UltimateDisney.com: The Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD
JANUARY 16-31, 2006: NEWS ARCHIVES
See Upcoming Schedule for the latest announcements. / Tuesday's New Release Chart
January 31, 2006 - Can we really bring you a new DVD review each weekday this week? We're trying! Aaron Wallace throws Touchstone's recently-released Dead Poets Society: Special Edition into the spotlight for today's new critique. He concludes that this "inspiring and uplifting" 1989 drama is "worth seeing and even worth owning." Read on...
Cover art has just been posted for the May 2006 sitcom season sets of "The Golden Girls" Season 5 and "Scrubs" Season 3.
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An exciting new contest is starting today! Thanks to Sideshow Collectibles, UD readers from all over the world now have a chance to win a hand-cast, hand-painted, 10-inch polystone bust of Fozzie Bear, the Muppets' indomitable stand-up comedian. Only 3,000 Fozzie statues were produced. Like the other 19 "Muppet Show" character busts that Sideshow released over the last few years, this product is sold out, making it especially coveted by fans of Jim Henson's enduring creations. All that separates you from this rare prize are five Fozzie-related trivia questions. Entries are due February 11th. To see the bust, answer the questions, and enter the contest, click here.
January 30, 2006 - The "Goof Troop"/"Quack Pack" Volume 1 DVD press release has been updated with 8 menu images from the skimpy February 14th discs. We'll have both reviewed shortly, which isn't too astounding, considering there are only three episodes of each.
It did not take long to get confirmation on those May 9th release dates we mentioned this morning. Amazon.com now has both "The Golden Girls" Season 5 and "Scrubs" Season 3 up for preorder. With the customary 30% discount, each 3-disc set is just $27.99 and qualifies for the e-tailer's Free Super Saver Shipping within the United States.
Since taking to the airwaves less than 18 months ago, the hour-long drama series "Lost" has racked up an impressive number of accomplishments. Among the most distinguished: winning six Emmy awards, taking credit for rescuing ABC (along with "Desperate Housewives") from a severe ratings slump, and recently receiving the Golden Globe for Best Television Series (Drama). Tonight, Lindsay Mayer looks at "Lost": The Complete First Season, which became the second highest-selling TV DVD of last year. This 7-disc set from Touchstone Television leaves little room for complaint, "with its excellent layout and wealth of extras" complementing a universally appealing show which "keeps its audience guessing, but rewards observant viewers at the same time." Click to read the full review.
UD's own Aaron Wallace has made his first of what will become many appearances on The MousePod, the Internet's premiere unofficial Disney podcast. Relaunched this month after a six-month hiatus, the focus of "Episode 1", the latest installment, is Disney's first animated classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Aaron provides a brief history of the studio's animated DVD lines and discusses the out-of-print Snow White Platinum Edition, while many others call and write in to reflect on the movie. With music, memories, and more, the episode runs 83 minutes (precisely as long as Snow White itself) and Aaron comes in at the halfway point. You can simply download "Episode 1" of the MousePod in MP3 format here or subscribe via iTunes here to receive future installments automatically.
Word from our reliable retail sources is that "Scrubs": The Complete Third Season will hit stores on May 9th, timed to coincide with NBC's airing of the comedy's fifth season finale. "Scrubs" will be joined by the release of "The Golden Girls": The Complete Fifth Season, which is noteworthy in two ways. Firstly, arriving just under three months after the Fourth Season, this ties as Disney's fastest turnaround between season sets, presumably to cash in on Mother's Day. Secondly, this Fifth Season set is expected to be the show's first to boast substantial supplements. It was reported earlier this month that Betty White would be recording audio commentaries on her two favorite episodes of Season 5. Even those alone would put this 3-disc spring release above the sitcom's past sets in terms of bonuses.
A recent article from Home Media Retailing reveals that in addition to Bambi II's scheduled disappearance from stores in April, the original Bambi "is slated to go back to the vault soon." It also reflects that "the 'Bambi' franchise is among 14 in [Disney's] Platinum Collection earmarked for release every seven years for a new generation." When announced in 2001, the Platinum line encompassed the studio's ten best-selling video titles. In May of 2003, four additional animated classics (Pinocchio, Fantasia, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty) were added to the canon as part of Buena Vista Home Entertainment's changed plans to release two Platinum Editions per year and shorten moratorium periods from ten years to five. You can read more on the Platinum line here.
