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DVD Releases for March 4, 2008

March 4th, 2008

The first week of the month, but it's not very strong both in terms of raw numbers and in terms of high-profile releases. (There are a surprising number of spotlight reviews, on the other hand.) There are a few releases worth picking up, like 101 Dalmatians - Two-Disc Platinum Edition - Buy from Amazon and My Kid Could Paint That - Buy from Amazon, but none that screamed to be DVD Pick of the Week.

12 Angry Men - 50th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
An amazing movie that hasn't been released on DVD since, wow, since late 2007. In fact, it was released twice in 2007, once as part of the Decades line and once in a box set. A nearly perfect movie, but I can't support this kind of release.

101 Dalmatians - Two-Disc Platinum Edition - Buy from Amazon
The latest release from the Disney vault is coming out on the home market for the first time this decade... and likely not the last. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

An absolute classic from Disney and one of the biggest hits of all time. I think most of the film's success can be attributed to one thing, Cruella de Vil, who is without doubt one of the greatest villains in the history of Disney animation. In the movie, she wants to have the Dalmatians because, because she wants to turn them into a coat. Killing puppies for fashion. It's hard to come up with something worse than that.

(On a side note, I never got the de Vil / Devil connection till I reviewed the movie this time. I always thought it was Vil / vile, which is how it was translated in some languages.)

Combined with one of the most memorable villains of all time, the film has a great storyline, excellent music, and a new style of animation that allows you to see the artists' pencil strokes at times. (It was the first film done by Disney to use the Xerox process to put the artists drawings directly on the cells.)

Extras on the first disc include two pop-up trivia tracks, one for families and one for adult animation aficionados. Both provide a lot of information, but the latter talks more about what director was in charge of what scene, the names of the music cues, etc. The only other extras on the first disc is a music video for Cruella de Vil by Selena Gomez, (a.k.a. Mikayla on Hannah Montana). Usually I have a hard time just making it through these videos, but this one isn't bad. First of all, the song is fantastic and is one of the keys to the success of the movie. Secondly, the version Selena Gomez does it a great take on the song; it work's well enough to stand on its own but doesn't overshadow the original.

Moving onto disc two, there are three main sections, two that are "For The Humans" and one that is "For The Dogs." Backstage Disney starts with a multi-part, 34-minute long making-of featurette called Redefining the Line. An amazing wealth of knowledge is here and include new and archival interviews as well a lot of shots of early animation. Cruella de Vil: Drawn to the bad runs just over seven minutes and it about the villain, and the most memorable part of the film. Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney is dramatic recreation of the correspondence between Walt Disney and Dodie Smith, the author of the original book. The next section is Music & More, which contains six segments with deleted and alternate songs.

"For the Dogs" contains a handful of games include Virtual Dalmation, both a set-top demo and a full DVD-ROM version. Puppy Profiler is a personality quiz and, apparently, I'm a poodle and should be with Cinderella, Jasmine, or Belle. Fun with Language Game is narrated by a woman who has obviously overdosed on Valium. Seriously, she spoke so slowly I couldn't make it through the opening instructions.

101 Dalmatians is one of the best Disney films, and the Two-Disc Platinum Edition is certainly worth picking up. There is only one concern, and that is the Blu-ray edition, which can't be that far away. Still, worth picking up, and I'll probably say the same about the Blu-ray when it comes out.

Archie's Funhouse -The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
The third incarnation of the long-running comic to hit TVs and it ran just one season, at least under this name. The next season the format changed and it was called Archie's TV Funnies (this happened a lot with cartoons from Filmation Studio). Sadly, as it was in most cases, the changes were not for the better and the previous series, simply called The Archie Show has more lasting power than this one. Extras include bonus episodes from the earlier shows, as well as a jukebox, TV special, and an interview with one of the voice actors. Worth checking out, but I don't think it has the replay value needed for a purchase over a rental.

Automaton Transfusion - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD zombie that was made in 9 days for just $30,000... and it shows.

In Automaton Transfusion, a military experiment goes awry and that causes an army of zombies to rampage through town killing a bunch of extras. On the one hand, there's a lot of violence, blood, gore, and guts and should please gorehounds. On the other hand, that's all the film has. During the audio commentary the three filmmakers mention how they didn't want a bunch of boring dialogue, which was a smart move, because the dialogue they do have is very boring. The characters are completely forgettable and so is the plot. The acting is amateurish and the sound and especially the video quality is two steps below unacceptable.

But there is a lot of gore.

