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AUGUST 1-15, 2005: NEWS ARCHIVES
Click here or scroll down for Tuesday's new release chart.
August 15, 2005 - Amazon.com has just made the following ten Fourth Quarter DVDs available for preorder:
• Kermit's 50th Anniversary reissues The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Muppet Treasure Island (November 29, $13.99 each);
• Walt Disney Treasures Wave 5: The Chronological Donald, Volume Two: 1942-1946, Disney Rarities: Celebrated Shorts - 1920s-1960s, The Adventures of Spin & Marty, and Elfego Baca and The Swamp Fox: Legendary Heroes (December 6, $23.09 each);
• Gargoyles: Season Two, Volume One (December 6, $27.99), and Once Upon a Mattress (December 20, $13.99).
• Click here for UD's complete and up-to-date Upcoming Disney DVD Schedule.
As the most voluminous Disney DVD release date of the summer (tomorrow) nears, we at UD are making every effort to give all six (plus one) the comprehensive review coverage you expect. Today, Aaron Wallace looks at Timeless Tales: Volume Two, which delivers the "classic cartoons, no bonus features" treatment that Disney has enjoyed offering as an alternative to the Treasures line in 2005. This volume provides four literary adaptations from Disney's early years of animation and includes 35-minute Mr. Toad featurette The Wind in the Willows and 1938's Ferdinand the Bull (which makes its proper DVD debut). While the disc's content ("some of Disney's finest animated shorts") excels, your take on its barren design depends strictly on your collecting sensibilities.
August 14, 2005 - Our latest DVD review looks at Phil of the Future: Gadgets & Gizmos, a 4-episode compilation of Disney Channel's year-old original series which is released this week. The featured show, a fish-out-of-water family comedy centered on the titular teen, is one of the channel's more entertaining programs and the selected episodes are a fun bunch. An audio commentary by star Ricky Ullman on an episode not yet aired in the U.S. plus a goofy "Cyber Catalogue" feature even sweeten the disc. But the random episode route taken delivers far less bang for the buck than would a pricier season set (which has not been offered), and this may be off-putting to fans.
Menus and additional stills from Gadgets & Gizmos and the Studio Ghibli comedy My Neighbors the Yamadas have been added to our August Disney DVD Thread. These two discs are among six Disney is issuing on Tuesday, the studio's biggest DVD release date in more than two months. Three veteran UD reviewers are currently hard at work to bring you our usual in-depth coverage of all the week's new Disney titles, plus the dark but warmly-received Sin City from the Dimension Films branch. See the chart below for a complete list or the August thread for a profile of the entire month's slate.
August 13, 2005 - Our latest DVD review looks at Timeless Tales: Volume One, which launches another new animated short compilation series. This hour-long disc delivers five enduring cartoons adapted from familiar fables in the way of four 1930s Silly Symphonies and the 1990 Mickey Mouse featurette The Prince and the Pauper. Though the selected content (which includes a pair of Oscar winners) consistently delights, the child-oriented presentation will leave most wanting more and it doesn't help matters that Pauper has been cropped from its widescreen theatrical aspect ratio.
DisneyDirect.com informs us that the four Muppet film reissues will arrive on November 29th and each will be presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Both The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper will be accompanied by new "Backstage Disney" features including Pepe Profiles "Kermit: A Frog's Life" and "Miss Piggy: The Diva Who Would Not Be Denied", respectively. The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island appear to port over the exact same extras from their previous Disney DVDs. One hopes that implies 16x9 widescreen transfers will differentiate them from their currently in-print versions, but no aspect ratio is listed for any of the discs. The Disney-owned e-tailer also reveals cover art for Movie and Caper. (Thanks to Mike for letting us know.)
August 12, 2005 - Artwork has crept in from six of the holiday season's most highly-anticipated Disney DVDs: the four latest two-disc volumes in the collector-friendly series Walt Disney Treasures and Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition re-releases of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island. The Treasures covers reveal the full titles and, in turn, some information about the sets' contents. Coming December 6th are The Chronological Donald: Volume Two (1942-1946), Disney Rarities: Celebrated Shorts: 1920s - 1960s, The Adventures of Spin & Marty, The Mickey Mouse Club, and Elfego Baca • The Swamp Fox: Legendary Heroes. While no specs have yet come in on the Muppet film reissues, these two (plus The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper) will arrive in single-disc versions sometime in November carrying an SRP of $19.99 each.
Long planned for The Wonderful World of Disney but never actually aired, the studio's made-for-TV movie Once Upon a Mattress appears to be sneaking directly to DVD right before Christmas. Adapted from the modernized Broadway musical, this comedic production marks the film directorial debut of Tony Award-winning choreographer Kathleen Marshall and stars Carol Burnett, Tracey Ullman, and Zooey Deschanel. The disc will street on December 20th, carrying a $19.99 SRP and behind-the-scenes extras to be announced. Cover art has been posted here.
