6/22/10 Edition Twitter: THEAISLESEATCOM
Flash! GORDON on Blu-Ray
Plus: UNCLE SAM and Complete DVD Coverage
Following the release of “Star Wars,” everyone and anyone rushed to jump in on the sci-fi craze of the late ‘70s -- from a rash of Italian clones to James Bond himself, the genre became saturated with space operas set in galaxies far, far away, even if most failed to resemble George Lucas’ original classic in tone or execution.

Of course, Lucas himself was influenced by a myriad of sources, including the old-time serials of the 1930s and ‘40s. It stood to reason that someone would rush out and gobble up the rights for characters like Flash Gordon, relaunching the original hero as a modern day product ripe for audiences still hungry for anything space-related.

In this case, it was Dino DeLaurentiis who snapped up the option to bring Alex Raymond’s comic-strip (and later Saturday matinee) hero to the screen, resulting in a 1980 film of FLASH GORDON (***, 111 mins., PG; Universal) that seemed to please camp aficionados more than general audiences, who turned the film into a box-office disappointment at the time of its release.

The film actually follows the plot of Raymond’s strip and the original Buster Crabbe serials faithfully, chronicling the adventures of Flash (ex-athlete Sam J. Jones), Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) and scientist Hans Zarkov (Topol) after they crash on the planet Mongo, controlled by the vile Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow), who’s about to unleash his plan to conquer the Earth...and the whole galaxy for that matter. On Mongo, Flash meets a variety of colorful allies, from the dashing Prince Barin (Timothy Dalton) to sensuous Princess Aura (Ornella Muti) and the high-flying Hawk Men, including their leader, Prince Vultan (Brian Blessed). Together they attempt to thwart Ming’s nefarious plans as Mongo inches closer to Earth.

No doubt there are some major problems with the movie: leads Jones (a former football player who fills the role of Flash with minimal success) and Anderson are plastic; writer Lorenzo Semple’s script is light on dramatics and seemingly more concerned with camp humor and innuendo; and the much-lauded (if somewhat inappropriate) contribution of Queen to the soundtrack actually results in just a memorable, opening blast of rock over the main titles, since it’s mostly Howard Blake’s orchestral score that carries much of the film.

In terms of character development and dramatic interest, “Flash Gordon” has never been entirely satisfying, but when taken as sheer eye candy with a liberal amount of laughs, you can at least see why the film remains a cult favorite. Danilo Donati’s sets and costumes are simply eye-popping, packing each frame with color and fascinating artistic design. At the same time, Gil Taylor (then fresh off “Star Wars”) captures the action in comic book styled cinematography that’s perfect for the material, while director Mike Hodges makes up for the bland lead casting with supporting performances -- especially von Sydow, Blessed and Dalton -- that are delightfully energetic.

“Flash Gordon” made its debut on Blu-Ray last week in a spectacular VC-1 encoded transfer, capturing all the colors and details of the expensive production. Universal never released the picture on HD-DVD, so this first-ever domestic high-def edition of the film is nothing short of gorgeous, exhibiting only a tiny bit of sharpness here and there. Overall, though, not only does this “Flash” HD transfer bring the home viewer closer to the theatrical experience than any prior release, it’s also an appreciable enhancement on the European Blu-Ray Studio Canal has released overseas -- a transfer that suffers by comparison with weaker colors and artificially pumped-up brightness. The DTS Master Audio soundtrack, meanwhile, boasts a satisfying, intermittently rollicking mix with deep bass.

On the supplemental side, Universal carries over the extras from their “Savior of the Universe” 2007 DVD, including an interview with writer Lorenzo Semple, who discusses the problems inherent with writing for DeLaurentiis (he memorably describes the producer asking him to write the script...going off, handing it in, and then having it shot with no changes made!). There’s also an interview with comic artist Alex Ross plus the original trailer and the first episode of the original 1936 Buster Crabbe serial, which as I mentioned previously is strikingly similar to the 1980 film.