As for the extras, this is an impressive set for a no-budget, direct-to-DVD, horror release. Things start with an audio commentary track with Steven Miller, William Clevenger, and Mark Thalman. They keep the pace up and there are no real dead spots and they talk about the difficulty with filming for no money and they do point out the weaknesses (like the poor dialogue and the lack of an original take of the genre). It is very good that they are not overly congratulatory, because that would make it completely unbearable to listen to. (Although, they think the 'To Be Continued' ending was cool instead of a complete copout.) Up next is a 26-minute making-of featurette called Trials and Tribulations. It's a mix of talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips from the movie and is worth watching. There are 2 and a half minutes of deleted scenes that really add nothing to the movie and are mostly montages of gore or partying. There is also a 5-minute short film and two music videos that were done by the same group of filmmakers.

Automaton Transfusion is an exercise in low expectations cinema. Those looking for a gore-filled horror flick should be mildly entertained by the film, but I can't see many thinking it is among the best of the zombie genre. Call it a rental for the target audience, everyone else can safely skip it. On the other hand, the next film should have a bigger budget and hopefully will have more professional actors and a better script. It could be worth it.

Awake - Buy from Amazon
From the first weekend of November to the last weekend in December is a great time to release a movie. There's only one weekend during that entire stretch that is death to new films. This film opened that weekend.

In the movie Hayden Christensen stars as a successful young man who is in desperate need of a heart transplant. He's surrounded by people who love him from his best friend, the doctor who saved his live, his fiancee, who happens to be the assistant to his loving, if slightly overbearing mother. When a heart finally becomes available it looks like a lifesaver. However, something terrible happens and he suffers "anesthetic awareness," which is when a surgical patient remains awake and aware during the operation and can feel pain. To deal with this pain, he has an out of body experience and travels around the hospital, but what he learns changes everything.

This is a movie with a really good setup, but the final product doesn't live up to the premise. Part of the problem is Hayden Christensen, who hasn't really wowed me as an actor. I'm never really convinced when he tries to display human emotion. I guess he's okay for the second half of the movie when his character is technically walking around in an anesthetic induced haze, but for the parts he's fully conscious, I just wasn't buying it. And there were a lot of these scenes. Until the operation gets started, you have a lot of dialogue heavy scenes with Christensen talking to his best friend, his mother, his soon-to-be wife. (Yes, even Jessica Alba out-acts him.) Also, their was problems with the script as the number of double-crosses became too much and the film collapses under the weight.

(On a side note, the heart looked really fake. I don't know if it is accurate to real life, but it looked fake. If the movie were more compelling, this wouldn't have been a problem, but as it was, it was just one more issue to deal with.)

Extras on the DVD are better than expected given the film's short theatrical run. Things start off with an audio commentary track with the writer / director Joby Harold that is low-key but informative. Second is a selection of deleted scenes, also with optional audio commentary, which run nine-and-a-half minutes. Some of these scenes are interesting to watch, but none really add much to the movie. Under the Knife is a typical making-of featurette that runs just over 13 minutes, but it is hard to get enthusiastic about it. Finally, there are four storyboard-to-screen comparisons. These run 8:44, but seem out of place. None of the scenes are that visually interesting and seeing the storyboards of them is not a big deal.

Awake starts out with a good hook, but it is saddled with a wooden lead and too many twists to survive. It's not terrible and works enough to be worth checking out, but it is not memorable enough to warrant repeat viewing and a rental will suffice.

Beowulf - Buy from Amazon: Unrated Director's Cut - HD DVD
Just an update from last week's review, this time dealing with the HD DVD release.

First, we get to the good news. This is likely the best-looking HD DVD release I've ever seen and perhaps in the top five High Definition releases overall. This is not surprising as it is from a digital source. Also, there are a few new extras, including a picture-in-picture track, which is something you just can't do on DVD. Other new extras include an additional 20 minutes in the making of featurette. You can watch these extra pieces separately in The Journey Continues or branching in A Hero's Journey: Interactive Version where you have to hit the enter button every time the icon appears to see the new features. (On a side note, give me an option to automatically branch. I don't like watching movies with the remote in my hand, so having to grab it each time the icon popped up was a pain.) There is also an additional 10-minute interview with Robert Zemeckis.

As for the picture-in-picture, there have been some complaints that most people don't know what to do with this featurette and it is wasted. You have a few featurettes that pop up and that's about it. Here the picture-in-picture track is feature-length and shows the actors performing for the motion capture cameras. (Where's there are no actors on screen, it shows early animation for the movie.) It is very well done and one of the better High Definition features I've seen.

