Out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week: A reanimated dog, a two-fisted justice-dispenser, four survivors of the end of humanity on a large red ship, and Clark Kent: The College Years.
In one sense it's appropriate that Tim Burton has been around long enough that his early camp-gruesome essays in stylized macabre are now unobjectionable enough to be released by Disney and seen by kids immersed in a glut of cheap horror flicks and a superfluity of vampires, zombies, and vindictive natural disasters. Here Burton walks us though what it's supposed to be about, and the glossy result has the curiously detached feel of a guided tour through Timmy Burton's House of Horrors.
Formats: 3D Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, Blu-ray.
The story: When young Victor's pet dog Sparky (who stars in Victor's home-made monster movies) is hit by a car, Victor decides to bring him back to life the only way he knows how. But when the bolt-necked "monster" wreaks havoc and terror in the hearts of Victor's neighbors, he has to convince them (and his parents) that despite his appearance, Sparky's still the good loyal friend he's always been.
Starring: Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Winona Ryder.
Directed by: Tim Burton.
Features: Miniatures in Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie to Life (HD, 23 minutes); Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit (HD, 5 minutes); Original Live-Action Frankenweenie Short (HD, 30 minutes); Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers (HD, 2 minutes); Music Video (HD, 4 minutes): The Plain White T's perform "Pet Sematary"; Trailers & Sneak Peeks (HD, 11 minutes).
Wow, Red Dwarf, one of the best examples of how humor can be mined from pushing the edges of your own premise, has been around for just shy of 25 years now, and it's been a long, hard road not only for the characters an the long-suffering universe they inhabit, but for the cast and crew as well. (It gives you just a hint of the turbulent tale that the show started in 1988 and we've just had season 10.) The six episodes of this latest incarnation are widely agreed to be funnier than Red Dwarf has been in years, and it seems some thought has been put into removing the schtick that had crept into come of the characterizations (particularly Cat). The series is nicely complemented by the quite long making-of doc, in which writer/director Doug Naylor and the stars talk about the difficulties getting season 10 made and why they wanted to make sure it was made.
Formats: Blu-ray, DVD (2 discs).
The story: The most inept band of space travelers ever to roam the interstellar highway; return with an all-new season of misadventures! The brand new series, written and directed by Doug Naylor, begins with the Dwarfers mining ship still creaking though the wastelands of unchartered deep space, but the posse soon stumbles upon the mysteriously abandoned SS Trojan. As they inspect the ship Rimmer receives an SOS distress call from an old foe and is suddenly faced with the dilemma of his life. Red Dwarf X reunites the much loved original cast of Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat) and Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) and promises to be a huge hit amongst the Sci Fi sitcom's cult following of devoted fans.
Starring: Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn.
Directed by: Doug Naylor.
Features: Documentary: "We're Smegged"; Deleted Scenes; Smeg Ups.
At the end of the day, this serious-minded, wall-to-wall kick-ass version of the Judge Dredd concept seems to exist primarily to prove that you can make a movie adaptation of a cult comic book without countless cancerous compromises. And, as a corollary, that the Stallone version should never, ever have been allowed into theaters.
Formats: 3D Blu-ray, Digital Copy, DVD, Blu-ray.
The story: In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.
Starring: Karl Urban (Judge Dredd), Rachel Wood (Control Operator 1), Andile Mngadi (Passenger), Porteus Xandau Steenkamp (Driver), Jason Cope (Zwirner), Emma Breschi (Hostage), Olivia Thirlby (Anderson), Rakie Ayola (Chief Judge), Lena Headey (Ma-Ma), Tamer Burjaq (Ma-Ma Bodyguard), Warrick Grier (Caleb), Wood Harris (Kay).
Directed by: Pete Travis.
Features: Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd (HD; 14:27); Day of Chaos: The Visual Effects of Dredd (HD; 15:21); Dredd Featurette (HD; 1:53); Dredd's Gear (HD; 2:31); The 3rd Dimension (HD; 2:00); Welcome to Peachtrees (HD; 2:33); Dredd Motion Comic Prequel (HD: 2:57); Theatrical Trailer (HD; 2:30).
Full Moon Studios has turned out a string of forgettable, badly written family features involving kids caught up in tame adventures, and this is one of them.
The story: Three children discover the home of an elderly clock builder holds an amazing secret -- he possesses a collection of clocks that control the past, present, and future of the entire world. When one of the children is mistakenly transported into the past, it's up to the other two to rescue him and prevent the future from going astray.
Starring: Anthony Medwetz, Katie Johnston, Zachary McLemore, Pierrino Mascarino, Daisy Nystul, Tom Gulager, Eugen Cristea, Florin Chiriac, Petre Moraru, Cristian Motiu, Laura Jianu, Marius Galea.
Directed by: Christopher Remy.
Features: None listed.
It's true that The Adventures of Superboy, the silliest entry ever in the sprawling Superman franchise, loses camp hilarity points for its obvious and brutally relentless cheapness, but season 2 of Superboy, finally available after a long delay, does improve considerably on season 1 on several fronts. For one thing, while Gerard Christopher is as so-so a Man (or "Boy," if college students can be reasonably considered boys) of Steel as John Haymes Newton, whom he replaced, Christopher's well-known enthusiasm for the Clark Kent/Superman character is pleasingly palpable in every aspect of his performance, from the comical slump of Clark's shoulders to the way Superboy breezily ignores questions like "Hey, where's Clark?" And Sherman Howard's gleefully mwaa-ha-ha over-the-top turn as the new, giddily insane Lex Luthor (who goes through painful surgeries to age himself and change his face so Superboy won't recognize him, only to blab his real identity to Lana fifteen minutes into his first anti-Superboy caper) is not only miles ahead of the previous season's Lex, but might well be the best thing in the show. Other guest stars this season include George Maharis, Richard Kiel, Keye Luke, Philip Michael Thomas, Ami Dolenz, Gilbert Gottfried, Britt Ekland, and George Lazenby ... as Jor-El!
Formats: DVD (3 discs). Manufactured on demand.
The story: Familiar four-color threats faced by our boy Kal-El include a now follicle challenged Lex Luthor (who makes Lana his bride years before they did it in Smallville), Metallo, Bizarro, Mr. Mxyzptlk and Yellow Peri in this complete 26-Episode, 3-Disc Collection. Not remastered.
Starring: Gerard Christopher, Stacy Haiduk, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, George Chakiris.
Created by: Alexander and Ilya Salkind.
Features: None listed.