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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  

JAG: Season Five - 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 with season five of J.A.G. Season five continues the story of Harm leaving JAG to continue his career as a naval aviator on an aircraft carrier. Eventually Harm does come back to JAG and the drama between he and Mac gets even more intense. Mick’s relationship with Mac is getting more involved and Bud and Harriet are adjusting to married life. Some highlights from this season include the season premiere episode “King of the Greenie Board” with Harm adjusting to carrier life, “Ghosts of Christmas Past” where Harm finds a USO girl with info on his father and “Surface Warfare” involving Bud’s brother accused of almost killing fifteen Marines. The show only gets better with each season, which is unusual for most drama programs. The fifth season DVD box set presents all 25 episodes on seven 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.

GUNSMOKE: Season Two, Vol. One - Paramount

This show chronicles the adventures of Marshall Matthew Dillon and the town of Dodge City. Continue the adventures with Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, season 2, volume 1. Re-live the days of the old west in the town of Dodge City with Matt Dillon, Ms, Kitty, Doc and Chester as they struggle every day to keep law and order in the brutal west. James Arness leads an amazing cast of talented actors/actresses including Milburn Stone, Dennis Weaver, and Amanda Blake. The writers were very creative with their scripts providing entertainment each week to audiences. There is never a dull moment on the screen. For a show to last twenty years on TV, you know it has to be good. All of the episodes are in Black & White with restored picture and sound. This first volume set contains 20 episodes on three discs. There is an episode synopsis on the inner jacket detailing each episode with airdate postings. If you enjoy a good western, this is definitely the set for you.

CRIMSON TIDE: Blu-Ray - Disney

Mutiny on the USS Alabama! The Executive Officer (Denzel Washington) of the Submarine Alabama prevents the Captain (excellently portrayed by Gene Hackman) from nuking the Russians by mistake during a global crisis. This is an intense film that will keep your attention to the very end. This Blu-Ray edition looks fantastic—excellent black levels and no artifacts. The audio is even better. Your subwoofer and surrounds will get a real workout with this PCM 5.1 uncompressed sound. This is the best sounding DVD I have heard to date. Your living room will turn into a submarine when you watch this DVD. Put this one on your list. There are a few extras included with this disc that include a making of feature and seven deleted scenes.

BONE DRY - Allumination

Eddie, a mysterious young man trapped in a desert landscape, is forced to undergo a series of diabolical tests by an armed maniac looking for revenge. This dramatic thriller stars Dee Wallace-Stone, Lance Henriksen, and Luke Goss as Eddie.

STORM WARNING - Genius

Horror and depravity characterize this shocker flick from the director of Urban Legend. A vicious storm forces a vacationing couple to seek shelter in an isolated swamp cabin, but when the owners come home, the young couple find themselves at the mercy of a family of deranged and sadistic rednecks. In the midst of their desperate fight to survive, they sink to depths they never imagined possible.

GONE BABY GONE: Blu-Ray - Miramax

Gone Baby Gone marks the directorial debut of actor Ben Affleck. Featuring a solid cast that includes Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, and Affleck’s brother Casey in the lead role as a private detective, Gone Baby Gone centers on the disappearance of a young girl in the working class neighborhood of Dorchester in South Boston. With plenty of twists and turns, the movie works as a solid crime thriller, but it’s as a study of a place--and one’s ability to either accept and embrace or ultimately break free from it--that the film flowers. Beneath the movie’s street-tough justice and cop shop politics sits a very complicated view of the world, which Affleck delves into unflinchingly, thanks in large part to his ability to extract some excellent performances from his cast. Casey Affleck offers a nice mix of both steely resolve and vulnerability, while Harris presents a strong performance as a conflicted, emotionally tortured cop. Of particular note is Amy Ryan as the mother of the abducted girl. Her character’s outrageous foul-mouthed demeanor ultimately ends up feeling both tragic and pathetic, with the only appropriate reactions being either pity or rage. It makes for an uncomfortable but affecting dichotomy.