It all makes for a strong Blu-Ray release, though fans should note that the European releases have some superior extras, including a very interesting Mike Hodges commentary and interview (the British DVD also sported a commentary from Brain Blessed, and is due out on Blu-Ray later this month).

DARKMAN Blu-Ray (***, 1990, 96 mins., R; Universal): Sam Raimi's first studio film is an entertaining comic-book hybrid of "Batman" and "Phantom of the Opera," as light as a feather but bursting with cinematic energy.

Liam Neeson plays a research scientist who is horribly disfigured after a local gangster (Larry Drake) destroys his laboratory while searching for documents that would be incriminating for his shady land-developer boss (Colin Friels). Neeson is presumed dead but, thanks to the miracle of modern science, becomes an anonymous test subject for a hospital that keeps him alive -- giving him the ability to avoid feeling pain while experiencing stronger emotions. After escaping from the operating table, Neeson's scientist finds that his synthetic skin allows him to recreate his prior appearance as well as take on the forms of his enemies, provided he only stays in the sunlight for 99 minutes while "Darkman" exacts his revenge.

As much of a homage to the Universal monster movies of the '30s and '40s as it was influenced by the comic book films of its time ("Batman," "Dick Tracy"), the gothic "Darkman" was a surprise sleeper hit in the summer of 1990 (produced for $16 million, it grossed more than twice that amount domestically), and established Raimi -- best known for his "Evil Dead" films -- as a player on the studio circuit. The screenplay (credited to Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Chuck Pfarrer, Daniel Goldin and Joshua Goldin) is a pastiche of the comic book and horror genres, and in another director's hands could've been just a standard-issue revenge picture. Thanks to Raimi, though, "Darkman" is bursting with visual pizzazz, pulsating montages, humor, and over-the-top melodramatic moments, punctuated by a terrific -- and appropriately bombastic -- Danny Elfman score that's among the best of his genre works of the period. He also receives strong support from Neeson and Frances McDormand (as his lawyer-lady love), who give the material a touch of class in roles atypical for both performers. (There are also cameos from Jenny Agutter to John Landis and a particularly fitting one for a certain Raimi favorite as well at the very end).

Universal's Blu-Ray edition of "Darkman" is something of a letdown, marred by an excessive amount of digital noise reduction; the image seems overly “smooth” at times, a direct result of too much filtering. Much better, at least, is the disc's robust DTS Master Audio soundtrack, giving Elfman's score an ideal stage to show off its pulsating, memorable passages (fans should note that orchestrator Jonathan Sheffer does receive an "Additional Music" credit during the final scroll).

"Darkman" may be derivative and silly, but it delivers as much entertainment in its own way -- and quite possibly more -- for its modest budget than Raimi's last film, "Spider-Man 3," did for a price tag of $258 million. Sometimes bigger really isn't better.

Also New on Blu-Ray

SHOWGIRLS Blu-Ray (**, 131 mins., 1995, NC-17; MGM/Fox): Paul Verhoeven's much-maligned 1995 opus stars Kyle MacLahlan along with top-billed Elizabeth Berkley and Gina Gershon in a silly, cliched story of a girl who rises to fame and fortune but finds out, when she gets there, that she never should have bothered trying.

The first (and last?) NC-17 release from a major studio, ”Showgirls” was the movie that you had to flash your ID at the door or else a group of 13 year-old ushers wouldn't allow you in. Still, for a movie that promised tons of T&A and remarkably stupid dialogue, I found it disconcerting when the matinee I attended was filled with women primarily over the age of 65!

Verhoeven set out to -- okay, I'm not sure what he or writer Joe Eszterhas (who worked together on the overheated “Basic Instinct”) were smoking when they concocted this romp, but just the same,”Showgirls” provides a fair degree of entertainment, even if the picture isn't ever as sexy, titillating, or unintentionally funny as you wished it would be. More often than not, the movie is rather routine, with Berkley -- who actually was more appealing back on "Saved by the Bell" -- and MacLahlan both giving terribly uninteresting performances. Only Gershon was able to parlay this project into bigger success elsewhere (in the Wachowski Brothers' overrated lesbian thriller “Bound”), while Robert Davi gets a few laughs in a supporting part.

