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Pete’s Dragon (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon” is a magical, adventurous, live-action family film that may be different from the 1977 live-action, animated musical, but this new story from director David Lowery and co-writer Toby Halbrook is entertaining and so much fun. I absolutely enjoyed it! “Pete’s Dragon” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Pete’s Dragon

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 103 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, (2:39:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Description Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: PG (For Action, Peril and Brief Language)

RELEASE DATE: November 29, 2016


Directed by David Lowery

Based on the Story by Steon I. Miller and S.S. Field

Screenplay by David Lowery, Toby Halbrooks

Produced by James Whitaker

Co-Producer: Adam Borba

Associate Producer: Carthew Neal

Executive Producer: Barrie M. Osborne

Music by Daniel Hart

Cinematography by Bojan Bazelli

Edited by Lisa Zeno Churgin

Casting by Debra Zane

Production Design by Jade Healy

Art Direction by Ken Turner

Set Decoration by Simon Bright, Adam Willis

Costume Design by Amanda Neale


Starring:

Bryce Dallas Howard as Grace

Robert Redford as Meacham

Oakes Fegley as Pete

Oona Laurence as Natalie

Wes Bentley as Jack

Karl Urban as Gavin

Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Sheriff Gene Dentler

Marcus Henderson as Woodrow

Aaron Jackson as Abner

Phil Grieve as Bobby

Steve Barr as Deputy Smalls


When a mysterious 10-year-old boy, Pete, turns up, claiming to live in the woods with a giant green dragon, it’s up to a forest ranger, Grace, and young Natalie to learn where the boy came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this magical dragon.


Back in 1977, a musical live-action animated film titled “Pete’s Dragon” was released in theaters.

The film would become a classic and as the original storyline was set in the 1900’s and revolved around a young orphan who fled from his abusive hillbilly foster family and had help from a huge dragon named Elliott, the 2016 Disney film is much different.

Directed by David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”, “St. Nick”, “Pioneer”) and co-written with Toby Halbrooks (“Upstream Color”, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”, “Listen Up Philip”).

Disney would announce a remake back in 2013 and wanted to remake the film by title only and reinvent the story to become a Disney family film.  Having the film set in the 1980s featuring a CGI dragon instead of the dragon being hand-drawn.

The film would star Bryce Dallas Howard (“Jurassic World”, “The Help”, “Black Mirror”), Robert Redford (“The Sting”, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “All the President’s Men”), Oakes Fegley (“This is Where I Leave You”, “Children of the Moon”, “Fort Bliss”), Oona Laurence (“Southpaw”, “Bad Moms”, “Penny Dreadful”), Wes Bentley (“The Hunger Games”, “American Beauty”, “Interstellar”) and Karl Urban (“Dredd”, “Star Trek” films, “The Bourne Supremacy”).

Budgeted at $65 million, “Pete’s Dragon” would go on to earn $141.8 million in the box office and now “Pete’s Dragon” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Disney.

The film begins with Pete, a five-year-old boy at the time on a road trip with his parents.  But as the parents swerve to avoid hitting a deer, the family goes over the cliff and Pete’s parents are killed and Pete survives.

As Pete is confronted by a pack of wolves, the wolves are scared when a huge green dragon comes to save him.  Pete names the dragon “Elliot” after his favorite book.

Fastforward six years later, and we learn that Mr. Meacham (portrayed by Robert Redford) had once confronted a green dragon in the wood, but many of the people in town think his story is crazy.

While his story has become popular and children have come over to listen, Meacham’s daughter, Grace (portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, doesn’t believe in her father’s story.

While she goes to the forest, we see an 11-year-old Pete (portrayed by Oakes Fegley) who has lived in the forest all this time, observing Grace and Pete being surprised to see another human in the area.

One day, as a lumberjack crew has come to chop trees near where Pete and Elliot live, Natalie (portrayed by Oona Laurence), the daughter of Grace’s boyfriend, Jack (portrayed by Wes Bentley), has spotted Pete and goes out to the forest to follow him.

As Pete tries to run away from her and climb a tree, Natalie follows him up the tree and both managed to fall.

While both are OK, Grace, Jack and others managed to find the children and everyone is shocked to see Pete and wonder how long he has been living in the forest.

As Grace takes Pete in to stay with her, Jack and Natalie temporarily, Elliot goes looking for the boy in the forest.  This leads to Jack’s brother, Gavin, a hunter and lumberjack to search the forest.

When Gavin and a few lumberjacks find the hiding place and home of Pete and Elliot, Elliot growls and Gavin and the lumberjacks see the dragon on their own for the very first time and now are determined on catching it.

Meanwhile, Elliot tries to search for Pete and worries about where he may be.

As for Pete, he starts to get used to living with other humans despite being cautious around them.  Meanwhile, Grace finds out from the sheriff that Pete is the child of a family who died in an accident six years earlier and will be sent to children’s services.

But before that can happen, Grace wants to know the truth of how Pete was able to survive.  And Pete tells her that Elliot has taken care of him and gives a drawing of a green dragon.

Shocked by Pete’s story, Grace goes to her father about the news.  And Grace, her father, Pete and Natalie want to go the woods to see where Pete has lived all this time, but they are unaware that Gavin and other lumberjacks are in the area, trying to hunt down Elliot.


VIDEO:

“Pete’s Dragon” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). With the film shot outdoors, the film looks very good in HD as closeups show great detail, skin tones look natural, while black levels are nice and deep. Outdoor scenes look lush and the CG was done very well.  It’s no doubt a challenge to create a dragon, especially one that should be appealing to children and families, but despite the differences between the 2016 film and the 1977 animated musical, I was happy the film retained the green dragon and for the most part, CG looked fantastic. And similar to other Disney films, picture quality is fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Pete’s Dragon” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks.   The lossless soundtrack is fantastic as the film features quite a bit of action, from Elliot flapping his dragon wings, Elliot crashing into things and releasing his flame to other action sequences of lumberjacks trying to shoot tranquilizer darts to many other sound effects, the film utilizes the surround channels and the LFE very well.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear and for the most part, the lossless soundtrack is fantastic.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Pete’s Dragon” comes with the following special features:

  • Notes to Self: A Director’s Diary – (7:31) David Lowery’s notes from the film.  Featuring behind-the-scenes footage and David Lowery reading his notes.
  • Making Magic – (2:11) A featurette about the magic featured in Pete’s Dragon and the challenges of making the film to make it seem real.
  • “Disappearing” Moments – (9:09) Deleted scenes from “Pete’s Dragon”.
  • Bloopers – (1:28) Featuring outtakes from “Pete’s Dragon”.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director and co-writer David Lowery, co-writer Toby Halbrooks and actors Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence.
  • “Nobody Knows” Music Video by the Lumineers
  • “Something Wild” Music Video by Lindsey Stirling Featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
  • Welcome to New Zealand – (1:56) A short featurette about filming in New Zealand.

EXTRAS:

“Pete’s Dragon” comes with a slipcover and a Disney Movie Rewards code.  Also, included is a DVD version of the film.


As a person who grew up with the original “Pete’s Dragon”, I have to say that Disney’s decision to have a new story that is more family friendly and to not recreate the original musical was a good decision.

For one, the musical live-action animated film was a product of its time and what director David Lowery and co-writer Toby Halbrook were able to create was a family live-action film that draws one’s attention to Pete and his relationship with the dragon, Elliot.

Using today’s modern technology to create the CG of the dragon and in essence, probably creating a much more effective, entertaining and enjoyable film compared to the older 1977 film storywise.

While not as mesmerizing and visually pleasing as the most recent Disney live-action adaptation of “The Jungle Book”, which showed a great bond between child and animals, “Pete’s Dragon” shows us a different side of a child/dragon living in a logging community and the threat are loggers who want to catch the dragon.