January 27, 2006 - Becoming the first Disney film certified by the MPAA in 2006, CGI comedy The Wild has received a G rating.
Nominees have been announced for the 2006 DVD Exclusive Awards and, with 44 nods, Buena Vista Home Entertainment clearly led the pack. Among the most noteworthy awards the studio's 2005 discs are up for: Overall DVD, New Movie (The Incredibles); Overall DVD, Classic Film (Bambi); Overall DVD, TV Program ("Lost": The Complete First Season); and Overall Movie, Animated DVD Premiere (Kronk's New Groove, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, and Tarzan II). You can view a complete list of nominees here, which were determined by votes from the 600-member DVD Exclusive Academy of entertainment industry individuals. Winners will be announced "in a few weeks."
Aaron Wallace's new DVD review covers Dark Water, Touchstone's suspense thriller starring Jennifer Connelly. The film's origins -- remade from a recent Japanese movie, adapted from a Kôji Suzuki novel -- leave it bearing a striking number of similarities to The Ring (also from Suzuki's writings). Though its weak ending prevents complete satisfaction, the hour and a half which proceeds it keeps you in near-constant suspense thanks to a solid story and even better acting. The only way to see the movie on DVD in widescreen is to settle for an "unrated version" which runs 2 minutes shorter than the theatrical cut, but at least the disc boasts top-notch picture and sound, plus a mixed bag of featurettes running just under an hour.
You'd be more than forgiven for not knowing it, but a new Disney movie opens in theaters today. Roving Mars, 40-minute IMAX documentary on two robots' exploration of the red planet's surface, is now playing in 27 large format theaters nationwide. Despite being afforded minimal promotion and garnering little interest, Mars has recieved mostly positive reviews. The same cannot be said of the Naval Academy drama Annapolis, which was said to be a Disney film during production but has opened under the Touchstone banner in 60x as many theaters with very cold reviews and a PG-13 rating.
January 26, 2006 - Our latest DVD review looks at forthcoming direct-to-video sequel Bambi II, which takes great strides to stay true to its 1942 predecessor, but mostly winds up feeling like an unnecessary and inferior retread. The DVD delivers excellent picture and sound, an interesting trivia subtitle track, two how-to-draw Thumper features, an unexciting game, and a brief making-of featurette. Read the full review.
Buena Vista's first two sets of price reductions for this year have now been taken into effect at most retailers and e-tailers. Check out our list to see the newly-discounted DVDs you can save on.
Cover art has been added for Little Einsteins: Team Up for Adventure, which will arrive, like its predecessor, in a red keepcase.
January 25, 2006 - Following yesterday's announcement regarding Disney's purchase of Pixar, the stock gift website OneShare.com has issued a press release touting your last chance to own a Pixar share featuring Steve Jobs' signature and imagery from the Emeryville studio's award-winning shorts and features.
As promised, Apple's iTunes has begun making the Oscar-winning and nominated classic animated shorts of the Disney studio available for download at $1.99 each. The first wave includes ten cartoons from the 1930s and '40s: Building a Building (1933), The Three Little Pigs (1933), The Tortoise and the Hare (1935), The Old Mill (1937), The Brave Little Tailor (1938), Ferdinand the Bull (1938), Good Scouts (1938), The Pointer (1939), Ugly Duckling (1939) and Goofy's How to Play Football (1944). Each of the shorts comes to about 40 MB in size, can be previewed for free, and boasts a resolution of 320 x 240, ideal for playback on Video iPods. Click here to launch iTunes.
If you really can't wait to see some of Bambi II, be sure to visit Bambi2DVD.com for a new 11-minute extended movie preview of this direct-to-video "midquel." The DVD will be released on February 7th and remain in print for just 70 days. We'll have a review for you soon.
January 24, 2006 - With one move, the Walt Disney Company has drastically rewritten the future of its feature animation department by purchasing Pixar Animation Studios for $7.4 billion. Under the deal, Apple/Pixar CEO Steve Jobs will take a seat on Disney's board, while director John Lasseter (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Cars) will become chief creative officer of the Disney/Pixar animation studios as well as advising the design of new attractions at Disney theme parks. CNN.com and ABC News have more on this story, while Animated News has Disney's complete announcement on this transaction. Discuss it here.
