‘Catwoman: Hunted’ Animated Movie Bowing Feb. 8

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Catwoman: Hunted for digital purchase and on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 8.

The ‘PG-13’ film finds Catwoman (Elizabeth Gillies) attempting to steal a priceless jewel, putting her squarely in the crosshairs of both a powerful consortium of villains and the ever-resourceful Interpol, not to mention Batwoman (Stephanie Beatriz). The voice cast also includes Jonathan Banks as Black Mask, Steve Blum as Solomon Grundy, Lauren Cohan as Julia Pennyworth, Keith David as Tobias Whale, Zehra Fazal as Talia al Ghul and Nosferata, Jonathan Frakes as King Faraday and Boss Moxie, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Barbara Minerva/Cheetah, Kelly Hu as Cheshire, Andrew Kishino as Mr. Yakuza and Domino 6, Eric Lopez as Domino 1, Jacqueline Obradors as La Dama, and Ron Yuan as Doctor Tzin.

Extras include the featurettes “When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted,” about the backstory of the films’ villains, and “Catwoman: The Feline Femme Fatale,” about Catwoman’s history.

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Catwoman: Hunted kicks off a 2022 DC animated slate that also includes Green Lantern: Beware My Power and Battle of the Super Sons, as well as a film for younger fans, Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse. The year will also see the presentation of DC Showcase — Constantine: House of Mystery, a new compilation of animated shorts; and the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Batman: The Long Halloween — Deluxe Edition, which combines the two parts previously released on Blu-ray.

Warner Releasing 10th Anniversary Commemorative Edition of Animated Movie ‘Batman: Year One’

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will re-release 2011’s Batman: Year One Nov. 9 in a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition and for digital purchase to mark the 10th anniversary of the animated film.

Batman: Year One — Commemorative Edition will include a fully remastered version of the film with a new bonus featurette, “Reinventing Gordon.” The film makes its 4K debut in a combo pack with a 4K disc with HDR, a regular Blu-ray and a digital copy.

Based on DC Comics’ 1987 miniseries written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, the film depicts young Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham City in his first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed superhero. The playboy billionaire chooses the guise of a giant bat to combat crime, creates an early bond with a young police lieutenant named James Gordon by helping his fight against corruption within the police department, inadvertently plays a role in the birth of Catwoman, and helps to bring down a crooked political system that infests Gotham City.

The voice cast is led by Bryan Cranston as James Gordon, with Bruce Wayne/Batman voiced by Ben McKenzie (who himself would go on to play a young Gordon on the TV series “Gotham”). Other voices include Eliza Dushku as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Katee Sackhof as Det. Sarah Essen, the late Alex Rocco as crime lord Carmine Falcone, the late Jon Polito as Commissioner Loeb, Jeff Bennett as Alfred, Grey Griffin as Barbara Gordon and Vicki Vale, Robin Atkin Downes as Harvey Dent, Keith Ferguson as Jefferson Skeevers, Fred Tatasciore as Detective Flass, Stephen Root as Brendon, Liliana Mumy as Holly, and Nick Jameson as Merkel.

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The “Reinventing Gordon” featurette, which examines the history of James Gordon through comics, animation and feature films, will be previewed at the DC Fandome fan event Oct. 16.

The Batman: Year One — Commemorative Edition combo pack will also include extras from the original 2011 Blu-ray release such as an audio commentary; “Conversations With DC Comics,” in which the DC Comics creative team discusses the influence of Batman: Year One; the featurette “Heart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to His Roots,” a documentary about Miller’s work with Batman from The Dark Knight Returns to Batman: Year One; and the DC Showcase animated short Catwoman.

The 4K set will also include featurettes about other recent DC animated movies, including Batman: Soul of the Dragon, and Batman: The Long Halloween parts one and two.

Animated DC Comics Movie ‘Injustice’ Slated for Blu-ray and Digital Release Oct. 19

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the newest DC Universe animated movie, Injustice, on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and via digital sellthrough Oct. 19.

