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JANUARY 16-31, 2007: NEWS ARCHIVES
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January 31, 2007 - In UD's newest interview, we talk with Dave Bossert, who has been a part of Disney animation for over twenty years. From blockbusters like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King to shorts like One By One and The Cat That Looked at a King, Bossert has had a hand in many of the most exciting Disney cartoons of recent years as an effects animator, artistic coordinator, producer, and director. Bossert has also been busy in a domain that's near and dear to many readers' hearts -- Disney DVD. He's helmed four volumes of the Annie-nominated Winnie the Pooh Disney Learning Adventures series, he's produced DVDs such as Walt Disney on the Front Lines and the True-Life Adventures, and he's supervised drastic restorations given to classics like Bambi and Cinderella. He even helped out on 2002's Spider-Man. In our interview, the Creative Director of Disney Animation Special Projects discusses all these things and more, reflecting on an illustrious filmography, debunking urban legends, describing restoration philosophies, commenting on upcoming DVD releases, and clarifying the future of the Walt Disney Treasures. You definitely won't want to miss UD's Interview with Dave Bossert.
Today marks the final day in print for Bambi: Platinum Edition, Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: Four-Disc Extended Edition and Gift Set. While the past has shown this end-of-January discontinuation date to be more promotional and ceremonial than definitive, stores truly will not be shipped further inventory of five acclaimed Disney DVDs. For more on Disney's Disappearing Classics '07 drive, see the studio's official announcement.
The month of January has been a very confusing one for Disney fans who collect the Walt Disney Treasures DVDs. What began with many enjoying the four sets of the series' sixth and most recent wave gave way to disappointment and outcry when Treasures host/producer Leonard Maltin made it known that the line was coming to an unexpected and abrupt end. Some of the informed public responded by calling Disney's customer service line or sending e-mails and letters. Then, last Friday, one of the Internet's oldest and most popular DVD websites -- The Digital Bits -- reported that sources at Buena Vista Home Entertainment confirmed that the Treasures were alive and well, with at least two more waves being developed. This has been supported by information given over e-mail, phone,and forum by Walt Disney Home Video's Customer Service representatives. Celebrating this seemingly happy ending, though, would appear to be premature. In an e-mail to UD sent this morning, Leonard Maltin claims, "All I can say is this: I was told the series was over, and no one at the Disney company has told me otherwise... I wish I could put this rumor about the Treasures to rest. I fear there is some heavy-duty wishful thinking at work here... but of course, I could be wrong." For the moment, it would appear the fate of the collector-friendly series of rare, vintage Disney productions remains in question. We're continuing to seek answers, so feel free to await further news before firing off irate, befuddled messages to either Disney addresses or Mr. Maltin himself.
Meanwhile, Leonard Maltin has also passed along to us some certain and positive news regarding the recently-released Treasures 'toon collection More Silly Symphonies. Walt Disney Home Video is preparing replacement discs for the set, which will correct three shortcomings free of charge. Due to an oversight, the volume lacked the main titles that were recreated to replace the originals discarded over fifty years ago. In addition, the wrong master elements were used on some color shorts and seconds of footage long cut from 1933's The Night Before Christmas have been located. Only the two discs (not the packaging) will be replaced and they likely won't be ready until March. We'll let you know how to proceed when they are.
January 30, 2007 - In our latest interview, Aaron Wallace talks with Frank Nissen, the director of Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. The veteran animator, whose past work includes directing Pooh's Heffalump Movie and contributing to Dinosaur and Mulan, discusses his career, his duties on DisneyToon Studios' latest follow-up, and the challenges of making a sequel to a revered classic. Don't miss An Interview with Frank Nissen.
January 29, 2007 - Disney has issued a fact sheet for the second and final wave of Walt Disney's It's a Small World of Fun!. Sadly, less than half of the shorts to be featured on Volumes 3 and 4 are confirmed by title, leaving us to do guesswork regarding which internationally-set cartoons will be included on the hour-long compilations when they arrive on February 13th. Read on.
Disney has also formally announced "Little Einsteins": The Legend of the Golden Pyramid, a
"triple-length adventure" of the Playhouse Disney hit to be released on February 27th. This untimely press release outlines the three featured episodes and the interactive series from which they emanate. More...
