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MARCH 16-31, 2007: NEWS ARCHIVES
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March 31, 2007 - Our latest DVD review looks at Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, the 2000 direct-to-video movie that launched Disney's outer space comedy cartoon series. While it was later aired otherwise, this is actually a single-narrative pilot rather than something cheaply strung from TV episodes. Sadly, though, it's not an inspired spin-off from Pixar's blockbuster Toy Story movies, with its premise dropping most of the film's characters to focus merely on the real Buzz (voiced by Tim Allen) and his intergalactic trials as a space ranger. On its own merits, it's not an utter mess, but occasionally on-target humor can't trump formulaic storytelling and subpar animation. The DVD loses points for a transfer that's erroneously matted and non 16x9-enhanced plus three largely disposable bonuses. Read on...
March 30, 2007 - Feared to have ended, the highly-praised Walt Disney Treasures line will continue on December 11, 2007 with three new volumes. Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, both touted as upcoming sets in the recently-launched Walt Disney's Legacy Collection, will actually be branded Treasures. Joining them will be The Chronological Donald, Volume 3, housing the irascible duck's cartoon shorts from 1947 to 1950. While this news is subject to change, a draft press release being circulated online claims that Leonard Maltin will once again be involved with this seventh and latest wave. (In an e-mail to UD, Mr. Maltin has confirmed this.) There is no news regarding the Walt Disney/Salvador Dali collaboration Destino, completed in 2003, which was another title being promoted as an upcoming Legacy Collection DVD release. More Wave 7 information can be found here.
Albert Gutierrez serves up a critique of the Jump In!: Freestyle Edition, the only Disney DVD being released next week and next month. He claims the 2007 telemovie -- which stars High School Musical's Corbin Bleu as a teenaged boxer-turned-double dutch jump roper -- is one of the Disney Channel's better productions, grounding its formulas and familiar message in a realistic, relatable world. Its DVD includes two brief but informative featurettes and two music videos. Read the full review.
According to an article in today's Los Angeles Times, Disney's colossal Pirates of the Caribbean franchise may live on past May's much-anticipated third installment, At World's End. The report merely cites unidentified Disney insiders on the basis that star Johnny Depp has voiced an interest to continue playing the quirky Captain Jack Sparrow. Meanwhile, the article confirms that At World's End will indeed tie up loose ends and offer closure, regardless of the Jerry Bruckheimer series' undetermined future.
Disney has formally announced October's new Platinum DVD with The Jungle Book: Platinum Edition DVD press release. The detailed announcement confirms what we've already reported and sheds light on bonus features, which include a featurette on lost character Rocky the Rhino, a comprehensive making-of documentary, Disney's discarded 1963 film treatment, "The Lure of The Jungle Book" on the animators the film inspired, an audio commentary, a piece on director's son/Mowgli voice Bruce Reitherman, a set-top/DVD-ROM game, an art gallery, and an English-learning feature. Click here for full information.
Animation World Magazine has a very good article on the impending death of the direct-to-video Disney sequel. The piece reflects on thirteen years of various audience-dividing DTV outings and looks ahead to the "franchise-driven movies" that will take over.
Today sees the theatrical release of Meet the Robinsons, 46th in the long line of Disney Feature Animation. We've posted a spoiler-free movie review, which reports that both storytelling and animation have seen significant gains since the studio's first all-CGI release (2005's disappointing Chicken Little). This G-rated comedy-adventure may have a confusing structure and a weak wacky center, but on the whole, it's quite enjoyable thanks to a worthwhile story which remains refreshingly different from the glut of other CG-animated flicks theaters have shown in recent years. Read the full review, with pictures and links to available tie-in items.
March 27, 2007 - When it comes to Disney music, we've again got you covered with our Spring 2007 CD Roundup. Ten albums recently or soon-to-be released through Disney's music branches get treated to detailed reviews: Disneymania 5, Meet the Robinsons Soundtrack, Jump In! Soundtrack, Radio Disney Jams 9 (CD+DVD combo), Hannah Montana: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack (CD+DVD), Disney/Pixar's Buddy Songs, Mickey's Party Songs, Pirates of the Caribbean: Swashbuckling Sea Songs, plus self-titled albums by Everlife and T-Squad. Serving up insight, information, and wit, this article is one you won't want to miss. Click here to read it.