November 8th is shaping up to be a big day for DVDs of programs escaping Disney's television vaults. In addition to yesterday's "DuckTales" and "Chip 'n Dale" announcement, the studio has now slated for simultaneous release multi-disc Season One box sets of the early '80s Australian drama "Five Mile Creek" (4 discs, $39.99 SRP) and early '90s Canadian drama "Tales From Avonlea" (3 discs, $34.99 SRP), both from the Disney Channel of yesteryear. Disney has also issued a fact sheet for Aliens of the Deep, James Cameron's G-rated deep sea odyssey, which as previously stated, will arrive on November 1st, with two different cuts of the IMAX film. Click on any of the titles for more information, via Disney's fact sheets; we expect many more details on all of these releases in the weeks ahead.
Cover art has just been posted for Aliens of the Deep.
August 11, 2005 - Now this is exciting news! Disney has just announced that they will release 3-disc box sets of late '80s/early '90s animated television series "DuckTales" and "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" on November 8th! The few details available now have just been posted in a DVD Fact Sheet. The sets (which will each carry a $34.99 SRP) will mark only the second time a Disney TV cartoon has come to DVD in multi-disc format. We'll have more on these as soon as it comes in.
Amazon.com has posted what seems to be a full list of bonus features for the October 25th DVD of Disney's summer comedy Herbie: Fully Loaded. The single disc release will apparently include a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer (with no full screen version offered), Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English, French, and Spanish, an audio commentary by director Angela Robinson, deleted scenes with optional commentary, bloopers, Lindsay Lohan's music video "First", and a trio of behind-the-scenes featurettes ("A Day at the Races" with NASCAR racer Deborah Renshaw, "Breaking the Rules: The Stunts of Herbie", and "Bringing Herbie to Life"). The previously-rumored Herbie audio commentary appears to have been scrapped, but Disney has yet to issue a formal announcement and the DVD is oddly not yet available for preorder through the e-tailer.
August 10, 2005 - In the amusing classifications category, the MPAA has slapped Disney's upcoming NCAA basketball drama Glory Road with a PG rating "for racial issues including violence and epithets, and momentary language." Once scheduled for 2005 release, this Jerry Bruckheimer production will now open in theaters next January.
The Walt Disney Company announced their 3rd Quarter 2005 earnings via conference call yesterday. Despite strong sales performances from DVD titles such as The Incredibles, National Treasure, and The Pacifier, Disney's home video department announced a 15 percent decrease in revenue, with a comparable drop in number of units sold. Few interesting news items came from the hour-long proceedings, most notably a passing mention of a potential DVD release (in season sets) for "That's So Raven" and other live action Disney Channel series and an echoing of Pixar's recent statements regarding the ongoing discussions towards a new deal with the CGI powerhouse.
August 9, 2005 - UltimateDisney.com reaches another milestone today with the publication of our 300th DVD review. First, in review #299, Renata Joy puts Miramax in focus for a critique of Bride & Prejudice, a Jane Austen adaptation which blends Bollywood and Western styles of filmmaking with mixed results. The subject of #300 is The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, the Wonderful World of Disney movie which represents the Muppets' latest feature-length outing. It clearly fails to live up to past Muppet productions; its intentions are muddled and forced efforts to engage adults and teens hinder the film. Oz jumps quickly from TV to DVD, with flawless picture and sound, a small but entertaining handful of extras, and a questionable 4x3 presentation.
Disc art has been posted for Herbie: Fully Loaded, coming October 25th.
The website Ain't It Cool News has some silent in-progress video footage from Disney's upcoming animated films A Day with Wilbur Robinson and American Dog as well as a report from a presentation on Rapunzel Unbraided. The three CGI features are slated to arrive in theaters in fall 2006, 2007, and 2008 respectively.
Snowhite8 fills you in on this week's two Muppetational new Disney DVD releases in her latest 1-minute Weekly Video Update (WMV, 921 Kb).
With a very full month of DVDs already in progress, Disney has upgraded fact sheets to press releases on a number of their August titles, and so have we. The announcements reveal new information on bonus features and disc contents. Check them out: Phil of the Future: Gadgets & Gizmos, That's So Raven: Disguise the Limit, Timeless Tales: Volumes One and Two. We've also just finally gotten in all six of next week's new releases, so you can expect reviews in the days ahead. Check out our August Disney DVDs Thread for a complete look at this month's slate.
|July's Most Popular DVDs on UltimateDisney.com
August 8, 2005 - Disney has released a nearly six-minute preview of Valiant, Vanguard Animation's G-rated CGI comedy about World War II pigeons for which the Mouse holds U.S. distribution rights. You can view or save this preview in QuickTime format: Low-Res (12.5 Mb) • Medium (65 Mb) • High-Res (120 Mb). See the theatrical trailer and read more about the film right here. Valiant flies into theaters August 19th.
