For those of us who are not Marveled out, Marvel Studio’s Ant-Man is a great film to add to our arsenal of movie night selections. You get all the greatness of a Marvel film with the added heist aspects of Ocean’s Eleven and shrinking comedy of Honey I Shrunk the Kids with a bonus shirtless-chiseled Paul Rudd. Continue reading Review: Ant-Man Bonus Features — Small But Mighty
“Welcome to the party, pal!”
Sure, I’ve seen the Die Hard movies a jillion times now. Okay—I’ve seen the first one a jillion times. The second and third come in… well, second and third. I’ve actually seen the third one a lot. I’m working my way up to quoting the fourth and the fifth.
However, I would proudly call those last two flicks my own just to have the upcoming Nakatomi Plaza: Die Hard Collection.
The original is probably one of my favorite action movies and definitely one of my favorite Christmas movies. It’s also one of the movies that will always keep me awake at night.
This upcoming special edition packs all five Die Hard flicks into a replica of that very familiar Los Angeles tower. Yes, it’s the same one that had most of its windows shattered, the same one that had John McClane’s bloody footprints stamped onto the side, and the same one that aided in blowing an FBI helicopter right out of the sky.
Inside, it has Blu-ray and Digital HD versions of Die Hard, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Live Free or Die Hard, and A Good Day to Die Hard. The last two also feature an unrated version of each film. There’s also a bonus Blu-ray on “Decoding Die Hard,” a 32-page booklet about the franchise, and five villain collectible cards. Hans, booby—you’ve got yourself a trading card!
Fox will start taking pre-orders for the Nakatomi Plaza: Die Hard Collection in their booth at San Diego Comic-Con, as well as online. You can expect to pay $89.99 for this magnificent piece, and I’m guessing they won’t take bearer bonds. Otherwise, you can score one when it’s released on October 13, 2015. Yippee-ki-yay!
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea and has six Blu-ray releases coming out today? Scream it with me: “SpongeBob SquarePants!!!”
We know SpongeBob is an icon and all that, but why are there six Blu-rays for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water? These aren’t separate covers for SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Sandy, and Plankton. There’s a Blu-ray Combo Pack, the Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, and four retailer-specific versions.
Those four extra versions are exclusive to each respective retailer, with each one packing in a little something extra that’s separate from the actual discs. All of the special goodies are only available with a purchase of the Blu-ray. If you don’t have a Blu-ray player, there’s also a single-disc DVD out today as well. However, the Blu-ray also includes multiple special features. Besides the actual Blu-ray disc, a standard-def DVD, the Digital Copy, and the UltraViolet Digital Copy, there are over an hour’s worth of extras, including:
- On the Surface
- SpongeBob SquarePants: Out of His World
- When I Grow Up, I Want to Make Funny Sounds
- Becoming Burger Beard
- Making the Burger Mobile Chase Sequence
- It’s Hip to Be SquarePants
- A Day in the Life of a Sponge
- Underwater Awesomeness
- Plankton Rules the World!
- Bikini Bottom Confidential: Rock Stars of the Sea
- International Sponge of Mystery: Meet Bubbles
- International Sponge of Mystery: The Speech
- Bikini Bottom Boogie
- Thank Gosh It’s Monday
- SpongeBob Sing-Alongs:
- Thank Gosh It’s Monday
- Theme Song/Rap Battle
- “Squeeze Me” Music Video by N.E.R.D.
- Deleted/Extended/Alternate/Test Scenes
The 3D version of the Blu-ray has all of the same special features listed above, but adds in a 3D version of the film and a 3D-enhanced version of the “Thank Gosh It’s Monday” deleted scene.
Want to know which version you’ll want to buy? (Because you know you’re going to want to buy one of them.) My son and I got to unbox all six versions being released today. Check out the goods in our video below. Are you ready, kids? I can’t hear you…
I’m a big fan of new technology. I like everything to have a touch screen, and I like it to take up as little physical space as possible. I am accustomed to the world of Wi-Fi, and I expect to be connected pretty much everywhere I go. I don’t go very far. Yet, there are still areas of my technological life in which I cling to, what some people would call, antiquated tech. Much in the same way that my dad clings to Zach Morse’s cell phone, or GeekMom Corrina clings to her rotary phone, I find myself clinging to first generation models or heaven forbid, their paper alternatives. Don’t even get me started on my typewriter.
My digital camera: While I long ago gave up on film, I’m still a point and shoot person at heart. Most of my friends and fellow moms have traded up over the years, and strayed into the realms of amateur photography. The closest I have come is with my Canon PowerShot which a photographer friend tells me “at least looks like a real camera”. If I want professional pictures I have somebody else take them. To document my life, I’m good with my point and shoot. I also have not converted to the phone camera, though my husband’s iPhone 6XL takes a pretty fantastic picture and is much more convenient for delivery of digital images. My son is already rapidly growing out of his V-Tech and soon will come the day when his amateur movie making skills require something far in advance than his mother’s tech.
My television: Until a few weeks back we had an eleven year old television set. It required a digital box, chopped off the corners of the every wide image, and got very fuzzy reception. But it worked. My dad was a television repairman back in the day that we actually fixed things instead of disposing of them, my husband is of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. So we had fuzzy reception, we could watch DVDs just fine, and with a Roku box we were well set up. Just not highly defined. The reason we got a new television? Someone gave it to us, no upgrade wanted, but who turns away a free TV really?
My calendar: I still use a paper calendar, and am a source of great amusement to my geek friends when I pull it out to literally pencil in a game date. We use Google calendar as well, this is where we store all of our joint events and family adventures. My husband uses the Google calendar on his Iphone, I however, will always pull out my trusty old moleskin. Within which is stored, events, birthdays, anniversaries and the cute things that my kids say to me.
My taxes: To be fair, I only cling to this one grudgingly, because I cling to my husband doing our taxes instead of paying someone to do them for us. He fills out the paper forms and mails them in every year. No Turbo Tax, no electronic submission. Plain old paper, plain old stamp. I am sure at some point we will be shocked to find that paper is no longer an option.
