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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  
ROBOCOB: Anniversary Edition - Fox

A severely injured police officer is transformed into a cyborg designed to be the latest technology in the fight against crime.

Robocop is just a great film and fun to watch. Don’t even take this film seriously. Peter Weller is great as the Robocop and his sidekick, Nancy Allen, really adds dimension to the story. The special effects are great for the time and who can forget the final battle sequences with the ED-209? Ronny Cox was the perfect choice for the villain and plays the part to the hilt. The overall Robocop story is your basic plot with a few twists. The cast talents and the vision of director Paul Verhoeven is what sells this film. As action in a film goes, this one has it all. The “Unrated” Director’s Cut is included with this set and contains some scenes which go beyond the norm for police action films. Both the Theatrical and Unrated versions will satisfy your appetite for action, violence, drama and language.

The DVD presents both versions of the film in Widescreen format. The audio is a special treat offering 4.1, 5.1 and 5.1 DTS surround. The picture has been restored to optimum picture quality great for HD TVs. Extras in this set include commentary with Director Paul Verhoeven, Writer Ed Neumeier and Executive Producer Jon Davison. There are several features on the making of the film, storyboards, deleted scenes, photo galleries and the original theatrical trailer. Disc 2 offers three more featurettes titled “Robocop: Creating a Legend”, “Special Effects: Then and Now” and “Villains of Old Detroit”. The packaging is attractive with pics from the film in a “Steelcase” jewel case. This is the best version of the film to get and the most complete.

BACK TO SCHOOL - Fox

A wealthy businessman enrolls in college as a student to help his frustrated son get through the tough times. This film is an absolute classic. Dangerfield is at his best in this film stemming off of his previous role in “Caddyshack”. There are so many good “one-liners” in this film; you have to watch it twice to get them all. Sally Kellerman is a great match for Dangerfield leaving plenty of room for Keith Gordon, Robert Downey Jr and Terry Farrell to evolve in the story. I love the fact that Sam Kinison played the part of the professor. It has been so long since I saw him and the laughs returned again. The overall story is clever with all of the drama and camp of a typical 80s film. I would put this film on the same level as Ferris Bueller or Fast Times at Ridgemont High. With all of these 80s films, you get a smattering of “eye-candy”. Terry Farrell does it for this film, despite the lovely faces around the college campus.

Farrell is best known for her role as Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The final scenes at the graduation make the purchase of the DVD well-worth it. I won’t spoil it for you, just get the disc. The DVD is presented in Widescreen format with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

Extras include a “making of” feature, “Dissecting the Triple Lindy” feature and Kurt Vonnegut and Rodney Dangerfield memoriam featurettes. There are also picture galleries and TV spots.

JAG: Season Four - 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. The adventures continue as Harmon Rab, Sarah McKenzie and Admiral Chegwidden dodge bullets and narrowly escape perils with season four of J.A.G. Season four continues the intense action, adventure, and courtroom drama with more character interaction and a growing story arc. David James Elliot and Catherine Bell are getting closer by the episode. Bud and Harriet are experiencing married life and Rab is hot on the trail to finding his father. Some highlights from this season include the season premiere episode “Gypsy Eyes” continuing the search for Harm’s father in Russia and “Going after Francesca” involving the Admiral rescuing his daughter from kidnappers. This season was perhaps one of my favorites solely because the characters were completely established and the show had a purpose. The fourth season DVD box set presents all 24 episodes on six discs. All of the episodes are in Full Screen Format with Dolby Digital sound. The only extra in this set is a very funny gag reel.

3:10 TO YUMA - Columbia

When stubborn farmer, Dan Evans (Ven Heflin), attempts to bring wanted criminal, Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) to the authorities in Yuma and collect the reward, he’s in for quite a challenge. Desperate, the captive criminal offers the poor farmer $10,000 to set him free. While waiting for the train, the two men engage in a brutal battle of wills and as Evans eludes Wade’s gang of miscreant thugs, he must fight his own moral battle and catch the 3:10 to Yuma. A poignant and chilling western, 3:10 TO YUMA evokes more thought and emotion with its timing and clever scripting than most traditional shot gun-riddled Westerns ever achieve.

