On the box: Reality Check
In the player: Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back
Heavy rotation: HIM
Sore thumbs: Kinnikuman
Ahh. It feels good to be able to sit down and burn a couple of hours writing reviews, or playing games, or doing anything else that isn’t banging out thousands of words worth of coursework for ungrateful tutors. Thanks to everyone who took time to get in touch and wish me well or ask how I was doing, both through emails and on the forum you guys make a brother feel welcome.
As a quick update on how everything went down with the scholarly stuff… well, everything got handed in on time. The problem is that this year’s just been a total wild card. The past two years, I’ve been at least a strong B for my creative writing, but I got assigned a tutor this year who really doesn’t like my work (he’s the one who said that I’d copied Lord of The Rings, which I’d taken as a compliment, but it was a backhanded one as he went on to point out that “Lord of The Rings hasn’t got a very good structure”), so there’s no telling what the hell grade he’s gonna give me. Again, there’s a module that I’ve been a consistent high-B or low-A student, but they’ve lumbered us with a new compulsory module that just totally undermines everything and has already cost a lot of people a first for their degrees. That said, I got a phone call from my language tutor yesterday who told me that I’d got a high B overall for language, so hey that’s a decent start.
Everything else has been kinda bittersweet. It’s a totally unreal feeling for the first time in nearly twenty years, I NEVER have to write an essay or piece of coursework again. On the other hand, I had to say goodbye to probably the best friend I’ve ever had (my other half notwithstanding), which blows all kinds of dick. I’ve also had to uproot all my stuff and ‘move house’ AGAIN, and the novelty of that shit has long worn off. And it’s amazing when you’ve got to go to work or study, all you want to do is sit home all day and play games or watch flicks. It’s amazing how quickly that gets dull REAL dull to the point where I can’t wait to go shopping just for something to do.
It’s cool to be back home with my girl though that’s a real winning formula. I’m man enough to admit that sometimes I just want a fucking cuddle. And it’s great to be home all day to intercept the postman before anyone sees all the shit I’ve been buying off the net. Although it hasn’t taken long for me to revert to my old wake up at 10:00, skip breakfast, eat lunch at 15:00, then eat dinner at about 02:00, which is insanely unsociable and my dad always bitches me out for filling the house with the smell of food in the middle of the night and giving him the munchies.
So really, same old Jay. I’ve been here in spirit, reading articles and posting the occasional bit on the forums, and really just hanging back and enjoying the ride like most of you guys, without having to bang out a load of content. But I’m back on active duty again, which means you should see the usual, regular Tuesday DVD news updates, and weekly or bi-weekly DVD or videogame reviews. I’ve got a 90% done review of Animal Crossing that I wrote pretty much purely for Dames, and I’ve been eenie-meenie-ing a bunch of DVDs for what to review next. There MIGHT be a review of some sort up at the end of the week, but I ain’t promising nothing.
I must also point out that I’m selling off my tapes of the Alien 3 Workprint. This is David Fincher’s original cut of the flick before Fox went in behind his back and screwed around. Is Bishop II an android? What was the flick like with a hugely exciting action scene in the middle? What happened to all those prisoners who disappeared without explanation? What happens when you get rid of the two facehuggers nonsense, properly develop all the characters, explain a whole lot of stuff, put in more references to he other films and have a better ending? Anyone interested in a PAL copy or an NTSC copy should check out my eBay auctions or email me. And anyone interested in a copy of the original first completed script for Bruce Lee’s The Silent Flute might want to check out my auction for that, too.
Now, since I’ve missed out on about a month of news, there’s a fair backload of stuff that’s either of importance or personal interest to me, so I’m gonna go ahead and put up a bunch of links to each item so you can see what’s covered at a glance. There aren’t usually more than three news items each week, so it’s not generally an issue, but if this is something you guys would like to see more often, lemme know.
CHEAP-BUT-GOOD MULTI-REGION DVD PLAYER
NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION
FUTURAMA & FAMILY GUY
IRAQI INFORMATION MINISTER ON DVD!!!
BRUCE LEE 30th ANNIVERSARY
WHAT'S HOT THIS WEEK
Too much. There’s TOO MUCH GOODNESS this week, and I can already see my bank account plummeting to frightening levels.
