The Animatrix and South Park: Season 2 Offer DVD Relief

With the dog days of summer reruns upon us, it’s a relief to know that there are several must-see DVDs and videos ready to fly out of the stores today. After months of hype and expectations, The Warner Bros. DVD The Animatrix will be available for rental and for sale in stores.

Commissioned by Matrix creators Larry and Andy Wachowski, this collection of nine animated shorts offers a visionary fusion of CG animation and Japanese anime, directed by Mahiro Maeda (Blue Submarine 6), Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Wicked City, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust), Takeshi Koike (Trava), Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), Peter Chung (Aeon Flux) and Andy Jones (Final Fantasy: Spirits Within).

Some of the films tie in directly with the narrative of the live-action movies and serve as a nice way to get the back story, while others (such as Watanabe’s piece) move away from the Keanu Reeves-starrer.

The DVD (listed price: $24.98) also features a documentary about anime (Scrolls to Screen: The History and Culture of Anime), as well as seven featurettes with director profiles, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of each of the shorts. For a complete story on the making of The Animatrix, see the July print edition of Animation Magazine.

If you’re a true fan of Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s landmark Comedy Central hit South Park, you’ve probably already pre-ordered your South Park: The Second Season DVD. But we figured we should give you the heads up anyway. That’s right, all 18 episodes of the classic second season of the show are now available in a special 3-disc collector’s edition DVD from Warner Home Video ($49.98).

The prankster animators kick off the second season with an all-Terrance, all-Phillip, all-farting episode titled “Not Without My Anus,” in which they refused to conclude Season One’s cliffhanger (which promised to reveal the identity of Cartman’s father). Other titles include “Cojoined Fetus Lady,” “Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson,” “Underwear Gnomes,” “Chicken Lover” and the ever-popular “Cartman’s Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut.” Other highlights include the “Spookyfish” episode in which killer fish, possessed animals and alien alter egos all offer a strange mix of bizarre visuals. And you’ll definitely have to check out those scray pictures of Barbra Streisand that frame the screen in this episode.

Although there are no commentaries included in this package, Stone and Parker present most of the episodes, each of which they claim to be their all-time favorites! The beautifully titled Chocolate Salty Balls music video adds an extra sizzle to this wild and wacky release. Something tells us this one is going to climb up the DVD charts like a spookyfish in heat.

If you like your humor stirred not shaken, and you were too busy during the Christmas season to catch James Bond’s 20th adventure, a special-edition version of Die Another Day is also in stores today. Yes, this is the one directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Pierce Brosnan as 007 and Oscar-winner Halle Berry as American agent Jinx (donning that famous orange bikini), as well as a hokey cameo by Madonna. John Cleese and Dame Judi Dench reprise their roles as Q and M respectively.

The MGM/UA DVD offers commentaries by Tamahor, producer Michael G. Wilson and Pierce Brosnan, the usual making-of documentary, theatrical trailer and TV spots, Bond trivia with text commentary and featurettes, storyboard-to-final-shot comparisons for key scenes, credit sequence visual tell-all and cool before-and-after comparisons of digitally altered footage. Viewers are also treated to featurettes with original animation and descriptions of each Bond gadget, including the Ashton Martin Vanqush, a peek at the making of Madonna’s Die Another Day music video and other bells and whistles. The DVD is available for sale for $29.98.