Tag Archives: special features

Up: Blu Ray Review

Grab your copy of Up on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Grab your copy of Up on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


Finding those complete films that deliver on all accounts is rare these days. When I first watched Up, I laughed, cried and was taken on a rollercoaster ride with the oddly paired old man and his accidental sidekick. As I reviewed the all new Blu Ray release, I was amazed as I relived all these emotions for a second time around. Now that’s a powerful film in my book!

Up 1In DisneyPixar’s Up, Carl Fredricksen deals with his loneliness and a promise to the love of his life by flying his house to the Venezuelan wilderness with the unwelcome assistance of a good-intentioned Boy Scout, Russell.

The team behind this movie provided such incredible depth of character; you see right past their cartoony shells and dive into the soul of a real person. Combine this with a highly entertaining adventure and what you have left is a timeless classic.

Up 3Edward Asner and first time actor Jordan Nagai are perfect together. Director Pete Docter did a fantastic job in getting a very natural performance out of the young Nagai – Not an easy thing to do when working with brand new actor.

Not only will kids love this movie, but as an adult, you’ll be glued to the screen beside the little ones as you watch Carl and Russell’s quest unfold (Just be sure to have a box of tissue handy).

Up 2As far as the Blu Ray release is concerned, this is one of the best. DisneyPixar has included both 3D and 2D Blu Ray discs, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy to future proof you as your home theatre evolves. The video in both the 3D and 2D copies is magnificent. While the 3D copy adds the expected immersion, it is shocking how much depth of image is in the 2D Blu Ray. On top of that, Michael Giacchino’s Academy Award winning original score sounds beautiful alongside the amazing audio design.

There isn’t a single special feature not worth watching in this home release. Included in the vast array of high definition features you’ll find:

• Cine-Explore Commentary

• Adventure Is Out There

• Partly Cloudy

• Dug’s Special Mission

• The Many Endings of Muntz

• Documentaries – A series of behind the scenes featurettes.

• Married Life

• Global Guardian Badge Game

• Up Promo Montage

• Worldwide Trailers

Not only do they include behind the scenes of the making of the film, they also provide a fun educational game for kids (just as much fun for adults).

UPBottom Line: This is how Blu Rays should be done. With a movie this good, why wait to let the fun begin? Pick up your copy today and go on a ride of a lifetime with your wee ones.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A+

Runtime: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Finding Nemo: Blu Ray Review

Pick up your copy of Finding Nemo on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Pick up your copy of Finding Nemo on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


The story of an overprotective father’s desperate search for his lost son captured audiences worldwide like few films ever have. Unhindered perfection is the best way to describe what DisneyPixar produced in 2003 with Finding Nemo. Nine years after grossing over $900 million worldwide in theatres and Oscar Award acclaim, Nemo and Co. received the 3D treatment and is now available on Blu Ray.

Finding Nemo 1For those few of you who haven’t seen the movie, Finding Nemo is the story of a father and son clown fish that are quickly separated and spend the rest of the movie engaging the help of a variety of quirky sea creatures as they attempt to find their way back to one another.

It should go without saying, but for that sole individual who has yet to embark on this incredible journey, this movie is inspiringly original, and features some of the best voice work to date.

Finding Nemo 3Albert Brooks and Ellen Degeneres’ performances are sublime. Degeneres’ portrayal of the memory addled Dori is absolutely hilarious with just the right amount of emotion to provide an unforgettable character.

The all new Blu Ray release is fully loaded to future proof you (from a technology standpoint). Included are 3D and 2D Blu Ray discs, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy, ensuring that you can enjoy the film anywhere. The image quality is great, only topped by the immersive and dynamic audio design/mastering. Finding Nemo 4If you have the equipment to watch the movie in 3D, you’ll definitely enjoy the added depth the third dimension adds to this deep sea adventure. If you don’t, the 2D experience is no slouch, delivering a crisp, clean image.

There are a lot of special features to go through, including:

• Cine-Explore

Finding Nemo: A Filmmakers’ Roundtable

• Reinventing the Submarine Voyage

• A Lesson in Flashbacks

• Deleted Scene

• Knick Knack

• Trailers and Sneak Peeks

• Art Review

• Making Nemo

• Exploring the Reef

• Studio Tour

• Old School

• Deleted Scenes

• Outtakes

• Publicity Pieces

• Mr. Ray’s Encyclopedia

• Aquariums

Most of these features combine comedy, educational elements and a good deal of insight into the making of the blockbuster film. My only complaint would be with the lack of a “play all” option, as some of the features are a concise 10 seconds long, but take almost 30 seconds to load. Other than that, fans will have fun going behind the scenes with the cast and crew.

Finding Nemo 2Bottom Line: A must own DisneyPixar adventure that you’ll want to dive into time and time again.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


The Rescuers/The Rescuers Down Under: Blu Ray Review

The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under on Blu Ray + DVD combo available on August 21, 2012. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


Thirty-five years ago, Disney’s animation studios delivered an original tale of two mice risking their lives to save a kidnapped girl from the clutches of a cruel woman. Thirteen years after the success of The Rescuers, Disney delivered one of its first sequels to an animated film in The Rescuers Down Under. For The Rescuers three and a half decade anniversary, both films have been included in the Blu Ray + DVD combo release.

The Rescuers is such a hit simply because it veers away from what so many other films do—talk down to children. Instead, it delivers a darker story everyone can enjoy. Eva Gabor and Bob Newhart work magic together as the unlikely pair of mystery solving, lovable rodents.

In The Rescuers Down Under, the adventure is brought to the other side of the globe where Bernard and Bianca must stop a ruthless poacher in the Outback of Australia. All new characters and phenomenal animation make this sequel a fun ride. Story wise, it just falls short of the first film – But not by much.

This Blu Ray release looked far better than I thought it would on my 60” television and sounded surprisingly good as well. Included you’ll find a wide array of special features to enjoy: “Peoplitis” a deleted song, “Someone’s Waiting For You” Sing-A-Long, and The Making Of The Rescuers Down Under. On top of those, Disney has also included “The Three Blind Mouseketeers” – Silly Symphony Animated Short, and the best feature of all “Water Birds” Disney True Life Adventure. This last feature is a fun video about real birds in nature and how they differ from each other. A must watch for wildlife lovers!

Bottom Line: You and your children will have a blast delving into these timeless mysteries alongside two heroic mice and their companions.

Movie Grades: The Rescuers: A-/The Rescuers Down Under: B
Blu Ray Grade A-

Runtimes: The Rescuers: 78 minutes/The Rescuers Down Under: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1


Pocahontas/Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World: Blu Ray Review

Pocahontas and Pocahontas II Blu Ray + DVD combo available August 21, 2012. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


It’s hard to watch a childhood favourite when you’re all grown up, only to realize it is not nearly as good as you once thought it was. This is exactly what I had to come to terms with when watching Pocahontas for its Blu Ray release 17 years after its theatrical release.

Disney has included a duo of Pocahontas and Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World, both remastered in high definition for the Blu Ray release.

For the few of you who haven’t seen the first film, Pocahontas tells the story of the British traveling to North America in search of gold, only to fall into quarrels with the Native Indians they meet upon their arrival. A love affair begins when John Smith befriends Pocahontas and it is up to them to bring peace to the warring sides.

What I failed to notice when I was a child is how basically flawed the entire story is. Character motivations are highly contrived, while the endless campaign of poorly sung musical numbers becomes tired very quickly. The saving grace is the Academy Award winning Best Original Song “Colours of the Wind” brilliantly sung by Judy Kuhn.

In part 2, Pocahontas travels as a peace ambassador to England, only to discover an old foe attempting to sabotage her visit.

Oddly enough, the sequel delivered a more satisfying film than its predecessor. The humour is about the same, whereas the story and characters seem less contrived. Not a brilliant film by any stretch of the imagination, but descent enough for this adult to sit through.

For this Blu Ray + DVD combo pack, both films look better than they ever did before. The special features are not the most impressive set, but there are a few interesting ones to check out. The Audio Commentary and The Music Of Pocahontas really gives us insight into the making of the movie. The other features, while interesting, only serve as distant relatives to the feature film. They include Drawing Inspiration: The Lost Story Of Hiawatha, “Little Hiawatha” Cartoon Short, Deleted Song: “If I Never Knew You”, and Deleted Scenes.

Bottom Line: Unless you’re a huge fan of the film or need it to complete your collection, you would be better off renting this Blu Ray release.

Movie Grades: Pocahontas: C-/Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World: C
Blu Ray Grade B+

Runtimes: Pocahontas: 81 minutes/Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World: 73 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Chimpanzee: Blu Ray Review

Chimpanzee is available in stores on August 21, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyNature


As our genetic ancestors, chimpanzees give humans a glimpse into our extremely distant past. In DisneyNature’s documentary, Chimpanzee, we follow a group of chimps living in the forests of Africa as they try to keep their home safe from an invading clan of rival chimpanzees (Remind you of anyone you know?). Possibly the most intriguing aspect of this film is the story of baby Oscar and the unlikely relationship he forms with the alpha male of his group, Freddy.

