DVD VIEWS

 

Doctor Who: Robot. Rated PG.  $29.95RRP

 Featuring the Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith, & Harry. Guest Villain: Scientific Reform Society.

 I am surprised this was not an earlier release, but hey can’t complain as it is now out on DVD. This is the first full story that Tom Baker appeared as the Doctor taking over from Jon Pertwee after his four year run as the Doctor.  Tom Baker of cause appeared at the end of the regeneration scene in the story Planet of Spiders.

 The story centres on UNIT investigating a series of baffling burglaries. The Brigadier calls on the Doctor’s help. And soon their investigation leads them to sinister political party the “Scientific Reform Society”.

 I like this story, I like how Tom Baker just owns the role of the Doctor, he steals every scene he is in, and so he should being the lead, nevertheless that could not have been an easy task, in scenes with the more established characters like the Brigadier, and Sarah Jane Smith. How ever he does it with ease.

 Extras on this release are the standard making of, production notes, photo gallery, Radio Times listing (PDF file), there is a commentary, with Elisabeth Sladen, Tom Baker, and Terrace Dicks, an excerpt from Blue Peter when they used the Robot set, an explanation behind the opening & closing tunnel effect of Doctor Who. I have to say I liked the making of Are friends Electric? Very insightful, and interesting.

 I believe this is classic Who at it’s best, and a welcomed release for DVD.

 Doctor Who: Timelash. Rated PG. 29.95RRP

 Featuring the Sixth Doctor  & Peri. Guest Villain: The Borad (check spelling)

 This is possibly the worst of all the Sixth Doctor’s adventures, which says a lot for those who remember Twin Dilemma.  What does not help this story is the fact it was sandwiched between the better The Two Doctors, & Resurrection of the Daleks.

 Timelash has the Doctor & Peri making a forced landing on the planet Karfel in which the inhabitants are expecting the arrival of the Doctor, oh look, this story is a mesh mash of a repress people, a half lizard half man, mad man who takes a liking to Peri, and wants to change her to half beast too, rebels, a time thingy that the government of Karfel uses on political prisoners, that sends them to Earths past, oh and H. G. Wells. An almost incoherent story-line that you have to watch a couple of times to try and make sense of what the story is about.

 I think what gets me is that the story itself has some good ideas, I think having H G Wells meeting the Doctor is inspired. The Borad looks amazing and actor plays him well. But the rest seems to be mangled together and really has you scratching your head, and some of the story plots go no where like, did I miss something what happen to the rebels. A rushed together story on a budget and it shows.

 The extras are minimal. Though the making of is good in that it explains the hows and whys this story came out as it did.  Script editors Eric Saward feelings to John Nathan Turner are shown. It also explains why Colin Baker & Nicola Bryant acting seems laboured and under rehearsed  in places and the reason is where they should have been practising the script they where sent to a convention in the States, and then were sent off to do a pantomime. OK. The commentary is laboured, and I think Colin, Nicola, and Paul Darrow are a little embarrassed in what they are watching.

 A disappointing story for the most part and a story that could have been so much more.

Doctor Who: Survival. Rated PG. $29.95RRP
Featuring the Seventh Doctor, & Ace. Guest Villain: The Master.

This was the last televised story in the Sylvester McCoy's era of Doctor Who, and the last televised Doctor Who story until the 1996 Doctor Who made for TV movie starring Paul McGann. The story centres on the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), and Ace (Sophie Aldred), arriving in Ace's home town of Perivale where strange things are happening, people are going missing, and the stray cats are more meaner, and vicious. The Doctor investigates and soon finds himself face to face with the Master.

At least you can say Doctor Who went out with a bang not a whimper, as this story was great, there was was good pacing, good thrills, spills, and even the odd scare. The effects in my opinion were for the most part were good especially the alien landscape, brilliant. I liked too the voice-over at the end, what a great way to end the series.

