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Nick's Pics
Nick Nicholson
Film & Home Entertainment Critic
 

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.
 
INSIDE MAN  

Inside Man

Starring: Clive Owen

& Denzel Washington

Director: Spike Lee

Company: Universal

Now Showing:

In area Theatres

MPAA Rating - R

Grade: B


Nick’s DVD Picks

BLUE THUNDER - Sony

Blue Thunder is a specially modified helicopter. It is for police work, but is armed and designed to counter street insurgencies. Its makers want to show what it will do, but have to train a Los Angeles Police pilot Frank Murphy, to fly and use it in order to allow it to operate in the city.

Murphy and the project pilot have differences going back to Vietnam. The conflict between them continues to heat up as Murphy begins to suspect that Blue Thunder is more than has been disclosed.

Blue Thunder has always been one of my favorite films. The plot is believable and entertaining with top-notch special effects and stunts. The helicopter is very impressive with all of its high-tech equipment and speed. Blue Thunder can be compared to the modern-day Apache helicopter with a few more “bells and whistles.”

The performances of Scheider and Stern are priceless. Warren Oates, with all of his mannerisms, portrays the perfect boss to keep Scheider in line. Malcolm McDowell was the perfect choice for the villain of the story.

His personality and cutting sarcasm makes the perfect adversary for Scheider and adds a level of tension to the overall story.

Arthur Rubinstein’s score is innovative with the use of synthesizers combined with orchestra. The action cues are stunning and combined with the amazing helicopter chases, provides non-stop excitement from start to finish.

The DVD Special Edition is presented in Widescreen format remastered in High Definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Extras include commentary with the Director, Editor and Motion Control Supervisor.

Features include Making of Blue Thunder and Blue Thunder: Building the Helicopter. We also get the 1983 featurette, storyboards and the Theatrical Trailer. If you already own the previous DVD, this new version is worth picking up. Special thanks goes to Sony for this wonderful transfer.

GODZILLA: Monster Edition - Sony

Following the French atomic bomb tests in the South Pacific, an unknown creature is spotted passing eastward through the Panama Canal. Scientist Niko Tatopolous is called in to investigate the matter, and he quickly arrives at the conclusion that a giant, irradiated lizard has been created by the explosions.

Godzilla then makes its way north, landing at Manhattan to begin wreaking havoc in the big city. Even with the combined forces of the U.S. military to fight the monster, will it be enough to save the people of New York?

If you are in the mood to watch a film with a mediocre story and little thinking involved, this is the show for you. Why Broderick chose this role is beyond me. The only real thing that makes this film fun to watch is the intense destruction throughout the film from Godzilla’s rampage.

The CGI is young in the film but is effective. One of the best aspects of the film is the soundtrack. David Arnold (Independence Day, Stargate) composes one of his finest scores to date filled with intense brass and string passages leading the listener on an intense musical journey.

This score, combined with excellent effects, puts this film at a higher standard in the Monster Film Genre. The DVD Special Edition is virtually the same as the previous release with a few exceptions.

The picture is presented in Widescreen and re-mastered in High Definition with Dolby Digital Surround. This makes a major difference for those who have big TVs and surround. Extra features include All-Time Best Godilla fight scenes, 3 episodes of the animated series and a new Production Gallery. Unless you have an HD TV, I would pass on this one and stay with the previous release.

ICE AGE: Super Cool Edition - Fox

Back when the Earth was being overrun by glaciers, and animals were scurrying to save themselves from the upcoming Ice Age, a stupid sloth named Sid, a woolly mammoth named Manny, a saber-toothed tiger named Diego, and an acorn-loving saber-toothed squirrel named Scrat are forced to become unlikely heroes. The four reluctantly come together when they have to return a human child to its father while braving the deadly elements of the impending Ice Age.