However, it sucks up so much room on the disc that they couldn't fit the audio commentary track. (At least that's my theory and it seems to be the only logical reason not to include it.) So having 20 extra gigs of room is important.

Beowulf is a good movie, perhaps not a great movie, but it is worth seeing. And the Unrated Director's Cut - HD DVD has different features than the DVD release. It has some new features, but it is missing others. Had HD DVD been a viable format, this would be an easy recommendation. However, I can't recommend sinking more money into a format that is dead. Wait a few months and get it on Blu-ray. It should look and sound just as great, and it should have the audio commentary track as well.

Blood+: Part One - Buy from Amazon
Those who picked up 30 Days of Night on DVD or Blu-ray will have had a chance to see the episode of this show that was included. Now you have a chance to pick up this 6-disc set. It is devoid of extras, sadly, but it is still worth the money for hardcore fans of anime.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Ice Age, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, and The Rookie
Not much in the way of Blu-ray releases with just three, two of which are kids movies, which have not sold well on High Definition so far. Blu-ray doesn't have a top-notch release until the 18th when both Enchanted and I Am Legend come out.

Comic Relief - The Greatest... and the Latest - Buy from Amazon
A 2-disc set featuring the best of the Comic Relief performances as well as the latest from 2006, which was the relief show done for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Garry Shandling starts the Best Of special by saying, "I have many things to talk about and I have two and a half seconds." And he wasn't kidding. The first disc deals with the 8 specials from the series, 8 specials in less than 2 hours. Each act is only on for about 90 seconds, sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes much less. (For too many it is one joke and they are done.) This is not enough. It's just a hint of the laughs that these comedians can bring. (Strangely, some other bits go on too long even though they are under 2 minutes.) You do get to see an amazing variety of performers including legends like Carl Reiner, Sid Ceaser, Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, Milton Berle, and many, many more. No matter what your taste, you should find something here to enjoy.

Disc two has the full 2-hour special put on in 2006 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and in some ways is better that the Best Of special. You get full acts, which is important. However, not every act works and the dead spots would have been cut out of a Best Of special. Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Lewis Black, Louis C.K., Ray Romano, and others are certainly worth the price of the DVD.

Extras are limited to the second disc and include three stories from New Orleans (total running time of about 11 minutes), a 3-minute rap by Wayne Brady, and an 11-minute tribute to New Orleans by Billy Crystal. None really have much replay value.

Comic Relief - The Greatest... and the Latest presents nearly four hours of comedy, as well as about half an hour of extras, which is a great deal for the price. Not every act hits its mark, and more than a few that do are cut short on the Best Of special, but there is still great bang for your buck.

Doctor Who - Buy from Amazon: Episode 81 - Planet of Evil and Epsiode 104 - Destiny of the Daleks
Two more Doctor Who DVDs coming out this week. The earlier episode is the better of the two, but they are both loaded with extras and really hardcore fans of the series will likely want to pick them up.

Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief - Buy from Amazon
They really have to stop making these. The first one wasn't particularly good to begin with, and the last two direct-to-DVD releases have been completely awful. It's not even worth a rental. Avoid it at all costs.

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who - Deluxe Edition - Buy from Amazon
The new movie is coming out next weekend, so there's no better time to release the TV special from 1970. It is selling very well, which is a good sign for the movie's chances.

Eleven Men Out - Buy from Amazon
An Icelandic film about a soccer player whose teammates find out he's gay, so they throw him off the team. It's a niche, niche, niche market film that only earned mediocre reviews and unless you are a big fan of gay cinema, soccer movies, or foreign language films, it is safe to give this one a pass.

Flight 29 Down - Buy from Amazon: Season Two and Series Finale
Flight 29 Down is a TV series about a group of kids marooned on a island. While it is made for kids, it is not dumbed-down for their target audience. Coming out this week is the second season on a 3-disc set and the series finale, which was a TV movie. Both of these are worth picking up for fans of the show.

HD DVD Releases - Buy from Amazon: Into the Wild, No Reservations, Things We Lost in the Fire, and Vivaldi - The Four Seasons / Concertos for Double Orchestra - Acoustic Reality Experience
Another week with HD DVD holding the best ranked High Definition release over on Amazon. That's three weeks in a row. I guess officially killing the format was the best thing that they could have done to boost the sales. On a side note, do they release that Vivaldi HD DVD every single week?