If “Showgirls” failed to deliver on its intended goods in theaters (there are more R-rated movies with seedier sex than this one), at least it has weathered the storm somewhat on video and is dating a bit better now that the expectations are gone.

MGM’s new Blu-Ray of “Showgirls” is the fourth variation of the film I’ve covered on video to date, and it’s basically a repackaging of the last DVD edition, featuring the NC-17 rated cut of the film along with a humorous commentary by David Schmader, video commentary and lap dance tutorial from the World Famous Girls of “Scores,” a featurette and trivia track. The vivid AVC-encoded transfer and DTS Master Audio soundtrack are both superlative, while a standard-def DVD is also included.

THE ILLUSIONIST Blu-Ray (***½, 109 mins., 2006, PG-13; Fox): In Vienna circa 1900, Edward Norton plays a magician who packs houses and falls for beautiful Jessica Biel, the fiancee of the country’s Crown Prince Leopold (deliciously played by Rufus Sewell). Paul Giamatti essays the police inspector who attempts to unravel the crime stemming from that triangle in this exquisitely shot film from writer-director Neil Burger, here adapting a novel by Steven Millhauser. Dick Pope’s cinematography, an excellent Philip Glass score, and top-notch performances from Norton and Giamatti make this mystery (an independent film which grossed nearly $40 million at the domestic box-office) an unexpected surprise.

Fox’s Blu-Ray release sports a pleasant AVC-encoded transfer and DTS Master Audio soundtrack. The disc also comes bundled with a DVD of the picture that is relatively light on supplements, including a basic Making Of featurette, a brief interview with Biel, and a director commentary from Burger.

Also New on Blu-Ray

WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE: A FILM ABOUT THE DOORS Blu-Ray (***, 96 mins., 2010, R; Eagle Vision): Writer-director Tom DiCillo chronicles the turbulent life and times, as well as great music, of Jim Morrison and The Doors in this highly compelling new documentary, produced by Dick Wolf (of “Law & Order” fame).

“When You’re Strange” hits all the expected beats in terms of profiling the oft-documented problems between Morrison and his fellow band members, as well as its lead singer’s drug abuse, but works in a generous assortment of previously unseen footage as well, from early performance gigs and archival material, to glimpses of Morrison’s “HWY (Highway),” an experimental film he produced in the late ‘60s. Johnny Depp provides the narration throughout, while an exclusive interview with Jim’s father, Admiral George Morrison, is included, reflecting on his son’s life and musical legacy.

Eagle Vision’s Blu-Ray is terrific, offering a superb DTS Master Audio soundtrack and satisfying 1080p (1.78) widescreen transfer that ought to please all Doors enthusiasts.

REMEMBER ME Blu-Ray (**, 112 mins., 2010, PG-13; Summit): Robert Pattinson from “Twilight” tries to branch out from the fangs in this disappointingly downbeat, slow-moving drama from writer Will Fetters and director Allen Coulter.

As a disillusioned New York college student with a bad relationship with father Pierce Brosnan, Pattinson spends most of “Remember Me”’s running time forever-brooding while striking up a relationship with Ally (Emilie de Ravin from “Lost,” who perks up the film considerably), a young woman also with a troubled past. The duo fall in love before the movie offers one of the more shocking, though not particularly satisfying, downers of an ending I’ve seen in a while, but it’s in keeping with the film’s one-note, tiresome tone. For “Twilight” addicts who can’t get enough of its star only.

