There’s a lot of stuff that comes out all the time, and the companies are want your attention and mostly…your coin. But, you know, it’s your coin and you have to take care where you spend it. With these posts we try to take you through recent releases so you can make up your mind. If you find the info here to be of use, do us a favor and purchase stuff from Amazon through us. Especially if you were going to buy the stuff anyway. That gives us kickbacks, which help pay for things. Like the server. And coffee. And therapy. We thank you.

Bill Moyers: The Language of Life DVD
Dallas Movie Collection DVD
How I Won the War DVD

We return to Bill Moyers with this 1995 series, The Language of Life, in which he focus on poetry for a total of eight episodes. That’s almost eight hours of television…about poetry. A dead art. Bless Bill Moyers. And what’s great is he’s covering a lot of ground here, trying to get at what poetry does as far as helping us get at weird wild concepts like truth, life and love. You know, that rot. I’ve often found myself trying to say things that I couldn’t say…but I could write a poem about it. So I’m right there with them. There’s also appearances by excellent poets like Adrienne Rich, Robert Bly and Gary Snyder. Plus you get insight into poets that you’ve probably never heard of. And insight into why this supposedly dead art just won’t stop flopping around on the floor and making a spectacle of itself. Now, as to purchasing this bad boy. Well, it is $40, which is just $5 an episode and considering what we’re talking about here…that’s not terrible. Is this going to be the sort of thing you can sit your friends down who maybe don’t “get” poetry and they will suddenly be enlightened? Probably not. Should you find some of your favorite bits and share those? Assuredly so. But only hardcore poet mavens are going to want to purchase. It is available via Netflix and based on what I’ve seen, will probably be available in the future from Amazon Instant Video. But poetry fans should watch it at least once however they can. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

And so with this, Dallas completes its run on DVD. With this set you get the three TV movies. There’s The Early Years, the prequel setting up the Ewing-Barnes feud. You also get the two reunion movies, J.R. Returns and War of the Ewings. The two sequel/reunion films are continuations of the story picking up with the cliffhanger ending of the series as a whole and going from there. This even has the Return to Southfork reunion special/retrospective on it as a bonus bit, where cast members got together to look back on the series and share stories and outtakes and such. So that’s it for the series until either the remake/new series gets off the ground (or not) or if they ever decide to release this on Blu-Ray (they will, but I’m not sure how much difference it will make quality-wise). If you consider each of the movies and the bonus/reunion, it’s about $5 each. Which is not great, but it’s not bad–and let’s face it, if you’re going to buy this it’s because you’re a completist and have bought the other sets already. And really, only a completist will want this on their shelf. Everyone else, rent it or Netflix it if you’d like a reminder or a taste. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

How I Won the War is a curious WWII comedy from Richard Lester, the man who brought you, among other things, A Hard Day’s Night and Help! Starring a very young Michael Crawford (yes, the Phantom of the Opera) and a post-touring Beatles John Lennon, it concerns Crawford’s character’s ineptitude getting his soldiers killed at the same time that the soldiers are trying to get rid of him. But moreso for these three big names, it’s interesting to see how Lester tackles the subject matter, what with the use of color and canned footage and cutaways adding to the mayhem. This is from MGM’s Limited Edition Collection, which appears to be their version of the Warner Archive. This is available from Netflix and their streaming service, and I would say it’s worth at least checking out for fans of Lennon or Lester…but just bear in mind this is not what you might expect necessarily from either party. Definitely view before owning but the Beatles completist will probably want to own. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs Blu-Ray 3D`
Ultimate G's: Zac's Flying Dream Blu-Ray 3D

As the industry wants 3D to invade your homes, one of the ways they’re doing so is to grab 3D IMAX films and smack them onto Blu-Ray. This can be good, because with Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs, you get a look at the titular subject as narrated by Christopher Lee. And if you’ve been around this site at all, you know that we would be fine if Lee rummaged through his pantry and grabbed items at random and read the ingredients list off for us. So 3D? Mummies? Lee? Yes, have some. Ultimate G’s: Zac’s Flying Dream has a young Michael Cera as the, well, young version of Zac, a kid who just wants to fly. Then he grows up and, well, flies. It’s an excuse to show some aerial stuff in 3D. But I’m remembering when IMAX films didn’t need to have plot and you just went to see awesome stuff on the big screen. So this one is just less appealing. It’s not as good 3D-wise as the Egyptian one as well, so if you had to pick one, I’d go with the former. Also, IMO, the flight sequences designed to blow your mind on the big screen just don’t translate as well onto a smaller setup. These are decently priced at around $16-17 as I type this, but bear in mind these are, again, IMAX films, and not feature length. They’re less than forty minutes a piece, and the Pharaohs release also has a making-of that’s twenty minutes longer, so it has more bang for your buck either way. I don’t think the 3D versions of these are available on Netflix but are probably available for rental. Try them with your home 3D setup and if you think they’re worth wowing friends and family with, then by all means. (Click here to buy Mummies from Amazon. Click here to buy Flying Dream from Amazon.)

