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Aisle Seat HULK Edition!

Andy Reviews the Latest Marvel Comics Film

By Andy Dursin

It's hard to imagine that there has been or ever will be a super-hero movie that divides as many viewers as Ang Lee's ambitious filming of THE HULK.

From the pre-release buzz about how Lee had taken a revisionist tact with the origin of the Stan Lee-Jack Kirby Marvel comic book hero, to the first, fleeting -- and unfinished -- glimpses of the all-CGI green one during the Super Bowl last winter, the comics-to- movie community has been eagerly awaiting, and debating, the big-budget film. Early reactions have ranged from utter disgust to complete and total admiration, which brings me to my viewing on opening day last Friday.

Before I dive into specifics, I can say that I was first appalled when I heard about the concept of Lee and James Schamus' version. Having grown up on the old Bill Bixby-Lou Ferrigno show, plus the various cartoon incarnations, the idea that Bruce Banner became the Hulk courtesy of his father's attempts to play God, to the mystery surrounding his mother's death, to the Hulk being able to leap tall buildings with a single bound -- all of them were pretty hard to swallow considering my youthful memories of the Incredible Hulk.

While what Lee and Schamus (along with credited co-writers Michael France and John Turman) have come up with is at times too dark for its own good, and is overly bogged down in psychological aspects that don't quite come off, THE HULK is still an ambitious, flawed, but always watchable combination of silly, colorful Marvel Comics action and a study of parents and children and what makes us all tick.

Sound like a jumbled mess? Well, it works better than you might have heard. Eric Bana essays Bruce Banner, a California research scientist who works alongside former lover Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) in a lab for their betterment of mankind. Their work, though, spurs interest from Josh Lucas, who represents an "evil corporation" that's also associated with Betty's military dad (Sam Elliott). Enter Bruce's long-lost father (Nick Nolte, appropriately disheveled in one of his best performances in years), who has tracked down his son and wants to make good on the experiments he believes are trapped in his son's DNA. Obviously, it's just a matter of time before Bruce is ticked off and his transformation into the Hulk occurs.

When it does, it's a triumph of CGI animation on the part of Industrial Light & Magic, who have fully captured the look and movement of a comic book character on-screen. Unlike the tempering of the X-Men's physical characteristics (i.e. their subdued uniforms), ILM's Hulk isn't a compromise -- it's the animated character captured in its full, colorful glory, and while some may carp that the Hulk doesn't look "real" (as if a 20- foot green creature ever could), I found ILM's work to be tremendous here. The Hulk's facial animation is nothing short of outstanding (he's certainly more emotive than Bana's bland Banner), like a combination of Frankenstein's monster and Ferrigno's old muscular creation, and the level of detail in the creature is astounding.

That aspect of the movie brings with it some completely absurd sequences -- like the Hulk's battle with gamma-radiated dogs -- but they're completely in tune with the kind of action that anyone who grew up reading Marvel Comics will appreciate seeing on-screen. This Hulk does have the ability to leap into the sky, bound off cliffs and ledges, and dismantle anything that comes in his way, but the FX are great and Lee builds the dramatic conflict between father and son up enough that the movie works if you're willing to meet it halfway -- especially in its almost-indescribable, completely "comic book" final confrontation between the two.

Getting to that point does require some patience, as Lee spends a great deal of time establishing the relationships between nutty old man Banner and his bottled up son, not to mention Betty Ross and her military father. It's a little heavy-handed and slow-going at times, but you have to applaud the filmmakers for trying to establish characters and drama in a movie that ultimately turns more outlandish than any comic book film in recent memory.

Nolte's ultimately over-the-top performance goes for broke and fits the movie perfectly, as does Elliott's excellent work as Ross' father. Bana and Connelly are OK but don't have much chemistry with one another, and the former is completely overshadowed by the Hulk once the muscular one takes over. One failing of the film is its notable lack of humor -- there should have been an additional supporting player on-hand for the audience to identify with, since every character is overly brooding and wrapped up in the story.

Visually, THE HULK benefits from Frederick Elmes' fine cinematography and the use of comic book-styled "panels" that keep reminding the viewer that you're watching a comic book movie -- even if the Shakespearian aspects of the script sometimes clash with its pulpy pedigree.

