extraordinary. Even those of you that don't have interest in STAR TREK can look to almost any of these and see what benefit real and significant special features on DVDs offer into the mix. Once again, the STAR TREK folk have gone to the well and pulled out some outstanding content.

Flight of the Phoenix 2-Pack

One of the newfound treasures of my DVD collection is this new two-pack of "The Flight of the Phoenix," featuring the original 1965 edition film, and then the re-issued version from 2004.

The Story: A group of miners/oil riggers who are on a flight to an oasis in the desert crash-land. With little hope of survival or rescue, the decision is made to reconstruct a new plane from the remnants of the old one.

The Classic 1965 Edition: In what could possibly be one of the original "disaster movie" movies, Jimmy Stewart, Richard Attenborough and Ernest Borgnine are all a piece of creating a new craft after a desert crash they then dub "The Phoenix". There is a grit of old school actors that is almost completely absent in today's cinema, and this movie is a great sample of what old school movies were. There is implied tension from the acting that comes thru without screaming, dramatic music, and is something that few films today take the time to use. The movie is a long one but one that is able to hold your attention throughout the run. I also like the dash of the German model plane engineer and the buddy storyline that the pilot and copilot had. While he's had a very long and distinguished career, seeing Richard Attenborough as something other than the misguided grandfatherly creator of Jurassic Park is something to see. It is a piece of cinema history that while simple, provides you with what is the old-school classic plan drama.

The Features: This DVD has no features to speak of, other than the original trailer of the film way back in 65.

The New 2004 Edition: The new edition (from late last year) with Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Mirana Otto and Tyrese offers a little something different in that it is laced with a new more inclusive crew (there is what is basically the gangsta' rapper, a latino chef and a woman, all of which were nowhere to be seen in the original). The story follows pretty faithfully until the crash in which there are some interesting departures. The special effects and the "crash" are very much today's cinema, where in the original there was some jostling and then they were down more or less. Gone also are the military officers from the first rendition that I do miss. I like Giovanni Ribisi's portrayal of Elliott, who in the origianl was a German model airplane designer, but there is an edge that is missing with the lack of accent and the determination and eventual realization of needing teamwork - I'm not sure that Ribisi ever gets there. I was also struck by the intervention of the nomads in this edition, that are apparently "gun runners or smugglers" who end up killing the only scottish member of the crew. Also gone in this edition early is the doctor, and there is no reciprocal Ernest Borgnine character which is sad. I would have like to have seen someone put into place for him in this edition.

While this movie was panned originally when it came out, I'm not certain that it deserves that. While nowhere near the ramp for Quaid as it was for Stewart, clearly they are two completely different actors in different eras. I am also very satisfied that they didn't take the easy route of endsuring that each member of a particular race or social circle isn't given the trademark pigeon-holing or stereotypes. Samples: The latin chef doesn't end every sentence with "eh, ese?" The clearly gangsta' member doesn't fall terribly into the stereotypical swearing disrespected rebel. The woman isn't screaming in every direction and contributes. I do appreciate more the explanation of the actual building of the plane in this edition, but strangely the orginal provides you with a much better set up and construction process.

Features: There are a variety of extras on this DVD including Deleted Scenes (one of which includes the "nomad gun runners/smuggers with MOTORCYCLES!" Thank GAWD that was cut. Terrible.), a bunch of trailers for the film, and then a Phoenix Diaries section that features the actors the director (who looked like he was a lot of fun to work with) for an extended 25 minute or so review of the making of the film.

Conclusion: Together, they provide my collection a nice sample of old-school/new-school flavor and I recommend both of them. It also serves as my first Jimmy Stewart film in my collection.