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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 Reviews  

TOP GUN: HD DVD - Paramount

The testosterone laced hit from 1986 is back! Now in HD for your viewing pleasure.

Unfortunately, this disc does not look as good as it could as I saw a lot of dirt and a few artifacts on the picture. Apparently, the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer was not made from a clean master. That being said, the picture still looks stunning on my Pioneer Pro FHD1 monitor. The best thing about this disc is the sound—you have 3 choices, Dolby TrueHD, DTS ES, and DD PLUS 5.1. My personal preference was the DTS track as it made excellent use of the surrounds and the dialog was very clear. There are no extras included with this disc.

WE ARE MARSHALL: Blu-ray - Warner

Based on true events, “We Are Marshall” tells the inspiring story of how a small town in West Virginia, steeped in the rich tradition of college football, struggled to cope with a devastating loss and restore their community after one of the worst disasters in the history of American sports. This 1080p VC-1 transfer could be better and I don’t think this Blu-Ray is worth the extra expense over the standard DVD. I compared this with an up-converted disc and there was not much difference. The Dolby True HD soundtrack is excellent and will put you in the middle of the football game. There is one extra feature titled “Legendary Coaches: How Coaches Overcome Adversity” included with this disc.

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA: Season 3, Vol. 2 - 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. Volume 2 is not much better than volume 1 in this third season. The show has outlived its usefulness. As with all Irwin Allen shows, they are good for about 2 seasons at best.

I was hoping for a few great stories in this season, but was sadly mistaken. The stories are getting too ridiculous and the cast looks tired. This is the end of the third season of the four season run and this is good news. In my opinion, there were no real highlights in this season like the others. The shows are hitting an all-time “low” in plot and effects. This DVD set presents the final episodes of the third season on three discs shown in Full Screen format with Dolby Digital sound. Extras here include Still Galleries and interviews with David Hedison and an audio interview with Richard Basehart.

WAR & PEACE - Koch

A BBC version of Leo Tolstoy’s literary masterpiece. This epic tale takes place during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in the years 1805-1820. While these calamitous historical events unfold, a variety of characters from various classes and cultures try to deal with their own personal dramas. Whether peasant or prince, soldier or gentlewoman, each person undergoes a search for happiness and self-knowledge... and each one ultimately finds a different answer.

HITLER: THE RISE OF EVIL - Koch

The history of Adolf Hitler’s startling rise to power is charted in this powerful drama. The film stars Robert Carlyle as Hitler, while Peter O’Toole and Stockard Channing feature in supporting roles.

THE MARIO BAVA COLLECTION: Volume two - Anchor Bay

This collection presents five classics from legendary Italian horror director Mario Bava: Lisa and the Devil, House of Exorcism, Bay of Blood, Kidnapped, Roy Colt and Winchester Jack, Five Dolls for an August Moon, and Four Times that Night.

SEINFELD: Season Nine - Sony

Seinfeld, the show that helped define America’s view of New Yorkers as eccentric, comes to a close in this final season. Though it wasn’t the first show to assert the rudeness of Gotham’s citizens, its characters are selfish to a fault--not that there’s anything wrong with that. Self-obsessed comedian Jerry Seinfeld is joined in the cast by his neurotic ex-girlfriend, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus); his chronically lazy pal, George (Jason Alexander); and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards), who takes the sitcom clichÈ of the weird neighbor to impressive new heights. Despite their faults (or perhaps because of them), they’re some of the most hilariously watchable characters in television history. The ninth and final season finds George recovering from his fall down the stairs, forcing him to put the “Summer o George” on hold. Having severed ties with the Yankees, he quickl finds another job where he can put his perceived disability to use. While Elaine is busy breaking up with and then getting back together with an ill-suited boyfriend, Kramer is up to his usual hijinks, and Jerry succeeds in finding a whole new series of minor events to obsess over. The entire final season is presented here.

