This Week in DVDs November 30, 2010

Check out this week’s crop of DVDs, Blu-rays, and collector’s edition ultimate mega sets.

Since we know time is money, here’s a quick handy reference guide to recent DVD releases that should be on your radar and, in many cases, on your shelf. Immediately.

Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 (Blu-ray)

Release Date: November 30

What it is: When not detailing the workaday habits of dwarves or playing out Stockholm Syndrome psychodramas between beautiful women and man-beasts, Disney took time to meld classical music and surrealist imagery in one undisputed classic and its intriguing-but-not-as-good sequel.

Why you need it: Quite simply, some movies were made for Blu-ray, and Fantasia is one of them. Sweeping soundscapes and eye-popping visuals? What more do you need, right? And Fantasia 2000, with its more state-of-the-art animation techniques, fares even better in the visuals department (although the celebrity introductions to each segment still irritate). Disney continues mining its substantial vaults for engaging special features, like the guided tour through the San Francisco Disney Family Museum hosted by Walt’s daughter, Diane Disney-Miller. Not really kids’ fare, but both Fantasias are unique and HD-ready.

Knight and Day (Blu-ray)

Release Date: November 30

What it is: A high-strung woman (Cameron Diaz) leading a movie’s idea of a “boring, unfulfilled life” (read: Handsome, good-hearted husband, successful career, gorgeous home) gets some much-needed adrenaline in the form of reckless, possibly crazy and certainly violent secret agent Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) who almost gets her killed hourly. Whew! Thank god he came along, right, ladies?

Why you need it: While certainly not a “bad” movie, the best thing you can say about Knight and Day is that it’s kind of mildly, inoffensively bland. A hodge-podge of movie sequences and characters you’ve seen a hundred times before, it passes over you without really leaving a mark. You’ll likely be entertained, and then you’ll just as likely forget everything about it the second it’s turned off. More cable-fodder than must-have Blu-ray.

Rock & Rule (Blu-ray)

Release Date: November 9

What it is: A bizarre nugget of 80s animation, Rock & Rule shares a lot of DNA with that other classic adult-themed animated fantasy Heavy Metal. In a post-Nuke world, rats and cats and mice have evolved into humanoids and now populated rebuilt cities and barren wastelands. A young rocker named Omar and his maybe-girlfriend Angel find their struggling band targeted by a mysterious glam rock icon named Mok who wants to harness Angel’s voice to summon a demon from another dimension.

Why you need it: Right from the start, the movie plays to its strengths – rather than listing voice actors in the opening credits, it lists out the bands you’ll be hearing on the soundtrack: Cheap Trick, Blondie (Debbie Harry supplies Angel’s singing voice), Lou Reed, and Earth Wind & Fire. Although certainly silly in parts (the attempts at humor are often cringe-worthy), Rock & Rule is – given the standards of the time – gorgeously animated, a fact that is reinforced through the Blu-ray transfer. A lot of the songs are killer (Cheap Trick’s “Born to Raise Hell” kicks ass, and EW&F’s “Dance Dance Dance” is too much funk for you to handle) and the whole movie is like some kind of shared fever dream concocted by David Bowie and Ralph Bakshi after a night quaffing chili peppers and opium in equal measures. Case in point: