The Best DVDs of 2010

by PopMatters Staff

5 January 2011


20 - 16

cover art

Farscape: The Complete Series

(Sci-Fi Channel)

Review [18.Feb.2010]


Farscape: The Complete Series
A&E Home Video

In the late ‘90s, the sci-fi genre mostly lived in syndication or pay channels like Showtime. There were some impressive shows, but they mostly stuck to the ‘Star Trek model’ that personified the decade. Even the Sci-Fi Channel was small potatoes and aired mostly old material to minimal audiences. In search of an original series to expand their presence, the network found a partner in Brian Henson of the Jim Henson Company, who aimed to enter the television market to showcase their Creature Shop. Along with Rockne O’Bannon (SeaQuest DSV, Alien Nation), they talked to Fox about a project, but the two sides never reached the same page to move forward. Produced in Australia for the Nine Network and airing on Sci-Fi in the US, Farscape premiered in March 1999 and showcased remarkable make-up, prosthetics and puppetry to support a grand story. Creator O’Bannon had earned acclaim for his past works, but those projects didn’t match this series’ gargantuan scope. Airing for four seasons and concluding with a mini-series, it remains one of the most unique shows to ever hit the airwaves. Dan Heaton



cover art

The Alien Anthology (Blu-ray)

Director: Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher, Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Tom Skerrit, Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Brian Glover, Winona Ryder, Brad Dourif


The Alien Anthology (Blu-ray)
20th Century Fox

The first film remains a masterpiece of ‘old dark house’ revisionism (along with containing one of cinema’s greatest monsters). The follow-up redefined the idea of a solid squeal, introducing imaginative action and adventure into the mix. Unfortunately, whatever vision David Fincher could bring to the series was thwarted by a nervous studio. All that remains of his proposed plan for the franchise is a scrappy work print, readily available here. And, perhaps, the less said about Resurrection the better. Still, for all their grandiose geek glory, many have felt the Alien films underserved by the digital medium—until now. Frankly, this collection is so overwrought with bonus bells and whistles that keeping track of them is as complicated as it is rewarding. Together with the films themselves, they illustrate a powerful concept that was, in the end, undermined by backstage bickering and financial fisticuffs. Bill Gibron



cover art

Antichrist: Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

Director: Lars Von Trier
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg


Antichrist: Criterion Collection

Absolutely stunning in its visual flourishes, horrifying in its aggressive violence, and knowing in its psycho-sexual philosophical bent, Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist is simply astonishing. It’s a structured walk through one woman’s terrifying mental breakdown, a deconstructed cry for relief and understanding. So obsessed with birth and biology that the symbols practically stand up and shout their intent, this is New Age therapeutics as Grand Guignol geek show. To put it mildly, Von Trier is not your typical anything. Over a career that has seen him embrace the strictures of the no-frills Dogme ‘95, dabble in TV terror, and defy convention with musicals and haughty historical period pieces, he has avoided easy description as his films have lacked commercial consideration. With Antichrist, he offers another work of unqualified brilliance… and impudence. Some have even dubbed it the most misogynistic movie ever created. Actually, it will probably stand as the filmmaker’s masterpiece. Bill Gibron



cover art

Days of Heaven: Criterion Collection

Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard, Linda Manz, Robert J. Wilke


Days of Heaven: The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)
The Criterion Collection

Terrence Malick writes in the hallucinatory language of sight and sound. Like the Buddhist parable his films point to an ultimate reality that is beyond what is simply on the screen. Like Gang Starr, his characters must live in relationship to nature, however alienated that relationship may be. Days of Heaven was the film that made Malick. It was an ambitious follow-up to an already ambitious film, Badlands, and the story behind its making is a true-grit summation of American independent filmmaking. Unfortunately, the video versions available up until now have never done justice to the film’s visuals, even the original Criterion Collection version. It’s taken Blu-Ray to be able to finally see what Malick had intended the film to be as he sat in the darkened cutting room, dreaming. George Russell



cover art

Mad Men: Season 3



Mad Men: Season 3

Mad Men probably won’t change television, but it’s hard not to wish it would. Matthew Weiner’s sly love letter to the early ‘60s is simply unlike anything else on TV in this era of rapid-fire edits and unreal “reality”. Thankfully, buoyed by amazing performances from Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks and January Jones, Mad Men continues to dazzle in its third season. Though some missteps mar an otherwise ingeniously-devised structure—the John Deere scene is, in a word, preposterous—the good stuff far outweighs the bad. Working relationships become knottier, lies become more complicated, and illicit entanglements still scintillate even as they grow ever-more disappointing. Stuart Henderson


We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.

//Mixed media