The child, Pete, is reintroduced to being around humans, seeing family and knowing that is where he belongs, but also knowing that in order to protect the dragon that raised him, he has to make a difficult decision.

Young Oakes Fegley did a great job of playing Pete, but the film earns credit on the acting of Bryce Dallas Howard as a forest ranger who tries to help Pete and it helps having Robert Redford in the film as well.

Great use of CG and for the most part, a good balance of action, I found “Pete’s Dragon” to be an entertaining live-action family film.

It’s important to emphasize to parents that this is a PG rated film because of the peril featured, as lumberjacks are trying to capture Elliot by all means necessary and in the beginning of the film, showing how a young boy lost his family.  While there are no disturbing scenes, because of the featured action sequences, the perilous situations earned the film a PG rating.  But I do feel the film is fine for children and as long as they watch with their parents, I do believe it’s an entertaining, not so scary, family film.

On Blu-ray, close-ups show amazing detail while the CG work for Elliot the dragon was well-done.  The lossless soundtrack was also fantastic thanks to its numerous live-action sequences and the film features a good number of special features as well.

Overall, Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon” is a magical, adventurous, live-action family film that may be different from the 1977 live-action, animated musical, but this new story from director David Lowery and co-writer Toby Halbrook is entertaining and so much fun.  I absolutely enjoyed it!

“Pete’s Dragon” is recommended!

 

The Wild Life (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are looking for an animated film for the entire family featuring a Robinson Crusoe storyline and many talking animals, you may want to consider this animated film.  It’s not exactly the most child-friendly film but it’s an entertaining animated film worth considering for older children.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Summit Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Wild Life

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Summit Entertainment

RATED: PG (Mild Action, Peril and some Rude Humor)

RELEASE DATE: November 19, 2016


Directed by Vincent Kesteloot, Ben Stassen

Written by Domonic Paris

Produced by Gina Gallo, Mimi Maynard, Domonic Paris, Ben Stassen, Caroline Van Iseghem

Executive Producer: Olivier Courson, Eric Dillens

Music by Ramin Djawadi

Casting by Gina Gallo, Mimi Maynard, Domonic Paris

Art Direction by Vincent Kesteloot, Anthony Leveque


Starring:

Carlos Alazraqui as Long John Silver

Yuri Lowenthal as Robinson Crusoe

Laila Berzins as Rosie

Joey Camen as Scrubby

Jeff Doucette as Mal/Pango

Sandy Fox as Epi

Kyle Hebert as Tom Cat

Marieve Herington as Kiki

Jay Jones as Friday

Colin Metzger as Carmello

Joe Ochman as Rufus

Michael Sorich as Cecil

Doug Stone as Aynsley

David Howard Thornton as Tuesday

Kirk Thornton as Bosun

Debi Tinsley as May


Things are larger than life on a tropical isle where wild animals rule, until a marooned human arrives in the midst of a furious storm and their lives are forever changed.


Way back in 1719, Daniel Dafoe wrote a novel titled “Robinson Crusoe”about a castaway who spent thirty years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad and trying to survive in hopes of being rescued.

As the tale of Robinson Crusoe has received various adaptations, in 2016, a Belgian-French CG animated film titled “Robinson Crusoe” (and renamed “The Wild Life” in North America) was released in theaters in Europe.

And now “The Wild Life” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

The film begins with a red and green macaw named Mak and his friends living in an island in the South Pacific.  Mak is getting bored and dreams of life over the horizon and wants to explore the world.

Also, a pirate named Long John Silver and his crew of pirates rides the seas…

We are then introduced to Robinson Crusoe and his dog Aynsley who book a passage on a ship to explore the islands but when a tropical storm hits, Crusoe, Aynsley and wild and bad cats named Mel and May are locked in the ship’s hull and survive the storm.

When they awake, everyone is gone and Crusoe and Aynsley try to survive on the island.

As Mak and the animals fear the human and his dog, Mel and May try to attack Mak and kill him but he is rescued by Aynsley and Crusoe takes him in and names the Macaw, Tuesday.

But when Mel and May tell the other animals that Crusoe and Aynsley killed Mak, the animals go on a rampage and try to help the wild cats defeat Crusoe but finding out that they have been lied to by Mel and May.  Unfortunately, Mel and May cause an explosion on the remaining ship and in the process, Aynsley is killed.

Now Tuesday and the animals who now want to help the human Crusoe try to create shelter and help him survive on the island but will the evil cats, Mel and May prevent the animals from succeeding?


VIDEO:

“The Wild Life” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the most part is very good. CG animation is very well-done compared to previous European CG films that I have watched.

There is excellent detail throughout the film. For example, for Mak/Tuesday, you can see the wearing right on its beak and the amount of shading and detail, especially for his feathers.  Another example, is during a rainstorm and seeing the puddles of rain on the ship’s deck.  Fantastic!

Textures are also well detailed along with skin details for human characters.

Granted, many will want to compare with Pixar Animation films which cost many millions of dollars but it’s best not to compare and just enjoy of how good this film looks in CG and the evolving quality of Euro CG animated films.  “The Wild Life” looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Wild Life” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and features crystal clear dialogue and great use of the surround channels and LFE for the film’s many actions sequences.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Wild Life” comes with the following special features:

  • A Wild World: Making the Wild Life – (9:16) The casting and the challenges of animating the film.
  • Meet the Characters – (10:09)  The voice actors discuss their characters.
  • Tips for Your Trip – (3:58) Robinson Crusoe gives tips of what to do if you are stranded in an island.
  • The Wild Life Musical Adventure – (3:13) A featurette showcasing various scenes from the film and the musical score.

EXTRAS:

“The Wild Life” comes with a slipcover, an UltraViolet code and a DVD version of the film.


Perhaps one of the best things that were decided when the Belgian-French film “Robinson Crusoe” was released in North America is changing the film’s title.

As Robinson Crusoe is a classic novel title, the animated film is less about Robinson Crusoe but a CG animated film that revolves more about the birds and animals living in an uninhabited island which Robinson Crusoe happens to be stranded on.

The film revolves around a parrot named Mak/Tuesday who dreams of going beyond the island and discovering life elsewhere, as he has grown bored of the island.

Meeting the stranded Robinson Crusoe and his dog Aynsley, Tuesday looks to Crusoe in hopes of taking him away from the island, not knowing that Crusoe is actually stranded.

But as the animals on the island fear Crusoe and his dog, you have two wild and mangy (and yes, evil) cats who serve as the film’s antagonists.  These cats remind me of the Gremlins (from the classic 1984 film) and somehow, these two cats are persistent and truly evil that their actions leads to one of the deaths of the film’s characters.  No doubt, earning the film it’s PG rating.  But similar to the Gremlins, these cats spawn and create more evil, mangy looking cats to join them in causing problems for Crusoe and animals.

But as the animals band together to help Crusoe, the film starts to focus more on the animals starting to enjoy Crusoe’s presence, but not all.

Meanwhile, throw in Long John Silver’s presence into the film and you have an interesting adventure for Robinson Crusoe and his bird, Tuesday.

Overall, “The Wild Life” is an entertaining CG animated film.  While it’s story is a tame version of what appears on the original Robinson Crusoe novel and focuses on Crusoe and the few animals that live with him, while in essence, this is an animated film, there are moments of peril and you have one character death.  So, parental guidance is definitely suggested.

Also, I have to say that for a European animated film, this is probably one of the better animated films I have seen in the last five years, when it comes to animation quality and detail.

But the film’s problem lies within its storytelling especially at the end. Despite the film’s adventures, the film ends far too soon and abruptly and tries to end its storyline with a brief narration, with still CG sequencs of what happens to the characters.

But I enjoyed the film for what it’s worth.  If you are looking for an animated film for the entire family featuring a Robinson Crusoe storyline and many talking animals, you may want to consider this animated film.  It’s not exactly the most child-friendly film but it’s an entertaining animated film worth considering for older children.