Danny Elfman's music, meanwhile, is always serviceable but comes off as uninspired for the composer, sounding like a compromise between what Lee reportedly wanted (is there some point to the female vocalist who wails away on the soundtrack?) and a by-the- numbers Elfman score that has "auto-pilot" written all over it (the furious "lab montage" motifs reminiscent of "Darkman," the dark and brooding "Batman"-like aspects, the "Planet of the Apes" percussion, etc). While I wasn't a huge fan of Elfman's solid but unremarkable work on "Spider-Man" last year, THE HULK unquestionably sounds like the result of one too many trips to the same well for the composer.

THE HULK is decidedly uneven but constantly surprising and, in the end, highly satisfying from a number of angles. It's a movie that takes a lot of risks and encompasses a wide range of emotions, and while some are more successful than others, it's certainly one of the most audacious attempts at creating a live-action comic-book that can sustain the interest of both adults and kids. Even with its shortcomings, it's a strongly recommended view in another summer of cinematic mediocrity. (PG-13, 138 mins)

New Vintage Offerings On DVD

EXPERIMENT IN TERROR. 1962, 123 mins., Columbia TriStar. ANDY'S RATING: ***. CAST: Glenn Ford, Lee Remick, Stefanie Powers, Ross Martin. COMPOSER: Henry Mancini. SCRIPT: The Gordons, from their novel "Operation Terror." DIRECTOR: Blake Edwards. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer. TECHNICAL SPECS: 1.85 Widescreen, mono sound.

Beautifully crafted 1962 thriller finds bank teller Lee Remick being coerced into performing a bank robbery for killer Ross Martin. FBI man Glenn Ford is soon on the case, attempting to track down the elusive Martin while protecting Remick, who lives with her younger sister (Stefanie Powers) in an eerie San Francisco where the killer could lurk in any corner.

Blake Edwards directed this highly acclaimed suspense picture, which is atmospherically shot in black-and-white and sports one of Henry Mancini's most low-key and effective soundtracks. The film's matter-of-fact tone was ahead of its time in many respects, and the way in which it simply hints at violence and sex makes it that much more effective than many of today's more explicit and sensational genre films. This is a taut, well-oiled machine of a movie, deftly utilizing the Bay Area locations (including the memorable final showdown at Candlestick Park) to give the drama a strong sense of time and place. Remick and Ford are both excellent, and there's one doozy of a scene involving mannequins that should still send a sharp shiver down the viewer's spine.

Columbia TriStar's DVD includes a crisp 1.85 transfer that looks terrific. The mono sound is also fine, enabling you to hear the ominous strains of Mancini's score -- one of his most atypical, and undoubtedly one of his all-time best.

IS PARIS BURNING? 1966, 172 mins., Paramount. ANDY'S RATING: **1/2. CAST: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Charles Boyer, Leslie Caron, Jean-Pierre Cassel, George Chakiris, Alain Delon, Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Gert Frobe, Yves Montand, Anthony Perkins, Simone Signoret, Robert Stack, Orson Welles. COMPOSER: Maurice Jarre. SCRIPT: Gore Vidal, Francis Ford Coppola. DIRECTOR: Rene Clement. TECHNICAL SPECS: 2.35 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital surround.

International epic boasts a mostly French cast with a few American cameos incorporated in an attempt to sell the movie to U.S. audiences. While the end result met with mixed reception, IS PARIS BURNING? is still an interesting and captivating attempt to convey the history of Paris' final hours under Nazi occupation at the end of WWII.

Sporting a fragmented script credited to Gore Vidal and Francis Coppola (other screenwriters are credited with material for the French and German scenes), IS PARIS BURNING? utilizes newsreel footage, authentic locales, and actual tales of the French resistance's fight to reclaim the city and prevent a Nazi wave of destruction ordered by Hitler in the waning hours of WWII. The film is decidedly episodic, opening somewhat raggedly with one woman's futile attempt to find her POW husband before he's dragged off to Germany, and unfolding with often brief cameos by U.S. stars like Kirk Douglas (as General Patton!), Anthony Perkins (as a soldier wanting to see the Eiffel Tower), Glenn Ford, and Robert Stack as the Americans finally intervened in the effort. Orson Welles, on the other hand, garners more screen time in a solid performance, while Gert Frobe essays a somewhat sympathetic Nazi who knows full well that the battle is over (the scene in which the two have a discussion while sitting next to a table full of desserts is unintentionally amusing, however!).