A sneak peek on the upcoming "The Golden Girls": The Complete Seventh and Final Season DVD reveals that a box set for "Dinosaurs": The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons is on the way. The 4-disc set will hold the final 36 episodes of the Michael Jacobs/Jim Henson-produced animatronic sitcom. Bonus features will include a music video for "I'm the Baby", additional Dino-Eggs, and more to be announced. Though no date is given, a May release is expected. See Upcoming Cover Art for tentative box and disc artwork.
Also expected in May and previewed on "The Golden Girls" is Touchstone's "Scrubs": The Complete Fifth Season. The 3-disc will hold last season's 24 episodes plus a never-before-seen animated episode and Zach Braff's director's cut of the comedy's 100th episode.
January 28, 2007 - Our newest DVD review critiques "Higglytown Heroes": Heroes on the Move. It provides a second opinion on the Playhouse Disney series, ranked as the middle of its class quality-wise. Like the concurrently-released To The Rescue, this disc offers five "Higglytown Heroes" episodes plus a bonus installment of "JoJo's Circus." Arranged randomly but all finding the central boys, girl, and squirrel out and about Higglytown, Heroes on the Move is technically fine but a questionable purchase. Read the full review.
January 24, 2007 - We've updated our Upcoming DVD Price Drops List to include nearly 100 Buena Vista DVDs getting reduced in price this year. Among the noteworthy discounts in store for 2007 are animated Disney titles for Easter, Pixar's first six films for summer, and dozens of live action family fare from Walt Era classics like Darby O'Gill, Old Yeller, and Treasure Island to modern hits like The Princess Diaries and The Pacifier. Click here for the full list, with links to our reviews and to purchase the affected titles, many of which are already available at their lower SRPs.
Though not the most punctual, our new 2-page review of Walt Disney Treasures: More Silly Symphonies (Volume 2) is likely the most thorough you'll find on the DVD issued last month. The two-disc set holds the previously unreleased 38 cartoons in Disney's 1929-1939 animated shorts series. While many of the most famous and landmark Silly Symphonies were relegated to the long out-of-print first volume, there is a great deal that's of interest here, from seasonal and atmospheric medleys to famous fairy tales and ambitious narratives that paved the way for feature-length toons. Picture and sound are not perfect, but restorative efforts are apparent and, considering the age and source quality, sufficient. The DVD also includes a mixed bag of audio commentaries on more than half the featured shorts, a featurette, some recently-unearthed footage of Disney animators, three extensive galleries, and an Easter Egg. Like many of the tins which came before this recent and said-to-be-final wave, More Silly Symphonies garners a hearty recommendation for capably presenting historic, enduring creations that should delight most open-minded viewers on some level. Read the full review.
January 23, 2007 - "Higglytown Heroes": To The Rescue, a four-episode compilation of Playhouse Disney's computer-animated series, is the subject of Albert Gutierrez's latest DVD review. The show -- about four kids, a squirrel, and the local heroes who help them through their everyday adventures -- doesn't talk down to kids, boasts songs with creative lyrics, and regularly offers celebrities in guest voice roles. The disc receives fine marks on picture and sound. It also serves up a bonus episode of "JoJo's Circus." Read on...
January 22, 2007 - In our newest DVD review, Aaron Wallace looks at Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. He dubs Disney's first sequel of 2007 a huge improvement over Cinderella II and one of the all-time best in DisneyToon Studios' history. The direct-to-video film takes viewers back into the world of the original 1950 classic, with its twist being that the glass slipper fits ugly stepsister Anastasia instead. A more action-minded movie than its predecessors, A Twist in Time is "adventuresome, compelling...funny, touching and fresh." Its DVD meets the present-day standards for DTV, delivering dazzling picture and sound (including a tremendous DTS track) but only a few bonus features, most notably a featurette on Disney Cruise Line's Cinderella-based musical. Read our complete Cinderella III DVD review now and look for our interview with director Frank Nissen in the days ahead.
Large cover artwork has been posted for the Chicken Little Blu-ray disc, which will arrive on March 20th with some new bonus features. It is now up for preorder at Amazon.com for 32% off.
January 20, 2007 - "lighthousemike" has posted on our forum news that the expected re-release of The Aristocats is scheduled to arrive on March 27th and will be a 2-Disc Special Edition. The only specifics mentioned in the ad found inside Cinderella III's case are a "new digital transfer" and "new bonus features." We'll have more on this set as it becomes known.