This Doctor Who DVD release is in my opinion possibly the best release for ages. And I say that because this 2 disc set brimmed with some of best and interesting extras I have seen on a Doctor Who release for ages. Disc 1 has a great commentary with McCoy, Aldred, and Andrew Cartmel. Also a brilliant making of documentary of Survival, very informative and insightful. Disc 2 is worth going through all the extras on this disc, though the biggest stand out to me has to be the  very cool documentary that answers the question if there had been another season with Sylvester McCoy what would of have happened, great, brilliant.

A brilliant story of "Classic Who", has made it to DVD. I am very happy with this release, as I have always been a fan of Sylvester McCoy from the screening of Silver Nemesis here in New Zealand as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who, and rediscovering his Doctor in 1990 on Sunday mornings at 10am on TV2 here in New Zealand.

Supernatural: Season 1. Rated M. $79.95RRP

Supernatural tells of two brother who protect the public from things that go bumped in the night. This release is the entire first season which consists of the episodes, Pilot, Wendigo, Dead in the Water, Phantom Traveler, Bloody Mary, Skin, Hook Man, Bugs, Home Asylum, Scarecrow, Faith, Route 666, Nightmare, The Benders, Shadow, Hell House, Something Wicked, Provenance, Dead Man's Blood, Salvation, Devil's Trap. This release is spread over 6 discs.

When I first heard of this series, I was thinking this sounds like a Buffy wannabe. Having now watched it, I can say about the only thing that is similar is the main characters fight demons and those of a supernatural nature. In  series 1 the main story is set around the brothers trying to find their father who is also a demon hunter, who has gone missing. And each episode they follow clues to their dads where-about and fight something scary, and in each episode they are one step closer in finding their dad. This series is scary, though there are some belts of humour, this series is most certainly stuck in the genres of horror / fantasy / thriller. I have to say some of these stories did totally creep me out, and the ones that comes straight to my mind are the episodes Bloody Mary, Scarecrow, & Asylum. Oh boy was I freaked out when I saw these stories.

The picture and sound quality is good, though the soundtrack is only in 2.0. Something else that surprise me was that there were no special features on this release. Which took me back a little as it's US counter-part did. However you are getting season 1 as one release, and not broken up into two parts as some TV series can be.

A good series to follow if you like a good scare, and mystery to solve. I believe Supernatural will be in its third season when it starts up again in the States this September. Oh I should say the series ends on one of best cliff-hangers that I have seen, and will have you hanging out for the first episode of season two.

Black Sheep. Rated R13. $29.95RRP

Starring Nathan Master, Danelle Mason, Tammy Davis, Peter Feeney, Glenis Levestam, Tandi Wright, and Oliver Driver.

When it comes to splatter movies thanks to Peter Jackson's Bad Taste New Zealand has quite the cult following in that genre, and it is fun that this movie was made, and released. And I am sure, it will,  like Bad Taste, develop it's own cult following. The story tells of Henry Oldfield returning home to his family farm to what he believes will be his last time. Soon things go south, when a mutated lamb embryo is stolen then accidentally released, which attacks sheep and turns them savage, and when those sheep attack and bite humans they turn the humans into were-sheep and only Henry, the farmhand Tucker, and the greenie girl Experience can save the day and the country from murderous blood thirsty sheep, and the even deadlier were-sheep, brilliant only in New Zealand.

I think this movie is great, really sick and twisted, clever, and spray soft drink from your nose funny. I know there are those who would say compared to Bad Taste this movie is rather tame. I say good for you and you are entitled to your opinion and I still say this movie has a lot going for it, and is still uniquely Kiwi and still sick and twisted, and a whole lot of fun. I believe the film flows well, from the start to finish, from the idyllic life on the farm opening to the break in, to the sheep on the rampage, to the escape, to fighting back, to the end. Brilliant.

