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FEBRUARY 16-28, 2008: NEWS ARCHIVES


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Beowulf: Director's Cut DVD Review

March 4, 2008 - Our latest DVD review looks at Warner's recently-released The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town: Deluxe Edition. One of Rankin/Bass's less famous stop-motion works, this 1977 TV special follows the pattern set by Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, complete with Fred Astaire as singer/storyteller, to explain how the holiday's traditions came to be.
It tells of two communities on opposite sides of Big Rock Mountain, Kidville and Town, and the affect that Sunny the Easter Bunny has on each. Read the full review.

February 27, 2008 - We have a new interview for you today, this one with Mitchel Musso. Best known for playing Hannah Montana's pal Oliver Oken, Musso is now embarking on his own musical career. He talks to UD's Amy Braun about his cover of "Lean on Me" for the recently-released Snow Buddies, the debut album he's working on, the future of "Hannah Montana", and his work as a voice actor which includes Monster House and Disney Channel's "Phineas and Ferb." Don't miss our Mitchel Musso Interview.

February 26, 2008 - Our latest DVD review looks at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection, the recently-released 3-disc set which holds 41 Oscar-nominated cartoon shorts (including 15 winners). MGM's Tom & Jerry claim the most time with 13 shorts, but the lineup also includes Looney Tunes (most prominently, Bugs Bunny, Tweety and Sylvester), Popeye, Superman, and an array of one-off works from the likes of Tex Avery and Chuck Jones. For bonus materials, there are 14 audio commentaries, 6 music-only tracks, the Bugs Bunny short What's Cookin' Doc? (which is set at the Oscars ceremony), and, most remarkably, a fantastic new hour-long documentary on the history of the animated short. Casual animation fans and serious collectors should both take notice of this fine set which, in spite of a few shortcomings, provides hours of enjoyment and some medium milestones. Read our full review.

It's Tuesday again, which means that it's time for you to check out our Weekly DVD Release Schedule for information on all of today's new DVDs,
Blu-ray Discs, and HD DVDs including detailed reviews of noteworthy titles.

February 23, 2008 - Upcoming DVD Art has been updated with cover art and preorder links for the 2008 DVD and Blu-ray releases of Sleeping Beauty: Platinum Edition, National Treasure, and National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Click here to view all.

February 22, 2008 - Aaron Wallace covers Across the Universe, the visually imaginative musical from director Julie Taymor (Frida, Broadway's Lion King) which employs more than 30 Beatles songs in telling of a group of young people in New York City during the social upheaval of the 1960s. The critically acclaimed but modestly attended PG-13-rated film is treated to a 2-Disc Deluxe Edition from Sony, which includes an audio commentary, extended musical performances, a host of featurettes, deleted footage, and more. Read the full review.

In our latest DVD review, Kelvin Cedeno examines "Little Einsteins": Race for Space, the sixth disc devoted solely to the enriching Playhouse Disney series. Misleadingly titled, there's little space in this collection of 3 episodes, two of which are already in the broadcast rotation and one of which is new (to American viewers, at least). Bonus features include a pair of "Lou and Lou: Safety Patrol" shorts and a "Rocket Around-the-World" set-top game. Read...

February 21, 2008 - Our newest review looks at "Smurfs": Season One, Volume One, the long-awaited American DVD debut of the beloved 1980s cartoon series. Smurfs, you may recall, are good-hearted blue creatures who live in a forest and, for some reason, enrage the evil wizard Gargamel and his cat Azrael. The likable lot of characters are more easily distinguished by personality than appearance and include Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy Smurf, Grouchy Smurf, and Jokey Smurf. Available next week, Warner's two-disc set serves up 19 episodes in 9 different sets plus the primetime Smurf Springtime Special and a short theme song music video. Don't miss the full review.

February 20, 2008 - With Blu-ray Disc having essentially won the high-definition format war, we've just updated our Disney Blu-ray page, which provides extensive information on the studio's 22 currently available Blu-ray titles and additional scheduled upcoming releases.

Disney has issued a surprisingly early press release for the next wave of Walt Disney Treasures. The eighth wave will reach stores on November 11, 2008, a month earlier than usual. This year's limited two-disc sets will be: Destino, Dr. Syn, Alias The Scarecrow, and The Chronological Donald, Volume 4.




