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DECEMBER 1-15, 2007: NEWS ARCHIVES


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Stardust DVD Review

December 15, 2007 - Kelvin Cedeno reviews High School Musical 2, which came to DVD earlier this week in an Extended Edition. Though the Disney Channel phenomenon continues to set records in merchandise sales and viewership, the hastily-produced follow-up is deemed a creative disappointment, with story-stalling songs, bland leads, hammy performances, and an outrageous tone that makes it most entertaining in unintended ways. The DVD adds 7 minutes of content to the broadcast version, most notably a song with a title that would most likely throw off this page's narrow formatting. Frustratingly, the DVD presents the film in an unbecoming fullscreen aspect ratio, complete with curious artifacts. A fairly light slate of extras delivers 3 music videos, a blooper reel, and 35 minutes of rehearsals. It's nigh certain that a superior release is down the road. Read the review.

Our High School Musical 2 coverage continues with Pluto Region1's report from the Hollywood DVD Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre. Exclusive pictures and red carpet interviews with the stars of the movie and various other Disney Channel properties make this one article not to miss. In addition, we've included a table with links to all the High School Musical articles we've published here. Check it out.

Click to view UD's report and exclusive photos from the recent High School Musical 2 DVD Premiere in Hollywood

Our first look at next week's many DVDs comes in our new review of Paramount's Stardust. An underperforming summer release, this PG-13-rated fantasy adapted from Neil Gaiman's novel gets practically everything right. It readily entertains us with thrills, laughs, and an engaging multi-angle plot involving a falling star (Claire Danes) and the various people seeking her.
The film's large eclectic cast includes Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong, Peter O'Toole, Robert De Niro, Sienna Miller, and Ricky Gervais. The single-disc release delivers fine picture/sound, a very good half-hour featurette, plus bloopers, deleted scenes, and the theatrical trailer. For our complete review, click here.

December 14, 2007 - In our latest DVD review, Kelvin Cedeno covers Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume 3, providing a fresh take on what made Donald Duck rise and what makes him continue to rank among Disney's most popular cartoon creations today. The third two-disc set in Disney's limited collectible annual series serves up 30 shorts from 1947 to 1950, which shake things up by introducing Chip 'n Dale and other petite foils to the irascible star. The DVD also includes introductions from Leonard Maltin, two featurettes, extensive art galleries, and, scattered about, Donald's varying gong antics in ten variations of the "Mickey Mouse Club" opening theme. Read the full review.

December 13, 2007 - We've just launched a new and exciting contest. It's our final one of the year and one of the easiest we've had in any year. One simple trivia question is all that separates you from winning one of four copies of Mr. Bean's Holiday (Widescreen Edition) on DVD. Click here for more information and to enter. Note that this contest will only remain open for one week, so act fast!

December 12, 2007 - With Christmas less than two weeks away, now is as good time as any to visit, or revisit, our article on Disney's Christmas Films, covering nearly 80 years of shorts, scenes, and films that have showcased the December holiday. Don't miss the connected checklist!

December 11, 2007 - In our latest interview, Kelvin Cedeno talks with Tony Baxter, the Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering. Baxter has been behind such theme park achievements as Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Star Tours, Indiana Jones Adventure, Disneyland Paris, and the new Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. He features prominently on the new Walt Disney Treasure volume Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic, lending two audio commentaries and an longtime insider's perspective to the eponymous documentary. Read our full interview for park updates and reflections, Baxter's revelations about the now-available Disneyland DVD, and more.

Our first review of this week's new Treasures covers Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland - Secrets, Stories & Magic. After 2 years, 2 false starts, and a name change, the feature-length documentary on Walt's original theme park finally reaches DVD today with some alterations and different accompaniment. In addition to this comprehensive new film, we get three park-centered 1960s episodes of anthology series then called "Wonderful World of Color", a two-tier trivia game, the nifty 1956 People and Places CinemaScope film Disneyland U.S.A (with commentary and music-only track), nearly 40 minutes of newly-unearthed time-lapse footage of Disneyland's construction, an industry program on the challenges of filming Disneyland's opening day, and a gallery of concept art. Read the full review.

