Blu-ray Today: Disney’s Big Dump, Toxic Avenger, DC Cartoons Great and Small


Bedknobs and Broomsticks – It’s witches versus Nazis in Disney’s adaptation of Mary Norton’s children’s books, ultimately feeling like a hybrid of Mary Poppins and C.S. Lewis. Angela Lansbury is the aspiring witch, and David Tomlinson the con man in possession of some very real spells. Throw in an enchanted bedknob, a journey to an island of cartoon animals, and a full-on war scene between invading Germans and reanimated suits of armor, and you have a movie that will blow your mind when you try to think about how they pulled it off in the pre-CGI era.

This is one of many Disney Blu-rays being dropped into the marketplace today, in a weird strategy apparently designed to bankrupt parents. Also out today is the unfortunately timed Tarzan, which won Phil Collins the Oscar for Best Original Song despite Robin Williams’ performance of South Park‘s “Blame Canada” at the Oscars, and Hercules, which I really hate, from the ugly Gerald Scarfe drawings to the calculatedly “sassy” black chorus to the Michael Bolton end-title song. Far more interesting is the double-feature of The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad/Fun and Fancy Free, which contains four stories in all, adapting “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” The Wind in the Willows, “Jack and the Beanstalk” and an original tale of a circus bear who escapes to the woods. It’s also notable for featuring another onscreen appearance by Jiminy Cricket, and Walt’s last vocal performance as Mickey Mouse.

Batman: Assault on Arkham – Set in the continuity of the Batman: Arkham video games, this DC animated feature sees the return of Kevin Conroy to the Batman role, but sidelines him in what is essentially a Suicide Squad movie. If you’re okay with that, I hear it’s pretty good, and CCH Pounder was born to voioce Amanda Waller.

Young Justice: The Complete First Season – Infamously canceled by TV executives who felt the show was appealing too much to girls who don’t buy toys, this acclaimed DC animated series set on Earth-16 and unbound by prior DC continuity can now be yours to own. Even though some of the major arcs never wrapped up, showing it some love now might make people in power think twice – but that is a mighty big “might.”

Rage – Nicolas Cage sometimes reverts to bored, paycheck-cashing mode for direct-to-video stuff, but that is not the case in this movie, where he plays an ex-criminal whose daughter turns up dead. This is worth a purchase if only for the scene in which he beats a bad guy to death by smashing his head into the ground, yells up at the sky, kicks the corpse a few times then empties his gun into it. Cage is in full Cage-mode here, and bless him for it.

Motel Hell – “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters.” Since this is a cult classic horror movie, you can probably guess what the mystery meat is in the motel kitchen. I’ve never seen this before, and I can’t wait – the new Blu-ray includes a new commentary track with director Kevin Connor,a s well as new interviews with Connor, the producers and actor Marc Silver. The movie also co-stars Pixar perennial John Ratzenberger, who was in this and The Empire Strikes Back in the same year.

Looney Tunes: The Platinum Collection 3 – Though only three of the cartoons on this collection are actually new to home entertainment, and the series is not exactly comprehensive from beginning to end, anyone looking to build up a library of the classics, uncut by modern PC sentiments, could certainly do worse.

The Toxic Avenger – I’m sure it plays as cheap and cheesy now, but when 12 year-old me saw it, it blew my mind in terms of erasing all boundaries about what you could and couldn’t do on film. Lloyd Kaufman’s groundbreaking comedy slasher was the first unrated movie I ever saw, and the one that made me realize extreme brutality could be disturbingly funny if played in the right way.

Mind you, I was 12. I’ve never watched it all the way through since. Things might have changed. But I still can’t freakin’ believe it eventually became a kiddie cartoon show and a line of toys.

A Haunted House 2 – If you seriously have any desire to support Marlon Wayans’ terrible satire of found-footage horror films, you deserve this.

Filth – From the writer of Trainspotting and the performance of James McAvoy, this tale of a mentally unstable cop is one I look forward to seeing.

Those are my Blu-ray picks this week. What are yours?