October 30, 2006 - Our Fall CD Roundup is here and it is easily our biggest yet. We cover thirteen albums, five of which are equipped with a second disc (either a concert DVD or a pop covers companion). The subjects of these reviews: The Little Mermaid: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack, The Nightmare Before Christmas: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack, The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series, Hannah Montana: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series (CD + DVD), The Cheetah Girls 2 Soundtrack, Radio Disney Party Jams (CD + DVD), Ralph's World - Welcome to Ralph's World (CD + DVD), Baby Einstein: Playdate Fun, plus Disney's Karaoke Series volumes for The Little Mermaid, Cars, High School Musical, and The Cheetah Girls 2. Click here for much more on all of these.
With the posting of our latest CD roundup, UltimateDisney.com now has critiques of over 60 releases from Disney's musical branches scattered about nine different pages. To help guide you to the review of your choosing, we've created a Disney CD Review Index with direct links to our dedicated coverage.
New cover art has been posted for three of next winter's scheduled DVD releases, granting us a first look at the debut "Higglytown Heroes" wave and a revised front for Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (marred by the obligatory plain, not real DTV header/footer banners). Check out Upcoming Cover Art for all these and more.
October 28, 2006 - "Hogi Bear" has spotted the first downloadable trailer for next February's big screen Disney/Walden fantasy, Bridge to Terabithia. Click here to view/save. (31.3 MB, QuickTime) More on Bridge... Meanwhile, next week's theatrical release, The Santa Clause 3, is being promoted in a 15-second spot that Vanilla Ice fans might enjoy. See YouTube for it or check out our preview for more on this holiday sequel.
October 27, 2006 - In UD's latest review, Aaron Wallace looks at A&E's recent DVD release of "Ellen" The Complete Fourth Season. In this year, the Touchstone sitcom broke ground by having its titular protagonist come out off the closet as network television's first gay lead. As the critique observes, the late-season twist earned the show its highest ratings, but at a creative cost. The 3-disc box set offers writers' commentary on the historic two-parter and cast bios. More...
Members of the UD Forum have noticed that Disney's consumer website is showing the Gold Collection DVD of The Aristocats as being no longer available. Cross-checking with other sources further suggests that this disc holding the 1970 animated film has indeed been quietly discontinued. If the movie follows Disney's trend of mid-range Disney hits (i.e. The Fox and the Hound, Robin Hood), then an "Ev'rybody Wants To Be a Cat" edition may not be far off.
October 26, 2006 - Amazon.com has made the following Disney DVDs available for preorder at 30% off SRP discounts: Invincible ($20.99), That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana ($13.99), and Read It and Weep ($13.99).
October 25, 2006 - A press release has finally been issued for The Cheetah Girls 2: Cheetah-licious Edition, which is due on DVD on November 28th. The final version of specs confirm a fullscreen/Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation of the movie, which will be offered in both extended and sing-along versions. Bonus features will include "Cheetah Tips", a "Dance with Me" music video by Belinda and Drew Seeley. Click here for the complete announcement and discussion of this Disney Channel Original Movie.
October 24, 2006 - For many people, getting to appear on the big screen is just a dream, but the subject of UD's latest interview -- Hank Jones -- realized that dream more than a dozen times in a nearly 20-year acting career. From 1968 to 1978, Jones appeared in eight live action Disney films, most notably as track & field team captain Gudger Larkin in Blackbeard's Ghost, the last film personally produced by Walt Disney. Other highlights of Jones' eventful time in the entertainment industry include being part of a regular singing duo on "The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show" and making guest appearances on 15 TV shows including some of the most popular sitcoms of the '60s and '70s. Jones recently took out time to talk with us about his time at Disney, his disappointment over his films' DVDs (he is the one we dubbed "kid with half-a-face" on account of heavy cropping in Blackbeard's), and his other longtime passion (and current career): genealogy. Click here for UltimateDisney.com's Interview with Hank Jones.
October 23, 2006 - Our newest DVD review looks at The Straight Story, a sweet 1999 live action drama quite unlike other films, Disney or not. The movie, surprisingly directed by David Lynch, centers on an old man who uses a riding lawnmower to make a 300-mile trip to see the sick brother he hasn't spoken to in years. This unorthodox film, based on an unusual true story, requires patience but delivers nearly unparalleled poignancy. It is also one of just three Disney films to produce an acting category Oscar nomination; it was one of many commendations star Richard Farnsworth earned in his final performance. More...