The film does have its problems -- its length for one -- and nearly every star, regardless of their country of origin, has been dubbed to the point where even Kirk Douglas doesn't sound like Kirk Douglas. Some of the dubbing is atrocious, but IS PARIS BURNING? does have its bright spots: terrific black-and-white cinematography in full widescreen, a compelling central story that survives in spite of its structural problems, and a glorious Maurice Jarre score. Jarre deftly combines the bold, militaristic sound of war with gentle Parisian waltzes, making for a memorable soundtrack that carries much of the picture.

Paramount's DVD incorporates Jarre's original Overture, though make sure you listen to it on the menu screen BEFORE starting the film -- the movie will automatically start after the overture has played (if you hit "Play Movie," you'll skip the Overture). The 5.1 Dolby Digital remix is outstanding, aiding the film's strong asset, with even some split surround effects employed at various points.

The 2.35 transfer is perfectly framed and varies in terms of the condition of the print. Obviously, some newsreel footage looks excessively grainy, as do scenes involving subtitles; other sequences are flawless, and the B&W cinematography is likewise excellent (there's a final color shot at the very end).

IS PARIS BURNING? is an interesting war epic that -- despite its flaws -- comes highly recommended both for its historical relevance and its relatively offbeat presentation, which separates it from many of its peers in the genre. Recommended, for Jarre's score and the cinematography alone.

THE LONG SHIPS. 1963, 125 mins., Columbia TriStar. ANDY'S RATING: **1/2. CAST: Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, Russ Tamblyn, Rosanna Schiaffino, Edward Judd, Oscar Homolka. COMPOSER: Dusan Radic. SCRIPT: Berkely Mather, Beverley Cross from the novel by Frans Bengtsson. DIRECTOR: Jack Cardiff. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer. TECHNICAL SPECS: 2.35 Widescreen, mono sound.

Don't you just love it when a movie you'd never thought would see the light of day on DVD is actually released?

The 1963 adventure THE LONG SHIPS is one of those gloriously fun, "Saturday Matinee" flicks that's part camp, part comic book, and 100% brainless entertainment for viewers of all ages.

Richard Widmark plays a Viking (!!) shipwrecked in a Moorish kingdom presided over by Prince Sidney Poitier (just coming off his Oscar win for "Lilies of the Field"). Widmark spins some wild yarns about a giant gold bell dubbed the "Mother of Voices," which leads Prince Sidney to torture Widmark about its whereabouts -- but not before Dick the Viking stages a miraculous escape back to his homeland. After an apparently uneventful journey back, he joins up with brother Russ Tamblyn, kidnaps the Viking King's daughter (Rosanna Schiaffino), and steals his boat in an attempt at claiming the Bell.

Long-time Ray Harryhausen collaborator Beverley Cross co-wrote this colorful widescreen adventure: like a B-grade variation on "The Vikings," but in some ways just as much fun. Widmark's miscasting is a bit much at times, but he's certainly energetic enough, and is supported by a strong production shot in Yugoslavia, a good supporting cast (Poitier is indeed "The Man"), and Dusan Radic's sweeping orchestral score. Christopher Challis' Panavision cinematography is terrific, and there's even an opening title sequence and prologue concocted by Maurice Binder of James Bond fame. Add in some lovely looking ladies, sprawling battle scenes, and tongue-in-cheek humor, and THE LONG SHIPS stays afloat with ridiculous, escapist entertainment that still pleases today.

Columbia TriStar's DVD looks fine. The 2.35 transfer, remastered in high definition, is superb, and the mono sound is likewise accomplished. Special features are limited to a theatrical trailer, but in this day and age of current movies receiving a myriad of releases on DVD, it's great to see a cult favorite like THE LONG SHIPS being released at all. Good fun, aye!

New Release Pick of the Week

THE GURU. 95 mins., 2003, R, Universal. ANDY'S RATING: ***. CAST: Jimi Mistry, Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei, Michael McKean, Christine Baranski. COMPOSER: David Carbonara. SCRIPT: Tracey Jackson. DIRECTOR: Daisy von Scherler Mayer. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes, commentary tracks. TECHNICAL SPECS: 1.85 Widescreen, 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital sound.

Colorful, fun comic romp chronicles the adventures of a well-meaning Indian immigrant (Jimi Mistry), who arrives in the U.S. hoping to become an actor but instead finds employment as a porn star. Along the way, he turns into a "Guru" of sex for wealthy NYC socialites, like a clueless Deepak Chopra.

