June is off to a solid start with the release of the second season of Adventure Time, the penultimate season of Breaking Bad, plus the raunchy comedy Identity Thief, a zombified Romeo & Juliet, and a full slate of anime including a new 13-episode adaptation of Shirow’s Appleseed and the U.S. debut of a groundbreaking Tezuka series that was dubbed in 1967.
TV on DVD
This week’s top TV release is a tough call, but it has to go to Adventure Time: The Complete Second Season (Warner Bros., 286 min., $26.95, BD $32.07), which collects all 26 episodes of the D&D-influenced Cartoon Network series created by Pendleton Ward. The zany adventures of Finn the Human and his 28-year-old magical dog Jake (who is voiced by John DiMaggio who also does Bender in Futurama) continue unabated with a cast that includes the Ice King, Marcelline the Vampire Queen, Princess Bubblegum and more. Learning the secrets of “dropball” and other droll games has never been more fun, and the Ice King is remarkably handsome when shorn of his immense beard. This highly imaginative series has developed a strong geek following because of its wonderfully twisted takes on all things human. It looks great in Blu-ray, and the high-def upgrade is well worth the surcharge. The extras on this set are also pretty special, in particular a featurette produced by series creator Pendleton Ward that provides access to some great interviews with members of the Adventure Time team.
This week’s other animated releases are not quite of the same caliber. Based on Don Bluth’s 1998 animated movie, All Dogs Go to Heaven: The Series, Season 3 (TGG Direct, $19.98) collects the final episodes of the 1996-1998 TV series that aired in syndication, and later on the Cartoon Network. The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show: 4 Kid Favorites (Warner Bros., 197 min., 14.99) presents 4 Peanuts TV specials at a very attractive price.
The week’s most artistically compelling release just might be Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season (Sony, $55.99, BD $65.99), the penultimate season of the darker-than-dark saga of high school chemistry teacher-turned-Meth-mogul Walter White’s continuing descent into darkness. Bryan Cranston is brilliant as White, but Laura Linney’s work in The Big C: The Complete 3rd Season (Sony, $35.99) as a woman dealing with cancer is equally impressive, so it's tough to pick between this two powerful cable series.
Science fiction fans might enjoy the latest installment of another cable series, Falling Skies: The Complete 2nd Season (Warner Bros., 450 min., $39.98, BD $49.98), which continues the saga of the ordinary citizens of the 2nd Mass who struggle to survive a staggering alien invasion. Another TNT series is Major Crimes: The Complete 1st Season (Warner Bros., 430 min., $39.98) a police procedural set in the Major Crimes Division of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Also due this week is the ABC Family teen series Pretty Little Liars: The Complete 3rd Season (Warner Bros., 1056 min., $59.98) and the FX show starring Elijah Wood Wilfred: The Complete Series (Fabulous Films, 400 min. $29.93).
Vintage TV series available this week include the World War II show Combat! The Complete 3rd Season (Image Entertainment, 1530 min., $39.98), the service comedy sitcom McHale’s Navy: 20 Timeless Episodes (Shout Factory, $12.99), and Rawhide: The Sixth Season, Vol.1 (Paramount, 761 min., $45.98), Rawhide: The Sixth Season, Vol.2 (Paramount, 761 min, $45.98).
This week’s bestselling movie on DVD could very well turn out to be the movie with the lowest rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The R-rated comedy Identity Thief (Universal, “R,” $29.98, BD/DVD Combo $34.98) could muster only a 20% positive rating from the critics, who ridiculed the film’s unwieldy narrative, shifting tone, and sloppy slapstick. But audiences loved the movie and its plus-size force-of-nature title character played by Melissa McCarthy. Identity Thief was made for $35 million and managed to earn $173 million at the global box office. This crude and rude farce lives up to its “R” rating, but it’s the lead performances by McCarthy and Jason Bateman that make this film worth checking out for fans of raunchy comedies.
The fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard (Fox, “R,” $29.98, BD Combo $39.99), which began way back in 1988, once again features Bruce Willis as the one-man army John McClane, but the producers evidently felt the need to bring in McClane’s son played by Jai Courtney for a little father/son bonding over hot lead and dead Russian gangsters in this wildly improbable film. They should have spent the money on the script. Critics agreed that this was the weakest Die Hard film yet, and it only managed to earn a paltry (for this franchise) $67.3 million.
This week’s other release is the 3-D animated family comedy Escape From Planet Earth (Starz, “PG,” $29.98, BD Combo $39.99), a fairly lame attempt to craft the animated equivalent of an E.T. for a very young audience. The movie earned just $56 million at the box office and could only manage a 26% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Other releases of new material include Dusk Maiden of Amnesia Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, “14+,” 325 min., $59.98), which includes all 13-episodes of the 2012 series from Silver Link that is based the shonen manga series by Maybe. The protagonist of this series is a middle school student who meets a ghost girl at the private academy he is attending and then proceeds to solve the mystery surrounding her death.
Also new on DVD (though it was streamed by Crunchyroll) is Everyday Tales of a Cat God Premium Edition (NIS America, “13+,” 308 min., BD $69.98), which all 12 episodes of the 2011 series from AIC Plus+ that is based on the shonen manga by Flipflops about a cat goddess that lives in an antique show. In addition to all 12 episodes, this set includes the OVA and a 32-page hardcover book filled with illustrations.
Another old school anime favorite is the Dirty Pair TV Series Collection (Right Stuf, “13+,” 325 min., $39.99), which contains the first 13 episodes of the 26 episodes from the 1985 Sunrise series (the last two episodes of the series were released as an OVA in 1987) featuring the sexy cops Kei and Yuri in a series of cyberpunk adventures. Part I was previously released here in 2010 by Right Stuf, but the MSRP then was $49.99.
Other re-releases this week sport even bigger price reductions. They include the new S.A.V.E. edition of the Birdy the Mighty: Decode The Complete Series (Funimation, “17+,” 650 min., $29.98) and Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom (Funimation, “17+,” 650 min., $24.98, BD $29.98).
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Week of June 4th, 2013
Posted by ICv2 on June 2, 2013 @ 7:24 pm CT
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