UltimateDisney.com: The Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD
NOVEMBER 1-15, 2006: NEWS ARCHIVES
Support UD and save when you buy this week's new DVDs from Amazon:
Gummi Bears V1 • DuckTales V2 • Rescue Rangers V2
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse • Golden Girls S6 • Home Improvement S5
November 15, 2006 - Our latest DVD review looks at "Home Improvement": The Complete Fifth Season, which finds the highly-rated Tim Allen sitcom at its best, in the middle of its eight-season run. In 1995-96, the series takes some chances, while staying true to past years, and ends up delivering a number of its all-time finest episodes. Buena Vista's three-disc box is once again standard, providing only a worthwhile 7½-minute blooper reel for bonuses. The set does deserve praise for a fine presentation of the season's 26 episodes, with exemplary picture/sound and chapter stops and none of the all-too-frequent TV-on-DVD shortcomings. Click here for the full, 2-page, 34-image review.
November 14, 2006 - Ever try to find out if the DVDs you already own could have some hidden features locked away? You end up having to click a bunch of pages, only to be treated to short, poorly-written and often suspect user-submitted lists of Easter Eggs. We at UD don't like that, so we're bringing you a new site section today: Disney DVD Easter Eggs. In just one straightforward page, we lay out simple directions to accessing unannounced features on over 20 Disney DVDs. We've hit many of the big targets: every Pixar DVD, a number of Walt Disney Treasures, recent bestsellers like Narnia and Chicken Little, titles known for their unmarked goodies, even some Touchstone-branded discs. But surely there are many more out there, so we're asking for your help in expanding the page into a few all-inclusive pages. Every Disney DVD Easter egg uncovered will be verified and written about in a clear, direct fashion. Check out the page and be sure to e-mail any finds to firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 13, 2006 - As promised, we have a pre-release review of "Disney's Adventures of The Gummi Bears": Volume 1. One of the studio's two first animated television series, "Gummi Bears" played a significant part in laying the groundwork for the Disney Afternoon and other '80s cartoons. Twenty-one years after debuting, the series holds up fairly well. The 3-disc set holds the first half of the enduring series, delivering 11 half-hour and 36 quarter-hour episodes with spotty picture/sound and nary a bonus feature. Click here for the full review.
In the first of two DVD reviews set to appear today, Jake Lipson and Aaron Wallace collaborate on Monsters, Inc. in one of UD's most-requested critiques. Pixar's fantastic two-disc Collector's Edition treats the wonderful 2001 movie to flawless picture and sound plus a vast, satisfying slate of bonus features. Click here for the complete review.
November 10, 2006 - We've created a new page -- Disney Blu-ray -- which, you guessed it, provides details on all of Disney's earliest Blu-ray discs. Disney Blu-ray covers currently-available titles (Dinosaur, The Haunted Mansion, Eight Below, Glory Road) and upcoming releases that have been announced (The Wild, Sky High, Invincible). Each disc's technical specs are listed, along with its bonus features (distinguishing between Blu-ray exclusive and those ported-from-DVD). Click here to view our new Disney on Blu-ray page.
The Complete Seventh (and Final) Season of "The Golden Girls" has been scheduled for a February 13, 2007 DVD release. While there is not yet any word on bonus features, the 3-disc set will hold the sitcom's final 26 episodes and carry a $39.99 list price. Click here for cover art.
November 9, 2006 - It's been a long time since Disney dipped into their rich catalogue and gave a normal retail DVD debut, so we're happy to report that we've just gotten news from Vincent that the Wonderful World of Disney's 2002 telemovie Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister will be coming to disc on February 13th. Based on the book by Wicked author Gregory MacGuire, the movie retells the story of Cinderella from the perspective of one of her stepsisters. It stars Azura Skye, Stockard Channing, and Jonathan Pryce. There is no word yet on bonus features (if any) or presentation specs. Click here for a look at cover art.
Meanwhile, on our forum, "disneyboy20022" reports that an eighth wave of Disney Movie Club exclusives has made available "Zorro" The Complete First Season (housing the 5 Club-exclusive discs previously released individually for a standard price of $59.95) and The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit to current DMC members. Ice Cream Suit, adapted by Ray Bradbury from his short story and play, went direct-to-video in 1999 after screenings at the Sundance and Austin Film Festivals. The movie stars Joe Mantegna, Esai Morales, and Edward James Olmos.
November 8, 2006 - Next week offers a whopping six new DVD releases from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, all of them holding episodes of television series. The subject of our first review of this batch -- "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse": Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales -- is the youngest of the shows and only single-disc release. It also happens to be Disney's only new Christmas-themed DVD this year, though the title and cover refer to only one of the three featured episodes. Our critique lays out all you need to know about Mickey's new television series, from who it's aimed at to how it fits into Mickey's nearly 80-year-long animation career. Read on...
Amazon is uncharacteristically selling The Santa Clause 2 (Widescreen Edition) for just $6.99, 65% off list price. Click here to buy.
Now through the end of the month, A&E.com is selling "Ellen": The Complete Season One (originally titled "These Friends of Mine") at over 50% off list price; you can order the sitcom's premiere two-disc set for $17.99 plus $1 shipping. Another discount from A&E and The History Channel gives you 30% off any purchase, plus a $25 gift card when you spend $100 or more. Click here for this offer, which ends November 15th.
Disney continues to supply Apple's iTunes with new and exciting downloadable content. Yesterday was the DVD release of Pixar's Cars and the movie was concurrently made available for download at $12.99. On our forum, "That1GuyPictures" reports that iTunes' download of Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey presents Disney's 1993 live action film in widescreen, unlike the DVD releases it has received worldwide. Finally, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, Walt Disney Records is opening its vaults to iTunes as well. Yesterday, the company's music branch made nineteen of its albums from over the years available for the first time to download, starting at $4.95 an album. Among the treasures unleashed are Burl Ives: Chim Chim Cheree and other Children's Choices, Mickey Mouse Disco, Walt Disney Presents Songs from the Mickey Mouse Club Serials, Annette, Rhythym of the Pridelands, and two low-priced 25-track Walt Disney Records Archive Collections (Vol. 1, Vol. 2). According to an Internet post made by Walt Disney Records producer Randy Thornton, the plan is to release every master whose rights are still owned by Disney, with the next wave slated for January 2007.
Ed South has a new review today of Baby Einstein: Baby's First Moves, the 22nd and latest entry to Disney's ongoing preschool franchise. The program, which attempts to encourage physical movement in the extremely young, is a bit short on variety, presenting all the usual Baby Einstein ingredients in a calculated manner which excited the critic's 10-month old but bored his 3-year-old. Click here for the full review.
November 5, 2006 - Tonight's new DVD review, of The Santa Clause: Widescreen Special Edition, marks the 500th for this site! The blockbuster 1994 Christmas comedy is one of the most popular live action Disney films of recent years and with good reason. The Tim Allen-headlined film offers a succesful blend of heart, humor, and holiday fun. Its 2002 DVD re-release, however, is less delightful, losing the film's trailer and lacking a commentary, deleted scenes, or any bonuses of substance. Still, the disc does offer stellar picture and sound, a handful of new extras, and a special Easter Egg. Click here for the full review.
Meanwhile, the movie's second sequel doesn't appear destined for quite the same level of financial success. Studio estimates, according to Box Office Mojo, peg The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause's opening weekend gross at $20 million, which left the G-rated flick in second place, not to its chief competitor (DreamWorks and Aardman's CG-animated Flushed Away) but to the surprisingly popular R-rated comedy Borat, which earned an estimated $26.4 M in quite limited release.
The cover artwork for Peter Pan: Platinum Edition has got a minor and possibly final overhaul. Click here to view the now green-bannered package.
BestBuy.com is making it easy to start shopping for the holidays (or for yourself) with an exceptional deal on Disney DVDs: 5 for $30 or $6.99 each. Among the titles being discounted are The Santa Clause and its sequel, The Sword in the Stone, The Rookie, Miracle, The Rescuers Down Under, and discs in the Classic Cartoon Favorites, Funny Factory, It's a Small World of Fun, and Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh series. Click here for the complete list.
November 3, 2006 - The third and supposedly final chapter in Disney's popular live action Christmas series, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, rings in the holiday season today when it opens in nearly 3,500 North American theaters. The movie once again finds Tim Allen playing Scott Calvin, the ordinary middle-aged man who unwittingly became the present-day Kris Kringle. This time, Santa must deal with the pregnancy of his wife (Elizabeth Mitchell), the arrival of his uninformed in-laws (Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret) and his ex-wife's family (Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold, and Liliana Mumy), and the icy intentions of glory-seeking Jack Frost (Martin Short), all the while preparing for another year's delivery date. With two writers and the director returning from The Santa Clause 2, this one feels a lot more like the 2002 sequel than its superior predecessor. Most of the movie takes place at the North Pole, the "legendary characters" are back, clearly-choreographed twists are thrown into Father Christmas' hectic everyday life, and the appeal is more youthful than universal. Still, in spite of icy reviews and direct competition from DreamWorks' CGI comedy Flushed Away, most in Hollywood expect The Escape Clause to bow atop the box office with an opening weekend gross somewhere in between the original's $19 million and the previous outing's $29 M. More on Santa Clause 3...
Cars, Pixar Animation Studios' seventh feature film, is the subject of our latest DVD review. The automobile-driven blockbuster may not be quite as perfect as its predecessors, but it is a great movie all the same, one which delights with colorful characters, a likable story, and cutting-edge visuals. Its debut disc boasts flawless digital picture and sound, but falls well short of expectations in the bonus features department. What's here -- the newly-created short Mater and the Ghostlight, Oscar nominee One Man Band, the end credits epilogue, a featurette, four deleted scenes, and an Easter Egg -- is quite good, but it's what's not here that suggests that this may only be the first lap for John Lasseter's winning 'toon. Click here for our full review.
November 2, 2006 - Our Upcoming Disney Movies page has been updated with new release dates for National Treasure 2, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and the newly-previewed Wall-E.
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November 1, 2006 - November and December will be marked by many a Disney DVD release, as the studio's schedule becomes much busier than it has been for most of the preceding months. That will keep UD's reviewers busy covering new titles, but if time allows, we'll still try to go back and revisit some notable discs which were released prior to 2004, when this site became particularly review-driven. Tonight gives us one of those rare opportunities, so we've seized it to review Tuck Everlasting, Disney's 2002 adaptation of Natalie Babbitt's fantasy novel. The likable drama boasts an exceptional cast and tackles the compelling idea of immortality in a thoughtful, intelligent way. The now bargain-priced disc includes cast and filmmakers' audio commentaries, a "Lessons of Tuck" viewing mode, and an author featurette. Click here for the full review.
A preview on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales reveals that an Easter-themed compilation of the computer-animated Playhouse Disney hit will come to disc on March 27, 2007, titled Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt. Meanwhile, an insert inside the case promises two new "JoJo's Circus" DVDs are on the way as well. While official titles haven't been issued, we've heard the discs referred to as Dance and Music compilations, respectively.
October 30, 2006 - Our Fall CD Roundup is here and it is easily our biggest yet. We cover thirteen albums, five of which are equipped with a second disc (either a concert DVD or a pop covers companion). The subjects of these reviews: The Little Mermaid: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack, The Nightmare Before Christmas: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack, The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series, Hannah Montana: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series (CD + DVD), The Cheetah Girls 2 Soundtrack, Radio Disney Party Jams (CD + DVD), Ralph's World - Welcome to Ralph's World (CD + DVD), Baby Einstein: Playdate Fun, plus Disney's Karaoke Series volumes for The Little Mermaid, Cars, High School Musical, and The Cheetah Girls 2. Click here for much more on all of these.
With the posting of our latest CD roundup, UltimateDisney.com now has critiques of over 60 releases from Disney's musical branches scattered about nine different pages. To help guide you to the review of your choosing, we've created a Disney CD Review Index with direct links to our dedicated coverage.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
• The Straight Story - This sweet, unusual 1999 live action drama centers on an old man who uses a riding lawnmower to make a 300-mile trip to see the sick brother he hasn't spoken to in years. The David Lynch-directed film requies patience but delivers nearly unparalleled poignancy, thanks chiefly to Richard Farnsworth's Oscar-nominated final performance.
• Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior - This Brenda Song-headlined flick breaks out of the Disney Channel Original Movie mold and adds elaborate martial arts action to a shaky teen-centered story. The "Kickin' Edition" disc supplies a pair of featurettes, a brief extended ending, and a complete episode of Song's sitcom "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody."
• "Hannah Montana": Livin' the Rock Star Life - Holding four episodes of the popular new Disney Channel comedy series, this is bound to disappoint those wanting the entire show. Though a trio of good little extras sweeten the package, the unacquainted will likely be unimpressed by the show, which seems like a shortcut to delivering a new acting/pop star to the Disney family.
• That Darn Cat (1997) - This mystery/comedy updates many things in retelling the 1965 Hayley Mills/Dean Jones tale of a teenage girl's feline who is the lead witness in an FBI kidnapping case. A large impressive cast, a good sense of humor, and improved pacing make this one fun, in spite of its mess of a conclusion. The disc's specs are mislabeled, this time in our favor.
• The Big Green - Young small-town misfits band together on a winning soccer team, while invoking most youth sports film formulas. Easy to criticize, but fun to watch, and hard to dislike, this 1995 comedy benefits from a widescreen presentation, but there are some catches.
• Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh: Love & Friendship - Unsurprisingly, the disc dices up unrelated episodes of "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" and makes them preschooler-tailored with new puppet shows and transitions. Picture is lacking, the two brief bonuses add little value, and one episode may be missing parts.
Recent Touchstone, Miramax, and Buena Vista DVD Reviews:
• "Ellen" The Complete Fourth Season - The year that the Touchstone sitcom broke ground by having its protagonist come out of the closet as network TV's first gay lead. The late-season twist earned the show its highest ratings, but came at a creative cost. A&E's 3-disc box set offers cast bios and writers' audio commentary on the historic two-parter.
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