Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Toy Story of TERROR!!!!

Review by Joyce Kessel

Just in time for Halloween, Disney/Pixar reunites Woody, Buzz, and all our Toy Story friends, but this time, their adventure is fun with a side of fright.  Toy Story of Terror! was released on BluRay+ Digital Copy, DVD, DisneyMoviesAnywhere and Digital HD on August 19th. 

The movie starts with the friends embarking on a road trip with Bonnie and family. While watching a horror movie to pass the time, the car gets a flat tire, so, they stop at a road side hotel.  Forced to spend the night, Woody advises his friends not to leave the suitcase because they might get lost.  But of course, Mr. Potato Head wanders off and they fear he is lost.  
Watching a horror movie

The gang meets a new friend, 'Combat Carl', who helps the crew survive their own horror story (that's all you're getting. Remember, NO SPOILERS HERE!).  This made for TV adventure is just shy of 22 minutes and is a must-see.  Even though it's 'for kids', Al and I LOVE this and will be making it one of our Halloween traditions! 
Combat Carl

The Blu-ray is loaded with never-before-seen bonus features, including three Vintage Toy Commercials, which can be viewed as act breaks during the film or separately with Director Introductions.  The Blu-Ray also includes additional special features shorts: “Small Fry”, “Partysaurus Rex” and “Hawaiian Vacation”.    

“Toy Story OF TERROR!” features the voice talents of original “Toy Story” cast members Tom Hanks as “Woody,” Tim Allen as “Buzz Lightyear,” Joan Cusack as “Jessie,” Timothy Dalton as “Mr. Pricklepants,” Don Rickles as “Mr. Potato Head,” Kristen Schaal as “Trixie” and Wallace Shawn as “Rex,” along with series newcomer Carl Weathers as “Combat Carl/Combat Carl Jr.” 

Written and directed by Angus MacLane, animator on such Disney•Pixar classics as “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Toy Story 2 & 3” and produced by Galyn Susman, “Toy Story OF TERROR!” features an original score by composer Michael Giacchino (“Ratatouille,” “Up,” “Cars 2”).

(Video Copyright Pixar)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Muppets: Most Wanted?

Review by Al Kessel

It's time to start the music....it's time to light the lights....yeah, yeah. I'm sure you all know the song! I remember watching the Muppet Show when I was...younger. In fact, I remember watching Kermit and a few others on Sesame Street, back in the days before YouTube, iPads, iPhones and even...the Disney Channel! I used to love the Muppets. I really did. So, when Disney made a NEW Muppet Movie in 2011, I was kind of geeked out about it. And you know what? It wasn't too bad. Aside from all the songs, I enjoyed the plot and everything. Then...I heard they were making ANOTHER new Muppet movie, called Muppets Most Wanted. I was, intrigued by the title and the plot. Then...I watched it. And things kind of went sour for me.
Ricky Gervais and Kermit

Ok, before I go much farther, let me say that I really do like the Muppets. And Muppets Most Wanted is an OK film, just not...great. At least in my opinion. To me, it seemed they kind of just phoned it in, relying on a plethora of cameos (by some pretty notable stars), too many musical numbers and not so subtle product endorsements. Seriously, a half concealed Target bullseye, and even Subway (yes, Fozzie Bear was eating a Subway sandwich...). And, this movie seemed awfully familiar - another Muppets sequel called...The Great Muppet Caper. 

All that aside, the story is kind of fun. Muppets Most Wanted starts right after the closing song from the 2011 movie. And I mean RIGHT after...we hear the last note from the song! After all the extras leave, our heroes are trying to decide what to do next. A sequel perhaps??? And from there, one of the villains of the movie, Dominic Badguy (pronounced, Bad-GEI - it's French), talks the Muppets in to launching a world tour. Little to they know though, Dominic is in league with the super-villian and criminal master mind, Constantine, who just busted out of a Russian Gulag. See, Constantine bears an uncanny resemblance to...(duhn, duhn dah!!!) KERMIT THE FROG! So, as the beloved Muppets arrive in Berlin, Germany (of all places), Constantine slaps a mole on Kermit to make him look like the evil frog, then takes his place with the group. And, a plot unfolds...(no spoilers, sorry).
Tina Fey and Kermit

Muppets Most Wanted is chock full of musical numbers that I'm sure are kind of fun for a lot of fans. I just felt there were far too many and in the oddest places. No fun, heartwarming numbers like Kermit's The Rainbow Connection, from the original Muppet Movie from 1979, but, a few toe tapping numbers. 

