2005 - A DVD Year In Review.

Seth Gecko

retired member
2005, what a year in DVD's – or was it? From the eagerly anticipated end of the Star Wars saga to the King Kong diaries, the first time we've had a DVD launched relating to a cinema release, it's been an interesting year for sure and so, with this in mind, let's have a look at the hits and misses of the year.

January saw the R1 release of Troy, even though the UK had seen it a few months previously, which featured Brad Pitt with dodgy accent and even more dodgy hair style doing his bit for the so-called epic movie. Shame it wasn't as impressive as it could have been, but then, this was a month that was filled with failed Hollywood blockbusters. From Alien Vs Predator, Catwoman, Little Black Book, The Forgotten and The Village, we had lots of hype with very little in the way of decent product. However, all was not lost, with the reasonable thriller Cellular, featuring Kim Basinger as a kidnap victim, several re-issues such as The Fifth Element, Leon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and a superb documentary in the form of Metallica's Some Kind of Monster. Clearly this was a good month for lower key titles as well as TV shows, with CSI Miami Season 2 and the first season of the James Caan-led Las Vegas. However, for myself, 2 titles stand out among all others, the first is Friday Night Lights, a superb movie revolving around American Football and starring the highly talented Billy Bob Thornton. The other has to be the conclusion of the TV Show Farscape, with the excellent Peacekeeper Wars. They cancelled the show, but that didn't stop the petition against this decision – and this is the superbly realised end result. Oh – how could I forget Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, with Angelina “Frankie Cook” Jolie?

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February kicked off with the release of the Oscar winning Ray, with Jamie Foxx winning one for Best Actor for his portrayal of the piano playing genius. Hollywood continued its love relationship with remaking Japanese movies, but with only half of the impact of the original, with the release of The Grudge starring Buffy's Sarah Michelle Gellar. While it's not a bad movie, nor a bad remake, it still isn't on par with its original predecessor which seems to be typical of these re-visualisations. Again, this month continued the trend of A-list flops, among those are Shark Tale, which I'll admit a soft spot for, Shall We Dance, the Richard Gere/Jennifer Lopez vehicle which again is a remake of a Japanese movie, Spike Lee's She Hate Me, the hugely unfunny Taxi and Raise Your Voice, starring Hillary Duff. However, among all the dross, we had Saw, the low-budget serial killer thriller starring Gary Elwes & Danny Glover and the special edition of Get Shorty, the Elmore Leonard novel in movie form with the cast consisting of John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito and Rene Russo. This month was memorable for me as, not only did I begin my foray into reviewing movies for this site, I also experienced one of the best audio tracks in the form of the Japanese release for Underworld in DTS-ES. Definitely a standout release for me, but my pick of the month would be for The Notebook, a simply charming romantic movie starring Rachel McAdams, who's probably one to watch for in the next year or two.

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March started poorly, but finished with a bang so to speak, with the pure tackiness of The Spongebob Squarepants movie, Exorcist – The Beginning and Flight of the Phoenix, the latter having a superb soundtrack, but ultimately it's still a terrible remake at the end of the day. However, as I said, the end of the month was much improved with Closer, a true love-it-or-hate-it movie, After The Sunset with Brosnan, Harrelson and Hayek in a bikini (just Hayek in the bikini, to reassure you), the Oscar nominated Vera Drake and the hilarious Orgazmo special edition. In between these two bookends, we had such wonderful releases such as The Incredibles, arguably Pixar's strongest movie to date, Finding Neverland with the first pairing of the year for Depp and Highmore, Popular Season 2, the final season of the teenage show that was a parody of teenage shows and finally, La Femme Nikita season 2 was officially released after a 6 month dispute over the soundtrack. However, we still had just as many bad movies to choose from, such as the average Miss Congeniality re-issue, Alfie with Jude Law, which I don't think I saw anything positive about, Bridget Jones 2 with Zellwegger, Grant and Firth or basically Hollywood cashing in with another sequel and Bill Cosby's Ghost Dad, which always made me wonder how anyone finds him funny. My personal pick of the month would be The Incredibles and the first season of The Pretender, a great TV show where the villain, Ms. Parker, is a raven haired beauty who has a penchant for very short skirts. Nice.