The long, long, LONG-awaited Black Hawk Down Ultimate-Super-Duper-Deluxe-Ridley-Scott-Discs-Rule-But-A-Blade-Runner-SE-Would-Be-Nice-Before-I’m-90-Edition is finally with us. I never bothered with the old two-discer set, but the new three-disc set will be the obvious choice for first-timers like me, and probably worth upgrading to anyway. Another disc worth upgrading to is T2: Extreme Edition. Everyone’s bitching it out because it hasn’t got the extras of the Ultimate Edition and yes, it’s a pretty blatant cash-in on Terminator 3, but the fact is that the disc features James Cameron’s first ever, and truly superb audio commentary, and the very best DVD transfer available anywhere. Plus, if you want to enjoy a James Cameron Terminator, you better get this disc, because Michael Biehn has gone on record as saying that Cameron has had ZERO to do with T3. Which will ultimately explain a lot.
Jack Nicholson’s acclaimed About Schmidt also comes highly recommended, as does the Animatrix DVD in regular or Gift Set version with the soundtrack (unless, of course, you’ve been taping them off Channel 4 every night this week). Bond XXMCMIV, Die Another Day is in stores, but if you’re multi-regionalised, bear in mind that the Region 2 version has got an extra documentary. Just saying is all. Boxset-wise, season 3 of DS9, a two-disc set of The Ben Stiller Show (WTF?!?! This gets a release and I’m still waiting for Blade Runner??), and South Park - The Complete Second Season should all be sitting on a store shelf as you read this. Again, there are no commentaries on these episodes because Super Warner Bros. are pussies - thanks to reader Jesse Baker, here's the low down: "There are no commentary tracks for the second season of South Park. After the debacle that happened with the first season box set, Parker and Stone chose to not bother with recording any commentary tracks. To make up for this utter fuck-up, the second season set includes as it's main extras a documentary called "Going Down To South Park" and the video for "Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls". Plus, as an exclusive for those who buy their Season 2 DVD sets from Best Buy, they are offering a bonus disc with the uncut version of "Cartman Gets An Anal Probe" on it..." So there you have it folks - get on down to Best Buy and hassle them for free shit. Cheers Jesse.
And speaking of Brothers who are Super, SUPER MARIO BROTHERS THE MOVIE has just been put out on DVD. Yes, the Bob Hoskins film. Yes, THE BOB HOSKINS FILM. Good Lord, no amount of Super Scopes can make up for this cinematic skidmark. I’ll say it again: THIS GETS A DVD BUT I’M STILL WAITING FOR BLADE RUNNER. And they’re making a film about Sk8er Boi. Hollywood sucks.
It’s not all bad though. They’ve finally put out a Collector’s Edition of Sneakers, which I can’t get specs for, but it’s a Universal disc so it should be pretty decent. There’s ANOTHER version of the Fast and the Furious DVD, which I’m not going to dignify by typing about any further. There’s a bunch of TV stuff in the form of Baywatch, Cold Feet, Law & Order and The Incredible Hulk, and music DVDs of The Bryds, The Cure, Julio Eglasias, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone and more. Nick Broomfield, who made the truly extraordinary Biggie & Tupac documentary (as well as the Heidi Fleiss and Curt and Courtney docs), has got a new film about fetishes called, unsurprisingly, Fetishes. Given the frank forthrightness of his Fleiss documentary, this should be a keeper. Plus, the dude is a genius documentarian I’ll recommend this without even needing to see it.
And if that ain’t good enough, there’s a couple of wrestling DVDs. One of them is an XPW disc, which of course means I have to stop talking about it right… now. But the other is WrestleMania XIX, which a lot of people will pick up for the sake of picking it up. It’s not a bad-looking disc, with English and Spanish language, a bunch of featurettes including post-match interviews, Mania moments, Celebrity moments, and Goldberg’s debut on the best night’s RAW. Of course, if the WWE wanted to better the anaemic buyrate, they should’ve pimped Goldberg as debuting ON the PPV instead of giving it away for free the night after it, but her, that’s why Vince is a billionaire and I’m not. Actually, neither is Vince anymore, is he? I must also agree with Scott Keith on WWE DVDs that both the RAW and S!D teams should commentate throughout the show, allowing you to choose which track to listen to on the DVD. Shit, for big events like Mania, multi-angle stuff would be neat, but I know they’ll never do anything that adventurous. Of course, the best extra would be ANOTHER audio track during the PPV, which would be the chaos channel. I’d LOVE to listen to Vince going apeshit over the headsets.