My phone: Much like Corrina I cling to my landline. My entire extended family still live in England, and so a cell phone is not the best method of communication. I gave up my cell phone years ago when I realized it was merely serving as an answering machine and nothing else. Occasionally I miss having one, like when I am five months pregnant and get a flat tire, but for the most part it is utterly blissful to be turned off from technology in this way.
My DVDs: I did not convert to Blu-Ray, I have to admit it. Partly because it ticks me off when we come out with new technology every ten years and everyone rushes to replace things they already have. Partly because I just don’t see the point, especially with a decade old television set! Much like VHS, I am sure a time will come when I have to embrace something new, but by then it probably won’t be Blu-Ray but the next iteration of media storage. Don’t even get me started on digital media, if I can’t touch it, I don’t own it. I got rid of my VHS player a few months ago, having clung to if for my only copy of Jurassic Park, but much like Elsa I finally let it go… and bought the DVD.
Vinyl records: These I will never part with, and accumulate more of every year. This one I cling to, not to exclude all others, but because I love them so. I listen to Spotify, I have an Ipod, I have hundreds of CDs, I also have a vast collection of Holiday music and musical theatre that just sound better on Vinyl. This is pure nostalgia, I love the sound, I love the crackles, it makes me feel home. My record player is a piece of work, you can play records, cassette tapes, cds, and hook it up to a digital player, all of which I do regularly. It also has the capacity to record from Vinyl or Cassette onto CD, for when I don’t have a portable record player handy. This is a realm of geekdom I inherited from my father, who owns enough vinyl records to open several stores across multiple states. Listening to a record is like coming home, and I love sharing that spinning sound with my children.
My Kindle: Yes, this does make it onto the list of antiquated tech, how times do change. I have a low range Kindle, it isn’t touch screen, isn’t backlit, it is wireless but has books and nothing else, and I like it that way. When I sit down with my husband’s iPhone or iPad for a few minutes, I get easily distracted. Facebook, Pinterest, Angry Birds, whatever the App DuJour is. But my Kindle holds my books and nothing else. I like not being able to accidentally swipe to the next page, or next app. I like that it does one thing, and that one thing well.
I think we all cling to certain things long after they’ve been upgraded, and in some cases the only thing that makes us stop using them is when they fail and customer support no longer exists. That’s why I stopped using Microsoft XP after all. Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what antiquated tech you cling to.
My sons love dogs. I can’t put it any more plainly. We’ve always had wonderful family dogs, and both of my sons enjoy learning all they can about the assorted breeds, as well as about wolves, foxes, and other members of the family canis. Couple my sons’ love of dogs with our family’s love of Disney, and you have a match made in heaven for getting the chance to check out Disney Animation’s 101 Dalmatians Diamond Edition Blu-ray set, due for release on February 10.
We received a review copy of the Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD combo pack. For our family, this means we can play the Blu-ray in our house, use the DVD in the vehicle, and use the digital download code to have a copy of the movie available through Disney Movies Anywhere, which is connected with our iTunes account for play on our family’s Apple TV or iPad.
There will be many other places where you can find reviews of the movie itself, which I’m sure is well-known to many of our readers. For those who are completely unaware, I will tell you it’s a darling tale of two “newlywed” dalmatians who have a litter of several puppies. The family embarks on an adventure to rescue themselves… and dozens of other dalmatian puppies… from the terrible fate of Cruella de Vil.
Our family sat down and not only watched all of 101 Dalmatians, but also the fantastic bonus features. Seeing the film on Blu-ray was breathtakingly beautiful, and the uninitiated will find it hard to believe it’s a 1961 film.
We thoroughly enjoyed the shorts on the Blu-ray set. “Dalmatians 101” is a short hosted by Cameron Boyce, a young actor who I first saw in the 2010 film Grown Ups as the hilarious spoiled-rotten son of Adam Sandler’s character. Boyce is going to be playing Carlos de Vil, son of Cruella, in the upcoming Disney Channel movie The Descendants, which will be telling the stories of several offspring of Disney villains.
“Lucky Dogs” takes you back in time with interviews with the Disney artists and writers. The stories are a fun journey through what life was like in the Disney studios in the early 1960s. Plenty of laughter, friendship, and hard work. I especially enjoy these types of interviews, such as those being done through StoryCorps and the National Archives.
“The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt” was the short that our sons were most looking forward to. It finishes the story being told in the television shows that the puppies are watching in the original movie. See the clip below, if you aren’t sure what scene I’m talking about. Our sons actually started this short first out of the numerous ones on the Blu-ray. And in less than two minutes, it was over. They were quite disappointed. Does it finish the story that started in the film? Yes. Could they have done more? I’m not sure. You don’t see much of the Thunderbolt program in the original 1961 film, so the continuation was a very creative effort as it was.
My favorite of all the shorts was “Walt Disney Presents ‘The Best Doggoned Dog in the World.'” This is the complete one-hour episode of Walt Disney Presents from 1961, which most of us may have more recently remembered as The Wonderful World of Disney or The Magical World of Disney. “The Best Doggoned Dog in the World” features the feats of numerous dog breeds from St. Bernards to Siberian huskies, and about midway through the program, Mr. Disney takes a moment to discuss their latest upcoming film, 101 Dalmatians. He introduces viewers to the real dog used to model Pongo, as well as the new xerography technology being incorporated into the animation process. My sons really enjoyed this program, and I felt as if we had just opened a time capsule, seeing Mr. Disney doing what he did best, sharing his love and passions with the world.
If you have a 101 Dalmatians fan in your life, don’t hesitate to pick up a copy of the film’s Diamond Edition Blu-ray combo pack. The film is rated G; the Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD combination will be retailing for $36.99 starting February 10. Act fast, though, since you never know when one of these Blu-rays will be disappearing into the so-called Disney Vault!
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.
Disney’s Maleficent is now available on Blu-ray and DVD!