Summit’s Blu-Ray release does sport a fine AVC-encoded 1080p transfer with DTS Master Audio sound and extras including two commentaries and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

YOUTH IN REVOLT Blu-Ray (**, 90 mins., 2010, R; Sony): Tepid box-office misfire offers Michael Cera once again playing a nebbish, virginal teenager who dons a disguise to court a beautiful girl he meets on a family vacation. Miguel Arteta’s adaptation of a C.D. Payne novel offers fleeting laughs courtesy of supporting cast members Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, Fred Willard, Jean Smart and Zach Galifianakis, but whenever a movie starts off with its lead character masturbating, you know you’re in for a long ride. Sony’s Blu-Ray disc is highlighted by a fine AVC-encoded 1080p transfer, DTS Master Audio sound and a number of extras, including deleted scenes, alternate animated sequences, audition footage, and a commentary with Cera and Arteta.

THE LAST STATION Blu-Ray (***, 113 mins., 2009, R): The last days of author Leo Tolstoy are profiled in this splendidly performed character study from writer-director Michael Hoffman. Christopher Plummer is marvelous as Tolstory and Helen Mirren his equal as wife Sofya, who attempts to change her curmudgeonly spouse’s decision to donate his royalties to the Russian populace for the greater good; Paul Giamatti is Chertkov, Tolstoy’s confidant, while James McAvoy is his assistant, and it’s his relationship with a young woman (Kerry Condon) that contrasts effectively with the elder couple at the heart of the story. Superb production design from Oscar winner Patrizia von Brandenstein and cinematography from Sebastian Edschmid make “The Last Station” a real treat on Blu-Ray, where Sony has presented a sterling AVC-encoded transfer with DTS Master Audio sound. Extras include commentaries with the stars and Hoffman, along with deleted scenes, outtakes and behind-the-scenes content.

LADYBUGS Blu-Ray (**, 89 mins., 1992, PG-13; Lionsgate): Sidney J. Furie’s formulaic soccer comedy was one of the later vehicles tailored around comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who decides to become the coach of an all-girls youth soccer team in order to impress his boss. Things really go nutty when he attempts a reverse “Bad News Bears” and puts his fiancee’s son (the late teen heartthrob Jonathan Brandis) on the squad – albeit in the form of a girl named “Martha”! Pretty much standard-issue all the way, Lionsgate’s Blu-Ray of “Ladybugs” arrives in a couple of weeks, offering a good, if aged-looking, HD master with DTS Master Audio sound.

JIMMY HOLLYWOOD Blu-Ray (**, 117 mins., 1994, R; Lionsgate): One of Barry Levinson’s mid-‘90s box-office bombs, “Jimmy Hollywood” followed the director’s “Toys” and managed to earn even less than its predecessor. This 1994 misfire offers Joe Pesci, donning a hideous blonde wig, as a failed actor who decides to have his pal Christian Slater tape his heroics as a would-be vigilante and send them into the police. Alas, nothing goes as planned in this labored affair, which co-stars Victoria Abril (making one of her few American movies) and only sports a few infrequently funny one-liners. Lionsgate’s Blu-Ray sports a re-edited 117 minute version of the film that Levinson first oversaw for the movie’s original VHS and laserdisc release (extending the film by five minutes and re-cutting other sequences within); the AVC encoded transfer is fine, as is the DTS Master Audio soundtrack, though there is a disclaimer about music having been changed from the theatrical version on the back cover.

DON McKAY Blu-Ray (**, 90 mins., 2009, R; Image): Thomas Haden Church essays a janitor called back to his hometown by a dying girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue) in this crazy-bizarre film from writer-director Jake Goldberger. “Don McKay” shifts its tone all the over the place during its 90 minutes, never settling on a consistent line of storytelling (one moment the picture’s a black comedy; the next a violent B-movie), though at least you can’t say it’s boring. The performances ultimately fare better than the script in this oddball affair, which Image brings to Blu-Ray in a satisfying 1080p transfer with DTS Master audio and extras including commentary from the director and producer, deleted scenes and the trailer.