Special features on this disc include audio commentary, making of feature, deleted scenes, and blooper reel. All up pretty standard, but still worth the watch and listen too. The picture and sound quality is great.

All up, a great kiwi horror / comedy that in my opinion deserves a cult following and all the positive praise it can muster (sorry could not help myself).

300. Rated R16. $39.95RRP

Starring Gerald Butler,  Lena Headey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Satoro, and Dominic West.

This is the film version of Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name. The story is based on the 300 Spartans lead by King Leonidas (Gerald Butler) that fought off  a vast Parisian army under the leadership of Xerxes (Rodrigo Satoro) for days before being wiped out. Zack Snyder stays faithful to Frank Miller's graphic novel 300, much in the same way as RR was with his adaptation of Sin City. This movie though brutal, and violent held my attention from start to finish I was totally mesmerised by the whole movie, and could easily set through it time & time again, and possibly get something new from it, much the same way as I was with the original Matrix movie. The acting is great, Gerald Butler had me believing he was King Leonidas, and I enjoyed the inter-play between Leonidas & his wife (Lena Headey).

I thought the picture & sound quality was superb, it was so good, the colours the sound, everything just brilliant. Special features are "Additional Scenes of the traitorous hunchback, and never before seen giant warriors". Featurettes on this set are "Frank Miller's Vision Realised on Film", "300 Spartans - Fact or Fiction?: The Shocking Life of a Spartan Revealed", "Who Were the Spartans?: How the Actors build their characters based on Spartan customs", Webisodes: Go on Set with the cast & crew, and there is a commentary by Director Zack Snyder.

I believe is is great release for DVD. I believe here in New Zealand you only have the choice of the 2 disc verison, which is OK as the extras on the second disc, give better understanding to the hows & whys behind the story of 300, and how the movie was made.

Smallville: The Complete Fifth Season. Rated M. $49.95RRP.

Starring Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, Erica Durance, Alison Mack, John Glover, Annette O'Toole, & John Schneider.


This is the fifth season of Smallville, which consists of the episodes, Arrival, Mortal, Hidden, Aqua, Thirst, Exposed, Splinter, Solitude, Lexmas, Fanatic, Lockdown, Reckoning, Vengeance, Tomb, Cyborg, Hypnontic, Void, Fragile, Mercy, Fade, Oracle, and Vessel. This set is spread over 6 discs.

Certainly a darker season then its predecessors, with Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) embracing his dark side more, and I believe is the villain, manipulating those around him to allow him to accomplish his own twisted agenda. Guest villain is the wonderful James Marsters (James played Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer & its spin off Angel), who plays the mysterious Professor Fine, who also has a hidden agenda that could see the end of Clark (Tom Welling). Last season saw Clark meeting up with the future Flash, this season he meets up with Aquaman, and Cyborg. I mention the series is dark, and another reason why I say this is along the way to become Superman, Clark in this season makes some big mistakes, and needs to live with the consequences of his action, which at times makes for some hard-hitting story lines. On a lighter side watch out for a Duke of Hazards inspired sequence in the episode "Exposed" great stuff.

Special features on this set are audio commentaries on the episodes, Thirst, and Splinter. A making of feature concerning the 100th episode "Reckoning". An excerpt from the Superman documentary "Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman" which plays like a over long trailer. And deleted scenes from 11 episodes.

All up did I enjoy this series, and the answer is yes as Smallville is ultimately the story of Clark becoming Superman, and Lex becoming his ultimate nemesis, and this the fifth series is most certainly moving forward towards that conclusion.

Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment. Rated PG. $29.95RRP

Featuring The Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane, & Harry. Guest villian - The Sontarans.

This 30 something year old two part story bridged the Doctor Who stories Ark in Space & Genesis of the Daleks. This was also part of Tom Baker's first season as the Doctor. The story has the Doctor and companions landing on the surface of Earth to make some repairs for the space station they were pervousily on (Ark in Space). The Doctor, Harry, and Sarah Jane soon happen upon the dreaded Sontaran's who are conducting cruel experiments on a small group of humans that they have xcaptured. The Doctor must put a stop to this.

