Somebody gets tortured during nearly every episode of 24: Season Four. A mother poisons her son's boyfriend; a CTU mole is sniffed out and punished; the secretary of defense is kidnapped; a train is derailed, and a nuclear reactor melts down. And that's all within the first eight episodes.
Kiefer Sutherland and company have themselves a constant winner with this show. Each episode is as powerful as the last, and having them on DVD means a lot of sleep-deprived nights watching as many episodes as can be physically crammed into one evening.
Sutherland once again plays Jack Bauer, fired from CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) at the end of season three, but forced to get back into the business of terrorist squelching when his boss, the secretary of defense (William Devane), is kidnapped by terrorists and forced into an online trial for war crimes. Of course, the kidnapping is nothing but a setup for bigger and scarier things, and each one of the episodes escalates the thrill factor.
The season has a few flaws. A subplot involving Special Agent in Charge Erin Driscoll's (Alberta Watson) schizophrenic daughter is a bit much and could've been jettisoned. Warts and all, it's an addictive show, with its fifth season starting in mid-January. Use this DVD as a chance to get caught up before the next plot unfurls.
Special Features: The best feature is a season five "prequel" that bridges the gap between seasons four and five. In it, Jack (featuring Kiefer in long, Lost Boys hair) meets up with Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) before a high-speed chase. There are also deleted scenes, a documentary on the building of the 24 set, and a look at the Marines' involvement in a season four rescue scene. There are also commentaries from cast members and creators. This DVD is worth having.
For the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death, this engaging biography (narrated posthumously by the man himself through past interviews) gets some special treatment. It's a 106-minute look at Lennon's life, from his days with the Beatles through his tragic death in New York, and it's an amazing life at that.
It's interesting to watch Lennon go from the wisecracking, puffy moptop to the gaunt peace monger he became in the '70s (after a notorious bout with heroin). Footage includes an amazing moment when Lennon confronts a stalker on his property, than invites him in for something to eat. Another episode shows Lennon confronting an angry interviewer during one of the "bed-ins," where the interviewer calls Lennon and Ono obscene for their nude Two Virgins album cover. Just more documented proof on what a remarkable man he was.
While the film is mostly about Lennon as a solo artist, it doesn't skimp on the Beatles phase. It shows archive films of the boys in their heyday, as well as Harrison and Lennon in the studio for the notorious McCartney condemnation "How Do You Sleep?" Those who think Lennon went to his grave with malice toward his Beatles mates should be interested in the segments where he states he and his band members are all good, and he doesn't rule out playing or recording with them again someday.
Dammit ... I miss this guy.
Special Features: A documentary features the filmmakers 17 years after their movie was released, including new interviews with Yoko Ono. A stunning acoustic rendition of "Imagine" and other features make this a must for fans.
In my review of the original bare-bones DVD release for this film, I expressed a belief that director Robert Rodriguez must have had something bigger planned for home-video incarnations of his Frank Miller adaptation. Boy, did he ever.
This two-disc set features the theatrical version of the movie on one disc, and then a recut, extended and unrated version on the other. The film is presented in four parts on disc two, each devoted to the separate stories instead of mixing them together. Now fans can watch the segments along with their copies of Miller's graphic novels to see how faithful to the page Rodriguez's film was.
Frank Miller himself gets a director's credit for this movie, and Quentin Tarantino gets a "guest director" credit. Even though the film had many directors, the vision is quite unified and consistent.
Special Features : Oh boy, oh boy. Two discs stuffed with great features. Three commentaries on the theatrical version, with the likes of Rodriguez, Tarantino, Miller and Bruce Willis, give you plenty of excuses to watch the film over and over again. Documentaries on the movie's makeup and costuming, and a sped-up "green screen" version of the film are also worth checking out. For fans of past Rodriguez DVDs, it includes one of his 10 Minute Cooking Schools, this one offering up a recipe for breakfast tacos.