Film Review “Walking with Dinosaurs 3D”

Starring the Voices of: John Leguizamo, Justin Long and Tiya Sircar
Directed by: Neil Nightingale and Barry Cook
Rated: PG
Running Time: 87 minutes
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars

I try my hardest not to walk into a film with any preconceived notions that may ruin the movie going experience for me. I may see a commercial for it or see a tidbit in the news about it, but that doesn’t affect my opinion. I tell myself every time after a commercial, “That 30 seconds is not the movie.” Before the movie even begins I stash away what reservations I do have when “BBC Earth” pops up as one of the studios. The same studio that has brought us critically acclaimed documentaries like “Frozen Planet”, “Life” and others.“Maybe there is hope for this movie,” I think to myself. After the second vomit joke and the flick’s first poop joke, I think BBC Earth might wanna consider burning whatever bridges they have to this movie.

So what happened to this well shot film? First we start off with our modern day introduction. A useless subplot has uncle Zack (Karl Urban) taking his nephew Ricky and his niece Jade to a local spot to do some paleontology. Already I feel bad for Mr. Urban. Obviously the nephew is too cool to dig around for dinosaurs, so he lingers back. That’s when he hears Alex, a talking bird (Leguizamo), who plans to change his mind. Alex then becomes the narrator to a trio of pachyrhinosaurus. The first is Patchi (Long), a young dino with plenty of shortcomings and no charm. The second is his love at first glance friend, Juniper (Sircar). But Patchi’s annoying older brother Scowler (Stone) who spouts off tough guy lingo also likes Juniper. Not for any other reason besides ownership. Literally. As for the plot, it’s another copy and paste story line with a dry theme about courage. Unless you’re a girl. Then the moral of the story is, men will fight to own you. Deal with it.

The supposed narrative by Alex is confusing. He switches from talking to Patchi, to narrating the movie, to possibly talking to our human back in present time and then speaking directly to the audience. It’s frustrating and a definite sign that there were about four different ideas crammed into this movie. Three of those ideas were terrible.The one idea that could have worked, teaching kids about dinosaurs, is buried. I’m sure co-director Neil Nightingale was the redeeming quality while everyone else decided crude bowel movement humor should triumph science and learning.

Another confusing aspect is that the dinosaurs by themselves already make animal sounds. They moan, whine, roar and coo. The voice-overs feel like they were done at the last minute. It really seems like Justin Long and Tiya Sircar cashed their check before entering the studio. I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to Mystery Science Theater these creatures, but it was a terrible idea. The movie would have been miles better without it’s dubbed demeaning dialogue exchanges and juvenile jokes.

At it’s very basic minimal core, it’s a made for TV documentary on dinosaurs with grade ‘A’ graphics. It probably would have been in science classes on days where the teacher would rather dim the lights and let the glow of the TV do the lecturing. What we have instead is a confusing movie overflowing with verbal garbage and tacky plot devices. There’s plenty of better options for children’s movies this holiday and better ways to teach them about these prehistoric creatures. Here’s a final warning: Despite your parental cries of agony, the theater will not mute the screen.

3D Blu-ray Review “Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor (50th Anniversary Special)”

Starring: Matt Smith, David Tennant, Jenna-Louise Colemanm, Billie Piper, John Hurt
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: December 10, 2013
Run Time: 75 minutes

Special: 5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Just when you think that BBC’s “Doctor Who” cannot simple get any better, we get “The Day of the Doctor”, which is series’ 50th Anniversary special. The 75-minute 3D special stars Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt as various regenerations of the Doctor. It also brings back Billie Piper and another surprise guest from the “Doctor Who” history. This special is honestly not just a special it is a feature film. It is so well done and epic that it deserves to be treated like a theatrical feature, it fact it was actually in theaters, in 3D, broadcasted live at the same time the show aired on TV worldwide. Matt Smith has been such an amazing Doctor with his last episode around the corner this month with “The Time of the Doctor”. Tennant came back for the first time since season 4 and it felt like honestly he never left, so amazing. John Hurt was also such a blast playing the Doctor as well. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I literally cheered and also laughed out loud nervous time throughout.

Official Premise: Written by lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, Doctor Who: The Day of The Doctor sees the Doctors (Matt Smith and David Tennant) embark on their greatest adventure across space and time. In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him. The special also stars Jenna Coleman (as Clara, the Doctor’s current Companion), Billie Piper (in a surprise role) and Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart, daughter of legendary Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

This 50th Anniversary Special was given the real treatment from BBC with this release. It comes in a solid combo pack with Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD, that’s right the Doctor is in 3D for the first time. I have to admit, this was a really strong fit for the show. The first time we zoomed in the painting and it went 3D, I literally said “Wow” out loud.  I thought it was very well done and added a lot of character to this special. The 1080p transfer overall was very impressive and like I said the show feel like a movie, so everything is amped up. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track also works very well with the action and scale of the film.

In terms of special features, there is some decent content here. But to me the real draw of this Blu-ray has to be the 3D Blu-ray, no question.  There is a “Behind-the-Scenes Featurette”, which takes us on set and on location with interviews with Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, David Tennant, Billie Piper, John Hurt and of course Steven Moffat. In “Doctor Who Explained”, we get the entire 50-year history in one 50-minute special. There are two mini-episodes including “The Night of The Doctor” and “The Last Day”. Lastly there are a trailer for San Diego Comic-Con and the tribute teaser for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary. I am curious if this special is going to be intergrated into future season releases and if so if they are planning to keep the 3D aspect, either way this would make a great holiday gift and a must watch and own for any Doctor Who fan!

