December 29, 2006 - We're back with Aaron Wallace's review of The Fox and the Hound 2. This recently-released midquel moves Disney's twelve-year practice of issuing inferior but diverting sequels to a 25-year-old film that doesn't rank 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. As expected, the disc's picture and sound are without issue. Its bonus features offer a featurette on the movie's country/Broadway-flavored music, a Goofy short, a demo of Disney DVD Game World, a Mutt Mix Master, and a music video by High School Musical's Lucas Grabeel. Click here for the full review and don't forget to check out Albert Gutierrez's recent interview with director Jim Kammerud.
December 22, 2006 - Today, we've got you covered in two ways on Invincible, Walt Disney Pictures' latest true sports drama. First, we have a movie and DVD review, which looks at the satisfying treatment given to a familiar underdog rising. Here, the story belongs to 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. Full review...
Then, we're proud to bring you An Interview with Vince Papale, in which the real life inspiration for Invincible talks to UD about his involvement in the making of the movie, collaborating with Mark Wahlberg, the film's period rock soundtrack, the current Eagles squad, and his 30-year connection to Rocky Balboa. We even pitched him a question that no one else has ever dared to, involving one Tony Danza. Don't miss UD's Interview with Vince Papale.
With the posting of our 16th interview, we've set up an Interview Index to help you access UD's past conversations with assorted figures behind the making of Disney movies, television series, and music. Click here for the full list.
December 21, 2006 - Thanks to Albert Gutierrez, The Complete Pluto, Volume Two becomes the second Walt Disney Treasures set to get reviewed. 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. Read on...
December 20, 2006 - Wrapping up our coverage of the premiere wave of Walt Disney's Legacy Collection, Aaron Wallace reviews 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 the source texts 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. Read the full review.
December 19, 2006 - Our Snowy Screencap Challenge came to a close at midnight. We now can reveal to you the unobscured screencaps and the Disney films from which they originate. Randomly selected from all eligible entries, the winner and his or her prize are announced underneath the screencap reveals. Click here to view.
In UD's latest interview, Aaron Wallace talks to Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the writers of all three movies in Disney's wildly successful Pirates of the Caribbean series. They discuss the influence the ride had on them and the movies, the popularity of the Pirates franchise, the icon that Captain Jack Sparrow has become, and the future of Pirates after At World's End is released next spring. Elliott and Rossio also discuss some of their other noteworthy work, like Disney's animated features Aladdin and Treasure Planet and DreamWorks' CGI blockbuster Shrek. Be sure to check out UD's Interview with Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio.
On a related note, owners of the Curse of the Black Pearl's 3-disc Gift Set may be interested to learn of a newly-discovered Easter Egg found exclusively on "The Lost Disc."
December 18, 2006 - Our coverage of this week's new Walt Disney Treasures kicks off with a review of Your Host, Walt Disney. This release focuses on Walt's showman side, as a television personality on his weekly series. The two-disc set includes five anthology episodes (selected for Walt's personal involvement) plus the 90-minute thought-to-be-lost live special "Disneyland '59." The splendid bonus features offer a rare CinemaScope short of Walt interacting with Mickey Mouse on stage at Radio City Music Hall, a 21-minute interview with Walt's daughter Diane, a featurette with eight child actors who worked with Walt on television and film, and a photo gallery. Check out the full review to get all questions answered.
Amazon.com has just made three late winter youngster-friendly DVD releases available for preorder: "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse": Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt (March 20), "Little Einsteins": The Legend of the Golden Pyramid (February 27), and Baby Einstein: My First Signs (March 13). Each is currently selling for 25-30% off the $19.99 SRP.
December 16, 2006 - Albert Gutierrez recently spoke with Jim Kammerud, the director of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea and 101 Dalmatians II: London's Patch Adventure, whose latest film -- The Fox and the Hound 2 -- was released to DVD this week. Kammerud addresses the decision to revisit the 25-year-old world of Tod and Copper, the absence of supporting characters from the original film, and the cast and crew behind the movie. He also reflects on his earlier outings for Disney and elaborates on the The Aristocats 2, a planned project that may now never see the light of day. Check out UltimateDisney.com's Interview with Jim Kammerud and look for our Fox and the Hound 2 review early next week.