August 6, 2005 - When Disney purchased The Muppets Holding Company last year, it was a merging of two entities widely recognized and beloved for fun family entertainment. This partnership is responsible for "The Muppet Show" Season 1, the subject of our latest DVD review. This 4-disc boxset holds the 10-hour, 24-episode debut 1976-77 season of the Muppets' big primetime break. Music, humor, and long-forgotten guest entertainers make for a unique and pleasing variety show experience pulled off in the witty Muppets way. While five episodes are missing individual segments (primarily musical numbers), the set is largely a wonderful thing, boasting top-notch picture quality, an inspired design, and an excellent handful of extras both new (the highly informative "Muppet Morsels") and old (one of the show's two pilots, its original network pitch, and a promo reel). Viewers of all ages should find smiles and laughs abound in revisiting this dated but still fresh series which has at last been given praiseworthy DVD treatment. Read the full 2-page review.
August 5, 2005 - Disney has just released menus from next month's DVD releases The Parent Trap: 2-Movie Collection, Halloweentown & Halloweentown II Double Feature and Halloweentown High. You can check them out, along with other menu previews in our September Disney DVD Thread.
August 4, 2005 - Pixar Animation Studios announced their Second Quarter earnings at today's company conference call. During this, the Toy Story 2 Special Edition DVD was again confirmed for December 26th release. Pixar CEO Steve Jobs claimed he is "cautiously optimistic" about renewing a partnership with Disney and stated that the CG animation house is hoping to reach a new deal by the end of 2005.
Some UD readers have noticed a unique promotion going on at Costco outlets to celebrate Disneyland's golden anniversary. Five sets of lithographs reproducing attraction posters from different "lands" of the 50-year-old theme park have turned up in a number of discounted Disney DVDs, including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Davy Crockett: 2-Movie Set, Tron, the recently-released Vintage Mickey, and Treasure Island. Check out epcotfan4's forum thread for more details.
August 3, 2005 - Today, we look at the last of this week's new Disney DVDs. The World's Greatest Athlete is a fairly entertaining 1973 comedy about a young man transported from the African jungle to an American college by two down-on-their-luck coaches who hope he will excel at sports. On disc, this light-hearted film is given treatment often sought but rarely delivered for the studio's live action catalogue: a fine anamorphic transfer and a couple of bonus features.
Disney has released one disc's artwork from the Tarzan: Special Edition.
August 2, 2005 - Aaron Wallace has a reviewed the 18th entry into the popular Baby Einstein series for preschoolers, Baby Wordsworth: First Words - Around the House. This recently-released, 39-minute DVD seeks to stimulate the toddler demographic by illustrating helpful phrases and even teaching a bit of sign language with actress Marlee Matlin. Like other volumes in the line, it effectively employs a "short and sweet" approach and some extras to enable learning at a young age.
Cover art has been posted for Touchstone Television's upcoming box set "Scrubs": The Complete Second Season.
August 1, 2005 - Disney is releasing four live action films to DVD for the first time this week and for more information on them in 73 seconds, snowhite8 delivers a reliably entertaining new installment of her Weekly Video Update.
More of Disney's "Gargoyles" is on the way! UD forum member 'Battlebeast3' informs us that at the past weekend's Gathering of the Gargoyles convention in Las Vegas, the show's creator/producer Greg Weisman announced that "Gargoyles" Season 2, Part 1 will arrive in December. This three-disc will hold 26 episodes of the mid-'90s animated series (#'s 14-39) with audio commentaries and more bonus features to be announced.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
• The Boatniks - Inane 1970 comedy about clumsy Coast Guard ensign on trail of bumbling thieves is a serious contender for the worst Disney film ever. DVD offers fullscreen only transfer, plus trailer and dull silent "outtakes" reel.
• Johnny Tremain - Made for television but ultimately theatrical early live action drama tells of Revolutionary War from unsung hero's perspective. Boasts stunning remastered transfer and a handful of relevant vintage Walt broadcasts as bonus.
• Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus - Charming 1960 drama about a young runaway boy's trials and tribulations in that fantastic world of the circus. The DVD is void of extras, but sports a satisfying transfer.
• The Best of The Mickey Mouse Club - Low-priced disc delivers 5 half-hour episodes from the third season and syndicated days of Walt's daily variety show. While it hardly seems to be the show's definitive "best" and it suffers from a lack of continuity, the singing, serials, and Mousekartoons are sure to delight anyone with fond memories of the original Mousekeeters.
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