July 15, 2007 - Another one of this week's new DVDs is the subject of our newest reviews. MGM's Red Dawn: Collector's Edition serves up a two-disc re-release of the 1984 cult classic. The film, co-written and directed by John Milius, imagines what might happen if World War III were to break out on American soil, as Cuban and Soviet Union forces collaborate to wreak havoc on a small Colorado town. Calling themselves the Wolverines after their high school's mascot, young people of the town -- played by Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, and Jennifer Grey, among others -- respond with guerilla tactics. The first movie ever rated PG-13, this adolescent fantasy takes the '80s' Cold War fears in a ludicrous direction, but the film has its supporters. The two-disc set provides 16x9-enhancement, four featurettes totaling an hour, and the original theatrical trailer. Read the full review.
Our latest review looks at another one of MGM's recent Film Noir DVDs, The Stranger. The third film directed by Citizen Kane mastermind Orson Welles and his first box office hit, The Stranger stars Welles, Edward G. Robinson, and Loretta Young. The film offers the tale of a UN agent's search for a Nazi criminal in suburban Connecticut, just after World War II. Regardless of the conventional detective narrative, it excels as "thematically stirring and an artistic triumph." After a number of independent versions, MGM/Fox's disc offers this 1946 thriller its first big studio release. Read on...
July 14, 2007 - Our coverage of next week's new DVDs begins right now with a review of TCM and Warner Brothers' Esther Williams Collection, Volume 1. This 5-disc set serves up five of the MGM romantic musical comedies that transformed Williams from a champion swimmer to one of Hollywood's most popular actresses. The films -- Bathing Beauty (1944), Easy to Wed (1946), On an Island With You (1948), Neptune's Daughter (1952), and Dangerous When Wet (1953) -- feature performances by Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban, Lucille Ball, Van Johnson, Basil Rathbone, Keenan Wynn, Peter Lawford, Jimmy Durante, Fernando Lamas, Mel Blanc, Kathryn Beaumont, and Tom & Jerry. Most of the time, Williams herself is the focus and is showcased in elaborately-staged pool sequences that gave birth to the custom-built genre of "Aqua Musical." This box set brings Williams' long-unavailable works back into stores and in addition to restored feature presentations, the collection serves up over 3 hours of bonus features. These supplements include TCM's hour-long 1996 interview with Ms. Williams, 2 deleted song performances, 5 MGM cartoon shorts (featuring Tom, Jerry, and Barney Bear), 5 live-action shorts, original theatrical trailers for all 5 films and more, a cameo film excerpt, radio interviews, and song demos. Check out the full DVD review for succinct critiques of each movie and 25 pictures from the set.
July 13, 2007 - In our latest DVD review, Aaron Wallace takes a look at The Woman in the Window, Fritz Lang's 1944 suspense film starring Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett. Making its long-awaited format debut as part of MGM's Film Noir line, this lesser-known but skillful drama finds a psychology professor and chance acquaintance working together to cover up a circumstantial murder. More...
July 10, 2007 - Buena Vista has issued press releases for their two low-priced, 3-disc sitcom season sets that street on August 7th: Home Improvement: The Complete Seventh Season and 8 Simple Rules: The Complete First Season. The announcements contain more about the '90s and '00s family comedies as well as their bonus features.
Today's new DVD releases include The Last Mimzy (Review), Sweet Land (Review), the 4-disc Frankie & Annette: MGM Movie Legends Collection, The Film Crew: Hollywood After Dark (in which the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 poke fun at the 1968 Rue McClanahan film), "Bewitched": The Complete Fifth Season, "Beauty and the Beast": The Second Season, Ricky Gervais' "Extras": The Complete Second Season, Oscar nominee After the Wedding, The Astronaut Farmer, and as part of MGM's Film Noir line, Orson Welles' The Stranger (Review) and Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window (Review). Look for our reviews of those last two soon and as always, consult our DVD Schedule for a look at all the new DVDs released this week, this month, and the weeks and months past or coming.
July 9, 2007 - Hot on the heels of their warmly-received most recent releases, Buena Vista Home Entertainment has scheduled more Disney Channel DVDs for later this year. The recently-debuted original movie Johnny Kaphala: Back on Board and the 3rd all-"Hannah Montana" episode compilation, Life's What You Make of It will each come to disc on October 9th. Kaphala (SRP: $26.99), the sequel to 1999's Johnny Tsunami, will include the bonus features "The Dirt on Dirtboarding", a multi-angle board stunts feature, and musical performances from Jonas Brothers and T-Squad. "Hannah" (SRP: $19.99) will contain 4 episodes plus Billy Ray Cyrus' "Ready, Set Don't Go" music video and the "Backstage Pass" featurette from the Hannah Montana: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack. Both DVDs offer a fullscreen and Dolby 5.1 feature presentation.
July 7, 2007 - The 588th and newest of all our DVD review subjects is The Last Mimzy, a PG-rated fantasy that aptly harps back to Steven Spielberg's E.T. in tone, while providing a unique tale all its own, based on a 1943 sci-fi magazine story. Two young siblings in Seattle discover a mysterious box of toys that grants them remarkable powers while beckoning them to help save mankind. Heading a cast that includes Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton, Rainn Wilson, and Michael Clarke Duncan are savvy leads Chris O'Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn. New Line's infinifilm DVD is loaded to the brim with insightful bonuses, serving up nearly two hours of video extras plus three additional ways (commentary, fact track, interactive DVD-ROM) to view the film. Deleted scenes, making-of vignettes, and pieces on topics relevant to the movie all satisfy in quantity and quality. Click here for our full review.
