Present Guide 2017: Greatest of DVD and DVD animation
Here is a choice of top gift suggestions for the Blu-ray and DVD-loving, cartoon-watcher in the family.
DC Universe: 10th Anniversary Collection (Warner Bros.. Home Entertainment, ranked PG-13 and R, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $199.99)— DC Comics observes the translations of its favorite superhero mythologies to the animated format with a premier Blu-ray series offering each direct-to-disc cartoon released from the cooperation between Warner Bros.. Cartoon and DC Entertainment in the last decade.
That translates into 30 full-length movies and five shorts distribute one of 32 disks adapting such traditional sequential-art stories as “All-Star Superman,”“Batman: Year 1,”“The Dark Knight Returns” and “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.”
Besides the quartet of well-received movies above, the best of the bunch also comprises “Superman: Doomsday,”“Batman: Gotham Knight,”“Batman: Under the Red Hood,”“Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths,” the anthology “Green Lantern: Emerald Knights,” and commemorative editions of “Justice League: The New Frontier” and “Wonder Woman.”
Movies from first stories incorporate the fairly good “Justice League: Gods and Monsters” and also not-so-great “Batman and Harley Quinn.”
Many animated efforts also comprise a star voice-over cast, including Tim Daly as Superman; Anne Heche as Lois Lane; Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman; Jason Issacs as Sinestro; Bryan Cranston as Lt. James Gordon; Ed Asner as Perry White; Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing; and, most importantly to the pop culture geek in the family, Mark Hamill as the Joker (within a version of Alan Moore’s “Batman: The Killing Joke”).
Extras are plentiful on each disk, culled from the first releases, and often include optional commentary tracks; hours of featurettes covering the manufacturing and hero mythologies; and dozens of episodes out of DC Comics-based television shows, including “Batman: Brave and the Bold,”“Superman: The Animated Series,”“Justice League” and “Batman: The Animated Series.”
In addition, a bonus disc of extras provides content such as a nine-minute recent interview with Mr. Hamill as he discusses his career and voicing the Joker; a 50-minute informative look at the myths and origins of the protagonist (with loads of fantastic comic artwork); and a 45-minute San Diego Comic-Con board paying tribute to the DC-animated universe.
The packaging of this limited edition set (only 20,000 available) can be sure to please comic-loving present receivers.
The big purplish rectangular enclosure with a superhero group example has a magnetic clasp on the lid and contains a book with hard cardboard pages filled up with comic book artwork and sleeves to hold the disks.
The package also holds a 40-page adult coloring book and three-dimensional coins with the faces of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
Samurai Jack: The Complete Collection (Warner Bros.. Home Entertainment, ranked TV-MA, 1.78:1 and 1.33:1 aspect ratio, $112.99)— Genndy Tartakovsky’s entire Cartoon Network, award-winning masterpiece comes in a boxed collection, giving fans a dazzling show of animation in a format that is searchable.
The tale of a Japanese warrior named Jack looking to come back to the last to reshape the near future after needing a time-traveling trip by his nemesis, a shape-shifting monster named Aku, provided a study in minimalist layout and maximum beauty within its initial four decades back in the early 2000s.
Mr. Tartakovsky’s additional closure to the adventure with a fifth season this year, and blessed present receivers can find all of 62 episodes about five Blu-ray disks with the initial four seasons remastered in 1080p for the very first period and a decent source of extras.
Specifically, two commentary tracks comprise Mr. Tartakovsky’s biographical information, his job as the founder, a look at the growth of the direct character, background on the series’s martial-arts design, and a lost artwork gallery (with more commentary from the founder).
But best of this bunch are tied to the fifth year and supply a quintet of all “pitch movies” highlighting Mr. Tartakovsky using storyboards and narration to explain his eyesight during the pre-production procedure. He makes some funny sound effects during the pitches.
So far as this slip-box packaging, open this up to find the disks as well as an enamel-painted, metal artwork print (5 inches tall by 6.5 inches tall) ideal for framing and emphasizing Jack and Aku in mid-battle.
Drawn Together: The Complete Collection (Paramount Home Entertainment, ranked TV-MA, 1.33:1 aspect ratio, $22.99)— Definitely a present for the “naughtier than fine” mature family member, this collection provides the Comedy Central show that ran in the mid-2000s featuring a group of raunchy cartoon characters living together under one roof.
Specifically, eight cartoon archetypes are heavily parodied in the reality television genre.
They included: celebrity mystery-solver Foxxy Love (think “Josie and the Pussycats”); washed-up 1920s cartoon star Toot Braunstein (think Betty Boop); chauvinistic superhero Captain Leslie Hero (Superman); the bizarre Wooldoor Jebediah Sockbat (a remnant from “Ren and Stimpy”); racist Princess Clara (a Disney princess); the hypersensitive Xandir P. Wifflebottom (a homosexual “Legend of Zelda” star); the babbling Ling-Ling (a Pokemon reject); and sophomoric Spanky Ham (Porky Pig with issues).
The 36 episodes and 2010 full-length movie in the established offer something to offend everyone as they protect a range of politically incorrect topics peppered with some nudity, violence, profanity and fun musical numbers.
Alas, the series takes place on seven DVDs, which makes the resolution appearing rather aged compared to some high profile releases.
However, considering the risqué material animated in a “Super Friends” retro-style, the electronic visuals create the displays look more primitive and seamy, a plus to the devoted fan.
Making up for the absence of visual quality would be the extras directed by about a dozen hilarious optional commentary tracks often with creators Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein as well as cast and crew. Expect a party-like setting with lots of laughs out of the group offering content sometimes better than the episodes being discussed.
Other extras include some karaoke and sing-along options for the musical numbers and also featurettes on the voice cast discussing the show.