Degrassi Comes out on DVD Dec 2, 2003

Aliens invade video stores this week as Fox releases massive DVD boxed set

Updated at 14:02 on December 1, 2003, EST.

(CP) – When unfolded, the nine-disc digi-pak of The Alien Quadrilogy (Fox), comprising the four Alien sci-fi movies, stands as tall as a person. Fox boasts more than 45 hours worth of viewing content. Each of the films is offered in two versions; the original theatrical and a new special edition or director’s cut.

The visuals and the audio have been meticulously remastered and the background materials are voluminous to the point of excess. One would have to be a serious Alien fan to sit through everything here, from outtakes and how-they-did-that documentaries to all the trailers and promotional shorts.

Only the first two films have stood the test of time: Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien and James Cameron’s 1986 sequel, Aliens. The final two, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, remain pretty much forgettable, although both might deserve the benefit of the doubt with their extended special editions available here for the first time.

Alien and Aliens, meanwhile, remain two of the most exciting sci-fi horror films of all time and the versions offered are nothing short of dazzling. The four restored titles, by the way, will be available individually Jan. 6.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Disney) – Disney gambled on going up against Hollywood’s pirate-movie curse and triumphed. But only because of Johnny Depp’s extraordinarily droll performance as the roguish Capt. Jack Sparrow. The script is, after all, based on a theme park ride but audiences embraced it while thoroughly rejecting Disney’s recent animated update of Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Planet. Think of all the other pirate films that flopped, too: Roman Polanski’s Pirates, Renny Harlin’s Cutthroat Island, even Steven Spielberg’s Hook.

It all begins when Sparrow’s nemesis, the wily Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) steals his ship, the Black Pearl, and proceeds to attack the town of Port Royal and kidnap the governor’s luscious daughter Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). Sparrow then commandeers the British fleet’s fastest ship for a gallant rescue effort but, what he doesn’t know, is that Barbossa and his crew are cursed zombies.

The DVD version boasts more than 10 hours of bonus content, including 19 deleted or alternate scenes.

To Live and Die in L.A. (Special Edition) (MGM) – Eighteen years after its original theatrical release, this William Friedkin film still kicks butt. Friedkin was one of those maverick filmmakers who arrived in Hollywood in the 1970s and began to push envelopes right and left, starting with The Exorcist and The French Connection. His skills interpreting the dark side were never better displayed, though, than in this crime drama starring William L. Peterson as a hyperactive U.S. Treasury Agent on the trail of a master counterfeiter in Los Angeles (a truly scary Willem Dafoe). Death comes quickly and brutally but everything else is so stylish and cool. The car chase in the wrong lane of an L.A. Freeway trumped those in Bullitt and French Connection and as for the ending, well. By the way, a softer but never-before-seen alternate ending is available on the DVD but, thankfully, wiser minds prevailed and it was never used.

Darling (MGM) – Julie Christie was at the height of her radiant beauty and talent in John Schlesinger’s scathing and trend-setting assault on London’s mod culture world of 1965. Christie plays an ambitious model who bed-hops her way to the top (with such unlikely lovers as Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Harvey) but finds she might end up with everything but happiness. Christie won the best-actress Oscar and the film and Schlesinger were nominated.

Also new: Beethoven’s Fifth (Universal), Southlander (VSC), Loving Walter (BFS), 1 Love (Paramount).

And more TV coming to DVD: Sex and the City (The Complete Fifth Season) (Warner/HBO) – (Dec. 30); South Park 3 (Paramount) – (Dec. 16); Gilligan’s Island (The Complete First Season) (Warner) – (Feb. 3); Friends (The Complete Sixth Season) (Warner) – (Jan. 27); The Thorn Birds (Collector’s Set) (Warner) – (Feb. 3); Firefly: The Complete Series (Fox) – (Dec. 9); The Shield (Season Two) (Fox) – (Jan. 6); Barney Miller (The Complete First Season) (Columbia) – (Jan. 20); The Critic (The Complete Series) (Columbia) – (Jan. 27); What’s Happening (The Complete First Season) (Columbia) (Feb. 3); Cheers (The Complete Second Season) (Paramount) – (Jan. 6); Frasier (The Complete Second Season- (Paramount) – (Jan. 6); MTV’s Punk’d (The Complete First Season) (Paramount) – (Jan. 20); Jeremiah (Season One) (MGM) – (Jan. 20); Curb Your Enthusiasm (The Complete First Season) (HBO) – (Jan. 13); Babylon 5 (The Complete Fourth Season (Warner) – (Jans. 6); Degrassi High, Degrassi Junior High and The Kids of Degrassi Street (Boxed Sets) (VidCanada) – (Dec. 2).

Lilo & Stitch’s Island of Adventures (Disney) – This DVD that blends adventures with a new immersive game required an expert to review:

“An awesome game for family and friends to play on a rainy day. Me and my mom think it’s an awesome game to play and we give it a A-plus for being the best game.” – Chad Adams, age 9.

Meanwhile, citing an overwhelming demand for orders, Disney has postponed until May it’s planned release this week of the third round of Walt Disney Treasures, deluxe metal-boxed limited edition collections culled from the vast Disney film vaults. This round will include material the studio produced as wartime propaganda, more Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse classic cartoons and episodes from the Tomorrowland segments of the old Disneyland TV show.

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