UltimateDisney.com Presents: September 2006 DVD Roundup

UltimateDisney.com's September 2006 DVD Roundup, with reviews of Stick It, Stay Alive, Goal! The Dream Begins, Kinky Boots, The Miracle Match, and Power Rangers Mystic Force: Dark Wish

Page 1: Stick It | Stay Alive: Unrated Director's Cut | Goal! The Dream Begins
Page 2: Kinky Boots | The Miracle Match | Power Rangers Mystic Force: Dark Wish - The Blockbuster

Index of all our DVD and Blu-ray Reviews

Kinky Boots
107 Minutes / Rating: PG-13 / US Theatrical Release Date: April 14, 2006
Director: Julian Jarrold / Writers: Geoff Deane, Tim Firth
Cast: Joel Edgerton (Charlie Price), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Lola), Sarah-Jane Potts (Lauren), Jemima Rooper (Nicola), Linda Bassett (Melanie), Nick Frost (Don), Robert Pugh (Harold Price)
2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen; Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French); Subtitles: English, Spanish; Closed Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Reduced from $29.99) / DVD Release Date: September 5, 2006 / Black Keepcase / Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Sneak Peeks: Goal! The Dream Begins, Stick It, The Miracle Match, The Heart of the Game, anti-piracy

By Renata Joy

The title of this picture might cause one to wonder why in the world it is being reviewed for a site which focuses primarily on Disney DVDs. Sure, drag queens and boots the color of sex (that would be red) aren't typical family fare, but that doesn't mean this Miramax film should be dismissed entirely. Beyond the glitz and racy situations is the much more relatable story of two men who are looking for somewhere to belong and people who can accept them for who they are. The first would be Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton), protagonist of Kinky Boots and world-class Conan O'Brien look-alike. His late father has left him the family shoe factory which, as luck would have it, is steps away from bankruptcy. Young Price feels out of place in his newly acquired position and especially uncomfortable about the amount of people he has no choice but to lay off. Enter Lola (Chitwetel Ejofor), a drag queen who at times also goes by the name of Simon. Providing inspiration in finding a new niche market, Lola, along with young factory worker Lauren (Sarah-Jane Potts), helps Charlie create something that may save the business. That is, ladies' footwear made especially for men. Throw in a few entertaining song and dance sequences and a goofy Brit or two, and you have a pretty decent time in store.

Charlie (Joel Edgerton) ponders whether he would prefer wine with his dinner or a shoe. Lola (Chiwetel Ejofor) looks dishy in a blonde wig. The "Kinky Boots" Main Menu

The picture quality, which presents the film in a 16x9-enhanced 2.40:1 widescreen transfer, is as good as is expected for a film less than a year old (which would be just about perfect) and fine use is made of the Dolby 5.1 surround sound, resulting in an experience that is fully-encompassing, especially during the musical numbers. The special features are minor but welcome inclusions. "Real Kinky Boots Factory" (14:31) works best as a behind-the-scenes documentary than a featurette about the actual story that inspired the film, only mildly touching upon the true events and focusing more on drag costumes, sets, and the struggles of cast members to learn how to believably mimic shoemaking. The Deleted Scenes (7:30) are comprised of some gender-related giggling among female factory workers, an outdoor conversation between the two romantic leads, a flashback of Lola visiting his/her dad, and a bit of closure for Charlie and his ex. There is also the option for a director commentary should you wish to know more about these particular scenes and why they were deleted. "The Journey of a Brogue" merely chronicles the steps taken to make a pair of brown loafers as seen in a shoe factory of sorts set to the film's jaunty musical score. Nothing really happens here and once the one minute and eighteen second display comes to a conclusion, you might find yourself wondering what it was you just watched. Finally, what self-respecting DVD would be complete without a commentary? Here director Julian Jarrold is reunited with the three starring cast members and, as always in cases such as these, laughter and inside stories ensue.

Despite its potentially risquι subject matter, Kinky Boots turns out to be an enjoyable film, especially for those who appreciate wit of the British variety.

UD Rating: out of 5

Kinky Boots DVD cover
Buy Kinky Boots from Amazon.com

Related Reviews: Hot Fuzz • Run Fatboy Run • An Education • Tsotsi • Goal! The Dream Begins
Son of Rambow • Valiant • Shall We Dance? (2004) • Bride & Prejudice • Ghost Town • The Phoenix and the Carpet
Chicago: The Razzle-Dazzle Edition • Beaches: Special Edition • Proof • The Chorus (Les Choristes)
Directed by Julian Jarrold: Brideshead Revisited • Becoming Jane | Written by Tim Firth: Confessions of a Shopaholic


