November 17, 2012
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Pixar's 'Brave' stunning on DVD
By Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency


Brave is absolutely ravishing in Blu-ray. Of course, it helps that I already love this animation -- the first Pixar feature set in an historical period and with a female protagonist at its core.

Brave, an action adventure cartoon, debuted on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download this week. Among several options in stores, I have the stunning five-disc combo pack for review. Disney calls it the Ultimate Collector's Edition -- and it is. There is one disc each for DVD, digital copy, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray, plus a bonus disc that offers a tutorial on how Pixar creates movies.

Two seven-minute shorts join Brave on Blu-ray. Enrico Casarosa's La Luna is an exquisite piece of animated whimsy about a boy who shows his mentors, two grumpy old men, how to see the wonders of the moon with fresh eyes. Brian Larsen's The Legend of Mor'du tells the useful saga of the demon bear that figures prominently in Brave. It is is minimally animated, like a moving graphic novel.

Brave itself is the story of a medieval Scottish princess who overcomes her reckless nature to save her mother -- indeed, the whole kingdom -- from that demon bear and a witch's curse. Cartoon-like characters are set against a nearly photo-real version of the ancient Scottish highlands.

Brave, which generated a healthy $534 million in worldwide boxoffice, is a keeper. Girls who idolize the flame-haired heroine Merida will watch it repeatedly; I suspect boys will enjoy, too, because of the broad humour and thrilling action. The extras are a marvellous way to appreciate what goes into this level of animated art.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN


Count me among skeptics who doubted the Spider-Man franchise could be rebooted so soon. Especially with a new actor, Andrew Garfield, replacing familiar Tobey Maguire. But amazing things did happen under new director Marc Webb. Garfield is good and Peter Parker's paramour -- Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy -- is even better.

The Amazing Spider-Man debuted on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download last week. The options range wide. For review, I have the single-disc DVD; a three-disc combo pack combining DVD, DVD and digital copy; and the top-end release, which is a four-disc combo pack that adds in a 3D Blu-ray.

The filmmaking is gritty, intimate and also spectacular in its special effects when Spidey negotiates New York streets and Rhys Ifans's Dr. Connors mutates into The Lizard. Webb is good at both the personal stuff and the big movie business. The Blu-ray bonus materials show exactly how that was done. An exhaustive 110-minute documentary, Rite of Passage, includes interview sessions with key producer Laura Ziskin, who worked with Sam Raimi on his Spider-Man trilogy before moving on to Webb. Ziskin died of breast cancer in 2011, during the production of this movie.

Ziskin defends the re-boot. "The comic book re-invented itself many, many times," she says. "There are many re-iterations of Peter Parker over 50 years, always with the same basis characteristics." The Amazing Spider-Man is dedicated to Ziskin and her vision.

THE WATCH

The Watch debuted on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download this week. The two-disc combo pack, which I have for review, comes with a caution: "Ruder, Cruder & Lewder." It is all three. It is NOT a good movie. Disjointed throughout, The Watch is a dumbass comedy about four goofballs who form a neighbourhood watch after a security guard is murdered at the Costco store. Turns out the joint is jumping with aliens. The movie, while occasionally bursting with snort-laugh funny stuff, is most often just stupid. The funniest stuff is among the extras, specifically the gag reel and Jonah Hill's extended takes. That is sad for the flick.

 




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