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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Robot Chicken- DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise
Robot Chicken- DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise
Warner Bros. // Unrated // October 14, 2014
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Nick Hartel | posted November 12, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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THE PROGRAM

With seven seasons and a handful of standalone specials under their belt, the brain trust at "Robot Chicken" definitely knows how to market itself, not to mention get the best return on initial investment. Perhaps no better example exists than releasing individual episodes, specifically their "Star Wars" and "DC Comics" specials as standalone releases. Returning to the well yet again, "Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special Two: Villains in Paradise" offers up a scant 24-minutes of classic "Robot Chicken" brand of humor, backed by a generally illustrious cast. With a sole focus on the DC universe, the big question this time around is: is this enough for fans of the show in general as well as those merely interested in the comics-centric setting and plotline?

"Villains in Paradise" hits the ground running, showing "Robot Chicken" doesn't pander to any particular age group or audience, introducing our cast of villains via a clever riff on WWII prison break films. From there things stray into the mildly absurd with Lex Luthor (voiced perfectly by Alfred Molina) battling not only a motley menagerie of fellow villains, but a sassy teenage daughter who wants to enjoy her Spring Break, but instead finds herself working for a coffee chain owned by father. At the same time, the Justice League is introduced to Superman's nephew Superboy and if you don't think worlds will inevitably collide in a full-fledged parody of "Grease's" "Summer Nights," then, frankly, you don't know "Robot Chicken."

The writers truly aim to pack every second of the 24-minute runtime with jokes both broad and narrow, many spanning the wide berth of pop culture, with just enough obscure references to DC comics lore (there's a great throwaway gag involving Dr. Fate), to make the real target audience appreciate the effort that went into the special's creation. A running gag involving Green Lantern's constructs and Batman is a great melding of these worlds, while a full-fledged superhero funeral quickly turns into some great self-aware meta humor. The only real downside to all this great humor is its over far too quickly.

While the humor almost entirely works at every moment, and the casting is a great mix-up of expected performers (Clancy Brown and Nathan Fillion voice Gorilla Grodd and Green Lantern respectively), as well as a few amazingly inspired choices, specifically Zac Effron as teen heartthrob Superboy, its impossible to shake how fast "Villains in Paradise" actually runs and the standalone release of less than 30-minutes of material is a questionable decision. Given this is the second DC comics special, perhaps if the powers-that-be at Adult Swim could have held off, a dual volume release would feel more palatable. At the end of the day, "Villains in Paradise" is worth checking out, but not necessarily purchasing.





THE DVD

The Video

The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer features natural lifelike color and generally above average image clarity. There's some issue with compression artifacts and edge-enhancement, which is rather strange given the length of the program. The low budget nature of the show comes off well and I'm not sure how much an HD offering could have enhanced things.

The Audio

The Dolby Digital English stereo audio track is serviceable, but frankly I've never heard a truly impressive "Robot Chicken" offering. Dialogue is clear and prominent, free of distortion. There's no real need for surround usage considering the nature of the program and frankly, it doesn't take away from the enjoyment in the end. English SDH subtitles are included.

The Extras

The bonus features seemingly run triple the length of the actual feature and include a making-of featurette as well as featurettes on the music, the writing process, and deleted sequences. In addition, there are six cut animatics and two fully cut sketches, one of which may have been funnier than most of what made the final cut. Last but not least, a pair of commentary tracks for both the writers and the actors.

Final Thoughts

With bonus features running far longer than the far too short feature, "Villains in Paradise" offers up a healthy dose of clever laughs for nearly 30-minutes. I could see DC fans revisiting this from time to time, and time itself will dictate how well the material holds up. Still, the value for one's money with this release is highly questionable; if a third volume is produced I foresee a complete release anyhow. Rent It.

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