3D Blu-ray Review “Galactic Adventures Double Feature: 3D Sun/Mars 3D”

Actors: Al Roker
Directors: Barry Kimm
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
DVD Release Date: December 3, 2013
Run Time: 43 minutes

Films: 2.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

When it comes to space, I am sucker for anything…especially in 3D. This “Galactic Adventures Double Feature” included both “3D Sun” and “Mars 3D” but I wasn’t really blown away with either one. I was recently spoiled rotten with the brilliant film “Gravity” and coming back to these films, I just wasn’t “wowed”. Still though being able to view the sun up close…and in 3D is still pretty damn cool. The narration track by Al Roker is decent but I am not a huge fan of him either…I guess Morgan Freeman was busy. “Mars 3D” is neat only because it was the first that that NASA’s actual 3D footage was adapted for public viewing so that is kind of cool getting to see this but I would call both of these one-timers. I wouldn’t watch this again for sure and both also only run less than 45 minutes together, so for the price it just doesn’t sell me.

“3D Sun” Official Premise: From Earth, the Sun cannot be looked at with human eyes. Narrated by Al Roker, 3D SUN gives audiences a chance to see the Sun up close in startling 3D. Stand above the arctic circle and witness the most brilliant auroras on Earth; take a ride on a solar blast from Sun’s surface to Earth’s Magnetosphere, and come to a deeper understanding of what this vast sea of fire means to life here on Earth. In October 2006, NASA launched twin spacecraft from a single rocket in Florida — a spacecraft that would, for the first time in the history of space exploration, capture space-born, high-definition 3D images of the Sun. In 3D SUN, the leading NASA scientists from the mission unveil these images and take us behind the scenes to tell the story of the Sun and why it is of crucial importance to all of us.

“Mars 3D” Official Premise: Mars 3D takes viewers behind the scenes of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission revealing daily dramas, mind-boggling physics and compelling science behind the $820 million dollar NASA project. Behold this celebration of space exploration and the human stories behind the mission, how engineers plunged the depths of gravity and physics to ensure a successful launch an landing and how two 380 pound rovers will bring scientists closer than ever before to solving the mysteries of Mars.

“3D Sun” looks the best of the two with its 1080p transfer framed in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The 3D looks pretty good and has some impressive depth. Now if we go to “Mars 3D”, this one was a real disappointment since it is only presented in a very sad 720p transfer in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Sorry but that is not Blu-ray quality at all, especially not 3D Blu-ray quality. Either way I feel like “Mars 3D” acts more like a bonus feature to this release as “3D Sun” carries most of the weight. Each film does have a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. There are no additional special features included besides the two films.

3D Blu-ray Review “The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition”

Actors: Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Famke Janssen
Directors: James Mangold
Number of discs: 4
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested) / Unrated
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Run Time: 126 / 138 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to the “X-Men” film franchise, I have never been the biggest fan, the first three movies are good but not my favorite superhero films. I never even wanted to see “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and from what I’ve heard I am glad I haven’t. “X-Men: First Class” was visually amazing but also quite forgettable. So I wasn’t too thrilled when “The Wolverine” was announced, but it proved itself to be quite entertaining and very impressive entry into the franchise. I was excited that the film picks up at the end of “X-Men: The Last Stand” and steer away from the whole “Origin” story. Hugh Jackson just kicks as in this role, no question that he IS Wolverine and is simply bad-ass. I have to admit, I am now very excited for what is to come with “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and I also saw that “The Wolverine 2″ was just greenlit this week as well, so plenty more to come.

Official Premise: Jackman returns as The Wolverine and faces his ultimate nemesis in an action-packed, life- or-death battle that takes him to modern-day Japan. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his limits, Wolverine confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality; an epic fight that will leave him forever changed.

“The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition” is excited since it is the first time that a film in the “X-Men” series is receiving an extended unrated cut. This version runs about 12 minutes longer than the Theatrical Cut and contains several new scenes. Let me tell you this unrated cut is much much better than the PG-13 cut. There are a few extra F-Bombs and much more CG-gore as well. It is not “Kill Bill” but it definitely has a harder edge to it. The only problem is that the unrated cut is only presented in 2D and not 3D, this is not shocking but also a bit disappointing since like I said I much prefer the new cut.

20th Century Fox has delivered “The Wolverine” as a combo pack with Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet digital copy. Both of the 1080p transfers with an 2.40:1 aspect ratio are absolutely equally stunning. I happen to prefer the film in 3D even though it was post-converted. It was done so well that the film has a certain arty feel to it and it really makes for a very fun and overall impressive 3D experience. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is no schlep either. It is so intense that it actually woke up daughter up due to the wall-shaking action. No question, this has to be one of the best audio tracks of the year. Very impressive.

