Latest Software Reviews

DVD: Elektra—20th Century Fox
While some fans lament the seemingly imploding film career of the latest prettier half of "Bennifer," what's really sad is that Hollywood has managed to take Elektra, the dark, driven creation of the great Frank Miller, and reinvent her as just another melodramatic heroine. As portrayed by the lithe, earnest Jennifer Garner, "E" is a conflicted killer with quirky habits (obsessive-compulsive disorder for a few quick laughs!), who squares off against a slew of overdone computer-generated special effects. Oh, and did I mention the precocious young sidekick and the hunky single dad next door? Had the filmmakers gone for gritty action and an R rating instead of the flashy fantasy nonsense, this movie could have been great instead of just OK. Even at a mere 96 minutes, it's a tad sluggish.

In addition to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the DTS option is quite enjoyable, shifting effortlessly between genuine subtlety in its use of the sub and surrounds and the more obvious adventure-movie bombast. The 2.35:1 anamorphic image is generally clean, despite an occasional softness to the picture, sometimes-murky blacks, and a bit of distracting grain and twitch here and there, while the deliberate manipulation of color impresses throughout. The special features, however, do not: three deleted scenes, one reuniting Jen with reel/real beau Ben Affleck, four "In the Editing Room" featurettes, which have exactly nothing to do with film editing, and other lazy fluff including a 13-minute, garden-variety making-of.—Chris Chiarella

DVD: Spaceballs: The Collector's Edition—MGM/UA
This is one funny movie. It's the kind of film that you can pick up years later and appreciate all over again. Bill Pullman and John Candy star as two space cadets, literally and figuratively, who rescue a kidnapped princess. Together, this motley crew attempts to save the planet Druidia from the evil Dark Helmet, who plans to steal the planet's fresh air.

The original DVD edition, released in 2000, has scarce extras. The original's commentary with Brooks is included here, but MGM/UA has added a second disc of nothing but bonus features. Included are a costume and art gallery, two theatrical trailers, a Spaceballs documentary, a tricky trivia game, and film flubs. I was hoping for a bloopers reel, but it's just a collection of filming mistakes they made that weren't corrected and made it into the final cut. There's also a featurette on the late, great John Candy.

Both DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are available, but there's nothing spectacular here. You'll hear some sub work and surround effects, but this disc won't become a reference for auditioning your speaker system.

The 1.85:1 anamorphic picture looks great for a film from 1987. Colors are rich and vibrant with lots of detail. Specifically, take notice of the sand granules when the Eagle 5 crashes in the desert—there's fine detail. The fleshtones are a bit red, but it's nothing that will detract from the fine film.

This DVD is a must-own for any serious fan of comedy. May the Schwartz be with you.—Amy Carter