 

Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For “Power Rangers” fans who wants to take part in the Christmas spirit, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero” is a DVD that I recommend for the young fans and also the young at heart!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Breakout

TV SERIES (YEAR): 2015

DURATION: 92 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: July 5, 2016


Directed by Charlie Haskell, Peter Salmon, Mike Smith, Jonathan Brough, Peter Burger, Karl Zwicky, Michael Duignan

Written by Judd Lynn, Haim Saban, Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale, Mark Litton, Jeffrey Newman, Peter Wiseman, James W. Bates, Tanya M. Wheeler, Marc Handler, Ann Knapp

Produced by Sally Campbell

Executive Produced by Judd Lynn, Brian Casentini, Haim Saban

Music by Noam Kaniel

Cinematography by Kevin Riley, D.J. Stipsen

Edited by Allanah Milne

Casting by Iris Hampton

Production Design by Tracey Collins

Art Direction by Davin Voot

Costume Design by Sarah Voon


Starring:

Brennan Mejia as Tyler Navarro/Red Dino Charge Ranger

Camille Hyde as Shelby Watkins/Pink Dino Charge Ranger

Yoshua Sudarso as Koda/Blue Dino Charge Ranger

Michael Taber as Riley Griffin/Green Dino Charge Ranger

James Davies as Chase Randall/Black Dino Charge Ranger

Claire Blackwelder as Kendall Morgan/Purple Dino Charge Ranger

Campbell Cooley as the Mecha Voice

Davi Santos as Ivan

Estevez Gillespie as Wrench

Paul Harrop as Fury

Eve Gordon as Keeper

Adam Gardiner as Sledge

Jackie Clarke as Poisandra

Ryan Carter as Heckyl


Join the Power Rangers on a quest for a new hero! Get set for dino-charged adventure and nonstop thrills as the Power Rangers discover their newest ally, the Purple Ranger! But when the Purple Ranger decides to leave the team, it will take all of the Power Rangers’ skills combined to battle the villainous Sledge – and find a new hero fit for the Purple Energem – in this action-packed collection that features the bonus episode, “Race to Rescue Christmas.”


With the holidays around the corner, fans of “Power Rangers: Dino Charger” will no doubt be looking forward to the release of the upcoming DVD titled “Hero” which comes with a special Christmas episode.

What is “Power Rangers: Dino Charge”?

In 2015, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” debuted on television.

The 22nd season of the “Power Rangers” series, the series would star Brennan Mejia, Camille Hyde, Yoshua Sudarso, Michael Taber, James Davies, and Claire Blackwelder.

The storyline begins with the opening narration:

Millions of years ago, the evil Sledge tried to steal the greatest power in the universe. But an alien named Keeper entrusted them to dinosaurs. As for Sledge… He was blasted deep into space. Now the Energems have been found, and Sledge returns to battle a new team of heroes; they are…Power Rangers Dino Charge!”

As Sledge continues to look for the Energems, a team of Power Rangers form to find the the Energems first and fight various enemies.

As “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” features a total of 22 episodes, “Hero” is the fifth “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” DVD to be released and contains episodes 17-20 + the Christmas special.

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero”:

  • Episode 17 – “World Famous (in New Zealand)” – The Power Rangers come in contact with a Purple Ranger.
  • Episode 18 – “Deep Down Under” –  Sledge is after the Plesio Zord…the Rangers must find it first!
  • Episode 19 – “Wishing for a Hero” – Kendall and the Rangers must find one who can bond with the Purple Energem.
  • Episode 20 – “One More Energem” – Sledge has two Energems and the Rangers and Kendall must find a way to defeat him.
  • Christmas Special – “Race to Rescue Christmas” – Poisandra steals Santa’s tablet and the Rangers must get it back to save Christmas.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero” is presented in 1:78:1 Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital and French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

Closed Captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero” features no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero” comes with a slip cover and HD UltraViolet code.


For over 20-years, many people have grown up watching “Power Rangers”.

Sure, a lot of the stories are campy but for those who enjoyed the action, the costumes and the good old story of good vs. evil, that concept has remained consistent season after season.

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge” is rather interesting because of the dinosaur angle.

As one who has grown up watching the Japanese sentai series and also the original “Power Rangers” and now having a child and nephews that are interested in them, one thing that I am glad to see is that the series retains its action and family-oriented storylines.

Nothing too violent and nothing that would make parents wince. Granted, some may object to the fighting but personally, costumed heroes vs. monsters (people in rubber suits), it’s not exactly something that I worry about in terms of fighting action. As parents, it’s how we teach our children and to not practice Power Rangers moves on other people.

As for this DVD volume titled “Hero”, these episodes revolve around who can be the Purple Ranger.  And trying to stop Sledge, who has managed to get two Energems.

With this volume being a Christmas DVD release, included is a Christmas special which features scenes from past episodes, but most importantly, the Power Rangers trying to save Christmas by retrieving Santa’s stolen tablet.

While I wished there are more episodes than just the standard four, it does help to have the extra special included.   Fans of the series or parents of children who love “Power Rangers: Dino Charge”, will no doubt enjoy this DVD.

As for the DVD, picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and there are no special features. Fortunately, an UltraViolet digital HD code was included.

Overall, for “Power Rangers” fans who wants to take part in the Christmas spirit, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero” is a DVD that I recommend for the young fans and also the young at heart!

 

Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

May you be a hardcore fan of “Beauty and the Beast”, the young at heart that may want to share this Disney animated classic to a new generation of Disney fans, you can’t go wrong with “Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition”. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition

FILM YEAR OF RELEASE: 1991

DURATION: Special Extended Version (1:31:44), Original Theatrical Release (1:24:54), Sing Along Version (1:24:54)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit), 5.1 DEHT French and Spanish Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH and English ESL Subtitles, French and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: G (for General Audiences)

Release Date: September 20, 2016


Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise

Story by Brenda Chapman, Burny Mattinson, Brian Pumental, Joe Ranft, Kelly Asbury, Chris Sanders, Kevin Harkey, Bruce Woodside, Tom Ellery and Robert Lence

Animation Screenplay by Linda Woolverton

Story Supervisor: Roger Allers

Executive Producer: Howard Ashman

Produced by Don Hahn

Associate Producer: Sarah McArthur

Music by Alan Menken

Edited by John Carnochan

Casting By Albert Tavares

Art Direction by Brian McEntee


Featuring the following voice talent:

Paige O’Hara as Belle

Robby Benson as Beast

Richard White as Gaston

Jerry Orbach as Lumiere

David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth

Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts

Bradley Pierce as Chip

Rex Everhart as Maurice

Jesse Corti as Lefou

Hal Smith as Philippe

Tony Jay as Monsieur D’Arque


Be our guest at the enchanted 25th Anniversary celebration of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, universally acclaimed as one of Disney’s finest animated features and now honored in the Walt Disney Signature Collection. Join brave, independent Belle on the adventure of a lifetime as she sets out to rescue her father and finds herself in the enchanted castle of a mysterious beast. Enjoy this timeless tale overflowing with unforgettable characters and Academy Award(R)-winning music (Best Song, Best Score, 1991)!|It took more than 600 animators, artists, and technicians three and a half years to complete the project.|BEAUTY is the first animated Disney feature scripted by a woman, Linda Woolverton.|The film marked the first time each animator was credited on screen specifically for the character he or she brought to life.|Disney’s animation department won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for the design and development of the Computer Animated Production System used to make the film.|The style of illustration was inspired by French painters Fragonard and Boucher.


The story of “Beauty and the Beast” was born as a fairy tale back in the 1740′s by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and then revised in 1757 by French novelist Jeanne Marie Le Prince de Beaumont received its animated adaptation courtesy of Walt Disney in 1991.

