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The Shelf: “Robot Chicken DC Special,” “Wolverine: Origin,” “The Host”

Shelf July 9th

This week’s Blu-ray and DVD releases consist of aliens, superheroes, hitmen, armed robbers, and college admissions agents. Sounds intriguing, don’t it?

Robot Chicken DC Comics Special

Robot Chicken, Adult Swim’s long-running, uber-quick, stop-motion-animated sketch comedy show, has tackled and conquered the Star Wars realm with its series of successful specials, and now they’ve turned their attention to DC Comics and its vast array of characters. In general, this special mostly pokes fun at the Justice League and specifically the Super Friends TV program of the ’70s and ’80s. Lots of jokes pertain to the Legion of Doom being stupid, Batman continually getting his back broken by Bane, and the ways in which Aquaman is shunned by everybody. As with Star Wars, the comedy comes from the love the show’s creators have for the source material. Hell, DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns is a writer on the special. Guest actors include Nathan Fillion, Neil Patrick Harris, and, notably, Alfred Molina.

Generally, putting a Blu-ray out for a single 23-minute episode would be a bit silly, but the Robot Chicken folks jam pack it with over two hours of bonus features, including two commentary tracks, a making-of, a tour of DC Entertainment, 13 unfilmed animatics, tons of outtakes, and more. It’s a very funny special, and that’s just the tip of the disc’s entertainment iceberg.

Wolverine: Origin

Never been a huge fan of motion comics, but this one stands out because the story is so good. Based on the 2001-2002 miniseries written by Paul Jenkins, Bill Jemas, and Joe Quesada with art by Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove, this motion comic does exactly what it says on the tin: give us the untold beginnings of the most mysterious person in the Marvel Universe, the man they call Logan/Weapon-X/Wolverine. The story starts with him as a child through trauma and having to take to the road when his powers reveal themselves. Told through the eyes of a red-headed Irish lass named Rose, it’s a rather heartbreaking story of love, loss, madness, and violence, but what would you expect from a guy who’s known for having berserker rage?

The story is only a little over an hour long, but there are two very nice featurettes about the writing and art of the comic. It’s not absolutely essential viewing, but it’s very well done and the price is about what you’d hope for something like this.

The Host

Having written and directed a series of interesting if not always successful movies like Gattaca, S1m0ne, Lord of War, and In Time, Andrew Niccol seemed an interesting choice to helm the film adaptation of author Stephenie Meyer’s alien-invasion-cum-love-story, The Host. But, I suppose, it’s no more interesting (or peculiar) than Bill Condon directing the final two Twilight movies. This one concerns the world having been taken over by an unseen alien force that uses the bodies of humans as host organisms, and a teenage girl (played by Saoirse Ronan) who manages to remain in her brain and become a sort of second personality along with Wanderer, her alien soul. She then has to try to reunite with her family and boyfriend while not allowing the other aliens to find out where the last remaining humans are. Love conquers all, yo.

This isn’t a terrible movie, but it’s also not a particularly good one. It’s a weird choice to adapt a book in which most of the conflict happens within a person’s own mind, but Twilight made a gazillion dollars, so why not try this one, too? Ronan is a very good actress and manages to ground what is otherwise a pretty nuts premise, but it’s a teen romance movie with sci-fi elements and not a sci-fi movie, so there’s lots of cavorting in the rain and long, meaningful stares. If this is your thing, then you’ll probably like it.

The extras include a making-of, deleted scenes, and a commentary by Meyer, Niccol, and producer Nick Wechsler. There’s little doubt from this track whose movie it is.

ALSO AVAILABLE

The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air – The first season of Nickelodeon’s excellent Avatar: The Last Airbender spinoff, starring The JV Club‘s own Janet Varney.

Warehouse 13 – Season Four – Syfy’s incredibly enjoyable, funnier, more artifact-filled X-Files show.

Admission – Romantic comedy with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. Could you love either of them any more?

Spring Breakers – Bikini-clad girls work for corn-rowed James Franco and have a pretty debauched time.

Dead Man Down – Noomi Rapace witnesses Colin Farrell killing a guy and gets him to kill someone for her. Terrence Howard is most displeased.

Cohen & Tate – Roy Scheider and Adam Baldwin are rival hitmen forced to team up. Guess which one is the crazier one. (Hint: It may surprise you.)

Hands of the Ripper – Late-Hammer Horror movie in which a girl’s subconscious memories lead her to have murderous impulses just like her father – Jack the Ripper.

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