DVD reviews
October 2006




Lost: The Complete Second Season — The Extended Experience
Reviewed by Kerry Hillard

DVD is the way to watch the second season of Lost — any season of Lost, really. Unlike the show’s TV version, with Lost: The Complete Second Season—The Extended Experience there are no disappointing three-week lapses between episodes, no reruns and no delayed gratification about what happens to the island-stranded crash victims. This fast-paced psychological experiment packs more of a punch when all 24 episodes can be watched in rapid succession. And the show’s creators masterfully provide just enough information to keep viewers riveted — it’s almost impossible to avoid a marathon viewing session.

Another benefit of the DVD is the bonus features. Since Lost is a show built on unanswered questions, I had hopes for getting some inside scoop through the bonus features. I didn’t. But they’re still worth watching.

The Dharma doctor himself introduces the bonus tracks with a reel-style orientation. Feeling like a Dharma subject is creepy — and clever — but the remote offers reassurance. I suggest asserting your power by first selecting the feature “the official Lost connections.” It sheds light on the six-degrees-type connections between the characters. Even die-hard fans can learn something. The trouble with this bonus feature is that it’s tough to navigate, which is appropriate, perhaps, but frustrating. To discover the connections, the viewer must arrow the cursor over a series of unlabeled wires connected to screens baring the characters’ faces. Trying to remember which wire is which is more difficult than figuring out the symbolism of the island.

Another mention-worthy feature is a hilarious series of witty nicknames and phrases from the bad-boy Sawyer. And listening to comments from the show’s creators about “what it all means” was a relief — no, it isn’t a dream. If you want even more information about theories, the creators suggest visiting www.thefuselage.com and www.thelostnotebook.com. They also suggest checking out fan comments on the sites to get ideas about the storyline’s direction. Which is comforting because I can make myself believe they’re just like everybody else — just addicted fans who so desperately want to know what’s going to happen with the show that they can’t stop watching. Rating: 5

The Little Mermaid
Reviewed by Jason Aaron

When most people think of modern-day Disney classics, they think of Beauty and the Beast (the only animated film ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar) or The Lion King (which was the highest grossing animated film of all time until Pixar came along).

But the film that first signaled the revival of Disney’s feature animation department was 1989’s The Little Mermaid. After the death of Walt Disney in 1966, the Disney animation department struggled through some lackluster years, and by the early ‘80s they were only sporadically producing animated feature films, most of them forgettable.

When Michael Eisner took control of the company in 1984, he put Jeffrey Katzenberg in charge of the motion picture divisions with the aim to revitalize the animated output, and the turn-around was almost immediate. Adapted from the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale about a young mermaid who falls in love with a human prince, The Little Mermaid is perhaps most memorable for its Oscar winning songs and score. At the time, it was Disney’s best-animated feature in 20 years. It set the standard for the blockbusters that were to follow and remains one of Disney’s all-time classics. (G) Rating:

X-Men: The Last Stand
Reviewed by Jason Aaron

Just when Bryan Singer, director of X-Men and X2, finally had figured out the perfect balance of action and mutant soap opera that makes the X-Men tick, off he’s stolen by Warner Brothers to build their Superman franchise. That left the X-Men in the hands of director Brett Ratner, whose resume highlight remains the forgettable Kung Fu comedy Rush Hour, and whose worst films include dreck like 2000’s Family Man and 2002’s Red Dragon, a disastrous remake of Michael Mann’s serial killer masterpiece Manhunter.

It’s no great shock that with Ratner at the helm, the X-Men franchise took a giant step backwards. Within the same film, Ratner proves himself completely inept at handling either drama, action or comedy, leaving this third X-Men film a bumbling mess cluttered with WAY too many characters and loads of uninspired special effects. Ratner even manages to suck the appeal from the returning characters, most notably the clawed bad boy Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, whose rebellious attitude and mysterious past were at the heart of both previous films. Here Wolverine is just as wooden and uninteresting as the rest of the cast. Powers or not, it appears the X-Men are finally dead. And Brett Ratner killed them. (PG-13) Rating: 1

The Fox and the Hound
Reviewed by Jason Aaron

Between the death of Walt Disney in 1966 and the revitalization of the film output in the 1980s, the once majestic Disney animation department fell on hard times, culminating with cinematic lowlights like The Black Cauldron and The Great Mouse Detective. One of the few highlights from that period is 1981’s The Fox and the Hound.

This endearing story of the friendship between a hound dog and a fox is notable for being a passing of the baton of sorts, as its production was begun by the old guard of animators, the famous “Nine Old Men” who produced Disney’s most legendary classics, but was completed by a new group of animators, many of whom would go on to work on modern-day hits like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

More straight-forward and conservative than madcap fare like Aladdin, The Fox and the Hound is mostly memorable for its bittersweet ending, earning it a unique spot among Disney’s animated canon. (G) Rating: 4

Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos
Reviewed by Jason Aaron

This documentary about the rise and fall of the North American Soccer League and its most famous team, the New York Cosmos, is a real life example of Rashomon style conflicting memories. Many people interviewed here point fingers at Cosmos player Giorgio Chinaglia, the league’s all-time leading goal scorer, whose unrivaled ego is blamed for eventually sinking the club. Others say Chinaglia’s importance is overrated, and that the league was simply 20 years ahead of its time.

Notably absent from the group of interviewees is soccer legend Pelé, who shocked the world in 1974 by leaving his native Brazil to join the Cosmos for a reported salary of $7,000,000 (though some in the film dispute that total). Pelé’s absence from the documentary is perhaps explained by a subtle jab in the closing credits, when the blurb informing us that he declined to be interviewed is accompanied by the sound of a cash register. Nevertheless, despite Pelé’s absence, Once In A Lifetime is an intriguing look at a sports league born from passion and killed by greed. For modern American soccer fans, it’s also a tantalizing glimpse of what might have been. (PG-13) Rating: 3


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