With ample musical interludes (with homages to both Bollywood and Hollywood's "Grease"), THE GURU is an energetic, highly entertaining comedy that received only limited distribution in the U.S. last winter, despite mostly positive reviews. Mistry's likeable performance carries the film, with able support supplied by Heather Graham as a porn actress his character meets along the way, and Marisa Tomei as a lost soul seeking spiritual guidance. Michael McKean and Christine Baranski, meanwhile, supply more laughs, while director Daisy von Scherler Mayer ("Madeline") keeps the picture moving at a brisk clip.

Universal's superb DVD includes a gorgeous 1.85 transfer with vibrant 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks. Special features are abundant, including deleted scenes (a few of which shouldn't have been cut), and two commentary tracks (one by Mistry, the other by the director).

THE GURU is a consistently amusing sleeper that's well worth tracking down if you're in the mood for a few laughs. Recommended!

Creature Features and Action Flicks

THEY. 90 mins., 2002, PG-13, Buena Vista. ANDY'S RATING: *1/2. CAST: Laura Regan, Marc Blucas, Ethan Embry. COMPOSER: Elia Cmiral. SCRIPT: Brendan William Hood. DIRECTOR: Robert Harmon. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Alternate ending. TECHNICAL SPECS: 2.35 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.

Mindless psychological thriller/monster movie mumbo-jumbo tries to up the scare quotient without going overboard with gore -- and yet, what's the point of a scare movie with a plot so absurd and poorly developed that you could care less about anyone and anything that happens in it?

The bland Laura Regan plays a young woman plagued by nightmares, and a bevy of friends with some similarly bad experiences in their upbringings. In fact, one ol' childhood pal decides to kill himself after talking about creatures who hide out under your bed and wait for the darkness to drag you away. Actually, to be specific, they do that after "marking" their victims and waiting until years later to return just so that there's enough of a "story" to flesh out a 90-minute feature film. Soon after, Regan sees and hears things coming from her closet, her boyfriend (Marc Blucas from Buffy) thinks she's going insane, the books she reads talk about hellish creatures who strike in the night -- and the point of all of this is -- well, I'm still trying to figure out what the point of THEY is, though to be honest, I'm not thinking all that hard about it.

Robert Harmon's film is stylishly shot and offers creature effects by Patrick Tatopoulos, but the real mystery about THEY is why Dimension Pictures purchased it and opted to give it a national release, relegating far more deserving genre flicks like "Below" and "Equilibrium" to video store fodder. THEY offers uninteresting characters and stock movie situations so routine that they only enhance the absurdity of the story as a whole. What are these creatures? Why are they hiding out only in Regan's bathroom mirror? Why do stupid movie victims keep crawling into claustrophobic air ducts to find out what a mysterious noise is? And, more importantly, just what the heck was the point of this mess? If you're looking for all the evidence you need that Brendan William Hood's woefully undeveloped story needed a rewrite or two, check out the DVD's alternate ending -- which laughably tries to put a "Usual Suspects" twist on the entire story. While it seems as if the excised finale is a bit of a stretch (and by itself raises all kinds of questions), at least it makes a lot more sense than the ending that WAS used in its place. Buena Vista's DVD at least looks great with a superb 2.35 transfer and pounding 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, sporting a formulaic score by Elia Cmiral.

TEARS OF THE SUN. 121 mins., 2003, R, Columbia TriStar. ANDY'S RATING: **1/2. CAST: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Tom Skerritt. COMPOSER: Hans Zimmer. SCRIPT: Alex Lasker, Patrick Cirillo. DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Two audio commentaries; Making Of; deleted scenes; Africa "fact track" and interactive map. TECHNICAL SPECS: 2.40 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.

In this post-Private Ryan era, I suppose most war movies will resemble TEARS OF THE SUN, which seems like it wants to break into a full-scale action flick a la "Rambo," but instead tempers its head-bashing sensibilities with "introspective" sentiments about the horror of war and the meaning of loyalty.

Bruce Willis gives another stoic and sleepy performance as a Navy SEAL sent by Tom Skerritt into Nigeria, where an African governmental coup has occurred, sending non-Muslims to run for cover. Willis and his team are ordered to find Lena Hendricks (Monica Bellucci), the widow of an American doctor working with missionaries deep in the jungle. Once they get there, Hendricks predictably doesn't want to leave her injured and battered patients behind, which forces Willis into an ethical decision about carrying out his orders and "doing the right thing."

Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") does an effective job with this good-looking action thriller, with solid cinematography by Mauro Fiore and an elaborate sound design making you feel that you're right in the thick of combat. While the performances are all commendable, the trouble with TEARS OF THE SUN is its repetitive script, credited to Alex Lasker and Patrick Cirillo. This is a straight-ahead war movie with the Private Ryan/"Thin Blue Line" type of touchy-feely emotions mixed in, meaning that there are passages when our heroes stop to contemplate what's happening and the plight of the refugees. It's certainly a noble sentiment, but it sure seems out of place in a movie where one wishes that Willis would just dispense with his steely demeanor and turn into John McClane again. The combat scenes are efficiently handled, but the middle-of-the-road approach makes for an action movie that's never thrilling enough to satisfy on that level, while being too routine and predictable to function on the human scale.

Columbia TriStar's impressive-looking DVD sports a very wide 2.40 widescreen transfer, and a predictably active 5.1 Dolby Digital sounding sporting a redundant Hans Zimmer score that often sounds like a recycling of (surprise, surprise) "The Thin Blue Line." Special features include a pair of commentary tracks and deleted scenes, plus Making Of material and interactive content (maps, fact track) about Africa -- which would have meant more if the story itself was based on a true story.

Comedies, Dramas, and Everything Else In Between

OLD SCHOOL. 92 mins., 2003, Unrated, Dreamworks. ANDY'S RATING: **1/2. CAST: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn. COMPOSER: Theodore Shapiro. SCRIPT: Todd Phillips and Scot Armstrong. DIRECTOR: Todd Phillips. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes, "Inside the Actors Studio" spoof, commentary. TECHNICAL SPECS: 2.35 Widescreen, 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital sound.

Director Todd Phillips' follow-up to his surprisingly funny "Road Trip" isn't as cohesive or consistently amusing, but OLD SCHOOL does sport a few choice moments just the same.

Luke Wilson plays a normal, everyday guy whose old college pals (Vince Vaughn, SNL's Will Ferrell) opt to start a "fraternity" for their friend after his girl is caught cheating with not one but two different accomplices. Yup, it's the ol' collegiate life lived all over again -- crazy initiation ceremonies, huge parties with endless brew, silly pranks and big-time hangovers -- but this time with the added benefit of being older and even more irresponsible than before.

OLD SCHOOL's central "story" -- of Wilson rediscovering his zest for life and love again -- doesn't work at all, and feels like strict filler for the "funny parts." Thankfully, there are enough of them to warrant a viewing, particularly with the manic Ferrell on-hand to single-handedly provide the majority of the script's guffaws. Playing a Party Animal repressed by his recent marriage, Ferrell believably essays an ex-Bluto who's able to find himself again by guzzling mass quantities of beer -- a quest decidedly more entertaining than anything else in the film. So even if the picture is an uneven romp, Ferrell and some uproarious scenes make OLD SCHOOL worth enrolling in.

Dreamworks' excellent DVD offers some terrific special features made exclusively for disc. The 20-minute "Inside the Actors Studio" spoof is a perfect replication of James Lipton's pretentious Bravo chatfest, with Ferrell reprising his SNL impersonation for a conversation with the cast and crew (including himself). Deleted scenes, bloopers, and more traditional Making Of featurettes round out the package, which also includes an amusing group commentary.

The film itself looks great in 2.35 widescreen with DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks, and Dreamworks has issued two different packages of OLD SCHOOL on disc: the original R-rated cut, and an overly-promoted "Unrated!" version that, like "Road Trip," primarily consists of added nudity (the running times are nearly identical).

A GUY THING. 101 mins., 2003, PG-13, MGM. ANDY'S RATING: *1/2. CAST: Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, James Brolin, Shawn Hatosy, Julie Hagerty. COMPOSER: Mark Mothersbaugh. SCRIPT: Greg Glienna, Peter Schwaba, Matt Tarses, Bill Wrubel. DIRECTOR: Chris Koch. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes, three alternate endings, bloopers, featurettes, audio commentary, trivia track, trailer. TECHNICAL SPECS: 1.85 and full-screen transfers, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.

A picture-perfect example of a mid-January theatrical release, A GUY THING is a game attempt at making a ridiculous, just-for-laughs romantic comedy. The only trouble is: despite energetic performances, this dreary, dismal film is hardly funny and sometimes downright painful to watch.

