Monday, November 7, 2016

Alice Through The Looking Glass...Review




by Al Kessel

They're BAACK!! Lewis Carroll's enchanting Alice's Adventures in Wonderland continues with Disney Alice Through The Looking Glass, the spectacular follow-up to the hit 2010 Disney film, Alice In Wonderland, bringing back all your favorites from the original, plus a few more characters sure to grab a place in your heart. 

In “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” the all-star cast from the 2010 blockbuster is back with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter who’s desperately searching for his family; Anne Hathaway as Mirana, the kind, mild-mannered White Queen; Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth, the short-tempered, big-headed Red Queen; and Mia Wasikowska as Alice, the heroine at the heart of the story. Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Talledaga Nights)  joins the ensemble as Time, a magical being that is part human, part clock, and the late Alan Rickman—to whom the film is dedicated—returns as the voice of Absolem, the blue Monarch butterfly who metamorphosed from the blue caterpillar “Alice in Wonderland.”
Sacha Baron Cohen as Time


This time around, all is not well with Alice in the 'real' world, so she once again escapes to Underland, only to find things aren't so hot there either! The Mad Hatter has stumbled upon something that sends his life, and his very mental being, topsy turvy and only Alice can save him...and Underland. In her new adventures, Alice encounters Time itself...err, HIMSELF, and off she goes on another wondrous action packed adventure through time. 

Now, we're HUGE Disney fans, and honestly love just about everything they put their stamp on, and Alice Through The Looking Glass is no different. Though not quite as good as the first installment, this adventure is still extremely enjoyable. More focused on Alice this time around, we don't see as much of the Hatter and company as before, but the story works. In fact, being the video gamer I am, Alice Through The Looking Glass plays out much like a good video game (Hint Disney Interactive!!). With spectacular visuals, a wonderful musical score and the introduction of Sacha Baron Cohen as Time, Alice Through The Looking Glass is a must see for any true fan of Lewis Carroll's work, or Disney.













Bonus Features include:
    * A Stitch in Time: Costuming Wonderland - three time Oscar winning costume designer Colleen Atwood explains how costuming helps shape the curios characters of Underland and reveals hidden Easter Eggs within the cast's ornate outfits

    * Music Video Just Like Fire by Pink

    * Behind the music video

    * Behind The Looking Glass - Jump back and forth through time during this in-depth look into the making of Alice Through The Looking Glass, hosted by director James Bobin

    * Time On - Delight in this discussion with the unpredictable Sacha Baron Cohen who plays Time, the keeper of the Chronosphere, a metallic sphere that powers ALL TIME

    * Alice Goes Through The Looking Glass: A Scene Peeler - View a side-by-side comparison of raw production footage and final scenes, as Alice enters Underland through a magical looking glass.

   * Characters of Underland - – Get to know the quirky and colorful supporting characters in Underland, such as the tubby twins known as the Tweedles (Matt Lucas) and Absolem (Alan Rickman), the blue caterpillar turned blue Monarch butterfly

    * Alice Goes Through Time's Castle: A Scene Peeler - View raw production footage alongside final scenes, as Alice enters Time’s castle of eternity.

    * Deleted Scenes

    * Gag Reel

All in all, Disney Alice Through The Looking Glass is a great family film, bringing back all your favorites from Underland, and presenting an interesting and heartfelt look into characters that have won a place in our hearts. We give this film 4 out of 5 Hidden Mickey's!

Disney Alice Through The Looking Glass is now available on Digital HD/SD and Blu-Ray, and DVD

















Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Disney The Lion Guard Unleash The Power





by Joyce Kessel

Disney Junior rarely disappoints when it comes to the animated series, and The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power is no different. Simba and Nala’s son Kion and his four best buds form The Lion Guard.  The Lion Guard is on a mission to defend and protect the Pride Land.

While Kion is the main character, the other members of the guard have dedicated episodes, so everyone has a moment in the spotlight. Kion ’s friends are Bunga the honey badger, Beshte the hippo, Fuli the cheetah and Ono the egret 

The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power includes six episodes from the first season.