EYEBORGS Blu-Ray (**½, 102 mins., 2010, R; Image): Former “Highlander” Adrian Paul takes on government surveillance cameras run amok in this futuristic thriller from director Richard Clabaugh, which mixes in some humorous content and socio-political commentary about government intrusion and loss of personal freedoms. It’s better-than-average genre fare with a few ideas and a couple of well-executed action sequences, worth a rental for genre aficionados if nothing else. Image’s Blu-Ray release of this low-budget affair, co-starring Danny Trejo and Megan Blake, sports an acceptable 1080p transfer with 5.1 DTS Master Audio sound, deleted scenes, featurettes and the original trailer.

UNCLE SAM Blu-Ray (**, 90 mins., 1997, R; Blue Underground): Writer Larry Cohen and director William Lusting tried to recapture the manic B-movie pleasures of their “Maniac Cop” series with this intermittently amusing horror tale of a perished Gulf War vet who returns to his hometown, haunting the unpatriotic (and, ultimately, anyone else for that matter) including draft-dodger Timothy Bottoms and Korean war vet Isaac Hayes.

With a cast that also includes P.J Soles, William Smith, Robert Forster and Bo Hopkins, you’d think that “Uncle Sam” is an exploitation fan’s dream, yet there’s a reason this mid ‘90s effort has flown under the radar for so long. After a promising start the movie just goes through the motions, though there is something enjoyable about watching its zombified Uncle Sam offing victims left and (mostly) right.

The movie also looks good considering its budget in 2.35 widescreen, with Blue Underground’s 1080p transfer and matching DTS Master Audio soundtrack both being as satisfying as can be expected given the modest production of the picture. Ample extras include two commentaries, one with Lusting, Cohen and the producer; and another, earlier talk with Lustig and Hayes. There’s also “Fire Stunts” with commentary from stunt coordinator Spiro Tazatos, a deleted scene, gag reel, trailer, and poster and still galleries.

A fine effort from Blue Underground for a movie that’s not quite as enjoyably flag-waving for horror fans as you’d hope, but does offer sporadic pleasures.

MARY AND MAX Blu-Ray (***, 92 mins., 2008, Not Rated; IFC): Oscar-winning writer-director Adam Elliot’s pseudo-claymation animated feature is a delightfully offbeat tale about the relationship between an eight-year-old Australian girl (voiced by Toni Collette) and a 44-year-old Asperger’s Syndrome-suffering New Yorker (performed by Philip Seymour Hoffman), whose relationship over the course of 20 years entails all kinds of issues both big and small. Elliot’s script is unusually sensitive in nature for this sort of thing, marked by nicely articulated characters and a variety of emotions. “Mary and Max” hits Blu-Ray in a top-notch release from IFC, sporting a richly detailed 1080p transfer with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and a number of extras including multiple trailers, commentary, featurettes, alternate scenes and the short “Harvie Krumpet.”

STOLEN Blu-Ray (**, 91 mins., 2009, R; IFC): An excellent cast can’t quite overcome a ho-hum script in this well-made yet unremarkable independent thriller. Jon Hamm from “Mad Men” takes on one of his first starring projects here as a detective trying to search for his missing son when he stumbles across another body of a young boy from an unsolved 1958 case. While Hamm attempts to connect the dots director Anders Anderson and writer Glenn Taranto flash back to the ‘50s to tell the story of that missing boy’s father (Josh Lucas) and his efforts to find his boy. Well-shot with good performances from Hamm, Lucas, James Van Der Beek and Rhona Mitra, “Stolen” ultimately fizzles out at the end as it wraps up its main mystery just a little too conveniently. IFC’s Blu-Ray does contain a fine 1080p transfer with 5.1 audio, the trailer and a featurette.

