Blu in Your Face: March 12th, 2013

By Luke Y. Thompson in DVDs
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 8:00 am

Non-comprehensively highlighting the week's top picks in Blu-ray...

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Willow - You should never give a baby blackroot, but you should always feed your inner child with this Blu-ray. Willow is quite the inventive mishmash, unlike much else director Ron Howard has ever done, but full of George Lucas' obsessions - Kurosawa samurai homages, hatred of film critics (General Kael and the EberSisk monster are named after scribes who weren't so kind to him in the past), cutting-edge special effects (it's considered the first movie to truly use digital morphing) and the kind of juvenile comic-relief sidekicks with caricatured accents that we'd come to learn were a feature rather than a bug. In spite of this messiness, or maybe because of it, we love it anyway. New special features to this set include the long-unseen deleted scene in which Willow (Warwick Davis) battles a fish-boy, and Davis' video diary that he shot on set.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit 25th Anniversary - Many of the special features here were already on the DVD, and there's some controversy over the transfer, which doesn't maybe look quite as pristine in hi-def as some would like due to the old-fashioned compositing effects used to mix animation with live-action. Still, this remains one of the most influential movies of the '80s, as its all-star mash-up of multiple famous cartoon characters from different companies paved the way for Toy Story and Wreck-It Ralph to do likewise in their respective toyboxes. The only major complaint I could see someone having with Roger Rabbit is that it's utterly untrue to the novel it's based on, which dealt with newspaper comic strips and was equally brilliant in its own way. But Roger dies pretty early on in that one, so it's not exactly Disney-friendly.

Life of Pi - I got some disagreement for claiming this as a geek movie, but I don't know how anyone could love Where the Wild Things Are and not groove to this similar tale of a reluctant math whiz and his magical 3D boat trip with a tiger. Plus there's a supernatural island that eats animals at night. I thought the ending was a bit too unambiguous, then became aware that everyone else disagreed with me as to its meaning, so maybe not. I don't think it's a story that will make you believe in God, as it claims, but it's a movie that will make you believe in Ang Lee, in case you were (understandably) faltering on that score. It includes several featurettes, documentaries and deleted scenes, most notably one that explains why the raft didn't quickly fill up with tiger shit. You know were you wondering that.

Rise of the Guardians - Inexplicably overrated Dreamworks cartoon that thinks it's brilliant for giving Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin) tattoos and a bad Russian accent, and desperately hopes to copy the success Despicable Me had in marketing the minions, with both hat-headed elves and walking Easter eggs. The Santa Clause 3 covered very similar ground, and I didn't enjoy it either. Supposedly the books it's based on are good, though.

Hitchcock - This biopic's a mess, but it's a fun mess, with Hitch (Anthony Hopkins in a grotesque fat suit) communing with the dead spirit of murderer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott) in order to create Psycho. It rather whitewashes the director's horrible behavior by making his wife (Helen Mirren) seem more like the villain in their relationship, naively stumbling toward a possible affair that drives her hubby crazy with jealousy. So accuracy is not a foremost concern, but there's entertainment to be had if you can let that go.

Mulan/Mulan II, The Hunchback of Notre Dame/The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Brother Bear/Brother Bear 2 - Disney shamelessly pairs some of its well-liked films with their cheap cash-in sequels, though in the case of the Brother Bear movies, I've yet to find anybody who considers 'em "well-liked." Except, perhaps, the makers of Brave, who borrowed its central premise.

Bonus Willow video after the jump, in which Val Kilmer acts crazy...



h/t Bri Buckley

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