And so goes another year here in the DVD trenches of CHUD, a division staffed by hard-working guys like Jeremy G. Butler, Troy Anderson, Trevor La Pay, Shawn Lealos, James Kimbell, Ray Justavick, Tom Fuchs and all the rest of the new guys.  Of course, last and certainly not least, is Eileen Bolender, who works tirelessly, both in front of and behind the scenes, and who always makes sure our shit looks good going up on the site.  They deserve your support, especially considering titles like Zombie Strippers, Croc, Cyborg Soldier, Day of the Dead: The Need to Feed, Drillbit Taylor, Fool’s Gold, Fred Claus, Gangsta Rap: A Glockumentary, Good Luck Chuck, and Hybrid, just to name a very few.  Somebody’s got to review that crud, and these are the guys stepping up to the plate to get dirty. 

The process for getting a DVD to review is that we choose from a list when they become available.  Sometimes you get a gem like Hellboy 2 or Iron Man, and a lot of times you…don’t.  Still, it has to get done, so we dive in head first and hope to not get a concussion.  I myself have had my share of the bad, so it’s nice when I manage to get some of the good.  These are arranged according to the initial scores I gave the DVDs as I reviewed them.  In hindsight I’d probably change the scores on a few of these and the other reviews, but I’ve got to go with the scores I put down.  These were the ten best that I reviewed this year.

10. Sleeping Beauty: 50 Anniversary
Platinum Edition
(Review Link)

STUDIO: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
MSRP: $14.99
RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes
•  Once Upon a Dream music video
•  Disney song selection
•  Audio Commentary
•  Princess Fun Facts
•  Grand Canyon
•  The Peter Tchaikovsky Story
•  Briar Rose’s Enchanted Dance Game
•  Sleeping Beauty Fun With Language Game
•  Picture Perfect: The Making of Sleeping Beauty
•  Alternate Opening
•  Deleted songs
•  Storyboard sequences
•  Live Action Reference
•  Art Galleries
•  Original Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough Attraction
•  Trailers
•  Four Artists Paint One Tree

This was a movie I hadn’t seen in years and quite enjoyed.  One of Disney’s last big animated epics that hasn’t gotten the love that many of his other classics has.  This film has potentially the best animation of any of the animated films that Disney did while he was alive.  Princess Aurora herself wasn’t necessarily a barn-burner in terms of characterization, but with the lavish visuals and Maleficent more than picking up the slack, this film is as sharp and engaging as it was on the big screen. 

Rating: 8.3 out of 10

Contributing factors: Mary Costa’s voice,
lavish visuals and a ridiculous amount of special features
– quite a bit of them featuring Walt himself – that will keep you entertained
for hours, no matter your age.

Best Talkback:
By Jen regarding a typo on my part: “Fairy TAIL hero? Wouldn’t that mean Philip would have to have actually got some?”

9. The Boondocks – Season 2
(Review Link)

STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
MSRP: $16.99
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

Commentary on episodes “Stinkmeaner Strikes Back,” “The Hunger Strike,”
“The Unlce Ruckus Reality Show” and “The Story of Gangstalicious, Part
2″ with Aaron McGruder, producer Carl Jones and co-executive producer
Rodney Barnes
Behind the Boondocks featurette
Trouble in Woodcrest? Featurette
What Niggas? Featurette

Cast Breakdowns and Interviews with John Witherspoon, Cedriv Yarbrough,
Regina King, Gary Anthony Williams, Gabby Soleil and Jill Talley
• Minisodes

Boondocks is a caustic take on American culture – particularly Black American culture – that skewers it as much as it defends.  MacGruder’s comic strip has been brought to vivid life with an acidic taste that’s fueled by hip hop music, an Anime sensibility and language, plenty of language.  I have both white friends and black friends who love the show equally as much, which says something to me about its appeal.  Boondocks isn’t afraid to keep it real (at least in its view) and call Plus, any show that can get Samuel L. Jackson and Charlie Murphy to play raucous white malcontents is worth the price of admission just for that.  To say nothing of the Killer Kung Fu Wolf Bitch, Air Marshal 50 Cent, the return of Stinkmeaner, and banned BET episodes.