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April would be a month you would be forgiven for thinking of nothing but sequels, from Elektra (a spin off from DareDevil), Ocean's 12, Meet The Fockers, Wild Things 3 and Blade:Trinity. With this quantity of sequels, it's not a surprise that 2004/5 seemed to be the years than Asian cinema grew increasingly popular. However, all is not lost thankfully, from the Oscar nominated Sideways, a superb Don Cheadle performance in Hotel Rwanda, the vastly over looked Criminal starring John C. Riley and Maggie Gyllenhaal and The Assassination of Richard Nixon, highlighting Sean Penn as one of the greatest actors in recent times. Still, Hollywood managed to put out its usual average or sub-average vehicles, such as Spanglish for Adam Sandler, Suspect Zero with Ben Kingsley and Carrie-Ann Moss and Birth with Nicole Kidman, which has people divided in opinion. My personal choice of the month would be The Woodsman starring Kevin Bacon in his finest role to date, about a paedophile struggling to come to terms with life after imprisonment. It's not for everyone and it's not always easy viewing, but with stiff competition from Rwanda and Nixon, this just takes my personal pick, but a solid month for titles nonetheless.

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If March was a month that started bad and ended well, then May is a month that started bad and ended terribly, however the middle part wasn't too bad. From the beginning of the month with National Treasure, the Nicholas Cage wannabe Indiana Jones movie that was laughable and The Phantom of the Opera, a movie that was helmed by the evil Joel Schumacher and is either incredibly faithful to the stage show or akin to listening to nails scraping a chalkboard, you can see how poor and controversial this month began. However it picked up with The Life Aquatic, with Bill Murray fresh off his nicely done turn in Lost in Translation, this was critically acclaimed and almost everyone that watched it couldn't fail to be charmed by it. Assault on Precinct 13, another remake also appeared and while not exceptional, certainly boasted a loud soundtrack and was entertaining enough to watch. Unlike Alone in the Dark, one of the worst movies of the year, starring Christian Slater and Tara Reid, if the cast didn't give warning signs then the director Uwe Boll should have instilled enough dread to ensure you avoided like the plague. Team America:World Police came out and while most people found this funny and entertaining, I'm certainly not one of them – give me Orgazmo or South Park instead please. However, the UK market was denied the uncut version that was available on region 1 – typical. Double-dip time was also clearly apparent in the land of region 1, with the director's cut of The Grudge, seen already in February, I, Robot 2 disc edition. The Day After Tomorrow 2 disc edition and Man on Fire 2 disc edition. In the case of I, Robot, Man on Fire and The Day After Tomorrow, just for once, the UK had them way before the US market and we weren't a second rate region, although this as usual, would be short lived. Still, we did have Scorcese's The Aviator as arguably the biggest title of the month, but by the end of it we were being treated, if that's the right word, to the Boogeyman and Submerged with Steven Seagal, both being poor movies, but excellent drinks coasters. My pick of the month would have to be the reissue of Man on Fire, an excellent action/thriller with Denzel Washington on top form and one of the best bitter-sweet endings of the year.

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June, the beginning of the summer blockbusters, certainly appeared to have a plethora of major releases, from sequels to re-releases starting with Seed of Chucky, Be Cool, the sequel to Get Shorty, Christian Bale showing his bones in The Machinist, Kevin Spacey singing as Bobby Darrin in Beyond the Sea and D.E.B.S, featuring 4 female spies in schoolgirl form. Re-releases included Coyote Ugly, Gone in 60 Seconds, Tears of The Sun, Sling Blade, Father of The Blade and Stripes – and we've not left the first week of the month! From the Will Smith vehicle Hitch, Bruce Willis in Hostage and Samuel L. Jackson in Coach Carter, this was a good solid month for A-list titles, although not everything was good. Miss Congeniality 2 was an inferior sequel to an average movie, Cursed wasn't a patch on the previous Craven/Williamson collaboration, even if it did have Christina Ricci in it, The Pacifier with Vin Diesel was simply awful and made you wonder, other than for money, why he made it and Hellraiser:Deader was a horror movie re-written to fit in with the Hellraiser movies, as it didn't work as one otherwise. Finally for this month, we had both the Casino special edition and the 30th Anniversary of Steven Spielberg's Jaws, which came in a limited edition, which certainly was for a change unlike some other monikered titles. TV boxsets were also well catered for with Lois & Clark Season 1, The Sopranos Season 5, Wonder Woman Season 2, Dead Zone Season 3 and La Femme Nikita Season 3. My personal choice for the month would be Million Dollar Baby on Region 2, one of the best movies of the year and very worthy of the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actress, I'm just not convinced on the Best Director one though.