Amazon.com now has the following recently-announced DVDs up for preorder at 30% off or more: "Dinosaurs": The Complete First and Second Seasons and Little Einsteins: Team Up for Adventure.
Our most recent DVD review looks at Once Upon a Mattress, a 2003 made-for-TV adaptation of the widely-performed musical which finally aired last month on the Wonderful World of Disney and came to DVD just two days later. With interesting characters, an apt irreverent tone, and plenty of average music, the movie is certainly diverting but not especially memorable. Depending on your expectations, this movie may disappoint or surprise you, but the modestly-priced disc satisfies with a handful of bonuses and top-notch feature presentation. Read on.
January 23, 2006 - Disney has finally issued a Chicken Little DVD press release, which elaborates on the bonus features we have told you about over the past several weeks and suggests that, with five components on story, animation, the voice cast, music, and the director, "Hatching Chicken Little" should be more substantial than your run-of-the-mill making-of featurette. This $133-million grossing CGI comedy will come to DVD on March 21st. Read on.
Last Friday, Video Business reported on two of spring's most-anticipated Disney DVD releases, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Chicken Little. The article holds new information on Narnia's 2-Disc Collector's Edition, which will include "a collector's booklet, concept art, and 10 hours of bonus features on the second disc." Some of the supplements mentioned: two feature-length audio commentaries, a pop-up mode with facts on the film and author C.S. Lewis, filmmaker storytelling diaries, an "Anatomy of a Scene" episode, and "backgrounders" on 11 of the film's creatures. (Note that the article misreports the 2-disc set's SRP, which will actually be $34.99.) Also exciting is news that Chicken Little's deleted scenes will include an early version sequence with the title character voiced by Holly Hunter (Elastigirl from The Incredibles).
Good news! "That1GuyPictures" has received his DuckTales: The Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp DVD from the Disney Movie Club and confirms that this 1990 theatrical release is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Stereo sound (English, French, and Spanish), and with the bonus set-top game "Find Scrooge McDuck's Treasure", precisely the way it was on international releases. It even touts animated menus and a chapter insert, two things not always found for Club exclusives. Current Disney Movie Club members are the only ones who can nab this Region 1-encoded disc; neither this nor any of the three other newly-released DMC exclusives are available to enroll with yet.
We've dug up an exclusive look at the inside packaging and disc art for the much-anticipated television box set "Dinosaurs": The Complete First and Second Seasons. Check it out here.
January 21, 2006 - Following lower than expected sales numbers on the last few direct-to-video sequels from DisneyToon Studios, Buena Vista Home Entertainment is trying something different for Bambi II, the forthcoming "midquel" which looks at Bambi's coming-of-age under the guidance of his father, the Great Prince of the Forest. Employing a long-unused "hit and run" approach, Disney will indefinitely discontinue production of Bambi II DVDs and videos just 70 days after its February 7th release. The moratorium, said to mark the 70th anniversary of "Walt Disney's inception" of the original Bambi, means that stores won't be getting any new copies of this film after Easter Tuesday (April 18). You can check out the studio's revised press release here, which notes this "unprecedented" tactic as well as elaborating on the disc's five confirmed bonus features and pointing out that a DTS soundtrack has been added.
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January 20, 2006 - We mentioned yesterday that the first two seasons of Disney and Henson's early '90s primetime collaboration "Dinosaurs" would be coming to DVD on May 2nd. An official press release now confirms this. Buena Vista Home Entertainment has high hopes for this award-winning fan favorite, which with the help of an unusually potent marketing campaign, they expect to perform on par with Henson's "Fraggle Rock." The four-disc set will contain the Complete First and Second Seasons, holding the animatronic sitcom's first 29 episodes (half of the total number that aired, though an additional seven were produced). Bonus features will include the never-before-seen featurette "Pre-Hysterical Times: The Making of 'Dinosaurs'", "The Art of 'Dinosaurs'" with character designer Kirk Thatcher, and unannounced "Dino-Eggs" such as buried bonus clips, trivia facts, and other hidden goodies. See the full announcement. Update: "Dinosaurs" cover art has now been posted.
