- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2004

“RoboCop” returns, joined by two sequels and a generous cache of extras, in the RoboCop Trilogy ($39.98), a fresh three-disc set from MGM Home Entertainment. It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

The original 1987 “RoboCop” remains the gem of the deluxe edition. This brilliantly subversive movie, available here in an unrated, extended version, amply delivers on both the action and lampoon levels. It weaves abrupt and senseless cartoon-style violence into Dutch-emigre director Paul Verhoeven’s deadpan dissection of America’s corporate lusts; trashy sitcom culture; and pandemic greed for power, speed and general bigness — in cars, guns and bank accounts.

An earnest Peter Weller plays a near-future Detroit lawman-turned-cyborg who comes equipped with a snappy machine-pistol, an acute identity crisis, a baby-food diet and a gait that should be registered with “Monty Python’s” Ministry of Silly Walks.

Karen Allen supplies solid backup as Robo’s human partner, while Kurtwood Smith makes for a memorably scurvy villain and Ronny Cox and Miguel Ferrer are appropriately slimy as a pair of competing corporate creeps. A must for action, sci-fi and satire fans, “RoboCop” rates as a reel winner.

The series takes a serious dip with 1990’s overly dark, imagination-deficient “RoboCop 2,” despite the returning presence of Mr. Weller and Miss Allen, but picks up a mite in 1993’s “RoboCop 3,” which takes a far less portentous approach to the material. MGM’s trilogy also comes equipped with an entertaining filmmakers’ audio commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes and more.

More sci-fi

Sci-fi fans will also want to scope out David Twohy’s 2000 Pitch Black: Unrated Director’s Cut (Universal Studios Home Video, $26.98), issued in a bonus-packed edition to tie in with the new big-screen sequel “The Chronicles of Riddick,” showcasing “Pitch Black” alum and multicultural macho man Vin Diesel. Extras include fun commentaries by director and co-writer Mr. Twohy and Mr. Diesel, along with a raft of featurettes.

Tele-video

TV series old and new continue to blitz vid-stores at a dizzying pace. This week, Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment introduces the contemporary comedy series Just Shoot Me! Seasons One and Two, with David Spade and George Segal, in a four-disc set containing 31 episodes and a wealth of extras, and revives the 1980s Tony Danza-Alyssa Milano sitcom with Who’s the Boss? The Complete First Season ($39.95 each) in a 3-DVD box set.

The same label segues to the ‘90s with ‘Party of Five’: The Complete First Season ($49.95), a five-disc set assembling 22 episodes, cast and creators’ commentaries, featurettes, and more.

WGBH Boston Video debuts the British “Masterpiece Theatre” romantic drama Reckless, along with Reckless: The Sequel, in a four-disc set ($49.95).

Collectors’ corner

With the baseball season in full swing, Universal Studios steps up to the plate with a two-disc anniversary edition of 1989’s Field of Dreams ($26.98). The locker full of extras includes audio commentary by director Phil Alden Robinson and director of cinematography John Lindley, interviews with star Kevin Costner, diamond documentaries, featurettes, and much more.

In a darker vein, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s Studio Classics line presents a remastered edition of the harrowing, Academy Award-winning 1948 mental-hospital expose The Snake Pit, starring Olivia de Havilland, complete with contemporaneous featurettes and an audio commentary by film historian Aubrey Solomon.

The label likewise looks to key into the current Tolkien trend by reviving Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 mythic animated fantasy Wizards ($14.98 each).

Cary on

Warner Home Video lends a helping of much-appreciated suavity to the digital mix with its new Cary Grant: The Signature Collection ($49.92). The set packages five prime Cary outings:

• My Favorite Wife (1940), a marital farce co-starring Irene Dunne and an unsaddled Randolph Scott

• Destination Tokyo (1943), a combat film that makes Cary and co-star John Garfield indispensable to Jimmy Doolittle’s air raid on Tokyo

• Night and Day (1946), the loose Cole Porter bio co-starring Alexis Smith

• The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), with Myrna Loy and a teenage Shirley Temple

• Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), a delightful comedy with Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas

Vintage shorts, cartoons, radio productions and trailers supplement this handsome set.

The ‘A’ list

This week, Warner Home Video debuts Clint Eastwood’s dramatic thriller Mystic River, starring Oscar winners Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, in both a single disc ($27.95) and an extras-enriched 3-DVD set ($39.98).

On a lighter note, an uptight Ben Stiller hooks up with free spirit Jennifer Aniston in the farce Along Came Polly (Universal, $26.98), likewise arriving in a bonus-laden edition.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I’ve been looking for “Aces High,” 1976, with Malcolm McDowell, Christopher Plummer and Simon Ward.

— Gary Lumsden, Dumfries, Va.

Unfortunately, that well-regarded World War I action drama has yet to join the video ranks.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at: phanmedia@aol.com. Check out the Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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