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    Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Three (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 7th, 2017

    Rebels have friends always rushing to the rescue.”

    The Star Wars universe is famously vast, and that’s before even going down the Expanded Universe rabbit hole. Though it’s been precisely 40 years since the fourth first Star Wars film premiered, the army of artists who have taken on George Lucas’ iconic creations haven’t even come close to running out of material to explore. Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels debuted three years ago as an engaging, thoroughly zippy, kid-friendly contribution that has blossomed into a thoughtful, vibrant, and vital part of Star Wars lore.
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    Disneynature: Born in China (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 1st, 2017

    The sheer beauty of China manifests itself in so many different ways, in so many remote corners. It sometimes feels like another world.”

    To help celebrate Earth Day each year, Disneynature — the independent film unit at the Mouse House dedicated to making nature documentaries — has gotten in the habit of immersing us in a different corner of the animal kingdom. While it’s a bit surprising that it took nine movies to finally arrive in China, the wait was absolutely worth it for fans of cuddly critters and breathtaking landscapes. The country’s otherworldly beauty makes up for some off-kilter narration and less-than-thrilling (invented) storylines.
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    The Lion King: The Circle Of Life Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 29th, 2017

    “From the day we arrive on the planet and blinking, step into the sun, there’s more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever be done. There’s far too much to take in here. More to find than can ever be found…”

    There’s a period in the 1990’s that has often been referred to as the second golden age of Disney animation. The studio had fallen from its once mighty perch, and most film historians tend to agree there was a creative dark ages through the 1980’s.
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    Beauty and the Beast (2017) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 8th, 2017

    “Who could ever learn to love a beast?”

    Although it’s not quite a tale as old as time, people around the world have been enchanted by the story of “Beauty and the Beast” for centuries. The French fairytale was first published in 1740 and has subsequently spawned everything from a classic 1946 big-screen romance to Ron Perlman. Still, the most popular iteration of this story is Disney’s beloved 1991 animated musical, which helped solidify the Mouse House’s cartoon revival and serves as the most direct inspiration for this dazzling live-action adaptation. Then again, the fact that this new version is essentially a pretty close copy of a copy takes some of the bloom off this particular rose.
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    Bambi: Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 7th, 2017

    “Good morning, young prince.”

    The forest is alive with the news. It travels from tree to tree, from animal to animal. A new prince has been born, and the creatures of the woods gather to welcome the young fawn. His name is Bambi, and he soon wins the hearts of the entire population of the forest. From his first attempts to stand on his wobbly legs to his discovery of the things that surround him in this brand new world, Bambi takes us on an emotional journey through the circle of life.
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    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 5th, 2017

    “You have to start somewhere.”

    I could sense a great disturbance in the Force. I could not quite put my finger on the reason, but there appeared to be much to worry about with the debut of the first ever Star Wars film that was not one of the driving episodes in the epic story of the Skywalker family and friends. There was worry that Disney might have been pushing their luck with these sidetrack stories. The Force Awakens was very good, but should the Mouse House really be tempting fate with such “filler” material? Then there were the disturbing reports that the film required so many rewrites that as much as $5 million had been spent on the services of Tony Gilroy to provide those touch-ups.
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    Moana (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 16th, 2017

    – “OK, first, I’m not a princess…”

    – “If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”

    Disney Animation’s 1990s renaissance was followed by an early 21st century lull for its non-Pixar offerings. The princess-centric formula was played out, so Disney pivoted and started doing things like giving Rapunzel and Eugene Flynn Rider equal billing in 2010’s Tangled and making Frozen (which would’ve definitely been called “The Snow Queen” in the ’90s) a story about sisterly love as opposed to happily ever after. One of the things I love about the outstanding Moana is that it offers a refreshing, thoughtful and exhilarating new approach to the classical Disney princess formula.
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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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    Pinocchio: Walt Disney Signature Collection (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 2nd, 2017

    “When you wish upon a star. Makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do… Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through. When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”

    The song has become a standard. Every kid knows it. Walt Disney Studios has made it their theme song. You hear it each time you load up a Disney disc. If you have been fortunate enough to have visited Walt Disney World, you’ve heard it the entire day long.
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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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    The Jungle Book (2016) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 29th, 2016

    “This is the law of the jungle…”

    Disney appears to have a law that all of its classic cartoon features must now be made into live-action films. As I’ve mentioned in my review of the original classic The Jungle Book, the animated feature was the end of an important era at Walt Disney Studios. It was released about a year after Walt’s death and was the last film he supervised from beginning to end. In the wake of Walt’s death the studio experienced a sharp turnover and complete retooling of the animation department. With only the nine old men to carry the traditions of Walt into the future, The Jungle Book would forever mark a distinct milestone in the history of animated feature films.
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    The Finest Hours (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on May 26th, 2016