This may sound strange to many, but I have an aversion to movie theaters. I do not enjoy the experience nor the crowds, so I tend to wait until movies come out and I can watch them on the absurdly large screen my husband insisted we needed. It turns out, he was right. We still get a theater experience and have saved an impressive amount of money.
Every once in a while, though, a movie tempts to lure me to the big screen either because I want to see it so desperately or because the film deserves the epic largeness of the screen. It is sometimes both (cough, Hobbit). Maleficent was one of those movies. One of my favorite actresses taking on the role of what is arguably Disney’s most iconic villain in a film that reimagines the story no one ever tells had me very excited. For reasons forgotten at this point, I never made it and so it was with great anticipation that I awaited the Maleficent DVD release.
I have to say, I was not disappointed. There is not a word I could say better about the movie than what was featured in Corrina Lawson’s review of Maleficent. In addition, I got to watch the bonus features right away, which were all wonderful and enhanced our experience. My daughter and I were particularly drawn to the bonus features “Building and Epic Battle” and “Maleficent Revealed,” in which all the special features and effects were described and shown in detail. She even watched the movie again to see those scenes in their final version to compare them. We both were amused by one of the interviews with Angelina Jolie in which she was describing how none of the little children would come near her (in her full makeup and costume) to film the scenes with the very young Aurora, and so in the end it was her own daughter who ended up playing the role!
I hope you enjoy this film as much as we did. It certainly is a solid addition to our collection, a feminist fairytale, and stunning in every way!
Check out these bonus clips!
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.
Mecka-lecka hi…Mecka-hiney ho!
This week Pee-wee Herman fans in Canada and the U.S. will be greeted with Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series on Blu-Ray and DVD. Our family had a chance to preview the Blu-Ray discs of all five seasons, consisting of 45 episodes. My husband and I enjoyed a trip down memory lane back to the days of traditional (and recently defunct) Saturday morning cartoons, and our 9-and-11-year-old sons couldn’t stop laughing at the silliness.
For those unfamiliar, Paul Reubens got his start in the early 1980s as a stand-up comic in Los Angeles, inventing the Pee-wee Herman character as part of a routine that ended up generating an incredible following. In fact, throughout the mid-1980s Reubens didn’t appear in public other than as Pee-wee. Many fans didn’t even know his real name throughout the 1980s…which in the pre-internet age wasn’t that difficult to conjure. The sellout stand-up shows featuring Pee-wee introduced friends such as Cowboy Curtis and Miss Yvonne. In 1985, a very young Tim Burton worked with Pee-wee on the full-length feature film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, now a cult classic for Generation X’ers everywhere, including my husband and me.
After the movie’s success, Pee-wee’s Playhouse was developed for CBS’s Saturday morning television lineup, featuring Pee-wee having a fun, silly, time in his house exploring the world around him. His friends Chairy (a chair), Magic Screen, and Pterri (a young pteradactyl) were joined by visitors such as Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne), Miss Yvonne (Lynne Marie Stewart), and Reba the Mail Lady (S. Epatha Merckerson in her first television role). Phil Hartman also makes numerous appearances as Captain Carl in one of his earliest television roles. You can also hear Cyndi Lauper singing the Betty Boop-styled opening theme song.
Even though viewers experience chaos and silliness in each episode, know that in each one there’s an underlying message: be kind, and others will be kind in return. Randy, a puppet character, will often do or say something mean, and this will turn into a lesson for viewers.
In addition to the 45 episodes of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, viewers will enjoy the interviews and featurettes that provide an additional four hours of viewing. Unfortunately, there is nothing that explicitly spells out where the featurettes are located among the discs. There’s a table of contents inside each of the two clamshells that outlines each episode title, with a header about there being bonus features “near” the contents of the 3rd disc in each set. But know that they’re on each set’s 4th disc. It’s very sweet hearing the cast and crew talk about some of the clever things Paul Reuben did for his colleagues, such as the “yearbooks” he had made to commemorate the end of each season’s filming. Also, the writers and artists regale throughout the interviews about the creative license they had in set design, skit design, and writing. Hear Mark Mothersbaugh and Danny Elfman talk about the music, and hear about Stephen Johnson and the artists of Aardman Animation discuss the skit sequencing. The bonuses are definitely more interesting to the adults than to the kids, with the following topics to enjoy:
Building the Playhouse
Opening the Playhouse
Writing for the Playhouse
The Look of the Playhouse
Music of the Playhouse
The Cast of the Playhouse
Puppets of the Playhouse
Animating the Playhouse
A Very Merry Christmas Special
Fans and Memorabilia of the Playhouse
Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series is timeless and will capture kids’ attention and enthusiasm even nearly 30 years later. The Blu-Ray box set will be available everywhere starting October 21, 2014, will retail for $149.99, and can be pre-ordered through Amazon for $96.99.
GeekMom received this product for review purposes.
Just in time for holiday gift-giving The BBC has announced a new Sherlock Limited Edition Gift Set to be released Nov. 4.
The limited edition set includes the complete Seasons 1-3 on both Blu-ray and DVD, with a bonus disc of behind-the-scenes featurettes, cast and crew interviews, never-before seen outtakes and deleted scenes.
Fandom-pleasing swag include a collector’s box, original art cards by artist James Hance, and stately little mini-busts of Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman), which are begging to be on every Sherlock fan’s book shelf.
The entire set is available for pre-order for $179.98 from the BBC Shop, but will be available from other Blu-ray and DVD sellers.
This package makes me regret my decision to purchase the individual seasons the moment they hit the stores. I have gotten my money’s worth of these discs, but now they seem like a mere obstacle to justifying why I should purchase this box set — extras and all.
Having looked it over in a pathetically materialistic way, I have arrived at a very logical conclusion. Should the Blu-Ray version set land in my lap on Christmas morning, I could give all three of my old seasons, which are in DVD form, to my father, whom I’ve recently recruited into the Sherlock fandom. This way, my family can enjoy this wonderful series and its extras in even more clarity, and my father can have his own set of this series at his own home. It’s a win-win plan that would even make Sherlock himself proud.
Not that he would ever admit it.
