DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Originally broadcast as a TV miniseries on NBC in 1989, this is a near-perfect adaptation of the Jules Verne classic, with Pierce Brosnan perfectly cast as Phileas Fogg, the proper London gentleman who accepts a wager that he cannot circumnavigate the globe in 80 days’ time.
Oh, yeah? At Fogg’s side are faithful manservant Passepartout (Eric Idle) and Princess Aouda (Julia Nickson), whom he rescues in India. On his heels, and often joining the party, is Detective Fix (a delightfully hammy Peter Ustinov), who’s convinced that Fogg has robbed the Bank of England.
As they traverse the globe, finding adventure (and misadven ture) along the way, the hefty running time is lightened by an all-star line-up of cameo players, including Lee Remick (as Sarah Bernhardt), Darren McGavin, Jack Klugman, Christopher Lee, Patrick Macnee, Henry Gibson, Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, Pernell Roberts, Roddy McDowall, John Hillerman, Simon Ward, James B. Sikking, Stephen Nichols (as Jesse James), Anna Massey (as Queen Victoria), Robert Morley and Sir John Mills, the latter pair having also appeared in the Oscar-winning 1956 film.
This version certainly ranks alongside the film and easily surpasses the disastrous 2004 version. It’s grand escapism, loaded with adventure, comedy, romance and spectacle — just as it should be.
“BASEBALL’S GREATEST GAMES: THE 1960 WORLD SERIES, GAME 7” (Major League Baseball Productions/A&E Home Entertainment): This two-DVD boxed set ($29.95 retail) offers the complete broadcast of one of the Fall Classic’s legendary games, in which Bill Mazeroski’s dramatic 9th-inning home run gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a world title over the New York Yankees on Oct. 13, 1960. It’s always good when the Yankees lose.
CHARLES BUKOWSKI: ONE TOUGH MOTHER (Infinity Entertainment Group): A two-DVD collector’s edition ($29.98 retail) containing the rarely-seen, final live poetry readings by the prolific, acerbic, hard-drinking and influential poet and writer Charles Bukowski (1920-’94): “There’s Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here,” taped in Vancouver in 1979, and “The Last Straw,” taped in California a year later.
“CRISS ANGEL MINDFREAK”: THE COMPLETE SEASON SIX (A&E Home Entertainment): The award-winning magician is up to his old tricks in all six episodes from the 2010 season of the popular A&E reality series. This two-DVD boxed set retails for $24.95.
DEAD SPACE: AFTERMATH (Electronic Arts Inc./Anchor Bay Entertainment): This animated feature, based on the popular video game Dead Space, sees space travelers battling a mysterious, malevolent alien force. Fast-moving, bloody and short, with blatant in-jokes for sci-fi fans and an ending that (surprise, surprise) portends more Dead Space in the future.
THE DOORS/THE ROLLING STONES (MVD Visual): A pair of rarely-seen concert appearances by two of the seminal rock ‘n’ roll bands of their time, if not all time: The Doors: The Music from The
Doors Are Open sees Jim Morrison and Company performing at the Roundhouse in London in 1968, and The Rolling Stones: The Stones in the Park showcases “The World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band” performing in London’s Hyde Park in 1969. This classic rock twin bill retails for $19.95.
FIRE & ICE: THE DRAGON CHRONICLES (Entertainment One): So-so sword-and-sorcery fantasy involving fire dragons fearless warriors, and the like. The CGI effects run hot and cold, but at least it moves. The first film directed by Pitof (nee Jean-Christophe Comar) since Catwoman. This is better, at least. Amy Acker, Tom Wisdom, Arnold Vosloo and John Rhys-Davies all treat it very seriously. Dig the theme song, too. Rated PG-13.
HARPOON: WHALE WATCHING MASSACRE (Image Entertainment): Iceland’s first slasher film pits a group of tourists against murderous whalers who don‘t have anything else to hunt. Not bad, all things considered, with stilted performances offset by a few jolts and some dark humor (one of the ships is called Poseidon). Top-billed Gunnar Hansen isn’t around for long.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (Anchor Bay Entertainment): A savage, better remake of the 1978 exploitation shocker in which a young woman (well played by Sarah Butler), vacationing alone in the country exacts horrific vengeance against the locals who have terrorized, raped and left her for dead. Difficult to watch at times — maybe unbearable — but it gets its blunt point across, repeatedly. The DVD retails for $29.97, the Blu-ray for $34.99. Anchor Bay Entertainment is also releasing Meir Zarchi’s original film (originally titled Day of the Woman) on DVD ($19.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99).
(For an exclusive interview with actress Sarah Butler, see Page 41.)
“JOHN WAYNE: BIGGER THAN LIFE” (Synergy Entertainment/Music Video Distribution): A self-explanatory, three-DVD boxed set ($24.95 retail) featuring rare television appearances by Hollywood legend John Wayne (1907-’79), including documentaries “The American West of John Ford” and “Bigger Than Life,” as well as the 1963 film McLintock!, co-starring Maureen O’Hara and inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew OPEN SEASON 3 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): The latest in the animated children’s franchise sees the warm ‘n fuzzy characters encountering a traveling circus. Voices include Crispin Glover, Steve Schirripa, Dana Snyder, Georgia Engel and Matthew W. Taylor. The special-edition DVD retails for $28.95, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $34.95. Rated PG.
“TOP SHOT”: THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE (A&E Home Entertainment): A four-DVD boxed set ($34.95 retail) featuring all 10 episodes from the inaugural season of the History Channel series, hosted by Colby Donaldson, in which 16 contestants prove their marksmanship skills in contests inspired by actual historical events, aiming for the $100,000 grand prize.
ULTIMATE JORDAN: DELUXE LIMITED EDITION (Image Entertainment): A collection of documentaries about and legendary games played by NBA superstar Michael Jordan, considered by many to be the greatest player to have ever stepped on a basketball court. The seven-DVD boxed set retails for $59.98, the four-disc Blu-ray boxed set for $69.98.
YOU DON’T KNOW JACK (HBO Home Entertainment): Al Pacino won the Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his turn as Dr Jack Kevorkian in Barry Levinson’s hot-button dramatization of the doctor’s con troversial career as an advocate for euthanasia.
Levinson’s best film in years goes behind the headlines to present a personal portrait of Kevorkian, well realized by Pacino. Emmy winner also for Outstanding Writing for a Mini-series, Movie or Dramatic Special, and the film earned a whopping 15 nominations in all, including Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Outstanding Directing, Outstanding Supporting Actor (John Goodman) and Outstanding Supporting Actress (Susan Sarandon and Brenda Vaccaro).
YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Woody Allen again dusts off the old themes of love, lust and longing for this disappointing, London-set comedy(?), squandering an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Freida Pinto, Antonio Banderas and Gemma Jones, while Zak Orth provides Allen-esque narration. One of those movies in which the characters are as miserable and disenchanted at the end as they were in the beginning … so what’s the point? Rated R.
“ZORRO”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (A&E Home Entertainment) Duncan Regehr swings into action as Don Diego de la Vega and his swashbuckling alter-ego, in all 88 episodes from the Family Channel series, which ran for four seasons (1990-’93) and introduced a new generation to the classic character. This 14-DVD boxed set, which retails for $99.95, includes the entire series and bonus materials. A&E is also releasing “Zorro: The Complete Seasons 1-3” ($29.95 retail) and “Zorro: The Complete Season Four” ($19.95 retail).
Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2011, Mark Burger