UltimateDisney.com: The Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD
JANUARY 1-15, 2006: NEWS ARCHIVES
See Upcoming Schedule for the latest announcements. / Tuesday's New Release Chart
||January 17, 2006:
Tuesday's New Releases
January 14, 2006 - Our final review of this month's Sing Along Songs has now been posted. Pongo & Perdita - 101 Dalmatians isn't much like the three older volumes that made their DVD debuts with it. This one features live action footage of a mad woman, her abundant dalmatians, and some kids performing familiar non-Disney songs, occasionally with a twist, but rarely with any relevance to either Disney's 1961 animated classic or the 1996 live action remake its original release coincided with. Read the full review.
The press release for the fourth wave of the Disney Princess DVD line has been updated with four images from Disney Princess Sing Along Songs: Volume 3 - Perfectly Princess: a still from the "Princess Pen Pals" activity plus the main, bonus features, and karaoke menus (the last of which reveals 11 songs that will be included on the disc). It has also been revised to note that when Perfectly Princess is released exactly one month from today, it will come alone. The other Princess DVD scheduled for Valentine's Day, Disney Princess Learning Adventures: The Enchanted Book of Letters, has apparently been either delayed or cancelled. This is far from the first time that either a Disney Princess or Disney Learning Adventures DVD has been quietly postponed.
New cover art has been posted for the next three "Best Pals" volumes of the Classic Cartoon Favorites line, due April 11th.
January 13, 2006 - Making its Disney DVD debut next week is The Devil and Max Devlin, a 1981 live action comedy starring Elliott Gould and Bill Cosby which provides few laughs but manages to wholly divert. Although like most of the live action films in the studio's catalogue, the disc is barren of bonuses, it does score points for a 16x9-enhanced widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 remix. Read on.
Inspired by a true story, the basketball drama Glory Road opens in theaters today. Experts are predicting the PG-rated film could have Disney reclaiming the top slot at the box office following The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe's dethroning last weekend. Glory represents the fourth pairing this decade between producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Walt Disney Pictures; the three prior teamings (2000's Remember the Titans, 2003's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and 2004's National Treasure) all opened at #1 and each went on to gross over $100 million domestically.
A new article and the debut trailer for Stick It confirm that this PG-13-rated gymnastics comedy has indeed shifted over to Disney's Touchstone Pictures division. The film is slated to open in theaters on April 28th.
January 12, 2006 - Released to DVD last month and aired last summer, The Proud Family Movie wrapped up the sporadic 4-year run of the Disney Channel's animated comedy series. Though the finale's adventurous nature offers a departure from the usual tone, fans of the show should find the movie a nice little diversion. The disc's satisfactory treatment includes an extended ending, enjoyable shorts featuring supporting family members, and a funny game. Read on...
Funny Factory with Mickey (Volume 1), the subject of our latest DVD review, launches a new compilation line much in the vein of the Classic Cartoon Favorites. The disc provides 8 of Mickey's more memorable shorts, spanning most of the iconic mouse's career in color, while the disc sports a clever themed design and a hidden game.
January 11, 2006 - The fourth wave of the Classic Cartoon Favorites line is now up for preorder for 30% off at Amazon.com: Volume 10: Best Pals - Mickey and Minnie, Volume 11: Best Pals - Donald and Daisy, Volume 12: Best Pals - Mickey and Pluto. Their contents can be found here.
January 10, 2006 - It has been nearly nine years since the DVD format launched, but some films are just now making their Region 1 debuts. Benji the Hunted, a 1987 adventure, is one of four live action works finally heading to stores on DVD bearing the Disney name next Tuesday. Previously a Disney Movie Club exclusive, wide release finds Benji still void of bonus features and stuck with a fullscreen transfer (as opposed to the non-anamorphic widescreen presentation the rest of the world has gotten), leaving one to marvel at how little the past nine years have taught Disney about how to do a catalogue title right. The film itself -- starring a charismatic canine, some cute cougar cubs, and nearly no humans whatsoever -- may bore or confuse youngsters but is worth a viewing for those fond of furry creatures. Ardent Benji fans may want to look to Region 2. Read on...