Another DVD review comes your way, as Renata Joy spins Disney DVD Game World: Disney Princess Edition. This virtual board game doesn't deliver much next to the far superior Dogs Edition. Its appeal is limited to young girls and as usual, they can do much better. Though it's diverting enough to virtually collect items on the way to the royal ball, the questions (which range from "Did you dance along with the princesses?" to trivia on the Aladdin sequels) aren't likely to win over many, aside from those who are pleased by the mindless fun that the ubiquitous Disney Princess brand often offers. Read the full review.
A press release has come in for That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana, the three-comedy crossover that became the three highest-rated episodes in Disney Channel history when they debuted last summer. Arriving alongside the DCOM Read It and Weep on January 16, 2007 in a "Mixed-Up, Mashed-Up Edition" DVD, the disc will deliver an extra from each of its three series: with a Raven set-top game, a Hannah Montana music video, and a never-before-seen episode of "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody." Click here for more...
It's time for another CD Roundup! This, Holidays 2006 CD Roundup, is our last report on Disney's music releases for the year. It makes sense then that we've expanded the 2-title critique to include 2006: Year in Review, which names the 10 Best Albums released by Walt Disney Records over the past twelve months and awards five other CDs niche triumphs (Best Box Set, Best Karaoke, Best CD+DVD Combo, Best Preschool, and Worst Overall CD). The two new subjects are Disney: The Music Behind the Magic, a five-star, two-disc, 50-track collection of 75 years of memorable Disney music; and The Cheetah Girls 2: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack, which expands last August's release with a remix, a cover, and a concert DVD. You definitely won't want to miss this final CD Roundup of 2006.
December 15, 2006 - The Disney Channel Original Movie Jump In! is still a month away from its debut airing and yet BVHE has already informed stores to expect the boxer-turned-Double-Dutch-jump-roper comedy's arrival on April 3, 2007 in a "Freestyle Edition." The DVD will offer a fullscreen/Dolby 5.1 presentation of the movie plus two music videos (Keke Palmer's "Jumpin'" and T-Squad's "Vertical") and two featurettes ("Learning the Moves" with star Corbin Bleu and "Inside the Ropes: The Making of Jump In!"). The release will be backed by a heavy promotional campaign on par with last spring's High School Musical: Encore Edition, which also starred Bleu.
December 14, 2006 - Ed South brings us nearly up to speed on last week's many Disney DVD releases with his new review of Walt Disney's Legacy Collection: True-Life Adventures, Volume 2 - Lands of Exploration. This two-disc set includes a couple of firsts: the very first True-Life Adventure (1948's Oscar-winning Seal Island) and the series' first feature-length production (1953's The Living Desert, another Oscar winner). It also contains the Oscar-winning documentary The Vanishing Prairie in addition to a couple of two-reel shorts (thematically similar but not given the TLA banner) and a pair of anthology episode excerpts. Though lighter than other volumes, the bonus features include a juicy "Filmmakers' Journal" piece, two shorts with Roy Disney at Animal Kingdom, and fifteen minutes of vintage trailers. Click here for the full review.
Amazon.com is currently selling the 6-disc theme park soundtrack A Musical History of Disneyland for over 30% off. That puts the collector's dream set under $69, but still qualifies it for free shipping in the US. You can read our detailed review of the CDs here.
We've expanded our Upcoming Disney Movies preview of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End to include the first two official pictures of the hotly-anticipated sequel. The photos depict Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, and (new cast addition) Chow Yun Fat in character. Click here to view them.
UD has received review copies of the new Walt Disney Treasures and thusly learned that Wave 6's sets are limited to the uncharacteristically low print run of 65,000 copies each. For more on next week's four tins and a place to sound off, visit our Walt Disney Treasures page and the Wave 6 Press Release & Discussion thread.
December 13, 2006 - Just posted: the press release for Read It and Weep. The 2006 Disney Channel Original Movie, which stars Kay and Danielle Panabaker, will turn up in stores on January 16th in a "Zapped Edition" which offers a Jordan Pruitt music video, an interview with the Panabaker sisters, and a making-of featurette. Read more...
Cover art for the second and final wave of Walt Disney's It's a Small World of Fun! -- has been posted. Volume 3 and Volume 4 are scheduled to arrive on February 13th holding a variety of cartoon sets set around the globe. Check out Upcoming Cover Art to view the new images.
