New on DVD & Blu-ray: May 22, 2012

Posted: May 22, 2012 in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
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This week’s releases include: a teen monster comedy; a war movie with a different perspective; the latest Studio Ghibli film; and a trigger-happy romantic comedy.

My Babysitter’s a Vampire: The First Season on DVDMy Babysitter’s a Vampire: The First Season (DVD)
See how the adventures began as Ethan (Matthew Knight) and Benny (Atticus Dean Mitchell) join forces with “babe-o-sitter” and fledgling vampire Sarah (Vanessa Morgan) in this three-disc set of the original movie and all 13 season one episodes. When his parents insist on hiring a babysitter, high school freshman Ethan worries about his already precarious image. But when he learns the truth about Sarah’s mission to save the world from her blood-sucking ex-boyfriend, Ethan also discovers spooky realities about his sleepy hometown—and his own secret powers.

What started as a cheesy teen comedy directed by Bruce McDonald spiraled into an YTV-style series, starring most of the same actors. They live in a world obsessed with a Twilight-like franchise, leading to a number of teens becoming day-walking, non-sparkling, real-life vampires. The problems they encounter are humorous supernatural basics, including the rise of zombie pets, evil cheerleaders and poltergeists. Each 22-minute episode is self-contained, rarely referencing anything outside the current narrative. It’s mindless fun in small doses, but watching consecutive episodes emphasizes the shallowness of the characters and story lines.

Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; and “Meet the Cast” featurettes. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

Red Tails on Blu-rayRed Tails (DVD & Blu-ray combo pack)
Italy, 1944.  As the war takes its toll on Allied forces in Europe, a squadron of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen are finally given the chance to prove themselves in the sky even as they battle discrimination on the ground.

Special features include: “Double Victory: The Tuskegee Airmen at War”; “George Lucas: Executive Producer”; “Anthony Hemingway: Director”; “Terence Blanchard: Composer”; “The Cast of Red Tails”; “Movie Magic”; and “THX Media Director.” (Fox Home Entertainment)

The Secret World of Arrietty on Blu-rayThe Secret World of Arrietty (DVD & Blu-ray combo pack)
Residing quietly beneath the floorboards are little people who live undetected in a secret world to be discovered. Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler), a tiny, but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voice of Carol Burnett). Like all little people, Arrietty remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to “borrow” scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts.  But when 12-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty’s family from the home and straight into danger.

There is an innocent quality to Studio Ghibli’s films that cannot be found in other animated movies. That Borrowers only take what they need is not just out of necessity, but also an innate and genuine kindness. There’s also a subtle beauty that permeates every aspect of the picture. The animators’ attention to detail is unrivaled. A dollhouse is given the most intricate decoration, from tiny china plates to fancy wallpaper. Even Arrietty’s miniature home is adorned with the most trivial items that give it a genuine lived-in feeling. The story is sweet and simple, but unique.

Special features include: a making-of featurette; storyboard presentation of the film; “Summertime” music video; “Arrietty’s Song” music video; and original Japanese trailers and television commercials. (Walt Disney Motion Pictures)

This Means War on Blu-rayThis Means War (DVD & Blu-ray combo pack)
The world’s deadliest CIA operatives, FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), are inseparable partners and best friends until they fall for the same woman (Reese Witherspoon).  Having once helped bring down entire enemy nations, they are now employing their incomparable skills and an endless array of high-tech gadgetry against their greatest nemesis – each other.

Think Charlie’s Angels but with no directing story; this is McG’s latest contribution to the big screen. It’s the element of ridiculous that really pushes it over the edge. Maybe the absurdity of their actions is supposed to cancel out the creep factor, but it doesn’t. Pine and Hardy are handsome and charming men with a good sense of humour. They also have good chemistry together, playing off of each other quite well. It’s the script that isn’t effective, not them. It would have also been refreshing to see someone else in Witherspoon’s role; someone with a little more edge.

Special features include: commentary by director McG; alternate endings and deleted scenes with optional commentary by McG; alternative opening concept; “Bachelorette Party”; uncensored gag reel; and theatrical trailer. (Fox Home Entertainment)

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