The film is directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (both worked on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”) and the screenplay adaptation by Linda Woolverton (“The Lion King”, “Mulan” , “Arctic Tale” and “Alice in Wonderland”).

“Beauty and the Beast” is the 30th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics line and is considered one of the greatest Disney animated films of all time. The film was an amazing success as the film which cost $25 million to make had made over $377 million dollars worldwide and the film was also the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture (note: The second was 2009’s “Up”) and was successful in blending traditional animation with CG.

And now the popular animated film receives its second release on Disney Blu-ray and receives a “25th Anniversary Edition” release. In this release, we get more special features than its previous 2002 DVD release and also three different versions of the film which includes a special extended edition, the original theatrical release and singalong version (NOTE: The previous Diamond Edition featured a third version which was the original theatrical release with storyreel picture in picture, which is watching the film with the original storyboards in picture in picture format).

“Beauty and the Beast” begins with an enchantress who is disguised as a beggar gives a young prince a rose in exchange for a night’s shelter. Unfortunately, the prince turns her away and so she transforms him into a beast and also transforms his servants into furniture and silverware.

The enchantress gives him a rose and a magic mirror. The rose will bloom until his 21st birthday and he must find a woman who loves him for what he is inside, not for what he is in the outside. If he does not find someone who will love him, he will remain a beast forever. As for the magic mirror, it grants him to view what is going on around him from faraway.

We are then introduced to the characters of Belle and her father, an inventor named Maurice. In her village, Gaston is the local hero, an arrogant man she has been courting but has no interest in.

One day, Maurice has invented a wood-chopping machine and plans to take it to a fair. Unfortunately, he gets lost and while his horse knows where to go, Maurice takes the other direction where the woods look dark and creepy. He ends up at the beast’s castle and when he goes to check inside he meets the beast’s servants such as Lumiere the candle holder, Mrs. Potts (a pot) and her son Chip (a chipped tea cup) and Cogsworth. Because Maurice has stepped into private property, the beast has imprisoned him.

Meanwhile, Belle is worried that her father has not returned but the horse has. So, she goes with the horse to the Beast’s castle and in order for the Beast to release her father, Belle tells the beast that she will be his prisoner and to let her father go. The beast accepts.

Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts know that this is the probably there best chance in order for the beast and the to change back to human-form and they to show the kind and gentler side of the Beast (and trying to curb his anger).

As for Maurice, when he arrives to the village, he tries to tell people that Belle has imprisoned by a Beast but no one believes him.

Will the beast manage to convince Belle to stay and somehow have her confess her love to him? Or will she leave him and he will stay a beast forever?


VIDEO:

Everything about “Beauty and Beast” screams gorgeous, vibrant and magnificent with the release of “Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition”. In my 2002 DVD review, I talked about how beautiful the animation was and how well-painted the backgrounds were but after watching this on Blu-ray, I’m going to focus on how vibrant the colors are, how well-defined the lines are, how detailed the backgrounds to the simplest of objects such as wood, leaves and objects are. How every character and object and its shadowing are well-done.

“Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). From the daylight scenes that showcase the amber oranges to the winter scenes that show the whites and blues, to the night-time and more ominous and darker scenes, blacks are nice and deep but yet you can still see detail where shadows are present on objects. You can see the stains on the roof of the background and can easily make out the different color bricks on the chimneys, the pattern of wood on the home and well. And of course, the animation and how free flowing the characters are, especially in the dance scene. For a film that was created in 1991, you can’t tell this animated film is nearly 20-years-old. This film still looks incredible and it looks wonderful in HD. I detected no banding, edge enhancement, haloing, combing or compression artifacting.

This is the definitive version to own of this title yet and if you have a Blu-ray player and love Disney animated classics, picture quality-wise, this is a title that simply is a must-own.

As for the included DVD, the DVD is presented in 1:78:1 aspect ration-enhanced for 16×9 televisions.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition” is not only fantastic in picture quality, the film is absolutely fantastic via lossless as well. Presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, “Beauty and the Beast” does not disappoint.

If anything, I wished that everything Disney releases were in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and fortunately, the animated classics have received this attention. Audio literally envelops the soundscape with immersive audio coming from the front and center channels, the surround channels, the rear surround channels. Dialogue and music is crisp and clear, the slight sounds of leaves, horse galloping, the leaves rustling, the Beast growling, the sound of flame flickering, pots and tea cups clinkering, these are all well-done. And it doesn’t stop there, there is also LFE present as well.

But if anything, one thing that “Beauty and the Beast” is known for is its music. Alan Menkin’s music for the film is wonderful. You will find yourself singing to songs such as “Beauty and the Beast”, “Be Our Guest” and “Belle” and the truth is, the music captivated many people in 1991, so much that it won an Academy Award for “Best Music, Original Score” and “Best Music, Original Song” and also won two Golden Globe Awards as well for its score and for “Best Original Song – Beauty and the Beast”.

As for subtitles, “Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.

As for the included DVD, the DVD is presented in English French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features presented in HD (note: original DVD features that are on the Blu-ray are presented in standard definition):

  • Always Belle – (11:30) Featuring Paige O’Hara and her memories of working on “Beauty & the Beast” as the voice of Belle.
  • Menken & Friends: 25 Years of Musical Inspiration – (19:05) Grammy Award winning Robert Lopez and Grammy Award winning Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Broadway actor Lin-Manuel Miranda visiting Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken.
  • #1074: Walt, Fairy Tales & Beauty and the Beast – (9:33) Featuring audio recordings of Walt Disney creating fairy tales and crew of “Beauty & the Beast” discussing Walt Disney and more.
  • The Recording Sessions – (3:47) Featuring a sneak peak at the original voice actors at the recording booth and recording for the film.
  • 25 Fun Facts About Beauty and the Best – (5:25) Kayla Maisonett (of “Stuck in the Middle”) and Gus Kamp (of “Best Friends Whenever) discuss the 25 fun facts of the film.
  • Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” Live Action Preview – (1:24) Emma Watson and Dan Steven at a table read, the massive sets and more.
  • Sing A Long – Watch the movie with karaoke style Sing A Long.
  • Audio Commentary (Extended Edition Only) – Audio Commentary for the special extended edition is included. Featuring commentary by directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise plus producer Don Hahn. The three go into look and feel of “Beauty and the Beast” and what they wanted to achieve. As well as dissecting the scene and the characters of the film. Alan Menken lends his commentary on the creation of the music for the film.
  • Classic Bonus Preview – (:43) Promotion of Disney Movies Anywhere

EXTRAS:

A DVD version of the feature film is included (all three versions of the film is presented on DVD). Also, a slipcase cover and Disney Movie Rewards code is included for this release.


My opinion of “Beauty and the Beast” has not changed since my DVD review for the title back in 2002. The animation, the painted backgrounds, the music, the characters, the movement… everything about the film is a pleasant reminder of the classic Disney films that I have loved and “Beauty and the Beast” is a film I still love.

Similar to the “Snow White” Blu-ray release, when “Beauty and the Beast” was released on Blu-ray in 2010, it was a magnificent improvement over the original 2002 release? Easy…by adding a ton of special features and three different versions of the film. This is what I love about Disney, they know what their customers want and what they expect and that is simply getting quality releases each time but raising the bar higher and higher of what a release should be. And for Disney, there classic animated films are expected to be fantastic releases and fans expect nothing lower.

I expected something incredible and to tell you the truth, I was pretty much expecting better picture quality in HD and lossless audio quality with the same special features and maybe a new audio commentary and possibly a retrospective featurette, but Disney has surpassed my expectations by giving us way more than what we would have expected for this film and I’m impressed and also very grateful.

The film has everything you want. Great characters, adventure, drama, action, memorable music and more! And 25-years later, “Beauty and the Beast” looks and sounds phenomenal on Blu-ray.

