20th November 2004
details about Columbia Tristar's release of the first season of the dull
BBC paranormal investigation drama Sea of Souls have been
The two-disc set will be released on the
Sony Pictures Television label (the series was a co-production between BBC
Scotland and Sony Pictures Television International).
The six episodes will be presented in
anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen format, with 2.0 Dolby Digital audio.
The only extras will be character
biographies and a DVD-Rom screensaver. The RRP is £24.99.
The second series of Sea of Souls is
due to be released on DVD on February the 28th.
Columbia Tristar has also outlined the rest
of their February line-up, which is led by theatrical releases White
Chicks and Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse, which are both due on
February the 7th. A box set featuring both Resident Evil films will
be released on the same day.
Other February titles include:
7th February - Frankenfish
14th February - Paul Schrader's Hardcore,
Tokyo Godfathers Gift Set
28th February - Starsky and Hutch - The
Complete Third Season; Spike Lee's She Hate Me; the Charles
Bronson movie Doing Hard Time; Sea of Souls - Series 2
The second half of the first season of
CSI: Miami will be released by Momentum Pictures on February the 21st.
The three-disc set features twelve episodes (episodes 1.13 to 1.24), in
anamorphic widescreen format (the press release says 1.85:1, but it's more
likely to be 1.78:1), with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and optional English
Bonus features for the set include items
titled Production of Handling Evidence; The Autopsy Theatre Tour;
The Gun Labs Tour; and commentary tracks on 1.18 - Dipso Day
and 1.23 - Freaks and Tweaks. The RRP is an
18th November 2004
Busy, busy, busy!
Let's begin with a new review, our first
review of a theatrical release for a while. Andrew Smith has seen Jonathan
Glazer's controversial movie Birth, which stars Nicole Kidman as a
woman who believes her dead husband has been reincarnated in the form of a
ten year-old boy. You can read Andrew's thoughts on the film by clicking
on the poster image (left), or
on by yesterday's announcement about Devil-Ship Pirates, the
Hammer DVD Guide has been
given a good overhaul, hopefully bringing it bang up to date.
It's been a
turbulent time for Hammer collectors recently, with new discs and re-issues from Warner Home
Video and DD Video, in stark contrast with the complete lack of activity
from Columbia Tristar and Universal, who, between them, own the bulk of
the remaining unreleased horror titles (including classics like Brides of
Dracula and Curse of the Werewolf) .
The rights to the early US Anchor Bay Hammer
discs have now lapsed, and many of their releases are quickly disappearing
from retailers. For some time it was expected that Anchor Bay's rival Blue
Underground would snap up the rights, releasing their own re-mastered
versions with exciting new additional features. Sadly that doesn't look
likely to happen (at least, not in the foreseeable future). Anchor Bay's final push to
clear stocks by bundling two discs together at bargain prices has
considerably devalued the product, and made it far less attractive for any
company thinking of re-issuing them. Having spoken to Blue Underground's
Bill Lustig, I've removed references to the company being a potential
licensee for the titles deleted by Anchor Bay.
Warner Home Video only has one or two
unreleased titles, and DD Video is running out of available titles, too.
DD Video have the Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense TV series
lined up, as well as early SF films Spaceways, Four Sided
Triangle and Stolen Face, and the "documentary" clip-show
series World of Hammer. Their release of the 1954 racing drama
Mask of Dust is likely to be the final Hammer movie from the company
for the time being. DD Video are keen to license and release more Hammer
titles, but unless they can come to some kind of deal with one or more of
the big studios who are neglecting their Hammer titles, pickings look
While things look bleak for American Hammer
fans, there are glimmers of hope elsewhere. The best version of
Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell was recently released in
Germany, along with an attractive version of Dracula - Prince of
Darkness, which combines an anamorphic widescreen transfer with the
bonus features from the deleted Anchor Bay disc.
Keeping track of all the different versions
is quite a task, so I'm always happy to receive corrections,
additions or corrections (email me at
Check out the updates to the
Hammer DVD Guide for more
I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of Robert Zemeckis'
innovative new movie The Polar Express. Sadly, I wasn't among those
hobnobbing with the film's star, Tom Hanks, and its director at the glitzy
Leicester Square premiere, which was also held last night, but I dare say
that those of us who experienced the film at the bfi London IMAX Cinema got the better deal.
