Like Star Trek With Worms

Feb 1, 2006 at 4:00 am
Dune: Extended Edition


On paper it sounds insane: A mammoth sci-fi epic directed by David Lynch, based on an intensely weird Frank Herbert novel about ecology and giant worms. What resulted was a flop that has yet to be remedied by multiple edits through the years. This disc includes Lynch's original Dune, as well as a 177-minute cut credited to Alan Smithee (the pseudonym used by directors too ashamed to attach their own names). Most noticeable is an extended illustrated prologue, which crams about 200 pages of the novel into 10 minutes; this will be useful for people who don't want to read the greatest science-fiction novel of all time, but still want to watch a three-hour, 20-year-old film about it. Despite Dune's flaws, the beautiful sets and costumes, the score by Toto and Brian Eno, those awesome worms, and Sting knife-fighting in a Speedo make this essential for Lynch completists and anyone who owns a bong over a foot tall. The extras include even more footage, leaving open the possibility of . . . a . . . four-hour version. -- Jordan Harper

Kim Cattrall: Sexual Intelligence

(Docurama) Short on sex and intelligence, this pandering "documentary" is largely a montage of meaningless interviews and images, with silly animation and cringeworthy puns throughout. Cattrall travels to the site of a 2,000-year-old phallus and other sexual landmarks, while regular folks opine about the importance of penis size, cool cars, and so on. The material is roughly skin-deep and far from arousing, and the sight of a condescending Cattrall sporting a tightly cinched trench coat offers no help. The extras, too, are pure piffle: a text bio of Cattrall, a music video by a little-known band, and a painfully flaccid interview with the animators. -- Melissa Levine

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (Warner Bros.)

Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas employed stop-motion animation to perfection, yielding a black-comedy romp that's still big with the Hot Topic crowd. Corpse Bride, with its mixture of stop-motion and digital animation, is a disappointment by comparison, a lump of artifice without a soul. But it's still a heck of a lot of fun. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are top-notch as the voice talent, and if the animation lacks the charm of Nightmare, it's still eye-popping. The extras, which fall short of the lollapalooza offerings on Burton's recent Chocolate Factory, include documentaries on everything from puppet-making to Danny Elfman's score. Burton, when he pops up crazy-coiffed and lumpy in interviews, is his own special feature; a plush version of him would fly off the shelves at Hot Topic. -- Harper

Hill Street Blues:

The Complete First Season (Fox)

The show that launched the so-called second golden age of television arrives at long last on DVD, and it's held up well -- so much so, it would still qualify as the gutsiest, smartest, and most emotionally resonant series on TV were it to debut tomorrow. One forgets how revolutionary it was, how it juggled a dozen storylines and still gave every character enough room to breathe and ache and occasionally smile; the first season, which drew few eyeballs and garnered many awards, plays like one long story arc. The debut episode, which handles a hostage crisis, a divorce drama, and the shooting of two cops, still looks like a cop drama shot by Robert Altman. The show was beautifully messy and perfectly portrayed; Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Conrad, and Veronica Hamel acted as if their small-screen performances were intended for big-screen product. -- Robert Wilonsky