Winx Club creator Iginio Straffi turns his considerable talents — and his Loreto, Italy-based Rainbow animation studio — to the production of his first non-Winx Club animated feature film, Gladiators of Rome. And it’s a beauty — the production values are easily on a par with any animated feature-length film coming out of Hollywood these days.
Of note, the script is from Michael J. Wilson, whose body of work includes Ice Age and Shark Tale … and trade reports indicate that the film arrives with a production budget that comes in at over $40 million (it’s all up there on the screen).
Paramount Home Media Distribution has tabbed Feb. 17 for the domestic DVD debut of Gladiators of Rome, which follows its Nov. 11 Oscar-qualifying theatrical showcase run.
Following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii, Timo (voiced by John Schwab) is adopted and raised by General Chirone, who just happens to run the local gladiator school.
Before you go whoa, what’s up with that plot, you have to put the thoughts of Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus and Ridley Scott’s Gladiator out of your mind when it comes to this particular gladiator school … this is a kid’s film, complete with a quartet of mischievous tiny-tike gladiators and a hero who has zero combat skills.
Of course he’s a disappointment to his adopted father in terms of ever becoming a “Hero of Rome,” but it’s not important. Being a gladiator is just not in Timo, that is, until he falls in love with Lucilla (Jo Wyatt), the daughter of General Chirone, who has been off studying in Greece. Her arrival home is a like a thunderbolt out of the blue and so he sets out to impress her by becoming a gladiator.
The first stop is to recruit his goofy cohorts Ciccius and Mauritius (comic relief) and then with their help track down a sorceress in the nearby spooky woods, who — as legend has it — will be the source of a magic potion that will make him an instant gladiator. That doesn’t work out so well … yuck!!!
Instead, our boy Timo has to actually work hard and train to become a real gladiator. Enter Diana, the Goddess of Hunt, who takes the pathetic Timo under her wing and trains him to be the greatest gladiator of them all … that is if he can defeat his boyhood nemesis, Cassio, in the arena!
Also added to the release calendar this week from Paramount Home Media are no less than five family-friendly animated releases and a trio of TV-on-DVD SKUs.
First up, Mar. 3 brings the Nickelodeon release of Paw Patrol: Marshall & Chase on the Case, which teams fire pup Marshall with police pup Chase in over 90 minutes worth of Paw Patrol fun!
Arriving on the same date, Mar. 3, is a double-disc DVD set titled Bubble Guppies: Fin-Tastic Collection. This features nearly four hours worth of adventures starring Molly, Gil, Goby, Deema and the rest of Nickelodeon’s underwater pals.
Mar. 10 brings three more kidvid sections on DVD … Blue's Clues: Get Clued Into School (a three-disc collection), Legend of Korra: Book Four - Balance (2 disc set) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 3, Volume 1.
On the TV series front, Mar. 10 will see Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.: The Complete Series, Matlock's Greatest Cases — a 12-episode collection on three DVDs — and Petticoat Junction: Family Favorites (eight hand-picked episodes).