1 Fuli's New Family
2 Bunga the Wise
3 Eye of the Beholder
4 Follow That Hippo!
5 The Search for Utamu
6 Never Judge a Hyena by Its Spots



The cast includes :
Rob Lowe (The Grinder) as Simba; Gabrielle Union (Being Mary Jane) as Nala; Max Charles (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Kion; Joshua Rush (The Adventures of Puss in Boots) as Bunga; Dusan Brown (Blaze and the Monster Machines) as Beshte; Diamond White (Sofia the First) as Fuli; and Atticus Shaffer (The Middle) as Ono. Ernie Sabella (The Lion King) reprises his role as Pumbaa. Executive Producer: Ford Riley (Special Agent Oso). Director: Howy Parkins (Jake and the Never Land Pirates).

Additional cast members include: Eden Riegel (All My Children) as Kiara; Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) as Tiifu; Madison Pettis (Jake and the Never Land Pirates) as Zuri; Gary Anthony Williams (Doc McStuffins) as Mufasa; Khary Payton (Teen Titans) as Rafiki; Jeff Bennett (Jake and the Never Land Pirates) as Zazu; Andrew Kishino (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as Janja; Vargus Mason (Sofia the First) as Cheezi; Jonny Rees (Star Wars Rebels) as Mzingo; and Kevin Schon (The Lion King 1 1/2) as Chungu and Timon.

We recommend the DVD as it is suitable for all ages and guarantees to keep you entertained for up to 2 hours.  The music was one of my favorite part of the DVDs.




Monday, August 29, 2016

Jungle Book...The Review

by Al Kessel

Look for the bear necessities, the simple bear necessities, forget about your worries and your strife....admit it, you were singing along! 

In 1967, Walt Disney Productions presented the timeless classic tale of Mowgli, a 'man cub' raised in the jungle by wolves, and several other endearing characters. The animated tale was pretty ground breaking for it's time, and was received pretty well. In fact, growing up, The Jungle Book was one of my all time favorite animated movies. So, a couple years ago when we heard Disney was 'reimagining' this classic as a live action motion picture, with the director of IRON MAN no less, I was a bit skeptical to say the least. I mean, we've seen attempts at making live action films out of animated classics before (anyone see Speed Racer???). 

But, I have to say, (as I so often seem to these days) that I am most pleasantly surprised. We received the 2016 Disney's The Jungle Book for review, and though Joyce and I were both kind of excited to watch, we both were hesitant because...well, Speed Racer! But within seconds, we were both blown away. Disney did such a WONDERFUL job with the new Jungle Book, that I dare say, this has replaced the original as my new favorite version. Everything about this movie is a hit. Casting (both onscreen and voice actors), CGI, sets, music, the story...everything, is Disney at it's finest. 



For those familiar with the original 1967 classic, for the most part, the 2016 live action version of The Jungle Book is very similar, with a few changes (we'll let you figure those out for your self), but honestly, the new version is quite flawless. Of course, this version isn't a musical like the animated version was, but that's ok...though, there are TWO notable inclusions of songs: Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You. And funny thing is, you'd think that plopping two songs in the movie would seem out of place, but nope. They fit in perfectly. Of course, King Louie's musical masterpiece was altered a bit to fit this version, but it's equally as toe tapping!
Mowgli and Baloo

With a superb cast, including Bill Murray (Ghostbusters, Caddy Shack) as the voice of Baloo (perfect choice), Ben Kingsley (Ghandi, Iron Man 3) as the voice of Bagheera (perfect choice), Lupita Nyong'o (Star Wars The Force Awakens) as the voice Raksha (perfect choice), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) as the voice of Akela (perfect choice)
Scarlett Johansson (Marvel Avengers) as the voice of Kaa (odd, but still good choice) and Idris Elba (Thor, Zootopia) as the voice of Shere Khan (yep, PERFECT choice), and probably the best casting choice - Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Click) as the voice of King Louie (PERFECT AS IT GETS!) And introducing Neel Sethi as Mowgli. All the cast does a superb job, but some performances stand out. Neel does a great job considering the bulk of his performances are with props, Bill Murray is probably THE quintessential Baloo (what a great life he brings to that classic character) and Idris Elba is, I dare say, better as Shere Khan than George Sanders (the original). He brings a definite menace to the voice that really sends the hair on your neck on end. 
King Louie and Kaa


All in all, Disney's The Jungle Book (2016) brings an excellent heart to this beloved classic. All the charm, beauty, humor and heartwarming moments (not to mention some heart breaking ones too) are here to make this film an instant classic. If you love Disney, this is without a doubt a movie you'll NEED to have in your collection. 