The Sontaran Experiment works well as a two part story. Very dark in story, though still compelling and worth the sit down to. Quite interesting too, to the fact this is the story Tom Baker broke his collar bone, and Terry Walsh stepped up and did most of action scenes. Also interesting to fact, the whole story was shoot out-doors.

This release comes with a commentary by Elisabeth Sladen, Phillip Hinchcliffe, and Bob Baker. There is a 40 minute plus documentary on the Sontarans, and the Doctor Who stories they were in (not bad, quite insightful). And the standard photo gallary and production notes. The sound and picture has also been remastered, and it most certainly shows.

All up not a great Doctor Who story nor is it a bad Doctor Who story, just a story that is inbetween.

Doctor Who: New Beginnings. Rated PG. $TBA

Starring Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding, Matthew Waterhouse, and Anthony Ainley.

New Beginnings is the last two stories of Season 18 starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, and the first story of Season 19 starring Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor.

The first story on this set is "The Keeper of Traken". The story has the Doctor (Tom Baker), and Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), being summoned by the Keeper of Traken (Denis Carey) to save his world from an ancient evil. The Doctor arrives on Traken to investigate. Soon the inhabitants believe the Doctor is the evil one, and it seems someone in the shadows is pulling the strings, someone who wishes to reek it's revenge on the Doctor. Compared to the pervious stories of this season, it is somewhat of a let down, as it is rather slow, and if anything a in between story that starts to set things up for the grand finale of Season 18, and the passing of the torch for Tom Baker to Peter Davison.

The next story is Logopolis, the final story of the Tom Baker era. This story has the Doctor returning to Earth to do some repairs on the TRADIS, so does the Master seeking vengeance, and soon the Master starts a series of events that will see the destruction of the universe, and only the Doctor can save it. An epic story a well written story, and very much the swan-song to see Tom Baker out as the Doctor.  I like Tom Baker's performance in this story very solemn, and well executed. The companions Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), and Tegan (Janet Feilding) are brought together, and the story allows the viewer to get a understanding of the characters.

Story number three is Castrovalva which is the first full Doctor Who story with Peter Davison as the Doctor. A nice little nothing story, which is set around the Doctor stabilizing from his regeneration and the Master again trying to put an end to the Doctor. I liked this story not for the story on a whole but for some of the sequences within the story. Like the Doctor choosing his clothes. The Doctor in a confused state reverting to his former selves (Peter Davison is brilliant). And the Doctor & companions in the Zero Room, and the whole hurtling into the sun sequence.

As boxed sets go this is a keeper. I like the fact they brought these three Doctor Who stories together in one set, as the three stories are all inter-linked within each other. Each disc has a nice set of extras from commentaries to making ofs to vintage interviews very cool and well worth the time to work through. All up an excellent buy for any fan of the Doctor Who series.

Doctor Who: The Mark of the Rani. Rated G. $29.95RRP.

Starring Colin Baker, Nichola Bryant, Kate O’Mara, Gary Cady, Anthony Ainley, Terence Alexander, and Jack Ward.

This two part 45 minute story first aired in the UK early 1985 and has the Doctor (Colin Baker), and Peri (Nichola Bryant) finding themselves in the mining village of Killingworth, in the early 19th century. They soon discover the renegade Time-lord the Rani (Kate O’Mara) up to no good, and if that is not enough the Master (Anthony Ainley) appear who seek his revenge on both the Doctor and Peri.

 Most certainly one of the better 6th Doctor adventures. Also the story which introduces the rouge time-lord the Rani to the Who universe. A well written Dr. Who story, which certainly has a enough twist and turns to keep most Dr. Who fans at the edge of their seat.