Inspired by the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game and the Injustice: Gods Among Us — Year One graphic novel based on it, the film is set in an alternate world gone mad, where The Joker has duped Superman into killing Lois Lane, sending the Man of Steel on a deadly rampage. Unhinged, Superman decides to take control of the Earth for humanity’s own good. Determined to stop him, Batman creates a team of like-minded, freedom-fighting heroes, leading to an all-out superhero war.

Justin Hartley of “This Is Us” provides the voice of Superman, returning to the DC realm after playing Green Arrow on “Smallville.” Anson Mount of “Star Trek: Discovery” voices Batman. The voice cast also includes Janet Varney as Wonder Woman; Brandon Micheal Hall as Cyborg; Kevin Pollak as Joker and Jonathan Kent; Anika Noni Rose as Catwoman; Reid Scott as Green Arrow and Victor Zsasz; Edwin Hodge as Mr. Terrific and Killer Croc; Gillian Jacobs as Harley Quinn; Oliver Hudson as Plastic Man; Laura Bailey as Lois Lane and Rama Kushna; Faran Tahir as Ra’s al Ghul; Derek Phillips as Nightwing and Aquaman; Yuri Lowenthal as Mirror Master, Flash and Shazam; Zach Callison as Damian and Jimmy Olsen; Brian T. Delaney as Green Lantern; Fred Tatasciore as Captain Atom; and Andrew Morgado as Mirror Master Soldier.

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The film is rated ‘R’ for bloody violence.

The Injustice 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack includes the film on a 4K disc with HDR and on a regular Blu-ray. Both the 4K and Blu-ray editions include a digital copy.

Extras include the making-of featurette “Adventures in Storytelling – Injustice: Crisis and Conflict,” plus the “Injustice for All” two-parter from the “Justice League” cartoon that aired in 2002, and featurettes about previously released DC movies The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen.

A sneak peek of Injustice will be available at the DC FanDome virtual event Oct. 16.

 

The Transformers: The Movie — 35th Anniversary Edition

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Shout! Factory;
Animated;
$29.98 UHD BD Steelbook;
Rated ‘PG’;
Voices of Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, Lionel Stander, Eric Idle, Orson Welles, Susan Blu, Neil Ross, John Moschitta Jr., Gregg Berger, Corey Burton, Frank Welker, Peter Cullen.

Loaded with some great retrospectives and a beautiful 4K transfer, Shout! Factory’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of the 1986 animated “Transformers” movie is quite a revelation that should excite fans of the franchise, especially those who prefer the classic animated series to Michael Bay’s live-action versions.

In two seasons of the original “Transformers” cartoon based on the popular Hasbro toy line, none of the characters ever died as a result of the never-ending war between the Autobots and Decepticons. They could be severely damaged, but were quickly repaired. At the end of the first season, the entire Decepticon faction fell into a pit of lava, only to be back at full strength without explanation at the start of the next season.

Suffice it to say, storytelling sophistication isn’t one of the prime requirements for a show designed to showcase toys to kids, even though the adventures seemed like fantastic entertainment to their core audience.

So it was quite a shock when The Transformers: The Movie hit theaters in 1986 and spent the first third of its running time wiping out most of the original toy line. In fact, some kids were absolutely traumatized by the infamous death of the beloved Autobot leader Optimus Prime, so much so that Hasbro and Sunbow Productions had to revise plans in the following year’s G.I. Joe: The Movie to kill off Duke (a plot point not enacted on screen until 2013’s live-action G.I. Joe: Retaliation).

By eliminating its older characters to introduce characters from the new toy line, The Transformers: The Movie essentially serves a pilot for the show’s third season, which kicked off about a month after the film hit theaters.

As obvious as the commercial reasons were for swapping out the characters, the fact that a kid’s show was willing to brutally kill off so much of its cast on-screen, including its most popular character, actually made it seem edgy. Contributing to this reputation is the fact that this is an animated movie in which several characters use swear words in a way the show would never have gotten away with.