We've set up a section for The Wild on our updated Coming to Theaters page featuring two new images from this upcoming Disney CG-animated comedy.
Our Upcoming Schedule has been updated with some revised specs on Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition and a newly-discovered SRP for the 2-Disc Collector's Edition of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Upcoming Cover Art now holds reworked covers for the long-awaited DVD debuts of The Shaggy D.A. (The Canine Candidate Edition) and The Shaggy Dog (a candidate for the least appealing cover art ever). An overhaul or return to the original covers may be in order. It also contains disc art for two of the three Studio Ghibli sets arriving March 7th.
January 9, 2006 - Tonight, we take aim at Sing Along Songs: The Bare Necessities - The Jungle Book, which delights more than its kin with a stellar lineup of classic Disney tunes, a fairly good implementation of lyrics, and the more likable host of Jiminy Cricket.
Disney Motion Showcase is now your exclusive spot to see the first trailer for The Wild, Disney's Madagascar-esque jungle-to-jungle CGI comedy which was animated by CORE Technologies and opens in theaters on April 14th. Yes, that is Styx's "Come Sail Away", previously heard in trailers for Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Is that a bad sign?
Has a quiet discontinuation left another Disney animated classic ripe for DVD re-release? That appears to be the case for The Fox and the Hound, which is now missing from Disney's retail databases and showing up as unavailable on the studio's customer web site. The Gold Classic Collection disc, with its paucity of supplements and fullscreen feature presentation, still remains easily available, but with The Fox and the Hound 2 scheduled to come by the end of the year, might its 1981 predecessor get the better DVD treatment it deserves around the same time? Nothing has been confirmed by the studio, but it does appear to be following in the footsteps of Dumbo, a Special Edition of which has been previewed as coming later this year.
Our newest DVD review looks at Good Morning, Vietnam: Special Edition, one of two 1980s films starring Robin Williams that Disney is revisiting this week. Released to theaters a little over 18 years ago, Vietnam was one of Touchstone's first blockbusters and it also certified Williams as a viable leading man for cinema. Though this dramedy isn't as fresh and funny on subsequent viewings, it holds up as a unique and entertaining two-hour story that depicts Vietnam from an unusual perspective. The disc touts a thorough 35-minute retrospective, a candid 13-minute look at Williams' improvisational process, two trailers, and a superior 16x9-enhanced widescreen transfer, making it well worth an upgrade over the film's previous disc.
January 7, 2006 - Early last September, we reported that Treasure Planet and Dumbo had curiously disappeared from Disney's retail databases, perhaps signaling re-releases in the near-future. That certainly now appears to be the case for at least Dumbo, which according to Animated-News.com is given a vague preview for a 2006 Special Edition on the first wave of the upcoming Walt Disney's Funny Factory DVDs. Dumbo's first DVD release came in October of 2001 as the studio had begun to fade out its "Gold Classic Collection" line. The 60th Anniversary Edition disc boasted a healthy amount of extras, including an audio commentary by John Canemaker, 15-minute retrospective, extensive art gallery, Walt Disney television introduction, Michael Crawford music video, and a look at the yet-to-materialize Dumbo II. One area where it did leave room for improvement was in picture quality, a department many hope Disney will address along with whatever new bonuses will appear. It's unclear when exactly the Special Edition will be released this year and the number of discs it will offer, but these details are among the many we hope to uncover for you soon.
Disney has announced the fourth wave of the Classic Cartoon Favorites line, which will be released on April 11, 2006 and consist of three new volumes holding a "Best Pals" theme: Volume 10: Best Pals - Mickey and Minnie, Volume 11: Best Pals - Donald and Daisy, Volume 12: Best Pals - Mickey and Pluto. Conveniently enough, four of the 8 shorts on each disc are cartoons that have not yet been released to the Walt Disney Treasures line. An inevitable result of the romantic themings: five of the 24 'toons of this upcoming wave appeared on the 2004 compilation Mickey and Minnie's Sweetheart Stories. As usual, each of the discs will boast no bonus features, the FastPlay playback mode, and a $14.99 suggested retail price. Click here for the press release with the full lists of shorts.
