November 4, 2008

DVD Pick of the Week: Kung Fu Panda

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope that this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles and what follows are not necessarily reviews. It is my opinion based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists that I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations upon them are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

Kung Fu Panda. Here is a movie that surprised the heck out of me. I was hoping it would be good and what I got was one of the finer animated film's of the year, and possibly the best that Dreamworks Animation has offered so far. The action is very well done and the story is reminiscent of old school kung fu films. The screenplay is witty, smart, and fast paced creating a very enjoyable film for the whole family. If that isn't enough, there is an edition that includes a second film centered on Po's mentors called Secrets of the Furious Five.

Futurama: Bender's Game. Any Futurama is good Futurama. This is the third direct to DVD film spawned from the popular series. This time around Bender wants in on Dungeons & Dragons, but does not have the programmed imagination for it. Of course, his plans do not go as, well, planned, he lands in an asylum leaving the rest of the Planet Express crew to save him. I am sure there is more to it, but I still need to see it!

Get Smart. This is not a great movie by any stretch, but it is highly entertaining with strong work from all involved. It is neither pure comedy nor pure action, it is a film that balances the two in equal proportion. The end result is a movie that will hold your attention as Maxwell Smart realizes his dream.

Shrek the Halls. Halloween is over meaning we are now at the dawn of the stretch run towards Christmas, so expect more Christmas related titles to appear. This first appeared as a special last year and was a huge hit for ABC. I did not see it, but do not see the need to own it, I am sure they will be re-running it this year.

Star Wars: Prequel Trilogy. Another year, another repackaging of what many already have. It is a nice box, but I already have the titles. If you don't have it already, this may be nice, but hardly required.

Star Wars: Trilogy. See above.

Primeval: Volume One. I remember seeing a clip of this BBC series, but have not seen any of it yet. It concerns the appearance of long extinct creatures appearing and the group trying to find out what is going on.

Batman: The Complete Animated Series. I am only missing one of the original releases (I think), so this is not really needed for me, but this is one of the finest animated series ever created and deserves to be in every one's collection. The show originally aired in the early 1990's and holds up great to this day.

The Bourne Trilogy. Another sign that Christmas is on its way, more film box sets, much like the Star Wars sets. This is a great series of action films that rose above the crowd. If you don't have them, here is a good opportunity.

Reaper: Season One. Is this coming back for a second season? I could have sworn it was picked up. Anyway, this is a fun show if perhaps a little repetitive. Parents sell their son's soul to the devil to save their lives and when he turns 18 he becomes a soul collector for the suave devil played by Ray Wise.

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. A Christmas classic on its annual return to store shelves.

Waterworld: Two-Disk Extended Edition. Never knew there was an extended edition to be had. The movie is not nearly as bad as it has been made out to be, but it is not all that great either. The Road Warrior on water tale is decent enough and will hold your attention.

Tenacious D: The Complete Masterworks 2. Jack Black and Kyle Gass return with more Tenacious goodness. Can't go wrong here!

Return to Sleepaway Camp. I wonder how this holds up next to the originals? The writer/director of the original film returns to make this sequel, specifically referencing the original and ignoring the second and third films, not to mention the footage for a fourth film included in the old box set.

A Christmas Story: Ultimate Collector's Edition. Essentially a repackaging of the 2-disk set from a couple years ago, this comes in a tin with a movie inspired recipe book, cookie cutters, apron, and other movie related goodies. Pretty sure I do not need this, but that does not change the fact that you might, nor the fact it is a holiday classic.


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