On Earth Day weekend last April, my family took a trip to the theater to see DisneyNature’s latest film: Bears. This film is educational, exciting, and humorous all at the same time. Sky, Amber, and Scout are the members of a brown bear family and viewers follow them on a year-long journey of survival. The young family deals with weather, tides, predators, and fellow bears’ aggression while they eagerly await the annual salmon run and fantastic feast that follows.
Last week we received a Disney Blu-ray of the film and we watched all of it the same evening. My sons know and love the film’s narrator John C. Reilly from Wreck It Ralph; his flavor of humor in the narration is right up their alleys. He instills incredible personality into the film, and his storytelling makes this my favorite DisneyNature film to date! He does an especially touching job personifying Scout, the male baby bear.
The cinematography is amazing. I spent much of the film asking, “How did they film that?”, with scenes of fighting, scavenging for food, and devouring salmon… As if you’re standing right there on the riverbanks watching it all.
Well wouldn’t you know it? There’s a short seven-minute film included on the Blu-ray titled “How Did They Film That?” It goes over the techniques and challenges the film crew encountered during their two years in Alaska making this film. I was fascinated with how the film crew would snowboard around with their film equipment to get as close as possible to the bears. You’ll even get to experience a videographer as he wipes out in the snow! Viewers will also learn about the underwater filming that was a critical part of the completed movie; the divers used special scuba equipment that kept the bubbles from disturbing the bears. Not only did I learn from the film itself, but the extras on the Blu-ray will offer quite a bit of insight.
The other Blu-ray extra worth mentioning is the six-minute short titled “Welcome to Alaska” about Katmai National Park in the southwestern part of the state of Alaska. The film discusses the logistical challenges in getting all the equipment to the required locations via small airplane and rubber rafts. I enjoyed the discussion about the highly variable weather that the film crew had to endure. It was a huge challenge for the crew to keep up with Sky and her two cubs.
If you are interested in winning one of the three combo prize packs we’re giving away: your very own copy of the DisneyNature Bears as well as a limited edition DodoCase brand Bears commemorative iPad Air case, valued at $95, please take part in our Rafflecopter giveaway below. Winners will be notified on September 5, 2014. Good luck!
DisneyNature Bears is a terrific addition to any family’s Blu-ray collection. It retails for $39.99 and can be purchased at major entertainment retailers such as Amazon.
GeekMom received a copy of this product for review purposes.
Do we have any Pee-wee Herman fans out there? Well, get ready to scream real loud. Apparently, today’s secret word is “Blu-ray!”
Shout! Factory just announced plans to release Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series, an eight-disc Blu-ray set. The box will include all 45 episodes, as well as Pee-wee’s Christmas Special—and everything has been newly remastered for Blu-ray. Hopefully, there will be a lengthy list of other special features (commentary, interviews, outtakes, or maybe a little “where are they now” retrospective?), but nothing has been announced just yet.
Still, this is one of those day-one purchases. Pee-wee’s Playhouse isn’t just a cult hit; it’s the winner of 22 Emmy awards. It’s also home to Jambi the Genie, Miss Yvonne, Cowboy Curtis (a very young Laurence Fishburne!), Reba the mail lady, Captain Carl, Magic Screen, Conky, Globey, Chairry, Pterri, Randy, and all the rest. Of course, it also has Paul Reubens, creator of the show and the title character.
A while back, someone gave me one of the DVD box sets. This was actually years before I had my son. Now, he’s the one that has it in regular rotation and it’s completely awesome. It’s perfect for all ages!
Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series will be available starting October 21, 2014. If you’re not ready to fork over the $149.99 (MSRP), just say “Mecka-lecka hi, Mecka-hiney ho,” and order the four-disc Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Seasons One and Two DVD set, which will be released the same day.
Hiccup, Toothless, and the rest of the How to Train Your Dragon crew are just weeks away from new adventures. This is absolutely the perfect time for Paramount to release the How to Train Your Dragon: Collector’s Edition.
It’s easy to scoff at another release for the 2010 film—especially, if you already purchased the 2010 DVD or Blu-ray (or the 3D version from 2011). Well, I don’t know about you, but in my house, discs are easily lost and even more easily scratched. Maybe you could use an upgrade.
Since you’ve probably seen the movie a few hundred times at this point, I’m not going to bore you with plot points and how this is an awesome movie. (Just know that I even cried in the theater!) Instead, let’s focus on how this release differs from the last release.
As far as the picture and image are concerned, you can expect a carbon copy of the 2011 release. It doesn’t have any 3D options, but it does have the same 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the same Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track. (The audio was upgraded from 5.1 to 7.1 in 2011.)
The extras are where things get sort of interesting. On paper, most of the extras were picked up from the previous release. That includes the commentary track, the picture-in-picture commentary option, and an on-screen trivia track, as well as a short on the voice actors, two on the animation, and another on “The Story Behind the Story.” There are several additional featurettes, including the animated “Book of Dragons” and “Ultimate Book of Dragons.” It’s a nice release, but it’s worth mentioning that the Blu-ray no longer has any of the games from the last Blu-ray and both the deleted scenes and the “Legend of the Bonekeeper Dragon” short is now only on the DVD that’s included (not on the Blu-ray).
The only new featurette is the “Frozen” episode of DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk. There are a few non-disc perks, including DVD and digital versions of the film and a free movie ticket that will get you up to $7.50 off one ticket for How to Train Your Dragon 2. However, my two favorite perks are part of the Walmart exclusive for this release. I had my son unbox them in the video below.
In case you couldn’t tell, the Walmart edition comes with a book, the How to Train Your Dragon 2 Racing Guide. Since I didn’t think a video of my son reading would be all that interesting, it was hard to get the gist of this one on video. Although it’s geared towards the sequel, the characters will be very familiar and the racing aspect is really fun—and very appropriate for this release. As mentioned in the video, this set also comes with five “flying dragons.” These are like paper airplanes. Whenever I am assembling crafts like this one, I feel like I have an extra thumb. However, the directions are easy to follow and the pieces are pretty sturdy. Here was the end result:
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.
