Dvd Check

DVD CHECK

April 05, 2007

Happy Feet

[Warner] $29

Australian George Miller's quirky dancing-and-singing penguin film, Happy Feet, won the Oscar in February for best animated feature, beating the favorite, Cars.

But the extras on the digital edition won't be winning any awards for creativity. The best added feature is a vintage Technicolor cartoon from the 1930s, I Love to Singa, about a baby owl who wants to sing swing, much to the dismay of his classically trained parents.

Other bonuses include two short new animated sequences, "A Happy Feet Moment" (literally) and the bittersweet "Mumble Meets a Blue Whale," featuring the voice of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, as an albatross, with an introduction by Miller. Rounding out the disc is a short but concise dancing lesson with Savion Glover, who provided the dancing for the little hero, Mumble.

Children of Men

[Universal] $29

Alfonso Cuaron's audacious Children of Men was also a major Academy Award contender, receiving nominations for cinematography, adapted screenplay and cinematography. Based on a 1993 novel by mystery writer P.D. James, the harrowing thriller is set in a bleakly chaotic world of 2027 in which no children have been born in nearly two decades - until a young woman becomes miraculously pregnant. Clive Owen stars as a world-weary government clerk who agrees to take the young woman and infant to safety.

Though there is no commentary from Cuaron, the disc includes several deleted scenes, a look at the remarkable production design, as well as how a riveting scene set in a car was filmed, plus a mini-documentary on the visual effects used to create the baby. Rounding out the disc are comments by philosopher Slavoj Zizek.

The Pursuit of Happyness

[Sony] $29

Will Smith received his second Academy Award nomination for best actor for his moving turn in The Pursuit of Happyness. Inspired by a true story, Smith plays a single dad named Chris Gardner who struggles to make a good life for himself and his young son (played by the actor's son, Jaden).

Among the enjoyable features is the commentary from the disarming Italian director Gabriele Muccino. The filmmaker is also front and center in the above-average making-of documentary. There's also a conversation with the real Gardner.

The Judi Dench Collection

[BBC Video] $100

This package features the Oscar-winning British actress in several of her acclaimed TV appearances, including the 1962 and 1981 productions of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, the four-part 1966 drama Talking to a Stranger and 1990's Can You Hear Me Thinking?, in which she co-stars with her husband, Michael Williams, who died in 2001. [LOS ANGELES TIMES]

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