The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume One (The Early Years)Paramount
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)
I never watched this show when it aired. It was in the "No TV!" years for me, as I quietly protested the cancellation of Twin Peaks and tried to get a career started for myself. I am a big Indiana Jones fan, so the chance to catch up and see what this show was all about was intriguing. After the set arrived in the mail, I started watching, and I liked it.
The show follows young Indiana Jones as he travels the world and starts to get into the whole archeology thing. Along the way, Indy comes into contact with historical legends like Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. The show was family-oriented and featured the likes of Sean Patrick Flannery, Corey Carrier and even Harrison Ford (in a second-season cameo) as Jones.
It's fun to see a young Indy running around whining about tutors and getting advice from his dad. The show was a high-quality venture, and for those of you who think the Indiana Jones adventures stop with the films, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Creator George Lucas had mapped out a series of 70 or so episodes, getting just north of 30 when the plug was pulled. Of course, the story will continue next year with the release of the fourth Indiana Jones film. These DVDs will act as a nice primer for the big event.
Special Features: This is a damned good history lesson for kids. Along with the educational Indiana adventures, there are many interactive featurettes discussing the historical artifacts and periods the series touched upon. You could do a lot worse than giving this puppy to your child for Christmas.
Live Free or Die Hard: Unrated (Two-Disc Special Edition)20th Century Fox
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)
And with this much-anticipated release, we get to hear Bruce Willis exclaim, "Yippee kay yay, motherfucker!"
There was much grumbling among geeks when this film was released with a PG-13 rating earlier this year. Thanks to the DVD release, we finally get the unrated (which feels like an R) version of the film. It features a few more colorful words and some extra blood. As fans know, the tail end of John McClane's trademark saying was blocked by a gunshot in the theatrical version. Now you get every syllable, and that's worth the price of the DVD.
Ratings-controversy aside, this film is a lot of fun. Willis seemed to be enjoying his chance to revisit the character, as Stallone did when he said hello to Rocky again last year. The plot, something about a crazed computer whiz (Timothy Olyphant) creating a massive computer apocalypse, was entertaining, as was new sidekick Justin Long.
Special Features: A Willis commentary, an interview with Kevin Smith and making-of documentaries make this a fun pickup.
Caligula: The Imperial EditionImage Entertainment
Movie F, F, F, F, F!!!
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor -734 (out of 10)
Oh, lord God, am I sorry I watched this.
Bob Guccione, publisher of Penthouse magazine, got a bunch of big stars (Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole, Helen Mirren) to star in this Roman epic based on a Gore Vidal screenplay. When the dailies weren't to his liking, Guccione insisted upon the addition of hard-core footage. The result was a big-budget, Roman-flavored porn movie that represents the very worst cinema has to offer.
McDowell plays a crazed emperor, obsessed with power and in love with his sister. McDowell, who was fairly in demand at the time, delivered a diseased performance that derailed his career.
The movie contains necrophilia, fisting, rape, dogs eating dicks and, yes, hard-core pornography. Various versions have been released over the years, and this collection includes the uncensored cut, showcasing intercourse, blowjobs, wanking into pans, and beautiful women urinating on corpses. Don't show this one at your big year-end toga party, unless you want someone to punch you in the face.
Special Features: McDowell and Mirren provide commentaries for the edited version of the film, which is still vile, but less vile. Documentaries and such fill out this package that I implore you not to buy.
Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next DoorAnchor Bay
Special Features C
DVD Geek Factor 1.5 (out of 10)
Based on some real-life events, this is one of those movies you don't ever need to see, like Caligula. Blanche Baker plays Aunt Ruth, a crazy person who tortures a young woman left in her care (played bravely by Blythe Auffarth) during the 1960s. It's based on the real murder of Sylvia Likens, the subject of another movie made this past year (An American Crime, starring Ellen Page).
What drags this film down is the terrible performance by Baker, delivered as if she were reading her lines off of cue cards. Stephen King is on the record as praising this film, but the man is dreadfully wrong. It's poorly conceived and poorly made.
Special Features: Commentaries and making-of documentaries that you don't need to watch.