Since I became a parent, my views on Blu-ray releases have changed a bit. I used to base my home-video purchases on the bonus material as much as the film itself. If a new release I really wanted had a paltry offering of extras, I might wait for what I figured was the inevitable special edition (and I was often right). But my kids are too young to really appreciate making-of featurettes, audio commentary, or even art galleries. For them, it’s about bringing home the movie they saw and loved in the theater and watching it over and over (and over) again. We don’t go out to the movies very often, so our living room is where they consume most of their filmed entertainment, and repetition is still a big thing at their age. So I guess I’m starting to see the merit in owning a movie for its own sake.
For this reason, the comparatively small amount of bonus features on the Frozen Blu-ray isn’t as much of a disappointment as it might have been a few years ago. We’ve had the combo pack for a couple of weeks now and I don’t think we’ve gone more than a day or two without watching at least some of it. They love acting out the scenes and musical numbers with their Anna and Elsa dolls as they flash by on our television screen. I imagine there will come a day when they’ll get tired of it and move on to something else, but I don’t see that day coming any time soon.
I can’t help but wonder, though, why Disney didn’t put more of an effort into this release. The cynical side of me can see the business sense in holding back some materials this time around. Frozen is so huge they could have released it without a single extra and people still would have bought it (I would have). Sure, there would’ve been some grumbling as we handed over our cash, but it would have ended up in Disney’s hands all the same. Maybe we ought to be grateful that there are any extras on this at all. So why do I still feel at best annoyed and at worst disrespected by the studio that put out one of my favorite films of the last year? Perhaps this is part of a larger discussion about how Disney consistently takes its fans for granted. I’m not even going to get into the major issues I have with retail exclusives (Target and Best Buy each offer exclusive bonus discs with additional content like deleted scenes and featurettes). But I digress.
I realize that all of this is starting to sound rather harsh. I should say that I did enjoy most of the extras that were included on the disc. I’ve had the “Making of Frozen” song, written by Frozen‘s songwriters Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, stuck in my head for days at a time. The big production number starring Josh Gad (Olaf), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), and Kristen Bell (Anna) is pretty great and it’s turned out to be the exception to the rule for my kids when it comes to watching bonus features. They love it for the music and dancing, while I love the mini tour of Disney’s famed Feature Animation building and the cameos by the actual production team. The promise in the lyrics to “give you that inside look” is never quite fulfilled, but it’s really fun anyway.
You also get “D’Frosted: Disney’s Journey From Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen,” which attempts to cover 70 years of development history in just seven minutes, and “Get a Horse!”, the clever Mickey Mouse short that ran before the film in theaters. There are four deleted scenes on the standard release (plus an additional one on the Target bonus disc), with introductions by directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. Curiously, none of them include the clip from the commercials where Anna says, “That’s no blizzard, that’s my sister!” I don’t remember that moment in the final film, but based on the brief glimpse we got in the ads, the scene was much further along in the animation process than any of the rough sketches presented here. Finally, I’m not a huge fan of music videos, nor of Demi Lovato’s version of “Let it Go,” but that’s included here too, along with three other versions of the song in Spanish, Italian, and Malaysian.
As for the movie itself, it looks predictably gorgeous on Blu-ray. Audiophiles will appreciate the inclusion of a 7.1 DTS-HD surround track to really get that theatrical experience, though my home setup isn’t sophisticated enough to test it out. It’s not so much about thumping bass in the LFE channel or crystal-clear treble in our house these days. With two little girls belting out “Let it Go” at the top of their lungs, you can’t really make out anything else anyway.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.
With Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World just out on Blu-ray and DVD this month, fans of the God of Thunder and his “adopted” brother will get another chance to enjoy Marvel’s biggest movie offering of 2013.
This will also give viewers and Marvel fans a chance to catch a few “spoilers” for Marvel’s upcoming movies in 2014 and 2015, both within the content of the film and via some of the disc extras. There isn’t much in the previews themselves that hasn’t already been seen (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and more promoting of all The Avengers: Phase One movies). However, I will point out that The Falcon and his incredible flight gear is worth a second look.
Here are four glimpses into Marvel Universe’s movie future to get you started:
1. That ending! I have to be very, very careful here. Not to give away anything for those who haven’t yet seen the movie, but I honestly didn’t see that coming. I can’t say I was unhappy with the outcome and I know there’s a flock of fans of the God of Mischief and Lies who just knew he was capable of this, um, stunt. Yes, Loki will be back in the third Thor movie. Although it has been confirmed this will happen, the actual release date is still a long ways away, definitely after 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron release. So, Loki and Tom Hiddleston fanatics, enjoy the uncontrollable smirk you’ll get when you see this ending and be patient—very, very, patient—for the continuing adventure in the next two or three years.
As for Odin’s fate, let the speculating begin.
2. The mid-credits extra with a special “guest” appearance. In this sequence, you’ll see an appearance by a character, who has been an obscure but essential, clairvoyant, immortal, shape-shifting, and obsessive-compulsive villain in the Marvel Universe, whom you will see in this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Judging from the item he has featured in the scene of which he remarks, “one down, five to go,” this character, portrayed by an uncredited Benicio del Toro, could play a big part in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
3. The “Exclusive Look: Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Blu-ray extra. Marvel’s next big movie comes in early April, so Marvel is cranking up the promotional notches pretty high. The extra will not only give a peek into a little more of the movie’s plot, but will discuss the mystery of who the Winter Soldier actually is. Most people with a vague knowledge of the comic should already know, but I recommend checking out the 19-issue Winter Soldier comic run, which was written by Ed Brubaker for the first five issues and continued through the conclusion by Jason LaTour. If the movie holds true to any part of this latest comic run, Natasha Rominov is going to be a very busy gal.
4. The Marvel One-Shot: All Hail The King short film featuring The Mandarin (aka Trevor). I have thoroughly enjoyed all the Marvel One-Shot extras, as they give great insight to the lesser appreciated and very entertaining supporting characters. It was through A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer that we got to really see for the first time just how badass Agent Coulson is on his own. With Agent Carter, we were able to celebrate Peggy Carter finally getting an opportunity to be part of something worthy of her resourcefulness and intelligence.
