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Eric M. Croas

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Sound Bytes
by Eric M. Croas   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, March 09, 2006
Posted: Thursday, March 09, 2006

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Eric M. Croas monthly DVD column for Chapel Hill News and Reviews

Sound Bytes
By: Eric M. Croas

Eric M. Croas is a DVD fanatic who has finally surpassed 1000 titles in his personal collection. His wife has convinced him to join a rental program so he can be more selective in owning titles.

I’m back…it has been a while and I am grateful to Tim for allowing me to return as a DVD columnist in Chapel Hill News and Views. I am still producing my Web site,, but I did take a small hiatus from it as well. Now I am back in both saddles and ready to share my thoughts and insights on DVDs worth checking out or not.

Just as my site is going through an overhaul, this month’s column is geared to looking at a few of this month’s releases and going back as far as last November. While there will not be as much depth this month, but I will certainly offer my candid opinions.  Next month, I will include a more traditional review, but for now I want to catch up on some DVDs from the past four months.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: A+ (movie) A+ (DVD)
I grew up reading and sharing Ronald Dahl’s book with my mom. Now I am happy that there is a film more accurate to the book. The extra features offered on the 2-Disc Special Edition were in-depth and more fun than the typical fodder found.

Madagascar: B+ (movie) A (DVD)
This was a cute film that can be enjoyed by everybody in the family. The penguins will steal the show for most people (especially in the extra featurette on the DVD), but it was the lemurs who won my wife and I over.

War of the Worlds: C+ (movie) B (DVD)
Maybe it was all the Katie/Tom hoopla that colored my mood. Maybe it was all the bloated hype about this film. This movie was good for one watch, but I am glad that I only rented it. Dakota Fanning continues to blow my mind with her talent and level of maturity, but I am still not convinced to buy this DVD.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith: B+ (movie) B (DVD)
Despite the swirling gossip and tabloid ranting, I was looking forward to seeing this movie. The chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made the script and story work out.  The last act surprised me and the subtle humor sprinkled throughout make this title worth buying.

Fantastic Four: B+ (movie) A (DVD)
I have loved this comic since I was younger, and the film pleased me. Johnny Storm and The Thing really helped to carry the movie, which has the disadvantage of having to layout the back story for those who have never read the comic.  I am looking forward to the next installment when more can be done with character development.

The Man: A (movie) B+ (DVD)
I am a fan of Eugene Levy and Samuel L. Jackson, but I almost did not bother with this movie. I have to credit my wife Carrie for convincing me to rent and watch it with her. It is very funny, and Levy had me in comical tears several times.

Just Like Heaven:  Anticipation rating = 3/5
I vaguely remember this film coming out in theaters, but seeing a recent trailer on another DVD has piqued my interest.  It looks like a sweet romantic comedy, and Reese Witherspoon plays the cute roles well enough to be seen at least once.

The Pretender - Season 3: Anticipation rating = 5/5
I never saw this show when it was on primetime, but I became hooked after watching the first season on DVD. By the time this column is read, I am hoping to have watched every episode of this DVD set.

Zathura: Anticipation rating = 2.5/5
The commercials have me thinking this is “Jumanji in Space,” and seeing the task that involved this film on The Apprentice did nothing to convince me otherwise. I have not made a decision on whether I will rent it or not.

Yours, Mine, and Ours: Anticipation rating = 3/5
I saw the original version when I was younger and I liked it. This time around Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo are running the household, and that will make it worth at least one viewing for me.

Jarhead (releasing on 3/7): Anticipation rating = 3/5
I have heard mixed opinions on this movie.  Personally, there are two reasons that I want to see it at least once.  1) The director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and 2) one of my best friends is a “Jarhead” who was in Iraq then and now.

Chicken Little (releasing on 3/21): Anticipation rating = 3/5
This looks like a cute family film, and while we do not have kids, my wife and I like to watch these types of movies at least once.

Fun with Dick and Jane (releasing on 3/21): Anticipation rating = 3/5
I tend to like Jim Carrey’s comedies, and this looks like it could be pretty good.

Over There: Season 1 (releasing on 3/21): Anticipation rating = 5/5
I became hooked after seeing the pilot for this show on the F/X channel.  Unfortunately, there were episodes that I missed for one reason or another.  Now I will have the chance to see them all commercial-free.

Well, that is it for this month, and I hope you enjoyed the column.  Next month, I will offer a shorter re-cap and anticipation list, and there will be at least one in-depth review.  Feel free to share any feedback you may have by e-mailing me at, and I invite you to come and check out how the site’s renovations are progressing.

Web Site: Chapel Hill News and Views

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