In terms of special features this releases do not let you down either. There is a solid commentary track from the director James Mangold. It is well-paced and pretty informative about the production. There is a neat “Second Screen App” available to download through either IOS or Android mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets in order to access additional bonus content. “The Path of a Ronin” is a really solid nearly one-hour behind-the-scenes look into the film with great interviews from cast/crew. There is an Alternate Ending included, as well as the Theatrical Trailer included. Lastly there is a sneak peek at “X-Men: Days of Future Past” with a set tour from the upcoming installment in this franchise..

3D Blu-ray Review “The Smurfs 2”

Actors: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Katy Perry, Hank Azaria, Brendan Gleeson, Christina Ricci and J.B. Smoove
Directors: Raja Gosnell
Number of discs: 3
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Run Time: 105 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When I saw “The Smurfs” back in 2011, I was pleasantly surprised. I grew up watching the animated series and have always had a special place for those little blue people. Of course Sony scored big with the first film and a sequel was inevitable. I just wasn’t really dying for another one so soon, especially since the first was enjoyable but still nothing amazing. The sequel doesn’t match the fun of the first film. It is worth checking out most definitely for kids since it is quite entertaining for them. I might be a little harsher on this film than it deserves but I just feel like this is a bit too sloppy for me and a little bit lazy (and the box office showed this). Hopefully they will improve on this for the again inevitable “The Smurfs 3”.

Official Premise: Evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) creates Hackus and Vexy, a pair of mischievous Smurf‑like creatures, hoping they will let him harness the magical Smurf‑essence. However, he soon discovers that he needs the help of Smurfette, who knows the secret to turning the pair into real Smurfs. When Gargamel, Hackus and Vexy kidnap Smurfette from Smurf Village and bring her to Paris, it’s up to Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy and Vanity to reunite with their human friends, Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris)and Grace Winslow (Jayma Mays), to rescue her.

Sony is know for delivering some of the best Blu-rays that are being released today. This three-disc combo includes Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy. The 1080p transfer is actually quite amazing, which is not surprising since this film was mastered in 4K for maximum picture and expanded color (not though this is only for the 2D version of the film). Like with “The Smurfs”, I was quite the fan of the 3D transfer. Same goes for this sequel, the added dimension really works for this film. It is a little cheesy but I feel that it works well with the type of film this is. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also delivers quite well, which the zany antics and fun action.

In terms of special features, they are pretty impressive. Only included on the 3D and Blu-ray combo packs is the Sony Pictures Animations’ animated Smurfs mini-movie, “The Legend of Smurfy Hollow.” This was previously released on DVD earlier this Fall and luckily now is available with this release. There are two featurettes including “Daddy’s Little Girl: The Journey of Smurfette” and “Animating Azrael”, which are available on the Blu-ray and DVD. There are also three Blu-ray exclusive featurettes including “The Puurrfect Companion: Azreal’s Tail”, “Evolution of the Naughties” and “The Naughties! The Tale of Hackus and Vexy” included. Lastly Sony has been integrating smart phone apps with their Blu-ray releases. With this release we get “Smurf-O-Vision 2 App”, which allows you to play fun activities with your favorite Smurfs and sync with your Blu-ray to expand even more fun extras from the film.

3D Blu-ray Review “Planes”

Actors: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Priyanka Chopra, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and John Cleese
Directed by: Klay Hall
Number of discs: 3
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Run Time: 92 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Planes” is the first theatrically film for DisneyToon Studios since 2005’s “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie”. In fact, this film was originally supposed to come out on Blu-ray but was decided to head into theaters to take advantage of the fact that it was a spin-off from Pixar’s “Cars” series. The film includes the voice talents of Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Priyanka Chopra, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and John Cleese. This is the first film in a now planned “Planes” trilogy. It’s sequel, titled “Planes: Fire & Rescue” is arelady scheduled for theatrical release on July 18, 2014. So Disney made a smart move here and expect a lot from this series. The film was a ton of fun, action packed and super funny. Plus my 17 month old daughter is obsessed with planes and was totally digging this film, I might be to get another copy since this one will be worn out by the end of the year.

Official Premise: The world of Cars takes flight in Planes, an animated comedy revved up with action and adventure. Join Dusty (Cook), a crop duster with sky-high dreams and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take on the world’s fastest flyers in the greatest air race ever. Dusty has a huge heart but two big problems: he’s not exactly built for speed, and he’s afraid of heights. His courage is put to the ultimate test, though, as this unlikely hero aims higher than he ever imagined. With a little help from his friends, Dusty finds the courage to be more than he was built for, and the inspiration to soar.

Disney delivered this film in a fantastic three-disc combo pack with a 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + DVD and Digital Copy. “Planes” looks amazing with its 1080p transfer. I have no idea how this film was heading direct-to-video since it is so epic and really looks amazing. The colors really pop off the TV, especially with the 3D transfer. In fact, I really enjoyed the 3D in this film. With the planes flying right at you, it features a great in-your-face moments and adds some great depth.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is also quite impressive. From every propeller to the planes soaring through the skies, the track is so impressive.

