Catching up on Summer DVD releases

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain was supposed to be last winter’s “it” film, but instead was ignored, except for Renee Zellweger’s Oscar-winning performance. A simple formula for success add an Academy Award winning director (Anthony Minghella, The English Patient), two of Hollywood’s most talented actresses (Nicole Kidman and Zellweger) and a strong leading man (Jude Law) the end result should’ve equaled a sure fire hit.

The two-disc edition featured 11 deleted scenes, director commentary and a making-of featurette. Cold Mountain got the gold treatment with a wide selection of quality extras that Miramax seldom delivers.

The deleted scenes add more background to a story that runs more than two hours in length, but the small characters bit are well worth checking out.

Packed with a gaggle of extras Cold Mountain is a tightly packaged release with plenty for fans of the film and enough to attract the most skeptical movie patron.

The Secret Window

Stephen King adaptations are pretty much hit or miss from films such as Misery and Stand by Me to the less than enjoyable Dreamcatcher and The Night Flier. The Secret Window fails in originality, but Johnny Depp, Maria Bello and Charles S. Dutton give believable performances in an otherwise run-of-the-mil flick. A strange man is convinced that Mort Rainey (Depp) has stolen his story and is now out for revenge.

The DVD features four deleted scenes including an alternate ending that is accompanied by a director commentary, four featurettes that total more than an hour and the usual promotional material. None of The Secret Window’s deleted scenes merit inclusion and offer nothing that has already been said during the film’s 96-minute runtime. When a film proudly proclaims that the ending is the most important part of the story then it’s a disappointed when its end is foreseen during the first half-hour. The Secret Window is just another dud in the growing list of Stephen King steamers.

Bad Santa

Bad Santa shows the dark side of the holidays. Billy Bob Thorton plays a mall-robbing Santa with nothing to live for until one Christmas everything changes. Who thought foul language, crude sexual humor would make for such a great holiday film. Sure, it’s not family friendly, but Bad Santa is a more realistic approach when compared to the countless films with artificial happiness baked right in.

Before Bad Santa the majority of holiday films were targeted at families and now with Surviving Christmas arriving this November in theaters it seems studios have a new demographic to milk.

Available in unrated (Bad-der Santa) and rated version both releases offer deleted/alternate scenes, outtakes and a “behind the scenes” feature.

The only difference between version is Bad-der Santa boast a five minute longer runtime.

The deleted scenes may cause a few chuckles but nothing more than that and the outtakes are rather ordinary with the cast messing up their lines and filled with colorful language.

Bad Santa is the remedy for too much Christmas cheer and gives viewers a very different way to look at the holidays.

Ned Kelly

The story of an Australian folk hero, Ned Kelly is brought together with noticeable ensemble that includes Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush. While the outlaw’s life became intertwined with fiction as the years past Ned Kelly does it best to accurately convey his struggle. Watts and Bloom give great performances in supporting roles while Ledger is off base for the first third of the film and doesn’t seem comfortable portraying the national icon.

The disc offers three interesting featurettes that shed a little more light on the film’s subject. “Ned Kelly in popular culture” and “The real Kelly gang” show his influence on Australia and a more detailed look at his inner circle. “Artist to feature comparison” bravely contrast a lot of the differences and similarities between the film and other works involving the legend of Ned Kelly.

Ned Kelly is an action packed western that offers insight into a man whose life has become a tall tale with time. The DVD doesn’t present much but its a well-rounded release that enhances the film experience with a few quality extras.

Starsky & Hutch

Following the formula set by Charlie’s Angels, Starsky & Hutch takes a ’70s television show and utilizes self-deprecating humor to makes these detectives interesting again. Starsky (Ben Stiller) is teamed up with Hutch (Owen Wilson) to solve a mysterious cocaine deal going down in town. Starsky & Hutch has it all: fast cars, hot girls and loads of laughs.

Warner Bros. has put out a less than flattering package that includes the usual roundup of deleted scenes, gag reel and a director commentary. The DVD is tasteless as the deleted scenes give viewers a few laughs and nothing more. The gag reel is the same as every other with the film’s cast saying rather ridiculous things.

Starsky & Hutch is one of the year’s funniest films but its lackluster DVD hinders it for being a “must own.”

Kill Bill Volume 2

The second half of last fall’s biggest blood bath, Kill Bill Volume 2 finds our heroine with three targets left and a surprise awaiting her at the final destination. Volume 2 offers more background than that of the high-stylized violence of Volume 1. Uma Thurman once is perfect as a wronged woman out for bitter revenge. While David Carradine plays the title character very convincingly and does well off Thurman.

The sparse DVD boast one extra that will have fans of the film salivating, a deleted scene entitled “Damoe.” The scene is nothing revolutionary but a small glimpse at what Miramax is preparing when the finally release the Kill Bill boxset. Volume 2 also comes with a “Behind the scenes” featurette that is comprised of mostly film clips and the regular round up of trailers and premiere footage.

Kill Bill Volume 2 is recommended for those looking to see the thrilling conclusion of this two-part feature but fans of the film might be better off waiting for the special editions of the movies.

Contact Pablo Saldanaat