Rating: 8.3 out of 10

Contributing factors: Uncle Ruckus, Tom’s “Let It Burn” Usher video, A Pimp Named Slickback, Thugnificent.

Best Talkback: Zilch in that department

8. Transformers: Special Edition
(Review Link)

STUDIO: Dreamworks Video
MSRP: $26.99
RUNNING TIME: 143 minutes
•  Audio Commentary by Michael Bay
•  The Story Sparks
•  Human Allies
•  I Fight Giant Robots
•  Battleground
•  Rise of the Robots
•  AUTOBOTS Roll Out
•  Inside the AllSpark
•  From Script to Sand
•  Concepts – Early sketch concepts of the robots.
•  Trailers

This was an unusual review because it was done a year after Nick had already done one on it.  Double dips are nothing new, but this re-release didn’t feature any new features on the movie nor the disc itself.  It was exactly as it had been released the year before, save for one thing: a transformable Megatron DVD case.  So what did I do?  I gave the film my two cents, gave the DVD case its proper (read: sarcastic) due and then pocketed the DVD case on my shelf.  For some talkbackers, including the one directly below, I’m not sure they quite got it.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Contributing factors: It’s all about the case, man.  That, plus I liked the movie.

Best Talkback:
By Mikhel Ghey: “You are fucking kidding me… Another dvd “review” for this film because it has a transforming megatron thingie with it? FUCK YOU. What are you, 5 years old? Why not just pull a quarantine and have multiple browser windows open up to the fucking amazon page for this thing? FUCK YOU again.”

7. Sports Night: The Complete Series 10th Anniversary Edition
(Review Link)

STUDIO: Shout! Factory
MSRP: $51.99
RUNNING TIME: 1200 minutes
•  The Show featurette
•  Face Off: ESPN’s SportsCenter vs. CSC’s Sports Night
•  A Conversation with Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme
•  Inside The Locker Room
•  Season Gag Reels
•  8 Episode Commentaries
•  Original Promos
•  36-Page Booklet including an introduction by creator Aaron Sorkin

In retrospect, I probably should have rated this disc set somewhere around 7.6 rather than 8.8.  But I was probably feeling overly generous at the time.  I dug Sports Night and there were plenty of special features, with participation by everybody involved with the show.  The stuff with the SportsCenter guys was a nice touch.  Sometimes when there’s an overly amount of interviews, it’s fun to try and do headshot captions from the behind-the-scenes stuff.  Sometimes it works better than other times.  This was almost certainly the latter, but if you do enough reviews, you’ve got to change up the captions a little or you get stale.  And sometimes that doesn’t even help.  Not my best work captionwise, as a couple of the talkbackers were quick to point out. 

Rating: 8.8 out of 10

Contributing factors: The show itself, plus the volume of special features.  I overscored it though, definitely.

Best Talkback:
By Chudfan: “Gentleman you obviously don’t understand what Mr.Oliver is trying to
accomplish. If you’re a fan, as I am, you would realize that Mr.Oliver
does not care about you. In fact I suspect he hates the readers of this
site. Why else would he post review after review of completely
irrelevant garbage while thousands of movies readers of this site love
go unreviewed. Mr. Oliver is either a tool of incomprehensible
proportions or the biggest sadist since the Marquis de Sade. Either way
I hope he never changes because it always warms my heart to know out of
the thousands of readers of this site I will be one of only 2 or 3
people who actually read his shite reviews.

6. JFK: Ultimate Collector’s Edition
(Review Link)

STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 295 minutes
• The Kennedy’s: America’s Emerald Kings documentary
Commentary with Director Oliver Stone
Production Notes for Cast and Crew
Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy
• Deleted & Extended Scenes
Multimedia Essays:
   • Meet Mr. X: The Personality and Thoughts of Fletcher Prouty
   • Assassination Update – The New Documents
• 44-page book of production photos
• Set of six character photo cards of actors
• Five reproduction letters by and to John F. Kennedy
• President Kennedy’s Inauguration Address
• 20 Kennedy family and presidential photos

It goes without saying that, accurate or not, this is one of Oliver Stone’s best movies, with Oscar-winning editing and cinematography and fantastic performances by a murderer’s row of actors.  Kevin Costner doing the type of character that he does best.  John Candy as a slick, scat-talking Southern lawyer.  The sheer level of complexity in the script itself.  All excellent.  This was a pimped-up double dip, with what I called a “coffee table” presentation, including Kennedy pictures and letters.  However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this movie and its special features are a must have. 

Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Contributing factors: Paranoia and a cautionary conspiracy theory film at its best.  A crapload of celebrity cameos and Stone doing what he does best, sparking debate and taking institutions to task for the choices they made.

Best Talkback:
By An Unknown User: “Whoa with the quotes from the movie… you really are a deep journalist. Brilliant maestro.”

5. Lost: Season 4
(Review Link)

STUDIO: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
MSRP: $36.99
Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 604 minutes
Lost in 8:15

The Right to Bear Arms
The Freighter Folk
The Island Backlot: Lost in Hawaii
Offshore Shoot
Soundtrack for Survival: Composing for Character, Conflict & The Crash
Lost on Location
Course of the Future
• Bloopers
• Deleted scenes
• Audio Commentaries

Possibly the best show on TV this side of Galactica getting back to the things that made it worth watching.  Finally answering questions and moving the narrative along with a clear destination in mind.  Plus, the DVD itself with its screen and conceptual designs were a nice touch.  Lost in 8:15 is an exercise in worthwhile recapping and the rest of the special features are all worthy additions to the best season of the show since the first one.  There’s plenty of participation from the actors, especially in the commentaries.  Plus, as a new initiate to the show this past year, it was a relief to finally get to watch the show on a TV rather than a Japanese website.  I’m anticipating the return of this show more than the aforementioned Battlestar, and I didn’t have to wait a goddamned year to get it.

Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Contributing factors: Excellently-designed menu screens, alternating menus and the show itself getting back on track. 

Best Talkback:
By An Unknown User: “dude

David Oliver sucks”

4. No Country For Old Men
(Review Link)

STUDIO: Miramax
MSRP:  $15.99
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
Working with The Coens
The Making of No Country for Old Men
Diary of a Country Sheriff

This marked the first chance I ever got to compare notes with the big guns of CHUD on a film, as there were no less than seven DVD reviews for this, the reigning Best Picture.  The score on this review is carried almost exclusively by the movie itself, as the DVD offerings were less than stellar.  But there were fewer characters in recent memory that made for captions that practically wrote themselves as Javier Bardem’s Chigurh. 

Rating: 9.1 out of 10

Contributing factors: “ATM.” “That depends.  Do you see me?”  “
What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?” “So this is what I’ll offer – you bring me the money and I’ll let her
go. Otherwise she’s accountable, same as you. That’s the best deal
you’re gonna get. I won’t tell you you can save yourself, because you
can’t.” “Let me ask you something. If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?”

Best Talkback: By God’s Gonna Cut You Down: “Enjoying these, guys!!! Interesting take on the film, David. You say you’ve been sleeping on the Coens for a decade, and that this was easily their best film since FARGO. Hmm. You didn’t like BIG LEBOWSKI or O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?-Why? After repeated viewings myself, I think FARGO is its closest canon kin; a perfect companion piece.”

3. The Bourne Ultimatum
(Review Link)

Universal Studios
116 minutes

Deleted scenes

Man on the move: Jason Bourne featurette

Rooftop Pursuit featurette

Planning the Punches featurette

Driving School featurette

New York Chase featurette

Commentary by director Paul Greengrass

The perfect capper to a trilogy that has redefined several things, not the least of which was Matt Damon’s career.  When the Bond films take their cue from something else in successfully reinventing themselves, you know that you’re looking at something special.  Greengrass continued his excellent work from Supremacy in crafting the continuing Bourne story to the end without it becoming another hackneyed excuse just to lengthen the franchise (that remains for Bourne 4).  Damon again delights and this is simply another tight action film that’s also long in the characterization department.  My favorite of the three remains Identity, but comparing the trilogy is something akin to deciding between your three favorite flavors of ice cream.  Special features also didn’t disappoint.

Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Contributing factors: Another excellent fight and car chase, both of which are absolute musts in this franchise.

Best Talkback: By kijen: “Nice review…just like Netflix; better late then never. Regardless, you are correct in that the fast editing does not mean great editing but in an awards show in which TRANSFORMERS does not win Best Special Effects…anything is possible. Maybe Bay and crew will be rewarded when they get to number three just like LOTR.”

2. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
3-Disc Special Edition

(Review Link)

STUDIO: Universal Studios
MSRP: $17.99
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
Commentary with director Guillermo Del Toro
Commentary with actors Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair, Luke Goss
Set Visits:
     • The Chamberlain
     • Wink vs. Abe
     • Hellboy vs. Wink
     • The Elemental Egg
     • Big Baby
     • “H” is for Hotel
     • Disintegrating Royalty
Troll Market Tour with Guillermo Del Toro
• Zinco Epilogue Animated Comic
Deleted scenes
Hellboy: In Service to the Demon documentary
Prologue to Disc 2 Special Features by Guillermo Del Toro
• Production Workshop: Professor Broom’s Puppet Theatre with optional introduction by Guillermo Del Toro
• Pre-Production Vault:
     • Director’s Notebook
     • Gallery
• Marketing Campaign:
     •  Print gallery
     •  Poster Explorations
• Printable theatrical script
• Digital copy of the movie

What’s there left to say that you already know?  This is Del Toro doijng what he does best and continuing to do justice to a popular comic character as good as it’s being done by any other director in the genre.  A dazzling display of character and set design.  Action and laughs out the wazoo.  A nice marionette flashback that’s better than anything in The Clone Wars.  Ron Perlman even improving on his work from the first film.  And the film looks absolutely stunning. Talkbacks here got surprisingly nasty and I probably brought that on myself by giving a negative comment an even more negative response.  Definitely learned my lesson there.  Now I just let the talkbacks run free and try not to get disemboweled.  Much easier on the ole stress levels.

Rating: 9.7 out of 10

Contributing factors: An assload of impressive special features.  A 2.5 hour behind-the-scenes featurette,
Hellboy: In Service to the Demon, sets the standard as far as I’m concerned.  Probably the best featurette I’ve ever seen.  

Best Talkback: Tie (re: captions and an ill-advised response on my part): Andrew: “He’s right you know, Dave. The unfunny captions you write always bring the review down quite a ways in quality. Perhaps you should hire someone funny to write them for you.”  McClaneDiesHard: “Hey Dave, I read [your response] and thought you were Devin. Keeping that in mind, kindly go fuck yourself.”  DevinsFetishBoi: “I betcha Oliver’s breath reeks of Faraci’s shit-cock.”

1. The Godfather, The Coppola Restoration
(Review Link)

STUDIO: Paramount
MSRP: $62.99
RUNNING TIME: 549 minutes
•  Commentary on all three films by director Francis Ford Coppola
•  A Look Inside
•  On Location (six minutes)
•  Francis Coppola’s Notebook
•  Music of The Godfather
•  Puzo and Coppola on Screenwriting
•  Gordon Willis on Cinematography
•  Behind the Scenes 1971
•  30 deleted scenes
•  Video Galleries
•  Theatrical trailers for all three films
•  1974 Intro by Coppola for the TV airing of The Godfather
•  Storyboards
•  Photo galleries
•  Text bios
•  Corleone Family Event Timeline
•  Corleone Family Tree
•  Godfather World
•  The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t
•  …when the shooting stopped
•  Emulsional Rescue Revealing The Godfather
•  The Godfather on the Red Carpet
•  Four Short Films on The Godfather
   •  The Godfather vs. The Godfather, Part II
   •  Cannoli
   •  Riffing on the Riffing
   •  Clemenza

The two greatest crime films of all time get a massive redo and look better than I’ve ever seen them.  A stellar array of performers doing the best work of their careers.  A dense and engulfing storyline.  Hell, to go on about how good the movies are is to repeat 30+ years of praise.  You know how good they are, and now they look spectacular.  There’s almost nothing I can think of that Godfather fans wouldn’t want that this set doesn’t have, except maybe Sasheen Littlefeather’s Apachewear.  Two discs of special features will keep you busy until the inevitable McG remake. 

Rating: 11.5 out of 10

Contributing factors: All the film quotes you already know.  Bullet meets Mary Corleone.  1970s acceptance speeches.  Features, features, features.

Best Talkback: By Tom:
“11.5 out of 10? .5 more than 11? Fuck Spinal Tap in their Guesthole.”

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