New to Blu-ray/DVD: Fantastic Planet, Return of a Man Called Horse, & How to Get Away With Murder: The Complete Second Season


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Editor’s Notes: How to Get Away With Murder: The Complete Second Season will be released on their respective formats June 21th.

Fantastic Planet

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Fantastic Planet (The Criterion Collection) is a science-fiction animated feature set on a distant planet called Ygam where enslaved humans (Oms) are the playthings of giant blue natives (Draags). After Terr, kept as a pet since infancy, escapes from his gigantic child captor, he is swept up by a band of radical fellow Oms who are resisting the Draags’ oppression and violence.

The film uses a cutout style that is strikingly different from the fluid animation we usually associate with classic Disney. Fantastic Planet has more of a Pop Art look, and conveys eeriness in a surrealistic world. A jazz score by Alain Gorguer is the perfect accompaniment for the film’s wondrous creatures and imaginative landscapes. Made five years after Yellow Submarine, Fantastic Planet draws upon similarly bizarre imagery, taking full advantage of animation’s ability to create unique worlds and psychedelic characters.

This is not a kid’s film. The images are often violent and the characters do not follow the template of typical children’s animation. Many sequences have a nightmarish quality that is simply unsuitable for young children. The film is a cleverly conceived satire of race and class couched in science fiction.

The Blu-ray edition contains both French and English soundtrack options (with English subtitles); two early short films by director Rene Laloux and illustrator Roland Topor; a 2009 documentary on Laloux; an episode of a 1974 French TV show about Topor’s work; 1973 interview with Topor; theatrical trailer; and a critical essay.

Return of a Man Called Horse

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Return of a Man Called Horse (Olive Films) stars Richard Harris reprising his role as English nobleman John “The Horse Morgan” in this sequel to 1970’s A Man Called Horse. Morgan returns to the American West to assist the Yellow Hand Sioux tribe when they are forced off their sacred ground by government-backed trappers. John must devise a plan to return power to the Yellow Hand by taking action against those who have enslaved and murdered members of the tribe. Co-starring with Harris are Gale Sondergaard (Anthony Adverse) as Elk Woman, Geoffrey Lewis (Broncho Billy), and William Lucking (Erin Brockovich). Ms. Sondergaard easily conveys wisdom and authority as an elder of the Yellow Hand tribe.

Return of a Man Called Horse was filmed by five-time Academy Award-nominee Owen Roizman (“The French Connection”) and features a score by Laurence Rosenthal (Becket, Man of La Mancha). Director Irvin Kershner (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back) provides some spectacular landscape images, with just enough action to keep the viewer engaged. Harris reprises a torture ritual from the first film. Shown in graphic detail, his pectoral muscles are pierced with a knife blade and eagle talons are drawn through the wounds and tied to a leather straps from which he is suspended until his “purification” is complete. This is pretty strong stuff for a PG-rated movie.

How to Get Away With Murder: The Complete Second Season

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How to Get Away With Murder: The Complete Second Season (ABC Studios) contains all 15 episodes of the 2015-2016 season. Frank (Charlie Weber), Bonnie (Liza Weil), and the “Keating Five” take on challenging new cases while the shocking discovery of who killed Rebecca leads into the mystery of who shot Annalise (Viola Davis). This development sets the stage for a series of secrets, betrayals, and revelations that will prove that under the right circumstances, anyone can be a killer.

In the first episode, “It’s Time to Move On,” Annalise and her students must move on with their lives, though the students are still shaken over Rebecca’s disappearance. Only Annalise and Frank know that Rebecca was murdered and are determined to find out who killed her. Meanwhile, Annalise takes on a new client, a brother and sister who are accused of killing their parents. Also, an old friend turns up at Annalise’s door and teaches her a valuable lesson.

Other episodes deal with Annalise and team being hired by a client accused of driving someone to the point of suicide (“I Want You to Die”); Wes (Alfred Enoch) and the Keating Five dealing with fallout from the night Wes shot Annalise (“What Happened to You, Annalise?”); Annalise trying to keep her team from panicking and getting ahead of Philip’s threats as Wes and Laurel (Karla Souza) begin putting the pieces of Wes’ mother’s death together (“Something Bad Happened”); and Annalise escaping from the mounting chaos surrounding her (“Anna Mae”).

Viola Davis is one of the best actresses working in television these days. With an impressive pedigree from feature films — Doubt, The Help, and the upcoming Suicide Squad — she portrays Annalise as strong, determined, secretive, and often arrogant. Her Annalise doesn’t suffer fools and is often the smartest person in the room. Though the scripts are often over the top and highly improbable, Ms. Davis’ consistently first-rate performance anchors the show.

Bonus features on the 4-disc DVD release include deleted scenes and bloopers.


About Author

For over 25 years, I was the Film and Home Entertainment Reviewer for "The Villadom TIMES," a New Jersey weekly newspaper, and have written for several other publications. I developed and taught a Film Studies program for two New York City high schools that included Film History, Horror/Fantasy, and Film Making.