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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Animation > Drama > Comedy > Animals > Horror > Satire > CGI > > TV > Anime > Japa > Batman: Death In The Family (DC Comics/Interactive Blu-ray*)/Cats & Dogs 3: Paws United (Blu-ray w/DVD*)/Happy Halloween Scooby-Doo! (DVD/*all 2020/Warner)/Sea Level (2011)/Sea Level 2 (2020/Lionsgate

Batman: Death In The Family (DC Comics/Interactive Blu-ray*)/Cats & Dogs 3: Paws United (Blu-ray w/DVD*)/Happy Halloween Scooby-Doo! (DVD/*all 2020/Warner)/Sea Level (2011)/Sea Level 2 (2020/Lionsgate DVD)/Space Ghost & Dino Boy: The Complete Series (1966/Warner Archive Blu-ray Set)/Wasteful Days Of High School Girl: Complete Collection (2019/Sentai Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Space Ghost & Dino Boy Blu-ray set is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Now for more family releases, even if some are not for younger viewers...

We start with Batman: Death In The Family (2020) based on the infamous comic book run where fans (pre-internet) phoned one of two phone numbers to decide if a new version of Robin should be killed by The Joker or live. In one of the lowest points in comic fan history, they voted to have him killed. Warner has decided to this adaptation as an interactive Blu-ray where the viewer can choose at several intervals, what happened next. Even DVD had some of this capacity, but that it took any company 14 years or so to do this with the format is strange.

However, this works nicely and is a nice change-of-pace for animated DC Universe releases and something they and many others ought to try out again soon. Of course, this allows the company to sidestep some of the morbidity of the original comic book. Otherwise, this is actually one of the better animated DC releases of late and well done.

Extras include Digital Copy, four Showcase-branded animated shorts: Sgt. Rock, Adam Strange, The Phantom Stranger and Neil Gaiman's Death, and they join the main program in all having audio commentary tracks.

Sean McNamara's Cats & Dogs 3: Paws United (2020) is the dog of the week.. month... year for child entertainment, dumb, gross, condescending, unnecessarily crude and takes digitally talking animals to a new low. The idiotic plot has the title animals fighting again because someone hacks wireless sounds, but the real hacks are the director, writer and producers of this mess that is one of the year's worst release. The human acting is hideous too!

Extras include Digital Copy, Gag Reel and 3 Making Of clips.

Happy Halloween Scooby-Doo! (2020) is the latest animated adventure of the gang solving more mysteries, with opening appearances by Elvira and Batman villain The Scarecrow (continuing their Batman connection that goes back 40 years now, it is amusing to see Velma tell him off) before poison and giant pumpkins ruin their holiday. Bill Nye, The Science Guy even shows up, so this is amusing, but no classic. It runs a tight 80 minutes.

Extras include episodes of three newer Scooby TV shows.

Next is the CGI animated double feature of Sea Level (2011) and Sea Level 2 (2020) which are on the short side (92 and 82 minutes, respectively) and want to be i9nt he same league as a few Disney, PIXAR and DreamWorks animated features that take place in the ocean. We have seen worse and cheaper in this regard, so these do look better than most, but are not as good as the best. Still, there is some effort to make these fun and have a few moments if your child was particularly a fan of such films or shows like SpongeBob.

These are child-safe enough and color use is not bad, the characters are fairly good, but even with a Toy Story writer involved at one point, they are just not too memorable. At least they are an option to try out.

There are no extras.

Space Ghost & Dino Boy: The Complete Series (1966) was one of the first TV shows Hanna Barbera did for children that was not with their comedy animals and though I like those shows (The Flintstones was prime time and Jetsons their counterpart, so we do not think of them in the same league) and among the first adventure cartoons they made. Several years before they got the DC Comics license, Space Ghost in particular is one of the first superheroes ever created for a medium other than comic books. TV was his first venue.

Made to be child-safe, the show is fun and has the jet age technology that started as a look in the 1950s, but became more hip by the time this show appeared thanks to the space race and, if you think about it, the spy genre. Though the character has become a somewhat grandfathered superhero and his counterparts have joined him in ironic comedy shows later, the original show is made well enough and has some fun moments.

Dino Boy is more of an outright action show produced to add to the fun for viewers by having adventures in between completed Space Ghost installments. Kids loved dinosaurs then and all the companies eventually did similarly-themed shows (live action shows like Land Of The Lost, the partly genre-affiliated Bigfoot and Wildboy, the 1960s animated Hercules series, Hanna-Barbera's own underrated Valley Of The Dinosaurs and in its own way, the animated Planet Of The Apes) that still have followings and fans.

So you really do get two series in one and all 20 episodes, equally 60 adventures. This was a big hit, played on TV for decades and is always finding new fans. This solid new Blu-ray set will guarantee that continues.