The Mandarin’s One-Shot is no different, and Ben Kingsley delivers more great one-liners in this short piece than he did in his entire Iron Man 3 appearance (“Sean Connery made a pass at me.”). Also, for comic book purists who felt the handling of The Mandarin’s identity was just a little bit—okay, a whole lot—off the rails, there might be a hint to a bigger surprise in the future.
This short alone is almost worth the price of the disc, so wonderful Mr. Kingsley’s performance was.
Thor: The Dark World is now available in one-disc DVD or Blu-ray sets, as well as a two-disc version with the Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, and Digital HD. It’s currently selling on Amazon for around $15, $18, and $22, respectively.
Note: A Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is not available—something that I would think won’t sit well with some viewers. I do admit that it’s rather irksome.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.
Although it’s number 19 in a lengthy list of Disney features, The Jungle Book was actually the last film to get the personal stamp of Walt Disney himself. The animator and innovator was supposedly very involved with the production, mainly due to the disappointing response received for 1963’s The Sword in the Stone. Alas, he would never see all of his work come to the big screen. Disney died from lung cancer just 10 months before The Jungle Book was released in October 1967.
Despite Disney’s involvement, it has taken 47 years for the film to get one of the studio’s coveted “Diamond Edition” releases. Thankfully, that oversight has now been rectified. Not to worry, though; The Jungle Book: Diamond Edition Blu-ray goes way beyond the “Bear Necessities,” with a fully restored high-definition image and a slew of new extras.
Based on Rudyard Kipling’s much darker book, the film follows the tale of Mowgli, a boy who is orphaned in the jungle and raised by wolves. When the “Man-Cub” turns 10, the pack learns that Mowgli has become the prime target of Shere Khan, a man-eating Bengal tiger. Fearing his safety, the group decides that Mowgli must return to the “Man-Village.” En route, Mowgli does his best to stay in the jungle, all while encountering a variety of characters. The most notable of the bunch is Baloo, a lovable bear, who promises to take care of Mowgli and teach him about the “Bear Necessities” of life.
It really is surprising how long it has taken to get The Jungle Book on Blu-ray. Besides being the final movie that Disney produced, it has some of the studio’s catchiest songs, including the aforementioned “Bare Necessities” and “I Want to Be Like You.” It was also one of the first to include famous voices—although they may not seem all that famous to the next (or current!) generation of viewers. That lineup includes Phil Harris as Balloo, Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera, Louis Prima as King Louie, and a very young Clint Howard as Junior, Colonel Hathi’s son.
The Jungle Book: Diamond Edition is available on DVD and Blu-ray. Both releases pick up all of the special features from the 2007 DVD release, most notably “The Bare Necessities” making-of featurette and a short on “Disney’s Kipling.”
The Blu-ray also has a few newer items, all which are not available on the regular DVD. Those bonuses include separate (but short) film introductions by the late Diane Disney Miller and songwriter Richard M. Sherman, as well as an alternate ending, a peek at what’s going on inside Disney Animation , and a plug for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
There’s also the incredibly short, but interesting featurette, “Music, Memories, & Mowgli,” which has Miller and Sherman talking with Disney Legend and animator Floyd Norman. Also worth noting is the addition of “Bear-E-Oke,” an on-screen sing-a-along option that can be viewed as one short or via Disney Intermission, a feature that can trigger all of those songs when the movie is paused.
As with many of Disney’s “Diamond Edition” releases, this one has restored audio and video—and that’s not just some marketing spiel. The Blu-ray’s image is clean, but sometimes a bit too much. It doesn’t have that grainy, film-like quality you see in a lot of Blu-rays, but it’s pretty gorgeous nonetheless. The colors are lush and the flicker that you’d typically see with older films is completely gone. It also has a wonderful DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, which helps some of the songs and action really pop.
The Jungle Book is far from my favorite Disney film, but it is a Disney film—and one that the entire family will really enjoy. The themes and songs have aged really well, with the Blu-ray giving the image and audio a boost that’s worthy of sharing with a new generation.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.
With Saving Mr. Banks in theaters and the original Mary Poppins just released on home video, Disney’s beloved 1964 musical is enjoying something of a renaissance. In celebration of the new 50th anniversary edition release on home video, I was invited to participate in a special afternoon tea with actress Karen Dotrice, who played young Jane Banks in the original film. She’s all grown up now, with kids of her own, but her memories of that time are still fresh and fascinating. Imagine hearing stories about Walt Disney over tea and scones, from someone who knew him as kind of a father figure.
It’s not an opportunity that comes around often, so as you can imagine, we all peppered her with questions about the making of Mary Poppins, working with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, and, of course, her encounters with Disney himself. She took it all in stride, with typical British humor and humility.
Though Dotrice comes from a family of actors, she told us that traveling from her native England to Los Angeles to make the film was a bit of a shock. “Arriving here, a little girl from the Cotswolds of England, and suddenly just being in Los Angeles, everything seem[ed] huge and exciting and bright and sunny and everybody was just pleasant,” she recalls. “It was so amazing to come here and it’s such a different world. It really was like finding Oz or something.”
During the filming, Dotrice became accustomed to her Southern California surroundings and grew close to her co-stars. She has fond recollections of Julie Andrews coaching her on the songs and Dick Van Dyke making her laugh in-between takes.
But there was one cast member for whom she had no love—Matthew Garber, who played her brother Michael (and starred alongside her in two other films as well): “He was a real ounce of trouble-and-a-half,” she says of her fellow actor, who died in 1977. “It’s terrible because I wish I had a bunch of nice things to say about him, but we were kids. And I couldn’t stand him and he couldn’t stand me. That’s the truth of it. I was raised to be prim and proper and he was a naughty boy.”
But, let’s be honest, what we all really wanted to hear about was what it was like to hang out with Walt Disney. In a word, awesome. We’re talking flying-on-a-private-jet-with-an-on board-candy-store awesome. Dotrice did three films in a row for Disney, and during that time he took a parental interest in her, inviting her family on weekend jaunts to Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, and visiting her at home when she was sick and couldn’t work. The famous studio head may have had his faults, but to a young child actress far away from home, they weren’t readily apparent. “He was just so kind and nice to me, and very encouraging,” Dotrice says of the legendary studio head. “He really liked me and I was really, really lucky.”
One of my favorite anecdotes she shared demonstrates that Disney wasn’t just a shrewd businessman, he had a sense of humor too.
“One time I was in Walt’s office, just sitting on his desk or what have you, chewing the fat,” she says. “And I said, ‘Uncle Walt, I’ve got an idea. Your desk. It’s so far away from the door. Let’s get somebody to come and I’ll help and we can move the desk closer to the door.’ And he laughed and said, ‘Oh, Karen, let me explain something to you.’ He said, ‘I keep my desk over here because by the time those cigar-chewing executives have crossed the room to ask me what they wanted to ask me, they’ve changed their mind.'”
After production wrapped on Mary Poppins Dotrice says that she stayed in contact with many of the friends she made on the production. Van Dyke is still her neighbor, and Andrews used to live around the corner. She often has composer Richard Sherman over for dinner, which typically ends with everyone standing around the piano listening to his famous tunes.
“I can’t say that about any other projects,” she says of the camaraderie she experienced on Mary Poppins. “There was something so magical about that project that everybody stayed together. It wasn’t even so much because it became well known; it was just, you know, they made us a family at the time, and treated us like family.”
But over the years, Dotrice has shifted her focus from her Hollywood family to her real-life one. She quit acting professionally in the early 1980s to devote more time to what she still considers her proudest role—devoted mother.
“I just revere being a mom,” she says. “It’s the most important thing I’ve ever done and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had, including Mary Poppins.”
The folks at Disney Home Entertainment have organized a two-day press event to publicize some of their big upcoming home video releases and GeekMom is on the guest list. The good news for you, dear readers, is we will be bringing you all the interviews, tidbits, and information from the event as if you were right there beside us.
The tour kicks off next Tuesday, February 11, and begins with a behind-the-scenes look at Disney’s latest animated feature, Frozen. The Oscar-nominated hit is due for release on DVD and Blu-ray on February 25. Extras will include making-of featurettes, music videos, deleted scenes, and the original Mickey Mouse short “Get a Horse,” which is currently running before the feature in theaters.
We’ll be talking with filmmakers Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, as well as producer Peter Del Vecho. We’ll also get a technical demonstration from character supervisor Gregory Smith and watch a voice-over recording session with audio engineer Gabe Guy.
On Wednesday, February 12, we’ll travel to DisneyToon Studios to get a preview of the next film in the Disney Fairies series, The Pirate Fairy. This direct-to-video movie features the voice of Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) as a renegade fairy named Zarina who leaves Pixie Hollow and joins a band of pirates. Thor‘s Tom Hiddleston also stars as James, a cabin boy destined to become a Neverland legend. Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman) and her fairy friends are along for the ride as well, of course.
We’ll get to talk about the new movie and the creation of the lead character with director Peggy Holmes (who also helmed the last installment, Secret of the Wings) and producer Jennifer Magee-Cook. The Pirate Fairy will be available on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack beginning April 1.
If you have questions for any of the talent mentioned above, be sure to let us know and we’ll pass them along!
P.S. There’s also a third title included in the event, but we’re not allowed to mention it until the release date is announced. As soon as we can share that too, we’ll let you know. Stay tuned for all the home video news that fit to blog about!
Disney is getting ready to observe a very special birthday. Next year will mark 50 years since the theatrical debut of the classic, Mary Poppins. However, the House of Mouse has already started celebrating the milestone, by giving the film its very first Blu-ray release.
Mary Poppins: The 50th Anniversary Edition is a great way to stuff a few holiday stockings, which may be why Disney is introducing this birthday Blu-ray a few months early. However, it probably has more to do with this week’s theatrical release of Saving Mr. Banks, which stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers.
Apparently, the real-life relationship between Disney and Travers was less than magical. The Blu-ray is a different story. Even without the wonderful songs and accolades, it’s really hard to pooh-pooh the movie that introduced the world to Julie Andrews, especially when she’s playing the ultimate super-nanny.
The film focuses on Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael Banks (Matthew Garber), who may look sweet on the outside, but are quite the gruesome twosome when it comes to caretakers. Enter Mary Poppins, who manages to dance and sing her way into their hearts, all while Dick Van Dyke (as Bert) dances around a horrible Cockney accent.
Still, Mary Poppins went on to win five Oscars, including one for Andrews and one for the song “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” Travers was supposedly not impressed, since she loathed both the film’s music and animated portions. If you’re likely to agree with the late author, you probably won’t be too keen on this classic, either. After all, the music and the animation are pretty much the whole movie. It’s also what makes it so awesome after all these years. They don’t make films like this anymore.
Thankfully, they do upgrade them. This is the first time Mary Poppins is getting a high-def release and it really does add some sparkle into the overall viewing experience. The image does flicker in spots. Overall though, Blu-ray does help to hide Mary Poppins‘ age quite nicely. It has great color and tons of detail you’ve probably never noticed. It also has a delightful DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track and a collection of fun extras, including all of the bonus features from the previously released DVD, as well as a “Mary-OKE” sing-along and 14 minutes of actor Jason Schwartzman talking to songwriter Richard M. Sherman about the film’s music and its rocky production.
Even after 50 years, Mary Poppins still offers plenty of magic for both new and old fans of the film. It would have been nice if this release had a few more new extras. That said, between Andrews, the audio, and the video, Mary Poppins: The 50th Anniversary Edition is a wonderful way to introduce a new generation to a beloved Disney character.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.
Want to know what was cut out of the original version of Man of Steel? Worried about Ben Affleck’s take on Batman? Wondering how Superman gets his cape so clean?
