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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Literature > Mythology > Fantasy > Musical > Comedy > Action > Adventure > Superhero > Toys > Dogs > Grendel, Grendel, Grendel (1980/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD)/LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Vs. Bizarro League (2015/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/101 Dalmatians: Diamond Edition (1961/Di

Grendel, Grendel, Grendel (1980/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD)/LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Vs. Bizarro League (2015/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/101 Dalmatians: Diamond Edition (1961/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: C+/B & C+/B & C+ Sound: C/B & C+/B & C+ Extras: D/C+/B- Main Programs: B-/C+/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Grendel Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on DVD players that can handle PAL DVD and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's three very different animated releases you should know about....

Alexander Stitt's Grendel, Grendel, Grendel (1980) is a rare animated feature film from Australia made in the style of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine (1968, reviewed elsewhere on this site) telling an alternate version of the Beowulf & Grendel tale, yet despite choosing and sticking to that style, it is superior to the disappointing motion capture CGI version Robert Zemeckis made a few years ago (reviewed elsewhere on this site) that dragged on and on and on and on, as well as a live action version with Gerard Butler that has nearly developed a cult of sorts, but one we were not impressed with as this link will confirm...


This one has several songs too that may not be particularly strong on their own, but are smart in adding up to the sometimes surreal narrative they tell. Peter Ustinov (between his Poirot feature films) voices the title character, joined in equally effective, fun voicing by Keith Mitchell, Arthur Dignam (as Beowulf the Dragon), Ed Rosser, Ric Stone and Julie McKenna among others. An interesting twists here is that the script is also based on a Grendel novel and not just the Beowulf poem. This is well done and I don't know why it was not a bigger hit or rediscovered by now, but this DVD is a good start. Stitt made another animated feature a few years later in Abra Cadabra, which I now want to see after this one.

Recommended, but there are sadly no extras.

Brandon Vietti's LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Vs. Bizarro League (2015) is a comical, if rather short 49 minutes program that has the major DC heroes taking on humorous Bizarro-created clones of each of them in what is somewhat of a one-joke narrative, but it is amusing while you watch. Too bad it is not longer and does not offer more, yet the makers knew the limits and apparently quit while they were ahead.

Anyone expecting realism from this one can forget it. This is for a child-safe audience, yet the whole family can enjoy it. It is a nice companion to The LEGO Movie (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) and other DC/LEGO releases now and to come, but there's not much more here. I do think youngsters will find rewatchability to it, but older viewers likely will not.

Extras in this compact gift packaging include a Batman Bizarro LEGO figure, plus Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the discs add Be-Leaguered bloopers, Me Am Bizarro!: League Of Opposites featurette and a Batman: Be-Leaguered TV special.

Disney's original, animated 101 Dalmatians (1961) is finally hitting Blu-ray in a new Diamond Edition, including the DVD we reviewed years ago at this link:


At this point, even the Disney Company had to cave into the rising costs of animation and with Sleeping Beauty not being the outright blockbuster the studio (and animation fans) had hoped for, a new approach was needed at the time to cut costs on production. To save on animation and labor, xeroxing of cells was introduced, which also saved some production time. The film lands up being a mix of the lesser style of TV animation of the time with still comparatively more money in the production that often sports the style of the art of Jazz record covers. The result was a hit that kept the company going and was later remade in two live-action film versions (reviewed elsewhere on this site).

Extras include those from the DVD we covered, Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds DisneyView interactive features, a black and white TV version dubbed 'The Best Doggone Dog In The World' in 1.33 X 1 framing, Lucky Dogs featurette in which Disney people discuss the film, Cameron Boyce yells at us about the film in Dalmatians 101 so we can know the film is important (!?!) and we get a new animated short The Further Adventures Of Thunderbolt.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 image on Grendel is from a decent print and though this transfer is a little soft, there are some fine shots and the color range is impressive throughout, meaning a Blu-ray should be a knockout.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on LEGO is a nice, clean, consistent enough digital production as smooth as previous DC Comics/LEGO releases, though the DVD version is a bit soft, especially as compared to the Blu-ray which has superior color range.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Dalmatians can show the age of the materials used a bit, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and though we get more than our share of monochromatic color to suit the dogs, the film was originally issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints and you can see how good that would look often throughout, so it looks as good as the film has in a long time. The 1.33 X 1 DVD repeats the older DVD, which I always thought was a bit soft and is passable at best.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Grendel is a little on the weak side with a low level of audio transfer, so be careful of volume switching, as well as expecting some background hiss an other signs of age.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on LEGO is the one new recording here and is the most dynamic, if not the sonic blast of The LEGO Movie with a consistent soundfield throughout and good recording of all elements. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD lacks the warmth, depth and soundfield of the DTS-MA.

Dalmatians has a new upgraded sound mix, but the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 choice just spreads the original theatrical monophonic sound around way too much, watering it down and thinning it out too much, so I actually recommend the superior DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 lossless Mono mix that really shows off how well recorded and mixed the film was for its time. The lossy Dolby Digital choices on the previously released DVD pale in comparison to that warm DTS-MA Mono mix.

To order either of the Grendel Umbrella import DVD, go to this link for it and other hard-to-find releases:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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