March 25, 2007 - Amazon.com has put up nearly the entire wave of recently-announced Disney DVDs for preorder at 30% discounts: The Jungle Book: Platinum Edition (October 2), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: The Friendship Edition (June 19), The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (November 20), Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams (September 4), "Hannah Montana": Pop Star Profile (June 26), High School Musical: The Concert (June 26), Little Einsteins: Rocket's Firebird Rescue (August 21), and "Handy Manny": Tooling Around (August 21).
Cover art has been posted for the May 22nd Blu-ray Disc debut of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
March 23, 2007 - Our newest DVD review covers Inspector Gadget 2, Disney's 2003 direct-to-video sequel to their 1999 live-action film. French Stewart takes the reins from Matthew Broderick and squints his way through a script that's big on spills, splatters, and other sight gags. The film co-stars Elaine Hendrix (1998's The Parent Trap) as G2, an all-robotic crime fighter who is assigned to Gadget's case as Dr. Claw escapes from prison and plots world domination. Filmed in Australia with a largely local cast, this G-rated action-comedy isn't very good, but it's not an entirely lost cause. Boosting its worth is a DVD that is shockingly loaded with revealing bonus features. The low-priced disc serves up two audio commentaries, 32 minutes of behind-the-scenes shorts, deleted scenes with commentary, outtakes, a music video, two set-top activities, a music-only track, and more. Click here for the full review.
The long-delayed debut of Disney Princess Enchanted Tales finally has a date attached to it. The line of new princess-centric cartoons will launch on September 4th with Follow Your Dreams, the title established for the premiere volume starring Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine. The DVD (SRP: $26.99) will present the 60-minute feature in 1.78:1 widescreen and Dolby 5.1 sound. Any extras, beyond a glittering embossed slipcover, remain to be announced. Click here for cover art.
Extending the streak of DVD announcements, Disney has released some information on The Jungle Book: Platinum Edition. Tenth in the biannual line of two-disc sets, the 1967 animated classic will be dealt an all-new digital restoration, presented in the 1.75:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a 5.1 Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix. Bonus features will include deleted songs (including a never-before-heard rendition of "I Wan'na Be Like You"), the animal featurette "DisneyPedia: Junglemania 'Ed'venture", "Baloo's Virtual Swingin' Jungle Cruise" (a group of 4 set-top games), an all-new music video, and more to be announced. The FastPlay-equipped set will also serve up a restored original theatrical soundtrack and French and Spanish language tracks. Tentative cover artwork has been posted here.
March 22, 2007 - June 19th has been set as the release date for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: The Friendship Edition. Joining its new bonus feature (an episode of "My Friends Tigger & Pooh") are the supplements of the 1977 film's 25th Anniversary Edition DVD: the 1983 short A Day for Eeyore, making-of featurette "The Story Behind the Masterpiece", an art gallery, interactive storybook "Pooh's Shadow", Pooh's Pop-Up Fun Facts, the 100 Acre Wood Challenge game, a sing-along for "The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers", and Carly Simon's rendition of "The Winnie the Pooh Theme Song." Cover art has been posted here.
Cover art has been posted for the August 21st Playhouse Disney DVD releases Little Einsteins: Rocket's Firebird Rescue and "Handy Manny": Tooling Around". Click here for all upcoming DVD artwork.
March 21, 2007 - Disney has confirmed a June 26th DVD release for "Hannah Montana": Pop Star Profile. The four-episode compilation will include a never-before-seen episode, a live concert performance of the Season 2 song "Nobody's Perfect", and the behind-the-scenes featurette "The Real Miley Cyrus." Arriving the same day and at the same price ($19.99 SRP) is High School Musical: The Concert - Extreme Access Pass. The 56-minute presentation of the nationwide tour will be accompanied by "U Direct" (a feature which lets you call the shots for a concert video), the featurette "High School Musical: On the Road", and a sneak peek at High School Musical 2. Click here for cover art for both of these DVDs.
Staying in the holiday spirit rather prematurely, Disney has just scheduled another seasonal film for DVD release eight months from now. Pooh's Super Sleuth Christmas Movie features the Hundred Acre Wood Gang as they appear in Playhouse Disney's soon-to-be-launched "My Friends Tigger & Pooh". In the 70-minute outing, CG-animated Pooh and company (which now includes 6-year-old girl Darby) must return both Santa's magic toy sack and a little lost reindeer to the North Pole. With a list price of $26.99, the DVD will offer a 16x9/Dolby 5.1 presentation, plus a bonus episode of "My Friends", a Snowman dance-along, and the 100 Acre Wood Downhill Challenge game. Click here for cover art.
