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King Kong: Peter Jackson's Production Diaries

Universal Home Video
Diaries B
Special Features B (see below)
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

A better name for this DVD would be "How I Lost 70 Pounds." These production diaries (most of which were available during the film's production at show director Peter Jackson's rapidly diminishing size as he takes you behind the scenes of his mega-movie.

This is material normally reserved for DVDs that come out after a movie is released, but Jackson felt compelled to get this stuff out for people while his film is still in theaters. It's a mixture of serious looks at all aspects of the production mixed with some amusing "joke segments."

Some of the more humorous ones include an exhausted Jackson calling in directors Bryan Singer and Frank Darabont to control the set while he takes a nap. Another has star Jack Black getting pissed off because the Kong Web site reported him as three inches shorter than he believes himself to be. Best would be the April Fool's Day segment where Jackson claims that two sequels for Kong are already in production (not true).

Anybody who has been watching this stuff on the Net for the past year has ingested most of the material. Still, it's cool to have it all on DVD. Jackson will most certainly do a more traditional DVD special edition at a later date.

Special Features: This is really just two discs of special features, so it's hard to give it a grade. It comes in a cool box with some nice movie stills, so that counts for something. There is one interesting extra: a look at the creation of the Kong's battle with three T-Rexes. After the look, Jackson actually provides a good chunk of the film, which is quite the surprise.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Vol. 4

Warner Home Video
Show A
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

The Aqua Teens return for a fourth DVD helping, and that means funny and incredibly stupid things will be on the TV screen. Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad (a shake, a box of fries and meatball) face many challenges and find increasingly irritating ways to annoy next-door-neighbor Carl. Highlights include the return of the Moonites, who are part of a video game/pyramid scheme that makes everybody who plays it the master of the universe. In another episode, Meatwad consorts with ghosts through one of his video games so Master Shake commits suicide in order to mess with him via gaming. This is a strange show that keeps getting stranger.

Special Features: These are the best features the show DVDs have offered to date. My favorite would be a short film called Raydon that is far too bizarre to be explained. Commentaries abound, and there's a behind-the-scenes look at the faces who provide the voices (The same guy does Carl and Meatwad!). As always, there's some pretty bitchin' menu music.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Universal Home Video
Movie B+
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

I enjoyed this one more the second time around. Steve Carell is perfect as the title character, Andy, a man too preoccupied with collectible toys and video games to be having sex. When co-workers at the electronics store he works at discover his no-sex-had status, they plot his sexual awakening.

Carell was a real trooper for this one (he actually had his chest waxed on film), and he's fast becoming one of the funniest men in film at the moment. His Brick from Anchorman still reigns as his most memorable character, but this one isn't far behind. Catherine Keener is sweet as the hot grandma who sells stuff for you on eBay.

Special Features: Some pretty good deleted scenes, including an extension of the hotel-room transvestite sequence (Andy winds up watching Hulk in his hotel room with the hooker). A gag reel and some alternate line readings are worth watching, but no big deal. Much of the cast and creators provide commentary.

Cinderella Man: Collector's Edition

Universal Home Video
Movie A-
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Remember this one? It came out a while ago, and nobody went to see it. Now it's being released on DVD during year-end award considerations so that critics and Oscar voters might remember folks like Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti in time to cast their ballots.

Crowe is pretty terrific as Jim Braddock, one of the more amazing fighters to ever put on the gloves. Giamatti is excellent as the man who managed him, but Renée Zellweger is pretty weak as Braddock's wife. Director Ron Howard, despite the Zellweger miscasting, has made his best film since Apollo 13. He does a good job capturing Depression-era America, or at least I think he does (I wasn't there, so I can only hypothesize).

The fight scenes are some of the best since Raging Bull.

Special Features: This edition is a two-disc set that comes with a collectible booklet and movie stills. The best feature would have to be footage of the actual Jim Braddock vs. Max Baer fight that is depicted in the film. There are plenty of behind-the-scenes films, and a Howard commentary. This disc is loaded.

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