But now, to answer the question that everyone may be wondering.  Which version is better? The 2010 “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” or the 2016 “Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition”.  For one, you are going to get all three versions of the film that were featured in the 2010 version on this 2016 Blu-ray release, but you will not get the story reel version.

Picture quality and lossless audio are the same for both releases but the true differences are in the special features featured.

Surprisingly, all special features on this 2016 Blu-ray release are new.  And all the special features from the 2010 two-disc Blu-ray release were not included.  In fact, Disney put a lot of the special features from the previous discs up on there Disney Movies Anywhere website, in order for people to access them digitally.

This was a big surprise, as the “Diamond Edition” had two Blu-ray discs and a DVD and to me, because it was fully loaded with special features along with the brilliant picture and audio quality, the “Diamond Edition” was and I still consider it the definitive edition.

But because Disney releases are only released every 6-7 years, chances of finding the Diamond Edition new, is probably very slim.  But because we are living in a digital age and Disney is really wanting to promote there Disney Movies Anywhere streaming site, by purchasing this 2016 Blu-ray releases, you will have access to the special features, just not on Blu-ray, those special features can be accessed online.  Otherwise, if you want it on Blu-ray, then you are going to have to look for the 2010 “Diamond Edition” Blu-ray release.

So, it’s quite subjective of whether or not the special features matter to you.  Otherwise, if you are in it just for the film, by all means, “Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition” is the way to go.

If you have a fast Internet connection and don’t mind watching the previous special features online and want access to the newer special features, then also, the 25th Anniversary Edition is the way to go.  But if those older and newer special features are important to you and you want it on physical media, then you’re going to have to purchase both.

But I do feel that hardcore fans will want to own both, while casual fans and parents just purchasing for their children will be content with the “Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition” release.

Overall, may you be a hardcore fan of “Beauty and the Beast”, the young at heart that may want to share this Disney animated classic to a new generation of Disney fans, you can’t go wrong with “Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition”.

Recommended!

 

The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who enjoyed the “Lion King” and the direct-to-video sequels, will no doubt enjoy this animated television series on DVD as Simba and Nala’s young son, Kion and his friends must protect the Pride Lands. For children and the young at heart, “The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power

DURATION: Six Episodes (137 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TY V

Release Date: September 20, 2016


Directed by Howy Parkins

Written by Ford Riley, John Loy, Elise Allen, Kevin Hopps, Jack Monaco

Produced by Ford Riley

Casting by Brian Mathias


Featuring the following voice talent:

Dee Bradley Baker as Hyenas/Tano

Max Charles as Kion

Joshua Rush as Bunga

Diamond Whit as Fuli 

Atticus Shaffer as Ono

Kevin Schon as Jungu

Vargus Mason as Cheezi

Phil LaMarr as Goigoi

Jonny Rees as Mzingo

Rob Lowe as Simba

Khary Payton as Rafiki

Jeff Bennett as Zazu

Dusan Brown as Beshte

Sarah Hyland as Tiifu

Gary Anthony Williams as Mufasa

Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa

Christian Slater as Ushari

Gabrielle Union as Nala

Andrew Kishino as Janja

Madison Pettis as Zuri

Eden Riegel as Kiara


Alone, every hero has his or her own special talent. But when champions work together, the results are “un-Bunga-lievable”! Defend the Pride Lands with Kion and his courageous team in Disney’s breathtaking adventure series based on the legacy of THE LION KING. You’ll run like the wind, move mountains and save the day with these five brave friends as they summon their inner powers and help protect the Circle of Life. Packed with action, music and over two hours of fun, THE LION GUARD: UNLEASH THE POWER proves that when heroes join forces, they’re truly a force to be reckoned with!


Disney has had many successes since Walt Disney created the popular animation studio back in 1923.

With the success of their live action films and their PIXAR 3D animated films, still to this day, “The Lion King”, the 32nd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics remains as the most successful animated film for the legendary company earning over $862 million in the box office (created with a budget of $45 million) and in terms of overall animation, it’s the fifth highest grossing animated film of all time and the #1 highest grossing film when it comes to hand-drawn animation.

The film earned two Academy awards plus a Golden Globe for “Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy” and is the #4 animated film on the American Film Institute’s “10 Top 10” list.

With the “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-“, the television animated film (the pilot) which aired on Disney Junior back in November 22, 2015.  That was also the beginning of the TV series titled “The Lion Guard” (which airs on Disney Junior).

The story continues with Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala and the adventures with his Lion Guard.

Selected by Kion is Bunga (honey badger) the bravest, Beshte (hippopotamus) the strongest, Ono (egret) the keenest of sight and Fuli (cheetah) the fastest.   But this group must learn to work together as a team to take on various challenges.  Can Kion’s Lion Guard protect the Pride Lands?

The episodes featured on “The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” are:

  • Episode 7 – Fuli’s New Family – Bunga finds out that he is immune to snake bites, but accidentally thinks that he is immune to everything.
  • Episode 3 – Bunga the Wise – When Bunga talks to Rafiki, a little miscommunication makes Bunga think he is the wisest animal in the Pride Lands.
  • Episode 5 – Eye of the Beholder – Janja hears that Ono has temporarily lost his vision and he and the vultures try to take advantage of the situation.
  • Episode 9 – Follow That Hippo! – A young elephant named Mtoto idolizes Beshte.  But what happens when both are attacked by hyenas.
  • Episode 8 – The Search for Utamu – Bunga, Kion, Ono and Beshte search for Utamu grubs and we learn how Bunga met Timon and Pumbaa.
  • Episode 1 – Never Judge a Hyena By Its Spots – What happens when Kion meets Jasiri, a friendly hyena?

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Each time I have watched a Disney animated classic, suffice to say, there are no disappointments. Each release has been spectacular when it comes to picture quality and while “The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” may not be a film, but for the most part, animation is still colorful and background and environments are well-painted.

Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), there is no doubt that fans of the film and children who loved “The Lion King” films will enjoy this DVD.

The TV series is presented in English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital. Dialogue and music is clear and the action sequences sound very good via the surround channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” comes with a free power necklace with changeable discs, a slipcover and a Disney Movie Reward code.


As the animated pilot film “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” marks a sort of passing of the torch as Simba’s son Kion has demonstrated that he has the “Roar of the Elders” and will be the leader of The Lion Guard and protect the Pride Lands.

“The Lion Guard” animated TV series continues where the pilot has left off and Kion has chosen to be the Lion Guard and his fellow members of the team who will protect the Pride Land.

The characters are humorous and fun to watch. And with a total of six episodes included on “The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power”, the series will no doubt entertain children and even the young at heart.

The series focuses on Kion (the second-born cub) and his guard which includes Bunga (honey badger) the bravest, Beshte (hippopotamus) the strongest, Ono (egret) the keenest of sight and Fuli (cheetah) the fastest.

Of course, while friends, they have to also work as a team and the animated series reflects the group trying their best to work together and as one of them tends to run off on their own, they eventually learn the importance of working as a team.

For the most part, it’s an animated series with a good dose of humor and action. And for those who enjoyed the pilot film, the original film and the direct-to-video sequels, will no doubt enjoy this DVD release.

For parents who are curious if there are any dark situations that may scare young children, not really. Compared to the original “Lion King” film in which Scar and his team of lions or even the creepy hyenas, the hyenas featured in “The Lion Guard” are just as young as Kion. So, in a way, this film was created for a much younger demographic and is lighthearted and fun.  Especially the characters of the Lion Guard, especially the crazy, fun Bunga who tends to misunderstand things easily.

Picture quality and audio quality is as good as it can get on DVD, unfortunately there are no special features but as a plus is that the DVD does come with a free power necklace with changeable discs.