The film, which is based on a best-selling
children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, is about a group of children who
journey to the North Pole on a fantastical steam train to meet Santa
Claus. It's the first film to be created entirely using performance
capture technology (akin to that used to make Gollum in the Lord of the
Rings films). Every character in the film was generated in this way,
most notably by Hanks, who plays four characters in the film, including
the fatherly Ticket Collector. The rest of the film is entirely
computer-generated, allowing spectacular sequences that certainly couldn't
be filmed in reality.
The IMAX presentation is in 3D, using the
polarized-filter technique, which separates two slightly-askew images
being thrown onto the screen by the awesome 30,000 watt projectors. The
effect is startling, with terrific apparent depth to the image. When snow
is falling, as it does almost constantly, you can focus on individual
snowflakes as they gently drift between you and the screen. When the train
screeches to a halt, it stops inches from your face. Thrilling stuff!
It's obvious that the filmmakers took full
advantage of the 3D enhancement, by creating a film that seems tailor-made
for the process. From beginning to end the film is an astonishing
rollercoaster ride, with something to make good use of the 3D effect in
every shot. In fact, I'd go as far to say that anyone who sees the film in
a conventional cinema is wasting their time and money.
As for the film itself, well, it's almost
unbearably sentimental, and rather trite. The computer graphics range from
the picture-perfect to a number of shots that look unfinished and
under-funded. Of course, blown up to the massive proportions of the IMAX
screen (26m x 20m), it's almost amazing that the whole film didn't look
like a ZX81 computer game. That's not to say that the IMAX process doesn't
reveal a few flaws that wouldn't be evident in a conventional cinema:
peripheral faces in group or crowd shots, which would ordinarily be
relatively tiny, are magnified so that they're as large as they would be
in medium shot in an ordinary film. This shows where the filmmakers have
cut a corner or two, with lifeless, mask-like faces.
The film may be saccharine, but it's
technical achievements are impressive (and often very, very impressive).
Treat the kids: they'll be simply amazed. If you don't see it in 3D on an
IMAX screen, you'll only be getting two-thirds of the picture!
The only caveat is that very young
children - a sizeable proportion of the target audience, I'd have thought
- might have trouble keeping the 3D glasses on. They're designed to fit
older children and adults, and without them the film is practically
For more details and online booking, visit
or ring 0870 787 2525 (10.30am-7.30pm). The film opens on the 29th of
November, and runs until January the 9th.
will release the sixth series of The Tomorrow People on DVD on
January the 24th.
The disc features three complete
two-episode stories: The Lost Gods, Hitler's Last Secret and
The Thargon Menace.
As usual, the episodes are accompanied by a
commentary track, and the disc will also feature character biographies, a
photo' gallery, fact files and episode synopses.
The disc is already available as part of a
three-disc box set, which was exclusively-available from MVC. (It's no
longer listed on their website, so presumably stock is now only available
in-store). The box set will be made available to other retailers next
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
will release M*A*S*H Season 5 on DVD on January the 17th. The set
includes Alan Alda's Emmy Award-winning episode Dear Sigmund. As
usual, there's an option to play the episodes with or without the laugh
track, but no other bonus features. RRP for the set is £29.99.
Fox has confirmed that the fourth, fifth
and sixth seasons of The X-Files will be re-released on December
the 27th, in new packaging, and at the lower RRP of £34.99.
Warner Home Video will release a Special
Edition version of the popular 1992 Kevin Costner / Whitney Houston
smooch-fest The Bodyguard on February the 7th (a week before the
title is released in the US). The disc will have a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio
mix, and will be presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen format. The
disc will feature "never before seen" on-set footage and interviews with
Kevin and Whitney; the music video for Houston's cover version of Dolly
Parton's I Will Always Love You; and the theatrical trailer. There's no
mention on the UK press release of the commentary track that's listed as a
feature of the Region 1 release. RRP for the disc is £15.99.
The Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes DVD box
set from Optimum, which was mentioned here
last week, now
has a release date: January the 31st.
