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DVD REVIEW: Slugterra: Return of the Shane Gang

DVD REVIEW: Slugterra: Return of the Shane Gang

Cinelinx keeps the salt off of the Slugterra: Return of the Shane Gang DVD!

THE SET-UP
In this Disney XD animated series, a young man named Eli Shane joins the family business of Slugslinging, a combat form in which fighters shoot slugs from guns at each other. This DVD features five episodes from the series.

THE DELIVERY
Sometimes, you enjoy watching artistic, sophisticated animation, and sometimes, you want to see slugs being shot from guns. For those latter instances, Slugterra is here to fill that need. This entertaining animated series, shown on the Disney XD network, is a load of fun, despite the ludicrous premise. 

Using CGI painted to look like traditional animation, Slugterra has a unique look that certainly appears better than the cheap-o CGI many cartoons use. It's obvious the producers are trying to give us a quality show, instead of another product commercial. Even so, Slugterra products are available at your local WalMart. Your kid likely already knows this.

The hero of Slugterra is Eli Shane, a young man who comes from a long line of Slugslingers, who use special guns to shoot slugs with special powers. These slugs can then unleash their particular powers on bad guys, which are in abundance in the underground kingdom of Slugterra. Eli's father has disappeared protecting Slugterra, and Eli is called upon to take his place. 

Joining Eli in his quest to protect Slugterra are a band of misfits, including Trixie, Kord, and Pronto (who provides much of the show's comic relief and is a surprisingly original character). His nemesis is Dr. Blakk, who is mutating slugs into much darker, meaner creatures. Blakk is also the last man to see Eli's father Will alive, and may have been responsible for his disappearance.

Sure, the premise and story bares more than a passing similarity to Pokemon, and some may call it a ripoff, but Slugterra manages to distinguish itself with some decent action and entertaining storylines. It never takes itself too seriously (I mean, we're shooting slugs from guns, come on!) and the writing can be funny and clever. 

Slugterra never tries to be anything more than an entertaining action show. The episodes actually provide stories with a plot, and the characters are distinctive. It won't insult your intelligence if you watch it with your kid, and the content is family friendly. The first five episodes of season one are included ("The World Beneath our Feet, Parts 1 and 2," "The Trade," "The Slug Out," and "Deadweed"), which may not be the best value for the price ($14.95 retail), but should provide a nice fix for your Slugterra-obsessed kid.

VIDEO AND AUDIO
The image on the standard DVD is surprisingly sharp, with nice detail and bold colors. The video transfer is obviously from the digital master so we get an above-average picture with little distortion or pixelation. Reds are consistently deep, and blacks are inky with lighter variations in the underground world of Slugterra showing nice distinction. Audio is a very active Dolby Digital 5.1 mix with nice separation through the channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES
A handful of extras are provided. For the uninitiated in the world of Slugterra, Asaph Fipke (creator) and Rob Hoegee (writer/executive producer) provide a breakdown of the story and the characters, and explain the whole concept of shooting slugs from guns. 

Three "Slugisodes" are also included, which are very short clips explaining the various aspects of "Slugslinging." The three shorts, entitled "Slugslinging 101," "Blasters and You," and "How to Catch Slugs," only run a minute or two each, but are fun to watch. A code included with the DVD also allows for kids to unlock content for an online game.

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THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Ratings (1-10 scale)
Show: 7
Video: 8
Audio: 8
Extras: 5
Overall grade: 7

Slugterra: Return of the Shane Gang may not be breaking any new ground in children's entertainment, but it is decent, entertaining fare. The animation quality is quite good, and kids will enjoy it. It retails for just under $15, which isn't that great of a deal, but with a little digging, you should be able to find it at a more reasonable price. The extras don't quite justify the retail price, so we can only recommend a buy IF you can get it at a lower price. Otherwise, it's definitely in the RENT zone.

DVD SPECS
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Rating: TV-Y7
Running time: 110 minutes (approx.)
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: None
Special features: "An introduction to Slugterra" featurette, Three animated "Slugisodes," Online code for game content.

Click here to order Slugterra: Return of the Shane Gang on DVD from Amazon