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MARCH 1-15, 2007: NEWS ARCHIVES
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March 12, 2007 - The subject of our 550th DVD review is Popeye, a 1980 live-action feature film co-produced by Disney and Paramount. Adapted from the E.C. Segar comics and Fleischer cartoons, this Robert Altman-directed musical comedy depicts the adventures of the famous muttering, squint-eyed sailor in a small harbor town. Robin Williams makes his film debut in the title role and he is supported by Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl, songs by Harry Nilsson, and a scenic Maltese setting. Distributed by Paramount in the US, the PG-rated film is treated to fine picture/sound and no bonus features, but a sub-$10 retail price. Read the full review.
March 8, 2007 - Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt gets critiqued in our latest DVD review. Not quite the all-new movie its slipcover proclaims, the feature-length disc is composed of a 49-minute special (presented in 16x9 widescreen and Dolby 5.1) and a standard 24-minute episode. Neither has yet aired on the Disney Channel, home of this computer-animated children's hit seven mornings a week. While the special trumps the conventional episode, both succeed at giving new life to Mickey and friends while educating preschoolers without forsaking entertainment value. Fun stories, nice visuals, and faithful treatment of Disney's enduring cartoon personalities make this one children's show that should delight the target audience while also pleasing hardcore Disney fans. The DVD includes sing-along for catchy tune "The Best Easter Party Ever" and heavy preorder discounts negate the high price tag. Read the full review.
March 7, 2007 - We've just posted press releases for a pair of 3-disc sitcom box sets scheduled to arrive this May. Perhaps reflecting jeopardizing low sales numbers, "Home Improvement": The Complete Sixth Season (May 15th) will deliver all 25 episodes from 1996-97 season of Tim Allen's family sitcom at the very low list price of $23.99. Like the past two sets, its only bonus will be a reel of bloopers from the featured season. A week later, "Scrubs": The Complete Fifth Season will maintain the $39.99 SRP of past seasons while lightening its supplement slate. The announcement mentions only Zach Braff's director's cut of the 100th episode, the retrospective featurette "My 117 Episodes", deleted scenes and alternate lines. The set is timed to coincide with the airing of the Season 6 finale of NBC's medical comedy which now seems destined to return for a seventh season run. Cover art for both of these DVDs can now be found on our Upcoming Cover Art page.
Our newest DVD review examines Baby Einstein: My First Signs, but goes further to explore both the alleged benefits and dangers of exposing infants to TV, even for a DVD purporting to stimulate development. The 27-minute disc, #23 in the line, leans on the $200 million empire's past releases, serving up Marlee Matlin, sign language, puppet shows, footage of real babies, and a bit of classical music to encourage communication (verbal or nonverbal) in those six months and up. Read on...
March 6, 2007 - Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt's case booklet and on-disc previews announce August DVD releases for two other Playhouse Disney properties: Little Einsteins: Rocket's Firebird Rescue and the series "Handy Manny." Next week's Baby Einstein: My First Signs clarifies Firebird (billed as "an all-new movie") will arrive on August 21st, while it also announces a 2008 launch for Einstein Pals, a new line of toddler-tailored DVDs from Disney and Baby Einstein.
In our latest review, Aaron Wallace takes a look at Peter Pan: Platinum Edition. The ninth installment in Disney's elite line of animated classics DVDs is perhaps its most disappoining, with a relatively light platter of bonus features. The audio and video treatment, however, offers something to be excited about. So does the featured 1953 film, which, while deserving of some criticism, still comes highly recommended. Read the full review.
March 5, 2007 - With the DVD release of Peter Pan: Platinum Edition just hours away, we're proud to bring you An Interview with Margaret Kerry. Kerry, a young actress and dancer, was the live-action reference model for Tinker Bell, the spirited pixie from the classic 1953 animated feature who has gone on to serve as company mascot, merchandising mainstay, and star of the developing Disney Fairies line. Kerry, who also modeled for and voiced the redheaded mermaid of Never Land, recently spoke with UltimateDisney.com's Renata Joy about her memories of making Peter Pan. Click here for the full interview.
Answers have been revealed and so has a winner in our Winter Trivia Contest. Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to... click here.
March 3, 2007 - New episode compilations of the Disney Channel comedies "Hannah Montana" and "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" have been tentatively slated for release in July. The Volume 2 DVDs, titles to be determined, are each expected to hold four episodes and a bonus feature.
March 2, 2007 - A new DVD review provides our latest and probably last critique of a Walt Disney Treasures set. The 1950s serial The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure marks the first filmed adaptation of the Franklin W. Dixon book series and fifty years since originally airing, the 20-episode saga remains a favorite with fans of "The Mickey Mouse Club." Classic child actors Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk portray Frank and Joe Hardy, two adolescent brothers who spend their summer as junior detectives on the search for long-lost pirates' gold. Though not without a few shortcomings, the black and white serial readily entertains with its compelling tale and nostalgia-inducing style. The two-disc tin scores high marks as well, with commendable picture and sound, a few great extras, and the entire "Mickey Mouse Club" episode that introduced the series. Read the full review.
March 1, 2007 - Our Upcoming Disney Movies page has been updated with title logos and images from a number of films being developed or produced for Walt Disney Pictures: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Enchanted, National Treasure 2, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Pixar's WallE, American Dog, Toy Story 3. In addition, we've put together a capsule preview (with concept art) of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the first film in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced, video game-spawned franchise currently in the works at Disney. Click here for all of the updates.