It was wise to cast Ricky Gervais (The Office, Extras, Night At The Museum) as Dominic Badguy. Gervais plays the role perfectly and adds that great deadpan comedy essential to keep this movie from sinking entirely. And, with Tina Fey as the Russian Gulag commander obsessed with Kermit, Muppets Most Wanted isn't completely lost. 

Ty Burrell (Modern Family) plays opposite Sam Eagle (who's a CIA agent) as the bumbling, inept Inspector Clouseau inspired French Interpol agent tasked with finding the criminal mastermind Constantine and the ever elusive Lemur (a 'cat burglar' stealing high value items throughout Europe). Although I do like Burrell, you kind of want to poke his over the top character in the eye a bit! 
Inspector Clouseau...er...I mean, Jean Pierre Napoleon

There are a lot of cameos in Muppets Most Wanted, as is typical in a Muppets movie. Only problem is, you have to look really fast to catch most of them. Like, X-Men's James McAvoy as the UPS delivery man, or Miranda Richardson as Berlin woman in window! Of course, some aren't so covert, like Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo as the musically inclined Gulag prisoners. Oh, and see if you can recognize the voice Tina Fey has locked away in 'the box'. 

Most of the humor is ok for younger viewers, but, there are a few bits that are targeted at the more...grownup fans. For example, there's a silly scene between Dominic and Constantine in a restroom...trust me, you'll have to watch it to appreciate it!

Muppets Most Wanted has some fun bonus features for your enjoyment. In fact, I quite enjoyed the blooper reel. Probably the most fun I had watching this movie! Seriously though, if you've never heard Ricky Gervais laugh, watch the bloopers! I guarantee you'll laugh out loud...OUT LOUD!! 
Kermit and Constantine, or...Constantine and Kermit??

Bonus Features include:

  • The Statler and Waldorf Cut (perhaps the best cut)
  • The Longer Longest Blooper Reel in Muppets History
  • Rizzo's Biggest Fan
  • "I'll Get You What You Want" Music Video Performed by Bret McKenzie
Muppets Most Wanted is now available. 

All in all, Muppets Most Wanted was a bit disappointing to me (and Joyce), but maybe because I'm stacking it up against the original Muppets. Muppets Most Wanted isn't a HORRIBLE movie, it's certainly worth having. The younglings will most likely love it. But on a scale of 1-10, I'd have to give it a 4...because after all, I DO love the Muppets. Even in a not so great movie! - Al

(Some awesome Gervais bloopers)

(Waldorf and Statler's Cut)

Disneynature Bears

by Al Kessel

One of Walt Disney's passions was nature, and his True-Life Adventures movies. Documenting, and creating inspiring and emotive stories based on the subjects, Disney brought everything from seals, to lions, to water birds and more to audiences who would otherwise never had witnessed such marvels of nature. Aside from the family fun antics Walt presented, he also gave us something more valuable than a lot of people realized: EDUCATION. Through these films, Walt Disney introduced the important concepts of conservation and living WITH nature, in a way only Walt could have.

That tradition continues today through The Walt Disney Studio's Disneynature series. Most recently, Disneynature Bears

Filmed in the Kitmai National Park in Alaska, Bears follows a family of Brown Bears (otherwise known as Grizzly Bears) as momma bear Sky struggles to keep her two new cubs Amber (the 'stick to momma's side daughter) and Scout (the 'hey, what's that do?' get in to trouble son). As is usual in a Disney nature type movie, film crews followed around this trio of Grizzlies and told their 'story' in dramatic and exciting ways. 

The movie starts in Sky's den, where she's nursing her two very young cubs. Winter is over, and now Sky must take her cubs from the mountain peak where they hibernated for the winter, all the way down to the coast and lowlands so they can feed and store up enough fat for the next winter. Along the way, Sky teaches her younglings how to survive, hunt and protect themselves from danger. They encounter a VERY dominant male Grizzly by the name of Magnus, an outcast (and kind of grumpy) male by the name of Chinook (who tries to EAT our little baby cubs!!), a hungry gray wolf named Tikaani (who also tries to eat our little baby cubs!) and a host of others. Guided by a mysterious raven, Sky leads her little ones on a quest to find enough salmon to get them through another winter. 

Narrated by John C. Reilly (Wreck-It-Ralph, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step-Brothers and more), Disneynature Bears is exactly what you'd expect from a feel-good Disney movie. Full of excitement, drama, action, and yes, even ROMANCE! Reilly does a great job of voicing this movie as well. He brings just enough wit and balances it with just enough seriousness, that it really does add something great to the movie. 