Browse more movie posters, photos, and memorabilia
Destino, the 2003 completion of an abandoned 1940s Walt Disney-Salvador Dali short film, will be accompanied by a feature-length documentary plus the featurettes "The Disney That Almost Was" and "Encounters with Walt." Originally announced for release in 2004, Dr. Syn will contain the three episodes of "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" as they originally aired on Walt's weekly anthology in February of 1964 as well as the 1975 theatrical feature compositing them. Donald's 31-cartoon set will pick up in 1951 (where Volume 3 left off) and take us to his series' end in 1961, including some CinemaScope shorts in their wide original aspect ratios.

Nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture and the highest-grossing film in Fox Searchlight's history, Juno has just been announced for DVD and Blu-ray release on April 15th. The acclaimed quirky comedy will be made available in single-disc and two-disc Special Edition DVDs as well as a dual-layer Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, extras will include an audio commentary by director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody, 11 deleted scenes, screen tests, a gag reel, a gag take, and a Cast & Crew Jam. The 2-Disc DVD adds a Digital Copy of the film plus four featurettes, while Blu-ray will provide a 5.1 DTS lossless audio track and two exclusive Fox Movie Channel specials. For cover art, more information, and to preorder, check out our April DVD Schedule.

February 19, 2008 - Christopher Disher's newest DVD review looks at Margot at the Wedding, Noah Baumbach's follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2005 film The Squid and the Whale. Like that one, Margot blends drama, comedy, and personal experiences into a unique tale of a dysfunctional family. Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jack Black star in this R-rated indie, which comes to DVD from Paramount after a short, quiet theatrical release. Full review...

A booklet inside 101 Dalmatians: Platinum Edition confirms that following Sleeping Beauty this fall, Walt Disney's 1940 classic Pinocchio will be next in line to receive the two-disc Platinum Edition treatment on DVD and Blu-ray.The animated feature, Walt Disney's second, has been released twice on DVD but never with more than a trailer for bonus features. It has been out of print since January 2002.

The same DVD reveals that a 45th Anniversary Edition of The Sword in the Stone will be released to DVD this summer with "all-new bonus features", while a new Special Edition of 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure is due in the fall.

Paramount has announced DVD releases for two of their biggest Oscar nominees. Tim Burton's dark musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street will appear on April 1st in a single-disc DVD, a 2-disc Special Edition DVD, and, even though the format appears to be on its way out, a 2-Disc HD DVD. Bonus features on the two-disc editions will include 9 featurettes, interviews from a November 2007 press conference and a Moviefone Unscripted episode, trailers, and a photo gallery. Of those 9 featurettes, the single-disc will carry just one ("Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd"). A week later, on April 8th, Paul Thomas Anderson's edgy drama There Will Be Blood, will be similarly treated to three different releases. The 2-disc Collector's Edition DVD will deliver two deleted scenes, 2 trailers, and 3 featurettes, while the 2-disc HD DVD will provide even more featurettes. You can preorder either title and find out more on our April DVD Schedule.

Today gives us another exciting new release date for DVDs and their high-definition counterparts. As always, you can look no further than DVDizzy.com for a detailed overview of all the week's major new titles.

February 18, 2008 - Kelvin Cedeno treats us an early review of Beowulf: Director's Cut, the unrated and more loaded of two DVD versions given to Robert Zemeckis' motion capture-animated adaptation of the Old English epic poem. He claims the visuals are hit and miss, with detailed static scenes impressing much more than motion-filled action sequences and actor-driven character design questioning the need for all-CGI. Looking past the medium, the film succeeds with its creative weaving of the text and playful tone.
Paramount's DVD delivers impeccable picture and sound, and a collection of extras that are generally brief but enlightening. More...

In an unsurprisingly calculated move, Disney has alerted retailers to expect the Blu-ray debut of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on May 13th, three days before sequel Prince Caspian opens in theaters. It remains unclear whether Blu-ray owners will receive the 143-minute theatrical cut or the modestly-extended 150-minute trim of the film (early press materials list the never-accurate 134 runtime). Extras sound largely like a resurfacing of the supplements from 2006's Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition and Four-Disc Extended Edition, with the addition of the all-new game "Battle for Narnia", "Total Menus", and the open-ended "and more!" Amazon.com lists the release as a single-disc; you can now order the title for $23.95 and be covered by the e-tailer's Pre-order Price Guarantee.

Meanwhile, Disney has also announced May 20th as the DVD and Blu-ray release debut for National Treasure (2): Book of Secrets (specs posted on January 25).

Our coverage of this week's new DVDs continues with a look at It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown: Remastered Deluxe Edition from Warner Brothers. As on the release Paramount gave it five years ago, the 1974 TV special is joined by 1976's It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown. Both specials deliver reasonable amounts of the wit and fun Charles Schulz's beloved creations are well-known for. Warner's disc serves up improved picture quality (we've got a comparison), snazzy packaging, and a brand new 15-minute featurette. Read on...

February 15, 2008 - Our latest DVD review looks at "COPS": 20th Anniversary Edition, next week's terrific two-disc release of the longtime Fox reality series. Those who consider the much-syndicated docudrama only something on which to momentarily stop channel-surfing may reconsider that when they see the fine package Fox has put together.
The DVD serves up a trio of hour-long shows (the 20th season's "best of" special, the 1989 pilot, and a 2004 Las Vegas episode), a standout segment from each of the first 20 seasons, two audio commentaries, and a number of fantastic featurettes (from a behind-the-scenes look to a collection of movie and TV spoofs). Full review.

February 14, 2008 - We have a new interview today with Dominic Scott Kay. In her first report for UltimateDisney.com, Amy Braun talks with the seasoned 11-year-old actor. Kay has appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Minority Report in addition to voicing lead roles in Charlotte's Web and Air Buddies. He's even written and directed two short films. Kay talks about his career, giving special attention to last week's DVD premiere Snow Buddies, in which he holds the lead human part. Read the full interview.

Recent Disney DVD and CD Reviews:
The Aristocats: Special Edition - Neither the definitive release fans hoped for nor the two-disc set originally announced, this lightweight reissue still easily surpasses the now-discontinued Gold Collection DVD with a 16x9 transfer, new 5.1 remix, and a small collection of bonuses. It's the charming film, not one of the studio's best but among their better, that's the main attraction.
Snow Buddies - Like its immediate predecessor, this seventh and latest direct-to-video entry to the series of dog comedies focuses on Bud's talking puppies. They unexpectedly journey to Alaska and form a dogsled racing team with a boy and his Husky. Despite solid technical values and adorable canines, the film wastes a star voice cast on clunky dialogue while serving up a by-the-numbers plot, two-dimensional characters, and plenty of fluff. The disc includes a music video by Mitchel Musso ("Hannah Montana"), bloopers, a character commentary, and two featurettes.
Twitches Too - Disney Channel Original Movie follows its hit 2005 predecessor too closely, in revisiting the twentysomething twin witches played by Tia and Tamara Mowry ("Sister, Sister"). Cheap effects and a flat story thwart an effort to recapture the fun. The disappointing DVD serves up only a fullscreen transfer, a fluffy featurette, and a 94-second alternate scene.
"Hannah Montana": One in a Million - This fourth compilation devoted solely to Disney Channel's top-rated sitcom serves up four unrelated 2007 episodes, two music videos, a bonus episode of "That's So Raven", and a countdown of the network's Top 10 Character Feuds.