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July contains the region 1 release of Million Dollar Baby, again, it's nice to see the UK have this title first, but it's such a great movie, I have to mention it again here. However, the month also had the absolutely dire Robert De Niro vehicle, Hide and Seek, a thriller without thrills and a chiller without……..you get the point. Other stinkers include the fourth Crow movie Wicked Prayer, xXx 2 with the dubious acting “talent” of Ice Cube and Dracula III:Legacy. However, there were some superb releases too, depending on your taste, such as Constantine, Bill & Ted's Excellent Collection and ………erm……..Million Dollar Baby! TV shows were a mixed bunch from Sliders Season 3, Enterprise Season 2, the superb Dead Like Me Season 2 and …….The Nanny Season 1. Ok I'm kidding on the last one – seriously I am. It's hard to pick a decent title for this month, as you can probably tell, but I'll choose Cry Baby, starring Johnny Depp and Traci Lords, directed by John Waters. It is probably his most mainstream movie, other than Hairspray and is certainly worth watching as it is good fun.

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August brought controversy with the release of Oliver Stone's Alexander, not the epic it should have been, but not deserving of the relentless slaughtering the critics gave it, mostly due to Stone's involvement more than any other reason – so much for any objectivity. More controversy followed in the form of The Brown Bunny, a movie most noted for a non-porn related actress performing oral sex on celluloid than for any other reason. Again, not to everyone's tastes but certainly it has made its mark in movie history for that reason alone. However, this month contained one of the most popular special editions, certainly one of our reviewers' most favoured movies – Gladiator, the extended edition. This 3 disk box set won rave reviews and certainly should be on most collectors' shelves. Of course, this wasn't the only quality title out this month, with Ong-Bak also released on region 1, but there were a large number of turkeys, from Monster-In-Law, a car crash of a movie starring Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda, Guess Who with Ashton Kutcher, The Ring Two, which arguably should never have been made, or at least in this incarnation, Beauty Shop and depending on your viewpoint, Sahara. TV shows were abundant, from House Season 1, O.C. Season 2, Six Feet Under Season 4, The Simpsons Season 6 and The Muppet Show Season 1 (My favourite!). However, all this pales into insignificance when you remember that this month saw the release of my pick of the month as well as my movie of the year. Sin City. I'm not a Rodriguez fan-boy, heck I hate Spy Kids, but this movie is not just a superbly realised vision based on the graphic novels but a fine movie period. Shame that we had to wait until December for a better release, but that's DVD for you.

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September started with a crash, or should I say, it started with Crash, the engrossing movie which has only just come out on region 2. Critically acclaimed and rightly so, for those who've not grabbed a copy, you really should – another movie I don't think I've read any bad press on. Toy Story on Region 1 got the DTS treatment with a new transfer which is now the best it's ever looked, shame Disney dropped the ball on the region 2, yet again. The TV phenomenon Lost came out on region 1 and again, seems to be losing no momentum in its popularity. Disappointments, I have a few, from Hitchhikers Guide and The Longest Yard remake, to the actual release of Mindhunters on region 1. TV boxset fans had a glorious month, with the aforementioned Lost, Desperate Housewives Season 1, Battlestar Galactica Season 1 (inc. mini series), Charmed Season 2, Smallville Season 4 and Star Trek Enterprise Season 3. On the downside, we got treated to another Steven Seagal movie in the shape of Today You Die. Pick of the month would be The Pretender Season 2 – for pretty much the same reason as season 1, and ignoring Crash and the other TV shows, this was a very weak month.