On top of that, the animation is beautiful, a budgetary step up from a cartoon series that was already visually distinctive. It’s easy to see why the animated movie remains a favorite among “Transformers” in an era of live-action adaptations that seem to sideline the characters in favor of relentless action scenes.

The Transformers: The Movie has received several home video releases through the years, with Shout! Factory, which has released most of the “Transformers” TV shows on DVD the past few years, giving the film a long-awaited U.S. Blu-ray release in 2016 for its 30th anniversary.

For its 35th anniversary, the film has received a new, pristine 4K transfer of the film, which is certainly a definitive presentation. While there are some flaws in the print, it’s clear these are the result of the original animation and film elements, and not part of the remastering process (though high-def tends to make them a bit more noticeable; the introduction of Hot Rod and Daniel has been noticeably blurry in every single home release of the film dating back to VHS).

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Shout! Factory’s new 35th anniversary Steelbook 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack (4K and regular Blu-ray combo packs in standard packaging will arrive Sept. 28) includes two discs. One offers the film in 4K resolution with HDR in the 1.85:1 widescreen ratio common to movie theaters and HDTVs. The other disc has the film in the 4:3 format of old televisions.

The film was actually animated with television in mind and then cropped for movie theaters, so the 4:3 presentation actually provides more of the overall image, though it’s not as if anything important was cropped out.

The movie is rather notorious for being the final film recorded by Orson Welles, who died five days after his final voice session (and about 10 months before the film’s debut), after complaining to his biographer that he was “playing a toy in a movie about toys who do horrible things to each other.”

Welles played Unicron, the planet-sized Transformer now considered a seminal figure in “Transformers” lore, and the bad guy that didn’t make it into the Michael Bay movies until 2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight. (And to Welles’ point about playing a toy, the planned Unicron movie toy was canceled due to cost and production issues, and the character wouldn’t have a toy released at retail until 2003; Hasbro this year released a deluxe giant Unicron collectible that it crowdfunded at nearly $600 per pledge).

While the film is better known for its association with Welles, it was also the final film for Scatman Crothers, who voiced Autobot Jazz throughout the show’s run. (Interestingly enough, while Jazz is one of the few original characters to survive this film, he’s actually the only Autobot who doesn’t survive the first movie of Michael Bay’s live-action franchise that debuted in 2007.)

The other major contribution to the film’s legacy is its music: Vince DiCola provides the score following his work on Rocky IV, while Stan Bush’s song “The Touch” (originally written for the movie Cobra) has practically become an anthem for the franchise (though it didn’t make it into a live-action “Transformers” movie until 2018’s Bumblebee).

Non-“Transformers” fans might recognize “The Touch” as the song mangled by Mark Wahlberg’s Dirk Diggler character in Boogie Nights that he records for his attempted post-porn career debut album (and possibly implied, within the world of the film, to have been written by John C. Reilly’s Reed Rothchild character, mentioned early in the film to be an aspiring songwriter).

DiCola and Bush are among the many talking heads reflecting on the film in “’Til All Are One,” the 46-minute retrospective documentary made for the 2016 release that carries over here. The piece also includes fascinating anecdotes from several of the film’s voice cast and production team, who are quite up front about the series’ origins as a not-too-subtle toy commercial.

Carried over from the Sony BMG 20th anniversary DVD are the feature commentary with director Nelson Shin, story consultant Flint Dille and voice actress Susan Blu (Arcee); and the featurettes “The Death of Optimus Prime” and “Transformers Q&A.” These were on the 2016 Blu-ray as well.

The Blu-ray also includes previously released trailers and TV spots.

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New to the 2021 edition is a feature-length storyboard version of the movie, using the original storyboard sketches assembled to match the audio of the film. Presented separately are a number of deleted sequences presented in storyboard form, with clips from the movie spliced in to show where the scenes would have gone in the final film.

The 2016 Blu-ray had just a couple of storyboard sequences. The extended storyboard fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron from the 2016 version is presented in the deleted scenes on the 2021 version, with a few modifications. Where the 2016 version was all storyboards, with film audio for the parts that made it into the final version and music for the deleted parts, the new version splices actual film clips in between the deleted storyboards, which are presented in silence.