December 10, 2007 - Our latest DVD review covers "Dirt": The Complete First Season. This hour-long drama, co-produced by Touchstone and FX, stars Courteney Cox ("Friends") as the editor of a powerful celebrity gossip magazine. Available tomorrow, the 4-disc set includes deleted scenes, three featurettes, a gag reel, and a short preview of the soon-to-air second season. More...

Though review copies were received unusually late (and we're still waiting on the elusive Oswald), we're currently hard at work to bring you reviews of this week's Walt Disney Treasures as soon as possible!

December 6, 2007 - Kelvin Cedeno covers another recent release in his DVD review of "Laverne and Shirley": The Third Season. The first, best-known, and most popular "Happy Days" spin-off stars Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams as bottle cappers in late-'50s Milwaukee. Rather than supplying period nostalgia, the sitcom relies more on the eponymous odd couple and their outrageous adventures. Paramount's 4-disc set confesses to music replacement and is absent of extras, but... Read on.

December 3, 2007 - Our latest DVD review looks at Ocean's Thirteen, the recent entry into Steven Soderbergh's series of ensemble crime action-comedies. This sequel rebounds from the disappointing previous one to provide an experience closer to the winning first. Though love interests Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones are dropped, the guys are all back (including top-billed stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon) and they're joined by Al Pacino, who serves as the film's shrewd villain and heist target.Warner's DVD is light on extras, but does serve up four worthwhile deleted scenes, a casino set tour hosted by producer Jerry Weintraub, and a 23-minute documentary on Las Vegas and its casinos. Read the full review.

December 1, 2007 - Today marks the beginning of December, which means it's the start of the final months that studios swarm DVD customers with choices. Be sure to check our full December 2007 DVD Schedule at DVDizzy.com.

Recent Disney DVD and Disney-Related Movie Reviews:
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - 2-Disc Limited Edition - Disney's series of blockbuster adventures comes to an end, at least for now, with an entertaining juggle of tangled plots and characters. Though delivering flawless picture and sound, the more expensive DVD falls short of its predecessors' sets in terms of supplements, lacking announced commentaries and delivering a relatively light second disc. [Related Interview: Gore Verbinski, Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy Director]
Return to Never Land: Pixie-Powered Edition - The theatrically-released but mediocre 2002 Peter Pan sequel returns to DVD in a lightweight reissue designed to promote upcoming projects featuring Tinker Bell and her fairy friends.
Wish Gone Amiss - Disney Channel's lazy trio of shows ("Cory in the House", "Hannah Montana", "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody") share a central concept of wishes coming true and yielding undesired results. The sillier than usual episodes are joined only by a 5-minute guide to wishes hosted by "Hannah"'s Jason Earles and prominently featuring clips from animated Disney works.
"DuckTales": Volume 3 - One of Disney's first and most admired animated TV series returns to DVD, as usual, with erratic picture and nary a bonus. Among the hours of entertainment offered in this 3-disc, 24-episode set are a pair of 5-part TV movies which introduce Bubba the caveduck and GizmoDuck, alias Fenton Crackshell.
"TaleSpin": Volume 2 - The contents of this second 27-episode collection improve upon Volume 1's and rank highly among TV animation. The 3-disc set includes a Christmas show, the 2-part arc "For Whom the Bell Klangs", and dozens of other clever and original episodes.