The extras on this single disc release are a commentary by Coiln Baker, Nichola Bryant, and Kate O’Mara, an insightful making of feature. 10 minutes of deleted scenes, and interview with composer Jonathan Gibbs, a Blue Peter feature on Ironbridge Gorge & Blist Hill, an excerpt from Saturday Superstore featuring Baker, Bryant, and Ainley, and the score done by John Lewis for part one of the Mark of Rani.

Doctor Who: Series Two – Volume 5. Rated PG. $29.95RRP

Starring David Tennant, & Billie Piper.

 This volume consists of the last three stories that made up the second season of the revamped Doctor Who TV series which were Fear Her, Army of Ghosts (part 1), Doomsday (part 2). Fear Her is the rather creepy story of a little girl whose pictures come to life, and Army of Ghosts & Doomsday is where two of the Doctor’s enemies meet head to head, and they are also Rose’s (Billie Piper) farewell story.

 Great stuff, brilliant in fact, you wonder how are they going to top last years finale and they do. They give Rose’s character a good and soild exit story, and sets up the Christmas Special the Runaway Bride very well.

 David Tennant is the Doctor and I am pleased he has said yes to a third series as the Doctor. And I for one can’t wait for the third series which has just started in the UK making its way on our screens.

Superman the Movie (Four Disc Collector’s Edition). DVD. Rated PG. $39.95RRP.

Starring  Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, Sarah Douglas, and Terrace Stamp.

This four disc release consists of the original 1978 version of Superman, and the expanded 2000 version of Superman. Disc 1 is the original 1978 theatrical movie with commentary by Pierre Spengler and Ilya Saikind the producers behind Superman interesting for the fact of hearing there version of events and what credit they themselves take in the creation of this classic. Also included on this disc is the trailers and TV spots of this movie. Disc 2 consists of the 2000 expanded edition of Superman. With the excellent commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz and music only audio track of the brilliant John Williams score. Disc 3 consists of the 3 making of featurettes make in 2000, very good documentaries which gives a good over view of the hows and whys of what went on to create this movie. Restored scenes, screen tests, and audio only bonus: additional music cues. Disc four consists of a television made making of Superman from 1978, the 1951 George Reeves Superman & the Mole-men, and 9 beautifully restored 1940 Superman animated shorts.

All up a great set to have if you are a fan of Superman, and hours and hours of viewing. Always good to have a choice and you do here with the original and the expanded version, my choice is the original as it is pretty hard to beat perfection. Great having the 1951 George Reeves Superman movie to watch also, as are the Fleischer Superman animated shorts. Great stuff.

Superman II / Superman II The Richard Donner Cut. DVD. Rated PG. $29.95RRP

Starring  Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Marc McClure, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Sarah Douglas, and Terrace Stamp.

There are two Superman II DVD releases you can buy the two disc version and the three disc version. This review is on the three disc version as it comes with both the original movie and the Richard Donner Cut.

The Superman II movie is set around the 3 Krypton criminals led by General Zod (Terrace Stamp) who escape the phantom zone, and set there sights on ruling the planet Earth. The original cut version is cleaned up well; the disc has a commentary by producers? & ? which is interesting though the self congratulating back slapping can wear thin, but there justifying of why most of Richard Donner’s filming was unused, why they did not use the Marlon Brando footage  and why they believe Richard Lister’s direction was better than Donners is interesting if not in my opinion a bit one-sided.

The Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut gives uses all available footage Richard Donner shot, and some test footage, giving an idea of what Donner would have given us if allowed to finish the second Superman movie. There is a commentary on this disc which is done by Richard Donner & Tom Mankiewicz, as they say there is two sides to a story, and listening to Donner’s side is very interesting. Well worth the listen to. Michael Thau did an excellent putting as much of Richard Donner’s cut into film, and it looks great, I think the film makes more sense and has a bigger scope liked it and as I said it gives you such a good idea of what Richard Donner would have given us. Brilliant one I will watch over & over, got to say the Jor –El and Kar-el arc brilliant. Well worth the wait. The special features on here are about the hows and whys after 25 years we now get the Richard Donner cut. Well worth watching.

