Dr. Seuss leads these movies new to DVD and Blu-ray this week:
“Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” (Universal/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012, PG, two discs, $34.99, deleted scene, audio commentary, three cartoon shorts, featurettes, interactive game, sing-along, trailers). This lively, bright and colorful (especially in Blu-ray) animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ children’s book with an environmental message is loaded with eye candy. Perhaps overloaded. It’s too busy, overflows with so-so banter and quips, and the musical numbers are unmemorable.
The result is a movie that has some enjoyable moments and is certainly distracting enough to keep your little ones occupied, but nonetheless feels like a missed opportunity. The folly may be as simple as recognizing that it’s no simple task to pad out a short story to feature length without losing something in the translation.
Zac Efron is chipper, voicing the boy living in a (literally) plastic town who’s never seen a real tree. And Danny DeVito is appropriately grumpy as the Lorax, protector of the trees, who tries to keep the lad from setting a course for disaster.
“Mia and the Migoo” (eOne, 2008, PG, $19.98, featurettes). A theme similar to “The Lorax” can be found in this fanciful animated tale of a little girl trying to rescue her father and save the ancient Tree of Life in order to benefit her magical forest-spirit friends. A French film dubbed into English in 2011, with voices provided by Whoopi Goldberg, Matthew Modine, James Woods and Wallace Shawn. It's notable for its vibrant colorful design and 2-D animation, being hand-painted instead of computer-generated, a rarity these days.
“The Sinking of the Laconia” (Acorn, 2011, two discs, $39.99, two episodes, featurette). Based on a true story, this harrowing and very well-acted British miniseries tells of the sinking of the title ship during World War II by a German U-boat. But the Laconia was transporting primarily civilians, along with 1,800 Italian POWs, and when the German commander realized it, he mounted a rescue effort. Part 1 is mostly set-up with the most compelling and emotional drama in the second half.
“Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt” (Sony, 2012, $26.99). Tom Selleck returns as Robert Parker’s world-weary small-town New England police chief, back on the job after a brief forced retirement. Low-key, deliberately paced and full of rich characters and meaningful exchanges, with many cast members from previous shows returning (Kathy Baker, William Devane, Stephen McHattie, etc.). A fine antidote to the hyperactive crime shows that dominate television these days.
“Let It Shine: Extended Edition” (Disney, 2012, $26.99, DVD and digital versions, trailers). This Disney TV-movie hip-hop riff on “Cyrano de Bergerac” has Cyrus DeBarge (Tyler James Williams) and pals enter a songwriting contest, and his lyric is aimed at Roxie, the girl he loves from afar. But when his song is attributed to someone else — who takes the credit and nearly wins the girl — Cyrus is too shy to stand up for himself. Will a “battle of the rhymes” save the day?
“Marley” (Magnolia, 2012, PG-13, 29.98, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, trailer). Documentary on Bob Marley is a well-crafted look at the reggae singer and his influence on music history. Includes previously unreleased footage, live performances and music.
“William & Catherine: A Royal Romance” (Lionsgate, 2011, 14.98). Fans of the royals will enjoy this TV movie about the courtship of Prince William (Dan Amboyer) and Kate Middleton (Alice St. Clair). Jane Alexander is Queen Elizabeth II, Victor Garber is Prince Charles and Jean Smart is Camilla Parker Bowles.
“Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale” (Well Go, 2011, $24.98). Most expensive Taiwanese movie ever made is an epic true story of aboriginal tribes that rise up against their Japanese oppressors in 1930 and take them by surprise, only to have the Japanese call upon their military forces to crush the rebellion with modern warfare techniques of the time. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.98, and in a longer “International Edition” in DVD, $29.98, and Blu-ray, $32.98).
“”Knock Knock 2” (Lionsgate, 2011; R for language, violence, featurette, trailers). Another found-footage horror yarn supposes that four 20-something L.A. friends went looking for ghosts at sites of famous celebrity murders, only to disappear, leaving behind a video camera of their exploits.