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October couldn't be any worse than September movie-wise and thankfully, it wasn't starting with the Disney classic, Cinderella and a DTS-tracked Star Trek:Nemesis. We were treated to Unleashed, certainly better than the last Li movie I'd seen, which was The One, but already released in August in Asia under the name Danny The Dog. However, with the highly disappointing, or tediously dull, Kingdom of Heaven, October took a turn for the worse. All was redeemed, with not only the reissues of Batman and Batman Returns with new transfers and DTS, but with the Christian Bale starring Batman Begins, which took Batman back to his roots with a variant of the Batman Year One story, although if I have one request for the inevitable sequel it has to be, please, no Katie Holmes. We also got treated to Romero's 4th Zombie movie, Land of the Dead, finally made thanks to last year's Shaun of the Dead movie, which although isn't bad, isn't quite as good as I'd hoped it to be, maybe the next one George? Another month of special editions, from The Fog, The Fly, Elektra, Saw and The Mask of Zorro, the studios added some extras, in one case, a trailer only, but they mostly were re-released to push the sequels on the big screen. Rounding off this month, we has the release of the Titanic 3/4 disk box set and the Wizard of Oz box set made this a superb month for releases, but we still had a few turkey's in the shape of Dominion, Bewitched and Herbie:Fully Loaded. TV shows were well represented with Alias Season 4, Stargate Season 8 and CSI:NY Season 1. Pick of the month would have to be Batman Returns, because to me, that's the definitive Batman movie to date, not to mention Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.

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November started with the end of one of the most popular sagas, with the release of Revenge of the Sith. Yes, millions of fans with Danish pastries strapped to their heads could complete their collection with what was considered a fitting end. Personally I thought it was a terrible waste of a disc, but that's just my viewpoint. Things got decidedly better with the second collaboration of Depp and Highmore in the shape of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. While not perfect, it's certainly superbly visualised under the unique eye of Tim Burton and is good fun to watch for the young and young at heart. In complete contrast, Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects was a throwback to the 70's horror movies, with gore and fun aplenty and contained one of the best extras to date in the 140 minute making of. Animation fans had plenty to look forward to with the festive The Polar Express and even more so, Madagascar, which while not in the Pixar league, is still excellent to watch and very amusing as well. With thrillers such as The Skeleton Key and The Frighteners Special Edition, action movies such as War of the Worlds and the abysmal Stealth and family movies including the Muppet movies celebrating 50 years of a certain frog, this was another solid month for movies. We even had 2 superb documentaries in the form of Murderball and March of the Penguins. TV Shows had a decent enough showing, with CSI Miami S3 and CSI Vegas S5, Star Trek Enterprise Season 4, Scrubs Season 2 and Charmed Season 3. However, not to disappoint anyone, I'm going to pick Mr & Mrs Smith as my DVD for the month, as it contains great action, a nice streak of humour and more than that, Angelina Jolie in a PVC basque. My Christmas certainly came early.