There are some terrific bonus features included as well:

     * The Jungle Book Reimagined - Director Favreau sits down with producer Brigham Taylor and visual effects supervisor Robert Legato to discuss “The Jungle Book” and reflect on the years they devoted to the reimagining of this timeless tale. Discover how Rudyard Kipling’s original stories and the classic animated film influenced their unique approach, witness the technical wizardry that enabled the team to create a believable and thrilling movie-going experience, and learn how they borrowed a page from Walt Disney’s innovation playbook to make it all happen. Lastly, meet the all-star voice cast who help bring the film’s colorful characters to life, as well as the musicians who accent the adventure with a majestic music score.

     * I Am Mowgli - Follow the extraordinary journey of 12-year-old Neel Sethi, who was selected from thousands of hopefuls worldwide to play Mowgli “alongside” some of today’s biggest movie stars. Get a glimpse of Neel’s life before Hollywood came calling, check out his audition that sealed the deal, and see how a close-working relationship with Favreau brought out his best. Plus, Neel shares how filming “The Jungle Book” was one wild ride, from working alongside imaginary animals to performing some super-fun stunts. 

     * King Louie's Temple: Layer By Layer - So, exactly how do you create a musical number featuring one man-cub, a massive, legendary ape and an army of wild and wily monkeys in the Seeonee jungle? Viewers are granted rare and unique access to the development of the “I Wan’na Be Like You” sequence in which King Louie attempts to coerce Mowgli into giving up Man’s deadly “red flower” (fire). A fast-moving musical progression reel showcases storyboards, animatics, Christopher Walken’s recording session and visual effects layers, which ultimately merge to form one of the film’s most memorable scenes.

Disney is planning to release the 3D version of The Jungle Book later in 2016.











Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Finest Hours...Review




by Al Kessel


The Finest Hours is a heroic action thriller based on the true story of a 1952 U.S. Coast Guard rescue based on the acclaimed non-fiction book of the same name written by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias. In February of 1952, one of the worst storms ever to hit the East Coast of the United States struck New England, severely damaging two oil tankers (literally tearing them both in half) off the coast of Cape Cod. Four members members of the Coast Guard set off into the dangerously cold waters and 70 foot waves, on a 36 foot lifeboat in search of survivors. 

Lead by a sailor with a troubled past Bernie Webber (played by Star Trek's Chris Pine), four rescuers, including three volunteers (played by Ben Foster, Kyle Gallner and John Magaro), set out to find and rescue any survivors. To all the local observers of this mission, it's a one destined to fail, however, Bernie amazingly manages to find the survivors, rescue them and get everyone back home... Ok, it's not exactly THAT simple, but remember, we don't like to give away any spoilers! Rest assured there's a LOT of action and suspense. And even though historically we know the outcome of the mission, it's still a pretty fun and harrowing ride.

As with so many movies, the beginning is a bit slow as they set up the situations. But in all honesty, most of the prelude scenes contribute to the overall arc of the story, and it really does lend to the emotional 'tug' of the movie. Personally, I think this movie was well crafted, well directed and pretty well acted. Chris Pine (though I must admit, I was half expecting Captain Kirk) delivers probably his best performance ever. Casey Affleck (you know, Batman's little brother?) does a great job as the loner engineer/survivor on one of the troubled tankers, who finds himself with the lives of his fellow sailors in his hands. In fact, I think this may be one of my favorite roles for Affleck. 

Like many action/adventure type movies, The Finest Hours isn't 100% awesome. There are some ify parts that can be sort of, well, cringeworthy. But all in all, it's a pretty good movie. And definitely an underrated movie. I'll be honest, when we saw that this movie was coming to theaters, I thought 'nope. Not interested'. But I was wrong. In fact, I probably would have liked to see this on the 'big screen'. 

Coming in at just under two hours, The Finest Hours earns a wave riding 4 stars out of 5.

Now available on Blu-Ray Combo Pack, Digital HD, Digital SD and Disney Movies Anywhere. 

Bonus Features Include:
 * Against All Odds: The Bernie Webber Story - Visit the quaint and close knit town of Chatham and experience the events surrounding the most heroic Coast Guard rescue ever through the eyes of the people who witnessed them.

 * Brotherhood  - Cast members reflect on the bonds they forged during shooting.

 * Two Crews - Chris Pine and Casey Affleck share insights into Bernie Webber and Ray Sybert (portrayed by Affleck), men who led their respective crews against all odds.