Overall, for those who enjoyed the “Lion King” and the direct-to-video sequels, will no doubt enjoy this animated television series on DVD as Simba and Nala’s young son, Kion and his friends must protect the Pride Lands.

For children and the young at heart, “The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” is recommended!

 

Elephant Kingdom (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s about time that Thailand’s popular 2009 animated film “Khan Kluay 2” would be released in the U.S. as “Elephant Kingdom”.  While the English adaptation is easier to follow, and slightly strips away any Thailand historical references, families will find the animated film to be entertaining and enjoyable!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Elephant Kingdom

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 101 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1 Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: PG (Violence, Peril, Thematic Elements and Rude Humor)

AVAILABLE ON: September 20, 2016


English Version Directed by Mychal Simka

Written and Produced by Mychal Simka

English Version Written by Doug Davidson, Jocelyn Wright

English Version Executive Producers: Barry Brooker Stan Wertlieb

English Version Co-Executive Producers: Ryan Black, Eli Wooten

English Version Associate Producers: Martin Guiterrez, Mary Peterson

Animation by Kantana Animation Studios


Featuring the Voices of:

Cary Elwes as Rock

Alexa PenaVega as Melody

Carlos PenaVega as Rally

Mikey Bolts as Pugsley

Ambyr Childers as Queen Diane

Garrett Clayton as Wingman

Mikey Bolts as Pugsley

Patrick Warburton as The King


From Lions Gate entertainment comes the animated film “Elephant Kingdom”.  Also known as “Khan Kluay 2” and made in Thailand by Kantana Animation back in 2009, the animated film is the sequel to the popular 2006 3D CG animated film (note: the original film was released on the video in the U.S. as “The Blue Elephant”).

Featuring voice acting by Cary Elwes (“The Princess Bride”, “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”, “Liar Liar”), Alexa PenaVega (“Spy Kids”, “Repo! The Genetic Opera”, “Sleepover”), Carlos PenaVega (“Big Time Rush”, “Grease Live!”), Garrett Clayton (“Teen Beach Movie”, “The Real O’Neals”, “The Fosters”), Ambyr Childers (“We Are What We Are”, “The Master”) and Patrick Warburton (“Ted”, “Rules of Engagement”, “Family Guy”).

The animated film introduces us to an elephant couple that are expecting baby twins.

Rock (voiced by Cary Elwes) and his wife Melody (voiced by Alexa PenaVega) are excited about having twins but Melody is a little sad that Rock is never home and is always working.

Not long after Melody gave birth to twins, Melody and her twins are kidnapped by the powerful human king (voiced by Patrick Warburton).

While Rock is deeply saddened by the kidnapping of Melody, the twins and other elephants from the kingdom, he knows he must go out and rescue them from their kidnappers.

Meanwhile, the Human King wants to capture rock and looks to use the twins to his advantage.  As an evil sorcerer separates Melody from her twins, she receives the compassion from the kind Queen Diane (portrayed by Ambyr Childers).  And a little help from their friends Wingman (voiced by Garret Clayton), Rally (voiced by Carlos PenaVega) and Pugsley (voiced by Mikey Bolts).

Will Rock be able to save his wife and children but also other elephants held captive?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Elephant Kingdom” is presented in 2:35:1 Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Since the animated film is intended for children, for the most part, children will love the cute elephant characters.  While the more discerning animated fans, may feel that “Elephant Kingdom” looks like CG made a decade ago (the animated film was released in Thailand back in 2009).

Overall, the environments have great detail, skin tones do have very good detail but this is an older animated film just released in the US in 2016 and I feel that children watching the film, probably will not care about the animation quality too much.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Elephant Kingdom” comes with the following special features:

  • Giving the Characters a Voice: At the Recording Studio – (11:54) Behind-the-scenes of the making of “Elephant Kingdom” and recording of the voice talent.
  • Minuscule Bonus Episodes – Featuring four mini animated shorts: Shellproof Nut, Lettus, Hyperactive and Some Weird Fly.
  • Elephant Kimgdom Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Elephant Kijngdom” comes with a slipcover and UltraViolet HD code.


For those looking for an animated family film, will want to check out “Elephant Kingdom”.

It’s important that while the film was the sequel to the animated film “Khan Kluay” in Thailand, for most people who have never watched the original film, can watch this film easily, as the writers tailored the story for people to enjoy if they never saw the original film.

The story of an elephant named Rock and his friends, searching for Rock’s wife Melody and his two twins that were kidnapped by humans.  And a wicked sorcerer, who wants to use the elephants for his own evil purposes.

It’s a race against the clock as Rock and other elephants must save them quickly!

The English version of the film is different from the original Thailand film in that a lot of the Thailand references are removed for a easier film for the masses outside of Thailand to follow.  For those familiar with the context of elephants and their use in Thailand films, part of the popularity of the film in Thailand is how an elephant named Khan Kluay would rise to become the war elephant for King Naresuan.

While the English version, Rock is busy with work and an easier story to follow. The Thailand version is a little more deeper as the elephant, Khan Kluay is a war elephant for a King and he is bound by his duties of honor and struggles with following his duty as a war elephant and also family time. In Thailand, King Naresuant is one of Thailand’s most revered monarchs and his fight against the Taungoo Burma, during the Toungoo Dynasty (ruling dynasty of Burma).  So, the Thailand version had a connection to the country’s history.

So, there are slight differences from the English adaptation of the original Thailand film.  But I felt the writers did a solid job of creating a simpler, straightforward story that is easier outside of Thailand to follow.

Animation is good but if you have been spoiled by Disney Pixar animated films, I can see many people feeling that the animation looks like it was made a decade ago (this film was released back in 2009).  Skin textures on both humans and the elephants are well-detailed, backgrounds are well-detailed, as well as various environments.  But in the end, the animated film is for children and they are less caring if the animation is highly detailed or looks amazing.  I really do feel that children would enjoy “Elephant Kingdom”.

The animated film features cute elephant characters and good voice acting, there are a few things to consider that the film does have its fair share of violence.  From the wicked sorcerer and his zombie warriors, a near-tragedy and other situations that gave the film a PG rating, I do feel that some young children, may get a bit spooked by certain characters and actions.

But for the most part, it’s an entertaining animated film.  And while the “Khan Kluay” films were extremely popular in Thailand, while its 2016 DVD release in the U.S. is a little late, I guess it’s better late than never.  So, It’s about time that Thailand’s popular 2009 animated film “Khan Kluay 2” would be released in the U.S. as “Elephant Kingdom”.

While the English adaptation is easier to follow, and slightly strips away any Thailand historical references, families will find the animated film to be entertaining and enjoyable!

 

 

Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Rise (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Rise” is a DVD that I recommend for young fans and the young at heart with four action-packed episodes and with Halloween around the corner, the DVD also features a special Halloween episode.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Power Rangers: Dino Charge – RISE

TV SERIES (YEAR): 2015

DURATION: Episodes 13-16 + 1 Special (125 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: September 27, 2016


Directed by Charlie Haskell, Peter Salmon, Mike Smith, Jonathan Brough, Peter Burger, Karl Zwicky, Michael Duignan

Written by Judd Lynn, Haim Saban, Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale, Mark Litton, Jeffrey Newman, Peter Wiseman, James W. Bates, Tanya M. Wheeler, Marc Handler, Ann Knapp

Produced by Sally Campbell

Executive Produced by Judd Lynn, Brian Casentini, Haim Saban

Music by Noam Kaniel

Cinematography by Kevin Riley, D.J. Stipsen

Edited by Allanah Milne

Casting by Iris Hampton

Production Design by Tracey Collins

Art Direction by Davin Voot

Costume Design by Sarah Voon


Starring:

Brennan Mejia as Tyler Navarro/Red Dino Charge Ranger

Camille Hyde as Shelby Watkins/Pink Dino Charge Ranger

Yoshua Sudarso as Koda/Blue Dino Charge Ranger

Michael Taber as Riley Griffin/Green Dino Charge Ranger

James Davies as Chase Randall/Black Dino Charge Ranger

Claire Blackwelder as Kendall Morgan/Purple Dino Charge Ranger

Campbell Cooley as the Mecha Voice

Davi Santos as Ivan

Estevez Gillespie as Wrench

Paul Harrop as Fury

Eve Gordon as Keeper

Adam Gardiner as Sledge

Jackie Clarke as Poisandra

Ryan Carter as Heckyl


The Power Rangers rise and take action-adventure to the next level as Tyler and Ivan put their differences aside to defuse a bomb; Chase races to free his friends from an underground tomb; Prince Phillip learns that he can’t buy his way into the Power Rangers; and Riley and Koda restore the team’s broken bonds of friendship in these dynamic, thrill-filled adventures.


