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DVD LOUNGE: Cartoons, Gleeks, Anime and Jackasses

The mass catch up continues, with many more updates coming.

There’s a few must sees in here, so fire up your queues!

Jackass 3
Paramount / Released February 8 2011

Let’s be honest, you’re either a Jackass fan or you’re not.  This release offers plenty for the fans, but personally I could do without any of the explosive feces bits.  Jackass 3 reassembles the familiar faces including Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Ryan Dunn, Ehren McGhehey, Dave England, Preston Lacy and Jason “Wee-Man” Acuña.

The bits where they merely put themselves in situations simply to endure pain or nausea (such as Roller-Skate Buffalo, Sweat Suit Cocktail and The Field Goal) are atypical, but there are dozens of legitimate laughs within and such sketches as Midgets in a Bar Fight, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Gorilla in the Hotel Room, Super Might Glue and my favorite, The High Five which I have revisited several times. The two disc dvd includes an unrated version of the film, the theatrical release in analog 3D, commentary, MTV Making Of Special, Outtakes, Deleted Scenes and the Time Magazine Trailer. Jackass 3 is essentially more of the same, but would you want it any different? Recommended.

Batman The Brave & The Bold: Season 1, Part 2
Warner Bros. / Released February 15, 2011

Perhaps the best interpretation of the character in any medium, Batman The Brave & The Bold is an absolute joy to watch. Unlike the groundbreaking Batman The Animated Series, Batman The Brave & The Bold is aimed at a younger audience, but captures the magic of why superheroes are fun better than anything else (including comics) in the past thirty years. This set features the second half of the series’ first season and features such iconic and obscure guest stars as The Question, Adam Strange, Aquaman, The Golden Age Flash, The Demon, Sherlock Holmes, Black Canary, Blue Beetle, The Huntress, Wildcat, Booster Gold, Bat Mite, Green Arrow, The Outsiders, Red Tornado, Jonah Hex, Kamandi, Doctor Fate, OMAC, Hawk and Dove, Mister Miracle and Big Barda.

Deidrich Bader plays the Caped Crusader with his tongue planted firmly in cheek, combining the delivery of the iconic interpretations of Adam West and Kevin Conroy. Other notable contributing voice artists include John DiMaggio, Will Friedle, Michael Dorn, R. Lee Ermey, Neil Patrick Harris, Phil Morris, James Remar, Paul Reubens, and Tom Everett Scott. Producers James Tucker and Michael Jelenic have created what might very well be my favorite Batman series of all time. My only complaint? Release the series in complete seasons. Highly recommended.

Glee: Season 2, Volume 1
Fox / Released January 25, 2011

I generally don’t fall into phenomenon’s with the masses, but discover them some time later after the hype has died down. I tend to resist television that the world embraces until the first season ends (I’ve done it with South Park, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, and about five dozen more series). I watched the first season of Glee when it was released on DVD late last year over several days and found it to be entertaining, but hardly deserving of the hype.

I’m an idiot.

I tore through Glee: Season 2, Volume 1 in record time and am almost embarrassed by how much I enjoy it (Forces of Gleek anyone?). This series combines the best of teen soap with song and actually made me like Gwyneth Paltrow for the length of an episode. It also features some of the sharpest writing and the most underrated timing of any actress (That’s you, Heather Morris). I thought that the first season suffered because every episode featured stunt casting or songs. I’ve since realized that’s the point. Among the tributes in these episodes: Britney Spears, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a pretty damned impressive rendition of Make Them Laugh. Extras include a Glee Music Jukebox and featurettes.

Glee: Season 2, Volume 1 is highly recommended and not to be missed.

What have I become?

Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Disney Home Video / Released February 8, 2011

Hayao Miyazaki’s second film,  Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, remains one of the most stunning examples of animation ever produced.  Set a thousand years after an apocalypse that wiped out much of our civilization and ecosystem, humans are scattered across the damaged landscape living in competitive societies.  Forever separated by the toxic environment, these kingdoms battle with one another as well as the mutations that have been created by our negligence as one girl might be the savior to humanities struggle for ecological harmony.

Featuring it’s original Japanese audio track and an alternate dub track featuring Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Alison Lohman, and Edward James Olmos, Nausicaä is visually amazing and emotionally engaging, especially as we’ve seen our world’s ecological devastation progress since this film’s release in 1984.  The combo pack features include an interactive environment, a documentary and storyboards on the Blu-ray and the DVD features featurettes and television trailers.

Nausicaä’s influence can be seen across various media and pop culture, including Avatar, which became the highest grossing movie of all time and shares a strong message and several visual cues.  This film belongs in every cinegeek’s library and is a must have.  Highly recommended. 

Tales from Earthsea
Disney Home Video / Released February 8, 2011

Directed by Hayao Miyzaki’s son, Goro and based on the work of author Ursula K. Le Guin, Earthsea is one of the lesser accomplishments from Studio Ghibli, and is, as a result, average and disappointing.

Fairly grim and a bit incomprehensible, Earthsea is visually stunning, but fairly slow and dull.  Dragons, patricide, a magic sword, and mages should make for interesting viewing, but Earthsea is pretentious, poorly envisioned and for the first time in the history of Ghibli, stereotypical anime.

I had been curious to see this film for some time, and despite opening to mixed reviews in Japan, both Hayao and Le Guin weren’t happy with the finished film.  Earthsea is the worst example of a disappointing film; poor execution.  Voice work is impressive as always, with solid work by Timothy Dalton, Willem Dafoe, Matt Levin, Cheech Marin, Mariska Hargitay, Blaire Restaneo and Jean Smart. Extras include an interactive map and featurettes. Earthsea is a mess, but despite it’s numerous faults, it’s an interesting failure and for fans of the medium a worthwhile viewing.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated Season 1 Volume 1
Warner Bros / Released January 25, 2011

Dear Hanna Barbera Productions,

Despite my love of your classic animated series, you tend to only release merchandise based on the various abysmal Scooby-Doo animated series. Somehow you listened, and despite my not being able to get a Loyal Order of Water Buffalo’s Lodge Hat or Pixie and Dixie salt shakers, you did one better.

You produced an awesome Scooby-Doo series. Set in the town of Crystal Cove, Mystery Incorporated fleshes out the familiar characters and pairs it with sharp writing. We’re finally introduced to the parents of these characters and they are suddenly self-aware of their environment and their history as paranormal investigators. Also pretty awesome is the voice casting including movie Shaggy Matthew Lillard reprising his role and original voice Casey Kasem as his father, Colton Rogers. Other voices include Mindy Cohn (Natalie from the Facts of Life) as Velma, and legend Frank Welker as Scooby-Doo and Fred. Other notable voices within these episodes include Grey DeLisle, Lewis Black, Gary Cole, Frances Conroy, Kevin Dunn, Vivica A. Fox, Beverly D’Angelo, John Di Maggio, Patrick Warburton, Billy West,John O’Hurley, James Arnold Taylor, George Segal and David Faustino.

This is the Scooby-Doo I’ve been waiting my whole life for and is a must have for anyone who grew up loving or hating the original series. My only complaint? Again Warner, full seasons. Highly recommended.

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