BENNY HILL: The Complete Collection - A&E

The bawdy humor of Benny Hill has attracted fans from the far flung reaches of the globe. It seems to matter little that his style is quintessentially British, for Benny is able to produce an aching belly laugh no matter where he touts his wares. His years spent making programs for Thames Television are among the most fondly remembered by his fans, and they’ve been restored from the vaults and lovingly presented on this release. The Benny Hill: Complete and Unadulterated Collection contains Benny’s raucous 20-year reign over television’s-sketch variety genre, from the naughty early years to the debut of the nubile Hill’s Angels through the final episodes. Witness to the birth of crazy caricatures like Fred Scuttle, Chow Mein, and Pierre de Terre. Laugh out loud as Benny and his bevy of buxom babes flaunt their racy rowdiness and tongue-in-cheek satire in characteristically outrageous sketches like “The Little Dimpton Street Party” and “The Crook Report.” These 58 vintage episodes originally aired from 1969 to 1989, contain nearly 600 memorable sketches and deliver a comedy high kick that is quintessentially Benny. Never aired in the U.S. in full-length form, this complete collection of the Thames episodes of The Benny Hill Show presents a rare opportunity to view every saucy, unforgettable moment from one of the most uproarious and celebrated programs in television history.

TALK TO ME - Universal

In the mid-to-late 1960s, in Washington, D.C., vibrant soul music and exploding social consciousness were combining to unique and powerful effect. It was the place and time for Petey to fully express himself sometimes to outrageous effect – and “tell it like it is.” With the support of his irrepressible and tempestuous girlfriend Vernell (Taraji P. Henson), the newly minted ex-con talks his way into an on-air radio gig. He forges a friendship and a partnership with fellow prison inmate Milo’s (Mike Epps) brother Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor). From the first wild morning on the air, Petey relies on the more straight-laced Dewey to run interference at WOL-AM, where Dewey is the program director. At the station, Petey becomes an iconic radio personality, surpassing even the established popularity of his fellow disc jockeys, Nighthawk (Cedric The Entertainer) and Sunny Jim (Vondie Curtis Hall). Combining biting humor with social commentary, Petey openly courts controversy for station owner E.G. Sonderling (Martin Sheen). Petey was determined to make not just himself but his community heard during an exciting and turbulent period in American history. As Petey’s voice, humor, and spirit surge across the airwaves with the vitality of the era, listeners tune in to hear not only incredible music but also a man speaking directly to them about race and power in America like few people ever have. Through the years, Petey’s “The truth just is” style both on and off-air, would redefine both Petey and Dewey, and empower each to become the man he would most like to be.

HELLRAISER: 20th Anniversary Edition - Anchor Bay

Clive Barker’s feature directing debut graphically depicts the tale of a man and wife who move into an old house and discover a hideous creature--the man’s half-brother, who is also the woman’s former lover--hiding upstairs. Having lost his earthly body to a trio of S&M demons called the Cenobites, he is brought back into existence by a drop of blood on the floor. He soon forces his former mistress to bring him human sacrifices to complete his body... but the Cenobites won’t be happy about this. One of the best horror films of the 80s, based on Barker’s novel The Hellbound Heart and followed by three sequels.

GAG - Thinkfilm

Two thieves try to do a good deed when they discover a badly injured man in a house they’ve just broken into. Unfortunately their willingness to help the man ensnares them in a trap set by a serial killer, who proceeds to torture them. The events build to a bloody and brutal climax as GAG nears its final act.

APARTMENT 1303 - Tartan

Sometimes finding the perfect apartment is a curse more than a blessing, especially if the apartment is unit 1303. Although it’s bright and airy, with a lovely view, it has a dark and bloody history that continues to haunt each and every resident who makes the fatal mistake of moving in. This J-Horror film is a terrifying look at how a tragedy from the past can send ripples through time that can only be stopped by solving the mystery that created them.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  November 28, 2007