This beautifully shot documentary delivers a powerful story of both spirit and family. The cinematography is absolutely stunning, as is the in-depth camera work the crew managed to achieve in order to bring us intimately close to this group of playful primates.

Directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield managed to show the darker side of the animal’s lives, but successfully cut everything graphic and potentially disturbing out for those younger and ever so sensitive viewers. With the assistance of Tim Allen’s (Toy Story, The Santa Clause) playful narration, younger audience members will be thoroughly engaged in this astonishing world of survival.

DisneyNature has included a fantastic array of special features for the Blu Ray + DVD release. Every minute of the On Location: Making Of Chimpanzee featurette is a must watch. It chronicles the pain-staking efforts the crew went through to deliver this astonishing footage. Also included is “Rise” Music Video By McClain Sisters, Behind The Scenes Of “Rise”, See Chimpanzee, Save Chimpanzee, Disney’s Friends For Change, and Disney’s Conservation Legacy.

Bottom Line: Whether you live alone or have a large family, everyone will be captivated by this heartfelt documentary and its phenomenal cinematography.

Movie Grade A
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Here are some fun activities for you to download and print for your little ones to enjoy:

CHIMPANZEE Activites

 


Monsieur Lazhar: Canadian filmmaking at its finest

Oscar nominated Monsieur Lazhar is available to own on August 14, 2012. Courtesy of eOne Media


Canada has produced some of Hollywood’s finest actors over the last half century. Canadian director Philippe Falardeau’s Oscar nominated film, Monsieur Lazhar, shows that we can produce high quality films as well.

After suffering a tragic loss at an elementary school in Montreal, Bachir Lazhar takes on the unwanted job of substitute teacher to a class dealing with uninvited grief.

It’s an absolute delight to review a film so original, thought provoking and well scripted after being bombarded with tired, unoriginal ideas for the past few months. Philippe Falardeau adapted Évelyne de la Chenelière’s one character play, Bashir Lazhar to perfection. As a writer and director, he was unafraid to look at real world issues and make valid social commentary on the state of the current education regulations.

On top of all the accolades from the production, you’ll find equal brilliance from the cast. Mohamed Fellag and Sophie Nélisse both deliver captivating performances, showcasing their ability to produce every ounce of emotional nuance demanded by their characters.

This DVD presents the film beautifully from both an audio and visual standpoint. Unfortunately, being a French film has limited the special features to only those who understand the language. When you consider the high quality of the movie, it’s tragic that only French speaking audiences will be able to dive deeper into the making of it.

Bottom Line: Even with the lack of special features, this movie is still well worth owning on DVD just for the incredible viewing experience of the film itself.

Movie Grade A
Blu Ray Grade B

Runtime: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1


Street Dance 2: Blu Ray Review

Street Dance 2 available on Blu Ray Combo Pack July 24th. Courtesy of eOne Media


When you watch a movie about dance, how high do you set your expectations? Given the recent history of the genre, expectations are deservedly set at rock bottom. Street Dance 2 serves only to continue this horrible trend, while hitting the right notes when it came to, yes you got it, the dancing.

In this sequel, a humiliated street dancer has to venture across Europe to put together the best crew in order to win the world dance battle and redeem himself.

The performances and script are just hard to sit through. There are some adequate moments, but they are few and far between. As an actor, the only person worth their paycheque is British comedy legend, Tom Conti (The Dark Knight Rises, Derailed). While his French accent left something to be desired, his performance gave realism to the otherwise predictable dialogue.

On a positive note, the dancing in this movie will make you want to get up and jam with the incredibly talented performers. What the dancers lack in acting ability, they make up for with their tremendous dance experience. The movie features break dancing, popping, locking, Latin dancing and, most intriguing, all of them mixed together for a Street-Latin fusion. The entire movie was shot in 3D, which keeps the dancing the focal point of every dance scene.

The Blu Ray + DVD combo pack includes only the beautifully shot feature with its excellent audio track. It’s sad that there are no behind the scenes featurettes to give us insights into the choreography which would have been nice.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of the movie or street dancing, you’ll have fun with this movie. Otherwise, keep your distance.