The Miracle Match
101 Minutes / Rating: PG / US Theatrical Release Date: April 22, 2005
Director: David Anspaugh / Writers: Angelo Pizzo (screenplay); Geoffrey Douglas (book)
Cast: Gerard Butler (Frank Borghi), Wes Bentley (Walter Bahr), Jay Rodan (Frank "Pee Wee" Wallace), Gavin Rossdale (Stanley Mortenson), Costas Mandylor (Charlie "Gloves" Columbo), Louis Mandylor (Gino Pariani), Zachery Bryan (Harry Keough), Jimmy Jean-Louis (Joe Gaetjens), Richard Jenik (Joe Maca), Nelson Vargas (John "Clarkie" Souza), Craig Hawksley (Walter Giesler), Bill Smitrovich (Admiral Higgins), Patrick Stewart (Older Dent McSkimming), Terry Kinney (Dent McSkimming), John Rhys-Davies (Bill Jeffrey)
2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen; Dolby Digital 5.1 (English); Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99 (Reduced from $29.99) / DVD Release Date: September 12, 2006 / Black Keepcase / Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Sneak Peeks: Stick It, "Lost": The Complete Second Season, Goal! The Dream Begins, "Grey's Anatomy": The Complete Second Season, anti-piracy

In Hollywood, not even the mix of a solid premise, a time-tested genre, an accomplished cast, and an established director can ensure that your movie gets the type of exposure desired. Case in point: The Miracle Match, or as it was originally called (and still is, in the end credits), The Game of Their Lives. This true soccer drama -- from the writing/directing/producing duo behind Hoosiers and Rudy -- received limited theatrical release in late April of 2005. Very limited in fact; the IFC-distributed picture opened in 64 theaters, dwindled down to three in a manner of 5 weeks and was gone altogether by the middle of June. Now, Miracle Match isn't great enough to make such a fate an absolute travesty. But it certainly isn't bad enough to make its treatment deserved. Seventeen months after its big screen debut, this Bristol Bay Production finds itself at the Mouse House, picked up and released to disc alongside another underperforming soccer drama, Goal!, which made eleven times as much money in 16 times as many theaters.

Miracle Match opens at the 2004 Major League Soccer All-Star game as that still-ubiquitous 2 Unlimited tune "Get Ready For This" sets the stage for spectacle. The movie isn't interested with present-day athletics, however, but a victory which took much of the world by surprise 56 years ago. Further confirming what appears to be director David Anspaugh's softest spot, this inspirational sports drama follows, like his two best-known films, ordinary American men who are dedicated to succeeding against the odds. Patrick Stewart's narration takes viewers to "La Montagna", a close-knit Italian-American community in St. Louis, Missouri, in the year 1950. There, a group of simple men with a passion for soccer must address an assortment of obstacles -- from a fear of flying to career responsibilities, from the swell gal that each must leave behind to the possible postponement of a long-scheduled wedding -- that are keeping them from their goal of trying out for the U.S. World Cup team.

The men who comprised the underdog U.S. soccer team are as focal as their beloved game. Coach John Rhys-Davies wants to know which of his players shaved his beard. Notice Zachery (Ty) Bryan trying to look especially casual on the far left. Frank (Gerard Butler) and Walter (Wes Bentley) are somewhat the leaders of the team's lightly-clashing two brands of play.

Ensemble pieces can be hard to pull off, which is why many team sports movies leave viewers unable to fully identify each prominently-featured team member when all is said and done. It doesn't help matters that most of this team is made up of similar-looking, clean-shaven brunette men. Yet, the movie does an admirable job of bringing us closer to the characters and their unifying motivation.
It also introduces East Coast players, most importantly, the level-headed natural leader Walter Bahr (Wes Bentley, American Beauty). Their precise style of play and off-the-field mannerisms gently conflict with the St. Louis men. Fortunately for those who consider soccer a load of rubbish, the movie doesn't dwell too much on the sport that drives its protagonists. The characters themselves and their collective camaraderies seem more important, as does the setting of mid-20th century America, which is amply celebrated. Suckers for nostalgia should appreciate all the touches of period authenticity on display here, which lends credibility, evocativeness, and tangibility to the proceedings.

Like most sports dramas, Miracle Match flirts with hokiness, delivering a mild dose of speechifying and a handful of sappy moments. But this involving independent film never wears out its welcome and never falters due to the genre's inherent predictability. It may not strike as many chords with viewers as the two prior Anspaugh-Angelo Pizzo collaborations did, but in all fairness, it will never have the same level of opportunity that they did. Miracle Match could use a bit of spark to distinguish it from the countless other underdog sports triumphs that have been documented, dramatized or fabricated on film, but it still fares well enough to not merit getting buried in a marketplace, destined for a bargain bin and not likely to be discovered by anyone who doesn't actively pursue members of the cast. Speaking of which, that includes movie Phantom of the Opera Gerard Butler, eldest "Home Improvement" son Zachery (Ty) Bryan, a disturbingly unbearded John Rhys-Davies, briefly-seen but more-frequently-heard Patrick Stewart, and Gavin Rossdale, the frontman of rock group Bush, who here portrays a cocky British star.