Jason Lee, out of his element as a "straight man" here, stars as a regular guy engaged to Selma Blair, by now typecast in this kind of role. During the predictably raucous bachelor party, Lee meets perky hula dancer Julia Stiles, who he ends up sleeping with. Before you can cue the laugh track, Lee wakes up with Stiles by his side, and therein begins the shenanigans -- which ultimately include the discovery that Stiles is Blair's cousin!

Director Chris Koch tries awfully hard to maintain a frantic pace and a brainless story that's dictated simply by laughs, but A GUY THING never works because the material is awfully desperate. Like a Farrelly Brothers ripoff, the movie throws in the requisite bathroom gags and jokes (hey, there's even spiked gravy served at dinner!), leaving the talented cast to flounder with material not worth their time -- or yours.

MGM's Special Edition DVD offers three alternate endings and deleted scenes with the director's introduction; Koch's audio commentary; mostly-fluff filled featurettes; and both 1.85 and full-screen transfers, supported by an overly-zany Mark Mothersbaugh score.

ME WITHOUT YOU. 101 mins., 2001, R, Columbia TriStar. ANDY'S RATING: **. CAST: Michelle Williams, Anna Friel, Oliver Milburn, Kyle MacLachlan, Trudie Styler. COMPOSER: Adrian Johnston. SCRIPT: Sandra Goldbacher, Laurence Coriat. DIRECTOR: Sandra Goldbacher. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailers. TECHNICAL SPECS: 1.85 Widescreen (cropped?), 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.

Long, drawn-out saga of two girls who grow up -- and apart -- in London over a span of nearly 30 years.

Michelle Williams ("Dawson's Creek") is the daughter of a conservative family who befriends outgoing Anna Friel, whose mother is hooked on drugs and sports more progressive views than Williams' domineering mother. The two form an alliance that carries them through the "Me" decade -- with ample sex, drugs and rock & roll -- while suffering through uneasy relationships and a growing distance between them.

Williams and Friel give strong performances, but director/co-writer Sandra Goldbacher's movie is predictable and slow-moving, a typical "rites of passage"/growing up picture with a distracting rock soundtrack.

Columbia TriStar's DVD offers a fine 1.85 transfer, which apparently has been cropped from the original 2.35 Panavision aspect ratio. While the opening credits play out in 2.35, the rest of the film is framed at 1.85, and there is some evidence of cropping going on throughout. The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is OK, though special features are limited to bonus trailers.

Aisle Seat Mail Bag

From Phil Martyn:

In answer to the Aisle Seat Mail Bag for June 10 and Mr. Harry Chen's question "Any comments froms BTTF fans in other countries? ". Well I'm UK-based and I can confirm that there is a problem with both the R2 and R4 discs. Replacement discs will allegedly be available in July for R2.
From "A Concerned Reader":
Concerning the BTTF boxed set, it seems like most regions were affected with the misframing problem. The below info (for R2 and from might be of interest to Harry Chen.
He can send to the below address for exchange; all he needs to send is a copy of the receipt and a letter with shipping/telephone number/e-mail, etc., without the need to send the old discs back:

Customer Services - BTTF
Universal Music
Chippenham Drive
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom
MK10 1AN

From JP Falcon:

While I understand your expressed pleasure in the supplemental material provided in the Incredible Hulk DVD, I am annoyed at the scattershot distribution of the early Merry Marvel Marching Society material, as well as the Ralph Barkshi Spiderman series. Both of these series deserve complete set DVD treatment that so many animated shows are now receiving. While the MMMS had some of the crudest animation you will ever see, the daily series featuring Captain America, Hulk, Ironman, Thor, and Submariner were very faithful to the comics which they were drawn from. Ralph Bakshi's Spiderman was an animated spree on acid. It's a shame that these series are not getting their proper due with complete releases. Parceling them out the way they are seems like such a waste of an opportunity.

JP, I have mixed feelings on this. While I wholeheartedly agree that full box sets of these shows would be the way to go, I'm happy to see these compilation discs being issued in the first place (and with supplemental content as well). Sure, they feel like an appetizer instead of a full-course meal, but hopefully they'll sell well enough for Buena Vista among other labels to consider releasing the complete series sets that these shows deserve.

NEXT WEEK: The JAWS sequels, GANGS OF NEW YORK, and more! Send all emails to and we'll catch you then. 'Nuff said!

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