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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  
THE ADVENTURES OF JIM BOWIE: Complete Collection - SFM

Join us in the adventures of one of America’s finest heroes. This series was immensely popular running from 1956 – 1958 starring Scott Forbes as the legendary Jim Bowie. The show had some creative stories with excitement and adventure at every turn. Since the shows were only a half hour, the story had to push quickly with a rousing finish. This gave for very little development other than the Bowie character. I would put this show in the same category as “The Rifleman” or “Wanted: Dead or Alive”. If you enjoy good old-fashioned Westerns with lots of action and suspense, this set will satisfy you. The picture and sound are crisp giving you the best restoration possible. Each volume has a synopsis on the back detailing each episode with colorful pictures on the front. I enjoyed this set and recommend it to all Western lovers.

HOPALONG CASSIDY: Complete Collection - Infinity

“Hop-Along Cassidy” has to be one of the most legendary shows in TV history spanning from 1935 to 1948 and starring William Boyd as Hop-along. As grade-B Westerns go, this is the show that set the standard. The stories surround Boyd’s cattle ranch with all the struggles and hardships one has when running this type of business. During a fight, Boyd gets wounded in the leg and earns the nickname “Hop-Along”. Supporting characters include fellow ranchers played by Charles Middleton and Robert Warwick and Pecos Jack, the Meeker foreman played by Ken Thompson. In later episodes we see George Hayes playing Hop-along’s sidekick, Uncle Ben and Willie Fung as the Chinese Cook. All of the cast members are essential to the show giving the stories depth and substance. Elements of this series can be seen in some of the more modern TV Westerns such as Gunsmoke and Bonanza. The DVD presents each episode with crisp picture and sound. All volumes have an episode synopsis on the back and colorful artwork on the front. If you want to see how it all got started, this is the set for you.

I DREAM OF JEANNIE: Season Four - Sony

Air Force captain Anthony “Tony” Nelson is stranded on a desert island after his space capsule malfunctions on re-entry. While he is there, he finds a bottle and upon opening it he releases a beautiful genie named, coincidentally, Jeannie who was trapped in the bottle by the evil Blue Djinn. By this point the show is starting to wear thin with me. I still laugh from time to time and there are a few stories that are fun to watch, but overall the show is getting old. Barbara Eden’s character is still great to look at and spawns a laugh. Larry Hagman and Bill Daily are great and keep the show alive, but as I said before, it is getting to repetitious. Despite my negative comments we still have some classic episodes in this season including “Jeannie and the Wild Pipchicks” involving candy spawning superhuman powers, “How to Marry an Astronaut” bringing back Jeannie’s evil twin sister as she tries to marry Roger and “The Case of My Vanishing Master” 2-part episode exposing Roger’s double to Jeannie’s powers. These stories get more outlandish with each season. Thank God these people don’t run our current space program. The DVD presents all 26 episodes from the fourth season with restored picture and sound on four discs. The episodes are presented in Full Frame Format with Dolby Digital sound. Each volume has attractive artwork and an episode synopsis on the back.

MEATBALLS 4: To The Rescue - FOX

The Lakeside Water Ski Camp is losing their campers to another competitor. The answer is hiring a new camp leader to set things straight once and for all. If you saw the original “Meatballs” with Bill Murray, you need not see any other ones. This sequel should not have ever been made for several reasons. One, Cory Feldman can’t act his way out of a paper bag and can’t hold a candle to Bill Murray. Two, the story is so stupid, I fell asleep twice. Three, the humor is old and outdated in addition to the poor script. The only redeeming factor is the intensely beautiful women in the film. Trust me when I say that this movie rates in the “coaster” category for your coffee table. The DVD is presented in Widescreen format with Dolby 5.1 surround.

