If it's crap ... We'll tell you
SPACE PRECINCT (DVD)
I'm not sure anyone was dying to get their hands on the Complete Series of British television legend Gerry Anderson's ("Space 1999", "Thunderbirds") 1994 show "Space Precinct". Not so much in America, anyway. Despite attempts to make it work here, its storyline about cops in the future on another planet, filled with funny looking animatronic and puppet creatures, didn't resonate with most audiences. The show dealt with some pretty mature and even noir-ish material, which was an odd and uncomfortable fit with the colorful goofiness of the aliens and the obvious model work of the cities and ships. Even so, it's much more watchable than it appearances would seem to indicate. This release of the show contains all 24 episodes, but is devoid of extras, not even the original 1986 pilot that Anderson tried to launch the show with. Even so, for fans of Anderson's previous work (and possibly also fans of "Farscape", a show that also used puppetry and animatronics over CG), despite the corn, "Space Precinct" is actually worth a look
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Space Precinct: The Complete Series
I have a feeling that IFC, that's now distributing this 2008 thriller on DVD, are counting on the legions of lust-stricken fans of "Being Human"s Aidan Turner to pick up a copy without any further consideration than him being in it. Lucky for them, "Alarm" is actually not so bad of a mystery/thriller. Ruth Bradley plays Molly, a woman who has found a house out in the 'sticks' away from the city where home invaders murdered her father in front of her not long before. It's the peace and quiet of the countryside she craves, but someone is determined not to let her have it. After a series of break-ins at her new home, her boyfriend (Turner) convinces her to get the house outfitted with an alarm system...and things go from bad to much worse. Soon, she's falling apart at the seams, convinced there's some sort of conspiracy afoot to drive her crazy that absolutely anyone in her life might be part of...but is she right? The ending is going to divide audiences, but "Alarm" largely succeeds at making its audience wake up repeatedly for the next few nights at the smallest sound in the house. My cats probably thought I was spying on them, what with the amount of times I got out of bed to go double check the locks.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Alarm
FANTASIA/FANTASIA 2000 (Blu-Ray/DVD)
Even the folks who aren't the biggest Disney fans seemed to be excited about the Blu-Ray release of this two-movie pack from their vault. Just like I've comes to expect from the Mouse House, this is an exceptional re-release of these two phenomenal animated films, upgraded to take full advantage of the HD and 7.1 sound. For those who don't know (and what planet do you come from?) the original "Fantasia" was one of the most ambitious films ever made, only Disney's third ever theatrical animated release. It's a two hour collection of different classical music pieces set to gorgeous, lavish, incredible animation and the bar it set for such things with its release in 1940 still has not been surpassed, not even by "Fantasia 2000". Not that the fifty-years later follow-up isn't good because it surely is, with a new and experimental look to some of the animation, like with the Al Hirschfield stylings of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and the abstractly colorful butterflies dancing to Beethoven's Symphony no. 5, but it's hard to compete with original's place in history (and considerably longer running time). As you might expect, the set comes with a wealth of bonus features, but none so awesome as a completed version of a Salvador Dali short originally intended for inclusion in the 1940 film, and a feature length documentary about Walt and Salvador's path to making it. Supah-neat and certainly a cherry on the giant delicious cake that HAS to be one of this Christmas's must-own Blu-Rays.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Fantasia / Fantasia 2000 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
IRON MAN: EXTREMIS (DVD)
Those in-the-know (IE: The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen and our awesome fan base) are probably all too aware of the level of awesome involved with writer Warren Ellis and artist Adi Granov's 2005-2006 Iron Man story "Extremis". For all extents and purposes rebooting the character, Ellis made it into a techno-espionage, futurist, adventure story, filled with the kind of transhumanist themes he's become known for twisting minds with. Tony Stark is forced to confront his own shortcomings with the design of the Iron Man suit after a human enhanced by an experimental designer virus called 'Extremis' kicks his ass all over town. Someone working at Futuretech (in Austin, TX, natch) has leaked the dangerous stuff to a redneck extremist group and this racist guinea pig is loaded down with power and headed to D.C. The only thing for it is for Tony to take the next step, adapting the virus for his own use and creating a new era of techno-organic power for the hero. Much of "Extremis" was used in the design and story elements of the Iron Man films, not surprising since it's arguably the greatest run ever of the comic. But now, onto this DVD...some folks have an autonomic reaction to the words 'motion comic' and not a positive once. It's a shame because this technology, which does basic animation of the original artwork from the comics they're based on, has come a long way since it started. As I said in my review for the last Marvel Knights release, Joss Whedon's "Astonishing X-Men", the tech seems to get better with each new title they put out, and "Extremis" continues that trend. The awkward facial bending from past releases is largely gone now, and I gotta say, this compliments Adi Granov's beautiful art, instead of detracting from it. I'm coming around on these, also partially thanks to a healthy collection of making-of and interview bonus features, and I think you other comic nerds out there with your noses in the air...you should too.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Marvel Knights: Iron Man - Extremis