New in Home Entertainment November 30, 2010

New in Home Entertainment
November 30, 2010

Fantasia/Fantasia 2000
Rated G
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

With Blu-ray quickly becoming the standard, one Disney title has been very noticeably missing until now: Fantasia.  When Walt Disney presented the first Fantasia back in 1940, he was especially picky on how the movie was exhibited, requiring the very state-of-the-art in picture and sound in order to be shown.  And now, with Blu-ray we finally get the chance to see both the original and the 2000 sequel in its most beautiful of states.  There are some purists that are very angry about this new release due to the removal of what was felt to be racial stereotypes drawn into the black centaurs.  Its hardly noticeable if you don’t know the history of the film, but I can hardly blame them for being angry about the censorship involved.  Still, the picture and sound are utterly magnificent considering the first film is now 70 years old.  Also included in the set is the acclaimed short film Destino that originally stemmed from a partnership between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali.  A documentary about the relationship between the two artists is also included.  A

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Rated PG for fantasy action violence, some mild rude humor and brief language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Trying again to find a live-action franchise to match up to Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney went to a story based on the Fantasia sketch about a gifted young apprentice (Jay Baruchel) that trains under the tutelage of a master magician (Nicholas Cage).  While it was blasted by a lot of critics and not seen by most audiences, I myself found the film to be immensely entertaining and I was shocked when it didn’t provide a hit for the mouse house.  The story went through a host of writers before they finally decided on the final script, but overall I thought the film was clever, fun, full of great special effects and decent performances.  B

Waking Sleeping Beauty
Rated PG for some thematic elements and brief mild language
Available on DVD

in the 1980’s Disney animation was struggling to the point where they moved the animators to a remote location and almost closed the animation studio completely.  Waking Sleeping Beauty is a documentary that takes a look at this tumultuous period and how a talented mix of executives, artists and writers came together at the perfect time in order to send Disney to the top again starting with The Little Mermaid and moving forward to their biggest hits including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and the Lion King.  If you are big Disney fan like me, you will especially love this film that looks at the history of the animation studio and the risks they took in order to give us what we consider today to be classics.  Mistakes were nearly made at every corner that could have cost them their studio and us these wonderful works of art, and following along the tale provides almost as exciting a narrative as the movies they created.  A-

The World at War
Available on Blu-ray

While I think that some of the recent releases such as World War II in HD, Band of Brothers and the Pacific provide a better look at the most famous war in history, The World at War is still considered by most to be the definitive account of the event.  Now, 35 years after its original airing, The History Chanel is releasing this 26 hour long documentary, fully restored in stunning hi def.  That being said, many are downright angry at this new presentation due to the fact that the aspect ratio has been drastically changed in order to present the film in widescreen.  The folks who made the film are proud of the process used though, enough to include a special about the restoration, but purists are furious.  To me, I didn’t notice, and I doubt that the majority of folks watching will lose any sleep over it.  B+

Going the Distance
Rated R for sexual content including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Justin Long and Drew Barrymore star in this raunchy comedy about a couple trying to carry on a long distance relationship between New York and San Francisco.  While I don’t mind raunchy, I do mind stale humor that insists on trying to convince the audience its funny when its painfully obvious that it’s not.  The jokes only work on occasion and when they do work, they try to take it a step further making you wish you didn’t chuckle in the first place.  It may not be the winner, but this is definitely a candidate for worst film of the year.  D

Deadwood: The Complete Series
Available on Blu-ray

Before I received this set, if someone were to ask me what I wanted for Christmas, I would have definitely answered “Deadwood on Blu-ray.”  This HBO series, which is certainly one of their all-time best, takes shape in the the old-west town of Deadwood where a sheriff with integrity tries to keep a crime-ridden city from spiraling into chaos.  If Shakespeare were alive today, you would think the script came from his pen.  Full of soliloquies and  sometimes spoken in old English tongue, Deadwood is one of the most unique experiences, western or non, to have ever graced the television screen.  And this new hi-def transfer would keep any one completely busy over the holiday break.  A

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