The Couch Potato Report – November 22nd, 2005
This week The Couch Potato Report features Cruise, Spielberg and “The Beav.”
For some summer films, like THE LONGEST YARD, FANTASTIC FOUR, and THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, it was easy to check your brain at the door and just enjoy them.
Doing that with some other summer movies was harder, primarily due to expectations.
For instance, if Steven Spielberg decided to make another science fiction movie, there would be expectations.
After all he’s the man who made CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and E.T. – THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL.
And if that film starred Tom Cruise, the world’s biggest movie star, and was going to be based on the classic H.G. Wells book “The War Of The Worlds”, well, talk about expectations!
In the end, despite that pedigree, and the best special effects money can buy, the newest version of WAR OF THE WORLDS isn’t very good.
The film is very faithful to the book and the story still focuses on aliens who are looking destroy humankind as quick as possible.
But unlike the WAR OF THE WORLDS inspired INDEPENDENCE DAY this movie doesn’t give us much of a thrill ride. Ultimately, that is why I didn’t find it very entertaining.
Yes, it has the special effects, Spielberg’s unflappable direction, and Cruise’s reliable performance as a divorced father who has to rise to the challenge to save his kids, but it doesn’t have enough thrill ride moments to make it a great action film, or even a great summer movie.
In reality, it is just a dramatic film with some summer explosions thrown in for good measure.
But it is the second most popular film of 2005 in theatres, so people must have enjoyed it, right?
Well, I didn’t enjoy it when I saw it in a theatre, and when I watched the DVD this week I was more than bored.
WAR OF THE WORLDS has great special effects, great directing, a great cast and a great premise, but unfortunately the sum of the movie’s parts are nowhere near great.
Another film base on a book is also new on video and DVD this week and I hope this film becomes a cherished holiday classic alongside IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS.
When THE POLAR EXPRESS was released in theatres a little over a year ago much of the publicity the film received was due to the fact that the film used a “performance capture” technique to translate live performances into all-digital characters.
I admit that if you focus on the technological side of the film you won’t enjoy THE POLAR EXPRESS as much as you should.
However, if you can enjoy the film you will find it to be a classic! It is a wonderful celebration of the Christmas spirit, and yes I said Christmas and not Holiday Spirit.
Late one Christmas Eve night, a doubting boy boards a magical train with many other pajama-clad children. The train is headed to the North Pole and only one of the children will be chosen to receive a magical gift that only those who still believe in Santa are eligible.
Tom Hanks’ voice stars in THE POLAR EXPRESS and he is directed by Robert Zemeckis, the man who gave us FORREST GUMP and the BACK TO THE FUTURE FILMS.
Yes, THE POLAR EXPRESS is visually stunning, but the story is what is most overwhelming. And who knows, it might even fill you with the childhood joy of Christmas.
Christmas – and Holiday – gift giving might be easier this year if you have people on your list who love TV shows on DVD.
After all there is a wide array of DVD Box Sets already available, and this week we add four more.
And I must admit that it is about time for one of these releases!
My friends, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER has finally debuted on DVD!
LEAVE IT TO BEAVER premiered in the fall of 1957 and instead of looking at life from a parents point of view it focused on the adventures of seven-year-old Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver and his 12-year-old brother, Wally.
Ward and June Cleaver try to keep their youngest son in line, but he always ends up in one kind of jam or another.
Some of the stories are a little dated today, but the show’s charm still shines through. It remains one of the best TV shows ever and now all 39 episodes from the show’s first season have been digitally remastered and they are available in a three-disc box set.
“Seinfeld” is another classic television show, albeit from a different era. SEINFELD – SEASON 5 and SEASON 6 are also new on DVD this week.
Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer continue to go through life, discussing and experiencing things that we can all relate to on one level or another.
SEASON FIVE includes: The Puffy Shirt, The Sniffing Accountant, The Bris, The Lip Reader, The Stall and The Opposite and you will find The Big Salad, The Gymnast, The Soup, The Race, The Label Maker and The Kiss Hello on the SEASON SIX set.
Each of the sets are four discs and they also include an array of retrospective interviews and behind-the-scenes features.
Since I have already raved about seasons ONE to FOUR here on The Couch Potato Report, you know I love the show, so let me just conclude by saying: Giddy-up!
The final DVD set that I am going to speak about this week is also our final “leftover.” Yes, we have now covered all of the major titles that came out while there were no shows this summer.
So, that final “leftover” is the DVD set for A DIFFERENT WORLD – SEASON ONE.
IN 1987 the show debuted as a spin off of THE COSBY SHOW. Daughter Denise was sent off to college to find out that there was “a different world” awaiting her outside the Huxtable house.
In addition to Lisa Bonet as Denise, this first season of the show stars the young, and always beautiful, Marisa Tomei, who would eventually go on to win an Academy Award for her work in MY COUSIN
Denise, Maggie, Whitley, Dwayne Wayne, Ron. They are all still attending Hillman College on this new 4-DVD box set.
A DIFFERENT WORLD – SEASON ONE, SEINFELD – SEASONS 5 & 6, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER – SEASON ONE, THE POLAR EXPRESS and WAR OF THE WORLDS are all available now at a store near you.
Coming up in the next Couch Potato Report is the superb documentary THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star in MR. AND MRS. SMITH as a couple who hide their real jobs from each other; and in SKY HIGH the son of superheroes must save the world.
There is also FAMILY GUY – VOLUME THREE, MURDERBALL and THE MUPPET MOVIE, THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER, MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND and THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL are being re-released to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Kermit The Frog!
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next week on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – November 22nd, 2005