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JULY 16-31, 2007: NEWS ARCHIVES
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August 1, 2007 - Don't forget to consult our DVD Schedule for an overview of all this week's new DVD releases.
July 31, 2007 - Bridge to Terabithia's Josh Hutcherson headlines Firehouse Dog, the subject of our latest DVD review. This 2007 Fox family film relocates a movie star canine to a small town, where he befriends a lonely boy and his father's fire department. Blending familiar elements of the genre -- like a skillful four-legged title character -- with a variety of angles, this PG-rated mixed bag is now available on DVD, with deleted scenes, a Fox Movie Channel special, five short featurettes, trailers, a PSA, and a gallery of faux posters created for the film. Read on...
July 30, 2007 - Video Business reports that among the DVD news eking out of this weekend's Comic-Con convention is Disney's plan to release the Pixar Short Films Collection on November 6th. The same day is expected to bring the DVD debut of Ratatouille and the two-platter Blu-ray Disc premiere of Cars. An official announcement on all three is expected in the weeks ahead, but the Short Films set should carry a $29.99 SRP and include thirteen CGI 'toons plus commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage, animation tests, and a featurette.
July 27, 2007 - The subject of our latest DVD review, Hot Fuzz, reunites Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost, the team behind 2004's Shaun of the Dead. Pegg headlines this R-rated film as a by-the-book London cop who's reassigned to a quiet small village, where a series of graphic "accidents" raise his suspicions. Sending up and skewing countless conventions of other action films, this winning new British comedy offers a smart and very funny time. Universal's DVD provides a commentary, 20 minutes of deleted scenes, a 28-minute featurette documenting the creative trio's promotional tour of America, outtakes, and more. Read the full review.
UPDATE: Our first look at At World's End 2-disc cover art can be viewed here. Disney has issued a press release for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which announces the blockbuster sequel for single-disc DVD, and two-disc DVD and Blu-ray release on the expected street date of December 4th. Click here for the full announcement, with detailed bonus feature information and discounted preorder links.
July 26, 2007 - Our 600th and latest DVD review covers Space Ghost & Dino Boy: The Complete Series, Warner's recent release of the 1966-67 Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon. Long before he was a talk show host, Space Ghost rid the galaxy of evil masterminds, with help from twin human wards, Jan and Jace, and a monkey named Blip. Dino Boy is a contemporary lad who survives a plane crash but now lives in a peril-laced valley with resourceful caveman Ugh and a pet brontosaurus. The two-disc set serves up all 20 episodes of the series, which are largely made up of two Space Ghost tales and a Dino Boy one. Also included is "Simplicity: The Life and Art of Alex Toth", a 79-minute documentary on the series' creator and renowned comic designer. Read on...
July 24, 2007 - The subject of Aaron Wallace's newest DVD review is Zodiac, the arresting drama from director David Fincher (Seven, The Game) that provides a number of angles in exploring the mysterious series of killings that took place in late-'60s California and the enduring hunt for the person behind them. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. headline a terrific ensemble cast, which -- matched to a well-executed story, fine pacing, and superb directing -- provides one of the year's better movies so far. More...
Our latest DVD review looks at Renaissance. Miramax's R-rated 2006 neo-noir is visually imaginative, employing black and white rotoscoped animation and near-future Paris as its setting. Storywise, the movie leaves quite a bit to be desired. More...
July 20, 2007 - Our latest DVD review covers Benson: The Complete First Season. In this long-running spin-off to "Soap", Robert Guillaume plays the title character, a role that earned him two Emmys. Here, he becomes the household director to a widowed governor in an unnamed state. Sony's 3-disc set includes a video introduction from Guillaume, a half-hour retrospective, a "Favorite Episodes" featurette, and a photo gallery. Read the full review.
Trivia answers and randomly-selected winners for our 22nd and latest contest have just been posted here. Lucky entrants will receive a copy of either High School Musical: The Concert or Hannah Montana: Pop Star Profile on DVD. More...
Hot off the presses comes our DVD review of Roving Mars. Disney's latest IMAX film looks at the NASA mission that sent two robotic rovers to our neighbor, the Red Planet, to gather insight on the possibility of life there. Science and space geeks should appreciate this little documentary. The DVD includes both widescreen and fullscreen presentations, a solid 25-minute featurette, and the complete 52-minute 1957 "Disneyland" episode "Mars and Beyond." More...
July 17, 2007 - Aaron Wallace covers Premonition, now on DVD from Sony. Sandra Bullock headlines this familiar, predictable PG-13-rated suspense film about a woman who wakes up to find her husband dead, then alive, then dead again. The DVD includes a commentary from Ms. Bullock and German director Mennan Yapo, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, a gag reel, and two featurettes on real-life premonitions. Read on...
Kelvin Cedeno, one of UD's first DVD reviewers, returns with a look at Pathfinder: Unrated. Repeatedly rescheduled and an ultimate flop, this adventure film about warring Vikings and Native Americans arrives on disc at the end of this month running 7 minutes longer than its critically-reviled, R-rated theatrical cut. Fox's DVD also includes a commentary by director Marcus Nispel (2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), 7 deleted scenes, 7 short featurettes, and two trailers. More...
Newly reviewed and now available on DVD is "Voyagers" The Complete Series. Universal treats this fondly-remembered, single-season early '80s NBC series to a 4-disc set that presents all the time-traveling adventures of former pirate Phineas Bogg and smart young sidekick Jeffrey Jones. In their efforts to correct glitches in history, the two Voyagers encounter Babe Ruth, Spartacus, Billy the Kid, Cleopatra, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and many more. Read the full review.
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 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.
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 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.
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.]
Recent Non-Disney DVD Reviews:
• The Woman in the Window (MGM Film Noir) - Fritz Lang's lesser-known but skillful suspense drama finds a psychology professor (Edward G. Robinson) and chance acquaintance (Joan Bennett) working together to cover up a circumstantial murder.
• The Last Mimzy - This PG-rated fantasy aptly harks back to E.T. in tone, while providing a unique tale all its own based on a '40s sci-fi magazine story. Two young siblings discover a mysterious box of toys that grants them unusual powers while beckoning them to save mankind. New Line's infinifilm DVD is loaded with insightful bonuses, serving up nearly two hours of video extras plus three additional ways to view the film.
• Sweet Land - Critically-acclaimed independent drama presents a lacking romance between a German mail order bride and a Norwegian farmer in 1920s Minnesota. The methodical pacing and weak lead characters are offset by a compelling period setting and spirited supporting cast. The disc includes a commentary, a featurette, and the movie's original trailer.
• Driving Lessons - Harry Potter's Weasleys Rupert Grint and Julie Walters star in this charming British coming-of-age comedy/drama about a friendship formed between a shy teenaged boy and an outspoken old actress. The DVD includes a 17-minute featurette, deleted scenes, and a blooper reel.
• 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.
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