An article in Variety yields a few more details on WALLE, namely that longtime Pixar writer Andrew Stanton will be directing the film, putting him in a position he's only previously held on the studio's highest-grossing work, Finding Nemo. The article also reveals that Toy Story 3 is in fact in the works most likely for 2009 release.
January 19, 2007 - A press release has just been posted for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt, an original Easter-themed movie spawned from Playhouse Disney's top-rated, computer-animated series. Planned DVD bonuses are the never-before-seen 22-minute episode "Donald's Hiccups" and a video for all-new song "The Best Easter Party Ever." More...
Little remains known about Pixar's next film, Ratatouille, due in theaters this summer. Even less is known about WallE, the Emeryville CGI powerhouse's ninth feature. Still, this is Pixar, which explains why a tiny 8 KB JPEG image from the latter film -- included in Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger's recently-posted letter to shareholders -- has made news around the Internet. You can see the picture in question as part of the skimpy WallE preview found on our Coming to Theaters page.
For several years, the month of March has brought a new Baby Einstein DVD. This year is no different, as Disney and the Baby Einstein Company have announced Baby Einstein: My First Signs, the 23rd volume in the best-selling toddler line, for release on March 13th. Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin is again enlisted for the third language title in the series, which playfully introduces many of babies' first words and the corresponding signs with puppet shows, classical music, and real-world images. See the full press release for much more.
Chicken Little will be the first work from Disney Feature Animation made available on Blu-ray Disc when it arrives in March. We've updated our Disney Blu-ray page to designate the 2005 CGI toon as Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment's eighth Disney-branded Blu-ray release in North America. The new release will include all the bonus features from the movie's March 2006 standard DVD -- three alternate openings, the featurette "Hatching Chicken Little", the Cheetah Girls' "Shake Your Tail Feather" music video, and "One Little Slip" sing-along, karaoke, and music video -- and it will add two more items of substance: an audio commentary with director Mark Dindal, producer Randy Fullmer, and visual effects supervisor Steve Goldberg and four all-new deleted scenes. See our Disney on Blu-ray page for more information and for a first look at cover art.
January 18, 2007 - The last of Buena Vista's new January DVD releases, The Guardian, is the subject of our latest installment of "Touching on Touchstone." This review looks at the past and present for Disney's non-Disney branches, which are said to be scaling back output in the coming years. This PG-13-rated tale about two United States Coast Guard rescue swimmers -- one, a cocky rookie (Ashton Kutcher); the other, a legendary veteran (Kevin Costner) -- does not make a strong case for the 23-year-old branch's future. Composed of three uneven stretches that are uniformly familiar and uninteresting, this action/drama from Andrew Davis (Holes, The Fugitive) drags on well over two hours without offering much beyond enthusiasm for the rigorous Coast Guard training program. The DVD includes a funny alternate ending, four deleted scenes, two short featurettes, and a dry commentary. Read on...
The second wave of classic Disney records has made it onto iTunes. The newly-downloadable albums include Saludos Amigos: Music from the Motion Picture, The Black Hole: Soundtrack, Fess Parker: Cowboy and Indian Songs, Annette Funicello: Dance Annette, and Stan Jones: Ghost Riders in the Sky.
Disney's official website for the forthcoming sequel, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time has been updated with an 8-minute sneak peek of scenes from the direct-to-video "what if" tale. We'll have more on Cinderella III in the weeks ahead!
January 17, 2007 - Albert Gutierrez looks at this week's other new DVD release, Read It and Weep. The Disney Channel Original Movie, which debuted to high ratings last summer, stars sisters Kay and Danielle Panabaker and was adapted from a book by Julia DeVillers. It tells the story of Jamie, a high school freshman whose private journal accidentally gets entered into a contest and subsequently published. What ensues -- newfound popularity, forgotten allegiances -- is familiar material tread in a typical, clique-dominated high school, with a slightly schizophrenic twist: the story's protagonist (an alter ego, of sorts) begins dictating Jamie's actions. Though the movie was once again clearly framed for two ratios, the "Zapped Edition" DVD presents merely the fullscreen version as broadcast in addition to some behind-the-scenes shorts and a music video by Jordan Pruitt. Click here for the full review.