 * Deleted Scenes


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kindergarten Cop 2...Review

by Al Kessel


When I heard Kindergarten Cop 2 was being made, my first thought was WHY? My second thought was, oh brother, this WON'T be good. Well, I just finished watching the review copy given to us and you know what? I'm not ashamed to admit when I'm wrong. BUT...this is NOT one of those times. Although not a completely TERRIBLE movie, I wouldn't say that Kindergarten Cop 2 is a must see, or even easily recommended, movie to see. 

Instead of creating an entirely new scenario for this go around, they opted to regurgitate many of the gags and plots from the original Kindergarten Cop, but with much less success. 


This time around, instead of a local cop, the 'hero' is Zack Reed (played by veteran action star Dolph Lundgren), a gruff, hard as nails, VERY LARGE FBI agent who'd rather break the rules than play by them (sound familiar?). Agent Reed is assigned to recover very sensitive data stolen by some very bad men...duh duh duh! So, of course, where else would this sensitive data be hidden? Why, on a flash drive in a prestigious private school! And, Agent Reed must go undercover as a...yeah, you guessed it, a kindergarten teacher! That's all you're getting in the way of plot details, cuz, well, you know we don't spoil movies. Even stinkers. Anyway...


Ok, first off, the original Kindergarten Cop was released in 1990 and was a great, fun, and funny film. Why anyone felt the need to make a sequel nearly 30 years later is anyones guess. Well, ok, they probably ran out of original ideas and thought playing off a hit film from 30 years ago was a good idea. Which is why it went straight to DVD, right? Anywho, I have a pet peeve when it comes to weapons fire in movies and TV shows. When a bullet hits something, it typically leaves a hole, or if fired at glass...it BREAKS the glass. But in one scene, the bad guys are shooting up the Seattle FBI offer, Reed and his partner (played rather absurdly by Bill Bellamy), use a candy vending machine as cover as they push it out into a hallway, and overtake the bad guys. And we see the bullets BOUNCING OFF THE GLASS? There's also a plethora of continuity issues: for some odd reason, Dolph's hair keeps parting on the left, then on the right, then back on the left throughout the first part of the movie; Dolph's tie changes a few times within the same scenes; in one scene, the kindergarten kids smear blue paint all over Dolph's shirt. Yet, when he goes home for the day, there is very little blue paint and a lot of yellow. And the FBI director (played by Danny Wattley) is a joke. Not sure why, but they chose to portray him as a bit of a overly scripted cliche, shouting inches from Agent Reeds face, constantly acting as if he was on some sort of drug. I liked him less than most of the bad guys in the movie. All in all, most of the supporting actors, including the children, were annoying. 


I really wanted to like Kindergarten Cop 2. I loved the original, and though I had much, much lower expectations for a sequel, this movie sank WAY below what I'd hoped for. I like Dolph Lundgren. He's no Oscar winning actor by any stretch, but he's earned his place in the B action movie genre. However, this spectacle may have damaged his rep! 

On a scale of 1-5 'IT'S NOT A TOOMAH's, Kindergarten Cop 2 earns a 1. Sorry Dolph. 

Kindergarten Cop 2 is now available on DVD, NetFlix, YouTube, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies and Vimeo.

**We were given a copy of Kindergarten Cop 2 on DVD in exchange for an honest review. 










Monday, May 23, 2016

When You Wish...




by Al Kessel

Joyce and I, as so many of you know, are HUGE Disney fans. We love the Resorts, the movies, the merchandise, and of course, Walt Disney. For us, he epitomized fun and success. He stared adversity in the eyes and succeeded, when most said he'd fail. He did things his way, despite the naysayers, and when his way didn't work, he'd reinvent and go again. These are the things that catapulted Walt Disney to the level of LEGEND. And you can see this all for yourself. Well, sort of. In the new musical play, When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney (playing at the Phoenix Theater May 18 - June 12, 2016, you can witness for yourself, Walt's trials, tribulations, triumphs and victories, all set to some very fun, toe-tapping musical numbers!

When You Wish is the story of Walt Disney, from his early days as a young animator at his company Laugh O Gram Studios, all the way to the opening of Walt's beloved Disneyland. 

The show is presented in a very appealing way. It's narrated by Walt's brother and business partner Roy Disney. It all starts with Walt trying to sell Roy on the concept of Disneyland, then, we flash back to 1908 with a six year old Walt drawing his cartoons on the family home, barn, and toilet paper! 