July 6, 2007 - Our latest review looks at Sweet Land, a critically-acclaimed independent drama getting released to DVD next Tuesday from Fox. Subtitled A Love Story for home video, the central romance between a German immigrant and a Norwegian farmer in 1920s Minnesota is fairly lacking. The methodical pacing and weak lead characterizations are offset by a compelling period setting and a spirited supporting cast. The DVD includes a commentary, a featurette, and the movie's original trailer. More...
July 5, 2007 - We're happy to announce the launch of another new giveaway. If you can answer five simple trivia questions, you could end up with your own Hannah Montana or High School Musical DVD. Click here for more information, to enter, and for video previews of the prize DVDs. Don't miss it!
Answers and winners to our Pirates of the Caribbean Blu-ray Disc Contest have been posted right here.
We've just posted the press release for Baby Einstein: Discovering Shapes, the 24th and latest volume in Disney's best-selling toddler DVD line. Click here to read.
July 3, 2007 - Our latest DVD review looks at Sony Pictures Classics' Driving Lessons, a coming-of-age comedy/drama from the UK starring Harry Potter's Rupert Grint and Julie Walters. The film about a friendship formed between a shy teenaged boy and a washed-up, outspoken actress has its charms. The DVD includes a 17-minute featurette, deleted scenes, and a blooper reel. Read the full review.
July 2, 2007 - A new month has arrived and with it, an update to our Upcoming DVD Schedule which puts the five Tuesdays of July in focus with a week-by-week look at the biggest new releases, re-releases, and high-definition debuts. In addition, we've archived June 2007's DVD Schedule if you need to see if you missed anything major, revised our August Schedule with a fuller view of the busy month's many titles, and added a brand new September DVD Schedule, covering a month heavy on last season's television shows timed to precede their new fall seasons. Check it all out right here.
As we move closer to launching our all-DVD sister site to UD, we've created a general Upcoming DVD Schedule, which currently provides information on all studios' high-profile releases for the next three months. Bonus feature information, production data, select cover art, and preorder links are offered for 10-25 of the biggest DVDs scheduled for each of the next four Tuesdays. Keep an eye out as we expand the schedule to cover the rest of the summer in the days and weeks ahead. Click here to check it out now.
UltimateDisney.com is developing DVDizzy.com, a spin-off DVD news/reviews website to provide coverage of high-profile releases from other major studios. While UD will continue to cover all things Disney, the expansion will bring the type of comprehensive critiques and schedules you've come to expect to other significant movies and TV shows from outside the Walt Disney Company. Once this general DVD site launches, it will co-exist with UD.
Recent Disney DVD and Movie Reviews:
• "Hannah Montana": Pop Star Profile - Disney Channel's hit comedy series returns to DVD with four consecutive episodes from the middle of Season 1 that explore the relationship between Miley/Hannah and her new celebrity classmate. Bonus features are a concert performance and "The Real Miley Cyrus."
• High School Musical: The Concert - Extreme Access Pass - A 57-minute, 14-song presentation of the six-month nationwide tour spun out of the successful Disney Channel TV movie. Bonus features include Jordan Pruitt's opening act, a backstage featurette, a High School Musical 2 preview, and a multi-angle "U Direct" feature.
• Ratatouille - Bearing little resemblance to the studio's previous output, Pixar's 8th film is a little lacking in the character department and doesn't top the studio's best. Still, dazzling visuals and big ideas add up to one very satisfying experience. [Check out our Guide to Ratatouille Tie-Ins for a look at the books, toys, video games, CDs, posters, and miscellaneous items connected to this CGI flick.]
• Bridge to Terabithia - Though marketed as a CGI-heavy effects film (a tactic justified by solid box office numbers), Disney and Walden's latest book adaptation is more of a coming-of-age drama as two pre-teens use their outsider status at school and vivid imaginations to become friends and rule over a magical domain. The disc serves up reference quality picture and sound plus two audio commentaries, two featurettes, and a music video for Robb's song "Keep Your Mind Wide Open."
• The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: The Friendship Edition - This re-release of the 1977 film that compiled Disney's first three Hundred Acre Wood shorts is quite comparable to 2002's 25th Anniversary Edition, though it adds the premiere episode of Playhouse Disney's new CGI series "My Friends Tigger & Pooh" and improves in packaging and picture quality.
Recent Non-Disney DVD Reviews:
• Our Very Own - Flavor is strong in this tale of five small-town Tennessee teenagers anticipating the homecoming of Hollywood star Sondra Locke in the summer of 1978. The cast for this coming-of-age drama includes an assortment of TV stars (Allison Janney, Cheryl Hines, Jason Ritter, Hilarie Burton, Autumn Reeser), Oscar winner Keith Carradine, and Mary Badham, the girl from To Kill a Mockingbird, coming out of a 40-year retirement.
• Shooter - In this R-rated action thriller, Mark Wahlberg plays an expert marksman who wrongly becomes the chief suspect in a presidential assassination attempt. Paramount's DVD includes a commentary by director Antoine Fuqua, seven deleted scenes, and two featurettes.
• The Secret of NIMH: Family Fun Edition - Don Bluth's animated 1982 masterpiece holds up and while its presentation leaves room for improvement and the two-disc set is rather light on extras (a commentary, a featurette, and 5 set-top games), this re-release merits a look for the long-overdue 16x9 treatment bestowed upon the film.
• "Silver Spoons": The Complete First Season - In the role that made him famous, Ricky Schroder stars as the smart, savvy boy who at age 12 moves in with the rich, childish father he's only just met. Though marked by technical shortcomings and design limitations, this early-to-mid 1980s family sitcom nonetheless delights those fond of the format and era. Sony's 3-disc, 22-episode set includes a lengthy pilot, recurring appearances by Jason Bateman and John Houseman, and guest spots by Mr. T, Gary Coleman, Joey Lawrence, and Sharon Stone.
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