 The third disc on here is a whole lot of goodies like a making of from the time the movie originally came out, the classic 1940s Superman cartoon shorts brilliant stuff, clean up and looking great.

 Great having both versions of Superman II on DVD and in one set, and having a third disc full of extras makes this a great watch and buy.

 Superman III. DVD. Rated PG. $19.95RRP

 Starring Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Marc McClure, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, Annette O’Toole, Anne Ross, Pamela Stephenson, Robert Vaughin, and Margot Kidder.

 This is the movie that Richard Lister did all by himself, and the one that fans were not happy with, and rightly so. Margot Kidder is in the movie at the start of the film and at the end. Superman goes bad. The other fact is Superman III is the movie that starred Richard Pryor, with Superman guest-starring.

The plot has a rich industrialist (Robert Vaughn) who plans to “take over the world”, but Superman (Christopher Reeve) stands in his way. He employs computer wiz Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) to help in his quest “to rule the world”, and bring down the Man of Steel. Sub-plot has Clark Kent returning to Smallville and has a reunion with his childhood sweetheart Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole – who plays Martha Kent in the TV series Smallville).

Yes a pale imitation of its former self, but I have to say it has it moments when Christopher Reeve is on screen as Clark Kent / Superman. In addition the chemistry between Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent, and Annette O’Toole’s Lana Lang is believable.

The extras on here are a commentary by Ilya Salklind, and Pierre Spengler  which is interesting in how much they justified their decisions, and that they believed they made a thoroughly good movie. There is the original 1983 The Making of Superman III, and deleted scenes.

 Not a great movie, but it still had its moments when Chris Reeve was on screen.

Superman IV: The Quest of Peace. Rated PG. $19.95RRP

Starring  Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, Jon Cryer, Mariel Hemmingway, and Marc McClure.

The plot is around Superman (Christopher Reeve) deciding Earth his is home also, and decides to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) escapes prison, and decides to into the arms business, and to make himself a monster that will destroy Superman.

Yes this movie is a mess which is what happens when your budget is slashed in half. Listen to the commentary by screenwriter Mark Rosenthal as he gives you an idea of what the movie should have been like, and not the movie that ended the franchise for over a decade.

Also included on this disc is a great many deleted scenes, which also give you an idea of what the people behind Superman IV were trying to create.

Superman Returns. DVD. Rated PG. 39.95RRP.

Starring Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Frank Langella, Eva Marie Saint, Parker Posey, Kal Penn, Sam Huntington, and Kevin Spacey.

If you look around this site, you know I am a fan of superheroes from the DC universe and Superman is my favourite superhero. I have been waiting for this movie for a long time, and I can tell you I was not disappointed.  I can also tell you I am very happy having this title on DVD.

Superman (Brandon Routh) left the planet Earth under mysterious circumstances, 6 years later, he returns to a planet that has continued on without him. Lois (Kate Bosworth) has moved on with her life, and has a little surprise in stall for Superman / Clark Kent. And all the while Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has been thinking land, and when Superman returns he thinks revenge!

Brilliant, Bryan Singer puts Superman back on course. This movie is a direct sequel to the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies, and I couldn’t be happier. Richard Donner must me also. The action was fantastic especially Superman saving the plane at the beginning, and Superman’s night out. This film was nostalgic, and I felt just like a kid again from hearing the voice of Jor-El (Marlon Brando) once again to hearing John Williams’s great Superman title theme, to Superman flying off screen. John Ottoman’s score was inspired with having linking wisps of John Williams’s score inter-laced through his score. The flying sequences were great as were the action pieces.

I thought Bryan Singer did a great job creating a Richard Donner Superman movie in Superman Returns. I can’t for its sequel when Bryan Singer gives us a Bryan Singer Superman movie.