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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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    Disneynature: Bears (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 11th, 2014

    “Hi, little guys.”

    There was a time, decades ago when Walt Disney Studios was doing quality documentaries on a pretty regular schedule. Many of them appeared on the television show The Wonderful World Of Disney, and more than a few were released as feature films. And while that tradition has continued somewhat, it’s been a while since I was truly impressed by a Disney documentary. That all changes with the release of Bears.
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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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    Frozen (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 19th, 2014

    “Beautiful. Powerful. Dangerous. Cold. Ice has a magic that can’t be controlled.”

    Like the very best that Disney has offered over the decades, Frozen has its roots in a very old classic fairy tale. Walt himself was interested in doing the Hans Christian Andersen story The Ice Queen immediately following Snow White And The Seven Dwarves. The film was given a production number along with some brief notes. Nothing else remains of the idea
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    The Jungle Book (Diamond Edition) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 11th, 2014

    There are two very distinctive schools of thought about Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book. There are the Kipling fanatics who have never forgiven Disney for taking a story considered sacred in literary circles and creating something that honestly bears (pardon the pun) little resemblance to the original work. These folks rightfully point out that the story contains almost nothing recognizable about the story and characters from Kipling’s beloved classic. I have often condemned projects that take names like The Night Stalker and Battlestar Galactica and create a vision incompatible with the traditions I associate with them.
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    The Fifth Estate (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on January 29th, 2014

    Journalism today is in disarray. I say that not because there aren’t many, many passionate journalists who want to do the best job possible. I say it because there are just many, many, many more bloggers who don’t know how live up to those standards or why it’s even important. The internet changes everything in the music industry, the movie industry, and the media industry. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. It just means that it’s chaotic, and it often seems like no one is in control
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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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