DVD Reviews: New DVD releases help fill those dull summer evenings

    The Royal Tenenbaums

    ****

    For those that live with a dysfunctional family, Wes Anderson’s latest comedic work will surely bring out all those memories that you would rather forget. Fear not, seeing another weird family instead of your own is an enjoyable experience in “”The Royal Tenenbaums.””

    Gene Hackman plays Royal Tenenbaum, the head of a troubled household of family geniuses that he hasn’t seen or talked to in years. His children, Chas (Ben Stiller), Margot (Gwenyth Paltrow) and Ritchie (Luke Wilson), hate him, and he was recently kicked out of his residence. When Etheline (Anjelica Houston) starts considering another marriage, Royal tries to win back her heart and reunite with the family at the same time. The family reunion proves to be tumultuous, but for the first time, his paternalistic humanity is seen.

    “”Royal Tenenbaums”” is similar in style and feel to “”Rushmore”” with its eccentric exposition of human frailty and emotions. The Tenenbaums are clearly out of place in the world they live in, and their lives show it. To some, this makes for a humourous film; for others, it’s not going to inate laughter.

    The DVD shows the hard work put into this film. Anderson’s audio commentary is sharp and insightful, providing interesting anecdotes for the entire length of the film. Although there are few outtakes, the must-see shot is that of Anjelica Houston’s hair catching on fire.

    Additional supplements include cast interviews and several featurettes on the artwork of the film. Although these extras do add some insight, it is the audio commentary that makes the DVD worth viewing.

    Amelie

    ***

    Watching “”Amelie”” is like entering a confectionary: Bright colors and juvenile innocence emanates everywhere. One of the most charming films ever created, “”Amelie”” has melted hearts not only in France, but also throughout arthouses in the States.

    Amelie, played by the enchanting Audrey Tautou, is a young Parisian woman who has lived a childhood without the sights, sounds and smells of a normal child growing up. Now 20-something, Amelie takes pleasure in making life a more hospitable place for strangers even though she can’t solve the problems in her own life.

    While she brings happiness and joy to the lives of others, Amelie slowly comes to grip with the issues revolving around her life.

    The film is dripping with bright colors and exaggerated tints that can be best seen in the DVD transfer. Being a two-disc set, Amelie has plenty of additional features that take several days of viewing.

    There’s a lot — too much in fact — about director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, with not only a director’s commentary, but also two Q&As, an intimate conversation and a featurette on the director’s work. However, the commentary is a joy to watch and shows Jeunet’s comedic side.

    A featurette on the “”Look of ‘Amelie'”” is not only interesting, but it shows how the environment of the film matches Amelie’s persona.

    “”Amelie”” is the perfect date movie, providing a cheery optimism that is not cliche and overbearing like so many other films today.

    Star Trek: The Next Generation, season three

    ***

    After already releasing seasons one and two of “”Star Trek: TNG,”” Trekies can be delighted with the complete season three on DVD.

    Season three is widely considered to be the beginning of the strong, memorable episodes that defined “”TNG.””

    With two seasons finished, the cast and crew seems finally at ease with the show, and the camaraderie is apparent in both writing and acting. It also marks the return of Dr. Beverly Crusher after a disappearance in the second season.

    Similar to the first two seasons’ worth of DVDs, the third season has all the episodes in a high-quality transfer. The visual effects are improving and can be seen throughout the episodes. With its growing popularity and fanbase, season three exudes confidence while it steps out of the shadows of the original series.

    The pinnacle of season three is cliffhanger episode “”The Best of Both Worlds,”” in which Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) becomes a Borg. This episode remains one of the most beloved by Star Trek fans.

    The DVD set also includes four featurettes that are once again similar to the previous DVD sets’. Most of the segments are about looking back on the season and discovering the actors’ favorite episodes. These supplements are now the norm rather than a standout in DVD sets. Beyond the extras, the strong storyline and excellent episodes carry the season three DVD set.

    Nevertheless, it has never been a better time for Star Trek fans while Paramount continues to release “”TNG”” episodes throughout the remainder of the year.

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