December 12, 2006 - The biggest DVD set ever afforded a single Disney film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - Four-Disc Extended Edition is the subject of our latest DVD review. The blockbuster fantasy adaptation of C.S. Lewis's best-selling novel is spared drastic changes in a cut extended by just seven minutes. Disc 2 reproduces the second platter of last spring's Collector's Edition, Disc 3 delivers the 75-minute biography C.S. Lewis: Dreamer of Narnia, and Disc 4 serves up yet another way to view the movie (a visual-oriented alternative to a commentary) plus another "Anatomy of a Scene" featurette and an art gallery. Aside from the theatrical cut of the movie, nothing is lost, but not an overwhelming amount is gained either. This Extended Edition, which is also available for about $25 more in a Gift Set with bookends by WETA, Ltd., will only be produced through the end of January and it should disappear from stores not long after. Click here for our complete 2-page review.
Joshua has e-mailed us to note that widescreen versions of George of the Jungle and The Country Bears have been made available on iTunes. The comedies are both among the live action Disney films that have only come to DVD in fullscreen.
We've just posted our review of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - 2-Disc Special Edition. The highest-grossing Disney film of all-time, this sequel is not without its problems, but it overcomes a rocky start enough to be able to delight most viewers. Fine performances, standout action sequences, a good sense of humor, and fantastic effects make up for a weak first hour, an excess of oddness, and an open ending that's captivating but slightly sour. Though a re-release seems inevitable, the 2-Disc set should satisfy even the most ardent fans, with bonus features that are remarkable in both quantity and quality. These include a writers' audio commentary, a 25-minute pre-production featurette, an hour-long production documentary, 22 vignettes on Captain Jack Sparrow's unique look, two Disneyland-set pieces, and a blooper reel, plus one of the coolest slipcovers around. Click here for the full review, which offers nearly 30 pictures from the DVD and information on four Easter Eggs.
December 8, 2006 - Amidst this eventful week for Disney DVD, we have a look ahead to next week with both a review of and a report on Air Buddies. The sixth film in the athletic dog series, this one turns the focus to Air Bud's five puppies who must prove heroic when their parents are kidnapped. The movie, which premieres Tuesday only on DVD, is the first which lets its canines communicate à la Homeward Bound with a distinguished voice cast and convincing computer generated imagery. Albert Gutierrez reviews Air Buddies, pointing out the numerous positive messages to be found among the cute, compact, and childish comedy. The disc includes three short featurettes and a music video for a cover of "We Are Family." Meanwhile, Pluto Region1 turns in a photo-filled report from an Air Buddies Press Day held last Saturday on the Walt Disney Studios Lot in Burbank. The day found director Robert Vince and a host of cast members (including "Home Improvement" star Richard Karn) fielding questions on the movie's production during a discussion panel, while costumed golden retrievers made appearances on the red carpet. Don't miss our coverage on "The New Generation" of Air Bud, Air Buddies: Review, Press Day Report.
December 6, 2006 - This Saturday marks the 75th anniversary of the day that Mickey's Orphans was released to theaters. The 1931 black and white cartoon short is significant because it represents the first time Walt Disney's animators depicted Christmas on screen. In the years since, there have been countless unions of Disney and Christmas. With the holiday just two and a half weeks away, we're bringing you an updated version of our seasonal favorite, A Very Disney Christmas: Disney's Christmas Features. This article and accompanying checklist cover three-quarters of a century of Disney's Christmas-themed fare, from live action films (like The Santa Clause and The Muppet Christmas Carol) and television movies (The Christmas Star, Eloise at Christmastime) to animated featurettes (such as Mickey's Christmas Carol and The Small One) and video compilations (including A Walt Disney Christmas and last year's Classic Cartoon Favorites volumes). These and more are all discussed here, helping you to ring in the yuletide the Disney way, discover some lesser-known gems, and perfect your holiday season viewing list: Disney's Christmas Features.