Also just issued: a press release for Little Einsteins: Team Up for Adventure, a three-episode feature taken from the popular Playhouse Disney series which will street on April 25th. One of the three episodes ("Rocket Safari") has never before aired.
As a child and teenager in the 1970s, Jodie Foster wet her acting feet in four theatrical films and a made-for-TV movie for Disney. Last year, the 2-time Oscar-winning actress reunited with the studio for Flightplan, a PG-13-rated suspense/ thriller released under the Touchstone Pictures division. After a respectable box office run, Flightplan comes to DVD next week and we have a review. An airborne whodunit in which the answer may well be nobody, the movie gets decent mileage out of its unique concept, but ultimately delivers less than promised. The disc, with exemplary picture and sound, a fine commentary, and two production featurettes, merits a single viewing.
A number of video industry sources have been corroborating the April 4th release date we have repeatedly heard for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Disney's top-grossing and best-reviewed film of 2005 is expected to debut this spring simultaneously in several different versions, with single-disc widescreen and fullscreen DVD editions accompanied by a Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition DVD (suggested retail price of $34.99) and a UMD release for PlayStation Portable. Further DVD information is expected soon, and a final list of details for the March 21st bowing of Chicken Little should come even sooner. Stay tuned.
January 19, 2006 - We've uncovered three more release dates thanks to new information from reliable retail sources. While it's still not clear how many discs or what improvements it will boast, Dumbo: Special Edition has been pegged for June 13th. Little Einsteins: Team Up for Adventure!, a second feature-length DVD outing for Disney and the Baby Einstein Company's animated, preschooler-oriented co-creation, is set to bow on April 25th. On May 2nd, the half-hour Michael Jacobs/Jim Henson sitcom "Dinosaurs" will make its format debut in a 4-disc Complete First & Second Seasons set, holding the first 29 episodes of the early '90s series. As usual, these dates are subject to change until official press releases come, but if they hold up, Disney should be announcing all three titles very soon.
The animation blog Cartoon Brew claims that all of Disney's Oscar-winning and nominated cartoon shorts will be making their way to iTunes and a DVD box set this summer. That would include a number of films that have not yet appeared on disc, including recent standalone projects Destino, Lorenzo, and Donald in Mathmagic Land.
January 18, 2006 - Promoted as coming soon several months ago, the Disney Movie Club has finally made its fourth and latest wave of Club Exclusive DVDs available for order. In this batch are the 1990 theatrical release DuckTales: The Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp and a trio of films which debuted on television: 1963's The Horse Without a Head and the Disney Channel Original Movies Smart House (1999) and Jumping Ship (2001). Are these discs, which are not available in stores, worth parting with $19.95 a piece for? Well, the three TV movies are not available on DVD in any part of the world and they won't need to be cropped to conform to the typical DMC-Exclusive fullscreen presentation. DuckTales: The Movie, on the other hand, has been available on Region 2 DVD overseas (order from Amazon.co.uk) in a 16x9-enhanced widescreen transfer with a bonus game. As is par for the course, the DMC has released no specifications information for any of these four DVDs. It is also worth pointing out that two of the first three Club Exclusives received general release earlier this week, less than one year from their Club debut last March, with comparable but not identical digital treatment. To join the Disney Movie Club or learn more about it, click here. To discuss the Exclusives and other issues pertinent to the DMC, visit our dedicated forum.
Internet Movie Poster Awards has posted a French movie poster for The Wild, the first seen for Disney's April theatrical release.
Amazon.com is now taking preorders for Chicken Little at 30% off. As we've reported several times over the past weeks, the G-rated CGI comedy will fall to DVD on March 21st, with a 16x9-enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, two music videos, deleted scenes including three alternate openings, the making-of featurette "Hatching Chicken Little", the interactive game "Where's Fish?", and a karaoke sing-along. Click here to preorder.
||January 17, 2006:
Tuesday's New Releases
January 17, 2006 - With the two-disc re-release of Lady and the Tramp, the much-anticipated 7th Platinum Edition DVD, just six weeks away, Disney has revised the press release to reveal new information about some exciting bonus features that will be included on this so-called "50th Anniversary Edition" set. Click to read.
