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MonDVDay News Update

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I’m a happy, happy man. Why, you might ask? Well, two reasons. Firstly, I’ve managed to find somewhere in the UK who sells low-carb chocolate, pasta, bread and crisps (or “chips” as the American contingent will no doubt insist on calling them). Best part is, they carry the world famous Ross’ Chocolates, which just about everybody has recommended to me. Dear God, I hope they’re good…




The second reason I’m just pissing myself with glee is that I’ve just got my hands on a Neo Geo emulator and an almost complete set of ROMs. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Neo Geo was a Snes-era video games console that was basically an arcade machine in a box, and played slightly modified arcade boards that fit into cartridges about one and a half times the size of a VHS tape. Fatal Fury, King of Fighters those are all Neo games, and the KoF series is still (kinda) going today, just to prove how good the technology was/is. Only problem is that, being as you were basically buying arcade games, each game ran about $150, with the later games being closer to $250-$300. Obviously, then, a habit more expensive than crack (although arguably more fun, and better for you).




So then, I was a VERY happy bunny when I picked up the emulator NeoRageX and just about every game ever released on the platform. I’ve still got my cart-Neo and about six games (in absolute MINT condition), but playing them at lightning speed on my laptop is absolutely the dog’s bollocks. DUCK KING, BABY~!



I’ve just got my hands on Predator: Special Edition, but I’m a little tied up for a couple of days, so expect a review on Wednesday or Thursday. And, again for the UK readers, I’ll be doing some work at Future Publishing from Wednesday onwards at GamesMaster magazine, so I’ll keep you posted on when you can see my issue pop up. With any luck, THQ’ll pop along again with some betas of Mania X8, SD!4 and RAW2



Anyway, enough of me, LET’S HIT THE CONTENT~!












Kind of a ho-hum week. One or two big releases, but mostly re-releases and a couple of oddities. Oh well.




What looks like the ultimate presentation of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet is out this week, with the (now patented) Lynch-supervised anamorphic transfer, documentary featuring new interviews with the cast and crew, “archive interview” with Lynch (thanks to his anti-DVD extras bias), Siskel and Ebert review, and deleted scenes montage. From what I hear, this is NOT the complete two hours of rumoured deleted scenes (since most of that has been destroyed), but an assembly of what’s left. However, a number of photographs of some of the lost scenes appear in the stills gallery, so it looks like this is as close as we’ll ever get.




There’s a nice Special Edition of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, with a director’s commentary, a 45 minute making-of with cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross, William Goldman and Burt Bacharach, production notes, and a DVD-ROM interactive history of Butch and Sundance. And the whole thing’s anamorphic! Hurrah! Amazon are flogging a bunch of boxset-boxsets containing every season boxset of a show in one BIG boxset, for about a hundred bucks apiece. Sex and The City, Absolutely Fabulous and The Sopranos are among those on offer, so go check it out.




Weird Al’s classic UHF gets a very tasty Special Edition, although you’ll either be someone who rushes out and buys the disc without batting an eyelid or someone for whom “Conan The Librarian” means absolutely nothing. I’d imagine most people here fall into the former category. Muppet Treasure Island gets a BLOODY BASTARD PAN & SCAM release, but does come with a commentary track and Tim Curry camping it up as only he can.




And something for the purists, the Criterion edition of Alec Guiness’ The Horse’s Mouth features a new digital anamorphic transfer supervised by the director, a video interview with the director, and even the original short documentary film Daybreak Express which opened the film’s original NY theatrical run, with an introduction by the filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker. Best of all, the disc is Region-free!




The rest of it’s pretty much filler. There’s a Cheech and Chong flick, Liz Hurley looking awesome and Ice Cube as some kind of South African tribesman in Dangerous Ground, and a Platinum Edition (!!!) of the awful, awful Dungeons & Dragons. There’s a couple of films that are actually good, like Dog Day Afternoon, Outbreak and American History X, and then there’s crap like The Neverending Story Part III. Special mention must also go to Girls Who Like Girls, which promises to be a look at the erotic art of lesbian lovemaking, and Human Monster with everyone’s favourite drug-abusing B-movie madman Bela Lugosi. Better still, it’s going for less than ten bucks! Bargain!




Daddy of The Week: Body Slam “Digital Collector’s Edition”. Alas, this isn’t the Roddy Piper Body Slam movie that you all love so well, but rather a very low budget DVD release. “Enter the world of independent wrestling, where young hopefuls dream of making it big time in the WWF… A make or break environment where intense competition and struggle can pay off with a professional contract - or a split second mistake can break your neck and end your career. Body Slam looks behind the glitz and glam of the stage shows and presents the true stories of four dedicated athletes, at different stages in their game, living on a shoestring and a dream.” The only people I recognised were Christopher Daniels and some guy who looks like Puddle of Mudd’s lead singer. This looks like guaranteed WrestleCrap material.












Shedloads of importat DVD announcements have been made in the last week, so let’s get straight down to them.




Season 2 of Friends is on its way on September 3rd for a wallet-churning seventy bucks. The set looks just as light on features as the first (not that that’ll matter to fans), with a producers’ commentary on only two episodes, an interactive tour of the girls’ apartment, another “Friends of Friends” guide to guest appearances, another trivia challenge, bios, and pointless DVD-ROM stuff. The Sweetest Thing is on schedule for an August 20th release in Rated and Unrated editions. Specs aren’t available, but the Unrated disc has about six minutes of extra footage, and both are rocking a 5.1 mix. Ed Wood is scheduled for an August 13th release, and if it’s anything like the UK version, it’ll contain about half an hour of extra material and very possibly a commentary track.




In ever-welcome Blade Runner news, Ridley Scott has echoed my wishes (expressed in some old column that I can’t find a link to right now) for a three-disc set à la Brazil, with the theatrical cut, director’s cut, and supplemental material on the separate discs. The set is now due for a December release after the recent scrapping of the November 18th release date.




Collateral Damage is due to street on July 24th, with anamorphic/5.1, Arnold Brownschweiger commentary (YES~!), featurettes, additional scenes, filmographies, DVD-ROM and the like. August 20th sees the release of We Were Soldiers, with anamorphic transfer and 5.1 EX, director’s commentary, featurette, and 10 deleted scenes with optional commentary. And bizarrely, John Q has been selected as the next Infinifilm release, due July 16th. Expect an anamorphic transfer, Dolby and DTS 5.1, filmmaker’s commentary, a behind-the-scenes documentary, and deleted and alternate scenes with optional director’s commentary.




Gosford Park (jeez, I’m English and it looks boring even to me) is due for a June 25th release, including a director’s commentary, a writer’s commentary, twenty minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary, making-of, a look at the authenticity of the period in which the film is set, a cast and crew Q&A session, trailers and so on. The flick’s also anamorphic with teeth-rattling 5.1, so you can enjoy the fruity accents from every channel!




And finally, fans of overhyped, undeserving-of-Academy-Award films will be happy to know that A Beautiful Mind is ready for release on June 25th. The two-discer includes the obligatory anamorphic transfer, director’s commentary and writer’s commentary, ‘A Beautiful Partnership’ featurette looking at the Ron Howard-Brian Grazier relationship, interview with Akiva Goldsman about the construction of the screenplay, conversation between Howard and John Nash, footage of Nash receiving his Nobel prize, a featurette on the casting of Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, a look at the effects used to age the cast, a special effects featurette, a featurette with James Horner on the film’s score, ‘Inside A Beautiful Mind’ featurette including small interviews with Nash and his wife, footage from the Academy Awards ceremony (although none from the BAFTAs…), storyboard comparisons with Ron Howard, 18 Deleted Scenes with optional commentary. Well, that actualy looks pretty good, but unless there’s an Easter Egg showing all of Connelly’s movie nude scenes, I’m still not sold.












Alas, the forthcoming Region 4 release of the Battlestar Galactica boxset has been put back - over a YEAR. The set was originally due from Universal for a June release has now been “postponed until mid-2003”. From Tim Smith, Senior Product Manager for Universal Pictures Video Australia:




“We had received so much feedback from fans as to what they would like to see in the collection… it simply does not do a release of this calibre the justice it deserves in order to be ready for its original planned release date… "Many additional elements I had hoped to have ready for our release are still being researched at this very moment in the U.S.… In addition to this, there are major sound and image enhancements being carried out to the original masters. Whilst our local digital masters were assessed and cleared for DVD authoring, it makes more sense to await for the extensive remastering to allow the very best quality that DVD can provide".




According to Smith, 2003 is the perfect time to release the set to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of the show and the new TV mini-series. If you think he’s full of shit, drop Universal a line and let them have it.




Thanks to The Times, for their omnipotent DVD knowledge.












Well, this makes me happy. Real-time TV drama 24 is on due for release on August 19th… in Region 2 . Ha!




According to the good folks at The Times, the entire 24-episode season is set for a 6-disc boxset. Nothing has been confirmed in the extras department, although there is a rumour that the set will include the five alternate endings filmed to prevent spoilers.




And the best thing of all? The price, baby. Whereas sets like Buffy and ST:TNG (don’t even get me started on the bloody X-Files) are going for the pocket-busting £70 ($99) price range, 24 is currently available for pre-order for £30-£35 ($42-$49), which is a Godsend for DVD freaks. As always, I’d recommend Play.com to anyone thinking of importing, but for goodness sake’s, make sure your machine is multi-region first or you’ll be very disappointed and won’t read my stuff any more.












You know this film isn’t even out in the UK yet? If not for Kazaa, most people wouldn’t have seen it. Not that I endorse piracy or anything.




