Media | DVD Releases | August 21, 2007: Welcome to the US home video release update for the 21st of August, prepared with the assistance of The Digital Bits and cover art courtesy of Amazon.

VsRobot | Posted August 19, 2007

Pick of the week

For the second time in the three weeks we've been running this feature, a television box set is the pick of the week. Dexter is fairly dark, examining the life of a serial killer who was raised by a cop and so lives by a personal code that requires he only fulfills his murderous desires on those who "deserve" it. Working by day as a blood-splatter technician for a Florida police department, by night Dexter stalks and kills only other killers, all the while trying to keep his double life a secret from his fellow police officers, including his sister. His life is immensely complicated when his secret is discovered by "The Ice Truck Killer", a serial killer whose M.O. and style Dexter feels an immediate connection to. Through the course of the first season, we watch Dexter as he tracks down, stalks, and murders the scum of society, investigates the identity of the Ice Truck Killer, eludes a particularly suspicious detective who is watching his every move, and tries to have a normal relationship with a single mother of two. It's a well done show, easily worth the time investment, and was probably missed by a lot of people because it was only available on Showtime.

Also out this week

Jason Bateman (of the brilliant television comedy Arrested Development) teaming up with Zach Braff (from the not-quite-as-brilliant but still good television comedy Scrubs) seems like a perfect recipe for instant comedy classic. Not so much. While Bateman's performance as Braff's nemesis is outstanding, the quality of the movie unfortunately doesn't hold up to the standard of the acting. I give it a mild recommendation based on a few really funny moments... though most of those were spoiled in the film's trailer.

OH. MY. GOD. You have cholera, and dyspeptic ulcers, and mange, and a squirrel laid eggs in your brain! DR. HOUSE TO THE RESCUE!

This is apparently fantastic. I haven't seen it yet, but researching it for this column I've read nothing but rave reviews. The film follows an East German member of the Stasi, or secret police, as he gradually becomes disillusioned about the reasons the state needs him to spy on the lives of others.

I hate these generically titled, generically plotted movies. No one who comes into the video store I manage looking for this film can remember it's utterly forgettable name, and their vague descriptions of the plot could describe hundreds of generic thrillers. Since I didn't remember the film from it's very brief theatrical run, it was a recipe for frustration all around. Luckily, it started getting advertised in the trade publications and I was able to figure out what everyone was asking about. The movie doesn't appeal to me, but you may find something to intrigue you.

I'm no South Park fan, but this looks to include the World of Warcraft episode, and that was a pretty good one.

A remake of a telenovela for American TV, Ugly Betty is apparently a very accurate look at the inside of magazine publishing. Everything I know about the show comes from YouTube clips of the flamboyantly-gay adolescent character camping it up, and those are pretty funny.

Reissue Highlights

David Mamet is a genius for dialog and complicated, twist-laden plotting. House of Games is the first film he directed, and now receives the Criterion treatment.

Robocop, again! I've already bought this film twice, replacing my theatrical cut version with the extended cut when it became available, and the only way I'd buy this again would be if it was on Blu-ray. This 20th anniversary edition apparently contains both versions of the film and a smattering of special features, only some of them new.

Serenity is one of the finest sci-fi adventure films every made, and it finally gets the DVD treatment it deserves. I weep that this isn't a vibrant film franchise, but it's still something of a miracle that the failed television series Firefly even was made into a movie.

High-Def Alert: The World of Blu-Ray and HD DVD

On Blu-ray this week, we get two home video premieres day and date with their DVD counterparts, and two catalog titles. Immortal Beloved seems like a decent addition to the Blu-ray line-up, but Van Wilder? Really? Does anyone want to see the dog semen scene in high definition? (Wait, this is the internet: don't answer that!) Van Wilder was one of the poorest of the teen sex comedies that came out after the success of American Pie, and yet inexplicably remains one of the most popular. Still, something is better than nothing, and exactly nothing was what was released on HD DVD this week. Don't worry, HD DVD true believers - tune in next week when HD DVD gets a very exciting exclusive.

Discuss all the week's new releases on the forum!