March 20, 2007 - Tonight's new DVD review looks at A Goofy Movie. Following the animated series "Goof Troop", this theatrically-released 1995 feature finds Goofy and Max on a cross-country road trip which doesn't go as planned. Fresh, funny, and with good music to spare, the film may not be as ambitious as Feature Animation's output from the same era but it delivers a highly entertaining time all the same. The 2000 Gold Collection DVD is surprisingly full of extras, serving up episodes of Walt's "Disneyland" anthology and "Goof Troop", a trivia game, a read-along, the trailer, and the Lou Bega music video for "Disney's Mambo No. 5." Read the full review.
Buena Vista has already pegged The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause for a November 20th home video debut. On DVD, the Christmasy sequel will boast new bloopers, "Christmas Carol-oke", an Aly & AJ music video, a making-of featurette, and more to be announced. The FastPlay-equipped disc will serve up both widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film, plus English, French, and Spanish audio in 5.1. The movie, Disney's third highest-grossing of 2006, will simultaneously bow on Blu-ray (SRP: $34.99), with all standard DVD extras plus an all-new high definition Java feature.
We've updated our Disney on Blu-ray page with confirmed specs for today's Chicken Little release (the first Feature Animation work to turn up on the format) and May's pair of two-disc Pirates of the Caribbean sets for Dead Man's Chest and The Curse of the Black Pearl. Click here for complete information on Disney's first ten Blu-ray Discs.
With just over two months until opening day, Disney has finally issued a first trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. You can view it at the sequel's newly-launched official website. Along with fellow tertiary installments Spider-man 3 and Shrek the Third, At World's End is expected to help turn this May into the biggest month in box office history. More on the film...
Today provides the last new Disney DVD release of the month. Be sure not to miss our review of the Easter-themed disc, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt.
March 19, 2007 - Albert Gutierrez provides a fresh perspective on one of Playhouse Disney's biggest hits with his review of "Little Einsteins: The Legend of the Golden Pyramid. This recently-released compilation holds three episodes (including an unaired one) of the animated series that takes children on adventures while enhancing their appreciation for art, classical music, history, and various cultures. The disc also provides an interactive storybook. Read on...
March 17, 2007 - Our newest DVD review looks at Castle in the Sky, the third film directed by Hayao Miyazaki and first after Studio Ghibli was established. A fantasy about a girl with a powerful crystal, the various groups in pursuit of her, and the fabled airborne island they're all drawn to, this 1986 feature tests viewer patience with a two-hour runtime but delivers the compelling characters and imaginative universe that give Miyazaki's works worldwide renown. Disney's 2003 DVD gladly provides the film in its original form with subtitles as well as a new, considerably altered but apt English dub. Though a two-disc set, it's light on extras, providing three brief bonuses and a complete storyboard version of the film. Read the full review.
March 16, 2007 - The second DVD compilation of the Disney Channel series "Hannah Montana" has been bumped up to a June release. The disc, titled Pop Star Profile, will include a never-before-seen episode plus interviews with star Miley Cyrus and her family. There is no word yet if the second release of "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" has also been moved up to coincide with Pop Star Profile's release.
Recent Disney DVD and Movie Reviews:
• Popeye - Disney and Paramount co-produced this 1980 live-action feature, adapted from the E.C. Segar comics and Fleischer cartoons. In this Robert Altman-directed musical comedy, Robin Williams makes his film debut as the famous muttering, squint-eyed sailor of the title. There are songs penned by Harry Nilsson, a scenic Maltese setting, and a colorful cast that includes Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl. The bargain disc treats the film to fine picture/sound and no bonus features.
• Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt - Not quite the all-new movie its cover proclaims, this disc is composed of a 49-minute special (presented in 16x9/Dolby 5.1) and a standard 24-minute episode, neither of which has yet aired. 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 a sing-along for catchy tune "The Best Easter Party Ever."
• Baby Einstein: My First Signs - 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.
• 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.
• Walt Disney Treasures: The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure - This 1950s serial marks the first filmed adaptation of the Franklin W. Dixon book series. Fifty years since originally airing, the 20-episode saga remains a favorite with fans of "The Mickey Mouse Club." Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk portray 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.
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.
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