    There are many films that depict the ferocity and cataclysmic power of the vast ocean. It is a fearsome display that cannot be imagined in any way that compares to the reality of the experience. The Perfect Storm, Life of Pi, The Guardian, and Titanic are just a few examples of disasters at sea. It is the United States Coast Guard’s job to rescue distressed people under severe emergencies at sea. The Finest Hours is a depiction of a true-life sea rescue under the most challenging and horrifying conditions. It is known as the most successful small boat rescue ever recorded. When I say small boat, it is the rescue boat I’m talking about, but the ship they were singlehandedly sent to rescue was a gigantic T2 tanker Pendleton, which had split in half on open seas.
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    Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 29th, 2016

    “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…”

    It sure does seem like it was a long time ago since Star Wars was actually very good. It doesn’t matter if you thought Empire or Jedi was the last good film; few people that I’ve encountered mentioned the more recent trilogy in the same sacred breath as those original films. Star Wars gave us swashbuckler adventure in the spirit of the early serials. Then it was about a mythical epic story that swept a generation into its colorful universe. What George Lucas created in the late 1970’s will never die. But before long it became more about the creator and less about engaging the fans. The attitude turned into “this is my franchise and I’ll do whatever the heck I want to do with it.”
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    Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs (Blu-ray) (Signature Collection)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 3rd, 2016

    “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”

    Years ago a news magazine, I don’t remember which, conducted a survey. They discovered that more adults knew the names of the Seven Dwarfs than could name seven figures in the federal government, including President, Vice-President, Senate, House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court. They say our educations begin very young. Well, since 1938 our youths have been entertained by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
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    Toy Story that Time Forgot (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 5th, 2015

    “Be grateful for your gifts. They are all around you.”

    This is the gift that has been giving for 20 years. It’s a bit hard to believe that it was all the way back in 1996 that we had our first adventure with Pixar’s imaginative Toy Story. Since that time we’ve had two solid theatrical sequels and now a second television/video short. It’s a bridge to the fourth theatrical film on its way. But that’s still a couple of years down the road, so it’s rather nice to be able to spend some time, no matter how brief, with the gang we fell in love with nearly 20 years ago
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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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    Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 18th, 2015

    “The wilds of Sri Lanka, land of myth and legend where rocky pinnacles overlook cast tropical forests. And an abandoned city lies shrouded in the jungle. The kings who once reigned here are long gone. These days, there’s a new dynasty in residence. But this one is governed by the law of the jungle.”

    From such a majestic intro told against a backdrop of beautiful vistas we find our tranquility broken by an invasion of primates rushing across the landscape to the voice of Micky Dolenz singing the theme song to the 1960’s comedy classic The Monkees. Hey, Hey, it’s Disney Nature’s latest adventure into the life of a family of animals. Enter Monkey Kingdom.
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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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    Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 8th, 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. Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels is an engaging, thoroughly zippy entry that is likely to entertain its intended young target audience along with those who have been obsessed with the Force since a long time ago.
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    McFarland, USA (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on June 2nd, 2015

    The town of McFarland, California is North of Los Angeles and South of San Jose. More specifically, it is near Bakersfield and not too far south of Fresno. San Diego is practically spitting distance from Tijuana. I say this because much of California is alien to me. The movie McFarland, USA is about delving into the realities of California. Forget that this is a feel-good sports movie for a minute. This is a movie about the Latino experience from a true story about a coach from 1987, but the film updates some of the changes that have taken place since then.
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    101 Dalmatians: Diamond Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Athena on February 11th, 2015

    Athena here. That’s right, I’m the Siberian Husky that kind of runs things here at Gino’s house. Since I did such a great job doing the review on Snow Dogs, I decided to step in when I saw Gino watching yet another dog film. This time it was Walt Disney’s classic 101 Dalmatians. Naturally the film would have been better if it had been called 101 Siberian Huskies, but unfortunately the film was based on a popular children’s book by Dodie Smith who happened to have Dalmatians herself, so let’s not blame her; she didn’t know any better. Walt Disney himself discovered the story and took a personal interest in having it made into an animated film. 
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    Planes Fire and Rescue (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Delia on November 7th, 2014

    Flying into home entertainment, the animated comedy adventure Planes: Fire & Rescue delivers a fun film for the whole family.  The film features some of the characters from the original and a whole lot of new ones.  Brightly animated, having fine direction and with a new storyline, the film has several good values including heroism and friendship. In this episode we find Dusty Crophopper returning from his around-the-world racing tour and about to participate in annual Corn Festival.
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    Maleficent (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 4th, 2014

    “Let us tell an old story anew, and we will see how well you know it.”

    If Christopher Nolan’s take on The Joker isn’t the very best example of modern cinematic villainy, then it’s near the top of the list. Obviously, a tremendous amount of credit goes to Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance in The Dark Knight, but I’d argue the real thrill comes from the character’s arbitrary, inexplicable approach to evil.
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    Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on October 9th, 2014

    By John Delia

    Most every child knows the story of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty from early video, books and DVD.  Unless you went to see the movie at a theater back in the 1959, however, you probably saw a version that was not crisp and colorful. Finally, after what seems forever, the family animated fantasy has been Blu-ray remastered and digitally restored in super widescreen. The Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD have new bonus features and include the DVD release’s special extras as well.
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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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