The DVD announcement for PG-rated golf drama The Greatest Game Ever Played has been updated to a press release, but all that has changed is the release date, which, as we already reported, will now be April 11th.
January 6, 2006 - In response to title announcements made earlier in the week by Warner Brothers and Universal for next generation home video format HD DVD, Buena Vista Home Entertainment has issued a press release declaring ten movies they will use as a launching pad for the Blu-ray Disc format beginning this summer. Only one of the ten bears the "Disney" name: 2000's part-CG-animated Dinosaur.
Gears are turning on two newly-announced upcoming Disney productions. Variety reports that Chicken Little screenwriters Ron Friedman and Steve Bencich have been hired to pen a live action comedy called The Missing Link. According to Done Deal, the film's pitch is: "A monkey spy adventure in the vein of The Bourne Identity." Variety also passed on news of The Secret Drawer Society, a debut script from Disney animation veteran Sharon Scott revolving on two sisters and their friends seeking to unravel mysteries surrounding a hidden treasure they learn about from letters left behind by inn guests. The project's producers are hoping to develop a line of comic books and an animated series to build awareness for the live action film.
Yesterday, Disney released a bunch of new information and images from the films the studio intends to release theatrically in 2006. Accordingly, we're bringing it all to you today. Check our Upcoming Disney Movies page for updates on Eight Below, The Shaggy Dog, Cars, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, The Santa Clause 3, and Meet the Robinsons.
Later this year, Disney is expected to usher a sixth entry into the athletic canine film series that began in 1997 with Air Bud. Air Buddies, focusing on the five pups of the dognapped Buddy and Molly, is anticipated as a direct-to-DVD release though a firm date has not yet been set. The family comedy will feature the voices of Michael Clarke Duncan (Brother Bear), Skyler Gisondo, Josh Flitter (The Greatest Game Ever Played), Spencer Breslin (The Kid, The Santa Clause 3), and his sister Abigail Breslin in addition to a live action performance from the recently-deceased Patrick Cranshaw as Sheriff Bob.
On February 7, Walt Disney Records will release Jim Brickman at the Magic Kingdom: The Disney Songbook to DVD. In this concert, performed at Orlando's Walt Disney World and aired last fall on PBS, Brickman and other collaborators (including Wayne Brady) brought to life original compositions and piano interpretations of classic Disney tunes in addition to some of Brickman's greatest hits. Amazon.com currently has this DVD up for preorder at $12.99, 32% off the $18.98 list price. For more on the disc's contents, you can read our review of The Disney Songbook CD and interview with Jim Brickman, both published last fall. For cover art, click here.
Today is the fifth anniversary of this site, The Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD. Launched humbly as part of the free webhost Angelfire's "Michigan"-based pages, the site acquired its own domain in January of 2003, and has continuously grown each and every day. Currently, UltimateDisney.com provides daily updates on every aspect of all DVDs released for Disney movies, shorts, and series. It also covers Disney's latest CDs, theatrically-released films, theme park activity, and company standing. With reviews, complete title listings, articles, contests, interviews, a newsletter, an ever-active discussion forum, and the fastest and most interesting coverage of relevant news, the staff of this site hopes you consider it your one-stop Internet guide for all things pertaining to the world of Disney entertainment. Looking for a way to celebrate our 5-year anniversary? You could donate $5, refer 5 people to the site who have never been here, find five sponsor ads that interest you and visit them, buy a recommended item at Amazon through one of our links, or simply pledge your continued regular readership and toast to five more years of this site. Remember, your support is the only thing that keeps us online and providing the type of content you've come to expect.