What a wonderful story. This film has all of the ingredients for a great film. Starting with a stellar cast including Ray Romano, John Luguizamo and Dennis Leary, the chemistry is perfect. The overall story is imaginative keeping you engaged throughout the film. Special Effects are great and provide a different look from previous animated films. Composer David Newman provides a whimsical and energetic score filled with themes and action at every turn. The DVD Special Edition is packed with extras. The film is presented in Widescreen format with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Commentary tracks include Director Chris Wedge and Co-Director Carlos Saldanha.

Deleted scenes can be inserted into the film making for a Director’s Cut. The Extreme Cool version of the film is on Disc 2 and combines facts and video clips while watching the film. We also get the Ice Age 2 trailer, “Gone Nutty” and “Bunny” animated shorts, HBO special, six interactive games, six production featurettes and a Sid Voice Development Feature. If that wasn’t enough, you also get various Promo spots, three multi-angle animation shorts, DVD-ROM games and the theatrical trailer. Tons of great stuff in this edition makes this a must for your animated collection.

HOGAN’S HEROES: Season Three - Paramount

Colonel Hogan leads a ragtag band of POW’s caught behind German lines in this popular television comedy. The bumbling Germans give Hogan and his crew plenty of opportunities to sabotage their war efforts. Colonel Klink is more concerned with having everything run smoothly and avoiding any trouble with his superiors (especially anything that might result in his being reassigned and sent to the front) than with being tough on Hogan and his fellow prisoners. Join us for another explosive season with Hogan and all the gang as they encounter new obstacles and adventures while evading the Germans and Colonel Klink. The cast for this show is what made it last so long. Bob Crane and Werner Klemperer were dynamite on the screen and John Banner portraying Schultz put the “icing on the cake”. Some episode highlights include returning a Soviet Pilot to his homeland, Hogan going back to the U.S.A. for a hero welcome and Carter returning from an unsuccessful mission with a Chimpanzee. The laughter never stops in this season. The DVD presents all 30 episodes in airdate order with Full Screen Format and Dolby Digital sound. Extras include Werner Klemperer on the “Pat Sajak Show”, Episode Photo Galleries and a Series Photo Gallery.

THE MEL BROOKS COLLECTION - Fox

Why do we hold Mel Brooks in such high esteem as a film maker? Well, Blazing Saddles for one, and Young Frankenstein for another. Oh yeah, then there’s History of the World: Part 1, Silent Movie and Spaceballs. All of which is why The Mel Brooks Collection is definitively April 2006’s must-have DVD boxed set. Arranged alphabetically in a cardboard slipcase, the titles in The Mel Brooks Collection are as follows: Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, History of the World: Part 1, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Silent Movie, The Twelve Chairs, To Be Or Not To Be, and Young Frankenstein. Some of these were previously available on DVD, and some of them were not. So a proper Double Dip this set is not, but it does feature a preponderance of pre-existing material; suffice it to say that consumer interest will be driven not by our own respective opinions about these films but their presentation and packaging, which is superlative. The movies themselves, of course, are still great.

I had forgotten just how funny Silent Movie is, and Blazing Saddles remains my favorite comedy of all time. The others not only add some welcome volumes to my expanding DVD collection, but provide perspective on Brooks’ refinement of the formulas he would later put to use in his more recent works. So while I was mildly disappointed to note the absence of some important extras, much less the entirety of Spaceballs, there is more than enough comedy to keep Brooks followers in stitches, and recruit a few new fans as well. Overall, The Mel Brooks Collection is worth buying even if you’re only a half-hearted follower of the director’s films, because it provides an impressive amount of all-new content (that being five full films) and packages them with three other avowed classics. As with most recent box sets and repackagings, there are a few overlaps, a few overlooks, and a few outright shortcomings. But the two notable omissions here cancel themselves out (Spaceballs notwithstanding, a grateful nation thanks the DVD producers for neglecting to include Dracula: Dead and Loving It), and the overall merits of the material are strong enough to quell most quantitative criticisms.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  September 07, 2006