Can the Rangers get along?  The members learn about the important of friendship and working together.  And who is the new Power Ranger Dino Charge Graphite Ranger?

Meanwhile, for the Halloween “Power Rangers: Dino Charge”, someone has kidnapped the Rangers and is assuming their appearance at a Halloween Party”.

All this and more for “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Rise”!

What is “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” about?

In 2015, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” debuted on television.

The 22nd season of the “Power Rangers” series, the series would star Brennan Mejia, Camille Hyde, Yoshua Sudarso, Michael Taber, James Davies, and Claire Blackwelder.

The storyline begins with the opening narration:

Millions of years ago, the evil Sledge tried to steal the greatest power in the universe. But an alien named Keeper entrusted them to dinosaurs. As for Sledge… He was blasted deep into space. Now the Energems have been found, and Sledge returns to battle a new team of heroes; they are…Power Rangers Dino Charge!”

As Sledge continues to look for the Energems, a team of Power Rangers form to find the the Energems first and fight various enemies.

Power Rangers Dino Charge consists of:

  • Dino Charge Red Ranger – Tyler Navarro (portrayed by Brennan Mejia) – The leader of the team and works as the chef at Amber Beach Dinosaur Museum’s restaurant, the Dino Bite Cafe.  He commands the T-Rex Zord.
  • Dino Charge Pink Ranger – Shelby Watkins (portrayed by Camille Hyde) – A waitress at the Dino Bite Cafe and knows a lot about Dinosaurs.  She commands the Tricera Zord.
  • Dino Charge Blue Ranger – Koda (portrayed by Yoshi Sudarso) – A Cro-Magnon caveman who found the Blue Energem a hundred thousand years ago in a Stegosaurus fossil.  He was unfrozen by Kendall and Chase and becomes the Dino Charge Blue Ranger.  He works as a dishwasher for Dino Bite Cafe and Amber Beach Museum digger.  He commands the Stego Zord.
  • Dino Charge Green Ranger – Riley Griffin (portrayed by Michael Taber) – Works as an intern at the Amber Beach Museum and as a waiter at Dino Bite Cafe.  He is calm and very intelligent.  He commands the Raptor Zord.
  • Dino Charge Black Ranger – Chase Randall (portrayed by James Davies) – The flirtatious and laid-back member who likes to ride a skateboard.  Works as a janitor at Amber Beach museum and is an expert paleontology digger.  He commands the Para Zord.
  • Dino Charge Gold Ranger – Sir Ivan of Zandar (portrayed by Davi Santos) – A Mideival knight who served the royal family of Zandar 800 years ago.  He commands the Ptera Zord.
  • Dino Charge Graphite Ranger – Prince Phillip III (portrayed by Jarred Blakiston) – The wealthy crown prince of Zandar and descendent of Prince Colin.  He is helpful and cares about the environment and wants to become a Power Ranger.  He commands the Pachy Zord.
  • Kendall Morgan (portrayed by Claire Blackwelder) – A 26-year-old scientist who manages the Amber Beach Dinosaur Museum and heads the paleontology digging group.

As “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” features a total of 22 episodes, “Rise” is the third “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” DVD to be released and contains episodes 13-16 and the special Halloween episode “The Ghostest with the Mostest”.

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Rise”:

  • Episode 13 – “Sync or Swim” – One of Sledge’s monsters has planted a bomb and Ivan and Tyler must drop their rivalry to work together and stop the bomb.
  • Episode 14 – “True Black” – A monster has left Shelby, Tyler and Ivan buried, Chase must save the day!
  • Episode 15 – “Rise of a Ranger” – What happens when Prince Philip finds a Graphite Energem?
  • Episode 16 – “No Matter How You Slice It” – A Monster has broke the Power Rangers bond of friendship, can Riley and Koda work together?
  • HALLOWEEN SPECIAL – “The Ghostest with the Mostest” – A Monster has kidnapped the Rangers and takes on their appearance during a Halloween Party.  Kendall must discover which members are real and which are fake.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Rise” is presented in 1:78:1 Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital and French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

Closed Captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Rise” features no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Rise” comes with a slip cover and HD UltraViolet code.


For over 20-years, many people have grown up watching “Power Rangers”.

Sure, a lot of the stories are campy but for those who enjoyed the action, the costumes and the good old story of good vs. evil, that concept has remained consistent season after season.

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Rise” contains four episodes which focuses on the team having to work together despite whatever odds or differences they may have.  And with Halloween around the corner, the DVD features the Halloween special “The Ghostest with the Mostest”.

The latest episodes now features Sir Ivan of Zandar now part of the team as the Power Rangers Dino Charge Gold Ranger.

As one who has grown up watching the Japanese sentai series and also the original “Power Rangers” and now having a child and nephews that are interested in them, one thing that I am glad to see is that the series retains its action and family-oriented storylines.

Nothing too violent and nothing that would make parents wince. Granted, some may object to the fighting but personally, costumed heroes vs. monsters (people in rubber suits), it’s not exactly something that I worry about in terms of fighting action. As parents, it’s how we teach our children and to not practice Power Rangers moves on other people.

As for this DVD volume, it’s pretty much four episodes + 1 special episode that deals with teamwork and character rivalries and working together.

While I wished there are more episodes than just the standard four, fans of the series or parents of children who love “Power Rangers: Dino Charge”, will no doubt enjoy this DVD.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and there are no special features. Fortunately, a digital HD code was included.

Overall, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Rise” is a DVD that I recommend for young fans and the young at heart with four action-packed episodes and with Halloween around the corner, the DVD also features a special Halloween episode.

 

The Jungle Book (2016) (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Jungle Book” is a film that no doubt will surprise you because of its visual beauty, the wonderful acting and seeing the book and animated film brought to life.  This is my favorite Disney live adaptation of a Disney Animated Classic so far and I really enjoyed this film a lot. Definitely one of the best family films of 2016!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Jungle Book (2016)

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 106 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish and French

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: PG (For Some Sequences of Scary Action and Peril)

Release Date: September 6, 2016


Based on Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”

Directed by Jon Favreau

Screenplay by Justin Marks

Produced by Jon Favreau, Brigham Taylor

Co-Producer: John Bartnicki, Joyce Cox

Executive-Producer: Molly Allen, Karen Gilchrist

Cinematography by Bill Pope

Music by John Debney

Edited by Adam Gerstel, Mark Livolsi

Casting by Sarah Finn

Production Design by Christopher Glass

Art Direction by Ravi Bansal, John Lord booth III, Ilgi Candar, Andrew L. Jones, Mike Stassi

Set Decoration by Amanda Moss Serino

Costume Design by Laura Jean Shannon


Starring:

Neel Sethi as Mowgli

Featuring the Voices of:

Bill Murray as Baloo

Ben Kingsley as Bagheera

Idris Elba as Shere Khan

Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha

Scarlett Johansson as Kaa

Giancarlo Esposito as Akela

Christopher Walken as King Louie

Garry Shandling as Ikki

Brighton Rose as Gray


In an epic adventure directed by Jon Favreau (IRON MAN), Mowgli, a man-cub raised in the jungle by a family of wolves, embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery when he’s forced to abandon the only home he’s ever known. Featuring an all-star voice cast including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley and Scarlett Johansson, THE JUNGLE BOOK is “stunning” (Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter).