The only extras included on the DVD are two still pages of text (with a graphic!) on the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, New York. Which are sort of an ad like the obligatory serving of sneak peeks which open the disc. Visuals are occasionally grainy; the photography provides a palette is very much of the golden nostalgia type and it is nicely framed in Cinemascope. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack can be active when needed, but it remains pretty low-key aside from the drama-emphasizing music. In light of the basic DVD presentation, a rental or patience for the inevitable price drop are more appealing options than they might normally be.

UD Rating: Ό out of 5

The Miracle Match DVD cover
Buy The Miracle Match on DVD from Amazon.com / Buy The Book: The Game of Their Lives by Geoffrey Douglas

Related Reviews: Miracle • Goal! The Dream Begins • Remember the Titans (Director's Cut)
Glory Road • The Greatest Game Ever Played • Through the Fire • Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken
Starring Gerard Butler: Dear Frankie
Shadows in the Sun • Bambi II • Home Improvement: The Complete Fourth Season

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Power Rangers Mystic Force: Dark Wish - The Blockbuster
64 Minutes / Rating: TV-Y7 / Original Airdate: July 10, 2006
Director: Mark Beesley / Writers: John Tellegen, Bruce Kalish, Jackie Marchand
Cast: Firass Dirani (Nick/Red Mystic Ranger), Angie Diaz (Vida/Pink Mystic Ranger), Richard Brancatisano (Xander/Green Mystic Ranger), Melanie Vallejo (Madison/Blue Mystic Ranger), Nic Sampson (Chip/Yellow Mystic Ranger), John Tui (Daggeron), Peta Rutter (Udonna), Anotnia Prebble (Clare), Barnie Duncan (Toby), Kelson Henderson (Phineas), Holly Shanahan (Leelee), Paul Minifie (Voice of 50 Below), Jason Hoyte (Voice of Imperious), Oliver Driver (Voice of Jenji), Geoff Dolan (Voice of Koragg)
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio); Dolby Digital Surround (English); Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 / DVD Release Date: September 19, 2006 / Black Keepcase with Side Snaps / Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Sneak Peeks: The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition, Meet the Robinsons, Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, Cars, Ratatouille, Hannah Montana: Livin' the Rock Star Life, Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition, Twitches, "Yin Yang Yo!"

Oh, the pretentiousness of those who decided to give the subtitle The Blockbuster to Power Rangers Mystic Force: Dark Wish! Sure, it's probably just a marketing department trying to further the illusion that this is indeed a feature-length movie,
but the very idea that three episodes of the fourteenth and latest "Power Rangers" series have the ability to bust blocks is good for a chuckle. Still, from the six installments of "Mystic Force" that I've now seen, it is with some authority that I can declare that this incarnation improves upon the prior one ("S.P.D.") in just about every way. Of course, "S.P.D." was a dreadful series and I could just be warming to the numerous formulas of this enduring boys' franchise (a scary thought).

Dark Wish opens with the central gang of five Rangers planning a celebration for the first birthday of the Rockporium, the music store where they do their less exciting work. It quickly becomes clear that this three-part story will dispatch a lesson about the importance of not over-relying on their magic cell phone wands. Just how it conveys this, though, is in a more extreme fashion than you'd expect; hence, the three-episode runtime. During battle, the Rangers' feline genie in a bottle, Jenji, gets captured by bulldog Fightoe and yeti 50 Below, two henchmen of grave foe Imperious. With a single wish at his fingertips, Imperious makes it so that there were no Mystic Force Rangers. All of the good magic in the world vanishes, music is banned, the Rockporium is a wreck, the Rangers no longer have power, and no one even knows any better except the five friends themselves. To represent this dark, It's a Wonderful Life-esque turn of events, nearly all color is drained from the screen for a modest stretch.

To weaken the Dark Forces' rule and return things to order, the fearsome fivesome must defeat a desert-full of warriors to obtain a key, choose the correct of two isolated doors, and plea their case to three Tribunals, all-powerful beings that look like little more than single-colored robes. Their only help on this trek are Koragg, a morally gray warrior, and Fireheart, a robotic dragon. When the Tribunals reject the Rangers' request to restore order, it appears that all may be lost, but then you'd have to have forgotten that this is "Power Rangers" and the good guys never lose in the end.

Oh no! Imperious drained all the color from the Power Rangers' world! Got milk? With Doggie Cruger of the S.P.D. gang moved on, Fightoe fills the anthropomorphic canine void, but he is one bad bulldog! With color restored, the Rangers must find the singing bush and summon the invisible swordsman. Oh wait, they just have to fight a lot of warriors. Welcome bonus or shameless promotion? Be the judge of JETIX's new series with this episode of "Yin Yang Yo!". Here, Yin and Yang stand among the CPK in "My Stupid Sword."