February 26, 2007 - Genuine cover art has just been posted for "Scrubs": The Complete Fifth Season, arriving on May 22.
February 24, 2007 - Buena Vista Home Entertainment has scheduled "Scrubs" The Complete Fifth Season for DVD release on May 22, 2007. Timed to coincide with the NBC sitcom's sixth season finale, the 3-disc set (SRP: $39.99) will offer all 24 episodes from last season, plus deleted scenes, an extended cut of the 100th episode, and "a special look back at five seasons." New materials fail to mention the never-before-seen animated episode that has been promoted in DVD spots. Also tapped to arrive on the same day are a couple of Oscar nominees: Touchstone's Mel Gibson-directed Mayan drama Apocalypto will include a commentary, a DTS track, a deleted scene, and an in-depth documentary, while Miramax's Venus starring Peter O'Toole will provide a featurette. Finally, ABC Family's original sci-fi series "Kyle XY" will be treated to a 3-disc Complete First Season box set (subtitled "Declassified" and listing for $39.99), which will hold ten hour-long episodes, plus an alternate premiere, an extended season finale, commentaries, "show secrets", and more.
February 23, 2007 - In our latest interview, Renata Joy talks with Kathryn Beaumont, the voice and live-action reference model for both Alice of Alice in Wonderland and Wendy Darling of Peter Pan. The London-born Beaumont discusses being part of the second Golden Age of Disney Animation, from modeling for animators to knowing Walt Disney himself. She recalls working with Bobby Driscoll, her fear of flying, and continuing to voice her beloved heroines in recent years for TV, the theme parks, and video games. With vivid anecdotes and a number of great behind-the-scenes photos from the forthcoming Peter Pan Platinum Edition DVD, UD's Interview with Kathryn Beaumont is one you definitely won't want to miss. Plus, be sure to return next week; in our continuing countdown to Peter Pan's re-release, we'll be bringing you a detailed review as well as an interview with Margaret Kerry, the live-action model for Tinker Bell.
February 15, 2007 - A booklet inside Peter Pan: Platinum Edition confirms that, after October's The Jungle Book reissue, 101 Dalmatians will be the next Disney animated classic to receive Platinum treatment. The 1961 film is scheduled for a remastered 2-disc Platinum Edition DVD to arrive in early March 2008. Another trailer on the set reveals that the theatrically-released 2002 sequel Return to Never Land will be returning to DVD in the undetermined near-future. Finally, a promo for The Aristocats: 2-Disc Special Edition makes mention of a Virtual Kitten game and a newly-rediscovered song. Perhaps posing more reason to upgrade is the likelihood of a 16x9-enhanced matted widescreen transfer, which the letterboxed preview suggests.
Recent Disney DVD and Movie Reviews:
The Brave Little Toaster - This original 1987 animated feature launched Hyperion Pictures with acclaim and awards, but no conventional theatrical release. It maintains a close connection to the Mouse, thanks to key personnel in common, a Disney Channel debut, and ultimately Disney video distribution. With a mix of old-fashioned qualities and a contemporary setting, this charming adventure succeeds, when other 'toons of the time failed, with an involving world, lively songs, and lots of fun. The 2003 DVD disappoints with spotty video, probably compromised framing, and only a sequel-oriented bonus.
Bridge to Terabithia - Not the effects-laden fantasy it's being advertised as, Disney and Walden's winning adaptation of Katherine Paterson's 1977 novel tells the story of two fifth grade outsiders (Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb) who form a friendships and pool their vivid imaginations to escape life's troubles with a magical kingdom all their own.
"DuckTales": Volume 2 - One of Disney's earliest, most successful, and greatest animated TV series returns to DVD in a 3-disc box set resembling the previous year's collection, delivering 24 episodes for about a dollar each. Presented among the series' second quarter are the five-episode pilot and another 4-part arc. Once again, bonus features are null, while picture and sound fall short of perfection but surpass most of the series' kin.
Walt Disney's It's a Small World of Fun! Volume 3 - More 1930s, '40s, and '50s cartoons set around the globe arrive in another bonus-less, sub-hour budget compilation. The six shorts here offer hijinks with Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto in idealized locales like India, Mexico, and the Swiss Alps, while the disc's most substantial 'toon is the Johnny Appleseed portion of Melody Time, which looks different (and dirtier) than its movie's DVD presentation.
Recent Touchstone DVD Reviews:
The Prestige - Touchstone's PG-13-rated drama is one of last year's best films. Visionary director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins) again invokes non-linearity to deliver an engulfing and suspenseful tale of two magicians (played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) obsessed with one-upmanship in Victorian England. Rich characters and crafty treatment result in a masterful film which, like a good a magician's act, keeps you guessing throughout. Sparse on bonuses, satisfactory on picture and sound, the DVD comes recommended based on the many merits of the film.
"The Golden Girls": The Complete Seventh Season - In its final year, the long-running NBC sitcom isn't quite at its strongest, but it remains hilarious and in top form dramatically. The 3-disc set scores points for the inclusion of a new 15-minute retrospective feature. It also boasts the series' best picture quality to date, albeit with a few curiously and mildly matted episodes.
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