The special features are ok but nothing special at all for this film but I would have loved to see a commentary track. There is an Exclusive Franz’s Song, which was produced exclusively for Blu-ray and is a never-before-seen completely finished animated song features the German mini-car, Franz Fliegenhosen. “Klay’s Flight Plan” features Klay Hall chatting about his journey to bringing this film to life. There are two deleted scenes including introductions from Director Klay Hall and Producer Traci Balthazor-Flynn. “Top 10 Flyers” features ESPN’s Colin Cowherd counting down of the greatest aviators in history. Lastly “Meet the Racers” includes featurettes on the following racers El Chupacabra, Ripslinger, Dusty and Ishani.


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3D Blu-ray Review “Turbo”

Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Peña
Directors: David Soren
Number of discs: 3
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Run Time: 96 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

When I first saw the trailer to “Turbo”, I wasn’t really blown away much. It does pack on hell of a sharp voice cast including Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolf, Michelle Rodriguez and Samuel L. Jackson. Still I never ran out to see it in theaters similar to the rest of America who did the same thing. The film is pretty fun with a good heart and has some great visuals but also has a pretty weak plot. In terms of wow factor, the film looks amazing and is quite colorful but its message has just been done too many times before. When you look back at films like “Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda”, it just doesn’t have that charm. Kids will enjoy it for the colorful presentation and parents will enjoy the voice cast and humor. Decent but not a classic.

Official Premise: From the makers of “Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda”, “TURBO” is a high-velocity 3D comedy about an underdog snail whose dreams kick into overdrive when he miraculously attains the power of super-speed. But after making fast friends with a crew of streetwise, tricked-out es-car-goes, Turbo learns that no one succeeds on their own. So he puts his heart and shell on the line to help his pals achieve their dreams, before Turbo-charging his own impossible dream: winning the Indy 500.

DreamWorks is releasing this film in a Deluxe Edition combo pack, which includes a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet HD digital copy. One thing I do have to recommend for this film is its 3D presentation, which is very impressive. It works well with the film’s fast pace action and amazing visuals. I watched this film a second time in the 2D transfer with my 17 month old daughter, which she enjoyed quite a bit, it was still enjoyable but lacked that animated dazzle. The 1080p on either transfer are just easily still one of the sharpest of the year. Top that with a super high energy DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track and this film does not disappoint in the A/V department. Dreamworks always delivers top notch with their animated films, no question.

In terms of special features, “Turbo” is lacking in rear of the race. A few decent featurettes but nothing amazing. “Champion’s Corner” is a sports newscast interview with Turbo. “Smoove Move’s Music Maker” includes six fun music video  clips for “Speedin'”, “The Snail is Fast”, “Back to Indiana”, “Jump Around”, “Let the Bass Go” and “Eye of the Tiger”. “Team Turbo: Tricked Out” is a very short look into the film’s characters. “Meet Tito — Deleted Scene” is presented in hand-drawn form and introduced by director David Soren. David also introduces a storyboard for one of the film’s most critical scenes, “The Race”. “Be An Artist!” is a short look into each of the character with the Head of Character Animation Dave Burgess. “Shell Creator” is an interactive extras for viewers to create their own shells. Lastly there is a theatrical trailer included.

3D Blu-ray Review “Cars”

Actors: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry The Cable Guy, Cheech Marin
Directors: John Lasseter
Number of discs: 3
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Run Time: 116 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Cars” is a good Pixar film, it is not my favorite but it is definitely a good film. It has become one of the studios biggest franchises since the kids have been eating it up and cannot get enough. Following in to the vein of “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters Inc.”, Disney is adding the third dimension to Pixar’s landmark classic by converting it to 3D. This is the first time that the film has ever been available in this format. I have to admit, I was quite impressed. “Cars” is one of those films that you can watch over and over and you find little bits that make it more fun. “Cars 2” might have given this franchise a bad name but the original film is still quite solid and has never been faster and more in-your-face…literally.

Official Premise: Hotshot rookie race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is living life in the fast lane until he hits a detour on his way to the most important race of his life. Stranded in Radiator Springs, a forgotten town on the old Route 66, he meets Sally, Mater, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) and a variety of quirky characters who help him discover that there’s more to life than trophies and fame.

The film packs an amazing voice cast including Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen), Larry the Cable Guy (Mater), Paul Newman (Doc Hudson), Bonnie Hunt (Sally Carrera), Cheech Marin (Ramone), Tony Shalhoub (Luigi), Guido Quaroni (Guido), Jenifer Lewis (Flo), John Ratzenberger (The Abominable Snowplow/Mack/Hamm Truck/ PT Flea Car) and Michael Keaton (Chick Hicks). There is something about these characters that have just clicked with the audience and have become more popular since the films. I have been totally immersed in “Disney Infinity” and my favorite world so far is easily “Cars”.

This Ultimate Collector’s Edition includes a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. I am excited that Disney has started to back the streaming digital copy service through Ultraviolet. The 1080p transfer still looks amazing. The 3D really adds a lot of depth to Radiator Springs and the Piston Cup races. The Dolby True HD 5.1 is the same as past releases as well and drives in high-gear and sends gravel flying in your face. Obviously if you have purchased previous Blu-ray’s for this film and are not a fan of 3D, then there is really no need to pick this up but if you care for the 3D, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The special features are the same as the past Blu-ray release for “Cars”, which are decent but was never too impressive. There is an Epilogue, “Inspiration for Cars”, Five Deleted Scenes, There is a “Cars” Short: “Mater and the Ghostlight”, as well as theatrical short “One Man Band,”. “Cine-Explore” is an interactive in-movie audio-commentary by director John Lasseter, “Car Finder” is interactive BD-Java based game, Lastly there is “Boundin’ Cars” and “Doc” short.