THE WHITE RIBBON Blu-Ray (***, 144 mins., 2009, R; Sony): German filmmaker Michael Haneke chronicles the dark secrets, unquestioned devoutness and heartlessness of a small Protestant village in Northern Germany, right before the outbreak of WWI, in this absorbing, well-made black-and-white drama. Methodically paced, Haneke’s film is vividly portrayed and shocking, not just for its portrayal of villagers who we can see adapting Nazism just a short time later, but also for its contemporary relevance about societal corruption and how it starts with even the most mundane acts. Sony’s Blu-Ray looks brilliant with its deep blacks and perfect contrast levels, while DTS Master Audio sound is quietly effective. Extras include interviews with the director, premiere footage and more behind-the-scenes content.


AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER Complete Book 1 Collector’s Edition DVD (489 mins., 2006, Paramount): Nickelodeon-produced series became a big hit with kids and animation aficionados alike; this tremendous Collector’s Edition release offers the complete “Book 1: Water” portion of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s series in a grand, seven-disc DVD set, just in time for the release of M. Night Shyamalan’s big-screen, live-action version.

A behind-the-scenes documentary, offering never-before-seen development art, crew interviews, and fan testimonials, highlights the supplements, which also include a book containing storyboards, paintings and other conceptual artwork (a preview of a full-sized tome, “The Art of the Animated Series”).

Fans should enjoy the extras alongside the set’s full-screen transfers and Dolby Digital soundtracks.

ONCE MORE WITH FEELING DVD (***, 101 Mins., 2009, Not Rated; IFC): It’s great to see Linda Fiorentino on-screen again in her first role in almost a decade, playing a lounge singer who comes onto a Connecticut shrink (Chazz Palminteri) pursuing his belated dreams of becoming a singer in this flavorful, nicely acted drama from writer Gina O’Brien and director Jeff Lipsky. “Once More With Feeling” sports a lot of sentiment and honest performances from Palminteri and the cast, with IFC’s DVD sporting a fine 16:9 transfer with 5.1 Dolby Digital audio.

AIR BUD: WORLD PUP DVD (**½, 83 mins., 2003, G; Disney): Cute 2003 entry in the ever-popular series of small-screen “Air Bud”/”Air Buddies” family films has been re-packaged on DVD just in time to take advantage of World Cup mania. This time out Buddy not only has a new litter of puppies but helps his teen owner on the field with winning his team’s state soccer championship. Appealing canines and a nice, heartwarming story make “World Pup” more than worthwhile for family audiences, with Disney’s DVD including a 16:9 (1.85) transfer, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, a production featurette, and a new, amusing “Buddies Sports Channel: Soccer Edition” segment, where the little tykes offer a tribute to their dad, the original “Air Bud.” There's also a small sports bag in the package for good measure.

HOW THE EARTH CHANGED HISTORY Blu-Ray (300 mins., 2010; BBC): Professor Iain Stewart hosts this superb BBC documentary, charting the rise of civilization based on our planet’s geography and climate. From the hot sands of the Sahara to the cold of the Antarctic, Stewart makes a compelling case for how the Earth influenced the rise of human evolution. BBC’s Blu-Ray set is also a winner, sporting strong 1080i transfers with DTS Master Audio soundtracks and a behind-the-scenes interview with Stewart.

OCEANS DVD (470 mins., 2008; BBC): A team of experts including conservationist Philippe Cousteau, Jr. (Jacques’ grandson) heads below the surface to chronicle Earth’s oceans in this informative BBC series. Presented on two discs, “Oceans” sports lovely 16:9 transfers and 2.0 stereo soundtracks on DVD.

AMERICAN PICKERS - Season 1 DVD (aprx. 8 hours; A&E/History): Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, owners of “Antique Archaeology” in Iowa, scour the backroads of the country pursuing artifacts from America’s past in junk piles, barns and garages. This entertaining look at antique dealers is enlightening for its historical content as well, sort of like a “Traveling Antiques Roadshow” with a human element as the duo interview an assortment of “regular” folks not always aware of the goodies they might possess. History’s DVD set presents the first season of “American Pickers” on DVD with widescreen transfers and stereo soundtracks, the episodes spread across three discs.   
HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE Season 2 DVD (10 hours, 2009-2010; A&E/History): On-location shooting and scientific analysis mark this second season of the popular History Channel series, chronicling the origins of some of the Earth’s most well-known locations and geographical landmarks. The series’ 13 episodes are presented in widescreen with 2.0 stereo sound and include Grand Canyon, Vesuvius, Birth of the Earth, Sahara, Yosemite, The Rockies, Ring of Fire, Everest, Death Valley, Mt. St. Helens, Earth’s Deadliest Eruption, America’s Ice Age and America’s Gold.