Digital Versatile Dick
Geez, I really can’t in all good conscience give this to anything other than Mario Brothers this week. I mean, there’s a crapload of terrible videogame movies out there, but I honestly think that Mario was the absolute worst of them. Though I haven’t seen it in a few years, so I might have to make the ultimate sacrifice and see it again…
CHEAP BUT GOOD MULTI-REGION PLAYER
If you’re in the UK and you’re looking for a half-decent, DIRT CHEAP entry-level multi-region DVD player, I can heartily recommend heading down to Richer Sounds. Actually, I can recommend heading down to Richer Sounds for just about any piece of home electronics, since they’re such a cool store (brand name 42” plasma screens for £2,000? Hell the hell yeah).
Since I’ve moved most of my stuff in with my girlfriend, I took all my DVD players from home, leaving my dear old dad with nothing to watch his two DVDs on. So we headed down out to find him a cheap player, and we found a little gem. £59.99? Multi-region? Fuck yeah. It’s an Acoustic Sounds not a great brand, but serviceable, and fine for a dude like my dad who only uses it once a month. But the best thing is that the damn thing plays ANYTHING: CDs, MP3s, VCDs, SVCDs it even plays CD-ROMs, as I discovered when I was looking through my CD-Rs for some MP3 tracks to test, and it started flashing all my porn JPGs across the TV. Macrovision is of course disabled, so you can… um, watch DVDs through your video.
The only problem is on Region 1 discs it sometimes does that weird, cheap DVD player thing where it looks kinda choppy (missing a frame here and there). But if you want a cheap multi-region player to use when you’re at your girlfriend’s, grandma’s or brother’s house, get one of these. Plus, Richer Sounds give you three-year warranty (a real one, not one of those dodgy Dixons ones where you’re stuck with broken shit) for a fiver. A FIVER!!!!
I think you can buy online from their website: http://www.richersounds.co.uk
CLARK W. GRISWOLD
As I understand it, the National Lampoon flicks are something of an institution in your fair United States, particularly NL’s Vacation and Animal House.
Well, Animal House already has a pretty good Special Edition, and now it’s Vacation’s turn. Yes, the 20th Anniversary Special Edition of the movie is due on August 19th, and will feature an anamorphic transfer, commentary track by the Griswold family and Harold Ramis, introductions by Chevy Chase, Randy Quiad and Matty Simmons, five featurettes and the theatrical trailer.
If I knew any National Lampoon lines, I’d close the bulletin with one.
Thanks to the DVD Times.
Well, season 3 may already be out in Region 2, but Futurama Volume 2 is slated for an August 12th release Stateside for a $50 RRP. It’ll be largely identical to the R2 version, which you can find a review of thanks to those kind folks at the DVD Times. Of course, there are commentaries on all episodes, as well as fifteen deleted scenes, seven Easter Eggs, and some cool galleries.
Also due is Family Guy Volume 2 on September 9th, which will be a three-discer. All 21 season three episodes will be included, in addition to “When You Wish Upon A Weinstein” which was considered unsuitable for air. There will be commentaries for six episodes (including the unaired ep), fifteen minutes of animatics and some other stuff. If you want to get your hands on season 3 of Family Guy a month and a half before then, it’s getting a July 21st release in Region 2. Unfortunately, this set will be completely devoid of extras, so most people will probably just want to wait until the set makes it to R1. It’ll be a while, of course.
LIKE AN ANGEL
Holy shit, there’s a fucking GORGEOUS goth chick on Channel 5 right now. Good Lord.
Anyway, Angel Season Two is headed for the US on September 2nd. And yes, the set will again be in shitty fullscreen. I know Joss Whedon keeps harping on that they only film it that way to be future-proof and it’s meant to be watched in fullscreen, but then again, this is the dude that wrote Alien Resurrection and Titan A.E.. If you want to see Angel in glorious, glorious anamorphic widescreen, come on over to Region 2 where the REAL players kick it at.