January 16, 2007 - Our newest interview is especially timely: Aaron Wallace talks with Brenda Song, who stars as scatterbrained hotel heiress London Tipton in "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody", one of three Disney Channel original series which come together for today's crossover DVD That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana. The 18-year-old Song has a resumι which also includes over a dozen guest star spots on other prominent series and leading roles in four Disney Channel Original Movies, including the recent action hit Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior. In the interview, the young actress discusses her breakout role, its real-life inspiration, being part of the Disney Channel family, the record-setting crossover, the now-in-production third season of "Suite Life", her future, and much more. Don't miss UD's Interview with Brenda Song.
We've completely updated our Upcoming Disney Movies page to reflect Walt Disney Pictures' 8-film slate for 2007. Underdog, Enchanted, and the newly-subtitled National Treasure: The Book of Secrets have been expanded to full capsules; new previews have been written for The Rock's family comedy The Game Plan, plus Feature Animation's distant The Frog Princess and Joe Jump. New pictures, information, and tie-in merchandise have been incorporated into revised write-ups of Bridge to Terabithia, Meet the Robinsons, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and Pixar's Ratatouille. Finally, there are updates on the productions of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, American Dog, Rapunzel, and Toy Story 3. Click here for our full and now up-to-date "Coming to Theaters" page.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana - Record-setting three-episode crossover yields interaction between the worlds of Disney Channel's most popular series: "That's So Raven", "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody", and "Hannah Montana". The disc also delivers a Hannah Montana concert music video, a neat "Raven" trivia game, and a bonus never-before-seen episode of "Suite Life." Related Interview with Suite Life of Zack & Cody star Brenda Song
The Fox and the Hound 2 - This midquel moves the practice of issuing inferior but diverting sequels to a 25-year-old film that's not among the studio's most popular. Links to the original don't go much beyond characters and continuity can be questioned, but viewed on its own, it's a pretty cute story and not much more. The disc's picture and sound are without issue, while its bonus features offer a music featurette, a Goofy short, a DVD Game World demo, a Mutt Mix Master activity, and a music video. Related Interview with The Fox and the Hound 2 director Jim Kammerud.
Invincible - The familiar underdog rising is given satisfying treatment in the story of Vince Papale, who made the unlikely transition from bartender to Philadelphia Eagle in 1976, becoming the oldest rookie in NFL history. Papale's journey is dramatized, with Mark Wahlberg portraying the working-class South Philadelphian, in a manner that's similar to Disney's other recent fact-based athletic dramas. Yet, it bucks tradition enough to succeed as an intimate character drama that is told with appropriate restraint. The DVD offers a fine featurette and two less gripping audio commentaries. Related Interview with Invincible's Inspiration, the real Vince Papale
Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto, Volume Two - Twenty-three shorts cover the last five years of the expressive but mute ordinary dog's big screen career. The two-disc set also holds all three of the cartoons in Figaro the cat's series. The fine picture and sound reflect apparent restoration work, while a quartet of featurettes deconstruct and comment upon three additional Pluto shorts and extensive galleries round out the disc.
Walt Disney's Legacy Collection: True-Life Adventures, Volume 4 - Nature's Mysteries - This two-disc set houses the TLA feature Secrets of Life as well as "True-Life Fantasy" Perri, adapted from the book by Felix Salten, author of Bambi and The Shaggy Dog. It also provides Oscar-winning two-reel short Nature's Half Acre and a pair of complete "Disneyland" anthology episodes. Like the three volumes it arrived alongside, this one boasts phenomenally restored picture and some nifty bonuses.
Recent Touchstone, Miramax, and Buena Vista DVD Reviews:
Step Up - In Touchstone's PG-13-rated summer sleeper, a tough delinquent teen teams up with a ballet student to collaborate on an art school's senior dance project. Despite the public's warm reception, the movie offers little that hasn't already been seen before. The DVD provides a 4-party audio commentary, 7 short deleted scenes, a featurette, music videos, a brief blooper reel, and a number of features on the movie's MySpace dance contest.
Winter DVD Roundup - Capsule reviews are given to "Power Rangers Mystic Force": Volume 2 - Legendary Catastros, "Power Rangers Mystic Force": Volume 3 - Fire Heart (4-episode compilations of the boy franchise's latest incarnation), The Night Listener (Miramax's R-rated psychological thriller starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette), Grand Theft Auto: Tricked Out Edition (a 1977 action/comedy directed by and starring Ron Howard, and The Cry Baby Killer & The Little Shop of Horrors: Back-to-Back Jack Edition (which pairs up two of Jack Nicholson's first film roles in a Roger Corman double feature).
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