'Oban Star Racer' a funny and fast family film
By G. Michael Dobbs
This week's DVD review column is a very mixed bag.
The Loch Ness Terror
Here's a simple rule of thumb: television series on the Sci-Fi Channel have a solid statistical chance of being good. Their original movies, on the other hand, are almost bound to be awful.
Why? I wish I could tell you and "Loch Ness Terror" follows that rule. This bloodthirsty dino movie offers the idea that aquatic dinosaurs have survived over the years and have migrated from Scotland through various undersea tunnels to Lake Superior where they find a new group of humans to munch.
The hero of this film is a nomadic cryptozoologist played with a Clint Eastwood swagger by Brian Krause. This guy even smokes little cigars like Eastwood's heroes in his spaghetti westerns of 40 years ago.
Our hero has to convince the skeptical small-town sheriff is there any other kind? before her own son is dino food.
The effects are acceptable and have a level of gore that might offend more sensible viewers, but more sensible viewers aren't the target audience for this by-the-numbers horror film.
Log on to www.sonypictures.com for more information.
Oban Star Racer: Volume One
This French-Japanese animated television co-production is a lot of fun and I found myself watching episode after episode.
Set in the future, the fate of Earth is going to be determined by an intergalactic race set on the planet Oban. The Earth team is headed by rocket racing producer Don Weis who is unaware that his 15-year-old daughter Molly has joined his crew. He hasn't seen his daughter for years and she is just another mechanic to him.
Part "Speed Racer" and part "Last Star Fighter," "Oban Star Racer" is funny, fast and surprisingly touching at times.
I love the design of the show and the animation seamlessly meshes more traditional two-dimensional work with computer-produced three-dimensional animation.
For more information, log into www.shoutfactory.com.
Paranormal U: Season One
My wife pretty much hates the trashy reality shows I will admit I watch. She particularly dislikes "Ghost Hunters" as she says that nothing really ever happens on the show other than some one says they feel cold all of a sudden.
She's right. "Ghost Hunters" is pretty lame at times, especially when compared to "Paranormal U," a reality show featuring a student organization from Penn State that investigates possible paranormal activity.
While "Ghost Hunters" is shot in a straight-ahead no-frills fashion, "Paranormal U" is shot and edited as a horror film. And in this series, there are events captured on camera that are genuinely creepy.
The star of the show is Ryan Buell, a journalism student who has been fascinated with the paranormal since he had a visitation when he was a young child and is the founder of the group. The producers have Buell doing a voice-over that is often times too theatrical.
Certain episodes are better than others. I especially liked one about a bar haunted by a guy identified as having committed suicide there in the 1930s. "Charlie" doesn't like wine glasses and smashes them. During one on-camera interview, a wine glass comes tumbling down and freaked out one of the team members who had to exit the building.
This series is bound to invite criticism from people who believe that ghosts are in our minds rather than the attic, but if you're like me and am intrigued by such subjects, give this series a try.