Film Review “Pan”

Starring: Hugh Jackman and Levi Miller
Directed by: Joe Wright
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hr 51 mins
Warner Bros

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

It’s a familiar theme in some films. Mother leaves newborn on a friendly doorstep hoping the people inside will give him/her a better life. Such is the case of young Peter, who is left outside a London orphanage in the sometime before World War II. Wrapped only in a blanket and wearing an odd-looking necklace, the baby is taken in.

Jump forward and we find a 12-year old Peter and his friends living in a cramped area, doing menial chores for the tyrannical Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke). Among their chores is going up on the roof to clean out the gutters, which is a rather odd task to assign a child, especially with all of the air raids going on. While doing their daily tasks, Peter notices that the population of children is dwindling. He’s assured that the youngsters have been “furloughed” out…send to a safe place because of the war. However, he soon learns the truth when he and his fellow orphans are plucked out of their beds and carried away to…you know where!

Full of amazing effects and riding a fine, over-the-top performance by Hugh Jackman, “Pan” is sure to be a hit with the 12-14 crowd. All of the familiar characters are here: Smee (Adeel Akhtar), Tinkerbell and a certain Mr. James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), who quickly befriends Peter. This version of Neverland is full of young boys who like to have fun. For some odd reason they often break into song, including a rousing version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” When on screen, Jackman gives a bravura performance. It’s almost as if he’s imagining he’s back on Broadway and he has to be “big” enough for the people in the back of the balcony to hear him.

The rest of the cast is equally energized. Young Miller gives Peter a certain youthful quality that’s often not shown in other films dealing with the same subject. Things get a little weird when Rooney Mara shows up as Tiger Lilly, who immediately strikes up a reciprocated flirtation with Hook. The fact that there should be a good 15-years between the two is glossed over. And before the protests begin, I think Mara did as fine a job here as any Native American actress would have!

Some of the grand battles are quite impressive, though I should warn people with kids under 12 that they may be a little overwhelmed, especially with the 3-D, which works to some success here, helping make “Pan” a fantastic adventure for kids.


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Blu-ray Review “Peter Pan: Return to Never Land”

Actors: Blayne Weaver, Corey Burton, Kath Soucie, Harriet Owen, Jeff Bennett
Directors: Robin Rudd
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Run Time: 72 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Like the recently released “Planes”, “Return to Never Land” is a direct-to-video movie that was released in theaters back in 2002. I remember seeing it in theaters back then and actually quite enjoying it. The film is a direct sequel to 1953’s “Peter Pan” arriving nearly 50 years later. “Peter Pan” is easily one of my favorite Disney films ever, so this film has big shoes to fill. “Return to Never Land” does deliver though. It is not perfect but it is fun, packed some good jokes and has that same charm that we all loved from “Peter Pan”. It just makes you feel like a kid again while watching it. With the success of Disney Junior’s “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”, this would be great for today’s kids that weren’t born yet when this came out.

Official Premise: Let your imagination soar as your favorite characters from Peter Pan, Disney’s classic adventure, return to Never Land. Now, for the first time through the magic of Blu-ray, experience all the thrilling action with digitally restored picture and spine-tingling high-definition sound. Wendy’s very practical and no-nonsense daughter, Jane, begins the adventure of a lifetime when the infamous Captain Hook whisks her away to the enchanted island of Never Land. It’s up to Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys to help Jane believe in faith, trust and pixie dust. With the first-ever Lost Girl at his side, will Peter Pan finally defeat Hook and his swashbuckling band of pirates? Share the power of believing with your family in Return To Never Land—now more spectacular than ever on Disney Blu-ray.

Disney is releasing this film as a Special Edition combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. I love that Disney has switched from just iTunes digital copies to streaming digital copies from Vudu and Amazon.  The 1080p transfer looks really amazing with this film.  Even though it has that certain direct-to-video look, Disney did a great job of giving this film a nice polish job. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.  It works well the dialogue, the soaring through the sky, as well the action including the sword fights and all other aspects of swashbuckling.