PARANORMAL COPS Season 1 DVD (aprx. 3 hours; A&E/History): The success of “Ghost Hunters” and its associated spin-offs on the Syfy Channel has lead to a rash of imitators and similar series on other cable stations, including this A&E effort about Chicago-area cops who spend their off-time (kind of like David Hasselhoff on “Baywatch Nights”) tracking down supernatural goings-on. Season 1 of “Paranormal Cops” has hit DVD courtesy of A&E/Newvideo and includes additional footage on its widescreen, 2.0 stereo sound two-disc set.

HORSES: THE STORY OF EQUUS DVD (45 mins., 2001; Warner): Well photographed IMAX movie makes its belated DVD debut in this Warner release, profiling a trio of horses (a racehorse, stunt horse, and wild stallion) from birth to adulthood. Gabriel Bryne provides the narration and Roger Mason the music in this Australian-produced IMAX offering, which arrives on DVD in a full-screen ratio basically approximating its 15/70 IMAX format with 2.0 Dolby Surround stereo, remastered from the original 70MM elements.

FAMILY GUY Volume 8 DVD (343 mins., 2009; Fox): 15 more episodes from “Family Guy” highlight this newest volume of episodes from the still-popular, long-running Seth MacFarlane animated TV comedy. Comprised of the show’s last group of seventh-season episodes and the first eight episodes from its eighth season, fans will enjoy this three-disc set offering full-screen transfers, 5.1 soundtracks, commentaries, deleted scenes, karaoke and other goodies.

THE GOOD GUY DVD (**½, 91 mins., 2010, R; Lionsgate): Though billed as a romantic drama with second-billed Alexis Bledel prominently displayed on the artwork, “The Good Guy” is as much about the relationship between cocky Wall Street broker Scott Porter and his protégé, the quiet Bryan Greenberg, both of whom find themselves drawn to Bledel’s female lead. Julio DePeitro wrote and directed this low-key and quite well-acted, if predictable, drama that Lionsgate brings to DVD in a fine 16:9 (1.78) transfer with extras including commentary with DePietro and Bledel and the trailer.

SIXGUN DVD (93 mins., 2010, PG-13; Lionsgate): Scott Perry produced and directed this low-budget indie western, which arrives on DVD July 6th sporting a 16:9 (1.78) transfer with 5.1 audio and extras including commentary with the director and a Making Of featurette.

LEAP FROG Double Feature DVDs (Lionsgate): Lionsgate has bundled together a pair of “Leap Frog” double-features on DVD for the little ones. Both are comprised of a “classic” Leap Frog title with one of the more recent 2009 DVD releases - “Let’s Go to School” is here paired with “Talking Words Factory,” while “Math Adventure to the Moon” is coupled with “Letter Factory.” Both sets retail for $20 and under and come strongly recommended for young viewers.    

JOHNNY BRAVO - Season 1 DVD (286 mins.; Warner): Once of the Cartoon Network’s earliest original hits, Van Partible’s “Johnny Bravo” makes his belated “Complete” DVD debut in this double-disc release from Warner. Sporting 13 episodes from the show’s first (1997) season, including cameos from Farrah Fawcett, Adam West, Donny Osmond and Scooby-Doo among others, fans ought to be quite pleased with the presentation here. Extras include three commentaries, a featurette on the show’s creation, pencil tests, and Seth MacFarlane’s temp-track for the songs used in the episode “The Sensitive Male!”

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