October 22, 2006 - Albert Gutierrez takes a look at another of this week's new DVDs: Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior. Surprisingly, the Brenda Song-headlined Disney Channel Original Movie breaks out of the genre's mold and adds elaborate martial arts action to a shaky teen-centered story. The "Kickin' Edition" disc supplies a pair of featurettes, a brief extended ending, and a complete episode of Song's sitcom "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody." Check out the full review.
October 20, 2006 - Our streak of daily reviews continues with our critique of "Hannah Montana": Livin' the Rock Star Life. Hitting stores next week, this disc holds four episodes of the popular new Disney Channel comedy series, one of which (as usual) hasn't yet aired. Though a trio of good little extras sweeten the package, this is obviously a disappointing compilation for fans wanting the entire show on DVD. The unacquainted will probably be unimpressed by the show itself, which seems to exist in part to quickly deliver a promising new acting/pop star to the Disney family. Click here for the full review.
"lighthousemike" has again come through with an early look at an upcoming Disney DVD. This time, he posts pictures and screencaps from Cars, Pixar's summer blockbuster which will race to disc in 2½ weeks. Among the disc's sneak peeks is one for Disney Blu-ray which touts forthcoming releases of "The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo ...and many more." Click here for a look at the packaging and contents of Cars' DVD.
October 19, 2006 - Disney has slated Invincible, the inspirational PG-rated football drama starring Mark Wahlberg, for DVD release on December 19th. The studio's latest true sports film will be presented exclusively in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby 5.1 and accompanied by the featurette "Becoming Invincible: The Vince Papale Story" and two audio commentaries - one with director Ericson Core and editor Jerry Greenberg, the other with producer Mark Ciardi, writer Brad Gann, and Vince Papale himself. The movie will also mark Disney's first day-and-date DVD/Blu-ray release; it will arrive alongside Pearl Harbor as the studio's fourth wave of high-definition releases. Click here for cover art.
Another past title gets covered in our new DVD review of That Darn Cat (1997). This remake of the 1965 Hayley Mills/Dean Jones comedy casts Christina Ricci and Doug E. Doug in the lead roles (and Jones in a supporting one). It updates many things in retelling the tale of a teenage girl's feline who might just be the one to crack a kidnapping case. A large, impressive cast of character actors, a good sense of humor, and improved pacing make this one quite a bit of fun, even if its conclusion is a mess. This is among the handful of discs which has been mislabeled, though the error works to our advantage this time. Read on...
Hot off the presses: the press release for Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. This announcement outlines this direct-to-video movie's plot and talks up the two interactive extras. Read the full press release.
Disney's November Blu-ray discs are now up for preorder at hefty discounts: The Wild and Sky High.
October 18, 2006 - A press release has just come in for Peter Pan: Platinum Edition. This open-ended announcement confirms and elaborates on eight bonus features as well as hyping the digital restoration given to this 1953 feature for its Platinum debut next March. More...
Disney has released a brief Internet featurette on how The Nightmare Before Christmas was transformed into Disney Digital 3-D for this week's limited big screen re-release: click here to view (QuickTime). For more on Nightmare's theatrical return, don't miss our Interview with Don Hahn, posted last Thursday.
Every once in a while, a slow patch in Disney's DVD schedule allows us to go back and review something we didn't when it came out. That is the case today, as we look at The Big Green, the studio's 1995 comedy. The tale of young small-town misfits banding together on a winning soccer team invokes most formulas of the youth sports film. Still, like most of last decade's many entries to this genre, the movie is easy to criticize but fun to watch and hard to dislike. Its 2004 DVD treatment made it the only live action film of its year to get a widescreen presentation, but alas, there are some catches. Read on...
October 17, 2006 - It's time for another DVD review. This one looks at Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh: Love & Friendship, the fifth U.S. volume in a series comprised chiefly of the late '80s TV cartoon "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh." Unsurprisingly, the disc follows its predecessors by dicing up unrelated episodes and making them preschooler-friendly with new puppet shows and transitions. Picture quality is very lacking, the two brief bonuses add little value, and one episode may be missing parts. The sub-hour runtime and underwhelming presentation make this 4-episode compilation a far cry from the box set treatment bestowed upon other esteemed series from the same era. The disc is an easy one to pass on, even for those fond of the quality show at its core (and the chosen episodes do not represent its best moments). Read the full review.