Movie Grade C
Blu Ray Grade C

Runtime: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1


The Three Stooges: Blu Ray Review

The Three Stooges movie is available on Blu Ray + DVD + Digital Download on July 17th. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox


During my childhood, every Sunday morning was spent in front of the television watching two hours of black and white slapstick hilarity. The Three Stooges, with their Looney Tunes-style violence left me and millions around the world reeling with stitch bursting laughter, and effect that still holds strong today. With Hollywood stuck in remake mode, it was only a matter of time before they decided to revisit this iconic television show.

In this “origins” story, we follow Larry, Curly and Moe from their days as orphans to their adulthood where they try to raise money to save the orphanage they grew up in.

What the famous Farrelly brothers try to accomplish with this remake is to modernize the classic edition while creating a homage to the comedic greats. Unfortunately, the slapstick humor and outlandish situations simply do not translate well outside of the period in which they were created.

Sean Hayes (Larry), Will Sasso (Curly) and Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe) managed to impersonate the mannerisms and give us a glimpse of the characters they were playing. However, none of them fully transformed, and each of their performances became a caricature of what we know and love to be the Stooges.

What this movie does have going for it is a great Blu Ray + DVD + Digital Copy release. The movie looks and sounds wonderful, and they’ve included a generous dose of special features. The usual Deleted/Extended Scenes are included, all of which deserved to be chopped out of the final cut. After that, we get to the juicy features, including What’s the Big Idea?: A History of The Three Stooges, Knuckleheads: Behind the Scenes of The Three Stooges, Did You Hear That? The Three Stooges Sound Effects, Poifect! Casting The Three Stooges, The Three Stooges Mash-up, and finally the Original Screen Test.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of the film, this Blu Ray is a must own. For everyone else, your money would be wisely invested in finding the original shorts to own and enjoy.

Movie Grade C
Blu Ray Grade A-

Runtime: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1


The Prodigies: DVD Review

The Prodigies is Antoine Charreyron first attempt at a feature length film. Courtesy of eOne Entertainment


The turmoil of being different is not easy to deal with. Imagine the anger that would build inside of you if you were treated like a freak day in and day out. What you would do with that anger, if by a change of events you had the power to control other people. This adaptation of Bernard Lenteric’s novel examines this in The Prodigies – An animated film for grownups.

In this movie, Jimbo, the main character in the film, discovers he has tremendous power as a youth and grows up to find every other person who shares his gift, or curse, depending on how you choose to see it.

It’s not a perfect movie, but the positives outweigh the negatives and the end result left me wanting a sequel.

The story is unique. It examines these borrowed themes (super powers, prejudice) in a violent way completely unsuitable for children. Because of this depiction there is an added element of realism to a film that could otherwise be considered juvenile.

On the other hand, the animated movement of the characters make the video games of yesteryear appear believable. This stylistic choice by video game turned movie director, Antoine Charreyron makes the entire production look very dated. For what it’s worth, the backgrounds and inanimate objects looked quite good.

Another negative is the DVD itself. The picture and audio quality are solid, but there isn’t a single special feature to speak of (Surprising given the relevant nature of the film).

Bottom Line: This sci-fi animation will satisfy fans of the genre. I’m sure excited about the story evolving into a sequel.

Movie Grade B-
Blu Ray Grade C-

Runtime: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Man on a Ledge: Blu Ray + DVD Review

Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks star in Man on a Ledge. Courtesy of eOne Entertainment


If you were wrongly accused of a crime and sentenced to 25 years in jail, how far would you go to prove your innocence and bring down the people who set you up? Nick Cassidy goes the ultimate distance venturing out onto a 21st storey ledge in order to prove his innocence.

Not without its faults, Man on a Ledge manages to provide a thrilling ride with its suspense and amazing cinematography.

With only a documentary under his belt, director Asger Leth alongside veteran cinematographer Paul Cameron (Man on Fire, Gone in Sixty Seconds) take us to dizzying heights and keep us on the edge of our seats for almost two hours as we watch the story unravel. The pace of the film is tight, but there are definitely a few unnecessary comedic relief moments that deserved a Karate chop in the editing room.

After years in the business, Australian born Sam Worthington’s acting is very hard to appreciate due to his very distracting and pitiful American accent. Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris, Anthony Mackie and the rest of the cast range from decent to good.

In the Blu Ray + DVD combo pack, you get a solid presentation of the film both visually and orally. On top of that, there is an excellent “The Ledge” featurette that takes you behind the scenes to explain how they managed to film acrophobic (fear of heights) scenes. They’ve also included a feature length commentary with actress Elizabeth Banks.

Bottom Line: While not perfect, there’s still an adrenaline pumping ride worth experiencing in this home release.

Movie Grade B
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: Approx. 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1