Way Back Blu-Ray
Gulliver's Travels Blu-Ray

There’s something to be said just out of the starting gate for The Way Back. The first is director Peter Weir, who I generally either love or am ambivalent about, depending on the film–but either way, he’s interesting. Ed Harris is an acting god. Colin Farrell is an asset in just about anything. And now Saoirse Ronan is decidedly one of the best young actresses out there. So put them all in an escape/survival film that’s an epic and you have a friend to talk to. The best bit about the Blu-Ray is not the behind-the-scenes featurette, but it’s the fact that for an epic movie you want some epic def, and the video and audio are both great here. In the hands of a lesser cast the film would be nice to look at and not much else, but it’s at least worth checking out once for the people involved. It’s not grand enough to inherently warrant immediate inclusion on your shelf, even at just $15.99 as I type this. It’s available as an Amazon Instant Video rental, if you want to try it before purchasing. Sadly, no commentary is here and probably none is forthcoming, so my guess is that if you do purchase, you’re safe doing so. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Thinking like Hollywood is something I’ve compared to being Clint Eastwood in Firefox, where he had to “Think in Russian.” So thinking normally, I can see where Gulliver’s Travels starring Jack Black is a headscratcher. Spending over $110 million to bring to life an essentially lobotomized version of Jonathan Swift’s tale (complete with mecha?) doesn’t make much sense. On the other hand, when you put the Hollywood lenses on, it makes total sense. Little people vs. Jack Black in 3D where Black gets to, you know, play his usual role. It didn’t fare as well as they might have expected despite hitting around $230 million worldwide. Regardless, it’s out from Fox on a DVD/Blu-Ray/digital copy combo pack. It at least looks good on Blu-Ray and sounds well enough to my ears (with my usual disclaimer about being half-blind and half-deaf thrown in for good measure). It has some bonus bits, including deleted scenes, an FX featurette, behind-the-scenes bits, and some chances for the cast and crew to talk about the film. No commentary. What I take some degree of umbrage from is that it says on the front “A $70 value.” Say which? Just do the math in your head: how does that make any sense whatsoever? Anyway, the deal is this: kids will probably like the film just like Swift’s story has always been softened up for the kiddies. It’s never been quite this soft, however. I would say if they need to see it, snag it from Amazon Instant Video. Only if they insist on watching it repeatedly would you want to consider purchasing. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Hereafter Blu-Ray
Shine of Rainbows
Yogi Bear Blu-Ray

Clint Eastwood returns to the director’s chair for Hereafter, three stories dealing with life after death and belief vs. skepticism. The lead one is played by Matt Damon, a psychic who doesn’t want to be a psychic and has given up that career. However, it’s never that easy and great power means great something and all that. The other two stories involve a journalist who experienced a life after death experience and a young boy whose twin brother was killed. It doesn’t exactly move with an urgency or anything but fans of Eastwood or true believers will probably want to give it a watch. The main thing of note about this Blu-Ray is not the inclusion of both DVD and digital copy, nor the focus point videos that can either be accessed through the feature or independently. It’s instead the fact that the extended version of The Eastwood Factor, the retrospective of the director that’s appearing in hi-def for the first time. So even fans who might not be crazy about the film might want to consider getting the Blu-Ray for this, seeing as how it’s pretty much feature-length as it stands. If all you’re interested in is catching the feature though, especially before you buy, then grab it via Amazon Instant Video. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

A Shine of Rainbows is the sort of film that when you see the setup–an orphan who finds love again with a wonderful new adoptive mother and a distant adoptive father. You might think, man this just need a cute animal to…oh, wait it has one. Well, at least it wasn’t one of those Dove Family App–oh. Yeah, it’s got that too. Now I’m not being a dick here…not completely anyway…that sort of film might completely and utterly crank your tractor. It doesn’t work for me, but so be it. To each their own. And I like Aidan Quinn and am happy to see him draw a paycheck. So, anyway, the DVD is out from Fox. The one bonus bit is a making of docu that’s not one of those silly eight minute jobs, so there’s that. Again, if the film’s for you. Even if so, I would say the replay factor is dubious. But check it out for yourself using Amazon Instant Video before you take the plunge completely. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Yogi Bear is the latest cartoon character to be brought to terrifying live action semi-life. What’s really odd about this is that the number one thing you’d be worried about–who’s voicing the characters? Seriously, with Daws Butler and Don Messick no longer with us–even Butler’s replacement Yogi, Greg Burson has departed–who can you get to follow that up? Well, Dan Aykroyd does a surprisingly good Yogi, admittedly. Yes, you can still tell it’s him, but that’s fine. It’s respectable. Justin Timberlake as Boo Boo, though? Freaking seamless. Did anybody know Timberlake was so versatile and talented? Seriously. Anyway, enough of that. They obviously worried so much about getting people to utterly nail the voices that they forgot to give anyone a film to give a damn about. Because it’s just not here. And I just don’t like the character designs. They just look…wrong and unholy. Anyway, plot: the park is in danger of being closed down and our favorite bears have to figure out how to save the day. That’s all you need to know. The Blu-Ray here is a DVD/digital copy combo setup as well, with a Road Runner/Coyote CG animated short and a series of behind-the-scenes bits, including featurettes and a bit on the voices for the film. The film is lame to the point where I’m not even sure if kids will dig it, so you can sample it using Amazon Instant Video before taking the full plunge. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)