Back in 1893-1895, English Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling wrote a collection of stories that were published in various magazines and give moral lessons to young readers.  The stories would go on to be known as “The Jungle Book”.

And in 1967, the beloved classic animated film was born. Walt Disney and writer Bill Peet decided that the 19th animated feature would be “The Jungle Book” featuring a storyline inspired by Kipling’s stories (Disney did not want the darker storyline to be in the animated film, since the goal was to create a family film) but also incorporating music.

But fastforward to 2016 and Disney, who have been doing live film adaptions of their popular Disney Animated Classics, decided to give “The Jungle Book” a chance to be a live action film but to also incorporate a story more faithful to Rudyard Kipling’s book (as back in 1967, Disney couldn’t make the children’s animated film too dark).

The live action version would be directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”, “Iron Man 2”, “Zathura: A Space Adenture”) and a screenplay by Justin Marks (“Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li”, “Rewind”).

The film would star new young actor, Neel Sethi and voice acting would be provided by many popular stars such as Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken and Garry Shandling (Garry’s final film that he had worked on before his death).

“The Jungle Book” was a success among critics and in the box office, earning over $963 million (budget was $175 million) and the film would become the third highest grossing film of 2016 (as of September 2016).

And now, “The Jungle Book” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD!

“The Jungle Book” begins with a “Man Club” named Mowgli (portrayed by Neel Sethi) being trained by a panther named Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley).

As Bagheera takes Mowgli to the river to get some water with the other animals, he joins up with his family of wolves that raised him, his wolf father Akela (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) and his mother Raksha (voiced by Lupita Nyong’o).

When the predator, a tiger that all in the jungle has feared, Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba) comes to the river, he taunts everyone.  But when he sees Mowgli, he tells the wolves that if they don’t bring him the man club, he will end the peace truce among him and the animals in the jungle.

With the wolves fearing that Shere Khan can terrorize all of them, they discuss on what to do with Mowgli and suggest that he should go back to where other people like him live. Raksha is against it as she has raised Mowgli since he was small and considers him as one of her own cubs.

But seeing everyone arguing, Mowgli makes up his mind and tells his family of wolves that in order to fix things, he will leave and go to where the other people like him are living.  And Bagheera agrees to help Mowgli get back to the village of where his people are from.

As they are heading to the village, immediately Shere Khan starts to go for the attack in order to kill Mowgli, but Bagheera manages to fend Shere Khan’s attack temporarily.

As Mowgli barely escapes from Shere Khan, he ends up in another part of the jungle where he comes across a huge snake named Kaa (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and she explains to him how he was brought to the jungle, how his father used the red flower (fire) which is magical that it brings light but it can also bring destruction.

She explains that Mowgli’s father brought him to the jungle, inside a cave but Shere Khan found them.  When his father tried to protect the young boy, he used the flame to burn Shere Khan’s face, but in the process, sacrificed his life and died to protect his son.

And as Kaa is slowly entrancing the young boy in order to kill him, he is rescued by a sloth bear named Baloo (voiced by Bill Murray) and the two become friends and partners.

But Shere Khan is determined of killing the young boy, while Mowgli and Baloo go on several (dangerous) adventures together.  But will Mowgli return to his home where the humans live?  Or will he stay in the jungle, the only home he knows.


VIDEO:

“The Jungle Book” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is absolute magnificent.  The visual effects of this film is amazing as every animal looks realistic, the CG and overall environments look realistic despite the film being shot via motion capture on a blue screen and for the most part, this is one of the most beautiful films to come from Disney and showcase how far digital technology has come in reproducing animals and environments.  Details are fantastic and the overall picture quality is vibrant with no problematic artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Jungle Book” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks.

Audiophiles will no doubt take note of how wonderful this film sounds as it is quite immersive.  From every sound of Mowgli running and hearing him on branches that crack, hearing the elephants moving in the distances, stones breaking, fires spreading, the surround channels and LFE coming alive with every scream or roar, may it be Baloo or King Louie, everything is crystal clear, dialogue, music and sound effects.

For the most part, not only do you get fantastic picture quality but an equally fantastic lossless soundtrack as well!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Spanish and French

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Jungle Book” comes with the following special feature:

  • The Jungle Book Reimagined – (35:02) Interviews with the cast and crew about the making of “The Jungle Book”.
  • I Am Mowgli – (8:17) The cast of young actor Neel Sethi and an interview with Neel.
  • King Louie’s Temple: Layer by Layer – (3:14) The making of the music for “King Louie’s Temple” with Richard Sherman.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Jon Favreau

EXTRAS:

“The Jungle Book” comes with a slipcover and a Digital HD Code.


I have watched the original Disney Animated Classic “The Jungle Book” numerous times in my life and have reviewed it several times for J!-ENT each time it has been released on DVD and then later on Blu-ray.

But when I heard that “The Jungle Book” was going to receive a live film adaptation, I have to admit that I was skeptical at first.

Partly because the animated film was a musical and an animated film with action and featured a lot of talking animals, I really couldn’t picture a live action version of the film.

Having watched the 2016 version of “The Jungle Book”, I was absolutely floored by how fantastic this film ending up becoming.

From the detail of the creatures in the jungle, how young actor Neel Sethi was utilized in the film using motion capture and blue screen technology and creating breathtaking sequences that look real and authentic.

And while “The Jungle Book” manages to combine the best of both worlds, from being inspired by the original Rudyard Kipling book, because it’s a Disney film, you do get music but the film focuses on the characters, their actions and focusing on story.

But fans of the Disney Animated Classic will no doubt be happy of hearing Mowgli and Baloo singing “The Bare Necessities” or an impressive scene with the giant King Louie primate singing his catchy song as well.  These are two memorable songs in this 2016 Disney film but what you remember the most are how impressive child actor Neel Sethi was in the role of Mowgli.

This film was perfectly cast and the film rides on the shoulders of young Sethi and everything worked magnificently.  He was the right kid to do the job and his awesome performance was quite evident in the film.

And as for the animals, the film also hit multiple homeruns by having Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken.  Perfect casting as everyone did their voice role magnificently.

But it’s one thing to have perfect casting, what made this film become so impressive is the visual effects.  With each animal featured, they look so real and authentic and goes to show how far digital technology has come in reproducing the look of animals for this film.  From the hair on the wolves, Baloo to the markings and the mud stains that are on Shere Khan.

And also, I give a thumbs up to costume/make-up artists for the consistency by showing Mowgli having scars and bumps throughout the film and not the typical, banal Hollywood forgetfulness of showing lingering wounds throughout a film.

As for the rating, while the film is rated PG because Mowgli comes across many threats, the film received a PG rating.  And while young children may get a little spooked out by certain characters, I watched the film with my family and my son absolutely loved it.  But similar to the animated film and if you are familiar with the book, then know that due to various challenges and threats to Mowgli, parental guidance is suggested.

As for the Blu-ray release, both picture quality and the lossless soundtrack are magnificent.  This is a film that videophiles and audiophiles dream of experiencing during a viewing of a film and “The Jungle Book” scores high marks for video and audio.  As for special features, a few featurettes and an audio commentary are included.

Overall, “The Jungle Book” is a film that no doubt will surprise you because of its visual beauty, the wonderful acting and seeing the book and animated film brought to life.  This is my favorite Disney live adaptation of a Disney Animated Classic so far and I really enjoyed this film a lot.

Definitely one of the best family films of 2016!

 

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