3D Blu-ray Review “Monsters University”

Actors: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Charlie Day, Sean P. Hayes, Dave Foley, Nathan Fillion,Aubrey Plaza.
Directors: Dan Scanlon
Number of discs: 4
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 29, 2013
Run Time: 104 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
3D: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

If you have asked me back in May 2011, I would have said that Pixar could do no wrong. Since then they have released “Cars 2” (which isn’t as bad as people say), “Brave” and now “Monsters University”. “Monsters Inc.” is one of Pixar’s greatest films and introduced us to our favorite characters Mike and Sully. So when I heard that they were making a sequel, I am sure everyone was excited to get to see the boys back in action again with “Monsters University”. I enjoyed the film since I love these characters but it feels like it is missing the charm of the first one and doesn’t deliver anything special. Pixar is taking 2014 off for the first time and not releasing a new film till 2015. Hopefully they are looking to amp it up with “Inside Out” and “The Good Dinosaur”.

Returning for the prequel includes the voices of Billy Crystal (voice of Mike), John Goodman (voice of Sulley) and Steve Buscemi (voice of Randy Boggs). Joining the cast includes great talent including Helen Mirren (voice of Dean Hardscrabble), Nathan Fillion (voice of Johnny Worthington), Alfred Molina (voice of Professor Knight), Joel Murray (voice of Don Carlton), Charlie Day (voice of Art), Sean P. Hayes (voice of Terri Perry), Dave Foley (voice of Terry Perry), John Krasinski (voice of Frank McCay) and Aubrey Plaza (voice of Claire Wheeler). Overall the voice cast is impressive and easily the best part of the film.

Official Premise: Disney Pixar proudly presents the hilarious story of how two mismatched monsters met and became lifelong friends in a movie screaming with laughter and oozing with heart. Ever since college-bound Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) was a little monster, he’s dreamed of becoming a Scarer—and he knows better than anyone that the best Scarers come from Monsters University (MU). But during his first semester at MU, Mike’s plans are derailed when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (John Goodman), a natural-born Scarer. The pair’s out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program. With their dreams temporarily dashed, they realize they will have to work together, along with an odd bunch of misfit monsters, if they ever hope to make things right.

Monsters University will be available for purchase as a 4-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Combo Pack including Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. I am happy that Disney has gotten on board now with Ultraviolet digital copies. In terms of deliver Disney delivered a fantastic 1080p transfer presentation. The colors are crisp and overall look really great. The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track also sounds quite stunning and really sounds great. I am a huge fan of 3D usually and I even enjoyed “Monsters Inc.” in the third dimension, but I wasn’t overly thrilled with the 3D on “Monsters University”. There was some added depth but nothing that really scream “Damn this film should be in 3D”. I have a feeling that if my daughter ever wants to watch this film again, it will definitely be in 2D.

In terms of special features, they are very impressive for sure despite my feelings on the film. “Campus Life” is a chat with the production crew at Pixar. “Story School” is a documentary takes us through the production and the new story of Mike and Sulley. “Scare Games” talks about the creation of the film’s competitions. “Welcome to MU” talks us into the world that was created for the film. “Music Appreciation” takes us through Randy Newman’s score (which I really was’t thrilled with). “Scare Tactics” talks about bringing the characters to life. “Color and Light” focuses on setting the tone for the film. “Paths to Pixar – MU Edition” features the crew sharing their own back stories. There are four deleted scenes with an introduction from director Dan Scanlon.

Since I didn’t see this film in theaters, I was very curious about seeing Pixar’s latest show “The Blue Umbrella”. When it comes to shorts, they always deliver but my favorite short from Disney has to be “Paperman”, which debuted in front of “Wreck-It Ralph”. “The Blue Umbrella” follows two umbrellas—one blue, one not—fall that fall eternally in love. It is cute and clever but not one of my favorites. Some additional bonus features include an audio commentary track, some promo materials from the college and theatrical campaigns, a “Flythrough” for the sets and an art gallery.

3D Blu-ray Review “The Croods”

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke
Directors: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Dreamworks Animation
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Run Time: 96 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

When I first saw the trailer for the “The Croods”, I wasn’t must interested in the film. After it was released though it started picking up some steal and grabbed my attention, especially the attention of my 16 month old daughter from the commercials. The film has a fantastic voice cast lead by Nicolas Cage and Ryan Reynolds. I love Nicolas Cage no matter what he does simply and he does a great job with this role. These characters may not be the prettiest creation to come out of Dreamworks but there is a great story here with great visuals. The film is funny, clever and definitely a blast for the whole family. I think it is save to say the Dreamworks Animation did it again! Another hit for sure! DUN DUN DAHHH!

Official Premise: Join the first modern family as they embark on the journey of a lifetime across a spectacular and unforgettable landscape. When their cave is destroyed, everything the Croods have ever known is rocked by seismic shifts and generational clashes as they discover an incredible new world filled with fantastic creatures – and their world is changed forever. If they don’t evolve, they’ll be history!