The Hogfather - Buy from Amazon
Based on the book by Terry Pratchett, which is set in Discworld. It is the 20th book in that series, which has lasted 25 years and closing in on 40 novels. In this one, The Hogfather (think Santa Claus) goes missing and it is up to Death (yes, that Death), to take his place. The mini-series is faithful to the book and has earned good reviews and even won a couple of BAFTA awards. Worth checking out for fans of fantasy in general and worth picking up for fans of Terry Pratchett.

Human Giant - Season One - Buy from Amazon
A sketch comedy show that is described as a mix between the best of Monty Python's Flying Circus and SCTV... No. That's not the case.

The show stars Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer, who have made a number of TV and movie appearances, but this is their first major lead. It has an absurdist sensibility to it, but that makes it very hit or miss, but sadly more of the latter. I found the comedy to be too predictable at times and many, many skits go on way past the point where they were funny. They would take a bit that had comedic possibilities and beat it to death. Mobile World is a perfect example of this. It starts out well and is funny enough to ignore its obvious logical problems, (for instance, how did he keep grabbing the right cell phone to look at for the next video clip?) But before it is halfway done, it has gone from funny to annoying. It's clear these three have plenty of good ideas, but they need someone to refine the comedy, find the clever bits, and end on a high note.

(There were also a number of guest appearances on the show, but they were usually underused.)

On the other hand, there are a ton of extras here. There are 13 commentary tracks on the 8 episodes from season 1 featuring the three stars, as well as the director and the producer and various guest starts. There's a lot of chatter, but not a lot of insight is given. The rest of the extras are found on disc two and run 2 hours and 45 minutes. That's a lot of material, but the problems found in the show are magnified here. Highlights from the Human Giant: 25 Hour Marathon runs 75 minutes long, but it really does feel like a marathon trying to get through it all. There's over an hour of deleted and alternate scenes, including two Shutterbugs skits in a separate section. There are two live performances of early bits that evolved into Shutterbugs and The Illusinators; it's interesting, and actually funnier that the rest of the show. Next up are three skits from the season two, the first of which was the funniest bit on the 2-disc set and I did get a laugh out of the end of the second skit. The third was yet another The Illusinators bit that overstayed its welcome.

Humor is very subjective and what one person finds hilarious will just make another person shrug. That's the case here. I just couldn't get into Human Giant - Season One and the more I watched it, the less I liked it. Others, however, love the show, and for them this 2-disc set is an amazing deal. I can not recommend buying it blind, rent before you consider picking it up.

Into the Wild - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc Edition, 2-Disc Collector's Edition, or HD DVD
Into the Wild opened in late September, which is a little early for Awards Season, but it earned very strong reviews and immediately earned some Oscar buzz. I had high hopes for the film, but I just couldn't get into it.

Maybe it's me. Maybe I just don't have the temperament for this film. I couldn't help think as Christopher McCandless, a.k.a. Alex Supertramp got thinner and thinner, "Maybe if he hadn't burnt his money, he wouldn't be starving to death. That wasn't an act of defiance, that was an act of an idiot with poor risk management skills." What was he going to do when he needed to buy more bullets so he could hunt? This guy bugged the hell out of me. He's 23 years old and he's acting like he has a lifetime of wisdom to pass along to everyone he meets, but was completely unwilling to learn from anything anyone says to him. (Especially when anyone tells him he needs to return, or at least contact his family.)

This is an amazing looking movie, I can't emphasize that enough. And there are some incredible performances, and not just by Hal Holbrook, who earned an Oscar nomination for his performance. Other standout performances include Catherine Keener and Brian Dierker as a hippie couple, Vince Vaughn as a grain farmer he works for, right down to the narration done by Jena Malone. Even Emile Hirsch is great in the lead role, but that character just pissed me off. By the time he had his big epiphany, "Happiness is only real when shared", I had completely given up on him. I wanted to scream at him, "That's what everyone was trying to tell you, you moron."

(One last note, the soundtrack is phenomenal. Worth picking up.)

As for the extras, I was not really impressed. I got the 2-Disc Collector's Edition to review, but I have trouble believing it couldn't fit onto on disc. There are no extras on disc one and disc two just has two featurettes with a total running time of just under 40 minutes. The Story, The Characters is the slightly longer than The Experience. These are both pretty self-explanatory. The former deals with the real life story and the cast while the latter deals with the making of the movie.

Into the Wild earned tremendous reviews and won over many fans. I'm not one of them. Odds are very good that many people reading this will disagree with me and because of that, I recommend at least renting the movie and try it out. If you do want to buy it, I can't recommend the 2-Disc Collector's Edition; there's just not enough features for the added price.

