This week’s home entertainment releases include a rare Pixar failure (that is nevertheless one of the best American animated films of the year), the first seasons of the sexy, violent HBO sci-fi series Westworld, and Guillermo Del Toro’s animated fantasy Trollhunters, plus the 15th season of Family Guy, a spectacular 50th Anniversary Speed Racer giftset, a collection of all 30 DC direct-to-disc animated movies, and Your Name, one of the best anime feature films of this decade.
This week’s biggest release is one of Pixar’s rare failures, Cars 3
(Disney, “G,” 103 min., $29.99, BD $34.98). Cars 3
made over $380 million worldwide, but probably still lost money as “sequelitis” limited its domestic take to just $152 million, though the toy royalties will more than make up for any shortfall. While Cars 3
is far from Pixar’s best effort, it is actually a bit better than Cars 2
, and resembles the original Cars
, though it doesn’t quite manage to match that film’s heart. But remember, when buying a disc as a holiday present for a youngster, that a Pixar “failure” is still likely to be significantly better than the best efforts of a lot of other studios.
Also due this week is The Glass Castle (Lionsgate, “PG-13,” 127 min., $29.99, BD $39.99), an adaptation of Jeanette Walls’ gritty autobiographical tale of growing up with an alcoholic father that stars Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts. While praising the acting of the film’s fine cast, many critics disliked the film’s contrived ending, which detracts from the excellence of the movie’s earlier portrayal of the messy, complicated life of a family that is always teetering on the brink.
For those who enjoy indie comedy/dramas there is Ingrid Goes West (Universal, “R,” 98 min., $22.98, BD $29.98), which stars Aubrey Plaza as a disturbed young woman, who is way too hung up on Instagram, and Elizabeth Olsen as an Internet trendsetter, whose picture perfect life is not quite as perfect as it appears. This is a black comedy with little in the way of relatable characters—the people Ingrid stalks are flawed as she is crazy, so a lot of the comedy is cringe-inducing, though firmly rooted in the characters and their social media-driven milieu.
TV on DVD
This week’s top geek-centric releases include the HBO science fiction series, Westworld: Season 1, The Maze
(Warner Bros., 675 min., $49.99, BD $54.97), whose creators found in Michael Crichton’s creaky 1970s western robots-gone-amuck saga, a property capable of almost infinite expansion given the freedom in depicting both sex and violence afforded by pay cable; plus The Family Guy: Season 15
(Fox, $29.98), the latest season of Seth MacFarlane’s venerable animated series, which still has a devoted, if somewhat diminished following; as well as another resilient MacFarlane creation, American Dad: Volume 12
(Fox, 484 min., $29.95); and
If Family Guy
is already a bit “old hat,” the new frontier in commercial TV animation might well be represented by the Netflix animated series Trollhunters: Season 1
(Universal, 588 min., $22.98), an award-winning fantasy series created by Guillermo Del Toro and animated by Dreamworks. This set contains all 26 first season episodes—the second season will begin streaming from Netflix in mid-December.
Another classy Netflix production due on disc this week is The Crown: The Complete First Season (Sony, 450 min., $45.99), a lavish bio-drama that follows the long reign of Queen Elizabeth II, and brings to the world of streaming TV a sort of “Hallmark Hall of Fame” gravitas that will appeal of monarchists of all nations.
Elaborate gift sets of video discs may not be the hot holiday gift items that they used to be, but there are still plenty of examples of pricy collections. Case in point this week is the DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection
(Warner Bros., 30 Animated Features, BD $299.99), which contains all 30 (counting The Dark Knight Part I
and Part 2
as two separate films) direct-to-disc animated movies created by DC and Warner Bros. Animation with more adult violence and content than the Saturday morning DC cartoon offerings. These movies are typically based fairly closely on classic storylines from the comics and are intended for series comic book fans.
The only other animated offering this week is My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Season 6 (Shout Factory, 570 min., $34.99).
The only non-U.S. offerings are the excellent medical drama The Good Karma Hospital: Series 1
(Acorn Media, 287 min., $39.99) that follows the adventures of a disillusioned doctor who leaves the U.K. behind to work at a village hospital in South India; the final season of the tough, gritty Canadian police drama 19-2: Season 4
(Acorn Media, 440 min., $49.99); and the UK remake of the classic period miniseries Poldark: The Complete Third Season
(PBS, 540 min., $44.98, BD $54.99).
The big retro release this week is the 50th Anniversary Speed Racer Ultimate Collection (see full description in “Anime”), which contains the original Japanese anime that the show was based on, as well all of the American Speed Racer episodes. The only other retro release is the 1990s vintage comedy, The Wayans Brothers: The Complete 3rd Season (Warner Bros., 489 min., $29.99).
This week’s top release is Makoto Shinkai’s animated feature film Your Name
(Funimation, 107 min., BD/DVD Combo $34.95, Ltd. Ed. $84.95). This film was huge in Japan where it is second only to Miyazaki’s Spirited Away
in earnings, and has a stellar 97% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Your Name
is clever, thought-provoking, emotionally-satisfying anime at its best—I won’t give away any plot details, but I will give the gorgeous and poetic Your Name
my highest recommendation.
The Limited Edition of Your Name comes in a two-piece, double-sided chipboard box a rainbow holographic finish, and also includes a 2-disc soundtrack as well as a 60-page art book, and an art digipak.
Another anime film of interest to science fiction fans is Shuko Murase’s Genocidal Organ (Funimation, “TV-MA,” 115 min., BD/DVD Combo $34.98), an adaptation of the debut novel by Project Itoh that takes place in a near future world where “homemade” nuclear weapons have turned the advanced countries into heavy surveillance states, while the third world endures waves of genocidal conflicts.
And for Speed Racer
fans, in celebration of the franchise’s 50th Anniversary, there will be a special treat this week--- Speed Racer: The Ultimate Collection
(Funimation, “TV-PG,” 3,450 min., BD/DVD $299.98), which comes in a collectible Speed Racer Bust
with sound effects and includes (on 10 BDs and 16 DVDs) the complete 1967 Speed Racer
series as well as the 1967 Japanese Mach Go Go Go,
both of which are available here in high definition as well as the 1997 Japanese series Mach Go Go Go Restart
(on DVD only), plus a collectible Speed Racer
Other new releases due this week are adaptations of various manga genres. Cheer Boys!! The Complete Series (Funimation, 353 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), which contains the 12-episode 2016 Brains Base series about a group of male cheerleaders, is based on the sports manga written by Ryo Asai and based on his light novel; while First Love Monster (Funimation, “TV-14,” 316 min., BD/DVD $64.98) is a 2016 series from Studio Deen adapting Akira Hiyoshimaru’s shojo manga; and the Handa-kun Complete Series (Funimation, “TV-14,” 306 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98) is a 2016 12-episode series from Diomedea that is based on the slice-of-life comedy manga written by Satsuki Yoshino (published here by Yen Press).