January 5, 2006 - Two more DVD reviews covering this week's new releases come your way today. The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, a collection of five animated shorts, satisfactorily brings the picture books of Eric Carle to life with apt narration, suitable music and visuals faithful to the author's collage illustrations. Though the 1995 video has made its overdue leap to DVD in an ordinary fashion and can't replace the books themselves, these adaptations make a fine complement to fans of Carle's simple but affecting tales. On the other hand, Sing Along Songs: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - I Love to Laugh gets a light thrashing for its poor presentation of fine Disney songs and lackluster DVD treatment.
January 4, 2006 - Another review of this week's many new youth-oriented DVDs is now available. Sing Along Songs: You Can Fly! debuted in 1988 and it hasn't been touched or adequately restored for its DVD premiere. Barren and dated, this lyric-accompanied collection of eight decent-to-good songs from partially and wholly animated movies from the 1940s through 1970s does not hold much replay value or a strong theme. Even nostalgia doesn't make this 27-minute program worth the roughly $10 it is selling for.
Disney has opened up an official website for the April 11th Region 1 DVD debut of Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin. A revised menu of bonus features now lists the game "Pooh and Friends: Adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood", the featurette "Pooh's Symphony", and the Oscar-winning featurette-length short "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day." In addition to a paragraph about the "state-of-the-art technologies" employed "to restore this cherished" 8½-year-old direct-to-video "family classic", you can find conflicting information on the disc's video and audio specifications throughout Disney's video site.
The Internet is now home to a loud Glory Road sizzle reel (QT), offering a look at the basketball drama opening in theaters next Friday with behind-the-scenes footage and comments from the likes of producer Jerry Bruckheimer, star Josh Lucas, and gel believer Pat Riley.
January 3, 2006 - Is Disney pulling a Warner Brothers on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe? If the latest rumors we're hearing are true, then the answer is yes. Supporting the rumblings we recently passed on, it sounds like the PG-rated fantasy blockbuster (which is again atop the box office after 3½ weeks in theaters) is destined for three DVD versions in early April: standard and similar widescreen and fullscreen editions, plus a deluxe set released concurrently. Those drooling at the prospect of countless discs immersing them into C.S. Lewis's world from all angles may have to adjust their hopes a bit. The word is that the "deluxe" edition will really be called a "Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition." That disc count might be underwhelming for something that would inevitably carry a retail price slightly above the studio's normal $29.99 tag, but if the neat packaging we've uncovered is any indication, then perhaps this won't be your ordinary 2-disc set. Click here for an exclusive look at high-res cover artwork for both the standard Widescreen Edition and Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition of Narnia.
We've set up a DVD information thread for Modern Marvels: Disney World with the studio's description and ordering information for The History Channel's recently-aired program. As mentioned earlier, A&E Home Video will be releasing this 100-minute documentary to general retail on March 28, 2006 - Amazon.com is now taking preorders for it at a whopping 32% off the list price. We've now learned that if you buy it directly from The A&E TV Store, the disc will ship on February 10th, a month and a half earlier than Amazon and other stores will be able to sell it to you. The tradeoff is you'll have to pay full retail price ($24.95), but if "Modern Marvels" sounds like a series that interests you, you can save 20% on 2 DVDs and 30% on 3 at A & E as part of their Best of 2005 sale. You'll have to make up your mind soon - A & E's sale ends tonight. Click here for large Modern Marvels: Disney World cover art.
The UltimateDisney.com Shop has been updated with a list ranking The 145 Most Popular Disney DVDs of 2005 based on site readers' orders through Amazon.com. Click here for the full list with links to reviews.
Our latest review looks at one of today's seven new Disney DVDs. Timeless Tales: Volume Three recycles satisfactory transfers of six animated shorts that have shown up on four DVDs in the past, including Donald Duck's first appearance, a cartoon directed by Walt Disney himself, Make Mine Music's "Casey at the Bat" segment, and the clever 21-minute "Ben and Me." Those searching for a solid sampling of vintage Disney cartoons should be pleased, but there's not enough to justify the $19.99 list price and no cheap storybook can make that less obvious. Read the full review.