The Love Boat - Season One - Volume One - Buy from Amazon
Why do studios keep putting out half-season sets? It pisses off a lot of potential customers. I am sure it annoys more people than it entices with the lower price. There's not a lot of bang for you buck here and overall I can only recommend a rental. If it was a full-season set with the three pre-series TV movies, it would be worth picking up.

Magnum, P.I. - Season 8 - Buy from Amazon
This show was originally supposed to end after season seven, but they decided to re-do the series finale and create season 8, which only lasted half a season... but they are selling it for full price. I guess they figure if you have bought everything so far, there's little chance you will pass up on the final season, but it is not a move I can support.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Whimsy is something that has to come naturally; if you try and force it, it just doesn't work. That's what happened here and it's a shame. There is enough that works that you can tell there's a good movie lurking somewhere here, but it is buried under the production design. As for the DVD, there are a ton of featurettes, but they have a combined running time of just 30 minutes and most are too short to be anything but fluff. The film should entertain younger kids, but it could have been so much more. Give it a rental, but the replay value and the extras are just not high enough to be worth anything more than that. As for the Blu-ray version, there are no additional features, nor is it worth the extra money over the DVD.

Mrs. Doubtfire - Behind-the-Seams Edition - Buy from Amazon
Up until Night at the Museum, this was the biggest hit of Robin Williams' career. It's not his best reviewed film, but it did win two Golden Globes (and an Oscar for Best Make-up), and moviegoers loved the movie. This two-disc special edition is loaded with extras include a new audio commentary track to go along with the old one, 30 minutes of deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, retrospective, outtakes, a look at the animated short featured in the movie, a look at the make-up, and more. Worth picking up for most, upgrading for many.

My Friends Tigger & Pooh - Friendly Tails - Buy from Amazon
The latest DVD release from the Disney TV series starring Darby and her dog Buster, who travel to the Hundred Acre Woods and solve mysteries with Tigger & Pooh.

The DVD presents three episodes, including one that hasn't been seen on TV yet, and each episode has two mysteries. Mysteries include trying to find lemons for a cure-a-cold soup, finding pirate treasure, finding a tail for Darby. (On a side note, replacing Gopher with Beaver was a huge mistake.)

  1. Darby, Solo Sleuth / Doggone Buster
    The first episode hasn't been seen on TV yet and features Darby trying to figure out a mystery by herself after Tigger & Pooh are sidelined by a cold. The second adventure has Darby and her two pals trying to find Buster when her puppy goes missing.
  2. Darby's Tail / Tigger's Delivery Service
    Darby is upset because all of her friends have tails and she doesn't. (Or at least all of her friends except Pooh have tails.) Then next adventure has Tigger delivering vegetables to several of his friends and has so much fun he starts a delivery service. But has he bitten off more than he can chew?
  3. Pooh-Rates of the Hundred Acre Wood / Tigger's Hiccup Pickup
    Roo and Lumpy find a pirate map and get the aid of the Super Sleuths to find the Treasure. Next Tigger has the hiccups and the friends trying to figure a way of curing them.
As for the extras, there is a three-part game where you look at (or listen to) clues. Should entertain the kids, but I can't image many would find it a challenge.

My Friends Tigger & Pooh - Friendly Tails has an interactive feel to it, and along with the animation, it should draw in the target audiences. There's not much in the way of extras, but it is still good value for the money. And parents who grew up on Pooh should get a kick of nostalgia out of it.

My Kid Could Paint That - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about a group of people who escaped from a mental asylum and fooled the world into thinking they were art critics. No wait! It's a movie about a little girl who became a sensation in the art world due to her paintings... until people started to accuse her of not being the real artist. Some critics thought she couldn't possible paint as artistically as she could. However, there's a problem with that... It's squiggles on a canvas! Of course a little girl could paint that. I've seen elephants paint stuff like that. This is why the average person looks at the art world of today and thinks they are all crazy. ... but getting back to the movie... The movie is excellent and is worth checking out for anyone who its into the art scene today, or would like to go on a rampage hitting all the art critics with a Nerf bat. (If you get caught, call it performance art and they probably won't even charge you. ... But don't mention my name to the arresting officer.) As for the DVD, there's an audio commentary track, a featurette called Back to Binghamton that has outtakes and deleted scenes but no update, and finally there's a 12-minute lecture on the nature of art. Worth picking up. And while you are waiting for the DVD to arrive, make your very own Jackson Pollock.

The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection - Volume 6 - Inspector Cartoons - Buy from Amazon
Roughly 2 hours of Pink Panther cartoons featuring the Inspector. It's a great deal for casual fans, but animation aficionados like myself would rather pay more to get more in terms of special features, especially ones that delve into the historical significance of the shorts.

Pistol Whipped - Buy from Amazon
Steven Seagal continues to dive the depths of direct-ro-DVD. Not the worst movie of his career, but that's not a selling point.

The Shepherd - Border Patrol - Buy from Amazon
Wow. We have a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie and a Steven Seagal movie is the same week! ... I have nothing more to add. ... Moving on.

TCM Archives - Forbidden Hollywood Collection - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
It's kind of funny looking back at what was considered taboo. This 3-disc set includes five movies from the Pre-Code era, as well as documentary on how the The Hays Code came to be. Easily worth picking up for fans of early Hollywood, and it's amazing how well these films hold up.

Things We Lost in the Fire - Buy from Amazon: DVD or HD DVD
Two Oscar-winning leads couldn't help this film, either at the box office or with award voters. It opened below the Mendoza line and quickly disappeared and didn't get a whiff of Awards Season buzz.

David Duchovny stars as Brian, loving husband to Audrey and best friend to Jerry. One day Brian is murdered trying to protect a woman from her abusive husband and this changes the lives of the both. Audrey is too grief-stricken to help her children and Jerry fears he will turn back to narcotics to get over the pain, so they turn to each other to get through.

I found it difficult to really get into the movie. It was a heavy drama dealing with deep human emotions, but I never connected with the characters. Instead of being gripping, I found the film overdone. Maudlin instead of moving. There were some interesting parts to the movie, like the non-chronological storytelling, and Benicio Del Toro was good, but not as good as in some of his other performances. Also, the directing was distracting at times (too much hand-held, and too many extreme close-ups and quick cuts).

As for the extras, there are only two presented here, one featurette and seven deleted scenes. A Discussion About Things We Lost in the Fire is a 20-minute featurette roughly equal parts talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips from the movie. It works, but it doesn't stand out. I watch half-a-dozen of these featurettes each week and it takes a lot to stand out at this point. The only other extras on the DVD are the seven deleted scenes; unfortunately there are no intros and no audio commentary track, so there is a lack of context.

While I couldn't get into Things We Lost in the Fire, I am in the minority here and the film did earn good reviews. It is worth checking out, but with extras that are light, a rental will do for most people.

Unstable Fables - 3 Pigs and a Baby - Buy from Amazon
The first of a planned series of direct-to-DVD releases that take well-known fairy tales and gives them a twist. The series starts with 3 Pigs and a Baby, which is a take on The Three Little Pigs.

Tired and being unable to take down the solid brick house, the wolves decide to infiltrate the house using a baby wolf as a mole. The three pigs raise the boy as their own, but what will happen when he grows up and has to fulfill his mission?

This is a show that is obviously aimed at kids, but it is also made by the people at The Jim Henson Company and it doesn't feel like it is talking down to them. There are also a few jokes here that are obviously aimed at the parents watching with the kids (the references to PEMA, for instance). It's also fun to see the pig twists of the human world like the garbage truck, which obviously brings garbage and doesn't take it away. Not every joke worked, and there were a few that were quite predictable, but overall it should entertain the kids, as well as the parents.

(I really liked the names of the other wolves, by the way: as well as Big Bad Wolf, the pack includes Short Smart Wolf, Unctuous Salesman Wolf, and of course, Musical Comedy Wolf.)

Extras on the DVD include three featurettes, The Voices of 3 Pigs & a Baby, Re-Imagining a Classic, and Animated Education. The first runs just over 3 minutes and it is exactly what it sounds like, a featurette on the voice talent behind the main characters. The second runs just over ten minutes and it is an interview with the director and the two writers. The final one runs just under six minutes and it has Arish Fyzee explaining the process of creating the animation from storyboard, to the animatic, to final feature.

Unstable Fables - 3 Pigs and a Baby is a great show for kids and has enough aimed at adults that parents will want to watch it with them. Extras on the DVD are in line with other direct-to-DVD releases, and it is worth picking up. I look forward to seeing the next installment in the series, Tortoise vs. Hare.


Filed under: Video Releases, Beowulf, No Reservations, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Into the Wild, Awake, Things We Lost in the Fire, My Kid Could Paint That, Strákarnir okkar, Doctor Dolittle: Tail to the Chief