October 16, 2006 - In recent weeks, with other studios testing Amazon.com's newly-unveiled Unbox Video Downloads system, Disney has amplified the amount of content it is making available for Apple's iTunes. Among the items that can now be downloaded are feature-length movies like The Little Mermaid, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, The Wild, and Brother Bear 2 (priced at $9.99 - $14.99 a piece) and episode compilations like Disney Channel Halloween (6 holiday episodes at $9.99). All the while, Disney continues to explore high-definition video. The studio's second wave of Blu-ray discs reaches stores tomorrow and includes The Haunted Mansion and Glory Road.
In UD's eleventh and latest interview, Aaron Wallace catches up with Priscilla Weems, one of the young stars of "Five Mile Creek", the hour-long Australian drama that became one of the Disney Channel's first hits upon the cable network's early '80s launch. Weems, who also held a recurring role on the CBS sitcom "Designing Women" and had guest spots on several others, reflects on filming "Creek" thousands of miles away from home as a child, her career as a singer, meeting Nicole Kidman before she made it big, last year's "Creek" DVD, and more. Check out the full article: Hannah Revisits "Five Mile Creek": UltimateDisney.com Interviews Priscilla Weems.
Cover art has been added for That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana and Read It and Weep.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has scheduled two more Disney Channel DVDs for release early next year. Arriving on January 16, 2007 is That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana: Mixed-Up Mashed-Up Edition, the three-show crossover that became the most-watched three episodes in the network's history when it aired last summer. The disc will include one extra for each of its featured series, with the trivia game "So You Think You Know Raven, Volume 2", a never-before-seen episode of "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody", and a Hannah Montana music video. Due the same day is Read It and Weep: Zapped Edition, the Panabaker sisters movie which aired last summer. It will include a behind-the-scenes featurette, the never-before-seen Jordan Pruitt music video for "Outside Looking In", and "DCOM extras." Each DVD will carry a $19.99 list price.
October 12, 2006 - Via Home Media Retailing, Disney is reporting that, with more than 4 million copies sold in its first week of availability, The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition has made a splash as the top-selling animated debut in the history of October. By now, you should be acquainted with your copy of the 2-disc set. If so, be sure to share your thoughts and join in UD's most active forum thread ever, which has just been continued in a Part 2, with more screencaps from the DVD.
October 11, 2006 - UltimateDisney.com recently had the opportunity to speak with veteran Disney film producer Don Hahn, a man behind some of the studio's biggest animated hits ever, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King. In An Interview with Don Hahn, the producer focuses on his latest project -- overseeing the transformation of cult holiday favorite The Nightmare Before Christmas into three dimensions for next week's big screen release of Tim Burton's 1993 stop-motion musical. Hahn answers the how and why behind this unprecedented leap to Disney Digital 3-D. He also addresses the issue of Nightmare's once-Touchstone/now-Disney branding, weighs in on the current state of animation, discusses the studio's new cartoon shorts program, and comments on upcoming DVD possibilities. Read our complete 2-page interview with Don Hahn.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
• The Fox and The Hound: 25th Anniversary Edition - Though lacking the flair of more cherished classics, this endearing, affecting tale blends anthropomorphized animals with modern filmmaking in a highly satisfying way. Its DVD is a missed opportunity for celebration, though, offering only minimal improvement over its Gold Collection disc. The picture remains imperfect and curiously fullscreen, while the light supply of bonuses deliver toddler-oriented fare and two thrifty extras recycled from the UK.
• The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition - The fantastic fairy tale attributed with resurrecting Disney animation finally gets the DVD treatment it deserves. The movie looks and sounds great and there's a satisfying multitude of bonus features. Some of the highlights: a compelling commentary, a thorough featurette, a multi-functional virtual Disney park ride, and a lot of deleted scenes.
• Twitches - Furthering the Disney Channel tradition of apt Halloween-ready family films, this story of separated twin witches succeeds in entertaining, in spite of some flaws (like spotty dialogue and heavily-used amateurish CGI). The "Betwitched Edition" disc includes a few inspired bonus features but continues the fullscreen-only trend of Region 1 DCOM DVDs.
Recent Touchstone, Miramax, and Buena Vista DVD Reviews:
• "Scrubs" The Complete Fourth Season - Touchstone's NBC comedy stays at the top of its game in Season 4, with minimal shake-ups but continued freshness and copious amounts of hilarity. The extras don't quite live up to the previous three sets, but there is still a welcome menu of featurettes, deleted footage, and episode commentaries.
• "Grey's Anatomy" The Complete Second Season - The sophomore season of ABC's popular medical drama brought several types of growth. The 6-disc box set includes four extended episodes and five commentaries.
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