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Kill Bill Vol. 1

Miramax
Movie Grade A+
Special Features D-
DVD Geek Factor 5 (out of 10)

On the set of Pulp Fiction, writer-director Quentin Tarantino thought up a revenge story for Uma Thurman, a project that would take nine years to materialize. When it came time to deliver a finished product, Tarantino and his producers realized they had a lot of movie on their hands, so a series was born. Now, Vol. 1 comes to DVD looking terrific, and whetting our appetites for Vol. 2 which will hit theaters April 16. Uma Thurman became an all-time movie heroine badass with this film as "The Bride," a woman betrayed on her wedding day by evil crime lord Bill (David Carradine, who will have a much bigger part in the next chapter). Tarantino focuses on the action for this one and proves himself a master of the genre, staging some of the more fascinating fight sequences to grace the screens last year. (Thurman's showdown with Lucy Liu is a triumph.) Early word is that Vol. 2 ups the ante on this one. That would be an amazing feat.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Tarantino has revealed that a "Special Edition" of Kill Bill won't be released until after Vol. 2 has completed its theatrical run. As with the Lord of the Rings films, this DVD is a precursor to what should be the real-deal DVD to be released later. Fans who can't wait will have to live with this one, which offers the excellent film and a short "making-of" documentary.


The Matrix Revolutions

Warner Brothers
Movie Grade C+
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

I was not a big fan of the last two chapters of the Matrix franchise. I felt that the Wachowski brothers, creators and directors of the series, got a little carried away and far too preachy as the sequels progressed. The Matrix was an innovative, scrappy film that introduced some wild concepts while remaining somewhat grounded and sane. Reloaded and Revolutions went a little berserk, with the final chapter being the hardest to take of the lot. Revolutions is just more than two hours, but it feels like three. Its first two thirds are a lumbering experience, but things do pick up when Neo (Keanu Reeves) faces off with Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) for one final fight. The religious symbolism feels like a hammer over the head, but on the plus side, Revolutions is often the best-looking film of the series. When Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) journey to Machine City, it's a nice eye bath.

SPECIAL FEATURES: While the film was a bit of a disappointment, the two-disc DVD set certainly has its merits. There will probably be some sort of Super Deluxe Nuclear Kick-Ass Edition in the future, but this final DVD in the series is packed with movie geek goodness. While the Wachowskis don't offer a commentary, there are plenty of documentaries about the exceptional special effects and choreography that were the highlights of the movie. A helpful Matrix timeline called Before the Revolution lays out the whole back story of the series in easy-to-comprehend form.


In Living Color: Season One

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Show B+
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 5 (out of 10)

When In Living Color debuted on Fox television back in 1990, it pretty much bitch-slapped Saturday Night Live and quickly established itself as TV's best sketch comedy. Creator Keenen Ivory Wayans, accompanied by many of his siblings (Damon, Kim, Shawn and Marlon in later seasons), had a comedic edge previously unseen in primetime television. When the smiling, tuxedo-clad Keenen and Damon picked up their cello and guitar for The Brothers Brothers Variety Show, called themselves Uncle Toms and blasted Bill Cosby's safe sitcom, they sent out a clear message that everything wasn't all upper-middle-class and fancy sweaters for African Americans. The show blazed a trail for black entertainers such as Chris Rock, who would finally rise to prominence after wasting his time on the milquetoast SNL. And with all of its trailblazing, the show will probably be best remembered for shining a big spotlight on the talents of one James Carrey (later to be called Jim), the rubber-faced, elastic-limbed "white guy" on the show. While Carrey had his share of memorable characters, it was Damon Wayans who offered up the most impressive roster, with Homey the Clown, Anton the Homeless Guy (with a pickle jar for a toilet) and a dead-on impersonation of Redd Foxx. The show was strong out of the gate, but lost its punch when Keenen departed in '92.

SPECIAL FEATURES: All 13 episodes are contained on three discs. A half-hour documentary featuring cast members David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson looks back on the birth of the show, and Davidson offers up an episode commentary. Rosie Perez, choreographer for the Fly Girls, stops by to discuss her inexhaustible work ethic in coming up with eight dance routines per show.

More by Bob Grimm

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