'Warner Bros Academy Awards Animation Collection'
(2-Disc DVD / NR / 2008 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Ben Tennyson was just an average 10-year-old kid until he discovered a strange alien watch in a crashed meteorite. Called the Omnitrix, this watch gives Ben the ability to transform into any of 10 alien heroes, all the while keeping his 10-year-old personality.
DVD Verdict: This disc is worth purchasing for the following cartoons ALONE:
PEACE ON EARTH (1939) - A chilling classic. During a post-apocalyptic Christmas Eve, two young squirrels ask their grandfather what the word "men" means in the lyric "Peace on earth, good will to men." As he explains that man was the species that destroyed itself by waging war, the cartoon shows rotoscoped scenes of armed conflict. Optional audio commentary by Greg Ford.
GOOD WILL TO MEN (1955) - An atomic-era version of Disc 2's "Peace on Earth," this time with mice in the ruins of a church. Optional music-only audio track.
THE BLITZ WOLF (1942) - When the evil Adolph Wolf wants to invade the state of Pigmania, Sergeant Pork spoils his plans. A wartime take on "The Three Little Pigs." Optional audio commentary by Eric Goldberg.
NELLY'S FOLLY (1961) - Homewrecker! That's the reputation a singing giraffe from Africa gets after she arrives at a zoo and develops a relationship with a married male.
NOW HEAR THIS (1962) - This spare, surreal, almost psychedelic Chuck Jones masterpiece concerns an old British gent who thinks he finds a magical hearing aid, though it's actually a horn from Satan's forehead. There's no dialogue, but many, many sound effects. The first Warner Bros. short to feature the company's revised graphic titles, it also includes a rarely heard rendition of "The Merry Go-Round Broke Down." Optional audio commentary by Amid Amidi.
THE DOT AND THE LINE (1965) - A line loves a dot, but she's hot for a squiggle in this charming, colorful and witty 10-minute Chuck Jones gem. Subtitled "A Romance in Lower Mathematics," it's based on the 1963 book by architect and children's author Norton Juster. Optional audio commentary by Eric Goldberg. Optional music-only audio track.
A WILD HARE (1940) - The first official Bugs Bunny cartoon looks primitive by later standards, but still has all the ingredients of the rascally rabbit's recipe. When "wabbit" hunter Elmer Fudd sticks his rifle down a hole, up pops Bugs to ask "What's up, Doc?" Optional audio commentary by Greg Ford.
PUSS GETS THE BOOT (1940) ... which is a much better cartoon than many later Tom and Jerries that won the award ... Tom is called Jaspar in this early version of a Tom and Jerry short. A typical cat-and-mouse chase results in a number of broken household objects. Optional audio commentary by Mark Kausler; and especially FROM A TO Z-Z-Z-Z (1953) - The daydreams of schoolboy Ralph Phillips include flying like a bird, punching out an opponent in the boxing ring and becoming Douglas MacArthur. Optional audio commentary by animation author Amid Amidi.
None of these have appeared on DVD before. The last one is worth the price, all by itself. I've been waiting for years for Ralph Phillips to appear on disc.
Now, the idea of Oscar nominated and winning animation is a great one...but why are so many of the cartoons available elsewhere? Why are there no entries before 1940? (The Short Cartoon oscar began in 1932, and Disney won every year until 1940, when the rather disgusting MILKY WAY (included here) beat the much better nominees PLUTO'S BONE TROUBLE, A WILD HARE and the first Woody Woodpecker cartoon KNOCK KNOCK.
There's no accounting for taste, and it is clear that many of the best cartoons on this disc are in the Nominees section, rather than the Winners. I'd like to thank Warners for putting Tex Avery's completely politically-incorrect THE BLITZ WOLF and Bob Clampett's WHAT'S COOKIN' DOC on disc for the first time. I never thought these cartoons would be released at all. Now let's have the rest of the Averys! This is a Standard Presentation and comes two nice bonus features. "Drawn for Glory: Animation's Triumph at the Oscars" is a new 60-minute, clip-heavy documentary that covers all the major studios. "What's Cookin' Doc?" is a 1944 Bugs Bunny short that shows the rabbit at an Academy Awards ceremony fighting to win the Oscar for "Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt." He ends up with a booby prize, a rabbit statue that comes to life with the voice of famed radio star Bert "The Mad Russian" Gordon.