There’s also a gallery of new character artwork by Matt Ferguson, for the promotional art of the new Blu-ray.

Finally, the 10-minute featurette about Stan Bush, including acoustic performances of “The Touch” and “Dare,” and produced for the 2016 Fathom events theatrical re-release, is included on the new Blu-ray.

All the extras are contained on the regular Blu-ray disc in the combo pack. The 4K disc includes just the commentary.

Legacy extras that were on the 2016 Blu-ray but have been dropped for the new version include the “Cast & Characters” featurette from the old Sony DVD, plus featurettes about the 2016 restoration and box art.

The Steelbook package also includes four cards containing scene stills from the film.

‘Night of the Animated Dead’ Slated for Digital Release Sept. 21, Disc Oct. 5

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Night of the Animated Dead through digital retailers Sept. 21, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 5.

An animated reimagining of George A. Romero’s 1968 horror classic Night of the Living Dead, Animated Dead includes exclusive scenes not included in the original film. The voice cast includes Josh Duhamel, Dulé Hill, Katharine Isabelle, James Roday Rodriguez, Katee Sackhoff, Will Sasso, Jimmi Simpson and Nancy Travis.

The story involves a group of strangers in Pennsylvania taking refuge in an abandoned farmhouse during a zombie attack. Together, the group must fight to stay alive against the oncoming horde of zombies while also confronting their own fears and prejudices.

Bonus features include a “Making of the Animated Dead” featurette in which director Jason Axinn and producer Michael Luisi discuss the process of honoring the iconic classic with their vision for an animated remake, including scene breakdowns and booth recordings with the cast.

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‘Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two’ Set for Digital Release July 27, Blu-ray Aug. 10

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two for digital purchase July 27 and on Blu-ray Disc Aug. 10.

The film continues the storyline from Part One, due June 22, which is based on the 1996-97 comic book storyline that takes place early in Batman’s vigilante career, as the young crimefighter forms a pact with the city’s only two uncorrupt lawmen, police Capt. James Gordon and DA Harvey Dent, to take down organized crime in Gotham City, only to be tested by a serial killer who murders his victims on holidays throughout the year.

The voice cast includes Jensen Ackles as Batman, Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent, Billy Burke as Jim Gordon, Katee Sackhoff as Poison Ivy, Titus Welliver as Carmine Falcone, David Dastmalchian as Calendar Man, Troy Baker as Joker, Amy Landecker as Barbara Gordon, Julie Nathanson as Gilda Dent, Fred Tatasciore as Solomon Grundy, Jim Pirri as Sal Maroni, Alastair Duncan as Alfred, and the late Naya Rivera as Catwoman in one of her final performances, recorded before her death in 2020.

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A 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Batman: The Long Halloween will arrive in 2022 with both parts combined into a longer film.

The Part Two Blu-ray and digital edition (through participating retailers) will also include the DC Showcase animated short film Blue Beetle, a 1960s cartoon throwback with the Silver Age Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, teaming with fellow superheroes Captain Atom, The Question and Nightshade to battle Doctor Spectro.

Other extras include a preview of the next DC Animated movie, Injustice, and the “Two-Face” two-parter from “Batman: The Animated Series.”

The film is rated ‘R’ for some violence and bloody images.

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First Part of Animated ‘Batman: The Long Halloween’ Arrives June 22

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment June 22 will release Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One on Blu-ray Disc and via digital purchase.

The newest entry in the DC Universe animated movie franchise is based on the 1996-97 comic book storyline that takes place early in Batman’s vigilante career, as the young crimefighter forms a pact with the city’s only two uncorrupt lawmen, police Capt. James Gordon and DA Harvey Dent, to take down organized crime in Gotham City, only to be tested by a serial killer who murders his victims on holidays throughout the year.