January 2, 2006 - The latest DVD review from Aaron Wallace looks at Dimension Films' The Brothers Grimm. Far from the biopic you may have hoped for, the Terry Gilliam-directed film works in fantasy more than fact; the early 19th-century sibling storytellers (played by Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) are presented as scam artists who must face genuine supernatural evil in an enchanted forest which obviously foreshadows the famous fairy tales they are credited with. While the DVD presentation is top-notch in terms of picture, sound, and the standard bonuses, this "mess of a film" easily avoids a recommen-dation for anything but a "Worst Film of 2005" nomination. Read on.
The new year is here and we will eventually be looking back at 2005's DVDs for our second Year In Review feature. But today, we can look ahead to some exciting new Disney DVDs we've learned to expect in 2006. Brother Bear II (slated for mid-August) and The Fox and the Hound 2 (tentatively scheduled for November) are not the only direct-to-video sequels that are coming this year; Leroy & Stitch will wrap up "Lilo & Stitch: The Series" on April 11th and The Pacifier 2 (a project we're hearing about for the first time) is penciled in for early November. The delayed third wave of Disney Learning Adventures (both holding a Winnie the Pooh theme) will surface in April, as will a fourth wave of the Classic Cartoon Favorites (meaning the series is not dead despite the introduction of the similarly-designed Funny Factory later this month). Season sets of Touchstone Television series "Scrubs", "Desperate Housewives", and "Lost" will arrive much the same way they did in 2005 with the half-hour comedy's third season due mid-May and the sophomore seasons of the two hour-long hits anticipated for separate weeks in September. Finally and perhaps most exciting for site readers, the repeatedly-bumped two-disc Lilo & Stitch: Special Edition is now supposed to street in late July. As is true of any title not formally announced, all these dates are subject to change and that wouldn't be the first time for many of them. Still, the news on the studio's 2006 slate seems worth sharing.
December 30, 2005 - According to Home Media Retailing's market research division, Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles is the top-selling DVD of 2005, with a total of 17.38 million units purchased. Behind that CG-animated family/action/comedy blockbuster and solid sales performances by National Treasure (the 7th most popular DVD of the year) and 2005's Platinum Editions Bambi and Cinderella (#8), Buena Vista Home Entertainment claimed the second biggest share of the home video market, accounting for 14.8% of sales. The studio is expected to boast a big 2006 as well, with the not-yet-announced spring DVD releases of now-in-theaters hits Chicken Little (March 21) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (tentatively slated for April 4th), the fourth quarter DVDs of the highly-anticipated Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and the Platinum reissues of long-unavailable animated favorites Lady and the Tramp (February 28) and The Little Mermaid (October 3).
It took over five months, but the first installment of our long-promised Disneyland 50th Anniversary Report has now been posted. This debut portion covers a longtime Disney fan's first visit to a Disney park, which coincided with the golden anniversary celebrations and summer's typically full slate of park offerings. Part travelogue, part review of the various attractions of Disneyland Park, and part guide to making the most of an Anaheim visit, this article attempts to capture the "sights, sounds, and sensations" produced by Disneyland last July with reflections, impressions, and nearly 20 unique pictures. The two remaining parts will appear in the near-future and cover Disney's California Adventure, Disney's presence on Hollywood Boulevard, the 50th Anniversary day festivities, and Walt Disney Records' colossal box set A Musical History of Disneyland. For now, click here to read Part 1.
December 28, 2005 - Over 65 DVDs from Buena Vista Home Entertainment will be undergoing price reductions in the first four months of 2006. While the majority of those come from the now Weinstein-less Miramax branch, several noteworthy live action Disney discs will now be available at bargain bin prices, including a pair of '70s Special Editions and others from the '60s through the present decade. In addition, a handful of Pixar, IMAX, and Valentine's Day-ready titles are expected to be discounted for seasonal promotions. See the full list here.