Ahem. Anyway, the set will feature commentary tracks for three episodes, two scripts, a stills gallery, blueprints gallery, and four featurettes: ‘Making Up The Monsters’ 6:40, ‘Inside The Agency’ 15:48, ‘Season 2 Overview’ 17:26, and ‘Stunts’ 5:14. I say bollocks to the R1 release - seasons 2 and 3 are both out in R2 already, and they're both in widescreen. Get on over to Play and buy them now.
THis might just be the funniest DVD concept ever. From the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation comes Comical Ali the best of Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Saeed al-Sahaf. Available for a measly £9.99 from ComicalAliDVD.com, 10% goes to the Red Cross and you get to relive the funniest moments of the Iraqi conflict. Shit, I’m just gonna print the press release cause it’s so frigging funny:
The media throws up unlikely heroes, men or women that touch us, those that triumph in the face of hardship and adversity, those that strike a resonant note in these beleaguered times. And the last 12 months has given us one such man, a warrior of unshakeable belief, a titan amongst publicists, a hero for the modern media age. The undisputed heavyweight champion of PR, the Sultan of Spin, ladies and gentlemen we bring you the Iraqi information minister!
The world stands united in admiration for him, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf a legend of the modern media age. And now you too can own the uncensored, blow by blow very greatest hits. Not only do you get to own a piece of history, but you also get to laugh your ass off.
Relive every bizarre moment, time and time again! Classic moments, news reports and lots of big explosions, alongside timeless quotes such as:
"Our initial assessment is that they will all die"
"I blame Al-Jazeera - they are marketing for the Americans!”
"Rumsfeld, he needs to be hit on the head"
(Is Saddam Hussein still alive?)
"I will only answer reasonable questions"
“They are nowhere near the airport, they are lost in the desert...they can not read a compass...they are retarded."
“NO I am not scared and neither should you be!”
“They are coming to surrender”
Websites, dolls, societies, rumours of Hollywood stars lining up to play him- even babies being named after him Comical Ali is a legend!
When the laughter subsides, one can’t help but want to reach out to Mohammed and give him a big hug. I mean what the hell choice did he have, when asked about his esteemed leader, he had this to say.
"Lying is forbidden in Iraq. President Saddam Hussein will tolerate nothing but truthfulness, as he is a man of great honour and integrity. Everyone is encouraged to speak freely of the truths evidenced in their eyes and hearts."
Poor guy… so honour his memory by buying this video!
Genius. Pure genius.
JOHN WOO, ANG LEE FOR HIRE
Well, you may have heard me pimp the BMW Films DVD of The Hire before, and now folks outside the US can get their hands on it too in the new Collector’s Edition format.
The Hire comprises eight short films by Ang Lee, John Woo, Tony Scott, Guy Ritchie and other Hollywood luminaries. They’re really just sub-ten minute promotional vehicles for BMW, um, vehicles, but the results of giving these guys a bunch of money, slick cars, custom camera rigs and telling them to go film something cool really is worth seeing. The DVD even has a pretty decent load of extras, from featurettes on the cars, the stunts and filming to trailers and making-ofs. And best of all, it’s FREE all you pay is $7.00 US and the disc will arrive in about a week. If that wasn’t good enough, the disc is region-free and the Wong Kar-Wai film that was perhaps the best of the bunch, but has been omitted from previous DVDs, has been reinstated for this release.
You can check out a review of the films themselves at the DVD Times (although the DVD they reviewed is the original promo disc that only has the first five flicks), but to get your hands on the Collector’s Edition, head on over to BMWFilms.com
DRAGON WHIPS HIS TAIL
July 20th marks the 30th anniversary of the passing of the most influential Asian superstar and martial artist, Bruce Lee, and British uber-label Hong Kong Legends are celebrating. Only July 14th, HKL are bringing the noise and the funk with a whole host of Little Dragon goodness on DVD.