AMERICA AT WAR MEGASET - A&E

From the “shot heard around the world” that launched this nation’s independence to the conflict that rages today in Iraq, America was born and raised in combat. We are, indisputably, a warring nation, and from our own rolling hills to nearly every corner of the Earth we have pursued our best interests - national and global - with military might. As the saying goes, “You pick your battles,” and just as with a person, a nation can be judged by the battles it chooses and how it conducts itself in war. With this comprehensive DVD megaset, America at War, you have the raw material to authoritatively make that judgment. The History Channel has selected the very best programs available exploring the saga of America at War. Steeped in the expertise of world-renowned scholars, illustrated by dynamic graphics and dramatized with captivating reenactments, these documentaries present over 200 years of combat history in rich detail and compelling context. Six complete documentaries on the American Revolution and eight covering the current War in Iraq bookend incisive examinations of the Alamo, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, as well as the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf. Bonus programs venture beyond tactics and events to examine fascinating aspects of modern combat, namely the latest weaponry and the experiences of embedded journalists. In scale and thoroughness this is an unprecedented offering from the most respected source in television for historical documentary. This set is simply a must own for any historian.

INTRODUCING THE DWIGHTS - Warner

This Australian coming-of-age comedy/drama features Secrets and Lies star Brenda Blethyn as Jeannie, a semi-monstrous mom who gave up a promising career as a British comic to move Down Under and marry a one-hit wonder country singer. One of her two sons is mentally handicapped (Richard Wilson); the other is a sensitive kid named Tim (Kham Chittenden), whose sexual maturity has been waylaid by his clingy mom’s fear of being abandoned again (her husband--understandably--left her). He’s got to look after his brother and drive Mom to her local club gigs as she attempts a comeback.

Complications arise when Tim meets Jill (Emma Booth), a girl cute and bright enough to be worth standing up to his mother for.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON - ThinkFilm

Between 1968 and 1972, nine American spacecraft voyaged to the Moon, and 12 men walked upon its surface. They remain the only human beings to have stood on another world. In the Shadow of the Moon brings together for the first, and possibly the last, time surviving crew members from every single Apollo mission that flew to the Moon, and allows them to tell their story in their own words. This riveting first-hand testimony is interwoven with visually stunning archival material which has been re-mastered from the original NASA film footage – much of it never used before. The result is an intimate epic that vividly communicates the daring, the danger, the pride, and the promise of this extraordinary era in history when the whole world literally looked up at America.

1968 WITH TOM BROKAW - A&E

Host Tom Brokaw explains why 1968 was one of the most important years in 20th century history. Vietnam, the Beatles, Martin Luther King’s assassination, the Civil Rights movement, Richard Nixon in the White House, and the death of Robert F. Kennedy are just a few of the events Brokaw recalls in vivid detail. Archive footage and expert commentary from the veteran broadcaster combine to bring 1968 back to life.

DAN IN REAL LIFE: Blu-Ray - Touchstone

Dan in Real Life reveals that Steve Carell is an actor who can do more than just comedy. He’s won both accolades and awards as bumbling boss Michael Scott on The Office, but there’s a greater depth to this performance as a single father and man in love. Advice columnist Dan Burns (Carell) has his hands full with three daughters that he’s not willing to let grow up. The girls still grieve for their mother who died four years ago, and Dan hasn’t made any attempts to date. So he’s pleasantly surprised when he meets Marie (Juliette Binoche) at a bookstore when he goes to his parents’ Rhode Island home for the annual family reunion. But his joy is short-lived when he discovers that she is dating his brother (Dane Cook), forcing Dan to hide his feelings and chemistry with Marie.

AND JUSTICE FOR ALL - Sony

Pacino balances a performance between comedy and bleak despair when he adds a thoroughly detestable judge accused of rape to his already miserable client list. Maybe intended as satire, maybe not. Lahti’s debut film role. Academy Award Nominations: Best Actor--Al Pacino.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  March 12, 2008