Aaron Wallace has a review of Funny Factory with Donald (Volume 2), one of today's six new Disney DVD releases. His numbers illustrate that though the disc is a cheap alternative to the Walt Disney Treasures, it does cost more per cartoon short. With the irascible duck's first two Treasures volumes still fairly easy to obtain and holding five of the seven selected shorts, the hour of great entertainment that Funny Factory provides should most interest and satisfy casual fans.
When the actual box office numbers came in this afternoon, Disney's Glory Road wound up on top for both the 3 and 4-day holiday weekend tallies. With Martin Luther King Jr. Day entailing school and work closures for many, the PG-rated, Jerry Bruckheimer-produced basketball drama held onto its lead for a narrow victory over the Weinstein Company's debut CG-animation foray, Hoodwinked. The Weinstein Company, headed by the former Miramax executive siblings, had previously claimed the #1 spot based on estimates for the 4-day. With a mere $48,000 separating the top two earners over their first four days of wide release, Glory and Hoodwinked provided one of the closest weekend races in recent memory.
January 16, 2006 - The 1969 made-for-TV movie My Dog, The Thief makes its DVD debut this week and though it is not treated to the most commendable feature presentation, it is worth checking out for fans of the time-tested Disney live action comedy mold and worth celebrating as one of few of the studio's many vintage telemovies to land on disc. 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.
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.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
Sing Along Songs: Pongo & Perdita - 101 Dalmatians - 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 the titular animated classic or the 1996 remake its release originally was tied to.
The Devil and Max Devlin - This 1981 comedy starring Elliott Gould and Bill Cosby provides few laughs, but wholly diverts. Although like most live action Disney films, the disc is barren of bonuses, it scores points for a 16x9-enhanced transfer and a Dolby 5.1 remix.
The Proud Family Movie - Another Disney Channel series has its sporadic run wrapped up with a TV movie. Though this finale's adventurous nature departs from the usual tone, fans of the animated comedy show should find it a nice little diversion, while the disc satisfyingly includes an extended ending, enjoyable shorts with the supporting cast, and a funny game.
Funny Factory with Mickey (Volume 1) - This compilation launches a new line in the vein of Classic Cartoon Favorites, providing 8 of Mickey Mouse's more memorable shorts that span most of his career in color. The disc sports a clever themed design and a hidden game.
Benji the Hunted - Long overdue Region 1 debut finds this 1987 adventure void of bonus features and stuck with a fullscreen transfer. The film itself - starring a charismatic canine, some cute cougar cubs, and nearly no humans at all - may bore or confuse youngsters, but is worth a viewing for those fond of furry creatures.
Sing Along Songs: The Bare Necessities - The Jungle Book - This volume delights more than its kin with a stellar lineup of classic Disney tunes, a fairly good implementation of lyrics, and more likable host Jiminy Cricket.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories - Five animated shorts bring the picture books of Eric Carle to life with apt narration, suitable music and visuals faithful to the author's collage illustrations. Makes a fine complement to the books themselves for fans of Carle's simple but affecting tales.
Sing Along Songs: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - I Love to Laugh - Dated program offers poor presentation of fine Disney songs on a lackluster DVD.
Sing Along Songs: You Can Fly! - This 1988 program 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 classic animated films does not hold much replay value or a strong theme.
Timeless Tales: Volume Three - Recycles satisfactory transfers of six cartoons already on DVD, including Donald Duck's debut 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 list price and no cheap storybook can make that less obvious.
Recent Touchstone and Dimension DVD Reviews:
Good Morning, Vietnam: Special Edition - One of Touchstone's first blockbusters, this dramedy certified Robin Williams as a viable leading man. Though not as fresh and funny on subsequent viewings, it holds up as a unique, entertaining an atypical Vietnam story. The disc touts a 35-minute retrospective, a raw look at Williams' improv rants, 2 trailers, and a superior 16x9-enhanced transfer, making it worth an upgrade.
The Brothers Grimm - The sibling storytellers are presented as scam artists who must face a genuinely enchanted forest in this mess of a film. Though the DVD presentation is top-notch in terms of picture, sound, and the standard bonuses, the movie merits a nod as one of last year's worst.
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