BABEL: Special Edition - Paramount

Richard and Susan (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) are a wealthy couple from San Diego who are vacationing in Morocco in order to heal after the death of their young child; their other two children are at home with their Mexican maid, Amelia (Adriana Barraza). In a complex shift of ownership to which the audience is privy, a rifle finds its way into the hands of a local herdsman’s young sons (Said Tarchani and Boubker Ait El Caid), who recklessly take a shot at a tour bus and catch Susan in the shoulder, causing her to nearly lose her life. The distraught Richard calls home to tell Amelia of the situation, who promptly departs for Mexico to attend her child’s wedding, with Richard and Susan’s children in tow. Disaster thus multiplies, with the situation in Morocco ascribed to terrorists in the media, while Amelia meets with the harsh immigration policies of the Bush administration. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, a widower (Koji Yakusho) tied to the rifle in question attempts to deal with his memories and his raucous, promiscuous, deaf daughter (Rinko Kikuchi).

Nearly every performance of the film is devastating, offering an intimate, emotional experience that would approach melodrama if it weren’t rendered so realistically. Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto’s color palette masterfully captures the muted tones of the harsh natural landscapes of Morocco and the Mexican border, as well as the fluorescent lights of Tokyo that denote another, though equally barren, end of the spectrum. The misunderstandings born of cultural, language, and class barriers are on par with those that occur between family members, depicting a world that, while connected in the least expected of ways, is also faced with a deep-seated crisis that threatens to alienate humanity from itself.

COMMANDO: Director’s Cut - Fox

After his daughter (Alyssa Milano) is kidnapped by a South American dictator, retired Army Colonel John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger), once the leader of a special commando strike force, swings into violent action. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays this one to the hilt. Full of action, this dvd will test your sound system’s capabilities.

NUMBERS: Season Three - Paramount

Like a cross between CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Darren Aronofsky’s indie feature PI, the CBS television series Numbers blends crime-drama with mathematics for a smart and creepy spin on the police-detective genre. Executive produced by Ridley Scott and Tony Scott, the series centers on a pragmatically minded FBI agent, Don Eppes, who invites his math-genius younger brother, Charlie (David Krumholz), to help him solve challenging cases using mathematical theories based on equations and probability. Dark and moody with a near-cinematic feel, Numbers has won both fans and acclaim for its innovative approach to the conventional crime-drama formula.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL - MGM

Set in 17th century England during the violent early days of Cromwell’s rule, The Conquerer Worm is Michael Reeves’ dark, violent tale of the infamous 17th century witchhunter, Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price). A failed lawyer, Hopkins practiced his wicked trade throughout the British countryside for nearly a decade, capitalizing on the instability and tumultuous upheavals created by the English Civil War. After years of unchallenged torture and sadistic murder, the witchfinder finally meets his match when until he runs afoul of an army officer who vows revenge.

BONES: Season Two - Fox

The television series BONES is a crime drama that mixes elements of forensic science, romance, and comedy to excellent effect. Centered on the relationship between forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (played by Emily Deschenel) and FBI special agent Seely Booth (played by David Boreanaz), BONES is a hard-hitting, action-packed show marked by fine writing, acting, and direction. The episodes of the first season are collected here on DVD.

KING OF QUEENS: Season Nine - Sony

The hilarity of the Heffernan household continues into the ninth and final season of this popular sitcom. Kevin James stars as Doug Heffernan, a UPS delivery man who lives in Queens with his shopaholic wife, Carrie (Leah Remini). The couple’s life together is turned upside down when Carrie’s eccentric father, Arthur (Jerry Stiller), moves in with them, taking over Doug’s cherished TV room and usurping his sports-watching habits. The unusual family continues its attempts to live harmoniously in this season which brings the popular series to an end.

MASADA - Koch

A gripping adaptation of Ernest K. Gann’s novel, set in 70 A.D. Jerusalem. The film dramatizes the real-life story of the Jewish freedom fighters who battled their Roman oppressors. After soldiers from Rome ransacked Jerusalem, 980 Jews took refuge in the mountains of Masada, at the fortress of Herod the Great. There, the rebels mounted a bold defense against the legions of soldiers who were ordered to quash the revolt. Although the Roman military leader tried to reach a non-violent settlement with the Jews, the intransigence of his superiors caused his efforts to fail -- and led to one of the most famous tragedies in Jewish history.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  September 19, 2007