- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Jan Kounen’s Renegade is the trippiest Western we’ve seen since Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1971 cult fave “El Topo.” New from Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment ($24.95), “Renegade” manages to put a fresh, visually stunning spin on an increasingly dust-gathering genre. It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

Based on the graphic novel “Blueberry” (the 2002 film’s overseas theatrical release title), “Renegade” stars Gallic actor Vincent Cassel as ragin’ Cajun Marshal Mike Blueberry, hot on the trail of Wally Blount (Michael Madsen), an outlaw whose act of savagery years earlier irrevocably altered the course of Blueberry’s life.

While the basic plot may be less than startling, director Kounen’s flashy, CGI-driven style more than compensates, especially during several surreal sequences fueled by peyote provided by our hero’s American Indian ally Runi (Temuera Morrison).

“Renegade” also benefits from a high-profile international supporting cast, including Juliette Lewis as the current lady in Blueberry’s life, octogenarian Ernest Borgnine as a wheelchair-bound, shotgun-toting sheriff, Irish thesp Colm Meaney as a frequently befuddled deputy, and versatile drag comic Eddie Izzard as a bumbling Prussian villain.

Shot in English (albeit a multi-accented one), “Renegade” relies less on words than on wild imagery; post-modern Western fans will want to hang on for the entire two-hour ride. The disc gallops into vidstores sans extras, though this is one film that fairly begs for a special-effects featurette.

Tele-video

On the busy TV-to-DVD front, cosmic castaway Joel Hodgson and his motormouthed ‘bot buds return in Rhino Video’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume 6 ($59.95). In the label’s latest four-disc set, the boys set their sarcastic sights on Attack of the Giant Leeches, Roger Corman’s Gunslinger, the painfully earnest Teenagers From Outer Space (a particularly funny show) and the “educational” short-film collection Mr. B’s Lost Shorts.

Rhino also debuts the 1980 Ted Knight tele-series Too Close For Comfort: The Complete First Season (three-disc, $39.95).

“Seinfeld” fans get their fill (more than seven hours’ worth) via Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment’s four-disc Seinfeld: Seasons 1 & 2 ($49.95), collecting all 17 first- and second-season episodes, along with audio commentaries by series creator Larry David and cast members, deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes and much more.

Warner Home Video weighs in with two new box sets: the four-disc Friends: The Complete Eighth Season ($44.98) and the six-disc Smallville: The Complete Third Season ($59.98). Both arrive with a plethora of fan-pleasing extras, from commentaries and featurettes to gag reels and more.

The ‘A’ list

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Warner Home Video, $29.95) swoops into area vidstores this week in an enchanting double-disc set packed with featurettes, interviews, previously unseen footage and more, while Dreamworks Home Entertainment debuts Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal ($29.99), starring Tom Hanks, Stanley Tucci and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

In a zanier vein, cult Canadian comic auteur Guy Maddin strikes again with The Saddest Music in the World (MGM Home Entertainment, $29.98), an anti-musical set during the Depression and starring Isabella Rossellini and “Kids in the Hall” alum Mark McKinney. Three Guy Maddin short films and two featurettes round out the disc.

“Spy Kids” alum Alexa Vega scores her own teen vehicle with the scavenger-hunt comedy Sleepover (MGM, $26.98), complete with cast and director commentary, featurettes and gag reel.

Animated antics

Warner Home Video reissues The Iron Giant ($19.95), charting the animated adventures of a boy and his outsized alien robot, in a remastered version bulging with bonus material, from filmmakers’ commentary to additional scenes and mini-documentary segments. The same label ushers in the popular Japanese import Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Movie ($27.95).

Already available is Dreamworks Home Entertainment’s four-disc extravaganza Shrek: The Story So Far ($59.99), combining Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek 3-D and a bonus disc.

StudioWorks Entertainment skews to an older crowd with the acclaimed claymation short Harvie Krumpet ($19.99), complete with director’s commentary, extra short films and more.

Collectors’ corner

MGM Home Entertainment prepares for the holiday season with a three-disc Family DVD 3-Pack ($24.98), assembling Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and Prancer in one set.

The label also debuts its Legally Blonde Platinum Collection ($39.98) containing the Reese Witherspoon showcases Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2, along with copious extras.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Is my all-time favorite TV series, Mannix, which aired from 1967 to 1975, available on video? How old is “Mannix” star Mike Connors now and is he still doing any acting?

Pete P., Fairfax City

Movies Unlimited (moviesunlimited.com) carries four vintage “Mannix” capers ($17.99 each, DVD or VHS). Now 79, Mike Connors most recently appeared in the 2003 TV movie “Nobody Knows Anything.”

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 [email protected] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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