Disneynature Bears also has a host of great Bonus Material as well:
(Available on Blu-Ray, Digital HD & DMA)

  • Welcome To Alaska - Journey with the filmmakers into the Alaskan wilds to film Sky and her cubs. 
  • The Future For The Bears - Experience the thrill of living with the bears during production, and the importance of protecting the wilderness to ensure their survival...and our own!
  • A Guide To Living With Bears - Learn how the team interacts safely with these magnificent creatures
  • How Did They Film That? - Get an inside look on some of the extreme filmmaking that went into getting shots high in the mountains and under frigid cold water
  • "Carry On" Music Video by Olivia Holt
(Available on DVD)
  • "Carry On" Music Video by Olivia Holt

So...to sum it all up, I LOVE nature films. Always have. But, there's something very special for me in any nature film Disney creates. Probably because I remember watching all of the Disney nature shows as a kid. And because I just love the....well, LOVE Walt Disney and the Disney company has always had for nature. It's heartwarming to see a company as huge as Disney actually put so much effort and care into educating people and getting so many to join in the fight to protect our planet. Joyce and I both loves Disneynature Bears. On a scale of 1-10...it rates an 11 from both of us (cuz, you know, 11 is better.) - Al 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Maleficent Is On Her Way!

Disney's GREATEST Villain Comes To Life
In The Wickedly Fun, Fantasy Adventure Starring Academy
Award Winner Angelina Jolie


Disney’s most iconic villain “MALEFICENT” comes to life for all to own, November 4, 2014.  Starring Academy Award®-winning actress Angelina Jolie (Best Supporting Actress, “Girl, Interrupted,” 2000) as Maleficent, this wickedly fun twist on the classic “Sleeping Beauty” will be made available on Disney Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, Digital HD, Disney Movies Anywhere, DVD and On-Demand platforms. 

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent

After enchanting audiences around the world and grossing more than $700 million in worldwide box office, this live-action, fantasy adventure casts a wondrous new spell on Blu-ray and Digital HD, featuring stunning high definition picture and sound, plus spellbinding, all-new bonus features, including several deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes that take viewers deeper behind the scenes of the filmmaking magic.

Join the cast and crew as they explore how Disney’s animated classic “Sleeping Beauty” was re-imagined as an innovative, live-action epic in “From Fairy Tale to Feature Film.”   Discover how King Henry and Maleficent's opening battle scene was created using gigantic wire rigs and elaborate choreography in “Building an Epic Battle.”  Learn how playing Aurora was a fairytale come true for actress Elle Fanning in “Aurora: Becoming A Beauty.” And find out more about the meticulous detail that went into creating Maleficent's elaborate head wraps, rings and other accessories in “Classic Couture.”  Viewers can also relive the film’s journey to the screen through concept art, layered visual effects and behind the scenes footage in “Maleficent Revealed.”
Sharlto Copley as King Stefan

“Maleficent” stars Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning (“Super 8,” “We Bought a Zoo”), Sharlto Copley (“District 9,” “Elysium”), Sam Riley (“Control,” “On the Road”), Imelda Staunton (“Harry Potter” series), Lesley Manville (“Another Year,” “Secrets & Lies”), Juno Temple (“The Dark Knight Rises,” “Atonement”) and Brenton Thwaites (“Oculus”). It marks the directorial debut of two-time Academy Award® winner Robert Stromberg (Best Achievement in Art Direction, “Avatar,” 2010; Best Achievement in Art Direction, “Alice in Wonderland,” 2011). It was written by Linda Woolverton (“Alice in Wonderland,” “The Lion King”) and produced by Joe Roth (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Oz the Great and Powerful”).
Elle Fanning as Aurora

Bonus Features:
Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD/SD & Disney Movies Anywhere
From Fairy Tale to Feature Film - Reimagining Maleficent for a new generation
Building An Epic Battle –Creating the clash between Maleficent and King Henry’s Forces
Classic Couture - Examine Maleficent’s spellbinding head wraps and jewelry.
Maleficent Revealed - Explore the layers of extraordinary special effects.
Aurora: Becoming A Beauty - Elle Fanning reveals her lifelong love of Disney’s original animated classic.
Deleted Scenes:
o “Stefan In King's Chamber”
o “Pixie Idiots” 
o “Diaval asks about the Curse”
o “Pixies Seek Asylum”
o “Suitor”
And More!

*Digital bonus offerings will vary per retailer

Aurora: Becoming A Beauty

Disc Specifications:
Feature Run Time: Approximately 97 minutes
Rating: Feature Film: “PG” in U.S. and Canada (CE); G in Canada (CF) 
Additional Bonus Features Not Rated
Aspect Ratio: Blu-ray Feature Film = 1080p High Definition/2.40:1
DVD= Widescreen 2.40:1 / Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Audio:                                   Blu-ray Feature Film = 7.1, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD=English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio
Languages/Subtitles: English, Spanish & French
English Captions for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired