DVD Review: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Season One, Part Two

Hi all!

Batman. He’s an iconic DC Comics character who’s been around since 1939. He’s undergone a few changes over the years, though he’s always been a superhero tough on crime who chooses not to kill criminals, but hand them off to the authorities instead.

In popular media, Batman has been played on television in a campy way by Adam West, seriously on the big screen by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and most recently Christian Bale. When animated, he’s also been fairly serious for the most part. That is until 2008 when Batman: The Brave and the Bold debuted on Cartoon Network.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold treats itself as more of a campy kid’s show, with Diedrich Bader offering the voice of Batman and Bruce Wayne. But where most of the earlier animated series have shown Batman saving Gotham City by himself or with a few trusted friends, Brave and the Bold pairs the Dark Knight with other superheroes on a much more regular basis. And they’re all treated a bit less seriously and larger than life just like Batman is.

Each episodes features a mini-episode before the titles roll, and then the main adventure after that. Most of the time the two adventures are not interlinked. But it’s fun to see more of the DC universe come to life in a lighter style than we’ve seen in previous series.

Now in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Season One, Part Two we get to see the final 13 animated adventures of the second season. These adventures feature Aquaman, Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, Red Tornado, Green Arrow, Wildcat, Deadman, Bronze Tiger, and Atom to take on a variety of comic book bad guys from Gorilla Grodd and Equinox to Solomon Grundy, Bane, the Joker, Catwoman, and many more…

This collection on two DVDs features my favorite episode of the show so far – “Mayhem of the Music Meister!” The Music Meister (Neil Patrick Harris), mad conductor of crime, harnesses the power of song to mesmerize heroes, villains, and ordinary people into stealing things for him. The whole episode is done as a musical from beginning to end, with all the main characters – Batman, Green Arrow (James Arnold Taylor), Aquaman (John DiMaggio), and Black Canary (Grey DeLisle) – fighting crime through song. It has to be one of the craziest, yet most fun episodes of any Batman cartoon I’ve seen anywhere.

Also included are great episodes where Aquaman helps Batman settle disputes on a different planet (“Mystery in Space!”), where Batman goes back in time to help Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve a supernatural crime (“Trials of the Demon!”), and much much more. Though I initially was put off by the humorous take on Batman, I came to realize that the writers and animators were honoring the spirit of Batman and increasing his audience at the same time by making the whole DC Universe more fun to watch.

Beyond the episodes themselves, there are no extras on the two DVDs included in the package, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the campy humor. I’ve enjoyed trying to figure out who some of the lesser known characters are like Plastic Man, Wildcat, the Outsiders, and more. With season 3 of Batman: The Brave and the Bold kicking off soon, don’t you want to catch up on what happened with season 2? Be sure to pick up your copy of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Season One, Part Two today!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up the Batman: The Brave and the Bold DVDs below!

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Winners of the 2009 DVD Critics Choice Awards!

Hi all!

Just wanted to share the list of winners from the 2009 DVD Critics Choice Awards! This is the Fifth Annual DVD Critics Awards, which honors the top DVD and Blu-ray Disc titles from 2008. More than 130 entries were judged by a panel of critics and journalists. Submitted titles also were placed in eight special categories for the consumer vote, bringing the total number of awards to 21.

Warner Home Video’s The Dark Knight won Best Theatrical Title, plus the consumer categories Best Action Title, Best Superhero Title and Consumer Favorite.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s Pixar release Wall-E also fared well, winning for Best Animated Title and taking the consumer vote for Best Sci-Fi Title.

In all, Warner won five awards, while sister company HBO took three. Disney earned four awards.

Here are the awards:

2009 DVD Critics Award Winners:

Title of the Year: The Sopranos: The Complete Series, HBO
Best Theatrical Title: The Dark Knight, Warner
Best TV DVD: Mad Men: Season One, Lionsgate
Best Classic/Catalog Title: The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration Gift Set, Paramount
Best Collection/Multidisc Set: The Sopranos: The Complete Series, HBO
Best Nonfiction Title: Young @ Heart, 20th Century Fox
Best Animation Title: Wall-E, Walt Disney Studios
Best Kidvid Title: Tinker Bell, Walt Disney Studios
Best Nontheatrical Title: Stargate: Continuum, Fox/MGM
Best Extended Cut/Director’s Cut: Step Brothers, Sony Pictures
Best Extras: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Universal Studios
Best Packaging: Masters of Horror: Season Two, Anchor Bay
Best Blu-ray Disc: Planet of the Apes: 40-Year Evolution, 20th Century Fox

Consumer’s Choice Categories

Consumer Favorite DVD/Blu-ray Release: The Dark Knight, Warner
Funniest DVD/Blu-ray: Robot Chicken: Star Wars, Warner
Best Action Title: The Dark Knight, Warner
Best Sci-Fi Title: Wall-E, Walt Disney Studios
Best Superhero Title: The Dark Knight, Warner
Best Western Title: 3:10 to Yuma, Lionsgate
Best Period Piece: Band of Brothers (Blu-ray), HBO
Best Single Extra: The Making-Of Documentary on Sleeping Beauty: Platinum Edition, Walt Disney Studios

Be sure to check them out at your favorite online or brick-and-mortar retailer if you missed them last year!

–Fitz

p.s. Here are some of the award winners:

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DVD Review: The Unborn (2009)

Hi there…

Let’s start by saying I’m a jaded horror movie watcher. I prefer plot and story to thrills, special effects to blood and gore, and strong themes to strong screams. I tend to find horror movies funny rather than scary. However, when the trailers for The Unborn (2009) began airing on television before its release, I have to say they made me curious about the film.

David S. Goyer has been involved with a number of my recent favorite movies as a writer or director, including The Dark Knight and Batman Begins as well as the Blade trilogy. And Gary Oldman has been in some of my favorite movies, including The Fifth Element, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and The Professional as well as the recent Batman movies. He typically plays crazy characters well, but has been more subdued in recent roles.

So I thought The Unborn looked like a winner — a great writer, a great actor, and apparent homages (at least from the trailers) to The Exorcist and The Omen. I never saw the film in the theater, but I added it to my list of movies to check out when it got to DVD.

At a very high level, The Unborn boils down to a simple formula. Twins + Nazi Occult Experiments + Dybbuk = The Unborn. And I think if they’d stuck to that formula, this might have been an ok movie. As it turned out however, it peters out about 2/3 of the way through. The first hour builds the suspense just fine, with a few scares thrown in for good measure.

Casey Beldon’s (Odette Yustman looking a lot like Megan Fox) life begins to unravel as she starts seeing, hearing, and experiencing strange visions of a creepy young boy. As we learn more, we find out that her mother, Janet (Carla Gugino), killed herself when Casey was young. Casey lives with her father (James Remar), who really only appears in perhaps 3 scenes and is evidently away on business more often than not, leaving Casey at home to fend for herself against the forces of evil.

As the film progresses, we learn that while in her mother’s womb, Casey had a twin who was strangled by an umbilical cord. This comes to light after the color of one of her eyes begins to change, which is ostensibly a symptom of a genetic condition that often aflicts twins.

And we meet Casey’s grandmother (Jane Alexander as Sofi Kozma), whom Casey had never met before. Granny was a prisoner at Auschwitz during World War II, and was the subject of strange Nazi occult science experiments along with her brother. As a consequence of those experiments, her brother died, but came back as a dybbuk, an evil spirit who was merely inhabiting her brother’s body. Granny tells Casey to find Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman), who might be able to perform a Jewish exorcism to get rid of the evil spirit that’s now plagued the family through three generations.

All along the way (as you might expect in a horror movie about evil spirits), poor Casey sees things, hallucinates, and generally has a bad time of things.

It’s about an hour into the picture when things go weird for me. Rabbi Sendak enlists the aid of Arthur Wyndham (Idris Elba), a Christian priest who has done research into exorcisms. When Wyndham meets Casey and her boyfriend Mark (Cam Gigandet), he asks for their ids and signatures on a legal consent form. After all the other weird things experienced by Casey and Mark, the Rabbi, Casey’s grandmother, and the nearly 100 cops and other officials at the many crime scenes throughout the film, why are they asking for id now? Just in case something goes wrong… Yeah, right.

Once they sign the paperwork, it’s as though the dybbuk sees an opportunity to pretty much kill everyone it encounters in bizarre, violent ways. And at the end, well I won’t spoil it. But at the end they finally return to the spooky formula that might have worked if they’d stuck with it all the way through.

The Unborn isn’t a bad horror movie. There were a few good startles here and there, the evil was suitably evil, and the creatures suitably creepy. But I felt as though all the actors over 25 might have been sleepwalking through their parts. Oldman even looked bored through a few of the “scary” parts.

I watched the “Unrated” version of the film, which adds one minute to the running time of the film. I wasn’t able to determine which scenes were added, but I suspect that they added a few extra shots of Yustman’s young, scantily clad body. There’s little nudity in the film, and it was handled respectfully. But there can’t have been much else added in that extra minute. Both versions, the theatrical and the unrated, are on the DVD for your viewing pleasure.

Beyond the theatrical and unrated versions of the film, the only extras are a few trailers and a number of deleted scenes. None of the deleted scenes really added much to the movie, so I don’t think you’ll miss much there.

Overall, The Unborn was just ok. If you’re looking for a horror movie about evil spirits, possession, and exorcisms – I’d have to tell you to go to the classics like The Exorcist and The Omen. Even now after all these years, those are still the baseline for a good movie in this genre. Check them out at your local rental store or favorite retailer, but unless you need to see more of Yustman’s rear end I’d skip this one. (For a different take on The Unborn, check out Luigi Bastardo’s review of the Blu-ray version here.)

–Fitz

p.s. Click below to pick up The Unborn and other films at Amazon:

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