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The holidays caused a little bit of a snafu with this week’s releases. Don’t feel as if you got scrooged, our The Wolverine review will be up as soon as possible!
Smurfs 2 Blu-ray
Movies geared towards kids need a lot of energy and goofiness, and The Smurfs 2 is not lacking on any of those counts. In typical Smurfs fashion, audiences get plenty of moments filled with the tiny creatures racing through underground tunnels and riding on the backs of beautiful birds. From a child’s perspective, there’s a lot of wonder in the half-filmed and half-animated movie, but that’s not to be confused with imagination.
Raja Gosnell’s movie tells a tale of gentle lessons, of bringing new family members into the fold and placing trust in the people closest to you. As such, it’s not breaking new ground in children’s programming. In many ways, it does the opposite, starting with a dream sequence before jumping into plenty of easy-to-follow one-liners from each of the Smurfs' individual personalities. Like Shrek and nearly every Disney movie that has come before Smurfs 2, the film ends with a celebration, in this case one that is filled with dance moves and a Britney Spears song. First, there are plenty of shenanigans from Gargamel (Hank Azaria), who is still on an endless quest to retrieve Smurf essence.
The Smurfs 2 focuses on Smurfette (Katy Perry), who is worrying about betraying the Smurfs, as well as feeling like a bit of an outcast as the only female in the community. Of course, criminal Gargamel finds her at her most vulnerable, and kidnaps her, introducing the female Smurf to her new family, a set of naughties named Vexy (Christina Ricci) and Hackus (J.B. Smoove), Smurf-like creatures who enjoy causing trouble. The whole gang gets back together to bring Smurfette back home, but the blonde-haired lass is torn between the life she stemmed from as a creation of Gargamel and the life that nurtured her and made her into the person she is.
Life can present plenty of obstacles that bring doubt and fear into a people’s minds. The Smurfs 2 perfectly captures those complicated emotions in a way that should seem reasonable to children, but that doesn’t mean adults will find it quite as compelling.
Best Special Feature: There are a ton of extras available with the Blu-ray set, but there’s really no contest when it comes to bonus features. The best is "The Legend of Smurfy Hollow," an original short film that was given a separate release before Smurfs 2 came out. It’s the extra that should hold your kids attention the most, and it features a story told by Narrator Smurf. It’s a ghost story, so it’s probably a little more appropriate for Halloween than the holiday season, but it’s pretty nice that fans sort-of get a 2 for one deal with the set, and it offers original animation to boot.
On a side note, the deleted scenes are actually shot or animated on the disc, so they are a lot better than the drawn fodder that most animated movies offer.
Other Special Features:
"Daddy’s Little Girl: The Journey of Smurfette"
"The Naughties! The Tale of Hackus and Vexy"
"The Puurrfect Companion: Azrael’s Tale"
"Evolution of The Naughties"
Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-3 – Collector’s Set Blu-ray
The various Duck Dynasty DVDs and Blu-rays already on the market have sold well. As such, there’s a good chance that fans of A&E’s series have already purchased a season or two of the reality series, but those who haven't yet may want to nab a copy of the Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-3 – Collector’s Set. The definitive collection boasts all 41 episodes from the aforementioned seasons, 70 minutes of bonus footage, and even a few brand new extras for fans.
If you pick up the Collector’s Set, you’ll notice pretty thick packaging for what amounts to a six-disc set. Further investigation should yield a pretty slick duck camouflage bandana that can presumably be worn as a fashion statement or as actual hunting camouflage. Let’s delve into the set, though, because that’s where most of the actual goodies are.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment actually put some serious effort into the Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-3 set. Each season has been split onto two discs, and one disc from each season offers bonus features. Additionally, instead of throwing together a set made up of random Blu-ray copies of each season, each disc has been labeled and numbered as part of the Collector’s Set. It’s the details that really matter to fans, and this endeavor doesn’t disappoint.
Still, the Duck Dynasty clan's loud personalities may not be for everyone. Uncle Si gets up to wild antics across the three seasons and during several webisodes, and one memorable deleted scene is chock full of teens farting. Regardless, the situational humor is often golden. In one bonus extra, Miss Kay and Phil stop at a roadside stand with fresh produce. While Phil waxes on and on about how he doesn’t understand women, Miss Kay is pretending to be into fruit so that she can sneakily get directions to the highway, which Phil refuses to do.
Plenty of "unknown facts" about the clan and other interviews abound in the bonus features, and there should be some extra stuff for fans who have even purchased the shows on DVD in the past. The Blu-ray picture certainly isn’t a necessity, but it’s nicer than the DVD fodder. All in all, if you have a Duck Dynasty lover in your family, you can’t go wrong with the Collector’s Set.
You can order the Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-3 – Collectors Set over at Amazon. If you are holding out for the Season 4 release, you can read more about it, here.
List of Extras:
"The Duck Dynasty Phenomenon"
Amanda Ryan Song Recaps
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Blu-ray
Cassandra Clare’s young adult fiction is heavy on the mythology, telling the tale of a young woman named Clary who learns her life as a normal teenaged girl is not so normal after all after a chance encounter with a vampire and team of teen fighters known as Shadowhunters. While the supernatural component, the popularity of the Young Adult novel, and the talented young cast paved the way for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones to be the next big film franchise, the cards didn’t play out that way. While the movie offers an easy plot and a few characters worth knowing, it frequently delves into Twilight-quality romance—with fewer vampires.
You can order The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones over at Amazon.
Other December 3 releases:
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Boston Red Sox 2013 World Series: Collector’s Edition
Good Ol’ Freda
Inch’ Allah DVD
Casting Me DVD
Things Never Said DVD
Smash & Grab
Hot in Cleveland: Season 4 DVD
The Simpsons: Season 16
Argo: The Declassified Extended Edition Blu-ray