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    Queen of Katwe (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 3rd, 2017

    In chess, the small one can become the big one.”

    It’s hard to stand out in the Disney family when your big brothers and sisters are Star Wars, Marvel, and the studio’s own blockbuster animated offerings. (Not to mention live-action re-imaginings of its own classic animated offerings.) While those properties have been making a racket at the box office, the Mouse House has also been quietly cranking out family-friendly, multi-cultural sports dramas in recent years, including 2014’s Million Dollar Arm, and 2015’s McFarland U.S.A. I’m not sure if Queen of Katwe is the best of that bunch (I really enjoyed McFarland) but it certainly has the most unlikely hero.
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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 von Trapp Family: A Life of Music

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 11th, 2016

    Thanks to The Sound of Music, millions of people around the world are familiar with the von Trapp family saga. (They probably have the second most popular Austrian name among movie fans, behind some guy named Schwarzenegger.) Given that The Sound of Music is one of the most popular movies of all time, any filmmaker would be wise to offer a fresh perspective in telling a von Trapp story. Enter The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music, which puts eldest von Trapp daughter Liesl Agathe in the center of the action.
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    The Taviani Brothers Collection (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 1st, 2016

    Even though I like to think I’ve seen more movies than the average bear, I’ll admit to having somewhat of a blind spot when it comes to world cinema. So I’m a little ashamed to say I hadn’t even heard of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani — the Italian filmmaking brothers who have worked together all their lives and started making movies in the 1950s — before I picked up this handy three-pack from the Cohen Media Group. The Taviani Brothers Collection features three of the siblings’ most acclaimed work: Padre Padrone, The Night of the Shooting Stars, and Kaos.
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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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    Max (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by BABY on November 2nd, 2015

    “Dogs have been used by the military since World War I. Over 3000 dogs have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. 26 dogs and 25 handlers have been killed in the service of their country since 2003. This story is dedicated to their memory.”

    Baby here. Usually this is where I tell you that I’m the Shepherd/Chow mix who runs security here at Upcomingdiscs. Looks like I really did make that part up. No, I’m still in charge of security. Just ask AJ from Fed Ex. It’s the Shepherd/Chow part. I took a test the other day and Gino didn’t give me any time to bone up on it.
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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 DC Comics Superheroes: Justice League — Attack of the Legion of Doom! (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 25th, 2015

    DC Comics buffs have been obsessively analyzing every frame of the latest Batman v. Superman trailer for clues that nod to a live-action appearance by their favorite hero. But for fans of Lego’s “DC Comics Superheroes” brand — which includes various movies, TV shows and videogames — the idea of a superpowered team-up is old hat. In fact, Lego is so far ahead of the curve that its newest offering — Attack of the Legion of Doom! — explores what happens when the bad guys form their own all-star team.
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    Million Dollar Arm (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on October 7th, 2014

    Baseball is huge, and Bollywood is huge, so imagine if you put them together. In many ways, Million Dollar Arm is about Indian culture and what a separate world it is from ours. The film starts out in Los Angeles where J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm from Mad Men) is a sports agent who has broken off from a big agency to start his own firm. His partner, Aash (Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show), is very nervous about where their next client is coming from, since they lost a big one right at the start of the film.
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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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    Rio 2 (Blu-ray)

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

    “Who cares about a bunch of birds?”

    Well, judging by the fact that the original Rio grossed $484 million worldwide, it seems more than a few people were invested. The avian adventure from Blue Sky Studios may not have soared as high as Disney/Pixar or DreamWorks Animation’s best efforts — or even Blue Sky’s own Ice Age juggernaut — but it proved to be a dazzling, lucrative diversion in the spring of 2011. This charming sequel, which arrived almost three years to the day later and grossed a near-identical $487 million worldwide, retains the disposable, toe-tapping charm of its predecessor.
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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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    The Ultimate Life (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 24th, 2013

    “You gotta be grateful for the little things in life, otherwise you’ll never be grateful for nothing.”

    I’m not so sure the same fans who made 2007’s The Ultimate Gift a hit on the home video market — and spurred the creation of this sequel — will be very grateful for this tepid follow-up. The Ultimate Life stiffly and earnestly re-iterates the first film’s emphasis on appreciating non-material delights, and sprinkles in a worthwhile message about the importance of leaving a strong legacy behind. Unfortunately, this film’s own legacy places it with the long list of sequels that don’t live up to the original.
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    Gentle Ben – Season One

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

    In the Florida everglades, the Wedloe family have a 650-pound tame bear for a loyal pet. A very young Clint Howard stars as Mark, the son of a game warden (played by Dennis Weaver),who leads Ben around on several adventures and merry mishaps. Though “merry” may be the wrong word as Mark and Ben encounter their fair share of real life dangers.
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    The Way, Way Back (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on October 29th, 2013

    Every once in a while a film comes along that looks like it could be interesting, but you don’t really expect to like it all that much. It’s simply meant to be filler, something to kill time until something better comes along, but somehow you get drawn in and become so engrossed in the story that you forget everything else. That is the most apt description of my experience with The Way, Way Back, a socially awkward dramedy with a ton of heart featuring Steve Carrell, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Liam James, and many more.
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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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    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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    The Dragon Pearl

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

    The pint-size heroes of The Dragon Pearl battle greedy thieves and come face to face with a centuries-old dragon, but their biggest challenge may be overcoming a pair of skeptical/clueless parents. It’s a familiar plot device in kid-centric adventures, yet it’s one I’m becoming more sensitive to as I get older. For example, I was absolutely sure at an early age that the bumbling Wet Bandits were the bad guys in Home Alone; however, as I’ve grown older and not-necessarily wiser, I realize the real villains are the nincompoops who left little Kevin McCallister behind in the first place. To be fair, the parents in this film are being asked to swallow a much more fantastical story.
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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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    Rise of the Guardians

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on April 11th, 2013

    The boogeyman, who goes by the name Pitch Black, is gaining power by turning children’s dreams into nightmares. An alliance of fantasy characters, North (Santa Claus), (the Easter) Bunny, Sandman, and Tooth (Fairy), come together to face this opponent. They call themselves Guardians who have sworn to protect all of the world’s children. In this adventure they recruit a new member, Jack Frost, who is on his own personal quest of discovery.
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    The Sandlot: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 1st, 2013

    When The Sandlot first came out 20 years ago, I connected to the coming-of-age baseball story as strongly as Babe Ruth connected with one of his titanic, 400-foot homers. I grew up in baseball-obsessed Puerto Rico and I happened to be the exact same age as dorky protagonist Scotty Smalls. Though I’ve kept in touch with the film over the years, Fox’s new 20th Anniversary Blu-ray re-release of The Sandlot marked my first time watching it from start to finish in a long while. It surely won’t be the last.
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    The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 29th, 2012

    Some movie titles are almost comically blunt. Recent examples that didn’t leave much to moviegoers’ imaginations include Cowboys & Aliens, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and, of course, Snakes on a Plane. So when I saw the title of Disney’s latest live-action, family-friendly offering, I wondered just how odd this movie could really be. (At the end of the day, we’re still talking about a Disney film here.) Turns out, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a strange little flick for a variety of reasons.
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    I Heart Shakey

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on November 21st, 2012

    A single father gets a major job offer working in a prestigious Chicago restaurant, but the job requires him to move his entire family from out of their hometown of Toledo. They are set up with a new apartment but their dog, Shakey, is not permitted in the building. This family must then decide whether staying for this swanky job is worth losing a member of the family, or is there any other alternatives to losing Shakey?
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