Recent Non-Disney DVD Reviews:
Becoming Jane - Miramax's PG-rated fictionalized romance mixes the few known facts on Jane Austen with the elements of her beloved novels. Stars Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy receive support from English veterans Maggie Smith, James Cromwell, and Julie Walters. The DVD supplies 20 minutes of deleted scenes, a 3-speaker commentary, a substantial featurette, and a pop-up facts track.
Gone Baby Gone - Adapted from the novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), this gripping R-rated drama follows private detectives, police officers, and a family into the investigation of a young Boston girl's disappearance. In his directing debut, co-writer Ben Affleck proves proficient while getting terrific performances from brother Casey, Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, and Oscar nominee Amy Ryan. Miramax's disc serves up two featurettes, an underwhelming set of deleted scenes, and an audio commentary.
Martian Child - John Cusack plays a widowed sci-fi author who adopts a quiet young boy that claims to be from Mars. Adapted from David Gerrold's largely autobiographical short story, this family drama comes to DVD from New Line with a half hour of deleted scenes, a commentary, two substantial featurettes, and the trailer after a short, uneventful theatrical run.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age - Cate Blanchett reprises her Oscar-winning turn as Queen Elizabeth I in this unlikely sequel to the acclaimed 1998 drama. Covering the later years of the monarch's reign, the film depicts religious turmoil and the pursuit of love with pulchritudinous production design but questionable technique. Universal's DVD offers deleted scenes, a quartet of featurettes, a commentary by director Shekhar Kapur, and some snazzy menus.
The Apartment: Collector's Edition - MGM reissues this heralded Oscar winner and AFI staple with an audio commentary and two featurettes. Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray star in this classification-defying film about an apartment shared by office employees and their mistresses.
Blind Dating - Polished but amateurish romantic comedy tells of a young man (Chris Pine) looking to find love with a woman who can overlook his blindness. The PG-13-rated indie comes to DVD by Fox joined by 16 minutes of deleted scenes, a short making-of video, the trailer, and (of course) a narrated track for the visually impaired.
Saving Sarah Cain - Lisa Pepper stars as a Portland columnist who unexpectedly receives custody of her five Amish nephews and nieces in this Lifetime-premiered Michael Landon, Jr. adaptation of a Beverly Lewis novel. Fox grants the movie a solid DVD release.
Lake Placid 2: Unrated - The Sci-Fi Channel's made-for-TV sequel follows 1999's unspectacular crocodile thriller with pedestrian production values and a cast whose biggest star is out-of-place octogenarian Cloris Leachman. Needless to say, it's not pretty.
The Comebacks - David Koechner stars as an unlucky coach of a Texas college football team in this innuendo-filled send-up of sports films. Poorly reviewed and attended but not as bad as some of its parody kin, it still squanders a likable cast and generally disappoints. The Unrated cut runs 20 minutes longer than the PG-13-on-appeal theatrical cut and includes 13 minutes of deleted scenes, a lifeless commentary, and 7 short bonuses.

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PAST NEWS UPDATES
101 Dalmatians: Platinum Edition DVD Review
The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town: Deluxe Edition DVD Review
Mitchel Musso Interview
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection DVD Review
February 1-15 Archives
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Disney's Upcoming DVD Schedule: Everything you need to know about what Disney DVDs are coming soon!
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DVD REVIEWS
Latest Reviews (rated):
Tigger & Pooh: Friendly Tails
Easter Bunny is Comin': DE
Warner Bros. Academy Awards Animation Collection
Across the Universe
Little Einsteins: Race for...
Smurfs: Season 1, Vol. 1
Margot at the Wedding
Beowulf: Director's Cut
It's Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown: Deluxe Edition
COPS: 20th Anniversary Ed.
Becoming Jane
Gone Baby Gone
Martian Child
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
The Apartment: Collector's
Smurfs: Season One, Volume One DVD Review
Blind Dating
Snow Buddies
The Aristocats: Special Ed.
Saving Sarah Cain
Twitches Too
Lake Placid 2 (Unrated)
The Comebacks (Unrated)
Hannah Montana: 1... Million
The Game Plan
The Odd Couple: Season 3
Sabrina, Teenage Witch: S3
Joshua
Daddy Day Camp
Wedding Daze
When Harry Met Sally...: CE
An Affair to Remember: 50th
Sunshine
The Tudors: Season 1
Mr. Bean's Holiday
Eagle vs Shark
Death Sentence
Zodiac: 2-Disc Director's Cut
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COPS: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD Review
Top 100 Disney Songs Countdown
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Summer 2007 CD Roundup
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A Musical History of Disneyland 6-CD Review
Summer 2006 CD Roundup
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Count down the best of Disney's villains!
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Mitchel Musso, "Hannah Montana"
Dominic Scott Kay, star of Snow Buddies
Tony Baxter, Senior VP of Walt Disney Imagineering
Gore Verbinski, Director of Pirates of the Caribbean
Margaret Kerry, the Model for Tinker Bell in Peter Pan
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Vince Papale, Inspiration for Invincible
Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio, Pirates of the Caribbean
Jim Kammerud, Director of The Fox and the Hound 2
Moira Kelly, The Voice of Nala, The Lion King
An Interview with Don Hahn, Veteran Producer
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