THE LIVES OF OTHERS: Blu-Ray - Sony

The Lives of Others traces the gradual disillusionment of Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe), a highly skilled officer who works for the Stasi, East Germany’s all-powerful secret police. His mission is to spy on a celebrated writer and actress couple, Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck). Five years before its downfall, the former East- German government (known as the GDR, German Democratic Republic) ensures its claim to power with a ruthless system of control and surveillance via the Stasi, a vast network of informers that at one time numbered 200,000 out of a population of 17 million. Their goal is to know everything about “the lives of others.”

FRAGGLE ROCK: Second Season - Fox

The magical underground realm of Fraggle Rock is situated behind a wall in inventor Doc’s laboratory, in this charming series from the master of puppets. Doc’s dog Sprocket knows something is back there, and is constantly trying to get to the fraggles, while far below in the brightly lit caverns, the furry fraggles frolic and play, learning valuable lessons along the way. All 24 episodes of the first season are included here, as Wembley, Gobo, Red, Mobley, and Boober have exciting adventures and present their catchy, infectious repertoire of songs. Adults will revel in the memories while children will delight in the newfound fun, as Wembley cares for a baby Tree Creature in “Wembley’s Egg,” and Gobo brings Doc’s radio to Fraggle Rock in “Manny’s Land of Carpets.” Other episodes include “The Secret of Convincing John,” “A Cave of One’s Own,” and “Doozer is as a Doozer Does.”

DELIVERANCE - Warner

Director John Boorman’s harrowing adaptation of James Dickey’s best-selling novel is a nightmarish descent into backwoods Americana.

When four unsuspecting urbanites head into the mountains of northern Georgia for a weekend canoe trip, they have no idea what’s in store for them. The group’s macho leader, Lewis Medlock (Burt Reynolds), is driven by Hemingway-esque notions of man’s ability to conquer nature, while his three friends--Bobby Trippe (Ned Beatty), Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox), and Ed Gentry (Jon Voight)--aren’t so sure. As the men begin to navigate their way down the precarious rapids, they discover that nature isn’t the only one out to get them. The eventual appearance of two menacing hillbillies turns the vacation into an all-out nightmare.

BROKEN ENGLISH - Magnolia

Known mainly for playing quirkily comic characters, Parker Posey shows she can tackle a serious role just as skillfully in Zoe Cassevetes’s moving film. Broken English stars Posey as Nora Wilder, a thirtysomething whose disastrous dating experiences in the Big Apple have put her on the verge of giving up all hope when it comes to love and happiness. Constant comparisons to her best friend Audrey’s (Drea de Matteo) seemingly perfect marriage, and her overbearing mother’s (Gena Rowlands) fixations on her single status wear on Nora, making her vulnerable to even the slightest hint of male attention, like the advances she gets from a sexy and famous actor (Justin Theroux) who begins bunking at the chic hotel where she works. After a string of equally failed attempts, Nora starts to wonder if there’s something wrong with her. It’s at this ultimate low when a visiting Frenchman (Melvil Poupaud) swoops in with charm and aggressively woos Nora, who, despite being filled with reluctance, cannot shake the feeling that this one might be different. Though Broken English eventually settles into basic rom-com territory, it’s pleasant and good-natured, and Parker Posey is spellbinding throughout the movie.

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND: Season Nine - HBO

Ray Barone (Ray Romano) enjoys a successful career as a sportswriter and has a stable, happy family life with a loving wife and three great kids. Unfortunately for Ray, he can’t shake the attention of his overbearing parents who live across the street, but spend so much time at the Barone family residence that they might as well live there.

Ray’s parents love to meddle in his affairs, often with hilarious consequences. Meanwhile, his loser brother, Robert (Brad Garrett), also loves to drop by Ray’s place to complain about his life, a habit that exasperates everyone else in the beleaguered family. A hugely popular sitcom from CBS, Everybody Loves Raymond began in 1996, and the ratings soon soared, placing the show among the Top 10 most watched shows in the country. The ninth season is collected here in its entirety.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  September 27, 2007