The show progresses through the major milestones throughout Walt's life, such as Laugh O Gram Studios, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt's famous move to California, Disney Brothers Studios, meeting and marrying his soul mate Lillian, the creation of Mickey Mouse and ultimately the opening of Disneyland (with Walt reciting the now famous "To All Who Come To This Happy Place, Welcome..." speech). 

Eighteen original (and very well done) musical numbers and dances, help to present Walt's story in a very fun and enjoyable way. I don't usually enjoy musicals, but When You Wish is just one of those you can't help but love! 

Veteran Broadway actor Joey Sorge plays Walt, and although at
Joey Sorge as Walt Disney
first I thought "hey, he doesn't look like Walt at all!", he quickly won me (and Joyce) over with his command of the role. Joey's performance makes When You Wish so special. Sydney Marie Hawes portrayed Lillian and Andy Umberger (another veteran of Broadway) portrays Roy Disney. I must add that Andy Umberger does a wonderful job as Roy, and he and Joey are very convincing. In fact, we quickly got lost in their performance and the ease in which they played off of one another. The total cast consists of 20 actors/actresses and they all make this show a pleasure to watch. 
Walt and Roy 

When You Wish was created by Dean McClure, who wrote the play as well as all the musical numbers. Mr. McClure's journey to bring When You Wish to life is quite interesting. Born out of a desire to see Walt's story on Broadway, Dean conducted intensive research and began writing his play. 

When You Wish is directed by Larry Raben, the musical director is Alan Ruch and the choreographer is Lee Martino. The show is broken into two acts, with act one running one hours 20 minutes, and act two running one hour. Although coming in at two hours 20 minutes, it sure didn't seem like it! Time VERY well spent. When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney is playing at the Phoenix Theater (in Phoenix, Arizona) from May 18 - June 12, 2016, with multiple show times, including matinees. For tickets visit The Phoenix Theater

All in all, When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney is a fabulous musical, and in our opinion, a must see event. Well acted, well choreographed and well presented, we give this show 5 stars out of 5! 

**Joyce and I were given tickets in exchange for an honest review.








Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales


by Al Kessel

A Long Time Ago....ok, NOT so long ago, on the Disney XD channel, Disney brought the saga of Star Wars to a new generation of viewers....a YOUNGER generation of viewers, as retold in a most interesting way: by recreating the tales using Lego's! And animation. Well, animated Lego's. 

The fun begins following the victory celebration in the lovable Ewok village on Endor (you know, after the defeat of the Empire in Return of the Jedi?). R2-D2 and C-3PO have gathered all the little Ewoks, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and pretty much anyone else who'll listen, to regale them with the tales of their adventures that lead to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Of course, this version, though it does present a lot of the events from the actual movie, is presented in a more child friendly way (of course, they ARE Lego's after all) but faithful enough to the original for most fans to be entertained. 

Of course, if you've read any of our reviews in the past, you know we're not about revealing spoilers, and this review is no different. But I will say that throughout 3PO's telling of the prequel movies, there is an underlying plot happening that makes the stories more fun. And don't forget, they ARE Lego's. So, that's always fun. 

The voice cast is truly amazing. The very talented Eric Bauza (Spongebob Squarepants Movie, Ben 10, Batman: Assault on Arkham) voices Luke, Michael Daingerfield (Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Catwoman) voices Han Solo/Admiral Ozzel/Biggs and none other than Anthony Daniels himself reprises his role as C-3PO!  

There are a total of 5 episodes on the DVD (which was released March 1, 2016):
 * Exit From Endor
 * Crisis on Coruscant
 * Mission to Mos Eisley
 * Flight of the Falcon
 * Gambit on Geonosis
Each episode runs about 22 minutes, so they're not too long that you risk getting bored (although they are quite fun). Great gags for both adults and kids, and some 'inside jokes' that only true Star Wars fans will get. The DVD also comes with a special FREE Exclusive Trading Card Set. So, that's cool!

Being a true fan of Star Wars, Lego's, animation and FUN, I really enjoyed Lego Star Wars Droid Tales. It reminded me of playing the Lego Star Wars video game, and brought back memories of the Prequel Trilogy (and trust me, it helps replace some of the BAD memories of the Prequel Trilogy!)

On a scale of 1-5 Deathstars, I give Lego Star Wars Droid Tales a 4!