The voice cast includes Jensen Ackles as Batman, Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent, Billy Burke as Jim Gordon, Titus Welliver as Carmine Falcone, David Dastmalchian as Calendar Man, Troy Baker as Joker, Amy Landecker as Barbara Gordon, Julie Nathanson as Gilda Dent, Jack Quaid as Alberto, Fred Tatasciore as Solomon Grundy, Jim Pirri as Sal Maroni, Alastair Duncan as Alfred, and the late Naya Rivera as Catwoman in one of her final performances, recorded before her death in 2020.

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The adaptation will be broken into two parts, with the second half released at a later date. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Batman: The Long Halloween will arrive in 2022 with both parts combined into a longer film.

The Part One Blu-ray and digital edition (through participating retailers) will also include the DC Showcase animated short film The Losers, about a rag-tag team of World War II outcasts who find themselves marooned on an uncharted island in the South Pacific that is completely overrun with dinosaurs.

Other extras include a preview of Part Two, and two episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series” — “Christmas With the Joker” and “It’s Never Too Late.”

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The film is rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, bloody images, language and some smoking.

Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One will available through Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles, starting July 6.

‘The Croods: A New Age’ Available Digitally Feb. 9, on Disc Feb. 23

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release The Croods: A New Age through digital retailers Feb. 9, followed by a Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc release Feb. 23.

The DreamWorks Animation film, a sequel to 2013’s The Croods, finds the first prehistoric family facing a new challenge when they encounter a walled-in paradise created by the sophisticated Betterman family. As they try to coexist, the differences between the two families escalate into a full-blown feud, until a new threat forces them to work together.

The voice cast includes Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, Peter Dinklage, Kelly Marie Tran and Leslie Mann.

The film earned $43.9 million at the domestic box office.

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The disc and digital versions (depending on retailer) will include the exclusive short films Dear Diary: World’s First Pranks and Family Movie Night: Little Red Bronana Bread.

Other bonus materials include filmmaker commentary, deleted scenes, a gag reel, and several behind-the-scenes featurettes:

  • “The Croods’ Family Album” — A look at the actors who voice the Croods and Bettermans;
  • “The Evolution Of …” — A discussion about growing the franchise with the cast and filmmakers;
  • “How to Draw: Caveman Style” — a DreamWorks illustrator demonstrates how to draw one of the characters;
  • “Famileaf Album” — Fans can learn to create their own unique family album using real leaves or green construction paper for pages, and string (or dental floss) to hold it all together;
  • “Stone Age Attack” — A three-part featurette highlighting recipes that kids and parents can make together.

 

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Shout! Kids Releasing Animated ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Great Escape’ March 23, 2021

Shout! Factory will release the animated movie Sherlock Holmes and the Great Escape on DVD and digital platforms March 23, 2021, through its Shout! Kids imprint.

The movie presents all the characters as animals, with Holmes as a dog and Watson as a cat.

In the late 19th century, Mack, a heroic outlaw who stole from the rich to give to the poor, was loved and respected by the people. When the world’s greatest dog-tective, Sherlock Holmes, assisted in catching Mack, the people were angry with him for arresting their hero. But four years later, Mack has escaped from prison. While Sherlock is on the case to recapture Mack, he discovers the heartbreaking reason behind the outlaw’s escape, and decides to let him fulfill his final wish before Mack’s voluntary surrender to the police. However, everyone’s plans change when Mack’s daughter is kidnapped. Sherlock must employ all his wits if he is to rescue Mack’s daughter and save the day.

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‘Scooby-Doo’ Goes Medieval in New Movie

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the new animated movie Scooby-Doo! — The Sword and the Scoob on DVD and through digital retailers Feb. 23, 2021.

The latest direct-to-video “Scooby-Doo!” adventure finds the Mystery Inc. gang transported to Camelot during the Middle Ages, where they meet King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. When an evil sorceress tries to seize power, King Arthur turns to the super-sleuth team for help to save his throne.

Voices include Frank Welker as Scooby-Doo/Fred Jones, Grey Griffin as Daphne Blake, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy Rogers and Kate Micucci as Velma Dinkley. The film also features Jason Isaacs as King Arthur Pendragon and Nick Frost as Merlin.

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