December 24, 2005 - Buena Vista Home Entertainment has upgraded a fact sheet to a press release for the February 14th Volume 1 DVDs of "Goof Troop" and "Quack Pack". The revised announcement now contains the titles of the six episodes that will be included on the two bargain discs that mark the '90s 'toons format debut.
With a U.S. gross of over $130 million in just two weeks, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe has already become Disney's highest-earning film of 2005. The earliest rumblings of its DVD release pin the big screen adaptation of C.S. Lewis's acclaimed fantasy novel for April, where it is expected to arrive in three different versions: separate but similarly loaded 16x9-enhanced 2.35:1 widescreen and 1.33:1 cropped editions and a more collectible deluxe edition which will carry a list price of $5 or so more than the studio's standard $29.99 tag. More specific details and a firm date likely won't be announced until sometime in the first two months of 2006. It is also not yet clear how (if at all) the cancelled companion DVD Adventure Through Narnia (which was slated for release earlier this month) will resurface. We'll share more when there's more to share.
December 23, 2005 - Disney has issued a fact sheet for their March 7th Studio Ghibli DVDs Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro and Whisper of the Heart. The announcement simply reiterates everything we've already told you about these 2-disc sets over the past few weeks, but it makes things more official and also reveals additional information on the films and their noteworthy English voice casts. Click here for full details.
The studio has also formally announced "Little House on the Prairie", the 2005 Wonderful World of Disney mini-series we mentioned would be coming to DVD on March 28th. It appears to be without bonus features and the six hours touted run only a little over four with commercials excised, but the 2-disc set may be worth checking out for those who'd like a different take on the Laura Ingalls Wilder books besides the widely-seen 1970s-'80s NBC hour-long drama.
December 20, 2005 - Despite what you may have heard, Meet the Orchestra is not the third film in the Meet the Parents series. It's the 20th DVD in the best-selling Baby Einstein line. Disney has issued a press release for Meet the Orchestra: First Instruments, which introduces tots 1 and up to -- you guessed it -- musical instruments in an orchestra and the sounds they make. Twenty-two instruments, a blue hippopotamus host, poetry readings by company founder Julie Aigner-Clark, Meet the Orchestra (available March 7th) has got it all. And we've got large cover art here.
As promised, the third installment of our series of reviews of Walt Disney Records releases is now here. Holidays 2005 CD Roundup critiques the nine latest albums from Disney's music branch: Disney's Princess Christmas Album; The Cheetah Girls' Cheetah-licious Christmas; Radio Disney Jingle Jams; Playhouse Disney: Imagine and Learn with Music; the Chicken Little soundtrack, Read-Along, and Karaoke albums; an Anniversary Edition re-release of The Muppet Christmas Carol soundtrack; and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe soundtrack. Click for individual reviews plus an overview.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
• The Santa Clause 2 - While not an immediate classic like its predecessor, Tim Allen and his largely returning supporting cast keep this sequel festive enough balancing humor and adventure, North Pole magic and real world woes. In spite of some thematic missteps and obtuse bonus features, this deserves entry into your holiday DVD collection.
• "That's So Raven": Raven's House Party - Heed the recurring warnings about the show's repetitiveness and the costly natured of themed volumes, but know that this third compilation is the series' best yet, holding five episodes bound to satisfy fans who are not waiting for the expected box set treatment.
• The Horse in The Gray Flannel Suit - Like many of its live action kin, this little comedy/drama is treated to a non-theatrical aspect ratio, plus it does not eke the most memorable magic from the studio's formulas.
• Disneyland Resort: Happiest Homecoming on Earth - Parks-exclusive DVD fails to celebrate Disneyland's 50th Anniversary and is lacking even next to the promotional Parks DVDs mailed for free.
• Kronk's New Groove - Stays true to the original's winning zany spirit and serves up plenty of fun. While the DVD is par for a DTV sequel, the movie is fairly humorous, sufficiently sharp, and worth checking out especially for fans of its predecessor.
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