I've taken a quick look at the two-disc
edition of I, Robot, which is due from Twentieth Century Fox Home
Entertainment on December the 3rd. The bonus features look very
interesting - certainly not the PR fluff you get on so many discs. The
two-disc UK version easily trumps the US edition, which can only muster a
thirteen-minute Making of...
featurette, and only one of the UK
disc's three commentary tracks. Menu screens for the discs can be seen
here. You can view
a Quicktime trailer for the disc by clicking
17th November 2004
Hammer fans will be able to add another
title to their DVD collections on January the 17th, when Warner Home Video
will release Don Sharp's swashbuckling costume drama The Devil-Ship
Pirates. The film, which stars Christopher Lee as Captain Robeles,
also features Hammer regulars Suzan Farmer and Michael Ripper.
That's the good news. The bad news is that,
according to the press release, the disc will be in 4:3 format. Hopefully
that's a mistake, because The Devil-Ship Pirates is one of Hammer's
few true widescreen productions (it was briefly available in widescreen
format on VHS, on the Lumiere label). RRP for the disc will be £15.99.
15th November 2004
We start the week with four new reviews -
that's right, four! - and what an eclectic bunch they are, too!
Matt West has been grooving to William
Shatner's Has Been
CD; Richard Spurr has been re-living his childhood with Revelation's
Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds
DVD box set and Mark Frost
casts an eye over Visconti's masterpiece
Leopard. Finally, a hearty
welcome to a new reviewer here at Zeta Minor, Tim Symonds, who has
taken a look at Network's fourth and final
The Sweeney box set. My
thanks to all of them for their valuable contributions.
For one reason or another I couldn't
arrange any new competitions for this week, so I'm extending the closing
dates of last week's. Many of the interesting new releases this week were
BBC Worldwide titles, and they aren't at all co-operative, I'm sorry to
say. I can't even persuade them to regularly send me press releases!
Video is releasing Carnivále - The Complete First Season as a
six-disc box set on February the 21st. The set features twelve hour-long
episodes, so six discs seems very excessive, but it's presumably to
justify it's whopping £49.99 RRP. The set will feature commentary tracks
(the press release doesn't specify, but there are three on the US set), a
Making of Carniv
featurette, and a Museum of TV and Radio panel interview with cast and
crew members. No technical specifications for the set were announced, but
presumably the episodes will be presented in 16:9 anamorphic format, with
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The US set (due on 7th December) is on three
discs, incidentally, but just about as expensive.
HBO Video is also releasing Everybody
Loves Raymond - The Complete First Season, as a five-disc set
featuring all twenty-two episodes. Bonus features for the set include
commentary tracks by star Ray Romano (there are two such tracks on the US
set, with Romano appearing alongside series creator Phil Rosenthal); video
interviews with cast and crew, and a Late Show With David Letterman
Romano interview (the first of such many appearances Romano has made). The
press release was vague about the bonus materials, so it's not clear
whether the UK version of the set features the same material as the US
set. Again, no technical specifications were announced: the US set
features full-frame 4:3 transfers, with 2.0 audio. The set is due on
January the 17th, with an RRP of £39.99.
Home Video will release a lavish four-disc set featuring a
completely-re-mastered and restored version of the great MGM movie Gone
With The Wind on February the 7th. The set looks likely to replicate
the US edition, which was released to great critical acclaim recently.
The film has been digitally re-mastered
using Warner's proprietary Ultra-Resolution restoration process (recently
deployed for Singin' In The Rain, The Adventures of Robin Hood
and Meet Me In St Louis).
The bonus materials include
recently-recorded comments by star Olivia de Havilland (Melanie
Remembers..., 45m); the outstanding behind-the-scenes 1989 documentary
The Making of a Legend (125m, which includes, amongst other gems,
rare screen and costume test footage); footage from the film's 1939
Atlanta Premiere and the 1961 Civil War Centennial re-premiere, with David
Selznick, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland; a 66m documentary about
Clark Gable (A King Remembered), and a 45m documentary on Vivien
Leigh (Scarlet and Beyond, hosted by Jessica Lange). The set will
also feature a restoration featurette; a Fred Zinnemann-directed short,
The Old South, which played alongside the film in its original run; the
International Prologue; sample scenes dubbed in foreign languages;
The film is accompanied by a commentary
track by film historian Rudy Behlmer. There will be a choice of audio
mixes: the original mono mix, or a more recent Dolby Digital 5.1 track.
The press release also offered the fact
that, adjusted for inflation, Gone With The Wind has grossed 2.4 billion
biggest worldwide box office gross in movie history.
