DVD EXTRA: MAR 20, 2003
More movies out this week on DVD: Shannon J. Harvey flicks through the latest releases on DVD and VHS; Scream SE, Cube, Tron, The Salton Sea and A Bug’s Life CE. (For fuller reviews of selected leading titles, please see our DVD menu.)
Scream - Special Edition (MA)
DVD rental and retail, March 17, Magna Pacific
It's been six years since Wes Craven sent horror movies into the postmodernn era with Scream, a wickedly self-reflexive riff on the kind of slasher flicks he's famous for, but still packed with enough frights and gore to make you jump with delight. Watching it again on DVD reveals how much it has aged. Check out Courtney Cox in her yellow highlighter-pen outfit as tabloid reporter Gail Weathers. Or Drew Barrymore in that opening scene – she doesn't do small roles anymore. Never mind. This deliberately humorous horror does a great job of sending up slasher flicks, and this special edition DVD (as opposed to the original featureless DVD release) comes with DTS sound, cool TV spots, a featurette, a cast and crew Q&A, and a commentary by Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson. There've been few better horrors since – save for J-Lo in Maid in Manhattan - making this a must for every horror fan's collection.
DVD rental and retail, March 17, Magna Pacific.
This underrated, low-budget sci-fi thriller from Canada sees six ordinary strangers wake up in a surreal prison; a seemingly endless maze of interlocking cubical chambers, some armed with deadly booby traps. No-one knows why or how they got there, but it soon emerges that each has a skill that can contribute to their escape. Tensions mount as they make their way toward freedom - a few getting sliced and diced along the way - and unless they can cooperate, none will get out alive. A gruesome Rubic's cube of a movie that keeps you guessing until the very end.
Tron - Special Edition (G)
DVD rental and retail, March 19, Buena Vista
Disney's groundbreaking science fiction film - which pioneered computer-generated imagery even before George Lucas got hold of it - celebrates its 20th anniversary in style with this slick two-disc special edition. It's an engrossing look at the brave new world of digital filmmaking as it was in 1979, and is packed with bonus features about Tron's making and legacy. A 90-minute documentary delves into the genesis, pioneering techniques and difficulties in production, like filming black and white sets, with interviews from all involved. Deleted scenes show a sub-plot that suggested virtual sex. We see how those groovy neon outfits were created, as well as the action scenes involving flying discs, light cycles, tanks, and other assorted ghosts in the machine. Despite a hokey plot, it's an awesome film to watch on DVD with the matt blacks, linear grids, and flourescent colours. Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is an ace programmer who is digitised and transported inside a mainframe, where he's forced to fight in an array of games, find the code, and get back to reality.
The Salton Sea (R)
VHS and DVD rental, March 19, Warner Bros.
You will be hard pressed to find a seedier new film than The Salton Sea, a grim look at the LA underworld where drugs are used in sadistic recreational games. Val Kilmer plays a jazz musician consumed with loneliness and alienation after the death of his wife. Wandering the LA underworld, Danny falls in with two drug barons (Peter Skarsgaard, Vincent D'Onofrio) and serves as their middle man. But nothing is as it seems in The Salton Sea, a dark, sinister urban tale of love, drugs and one man's brutal redemption.
A Bug's Life - Collector's Edition (G)
DVD rental and retail, March 19, Buena Vista.
I don't really understand why DVD distributors release a film twice on DVD; first an initial, featureless DVD, then a special/collector's edition sometime later.* Such is the case with A Bug's Life (and Scream above), as if the popularity of the film warrants a secondary release. It must annoy people who buy the first release to see a more feature laden secondary release. This version of the fun digitally animated kid's film comes in THX sound with commentary from director-guru John Lasseter. It goes into the pre-production, production, and sound of the film. There's a stills gallery, funny outtakes, and the Oscar winning short Geri's Game.
(*Ed: to make more money.)
Published March 20, 2003
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The Salton Sea - Buy it
Cube - Buy it
A Bug's Life - Buy it