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DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: FANTASTIC VOYAGE

(Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Director Richard Fleischer’s 1966 science-fiction saga incorporates a more cerebral (no pun intended) approach to the genre by exploring the human body – from within.

A Soviet scientist hovers near death after an assassination attempt, prompting the US government to miniaturize a scientific team to enter his body and attempt live-saving surgery. Not only must the team (Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Arthur Kennedy, William Redfield and Donald Pleasence) contend with the body’s defenses, but this being the Cold War a saboteur might be aboard. (Looking at the cast, take a wild guess …) The special effects are dated but still pretty nifty, the star-studded cast (including Edmond O’Brien and Arthur O’Connell back at HQ) plays it straight and sturdy, and Fleischer sustains a steady, absorbing pace throughout. There are some questions about the story’s adherence to human biology, but hardly enough to spoil the fun and suspense.

Fantastic Voyage won Oscars for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (color) and Special Visual Effects, and nominations for Best Cinematography (color), Best Editing and Best Sound Effects. At the time, this was one of the very few sci-fi films so honored. The special edition Blu-ray ($24.99 retail) includes audio commentaries and more. Rated PG.

ABNER, THE INVISIBLE DOG (Inception Media Group): Prolific B-moviemaker Fred Olen Ray produced and directed this self-explanatory, low-budget family comedy about a boy (Daniel Zykov) and his dog (voiced by Mark Lindsay Chapman), which gains the powers of speech and invisibility after ingesting a secret formula. Reminiscent of Disney’s live-action ‘70s comedies, with David DeLuise, David Chokachi and Jane Kean (in her final role) also on hand.

“ADVENTURE TIME: THE SUITOR” (Cartoon Network/Warner Home Video): A DVD compilation ($19.82 retail) of fanselected episodes from the award-winning Cartoon Network animated fantasy series created by Pendleton Ward, set in the mythical Land of Ooo.

AXEL: THE BIGGEST LITTLE HERO (Arc Entertainment): Ed Asner, Tim Curry, George Takei and Matthew Lillard lend their voices to writer/producer/director Leo Lee’s PG-rated, animated feature (originally titled Bonta 3-D) about two young boys who embark on a mystical adventure to save their tribe from starvation. The DVD retails for $20.99.

BELLA SARA: EMMA’S WINGS (Entertainment One): MacKenzie Porter voices the character of Emma in this animated featured based on the popular “Bella Sara” line of trading cards, set in a mystical land populated by herds of magical horses. The DVD retails for $14.98.

“BETTY BOOP: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION – VOL. 3 (1932-1938)” (Olive Films): A self-explanatory collection of 12 animated shorts, produced by legendary animator Max Fleischer and directed by brother Dave, with Mae Questel lending her inimitable voice to the curvaceous cartoon character and guest appearances by Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Don Redman, Jack Mercer and William Pennell. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.

“FRENCH FOR KIDS” (Whistlefritz): The first in a series of educational (and entertainment) DVDs for children, designed to teach new languages: Dehans et Dehors (Inside and Out) retails for $19.99 and Allons Danser! (Let’s Dance) for $14.99.

“THE LEGEND OF KORRA – BOOK TWO: SPIRITS” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A collection of all 14 episodes from the 2013 season of the award-winning animated fantasy series focusing on the mystical adventures of the title character (voiced by Janet Varney), a heroic avatar battling evil. The DVD collection retails for $19.99, the Blu-ray collection for $34.99. Both include a wealth of special features.

“THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN”: SEASONS 2 & 3 (DC Entertainment/Warner Home Video): The Man of Steel flies again in this two-DVD collection ($19.97 retail) of all 32 episodes from the second and third seasons of the Filmation animated ‘60s series, broadcast on CBS, based on the perennially popular DC Comics superhero.

“PAW PATROL” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD collection ($14.99 retail)  of 10 episodes from the popular animated children’s series, produced by Spin Master Entertainment and broadcast on Nickelodeon, following the adventures of six puppies called to action in aptly-named Adventure Bay.

PEPPA PIG: MY BIRTHDAY PARTY (Entertainment One): A DVD collection ($14.98 retail) of 14 episodes (plus extras) from the animated, award-winning children’s series (airing in the US on Nick Jr.) with Lily-Snowden Fine as the voice of Peppa Pig and John Sparkes as the narrator.

“POPPY CAT: BIRTHDAY TREA- SURE AND OTHER ADVENTURES” (Entertainment One): A DVD compilation ($12.98 retail) of episodes from the animated children’s series, broadcast on Sprout, based on the best-selling, awardwinning books by Lara Jones.

SCOOBY-DOO! WRESTLEMANIA MYSTERY (WWE Studios/Warner Home Entertainment): Real-life pro wrestlers John Cena, Triple H, Sin Cara, Brodus Clay, AJ Lee, The Miz, Santino and Kane lend their voices (and animated likenesses) to this all-new family-friendly feature with the Mystery Inc. gang investigating strange goings-on at WrestleMania. The DVD retails for $19.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $29.98.

SON OF GOD (LightWorkers Media/ Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in this PG-13-rated Biblical saga originally broadcast on the History Channel then released to theaters. Amber Rose Revah plays Mary Magdalene and executive producer Roma Downey plays Jesus’ mother Mary. Three Emmy nominations including Outstanding Miniseries or Movie. The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/ Blu-ray combo for $39.99. Both include the Spanish-language version of the film with Eduardo Verastegui as Jesus.

SOPHIA GRACE & ROSIE’S ROYAL ADVENTURE (Warner Home Video): The titular moppets, who found instant stardom on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” make their feature film debuts in this G-rated, family-friendly musical/comedy about a royal coronation in the fictional kingdom of Switzerlvania. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98.

SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON (DreamWorks): A DVD/ Blu-ray combo ($14.99 retail) of the 2002 animated feature that attempted to revive the box-office fortunes of the Western – with limited financial success. No classic, but visually enticing and well-paced, with Matt Damon providing the title character’s voice, nice nods to the genre, and respect for Native Americans. Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. Rated PG.

“SPONGEBOB, YOU’RE FIRED!” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): The title character encounters on-the-job trouble in this DVD compilation ($14.99 retail) of selected episodes from the longrunning, award-winning Nickelodeon animated series.

“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND CASEY JONES” (Nickelodeon/ Paramount): With a new feature film on the horizon, this DVD collection ($14.99 retail) boasts six episodes from the current season of the animated Nickelodeon series, featuring the voices of Sean Astin, Jason Biggs, Mae Whitman, Clancy Brown, Kelly Hu and Josh Peck (as Casey Jones).

THE TERMINAL (Paramount): The Blu-ray bow ($22.99 retail) of Steven Spielberg’s easy, breezy 2004 comedy/ drama starring Tom Hanks as a European tourist who comes to inhabit New York’s JFK International Airport when denied entry into the country and unable to return home. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna and Zoe Saldana offer likable support, but the ever-empathetic Hanks holds it all together. Rated PG-13. !

MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2014, Mark Burger.

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