And yet, according to studio accountants, it has yet to turn a profit.
(That's a joke for you Hollywood insiders!) The set will The set has an
RRP of £24.99.
has announced new dates and details for the two remaining Babylon 5
DVD sets, which were due out earlier this year.
Babylon 5 - The Complete Fifth Season -
The Wheel of Fire will now be released on January the 17th. The
six-disc set features all twenty-two episodes of the show's final season,
in anamorphic 16:9 format, with re-mastered 5.1 audio. Bonus features
include cast and crew commentaries on three episodes; an introduction by
series creator J. Michael Straczynski; two Making of... documentaries (Digital
Tomorrow and Beyond Babylon 5); additional scenes; a gag reel;
and data and personal files. The RRP is £54.99.
The three-disc Babylon 5 - The Movie
Collection (which features Thirdspace, River of Souls
and A Call To Arms) was originally scheduled for release in August,
but will now be released on February the 21st. Each episode will feature
an introductory video segment, and have an commentary track. RRP for the
set is £34.99
The good news for Babylon 5 fans is
that the thirteen-episode spin-off series Crusade will be released
shortly afterwards - in March.
American label VCI Entertainment (no
relation to the UK DVD company far as I know), has announced that four of
their titles are going on moratorium, as upgraded replacements will be
released in the future, They are The Young Lad, Somewhere in
Dreamland, Antonio Bida's Watch Me When I Kill and Mario Bava's
exquisite Blood and Black Lace. They've also said that their
release of Forever Evil, which was due on November the 30th, won't make
that date, because they've encountered a problem with the 5.1 encoding.
And now, here's....
CERI'S GUIDE TO THE
everyone! After the fabulous update last week we’re back to normal with
this update to the Incoming and
start with the films this week and the first listing of Paul W.S.
vs Predator. Twentieth Century Fox will release a single disc and
two-disc Special Edition, at £15.99 and £22.99 respectively, on the
14th of February. I reported some of the clearances at the BBFC of extras
presumably destined for the special edition last week. There’s been some
more listed this week, as well as one or two that I missed, which were
listed a couple of weeks ago. So the full list is:
Branching Footage: ADI Workshop
(7m); Branching Video: Miniature Whaling
Station (7m); The Making of Alien Vs. Predator (59m);
Alternate Opening (4m); Easter Egg: Tom – The Alien Actor (9m);
Branching Video: Trouble at the Mouth of the Tunnel (3m46s);
Branching Video: Facehuggers and Eggs (14m52s); Making of Alien vs.
Predator documentary (sic) (21m11s); deleted scenes (with
optional commentary) (8m23s); Conception featurette (25m51s);
Visual Effects Breakdown (30m8s); Monsters in Miniature by Todd
McFarlane (13m30s); The Comic Book (11m24s).
listed at the BBFC this week are extras for a special edition of The
Amityville Horror from MGM, which include a few featurettes and
several radio spots: Dr Hans Holzer’s introduction to the audio commentary
(1m16s); For God’s Sake Get Out (20m39s); History’s Mysteries –
Amityville: The Haunting (42m00s); History’s Mysteries –
Amityville: Horror or Hoax (42m29s); Theatrical Trailer (2m24s); Radio
Spot – The First Night (26s); Radio Spot – The Fifth Night
(30s); Radio Spot – The Tenth Night (30s); Radio Spot – The
Fifteenth Night (28s); Radio Spot – You’ll Never Forget (27s);
Radio Spot – The Last Night (29s); Radio Spot – Running for
their Lives (29s). So far this release isn’t being listed by the
release of How I Won the War, which was due earlier in the year
before being pulled, has reappeared for the 3rd of January. Its RRP
remains the same - £12.99.
Jude Law-starring remake of Alfie has been listed by the retailers
for February the 7th. Paramount’s release has an RRP of £19.99.