From a thread at the HomeTheaterForum, these (unconfirmed, though not necessarily incorrect) specs for the Region 4 release are likely going to be the same when the Region 1 disc is released on November 7th:









- The Spider-Man feature film.




- “Set top Prologue Comic Book” a kind of interactive comic book, where you click on each frame which then opens up with dialogue and animation. The is set just before the movie itself, and will also alert you to a hidden story within the film itself. Sounds interesting, but kinda vague to me.



- Audio Commentary with White Rabbit/Buddy Christ “Spider Sense” Featuring Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe. When the Spider Sense tingles, you can press enter to see video of the commentary participants or branching supplememtal material. Sounds cool, anyway.



- Special Effects Audio Commentary

- Tobey Maguire Screen Tests

- Blooper Reel.

- Storyboard Process Workshop.

- Alternative Music Workshop for Opening Sequence.

- DVD ROM Content.

- Weblinks (huh huh, “web”links)









- 9 Featurettes detailing the making of Spider-Man.

- Spider-Man 101 A documentary looking at the history of Spidey.




- “The Loves of Peter Parker” A featurette looking at all the mama citas that have been in Spidey’s life.



- "An appreciation: What Spider-Man means to me." Hosted by Stan Lee and featuring artists, writers and actors. Includes links to artist portfolios, which should be cool.




- “The Art of Spider-Man” Includes a morphing look at the development of Spider-Man and the Green Goblin over the years, from Ditko to Romita Jr.



- A Conversation with Stan Lee.

- Comic to Screen Comparisons (with Angles).

- Trivia Game

- Animated Character Files

- Storyboard to Film Comparisons (with Angles).

- Easter Eggs




You know what, that looks like one fucking splendid Digital Versatile Disc.


Thanks to The Times.












Blade 2 kicks so much ass. Some of the CGI fights looked a little iffy, but for the most part this was such a good action flick, and New Line look set to give it (like its predecessor) the DVD it deserves. Again, this is from a thread at the HTF pertaining to the R4 release, but it should be almost identical to the R1 release on September 3rd:









- Commentary Track with Guillermo Del Toro (director) and David S. Goyer (writer)

- Commentary Track with Peter Frankfurt (producer) and Wesley Snipes (Blade, duh)

- Isolated score (um, with who, Fatboy slim and Roni Size?)






DISC TWO (Three hours of video material~!)




- Director's Notebook Interactive reproduction of director's notes with an intro by Guillermo


- A Pact in Blood Collection of documentaries on production, story and other subjects


- Production Workshop


- Art gallery


- Original theatrical press kit


- Deleted/alternate scenes


- Blade II video game survival guide (being as the Shrek one was of such quality)


- Music video: Cypress Hill and Roni Size "Child of the Wild West"


- Theatrical trailers


- DVD-ROM Content


- Script-to-Screen


- Original Website (the WHOLE website?)












This is a pretty disturbing story from IGN that should only push George Lucas further down our list of favourite people.




When people think of DVD, they think of the ultimate way to enjoy a feature film by way of commentaries, deleted scenes, documentaries and so on. When you think of a film that has gone through evolutions or revisions - such as Brazil, Blade Runner or ET - you would assume that a DVD release would contain (in some shape or form) the original version as well as the revised version. Makes sense, right?




So then, come the release of the original Star Wars Trilogy - perhaps the most popular franchise of all time - common sense would dictate that, through overpriced boxset or other such means, both the original theatrical editions and Lucas’ recent special editions (which the fool is STILL adding to) would be released. Right? RIGHT?




Wrong. A recent article in the Star Wars Insider thoroughly pisses all over any such hopes. Georgie Porgie was asked about the release of the original cuts of the first trilogy on DVD, to which the bearded one replied: “I don't think so. I think of the film as the Special Edition, I don't think of it as the early version, any more than I would put early rough cuts on. I could put four or five rough cuts onto the thing and say, 'This is how it advanced.' I consider the Special Edition as being the final version at this point. I don't even worry about the other ones, because it went through a lot of incarnations to get to the final stage."





It’s one thing for the guy to take a shit all over his own legacy by making unnecessary, overhyped and thoroughly mediocre prequels, but to deny twenty years of lore and pretend that the original films never even existed is too much. I doubt the lasting legacy of the franchise would have been any different had Han never shot first or regardless of exactly what Vader said about his shuttle, but still there’s no excuse for this. I’m fairly certain that, sooner or later, common sense and/or financial imperative will prevail somewhere within the Lucas camp between now and 2004, but if not, there’s an online petition you can all sign right here.









And that, sadly, brings us to the end of another update. I’m very tired, and I now have to go and feed a cat and clean up loads of shit (probably). Oh well.





Feedback’s always welcome - remember people, if you don’t say anything, I’ll never learn. Failing that, take care, and see you in seven.







Jay Spree



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