DC League of Super-Pets (Warner Bros., Blu-ray + DVD, PG, 105 min.). The newest DC animated film centers on Superman’s pet Krypto, the dog that accompanied him when, as a baby, he was sent from about-to-explode Krypton by rocket to Earth. We briefly see this origin story, before the film jumps to Superman’s (voiced by John Krasinski) adult life and his plans to propose to Lois Lane, something Krypto (Dwayne Johnson) is very against, as he already resents Superman’s time spent with Lois.

The scene shifts to an animal rescue store, where Ace (Kevin Hart), a one-eighth boxer hound, escapes, only to run into Krypto, who humorously dons glasses and pretends to be Bark Kent. Also in the shelter is Lulu (Kate McKinnon), a guinea pig who wishes to be reunited with owner Lex Luthor, who used her for experimentation, as she shares his lust for world domination. Luthor’s most recent plan is to drag an asteroid made of orange Kryptonite to Earth so he can gain superpowers.

Lulu grabs a piece of orange Kryptonite, which conveniently only works on animals, and gets superpowers, as does Ace (now impervious), Merton the Turtle and the other misfit pets in the shelter store. Merton gets super-speed, while potbellied pig PB can alter her size. Lulu gives powers to a bunch of other guinea pigs and sets about capturing the Justice League, namely Superman, Batman (a humorous take by Keanu Reeves), The Flash, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman and a female Green Lantern.

When Krypto loses his powers – he eats some cheese that had green Kryptonite hidden in it – he must turn to Ace and the other pets who are still adjusting to their new powers to rescue the Justice League and defeat Lulu.

There is lots of physical comedy and some sly bits involving Batman, and the film makes fun of the usual training montage. The film is very entertaining and has a couple of nice emotional beats as well.

Extras include how to draw Krypto, with animation supervisor Dave Burgess (6:48); a look at the very good voice actors (14:39); a discussion of the film’s evolution and animation design (8:18); a discussion of the world-building and using decades of comic book lore (7:41); a look at some of the film’s Easter eggs (3:39); and 12 deleted scenes as enhanced storyboards or animatics (20:48). Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 2.75 stars.

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

They Crawl Beneath (Well Go USA, Blu-ray or DVD, NR, 87 min.). Young policeman Danny (an appealing Joseph Almani) is having a very bad day. His girlfriend Gwen (Karlee Eldridge) won’t forgive him after their last fight (she thinks his police work is too dangerous), he learns his Uncle Bill (Michael Pare, “The Philadelphia Experiment,” “Eddie and the Cruisers”) is actually his father; an earthquake causes a car to fall on his legs and trap him while killing Bill, and, oh yeah, subterranean worms grown extra-large are trying to eat him.

A new “Tremors” this is not. There is almost no real sense of danger, and definitely no horror. The worms, whose excessively quick growth is excessively silly, look too much like fake props. The film, the second by director Dale Fabrigar and screenwriter Tricia Aurand after “Reed’s Point,” mostly takes place in a remote garage, with the door unable to open. The film, which sets up the potential for sequels and leans towards 1950s sci-fi horror films, creates an interesting situation, but just does not do enough with it. Grade: film 2.25 stars.

Two Witches (Arrow Video, streaming now and Blu-ray release Oct. 18, NR, 98 min.) also sets up sequels; in fact, the filmmakers call it a prequel in the many extras. The film consists of two stories that become interrelated. The first apparently has an elderly Romanian witch give the evil eye to a pregnant woman at a restaurant, while the second concerns the witch’s granddaughter, who inherits her powers when she dies.

The pregnant woman is Sarah (Belle Adams), who is coupled with insensitive Simon (Ian Michaels). The two go to visit Simon’s friends, Dustin (Tim Fox) and Melissa (Dina Silva), who claims to be a professional healer. Oh no, they take out the Ouija board – one should never do that in a horror film. Soon Sarah’s candle is extinguished, she starts seeing the old witch and comes at Simon violently, leading to the loss of a finger as the icky factor increases. A radio news report explains what happened afterwards and it is not good news.

Meanwhile, in the second story, Rachel (Kristina Klebe) has a new roommate in Masha (Rebekah Kennedy), who becomes annoying quickly and then dangerous as she seemingly tries to take over Rachel’s life. Masha says her Romanian grandmother is dying, but also is a witch and she will inherit her powers. The two stories are tied together by a missing poster for Sarah and then Dustin and Melissa are at the same Christmas party as Masha and again, things do not go well.

The last 20 minutes of the film are the best. At times, it is overly talky. Extras include two audio commentaries, one apiece by director, cinematographer and editor Pierre Tsigaridis and producer Maxime Rancon, both of whom are also featured in the Grimmfest 2021 Q&A session (30:15). Both also are featured, along with Kennedy, in a look behind-the-movie (4:27) and at the effects (8:10). There are interviews with actress/associate producer Silva (15:54), Marina Parodi, who plays the Boogiewoman (7:47), score composer Gioacchino Marincola (10:44) and Tsigaridis, who also did the piano score (10:50). Finally, there is test footage (1:33) and two image galleries. Grade: film 2.5 stars; extras 3.25 stars.

Star Trek: Picard: Season Two (CBS/Paramount, 3 Blu-ray or 3 DVDs, NR, 473 min.). Patrick Stewart is again excellent as Jean-Luc Picard, pulled once again from his French vineyards and chateau for space duty. Capt. Picard was first introduced in the pilot for “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in 1988 and played the character for seven seasons, four feature films and more than a handful of video games. Also introduced in that pilot was nemesis Q (John de Lancie), an omnipotent adversary with godlike powers who puts humanity and Picard’s crew on trial.

Q’s presence is all over the press releases and box cover of the release, but to me they are spoilers. I had no idea Q was in the series until his rather late appearance in the season. It was a pleasant shock.

The series, which takes place more than 14 years after now Admiral Picard retired, has a theme of love this season. Ultimately, Picard, who has always looked upon his crew as his family, learns that he can accept personal love, after confronting a trauma from his youth, as he and several others are sent back to 2024 from 2401. There also is Picard’s relationship with his housekeeper Laris (Orla Brady) and her look-alike in the past.

Most major figures from the past series return, with new connections made between Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and Raffi Musiker (Michell Hurd), Raffi and Elnor (Evan Evagora), Picard’s former ward, and pilot Cristobal Rios (Santiago Cabrera) and Dr. Teresa Ramirez (Sol Rodriguez), who runs a clinic that treats undocumented immigrants in 2024. Also back, although as a bad guy, is Brent Spiner as Adam Soong, the future creator of the android Data, who is trying to save his daughter from a rare medical condition. Picard also has earnest conversations with Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) in both time periods.

All the events are triggered when a Borg ship emerges from an anomaly in deep space and sends a signal that it wants to negotiate entry into the Federation but will only speak with Picard. On board is the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching), who eventually comes to co-inhabit the body of Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill), making her more of a badass. Everything is tied together really well and Picard’s journey is quite emotional. Extras – all excellent and interesting – include looks at designing the USS Stargazer (18:29) and the Chateau, included a ruined version (15:24), the resolution of Q’s story and his trials for Picard (12:04), rebuilding the Borg Queen (11:11), the props with props manager Jeffrey Lombardi (12:06) and the relationships between the characters (24:59). There also is a gag reel (3:55). Grade: season and extras 4 stars.

Tom Von Malder of Owls Head has reviewed music since 1972, just after graduation from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has reviewed videos/DVDs since 1988.

 

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