DVD Traffic Report: October 30, 2007



Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume 5 (Warner)

There were two reasons for my decision to purchase a DVD player in time for Christmas, 1997. One of them was the news that Criterion had begun releasing its catalog of “classic and important contemporary films” to the new format, so that a film-and-extras package that cost $100 or $125 on laserdisc would soon be available as a $40 DVD. And the other was the Warner Bros. announcement that the Looney Tunes catalog was on its way to DVD. The Looney Tunes announcement turned out to be years premature, but the shorts did start showing up on four-disc DVD collections, one per year, in 2003. The sets aren’t exactly optimized for the collector — they’re not chronological, and there is no all-Chuck Jones set, or all-Robert McKimson — but they’re organized smartly enough from a commercial perspective, sprinkling the best-known shorts across enough discs to keep the nostalgia factor high for casual viewers while dipping deep enough into the catalog to surprise even Looney Tunes fans. (Still no “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips,” in case you were wondering.) Highlights of this set include a helping of Chuck Jones classics (“Ali Baba Bunny,” “Transylvania 6-5000,” “Bewitched Bunny,” among others) plus a 2000 documentary (Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens), an all-Bob Clampett disc, and an “Early Daze” disc presenting pre-1944 ‘toons from Clampett, Jack King, Tex Avery, Frank Tashlin, and Tom Palmer (1933’s “I’ve Got to Sing a Torch Song”). Extras include a couple of Private Snafu cartoons and the usual flotilla of short documentaries, commentaries, music-only tracks, etc. (Do not confuse this with the less-expensive Spotlight Collection, which only includes the first two of these four discs.)

Buy it from Amazon.com: Looney Tunes – Golden Collection, Volume Five

240_twin-peaks.jpgTwin Peaks: The Complete Series (Paramount)

OK, it’s a mixed bag, really. The second season of Twin Peaks was a disappointment, growing sillier and more disassociated from any notion of a conventionally satisfying narrative (which the early episodes delivered on top of all the Lynchian quirkiness) as each episode stretched on. Even the eventual revelation of Laura Palmer’s killer was bungled in the program’s increasingly unfocused execution. And, yeah, $100 is a lot of money to spend on a TV show. But television rarely got stranger or grander than this program’s first season, which examined the aftermath of the murder of Laura Palmer, a pretty, popular high-school girl who was found dead, wrapped in plastic, on a riverbank in Twin Peaks, WA. What ensued was a tongue-in-cheek soap opera involving the denizens of the town, plus newcomer Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), on hand to investigate Palmer’s murder and slug down diner coffee. It’s a masterpiece of mood if nothing else. And the portentous, wryly funny feature-length pilot episode remains, even after all these years, a highlight of David Lynch’s career. Watch it, and imagine what Mulholland Dr. could have been. This definitive, 10-DVD set includes all 29 episodes of the show, the original pilot, the European version of the pilot (which resolves the “mystery” in a clumsy coda at the very end), deleted scenes, and even footage from the Saturday Night Live episode hosted by MacLachlan at the height of Agent Cooper’s popularity.

Buy it from Amazon.com: Twin Peaks – The Definitive Gold Box Edition (The Complete Series)

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Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

The Fantastic Four–a superhero team so square that their leader is a science whiz–never shared the street credibility of more muscular heroes like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. But their unique combination of sci-fi adventure, situation comedy and soap opera resonated enough to pull a lot of lifelong comic-book fans into the fold. It’s not entirely inappropriate, then, that their film franchise is an inconsequentially dopey cheesefest. These aren’t dazzling movies to lose yourself in or to be amazed by. They’re more like big friendly puppies who jump on you and slobber on your face and helplessly implore you to embrace them and rub their tummies. Returning from the first film are all four fantastic protagonists, along with Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), a supervillain who’s blander even than James Franco’s Harry Osborne from the Spider-Man movies. Among the regulars, only Michael Chiklis, emoting from underneath a big pile of latex, is a stand-out. By far the best scenes feature the aptly named Silver Surfer (ably performed by creature specialist Doug Jones), who zooms around the universe on a chrome-plated surfboard, scouting out meals for his less-charismatic buddy Galactus, who eats planets. Well, you could do worse.


Love the borderline-subversive opening sequence, a bravura special-effects piece that has a teleporting Nightcrawler kick secret-service ass in the White House, stopping just short of driving a stake through the heart of the president. Generally got a kick out of Hugh Jackman’s gruff posturing as Wolverine and once again dug the teen-angst angles and overt outsider drama. (Finally, a soap opera for freaks and losers!) And the quick shot of Ian McKellen and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, as Magneto and Mystique, sitting in the back of the X-Men’s plane, whispering, pointing and snickering, is the wittiest on-screen imagining of supervillains that I’ve ever seen. It all adds up to less than the sum of its parts — mainly, it seems like a lead-in to a retelling of the legendary Dark Phoenix saga from the X-Men comics, presumably to come in X3. Pretty good summer fun nonetheless, and less utterly enamored of itself than The Matrix Reloaded.