Like past releases Dreamworks Animation really delivers in terms of quality for their films. This Deluxe Edition included Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy. I have to admit the 3D in the film is actually quite awesome! This is a kids film so you have to be expect a few in-your-face gags to entertain them. The colors are gorgeous and the depth is out-of-this world! The 1080p transfer really is sharp overall and works in either format to be honest. The 3D is preferred on my end since I love animated films in 3D. If that isn’t enough for you Dreamworks also packs a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track.  I was very impressed with surround audio since it worked very well with the action and the score.

In terms of special features, I wasn’t really blown away here at all. There is “The Croodaceous Creatures of Croods!”, which gives info about your favorite Croods creatures. “Be An Artist!” gives you the tools to draw Belt, Macawnivore and Mousephant. There is also a downloadable “The Croods Coloring & Storybook Builder App” for smartphone and tablets. This is becoming a trend with after “Epic” as well earlier this year. There is “Belt’s Cave Journal” and “World of DreamWorks Animation”, which is are music videos from your other DreamWorks Animation feature films. I know this is a kids film but I would have loved to seen much more focus on the actual production as well.


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3D Blu-ray Review “Static 3D

Actors: Milo Ventimiglia, Sarah Shahi, William Mapother, Sara Paxton
Directors: Todd Levin
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Cinedigm
DVD Release Date: October 8, 2013
Run Time: 90 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

When I saw the cover for “Static”. I was immediately interested. Add on top of that a pretty cool tag line guaranteed to draw in “If you hear them coming, you’re already dead”. If that is not enough the film has a killer cast including Milo Ventimiglia (“Heroes”), Sarah Shahi (“The L Word”) and Sara Paxton (“Shark Knight 3D”). Still want more? The film was actually shot in 3D and done very well. “Static” packs some solid suspense and has you biting your nails. Great pic to check out to get ready for the Halloween season!

Official Premise: While coping with the tragic death of their child, a young novelist (Milo Ventimiglia) and his wife (Sarah Shahi) are struggling just to keep their marriage alive. Their broken romance is put to the test when a mysterious girl (Sara Paxton) shows up at their door in the middle of the night claiming masked prowlers are stalking her. The ominous situation turns even darker when the dangerous hooligans show up at their door to wreak havoc. As a game of cat and mouse ensues, the couple must work together to survive and uncover the mystery behind the attack. Soon, past secrets begin to unfold, for better or worse.

What I was impressed with this release was that Cinedigm didn’t cheap out and double up the discs.  They include a 3D Blu-ray, then a standard Blu-ray and then even a DVD copy of the film.  The 1080p transfer works very well with the 3D.  There is some great depth added and no cheap gags. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also works well to build the suspense and deliver the dialogue clearly. In terms of special features though, there is only a commentary track with the writer, producer and editor of the film.

3D Blu-ray Review “The Wizard of Oz 3D”

Actors: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley
Directors: Victor Fleming
Rated: G / PG
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: October 1, 2013
Run Time: 101 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
3D: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

Perfection! That is what “The Wizard of Oz” is! The film is celebrating its 75th anniversary and it still so relevant and beloved. The twist with this new Blu-ray release is the fact that the film has been converted in 3D. “The Wizard of Oz” is the oldest film to ever be brought into the third dimension. This isn’t no cheap 3D scam either. This 3D conversion a very intense process in which Warner Bros. performed a very high resolution 8k scanning of the original Technicolor camera negative.  So I am sure everyone is wondering “How does “The Wizard of Oz” look in 3D?” Well it is absolutely stunning. The depth is so profound and the colors really pop so well. This is a perfect example of 3D conversion done right and with love!

Official Premise: The magic of M-G-M’s wonderfully colorful and unique fantasy has melted hearts for more than seven decades with its indelible melodies and transcendent themes of family, home and the courage to pursue dreams. To celebrate the beloved movie’s 75th anniversary, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has brought The Wizard of Oz into the present and beyond with a brand new kind of magic: a stunning 3D Blu-ray. Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s timeless children’s tale about a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow, The Wizard of Oz starred Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow; Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion; Jack Haley as the Tin Woodman and Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch.

This is not the film’s first go on Blu-ray, since it was released back in 2009. But it still looks absolutely stunning.  Is this new 8K transfer better than the 2009 transfer? Yes and no. There are certain things about it like the colors that stand out better for me but it isn’t much different. But like I said it is stunning nonetheless. The 2009 Blu-ray was equipped with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track.  This new release comes with a brand new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. It still sounds amazing for a film that was made 75 years ago and delivers the lines and songs that we know and love so well. This 75th Anniversary Edition comes with a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + UltraViolet. So there is a little bit for everyone, just in case you don’t own a 3D TV (to be honest this would be a reason to get one for sure).

So you would thing that Warner Bros. did enough with this film converting it to 3D in a painstaking process. They would just released a bare bones Blu-ray right? Wrong!! There is actually more including a brand new and exclusive extra, “The Making of The Wizard of Oz”, which is a 70 minute newly produced, feature-length high definition documentary narrated by Martin Sheen.  Honestly this is a must have for any true fan of the film.  It is extremely extensive and really dives deep into the legacy of the film, it’s production and its affect on Hollywood since.

There is also an audio commentary track with the late Sydney Pollack, which also features noted Oz historian and author John Fricke, as well as rare interview clips with associate producer/writer Arthur Freed’s daughter, Barbara Freed-Saltzman; actress Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) and her son Hamilton Meserve; actor Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow); actor Jack Haley (the Tin Man); John and Jane Lahr (children of actor Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion himself); uncredited co-director Mervyn LeRoy; assistant choreographer Dona Massin (who worked directly under Bobby Connolly); assistant make-up artist William Tuttle; performer Buddy Ebsen; and one of the last surviving Munchkin actors, Jerry Maren. For those who have never heard it, it is a must listen.

There is a Music and Effects Track only, which is amazing as well I loved isolated tracks and this film just works so well without the dialogue. It is a one-channel Dolby Digital audio track. Speaking of audio track, there is also the Original Mono Track included as well, which will be sure to satisfy those audio purists. Also available is the Dolby Digital track as well which is not a winner in my eyes.  There is also a sing along track as well for the following songs “Over the Rainbow,” “Munchkinland Medley,” “Follow the Yellow Brick Road/You’re Off to See the Wizard,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” “If I Only Had a Heart,” “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” “If I Only Had the Nerve/We’re Off to See the Wizard,” “Optimistic Voices,” “The Merry Old Land of Oz,” and “If I Were King of the Forest.”

The rest of the special features are included on the second disc. “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook” features Angela Lansbury doing a brief read-through of Baum’s work. “We Haven’t Really Met Properly” is biographies (again) narrated by Lansbury, including Frank Morgan (The Wizard), Billie Burke (Glenda the Good Witch), Terry (Toto) and many more. “Jukebox” is a fun collection of original recordings and outtakes from the film, which run about 70 minutes. There are hundreds of stills and production photos included. There is the “Lux Radio Theater Broadcast” from the 1950 Christmas radio broadcast of The Wizard of Oz including Judy Garland. “Good News of 1939 Radio Show” is another a full-length radio broadcast with host Robert Young. Lastly there are extended radio advertisements and trailers included.

Get the Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and UltraViolet on October 1st –

3D Blu-ray Review “House of Wax 3D (1953)”

Actors: Vincent Price, Reggie Rymal, Frank Lovejoy, Carolyn Jones, Charles Bronson
Directors: Andre De Toth
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Run Time: 88 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I remember the very first time that I ever saw “House of Wax”, I believe it was also my first introduction to the amazing Vincent Price. That was many many years ago and yet watching the film today, it is still as amazing as it was over 20 years ago. “House of Wax” was released in 1953 and was the first color 3D feature released by a major studio and grossed (in adjusted figures) over $400 million dollars. This film is celebrating it’s 60th anniversary and Warner Bros is releasing it for the first time ever in 3D as it was originally meant to be seen in theaters. Highly recommend for any classic horror and Vincent Price fan.

Official Synopsis: Professor Henry Jarrod (Price) is the owner and figure sculptor in a wax museum whose specialty is historic figures. When he and his business partner, Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) quarrel over the choice of exhibits displayed, Burke suggests it would be more profitable to burn down the museum in order to obtain the insurance money. As they fight, the museum burns and Jarrod is left for dead. It’s not until much later at a new museum that the fate of Jarrod and the mystery of how the lifelike waxed figures are created becomes gruesomely evident.

The film marked Vincent Price”s first major starring horror role and a real landmark point for his career. It also co-starred a young Charles Bronson (that’s right same guy from “Death Wish”). So this film just wasn’t a typical convert to 3D to cash in release, Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging delivered a brand new 4K scan, a full restoration and a perfect 3D image alignment. It really shows and looks quite amazing in 3D for a film celebrating 60 years. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track also works very well. Warner also included as a bonus, the 2D version of the film as well.  This also marks the first time that “House of Wax” is being released on Blu-ray.

The special features are pretty decent. There is all new featurette: “House of Wax: Unlike Anything You’ve Seen Before”, which is a must watch for any fan. I was also really impressed that “Mystery of The Wax Museum”, the original 1933 film on which “House of Wax” is based was also included as a bonus feature. “Round-the-Clock Premiere: Coast Hails House of Wax” looks at the premiere of the film. Lastly, there is an expert commentary track included as well as a theatrical trailer.

The most successful 3D movie of the 1950s, House of Wax, comes to 3D Blu-ray™ for the very first time on October 1st!

3D Blu-ray Review “The Little Mermaid: Diamond Edition”

Actors: Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Rene Auberjonois, Pat Carroll, Paddi Edwards
Directors: John Musker, Ron Clements
Number of discs: 3
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Run Time: 83 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“The Little Mermaid” is one my favorite Disney films of all time. I remember the very first time I saw it dating back to 1989. Crazy that it is nearly 25 years old. The film has so many amazing song and will have you singing along whether you have seen the film yesterday or 20 years ago. The film was the winner of two Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score and Original Song (“Under The Sea”). My daughter, who is 15 months old, loves Ariel and we got to introduce her to this film for the very first time. Let me tell you, she didn’t even turn her head once from the screen and did I mention she is 15 months old. Parents will understand what I mean by this. Disney really sprinkled some magic onto this release to deliver this film finally on Blu-ray with an amazing presentation. Now if we can just get “Aladdin” to Blu-ray, I will be complete.

