A host of mid-level blockbusters and some serious classic films highlight the DVD release schedule for the week of Dec. 7.
Heading things up is Warner Bros.’ special edition of the Renny Harlin-directed action feature “Deep Blue Sea” ($24.98 SRP). A sort of 1999 version of “Jaws,” “Deep Blue Sea” features a group of scientists attempting to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by experimenting on sharks. As the sea creatures are altered with enlarged brains, they begin to get uppity, and chaos ensues. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Saffron Burrows and Thomas Jane. Warner’s special edition includes a running commentary, behind-the-scenes documentaries and detailed storyboards and stills.
As expected, Disney has re-released its Academy Award-winning “Shakespeare in Love” ($39.99 SRP), this time in a deluxe, special edition. The Best Picture recipient at last year’s Oscar presentation now features a pair of audio commentaries — one with director John Madden and one with cast and crew as well as deleted scenes and a spotlight on costumes. Unfortunately, this pattern of releasing and then re-releasing its films in special-edition format comes as a bit of a blow to Disney enthusiasts who find themselves having to buy multiple copies of a film in order to get all the added goodies. On the plus side, at least these special editions are actually seeing the light of day in the first place. You decide.
Director Mike Figgis‘ controversial “Loss of Sexual Innocence” ($27.95 SRP) will also hit shelves this week in a special-edition package. Debuting at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and starring Julian Sands, Saffron Burrows and Kelly MacDonald, the feature includes a running audio commentary by Figgis, as well as the original theatrical trailer.
The Disney animated classics continue to roll off the presses. This week, an old classic joins a newer one when “The Jungle Book” ($39.99 SRP) and “The Little Mermaid” ($39.99 SRP) hit video outlets. Both are presented in their proper aspect ratios (1.33:1 and 1.66:1, respectively) and are available only for 60 days. Unfortunately, neither includes any real extras and will probably have collectors shelling out additional cash at some point down the line when the real special editions finally hit the streets.
For those looking for a walk on the wild side, the seminal 1969 biker epic “Easy Rider” ($24.95 SRP) hits stores in a deluxe special edition. Starring Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, “Easy Rider” turned a generation on to the beauty of riding a big, loud Harley across America. Easily one of the most influential psychedelic films of its time, “Easy Rider” continues to impress filmgoers. Columbia/TriStar’s special edition also includes a running commentary by actor/director Hopper, as well as the making-of documentary “Easy Rider: Shaking the Cage.”
The filmmakers of today owe a monumental debt of gratitude to cinema’s forefathers, not the least of which is silent-film icon D.W. Griffith. The grandfather of modern filmmaking was riding a high and powerful wave when he released his 1916 tour de force “Intolerance.”
His 178-minute ode to man’s brutality toward man throughout history was one of the most expensive and time-consuming projects ever attempted. Jumping between tales of injustice from four different moments in history (known as the Babylonian, French, Judaean and Modern stories), “Intolerance” proved to be far, far ahead of its time. While film scholars marvel at the detail and complex storytelling, the film proved disastrous at its time of release. Fortunately, in the 83 years since its box office flop, film lovers have come to embrace Griffith‘s tale of corruption and inhumanity as perhaps the most important work in early film history. Image Entertainment’s special edition DVD of “Intolerance” ($29.99 SRP) includes the fully restored 178-minute version of the film, as well as deleted segments, publicity material and copyright registration frames.
From the classics to the notorious, home video will never be the same once documentary filmmaker Todd Phillips’ ode to the late punk rock icon G.G. Allin hits stores this week. “Hated: G.G. Allin & the Murder Junkies” ($24.98 SRP) documents the performer’s final U.S. tour after his parole from a Michigan prison on assault charges. With a wide (and amazingly fair) assortment of interviews with fans, former teachers and band members, as well as archival and concert footage, “Hated” paints a disturbing portrait of a man whose biggest claim to fame cannot even be printed on a family Web site. As controversial as its subject (upon word of Allin’s lethal drug overdose in June 1993, several magazine reports began with the qualifier that “it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy”), “Hated” gives viewers a well-rounded introduction into a world most would rather not inhabit.