December 5, 2006 - Aaron Wallace recently spoke with Moira Kelly, the actress who voiced the grown-up version of female lead Nala in Disney's 1994 blockbuster The Lion King and its two best-selling sequels. Kelly, whose other big screen credits include The Cutting Edge, Chaplin and With Honors, is best known today for her starring role on the CW's hour-long drama "One Tree Hill", now in its fourth season. Kelly recalled being part of Disney's biggest animated hit of all-time as well as what it's like being far from Hollywood and steadily working on a teen-oriented, fan-saved program. Don't miss UltimateDisney.com's Interview with Moira Kelly, The Lion Queen.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
• Walt Disney's Legacy Collection: True-Life Adventures, Volume 3: Creatures of the Wild - The two-disc set offers dazzlingly-restored presentations of two fine feature films -- The African Lion (1955) and Jungle Cat (1960) -- and a pair of two-reel shorts -- Oscar-winning Bear Country (1953) and The Olympic Elk (1952), in addition to solid couple of "Disneyland" anthology installments and a bevy of worthwhile bonus features.
• High School Musical: Remix - This two-disc Special Edition wastes no time in revisiting one of the Walt Disney Company's biggest 2006 hits, a movie whose popularity is unparalleled among Disney Channel originals. The critic does not find the movie worthy of its phenomenon status, pointing out the faults (a spotty cast working from a basic, unrealistic script) among the strong points (impressive choreography and skillful villains). Rather scant for a double-disc outing, Remix still surpasses last spring's Encore Edition by retaining all bonuses and both movie versions while adding another 35 minutes of extras via a cast reunion, dance-along and premiere featurettes, and new and remixed music videos.
• Funny Factory: Volume 3 - With Goofy - Seven-short collection offers nothing that hasn't already been on DVD, which means that all boast fantastic restorations but also that the disc is superflous for those who bought Goofy's 2002 Treasure. Those who didn't and don't feel like paying upwards of $75 should be pleased with this compilation. Even if it needlessly falls on cartoon short of an hour and lacks bonuses, it provides a tasty sampling of the Goof's work, including the first and last entries to Goofy's short series.
• Disney DVD Game World: Disney Dogs Edition - Though it may seem kid-oriented, this digital board game proves challenging even for hardcore Disney aficionados, with trivia covering dozens of the studio's dog-featuring animated and live action films. While it is marked by some shortcomings, the game serves up a reasonable amount of fun in roughly 50 minute doses and comes backed by a 100% Fun Guarantee.
• Wallt Disney's Legacy Collection: True-Life Adventures, Volume 1 - Wonders of the World - Two-disc set holds four designated TLAs: Oscar-winning 1958 feature White Wilderness (infamous for propagating the myth of suicidal lemmings), Oscar-winning two-reels Water Birds and Beaver Valley, Prowlers of the Everglades, Mysteries of the Deep, and two relevant anthology episodes. Other bonus materials include a fine newly-produced "Filmmakers' Journal" featurette, Roy Disney amidst Animal Kingdom birds, original trailers, and a pair of nifty shorts.
• Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition - Single-disc reissue provides a matted, 16x9-enhanced widescreen version of the 1973 film which may or may not be true to the filmmakers' intended vision. The minor gains in picture quality may be the only reason to upgrade, as extras are lightweight: an art gallery which nearly doubles as a featurette, a brief storyboard-spawned alternate ending, two games, a black & white Mickey Mouse short, and a barely-worth-mentioning "song selection" feature. Though not without some charms, the movie -- an all animal retelling of the well-known tale of Sherwood Forest's injustice-fighting thief -- is disjointed, lazy, and in the lower echelon of the studio's animated output.
Recent Touchstone DVD Reviews:
• "The Golden Girls": The Complete Sixth Season - After a brief weak stretch early on, new behind-the-camera talent put the enduring NBC/Touchstone sitcom back at its best in its penultimate year. The 1990-91 season found the Saturday night fixture skillfully fusing drama with the usual comedy. The set includes a 20-minute excerpt of a cast/crew retrospective panel held at the Museum of Television & Radio, the best bonus the show has yet to receive.
• "Home Improvement": The Complete Fifth Season - The highly-rated Tim Allen sitcom was at its best in the middle of its eight-season run. Taking chances while staying true to past years, the show delivers a number of its all-time best episodes here. Buena Vista's set is once again standard, providing only a worthwhile blooper reel for bonus material, but treating the 26 episodes to an otherwise fine presentation.
To subscribe to UltimateDisney.com's free weekly newsletter and gain access to past issues, send an e-mail to UltimateDisneyfirstname.lastname@example.org or visit here.
E-mail UltimateDisney.com: tsdvd at yahoo.com
PAST NEWS UPDATES
December 1-15 Archives
November 16-30 Archives
November 1-15 Archives
Archives Index (goes back to July 2003)