Official Premise: Free-spirited mermaid Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) sets off on the adventure of a lifetime with her best friend, the adorable Flounder (Jason Marin) and a reggae-singing Caribbean crab named Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright) at her side. But it will take all of her courage and determination to make her dreams come true, and to save her father Triton’s (Kenneth Mars) beloved kingdom from the sneaky sea witch Ursula (Pat Carroll).

The film’s voice cast is so amazing Jodi Benson is just perfect as Ariel, here voice is what a princess should sound like. Cute and magical. Is it bad that I also still have a crush on Ariel after nearly 25 years 😉 Samuel E. Wright really gives life to Sebastian and is so much fun. Also Buddy Hackett is a shear blast voicing one of my favs Scuttle. Zut alors, I have missed one! We can’t forget Rene Auberjonois’ amazing take with Chef Louis.

Disney did not cheap out with this new Diamond Edition Blu-ray. The film included two Blu-ray’s, one 3D and the other 2D. There is a DVD copy of the film, along with a digital copy, which can be redeemed on Ultraviolet streaming sites. Note, you will also receive a $5.00 gift card if you redeem the digital copy, which is a no brainer. Besides all that there is still more since there is an exclusive 10 song digital download including Carly Rae Jepsen’s new take on “Part of Your World”. So to me this release definitely screams Diamond Edition.

Let’s get to the 3D aspect of the film now. Obviously, this film was never made in 3D but with the recent hit of films like “The Lion King”, Disney would be stupid not to cash in. I have to admit, I really loved this film in 3D. I thought that it just felt so deeper, maybe it was the water, but it really expanded this undersea world. The action scenes were amazing including (my favorite) the shark chase and the final confrontation. But of course what is even better is that the film also looks stunning on 2D Blu-ray as well. Disney really delivered a solid 108p presentation here, along with an amazing (not stunning) DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. The music plays so well and has never sounded better.

In terms of special features, there is not a whole lot new here but it still includes some solid extras. There is the All-New Music Video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s new take on “Part of Your World”. “The Real Little Mermaid: Live Action Reference Model” looks into finding the look for Ariel. “Part of Her World: Jodi Benson’s Voyage To New Fantasyland” is a trip with the voice behind Ariel to explore Walt Disney World’s latest attraction. Other extras include “Howard’s Lecture”, “@ Disney Animation”, “Deleted Character” and some Classic DVD Bonus Features. Lastly I was a big fan of “Disney Intermission”, which is an interactive sing-along for these classics and timeless songs.

3D Blu-ray Review “World War Z 3D”

Actors: Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, David Morse, David Andrews
Directors: Marc Forster
Rated: PG-13 / Unrated
Studio: Paramount
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Running Time: 116 / 123 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

With the success of TV show’s like “The Walking Dead”, zombies have been hotter right now. I have to admit before “World War Z” came out, I was kind of taken back by the fact that the film cost nearly $200 million dollars. I thought it was going to be this big-budgeted mess but I have to admit I was quite surprised. Brad Pitt really kicks some ass in this film and really delivers. The film is fast, suspenseful and definitely adds some new tabs to the zombie film genre. In fact, this film isn’t JUST a zombie film it plays more like a giant end-of-the-world-style action film. “World War Z” (like most films today) was shot in 2D and converted in post-production. Does the film need to be in 3D?…not at all. But is it worth it?…Yeah it is! There is some pretty cool added depth to the large scale action scenes. The zombie effects also take advantage of this format as well. Personally, if I had a choice to watch 2D or 3D, I would prefer seeing it in the third-dimension for sure. I thought it played out very well and added a lot to the film.

Official Premise: When former U.N. investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family get stuck in urban gridlock, he senses that it’s no ordinary traffic jam. His suspicions are confirmed when, suddenly, the city erupts into chaos. A lethal virus, spread through a single bite, is turning healthy people into something vicious, unthinking and feral. As the pandemic threatens to consume humanity, Gerry leads a worldwide search to find the source of the infection and, with luck, a way to halt its spread.

In terms of presentation, Paramount really delivers a fantastic Blu-ray here. The 3D disc of the film includes only the theatrical cut of the film (which is a little disappointing) and the 1080p transfer is very solid. This really captures the huge scale of the film and it just looks so crisp and sharp. The 2D Blu-ray includes both the theatrical and unrated cut of the film, even though I prefer the 3D, the film still looks impressive in terms of presentation in 2D. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is rocking and delivers some amazing surround sound effects. Marco Beltrami’s score delivers some good suspense and works well with this track. Also included in this combo pack are a DVD and an UltraViolet copy of the film.

The special features will not last you through the end of the world but they are worth checking out. There are primarily made up of a few featurettes looking the production, no commentary tracks. “Origins” includes cast and crew, including Brad Pitt discuss how this film came about and their plans to make it different from other zombie films. “Looking to Science” looks into the scientific realities of the Zombies in the film. The next few featurettes focuses on the film’s production. “Outbreak” takes us on set with Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster as we get a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s first attack in Philadelphia. “The Journey Begins” focuses on Gerry’s escape in South Korea. “Behind The Wall” looks into the massive scene shot in Jerusalem and what it took to shoot. Lastly “Camouflage” focuses on the final battle between Gerry and the zombies and how it was done.