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Finally, December and we start off with the limp summer blockbuster in the shape of the Fantastic Four, which I found severely lacking in the transition from comic book to celluloid, not to mention the evil that is The Dukes of Hazzard. It did however get better with the release of Cinderella Man, the movie where Russell Crowe was allowed to actually hit someone, although it's worth mentioning no phones were harmed in the making of this movie. Things continued their upward turn with the release of the extended edition of Sin City, complete with extras this time! Shame no DTS on the extended version, but maybe next year when Sin City 2 is out, or am I just being cynical? The ever-watchable Billy Bob Thornton starred in this years Bad Santa (which was released on region 2 in November) – Bad News Bears, which can still survive multiple viewings with his style of wit. Further mirth can be had with The 40 Year Old Virgin or Airplane SE (The Don't Call Me Shirley edition), but if humour isn't your thing, maybe the big, dumb action movie The Island is, although the only saving grace is the pouty Scarlett Johansson in my opinion. Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, while not the best Gilliam movie, was certainly a breath of fresh air compared to Into The Blue, featuring the extremely photogenic Jessica Alba and the extremely “talented” Paul Walker. Japanese remake fans should rejoice with the regular or unrated edition of Dark Water, featuring Jennifer Connelly, which yet again shows why Asian remakes are bad mmmmmmkay. Sci-Fi fans however can get all tingly with excitement – Battlestar Galactica Season 2, or half of it anyway, was also released and by all accounts is certainly superior to the first season, but I'll reserve judgement for my review. Weird disk of the year award goes to King Kong Diaries, a 2 disk DVD set that contains no movie! Purely extras based, is this set a worthy purchase for fans of the movie or is it just the studio reaping more cash from unsuspecting Jackson fans? I know which one my money is on. With John Singleton's Four Brothers and The Exorcism of Emily Rose being hit or miss, depending on taste, the pick of this months DVD's comes down to the aforementioned Sin City (just because it's my movie of the year) and Joss Whedon's Serenity, proving that there is life after TV cancellations. Neither pandering to the suits by using anyone outside of the TV show and being able to stand on its own without prior knowledge of the Firefly TV series, this certainly shows others how to write intelligent and witty science fiction. Cough*Lucas*Cough.

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Stinja

Distinguished Member
Cheers for this! Great for making the Mrs think about possible DVD purchases, as she (and me) cannot remember what was good in the movies months previously.

I have to ask if theres a similar "year in review" for 2004 etc?
 

Seth Gecko

retired member
iZed said:
I have to ask if theres a similar "year in review" for 2004 etc?
I don't think so, but I may look at doing a 2003-4 version at some time as I have the R1 schedule for those years :)
 

Adrenochrome

Well-known Member
Seth Gecko said:
I don't think so, but I may look at doing a 2003-4 version at some time as I have the R1 schedule for those years :)

Please do as i'm sure we have all missed out on so many releases down the years:)

Keep up the good work mate:thumbsup:
 

Tejstar

Distinguished Member
Fab roundup, I thought 2005 was generally a poor year for movies in general imo, however you've highlighted a few gems I missed which I'll enjoy through 2006! :thumbsup:
 

Ger

Active Member
I rented out The Descent over the weekend and was on the edge of my seat all the way through. Best Thriller/Horror I have seen for a while, but don't think its mentioned above though.
 

Seth Gecko

retired member
I couldn't/wouldn't list everything that came out - it would be an impossible and thankless task if I did. The Descent did indeed come out in November and we did review it (maybe it just wasn't that memorable to me) - but then so did many other titles that I could have mentioned.

But thanks for noticing :rolleyes:
 

Ger

Active Member
Seth Gecko said:
I couldn't/wouldn't list everything that came out - it would be an impossible and thankless task if I did. The Descent did indeed come out in November and we did review it (maybe it just wasn't that memorable to me) - but then so did many other titles that I could have mentioned.

But thanks for noticing :rolleyes:

No problem. I wasn't complaining, just throwing in a thought :)
 

AgentCool

Well-known Member
You lost me when you said 'National Treasure' was bad. This was the most ludicrously underrated film for years. Yes, it might be unrealistic but so are most films. I'm not saying it was film of the year but it was the better Bruckheimer production and a thoroughly entertaining ride.
 

AgentCool

Well-known Member
I wish I'd said "incredibly underrated" now. I agree with you about Sin City though; so good I bought it twice (vanilla R2 and SE R1).
 

Lord Midas

Novice Member
Good round up Seth. :thumbsup:

Mostly agree with everything you said. It baffles me how you didn't enjoy SW:ROTS? I know it's your viewpoint but I thought it was a great rollercoaster ride! (unlike the rollercoaster in the new Final Destination 3 which was a horrible rollercoaster ride (for the people on the ride (i'll stop now))).

Roll on 2006. And the releases of Munich and Walk the Line, etc.
 

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