Dark Wish is not as bad an outing as I expected, being largely unimpressed with the few bits of the franchise I've previously seen. Its middle installment is the best of the three, as it tones down the fighting a bit for some nearly-interesting plot specifics and almost-heady drama. Nevertheless, this "movie" still suffers from many of the "Power Rangers" hallmarks that make the canon unappealing to me but (I suppose) a hit with a sizable audience beyond energetic kids. There's a fair amount of chaos which is hard to wrap one's head around. Bloated action sequences bore, the diverse roster of characters confuses (perhaps my "fault" for jumping halfway into the season with only three episodes under my belt), and blurred, poorly-defined motives abound. The fact that, in the grand tradition, some footage is recycled from Japan's 29th Super Sentai series ("Mahou Sentai Magiranger") seems to hinder the proceedings. The original sequences (such as the hit-and-miss comic relief scattered about) are tolerable, but the fighting wears thin. Enough of the material features the English-speaking actors to wonder if the process of dubbing existing costumed footage isn't more of a nuisance and creative limitation than it is a cost-saver.

The fullscreen, Dolby Surround feature presentation is adequate (mild grain mars some exterior and recycled shots), but both specs make it clear -- as do the commercial break fadeouts arising about every 7 minutes and 64-minute runtime -- that Dark Wish was shot as three television show episodes and would have no business anywhere near a movie theater, Blockbuster subtitle or not.
At least, the bonus features offer more than was found on the show's premiere DVD debut issued last June. "Power Rangers: Forces of Nature!" (2:40) looks like a TV promo for the movie, but it provides educational facts about the basic elements that each of the Rangers supposedly represents: fire, water, Redwood trees, thunder & lightning, and wind. (Yeah, they so didn't get those elements right.) "Special Messages from The Power Rangers Mystic Force" are three 30-second public service announcements which enable the gang to encourage healthy eating, exercise, and volunteering to help people, respectively. The first is unintentionally kind of funny, but they lose steam when they resort to clip montages.

Finally, there is a bonus episode (technically two episodes, 22:35 together) of the new Jetix show "Yin Yang Yo!", blurring the line between "welcome relevant supplement" and promotional tie-in. It skews to the latter, as it (coupled with the increasingly prominent front cover JETIX logo) seeks to further the Fox Kids-derived brand which populates most of Toon Disney's airwaves. The anime-flavored cartoon series, which last week set a JETIX-created record for its premiere with an audience of nearly 0.5 million viewers, centers on sibling rabbits (Yin = a pink girl, Yang = a blue boy) who are knights of the Wu Fu martial arts and train under their panda master (Yo). The first episode ("My Stupid Sword") finds Yang longing to get into the CPK, a trio of crime-fighting kittens which seems like Hello Kitty-meets-The Powerpuff Girls-meets-Josie and the Pussycats. The second ("Neat Freak") has Yin and Yang doing battle with clean and filthy spirits. I suppose there is a demographic that will enjoy this 'toon, which originates from the producer and writer of Nickelodeon's "The Fairly OddParents", but like most JETIX programming, this only has me longing for the days when Walt Disney Television Animation made fare like "Gummi Bears" and "DuckTales."

Dark Wish makes a little more sense being released on its own as compared to other lightweight compilations housing 3 sequential "Mystic Force" episodes. It also seems to be a cut above standalone episodes in quality. But, at the end of the day, it's still "Power Rangers" and even something better than expected like this still falls plenty short of a recommendation for those who aren't already fans of the series. As far as I'm concerned, the Outkast-inspired theme song may be the best thing "Mystic Force" has going for it. Between the feature and its bonus JETIX episode, I must ask: what happened to good, intelligent programming for children?

UD Rating: out of 5

Power Rangers Mystic Force: Dark Wish - The Blockbuster DVD cover
Buy Power Rangers Mystic Force: Dark Wish - The Blockbuster on DVD from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Power Rangers Mystic Force: Volume 1 - Broken Spell • Power Rangers SPD: Volume 1 - Joining Forces
Power Rangers SPD: Volumes 3-5 • Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows • Beyblade: The Movie • Transformers • It's a Wonderful Life
The Tick vs. Season 1 • The Best of Tokyo Pig • Sweet Valley High: Season 1 • Hugo the Movie Star

Page 1: Stick It | Stay Alive: Unrated Director's Cut | Goal! The Dream Begins
Page 2: Kinky Boots | The Miracle Match | Power Rangers Mystic Force: Dark Wish - The Blockbuster

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Roundup posted September 20, 2006.

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