The only extra is a great featurette on the artist who brought these shows to life: Simplicity: The Life and Art of Alex Toth.

High school girls and their fantasies, Tanaka Nozomu dream is to become popular and get a boyfriend. Unfortunately, she miscalculated and forgot her school is an all-GIRLS-school. Along with her best friends Akane and Shiori and their classmates they will follow their dreams, making up nick names for each other and follow Tanaka's 'amazing' ideas ...but can the girls survive Tanaka's ideas is a question in Wasteful Days Of High School Girl: Complete Collection (2019).

Tanaka (Baka) is a total idiot who always says what comes into her mind without thinking of consequences. Her best friends are Akana (Wota) a serious girl but secretly she wants to become a manga artist. Shiori (Robo) is emotionless and smarter than their teacher. Saku (Loli) is the shortest girl of their class and 'cute' but she wants to become taller and more mature. Minami (Yamai) is a chunibyo and living her fantasy life to the annoyance of her teacher. Kanade (Majime) is the 'prince' of the school being tall and tomboyish but she wants to be more feminine. Hisui 'Majo' is into misfortune and the occult. Lily is a transfer student who is a beauty but she is interested in only girls, she is allergic to boys but somehow Tanaka sets off her 'male' radar (maybe because she has no feminine qualities).

This was a comedy of high school girls and high school girl's fantasies, their hopes and dreams as they grow and mature. Japanese believe high school is the best time for youth in their lives where young adults can do anything, and become anything. Extras include clean opening and closing animations, Japanese promos and trailers.

Episodes include:

Amazing - Tanaka (Baka), Akane and Shiori all enter high school and immediately must decide who is the leader of their little group.

Manga - Akane remembers her past and her dreams of becoming a manga artist.

Forgotten Item - Saku (Loli) is often mistaken for an elementary schooler because of height and personality. Can she prove she is a grown-up girl now?

Majime - Kanade (Majime) wants to seem more like a girl, she envies Tanaka's energy and Shiori's matureness and wants to make more friends.

Lily - Lily a new transfer student arrives and is the envy of all the girls, but for some reason Tanaka causes her to break out in hives.

Majo - Kohaku wants to help her 'big sister' Hisui (Majo) to make more friends and enjoy school life instead of being the dark and creepy goth girl.

Yamai - The teacher tries to get Kanade to stop living in her fantasy world and be a more 'normal' girl ...but he fails.

Buying Swimwear - It's summer and the all the girls buy new swimsuits and tell ghost stories at the school.

Fashionable - Lily helps Loli with a makeover to help make her look more 'grown up'.

Robo - Is there a boy who likes Robo and about to confess to her?

Dream - Akane discovers the virtual pop artist she likes turns out to be her own homeroom teacher and that she had a crush on her own teacher.

and Friends - Tanaka is in danger of flunking out, but can her friends help her study and pass her grade?

Now for playback performance.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Batman just narrowly has the best image on the list with nice definition, some good-if-darkened color and in the mode we have already become used to with straight-to-video releases of the Caped Crusader these days. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is certainly the sonic champ here with a consistent surround field that is well mixed and recorded.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Dogs has motion blur throughout and is not the best HD shoot of late, but the previous films did not look that good either, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is inconsistent, not always well recorded and even flat at times. An anamorphically enhanced DVD that is very soft with lossy, poor Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is also included, for convenience at best we expect.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on both the Space Ghost and Dino Boys episodes look incredibly good for their age (about 55 years and counting as of this posting) with only some cell dust really showing the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the series. The color is as good as anything on this list and its great these older Hanna Barbera shows have been as well preserved as they are here. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is as good as it will ever sound, but at the time, the fidelity of the equipment the studio was suing was only so dynamic and it was older TV, so only so much can be done to make it sound good, but it is as good as it can get and you can hear everything without any serious distortion and like all their shows at the time, on the quiet side. We'll see how The Flintstones compares on Blu-ray soon.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on School is a little softer and color limited than expected, some of which is due to style, but possibly to the transfer, so only expect so much. The sound is here in Japanese and English dub DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes, with the Japanese the best choice and sounding a little better, but the resulting sound in either case is not what it could or should be and also disappoints.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Scooby is fine for the old DVD format, but color is not as rich as it could be, but its passable, while the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is decent, though I bet it would sound better in a lossless presentation.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Sea Level and anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on its sequel are good for the format again, though the sequel has a slightly darker color scheme. Both offer lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound that is good enough for this old codec, though the sequel has some clarity and range the first one lacks. Wonder what they would sound like lossless?

To order the Space Ghost Warner Archive Blu-ray set, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Days)


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