The Bruce Lee 30th Anniversary Commemorative Boxed Set will go for around £50 a pop, but will be THE Bruce Lee box set to own. It will be a six-discer featuring the previous HKL releases of The Big Boss, Fist of Fury (Chinese Connection), Way of The Dragon (Return of The Dragon), the two-disc Game of Death, as well as a disc of “brand new, exclusive special features guaranteed to leave Bruce Lee fans breathless.” The disc will feature interviews with Bob Wall, siblings Robert and Phoebe Lee, Van Williams and others, rare photo galleries (which are a big deal to Lee fans), reminiscences from Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen, and articles from Inside Kung Fu, Dan Inosanto, John Saxon, John Benn and others. A collector’s edition book written by my main man Bey Logan and Brian White will also be included with the set.
However, while the original release of Way of The Dragon will be included in the set, the all-new Platinum Edition will only be available as a standalone release. Yep, HKL are going all Hollywood on us. The set will feature an additional disc of features, with an introduction by Robert Lee and interviews with Bob Wall and Robert Lee, among others. There will also be rare personal photographs from Insosanto, Lee, as well as Japanese fans and collectors.
The Bruce Lee Documentary Double Pack features the two famous documentaries Bruce Lee: The Legend and Bruce Lee: The Man and The Legend. Both documentaries are certainly worth seeing, but the big attraction of the release is an all-new and exclusive English translation of a Bruce Lee interview from shortly before his death detailing his plans for his next film.
Although all of this is great news, and there is certainly no better way to celebrate the life of the Little Dragon than re-releasing all of his great films, a lot of Bruce Lee fans are going to get shafted by this. Firstly, anyone who wants the “brand new, exclusive special features guaranteed to leave Bruce Lee fans breathless” will have to shell out £50 for the boxset. Secondly, anyone who buys the ultimate commemorative boxset thingy for £50 will have to fork out another £20 if they want the new WoTD disc, since only the original, single-disc version of the film is included in the set. And the problem is, most of the people who would want these DVDs have already bought them separately the first time around. When the HKL Bruce Lee Boxset was released, a lot of people felt screwed over because the set was a lot cheaper than buying the films individually, which is what most people had done. Now, those same fans who have already bought the films once will have to buy them all over again in a crazy new boxset to get a bonus disc that is only going to be of interest to them (and will hardly be a draw to non-Bruce fans), and will have to buy WoTD a THIRD TIME to get the proper version of that. I don’t mind companies releasing and re-releasing when they’ve got worthwhile features to add to a disc or set, and I appreciate that to get certain supplemental discs you have to buy the big sets, but the only people who will want this Bruce Lee disc will be the Bruce Lee fans who have already bought the damn discs before. HKL are a friendly publisher, so hopefully they can work something out to appease the hundreds of thousands of people who are bitching about this. Including me.
Anyway, thanks to the DVD Times.
Well, it would appear that Sony desperate as they are to turn a decent profit these days (a month ago they posted their biggest net loss in eight years and warned that this year’s profit will be its lowest in nine years, resulting in a loss of a quarter of its market value in two days and a share-price at seven-year lows), are pulling out the big guns.
First, they announced a new handheld system to combat the seemingly-unstoppable GameBoy. Now they’re going all CD-i on us and have announced the PSX an all-in-one entertainment centre for a Japanese 2003 release. Oh dear, these things never turn out well (cough, CDTV, CD-i, MegaPC, splutter). Nonetheless, the PSX will be PS2 technology in a sleeker, quieter body, with a DVD recorder, TV tuner, 120 gig hard drive, TiVO-esque functionality, Ethernet adaptor and USB 2.0 port for Sony memory sticks. Which is all well and good, but it’s still the same ratty-assed PS2 technology that already looks creaky. No US or European price or release has been announced, but you can bet it won’t be under $250 or before summer 2004, and no matter how neat it is, I’m not sure people are going to spend that much on an ageing console with bolts on when the next generation of machines will be literally a year away. The only saving grace is that basic PS2s will be dirt cheap, allowing gamers to pick them up for peanuts and enjoy gams like TransFormers before PS3s and GameSpheres start appearing.
Head on over to GamesRadar.co.uk to see pictures of the PSX (which, in all fairness, looks pretty sleek. Though, so did the Jaguar and FM Towns Marty).
Holy hell, that was a mammoth task. Now I’ve got to put this damn thing in GoLive! and HTML it. Oh well, it’s still good to be back. Take care folks, and remember:
I AM THINKING, I AM A BIGGER MAN THAN YOU WILL EVER BE~!