Some of those questions could actually be answered this weekend.
In honor of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Man of Steel, Warner Bros. is planning an online fan event for this weekend. Just log onto Yahoo Movies this Saturday, November 9 at 9:00 a.m. (PT) and 12:00 p.m. (ET).
Hosted by Superman super-fan Kevin Smith, the event will have director Zack Snyder and stars Henry Cavill and Amy Adams on hand to answer some of those burning questions. Viewers will also be privy to a featurette with Snyder and Michael Shannon talking about the movie.
The event is really to promote the DVD and Blu-ray release, so the trio probably won’t divulge too much about Superman’s upcoming adventures. There’s no harm in asking, though!
And yes, you can ask whatever you want. However, questions must be submitted in advance. You can send them to @ManofSteelMovie on Twitter using the #AskManofSteel hashtag or submit video questions online.
Man of Steel will be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and 3D Blu-ray on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. If you need a little help coming up with a question, check out our own Corrina Lawson’s “Man of Steel: Ten Reasons I Loved and Hated This Movie.”
Like many of this summer’s moviegoers, I love me some Minions. That’s probably why Universal is giving those cuddly yellow creations a trio of new adventures, which will be available on the upcoming Blu-ray release of Despicable Me 2.
The $863 million animated sequel is getting both Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D releases, as well as one on DVD. All three will include 45 minutes of bonus features, but the Blu-ray packs will also have three all-new Minion mini-movies: “Puppy,” “Panic in the Mailroom,” and “Training Wheels.”
Universal just released a little sneak peek for one of the shorts, which you can check out above. As with the previously released Minion mini-movies, this one looks pretty hilarious. Apparently, it’s all fun and games working in the mailroom with the Minions, until a box of kittens comes along. Then, well… you’ll need to get the Blu-ray, if you want to know what happens. Isn’t that always the way?
Some of the other special features focus on Steve Carell and Benjamin Bratt, who both lend their voices to the movie. Of course, there’s also plenty of other Minion mayhem.
We are giving away a giant prize pack with (7) Seven Disney Blu-ray DVD titles! The seven movies include a little of the old and a little of the new, but all have the great Disney characters your kids will love. The prize pack includes:
Oliver & Company
Return To Neverland
The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh
The Muppet Movie
The Sword in the Stone
To enter our giveaway just log in to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win). You can then like us on Facebook and Twitter for up to two entries! A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest and their name will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget so you can check back to see who won.
TV and movie studios have been cranking out special-edition DVD and Blu-ray releases for years. Of course, some are better than others. My opinion is, if you’re going to put an entire series inside one set, you’d better make it memorable — and worth the hefty price tag that’s typically attached. For instance, the Harry Potter Wizards Collection started selling late last year, with 31 discs packed inside a box that has all sorts of secret compartments.
This week, I found out about two upcoming series sets. The pair couldn’t be more different content-wise, but have very similar packaging.
First up is Power Rangers Legacy: The First 20 Years, which will have all 20 seasons of the cult favorite inside one DVD set. (Sorry, there appears to be no Blu-ray release.) Shout! Factory says that the collection will include a total of 270 hours across 98 DVDs. Six of those discs will have bonus content, including several brand new featurettes. Of course, the real hook here is that the massive set will be packed inside a Red Ranger helmet.
Shout! Factory has yet to announce pricing for this collectible. However, you can add it to your holiday wishlist now, since it’s scheduled to start selling on December 3, 2013.
If you’re looking to score “a collectible head” a little sooner, Paramount just announced super-cool, creepy packaging for Dexter: The Complete Series Collection during the Dexter panel at San Diego Comic-Con. The Amazon exclusive will have every single episode of Showtime’s suspenseful series stashed inside an anonymous head.
The regular set is certainly no slouch, since it looks a lot like that slide box Dexter’s been keeping for the past eight seasons. Both editions include a disc of special features, including new documentaries “The Evolution of Dexter Morgan” and “The Code.” There’s also something called “Grafix: The Art of Dexter,” a special collection of photography, fan artwork and iconography and images. Dexter: The Complete Series Collection will be available as a 25-disc Blu-ray set or 33-disc DVD collection, starting November 5. The sets are priced at $427.99 and $352.99, respectively.
We received so many great entries for our recent A Monster in Paris giveaway! It was great to see everyone sharing their favorite monsters. There were big ones, small ones, furry ones and funny ones, as well as ones from the past and present. Sure, I had a few nightmares, but hey — we have a winner!
We asked everyone to submit their favorite monster. Here was the winning response…
Did you spent the weekend watching a bunch of plain, old 2D movies? We want to make one of your upcoming movie marathons more in-your-face, with a few 3D-enhanced goodies. Just enter our Monster in Paris contest — before it’s too late! Continue reading Last Chance to Win Our Monster in Paris Prize Package!
April showers are bringing, well… they’re bringing out the monsters, apparently. Shout! Factory is releasing the animated adventure, A Monster on Paris, on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D next Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
The film has an excellent voice cast, including Vanessa Paradis, Catherine O’Hara, Bob Balaban, Sean Lennon, Adam Goldberg, Jay Harrington, and Danny Huston. It should also be a pretty nifty one to watch in 3D, given all of the pretty Parisian cityscapes, the colorful characters, the scientific experiments, and of course, Franc.
Now, you’re going to need a 3D TV to watch the movie in 3D, but this player is also a great 2D player and the combo pack has the regular Blu-ray as well. Just wanted to put that out there!
So, how can you scare up a chance to put this package into your home theater? Just comment below and let us know about your all-time favorite monster. Is it Sully, one of the Gremlins or Frankenstein’s Bride? Let us know!
Now comes the fine print: The winner will be randomly chosen from all of the entries. We’re going to contact you via email, so please have one listed with your account or in the comment form. We can’t get you through Facebook, Twitter or by Bat-signal. The winner must respond within 48 hours of prize notification or will have to forfeit. The contest is open to U.S. residents from now through Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Good luck!
Thanks to Shout! Factory and Click Communications for supplying the prize package for this giveaway.