It’s funny to think how vastly different Seth MacFarlane’s life would be right now had “Family Guy” not been revived from the dead. FOX would have never offered him a multi-million dollar development deal and a big chunk of their Sunday night primetime block, and he certainly wouldn’t have had the commercial backing from a company like Burger King to launch his own online series, “Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy.” Unfortunately, if there’s any indication that MacFarlane might be losing his comedic edge, this is it. While the collection of animated shorts is presented in the same vein as the cutaways from “Family Guy,” they mostly just feel like B-sides that never made the final cut. There are a few really good ones in the group (Wile E. Coyote finds Jesus after finally killing the Road Runner, Mario’s advances are squashed by the Princess, and Bob Dylan gets into a mumble fight with Tom Waits and Popeye backstage at his concert), but a majority of them are only giggle worthy. The shorts themselves are pretty harmless on their own, but when viewed in one sitting, they don’t work quite as well. Plus, the idea of having to pay for something that you can watch for free online is a pretty ridiculous concept, so unless you pray at the altar of MacFarlane, you’d be better off watching it the way it was meant to be seen.
Click to buy “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy”
It’s been awhile since my last Blu-ray column (two weeks ago, I attended a brand retreat in Walt Disney World with Hanes and returned with a non-swine flu), but luckily, I didn’t miss too much. In fact, with the exception of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (which you should definitely pick up, by the way), there were no other major releases last week. This week is a different story, however, with a few A-list titles, a slew of movies from the Paramount and MGM vaults, and an awesome collection that sci-fi fans are going to want to check out.
“Taken” (20th Century Fox)
By far the biggest surprise of the year, Pierre Morel’s “Taken” is a good old fashioned action thriller that doesn’t waste a single minute on pointless exposition or silly subplots. Liam Neeson is excellent as the Jack Bauer-type who jets off to Paris when his teenage daughter is kidnapped by human traffickers, and then proceeds to kick the ass of each and every person involved until there’s no one else left to punish. Though I’ve yet to actually check out the extras on the Blu-ray release, the U.K. edition sported some pretty cool bonus material including a picture-in-picture geographical locator, a making-of featurette, and side-by-side comparisons for six of the film’s key sequences. I’d expect the U.S. version to feature the same, but here’s hoping we get a few exclusives as well.
“Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection” (Paramount)
With J.J. Abrams’ big screen reboot of the sci-fi classic tearing up the box office in its first week in theaters, it’s really no surprise that Paramount would want to take advantage of the hype train by releasing all six of the original “Star Trek” films on Blu-ray for the first time. As we’ve already seen from the Season One release, however, Paramount’s HD reissues are more than quick cash grabs, but rather serious undertakings meant to please the most loyal of fans. The same appears to be true of the “Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection,” a seven-disc box set that includes remastered editions of all six movies (sorry, no director cuts this time around) and an additional disc of bonus material entitled The Captain’s Summit. Suffice it to say, this is a no-brainer Day One purchase for any real “Trek” fan, but at such a great price ($79.99 on Amazon), I’d even say it’s worth it for the casual fan as well.
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