Warner Home Video’s individual release of Before Sunrise has now
appeared joining Before Sunset and the double pack release of the
two films on February the 7th. The RRP is £15.99.
finally for the films…
BFI are to release a two-disc Volume 1 of British Transport
Films on the 20th of December. Titled
On And Off
so presumably a collection on a railway theme, some of the films listed as
John Betjeman Goes By Train
and brand new material, The Diesel Train Driver and On Track For
The Eighties (presumably unreleased on the previous VHS British
Transport Films releases). Its RRP is £19.99.
the TV releases…
Following last week’s big announcements regarding Network, you be forgiven
for thinking this week would be quiet for them, but no! Volume 2 of
The Goodies has appeared for the 14th of February. Its RRP is
£24.99, the same as Volume 1. Rumoured content for the release
includes the episode Radio Goodies and clips from The
Cilla Black Show and musical appearances (“It’s Gibbon Time!”). An
Australian release is being listed by some of the Antipodean retailers for
December, with no listing of episodes, but extras are shown Christmas
Night with the Stars, Pebble Mill at One, The Golden Rose,
Crackerjack, Look East, Horizon: How on Earth did they do that?
As ever there is no guarantee of any of these featuring on Network’s
release – so as ever, let’s wait and see! When we have news we’ll let you
are to start releases of Andrew Marshall’s BBC sitcom of the 90s, 2.4
Children, which started Belinda Land and Gary Olsen, who tragically
died of cancer four years ago. Series 1 is listed for the 24th of
January with an RRP of £16.99.
Worldwide have a two disc release of
showing for the 21st of February. The documentary
series will be one of the Corporation’s key programmes in the New Year.
Special features include the
documentary (30m) and an interview with Producer Laurence Rees.
The RRP is £19.99.
next round of individual volumes of The Professionals from
Contender is showing for the 24th of January. Volumes 5-8, covering
Season 2, have the usual RRP of £5.99 each.
7th of February sees the release of Season 5 of The Simpsons,
stepping up the releases now the Futurama box sets have finished.
Twentieth Century Fox have set the usual RRP of £39.99 for the new box
couple of weeks later, on February the 21st, sees Fox release Season 1
of the sitcom Arrested Development, which recently had an airing on
BBCs 2 and 4. So far the listing doesn’t have an RRP. The series was
recently released in the US, with substantial bonus material content
(commentaries, deleted scenes, cast panel discussion, etc).
Then on the 28th of February Season 5 of Angel is showing.
Fox’s price is the usual £79.99.
endless repeats weren’t enough, Warner Home Video has decided to bring the
joys of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to an unsuspecting DVD-buying
public. February the 14th sees the release of Season 1 at £29.99.
few weeks ago I reported that a release of the cartoon series Batfink
was on the way (from 2 Entertain). Connected with this show in my memory
(the airings roughly at the same time in the UK during the 1980s) is
another cartoon series, Rocky & Bullwinkle. Optimum will be
releasing Season 1 of Rocky & Bullwinkle on the 14th of
February. The four-disc set also features the rarely-seen U.S. Savings
Stamps Club special episode; never-before-seen Bullwinkle puppet
segments; especially created Many Faces of Boris Badenov short;
classic Rocky & Bullwinkle promotional TV spots; and a sneak peek
at Season 2. Its RRP is £24.99.
Right, that’s it for Incoming let’s have a look at the changes to the
Amazon have dropped their prices of the Doctor Who – Lost in Time
set to £20.49 and the complete box of Seinfeld – Season 1-3 to
£39.99. They also have another entry-level multi-region DVD player at
Thanks to Analogueman for posting that Choices Direct has the Fox TV
Animation Promotion at what appears to be the cheapest prices – you can
get Seasons 1-4 of both Futurama and The Simpsons at
aforementioned complete box set of Batfink is being offered by
Choices Direct at £15.99 (£7.00 off!).
Thanks to Lissa for posting that dvd.co.uk have Alias – Season 1 at
£14.99 and Season 2 at £17.99.
Thanks to Analogueman again for posting that The Complete Yes Minister
box set is at £17.99 (£12.00 off!), and thanks to Martin Bell for posting
that the next Doctor Who release, Horror of Fang Rock, is at
£12.99. Recent additions to dvd.co.uk’s box set sale include Cadfael –
The Complete Series 1-4 at £32.99 (£22.00 off!), Kavanagh Q.C. –
The Complete Series 1-4 is at £59.99 (£40.00 off!), and Twin –
Peaks – Season 1 at £17.99.
Finally, thank you to Sean Marsh for posting that Play have the next
Journey into Space box set, The Red Planet, at £54.99 (that’s
That’s it from me!
Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed