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    Pete’s Dragon (2016) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 1st, 2016

    “Sometimes a dragon gets lost…and winds up far from his home.” 

    It appears to be the intention at Walt Disney Studios that each of its animated classics is to be remade as a live-action film. You can certainly understand the why that might be so. Computer-generated images have passed into the realm of photo-realistic presentations. Today there isn’t anything you can’t bring into the “real” world to interact with actual flesh and blood actors. The concept brought us the brilliant Jon Favreau version of The Jungle Book. Not all of these attempts have been or will be quite so successful. I count Pete’s Dragon among one of those lesser-than films.
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    Shrek: Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 7th, 2016

    Oh…you were expecting Prince Charming?”

    Shrek really did pick the absolute perfect time to emerge from his swamp. The 2001 computer animated sensation from Dreamworks arrived just as rival studio Disney was winding down its decade-long hot streak of hand-drawn new classics like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. In other words, it was the ideal moment for someone to come along and take shots at cartoon musicals and fairy tales that end with “Happily Ever After.” (Shrek‘s biggest target, however, was probably the Mouse House itself.) But how does the movie play 15 years later? Fortunately, Fox and Dreamworks have released a new Anniversary Edition to help us figure out the answer.
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    The Giant King

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 13th, 2016

    Yak: The Giant King is a 2012 animated offering from Thailand. It is based on Ramakien, the country’s version of a famous Hindu epic poem. Neither of those facts is readily apparent in the packaging and presentation of The Giant King, an American adaptation that was recently released on DVD. On the one hand, it helps explain why the dialogue here hardly ever matches the characters’ lip movements. But knowing that this crude, chintzy offering is actually based on something rather substantial makes it even more of a letdown.
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    Cinderella (2015) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 21st, 2015

    “Have courage and be kind.”

    Those words — repeated many times in this newest version of Cinderella — serve as both the title character’s mantra and the film’s unofficial tagline. The message is elegant in its simplicity in a way that mirrors this refreshingly old-fashioned adaptation, which resists the prevailing urge to modernize and/or revise a classic story.
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    Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 9th, 2015

    The Star Wars universe is famously vast, and that’s before the Force even Awakens this Christmas and kicks off a new series of feature films. (And let’s not even go down the Expanded Universe rabbit hole.) My point is that it’s been almost 40 years since Star Wars premiered, and the army of artists who have taken on George Lucas’ iconic creations haven’t even come close to running out of material to explore. It was actually 10 years ago that the first Lego Star Wars short premiered and applied the toy company’s irreverent, spoofy brand of humor to deconstructing Lucas’ “Empire” brick by brick.
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    Welcome to the Space Show (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 12th, 2014

    Welcome to the Space Show looks like what would happen if you combined Steven Spielberg’s E.T. — or the openly-Spielbergian Super 8 and Earth to Echo — with the boundless imagination and quirky charms of anime. The result here is intermittently dazzling, but this particular kid-friendly alien adventure is ultimately less than the sum of its parts.
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    “31 Nights of Terror” A Letter to Momo (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 29th, 2014

    As the spookiest holiday of the year draws closer, we’re all probably a little more sensitive to anything that goes bump in the night. Almost every creature associated with Halloween is meant to terrify us, but what if some of those horrific-looking monsters were actually tasked with watching over us? In the Japanese animated drama A Letter to Momo, a young girl encounters a trio of mischievous spirits that only she can see and hear. The monster shenanigans, however, were merely one aspect in what turned out to be one of the more affecting family films I’ve seen this year.
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    Muppets Most Wanted (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 11th, 2014

    The Muppets debuted in 1955, and the late great Jim Henson’s creations have been delighting audiences (and fellow entertainers) of all ages ever since. They’ve made their mark on the small screen — most notably with The Muppet Show (1976-81) — and at the movies, starring in eight feature films across four different decades. However, 2011’s The Muppets was their first big-screen outing in a dozen years, and the movie spent most of its time wondering if the Muppets’ old-fashioned, irreverent charm still had a place in a more jaded pop culture landscape.
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    The Lego Movie: Everything is Awesome Edition (Blu-ray 3D)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 17th, 2014

    “You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe. And you are capable of amazing things.”

    There’s a worthwhile message in The LEGO Movie about the importance of deviating from life’s instruction book and indulging your imagination. But for me, the biggest thrill came from the way it became the first film without Toy Story in its title to tap into the anarchic (and anachronistic) spirit of playing with toys.
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    Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 19th, 2014

    If we act like we belong, they’ll think we belong.”

    You never know who could be watching when you post something online. Sophia Grace Brownlee is a perfect example of how to become a “star” in this decade. In 2011, the 8-year-old Brit starred in a video of herself singing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” alongside her silent, hype man cousin Rosie McClelland. The clip went viral and caught the eye of Ellen DeGeneres, who has repeatedly featured the diminutive duo on her daytime talk show over the last few years. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Sophia Grace and Rosie jumped to the big screen; well, the straight-to-DVD screen anyway.
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    Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 9th, 2013

    “Wanted: a nanny for two adorable children. If you want this choice position, have a cheery disposition, Rosy cheeks, no warts. Play games, all sorts. You must be kind, you must be witty, very sweet, and fairly pretty. Take us on outings, give us treats, sing songs, bring sweets. Never be cross or cruel. Never give us castor oil or gruel. Love us as a son and daughter, and never smell of barley water. If you won’t scold and dominate us, we will never give you cause to hate us. We won’t hide your spectacles so you can’t see, put toads in your bed, or pepper in your tea. Hurry, nanny! Many thanks!”

    And so the call goes out for Mary Poppins
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    Bubble Guppies/Team Umizoomi: Into the Snow We Go!

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on November 21st, 2013

    Nickelodeon has released a Holiday compilation DVD before(http://upcomingdiscs.com/2011/11/15/nickelodeon-favorites-merry-christmas/) which makes this particular release a sort of sequel to that. This time around only two shows are featured, and there is half the episodes featured than in the previous release.
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    It’s a Spongebob Christmas!

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on November 21st, 2013

    It was inevitable. Spongebob Squarepants gets its own Christmas Special. Usually television shows take the lazy route and inject their own characters into a familiar Christmas story and make a parody or adaptation (how many times have we seen Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol redone?). Thankfully this special offers a unique tale of the malevolent Plankton creating a special fruitcake that turns any eater into a totally jerk. Will Spongebob’s demeanour make him immune? Of course…but what of the rest of Bikini Bottom?
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    Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on November 13th, 2013

    Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol is vastly re-imagined with characters from Dora. Swiper replaces Scrooge as the one who travels through time in order to learn the true meaning of Christmas. This special is twice the length of a normal episode.
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    Shrek: The Musical (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 23rd, 2013

    Hollywood (rightfully) gets a lot of flack these days for being creatively bankrupt. But you can’t throw a rock down Broadway without hitting the marquee for a musical that’s based on an existing film. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon — and it doesn’t always work — but some of the most successful and beloved musicals feature stories you already know and fell in love with on the big screen. The trend seems to have really picked up at the turn of the century, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. So adapting a massive hit like Shrek for the stage must’ve been a no-brainer.
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    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Ultimate Showdown

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on October 9th, 2013

    This is the third stab at making an animated series about these radical reptiles. This particular DVD set is the latter half of this show’s first season. We are privy to a wide array of toys…er, I mean, characters whose stories are firmly established at this point (roughly 13 episodes into a 26 episode season).
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    Winx Club: Magical Adventure

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on September 16th, 2013

    Half of this story deals with a group of teenage faeries, who are smitten with some cute boys from a neighbouring magical kingdom, trying to connect with said boys. The other half deals with this same group of faeries and boys fighting against a trio of evil witches trying to steal all of the world’s “positive magic.” In both halves there is a lot of girlish giggling, butterfly fluttering and sparkly colours….the enemy of any diabetic epileptic.
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    Super Buddies (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by BABY on August 30th, 2013

    “You don’t have to have super powers to be a superhero.”

    I know that’s right. Hi. I’m Baby, and I’m the German Shepherd / Chow mix that runs security here at Upcomingdiscs. We call it Baby On Board Security, and if you want to know what my superpower is, just try and deliver one of your Fed Ex or UPS packages when I’m on duty, which is all the time. And that spells F A N G S.
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    Epic (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 26th, 2013

    Any story about a hidden world that exists just outside the view of human eyes is bound to fire up your imagination. It helps explain why the Toy Story movies and Monsters Inc. are some of the most beloved family films of the last 20 years. Epic — the latest offering from Blue Sky Studios — seeks to capture some of the inventive magic of those Pixar films, but too much of the movie winds up playing out like a generic hero’s journey. Thankfully, there are still plenty of things to like in this animated hit, which suggests there’s a big world of little people out there.
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    Nickelodeon Rootin’ Tootin’ Wild West

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on August 17th, 2013

    It is very common for Nickelodeon to release these sorts of compilation sets. Previously I had covered their themes of Learning the ABCs as well as their Christmas release (as found here: http://upcomingdiscs.com/?s=nickelodeon). This time we get 6 different Nick Jr. programs focusing on the “Wild West” (aka, country music, cowboys hats and horses). 
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    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Enter Shredder

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on August 1st, 2013

    This is the third stab at making an animated series about these radical reptiles. This lone DVD acts as a sampler of seven episodes taken from the middle of its first season, instead of the complete season set. (A common move from Nickelodeon.) These episodes introduce the characters well enough that it will make you curious to see more of what this series has to offer.
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    Adventure Time: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on June 13th, 2013

    This is my second trip to the land of Ooo, and this time I’d have all of season 2 to kick back and enjoy the weird and crazy adventures of Jake the dog and Finn the human.  Fans of the show seem to have been clamoring to have entire seasons of the show released as a whole, rather than the compilation packs that have been released in the past.  With this season 2 release there are 26 episodes together on one disc and running a little over 5 hours.  Having just survived season 2, I feel it’s safe to say the show is something that will grow on you, but really like anything else should be indulged in small doses rather than a marathon viewing session.
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    Magic Journey to Africa (Blu-ray 3D)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 18th, 2013

    “I want to visit a country of dreams, imagination and magic.”

    Instead of “dreams, imagination and magic”, the Africa presented in this confounding, family-friendly offering from Spanish filmmaker Jordi Llompart is a place of trippy visuals, head-scratching dialogue and horrid CGI. Magic Journey to Africa — billed as a “giant screen spectacle” — is now available for home consumption, where the film’s dazzling 3D presentation is its only saving grace.
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    Animaniacs: Volume 4

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 6th, 2013

    “It’s time for Animaniacs. And we’re zany to the max. So just sit back and relax, you’ll laugh ‘til you collapse. We’re Animaniacs!”

    I am a 30-year-old man, and I didn’t need any help remembering the lyrics to the Animaniacs theme song. (Yikes! That sounds like a confession I should be making at my next Man-Child Anonymous meeting.) Similar to the influential work of Tex Avery and Chuck Jones, Animaniacs served as the first exposure many children in the ‘90s had to classical music and literary masterpieces.
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    Spongebob Squarepants – Extreme Kah-Rah-Tay

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on January 19th, 2013

    Spongebob Squarepants, the flagship cartoon for Nickelodeon for the last few years, has been churning out DVD specials inbetween releases of complete seasons. Sometimes these are linked by a theme (such as the Halloween DVD I reviewed in October http://upcomingdiscs.com/2012/10/15/31-nights-of-terror-spongebob-squarepants-ghouls-fools/) and this would mean taking episodes from numerous seasons. This particular special mostly contains more recent episodes, all of which have some sort of “extreme” or somewhat violent/action oriented story.
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