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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.
 
DVD Picks  
JAG: Season Three - Paramount

Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr. and Lieutenant Colonel Sarah MacKenzie are JAG lawyers, who together investigate and litigate crimes committed by Navy and Marine personnel. Occasionally, they engage in adventurous activities in order to solve their cases. With Rabb’s fighter pilot background, and MacKenzie’s good looks, they are a hot team both in and out of the courtroom. Continue the adventures of Harmon Rab, Sarah McKenzie and Admiral Chegwidden as they protect the innocent and save the world with season three of JAG. If lawyers had this much adventure in their jobs, I would have been one myself. Season two continues the intense action, adventure, and courtroom drama with more character development and some surprises. David James Elliot and Catherine Bell are closer than ever and Chegwidden’s character is more involved in this season. Bud and Harriet finally get married and Harm gets closer to finding his father. Some highlights from this season include “Blind Side”, “Above and Beyond”, “Chains of Command” and the finale “To Russia with Love” where Harm flies to Moscow to find his MIA father. The scripts and stories get better by the episode keeping you on the edge of your seat with anticipation. The third season DVD box set presents all 24 episodes on six discs. All of the episodes are in Full Screen Format with Dolby Digital sound. No extras are offered in this set.

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA: Season Two, Vol. Two

Fox Voyage chronicled the adventures of the world’s first privately owned nuclear submarine, the SSRN Seaview. Designed by Admiral Harriman Nelson, she was a tool of oceanographic research for the Nelson Institute of Marine Research. Continue the undersea adventures with the crew of the Seaview in our volume 2, second season of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Richard Basehart and David Hedison take the helm of the world’s most advanced submarine into the vast depths of the ocean. Highlights from volume 2, season 2 include “Terror on Dinosaur Island” taking the crew to an island inhabited by dinosaurs, “The Return of the Phantom” with the ghostly return of Captain Krueger and the episode “The Sky’s on Fire” where the Earth’s radiation belt catches on fire. The stories get more involved and outlandish with every season on this show. The writers for this show have to be some of the most innovative in the business to come up with the ideas and scripts. My favorite episode in this set involves the Seaview being haunted by a phantom U-boat and her captain. The overall effects and props for the show get a “facelift” this season making the sets more interesting to view. Overall, the show is campy to the point of absurd, but hold’s its place in the world of budget sci-fi TV adventures. This DVD set presents the remaining 13 episodes of the second season on three discs shown in Full Screen format with Dolby Digital sound. Extras here include Still Galleries and interviews with David Hedison.

CASINO ROYALE - MGM

Trading in the Cold War era for a new, post-9-11 landscape, the tale unfolds in locations that span the globe, including the Bahamas, Venice, and the Czech Republic. It opens in Madagascar, where Bond pursues a guerilla bomb-maker in one of the most breathtaking chase scenes ever--and it all takes place on foot. Botching that assignment, Bond goes to Montenegro to square off against terrorist baddie Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelson), an international loan shark who gambles with the money of his equally dangerous clients. Beautiful British Treasury representative Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) supplies Bond’s own funds, appearing on his arm in Montenegro, while M (Dame Judi Dench) keeps a close watch on the action from headquarters. The extravagant poker game forms the center of the action, with Jeffrey Wright putting in an intense appearance at the table; interrupting the game are assassination attempts, poisoning, and other dramatic events that keep the adrenaline pumping. The flirtation that unfolds between Bond and Vesper Lynd is only in keeping with the spy’s M.O. as a ladies’ man. What differs here, however, is what sets this Bond apart from the rest: the romance is taken seriously, and it exposes a vulnerability in Bond that he’s never shown before. This, however, only makes him the tougher, as Craig’s Bond is darker, less campy, more brooding and mysterious, than his past incarnations ever were. This is simply not to be missed.

THE FULL MONTY - Fox

In hopes of raising a few quid after their steel factory shuts down, a desperate group of working-class blokes in Sheffield decide to form an exotic male dance troupe, a la Chippendales, with one difference--despite their, well, average-at-best physiques, they’re going to go “the full monty,” meaning they’ll offer their audience total nudity. Surprisingly bittersweet moments and well-intentioned social commentary imbue this raucous, feel-good comedy from England. This two disc edition is simply hilarious.

THE NATURAL - Sony

Farm boy Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) is the best baseball player anyone has ever seen. His bat, handmade from the wood of a tree felled by lightning following the death of his father, is magic in his hands. But before his career can start, the mysterious Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey) inexplicably shoots him, sidelining him for more than a decade. Fifteen years later, Hobbs returns to play for the New York Knights, whose coach, Pop Fisher (Wilfred Brimley), begrudgingly accepts the aging rookie as a member of the team. Pop is as surprised as the rest of the team when Hobbs knocks the ball out of the park time and again and can still play a mean outfield as well. However, when the politics of the business side of the game get in the way, Hobbs has to make some life-changing decisions. Meanwhile, he becomes involved with Memo Paris (Kim Basinger), a sultry siren with her own agenda. Glenn Close plays Iris, the hometown girl whom Hobbs left behind but never forgot. Director Barry Levinson manages to re-create the excitement of old-time baseball while telling an all-American tale of success and failure, based on the novel by Bernard Malamud. This is a tremendous film with numerous extra features included.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY FILM COLLECTION - Fox

Names such as Gregory Peck, Rock Hudson, Ava Gardner, Jennifer Jones, and Tyrone Power grace the marquee in these all-star films. This collection includes five adaptations of Ernest Hemingway’s novels: Adventures of a Young man, A Farewell to Arms, The Snows of Kilmanjaro, The Sun Also Rises, and Under My Skin. With action that spans the globe from Italy to Africa, these classics deftly bring the drama and romance of Hemingway’s work to life. These classic films are a must own for any true film collector.

THE 300 SPARTANS - Fox

Released just a few years before a similar British film, Zulu, this 1962 English gladiator film depicts the tiny army of Sparta and their efforts to stave off an attack by Persian forces which greatly outnumbered the Spartans. Led by King Leonidis (Richard Egan), the Spartans army consisted primarily of a security force who guarded the palace. This rousing gladiator epic boasts an incredible cast including Diane Baker, Ralph Richardson, and Kieron Moore. I highly recommend checking out the original version of this film prior to seeing The 300 that was just released last week. The 300 Spartans is a fantastic epic.

RE-ANIMATOR - Anchor Bay

Herbert West (Jeffery Combs) has found the secret to eternal life--or so he thinks. West needs fresh cadavers to continue his experiments in the re-animation of dead tissue, so he enlists the help of young medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) to steal bodies from the local morgue. Despite all the warning signs of failure, the eccentric West’s research continues. The results are crazed zombies that roam the streets, severed heads that talk, murder, madness, and chaos, all in the name of science, of course. Director Stuart Gordon’s film debut, an adaptation of the short story by H.P. Lovecraft, is a masterpiece of ghoulish fun. Graphic special effects, good scripting, and perfectly over-the-top performances make Re-Animator a classic horror film in the tradition of The Evil Dead and Return of the Living Dead.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  May 02, 2007