Recent Non-Disney DVD Reviews:
Superbad: 2-Disc Unrated Extended Edition - This latest collaboration of "Freaks and Geeks" alumni Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow finds Rogen writing, producing and acting and Apatow just producing. The funny film centers on socially outcast high school seniors looking to score alcohol and sex at the only graduation party they've been invited to. Like Knocked Up and 40-Year-Old Virgin, the film balances graphic language with a bit of heart, largely succeeding in that difficult task. Sony's DVD serves up an entertaining commentary, a fun series of in-character "Cop Car Confessions" shorts, deleted footage, and a variety of featurettes.
"Happy Days": The Third Season - In 1975-76, ABC's long-running nostalgia-fueled sitcom put Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli in the foreground for most of the 24 episodes. This year also introduces Arnold (Pat Morita) and Laverne & Shirley, who show up in three episodes in anticipation of their popular spin-off sitcom. The 4-disc set serves up plenty of disappointment, but at its heart is an eniminently entertaining program which continues to delight today.
Directors Series: Stanley Kubrick - Warner's 10-disc box set supplies five of the eccentric filmmaker's best-known movies -- 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut -- plus Jan Harlan's 2001 retrospective documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. Commentaries, documentaries, featurettes, new 16x9-enhanced presentations, and the thought-provoking films themselves all make this one collection to consider.
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse - Award-winning 1991 documentary on the tumultous Philippine production of Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam war epic Apocalypse Now is joined by a new 65-minute film by Eleanor Coppola on her husband's return to directing on the Romania-shot Youth Without Youth.
Shrek the Third - The latest installment in DreamWorks' blockbuster franchise of computer-animated comedies puts Shrek and Fiona on the brink of parenthood and the Far Far Away throne while catching up with a vengeful Prince Charming and setting out on a search for a teenaged heir. On DVD, the diverting sequel is joined by an interactive Worcestershire Academy yearbook, two featurettes, 3 deleted scenes, various short features, plus a collection of DVD-ROM games, printables, and activities.
The Princess Bride: 20th Anniversary Edition - Filled with colorful characters and quotable lines, this wonderful comedic fairy tale of love-driven adventure holds a major place in movie lovers' hearts. Its' fourth and latest DVD release provides fine picture and sound, three new featurettes, a new game, and some snazzy reversible packaging, but excludes some important bonuses.

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DVD REVIEWS
Latest Reviews (rated):
High School Musical 2
Stardust
Chronological Donald V3
WDT: Disneyland - Secrets...
Dirt: Season 1
Laverne & Shirley: Season 3
Ocean's Thirteen
Superbad: 2-Disc Unrated EE
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - 2-Disc LE
Return to Never Land: PPE
Happy Days: Season 3
Wish Gone Amiss
Directors: Stanley Kubrick
Hearts of Darkness: AFA
DuckTales: Volume 3
Shrek the Third
The Princess Bride: 20th AE
TaleSpin: Volume 2
Deck the Halls
My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas
Superbad: 2-Disc Unrated Extended Edition DVD Review
License to Wed
Chinatown: Special Edition
The Santa Clause 3: Escape
Ratatouille
Bram Stoker's Dracula: CE
The Wendell Baker Story
October Road: Season 1
Scrubs: Season 6
Best of The Colbert Report
Pixar Short Films, Volume 1
28 Weeks Later
Elvis: That's The Way It Is
Homie Spumoni
The Hoax
Baby Einstein: Lullaby Time
Transformers: 2-Disc SE
Jingle All the Way: FFE
Knocked Up: 2-Disc CE
House Without a Xmas Tree
Meet the Robinsons
Surf's Up
Evan Almighty
Family Ties: Season 2
Hannah Montana: Life's...
Poltergeist: 25th Anniv. Ed.
Fantastic 4: Silver Surfer
The Jungle Book: Platinum
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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - 2-Disc Limited Edition DVD Review

Top 100 Disney Songs Countdown
CD REVIEWS
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Summer 2007 CD Roundup
Spring 2007 Roundup
Holidays 2006 CD Roundup
& 2006: Year in Review

Fall 2006 CD Roundup
A Musical History of Disneyland 6-CD Review
Summer 2006 CD Roundup
Spring 2006 CD Roundup
Holidays 2005 CD Roundup
Fall 2005 CD Roundup
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Count down the best of Disney's villains!
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Top 100 Disney Songs
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INTERVIEWS
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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
Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of Alice and Wendy
Dave Bossert, Animator, Director & Restorer
Frank Nissen, Director of Cinderella III
Brenda Song, "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" star
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
An Interview with Leonard Maltin, Disney Treasures
A Chat with Cinderella:
Ilene Woods & Don Hahn

An Interview with Pocahontas: Irene Bedard
Donnie Dunagan, Voice of Bambi
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