Unlike the film, the special features are not very impressive. There are give deleted scenes included presented in various stages of the production but mostly in storyboards. Thought it might not excite many people, I watch Disney Junior quite a bit with our 15 month old daughter and she goes absolutely crazy for the “Pixie Previews” with the crew from the Tinker Bell movies.  So even though it is not directly related to “Return to Neverland”, I am pretty excited to see the five animated shorts including “Hide and Tink,” “Dust Up,” “Shooting Stars,” “Volley Bug” and “Just Desserts”. Lastly, there is a music video for the song “I’ll Try” performed by Jonatha Brooke and some trailers included.

Book Review "Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan"

Author: Hollis Wilder
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Release Date: April 9, 2013

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Living in the Orlando, FL area and being a fan of cupcakes, it is hard not to know who Hollis Wilder is. Who is Hollis Wilder? Besides owning her chain of cupcake stores, Sweet! By Holly. She is also the first two-time champion of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”. My family makes frequent trips to her store in order to get our fill of amazing cupcakes. “Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan” is a next natural step forward for her career. Since she is know for her work with a cupcake pan, she brings forward ideas for other exciting mini meals to be made the same way. I can easily see Hollis with her own shot on Food Network in the next few years…mark my words.

When I took a flip through the book, at first glace there were tons of recipe titles that immediately had more drooling. But one thing that really bothered me was the lack of photos. There was a lot of white space with snazzy designs that could have easily been replaced with Tina Rupp’s amazing photography. Since these recipes are a little more custom than the typical meals, I think it is almost necessary to get an idea of what the final product should look like. Also in general, I am just a visual person. I was easily drawn to the recipes that had photos and passed over others that didn’t at first glance. This doesn’t just come from me though, my wife even took the book for a spin and said the exact same thing. But still, there are 100 very unique and some basic recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I am surprised to see nothing in the dessert department, I do not mean cupcakes but something to satisfy that sweet tooth after dinner.

I liked the idea behind these recipes. Hollis wanted to find a way to assist in avoiding overeating. We had a chance to chat with Hollis and she said referred to this technique of cooking as “living life in portions”. Here is our full interview, check it here. These meals are also easy and perfect to make ahead of time and freeze for the week. This comes in handy for my wife and I. We have a 10 month old daughter and don’t always have time to make elaborate meals each night. Some of our favorite recipes and must-eats are the following Wafflinis; Savory Apple Tarts; Mexican Breakfast Rolls; Beef Stroganoff; Turkey, Apple & Sweet Potato Pies (my favorite so far); Chicken Apple Hand Pies; and “Chicken Enchiladas with Andouille Sausage. So to wrap up, I believe that Hollis has developed some really sharp and delicious recipes here. The book itself is missing the visual punch that I was hoping for but it is still recommended to pick up, especially if you are hungry and feeling creative. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! Now if you excuse me I have some cooking to do.


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Margaret Kerry reflects on modeling for Tinker Bell in Disney’s "Peter Pan"

Margaret Kerry is known best for her role as the live-action reference model for Tinker Bell in Walt Disney’s animated feature, “Peter Pan”. She also worked as the live-action reference model for the Red-Headed Mermaid in the lagoon sequence. With Disney’s “Peter Pan” being recently released on Blu-ray, Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Margaret about her role in the film and working with Walt Disney himself.

MG: How did you end up working as the model for Tinker Bell in the Walt Disney Pictures animated feature, “Peter Pan”?
MK: It may sound like I am going too far back but it is really not. I was adopted when I was 3 1/2 years old by this wonderful couple that were old enough to be my grandparents. They had no idea what to do with a tiny kid. They thought that I cute as a button and talented, so they started training me in acting. I got into Central Casting and I started working at 4 years old. I started in a movie called “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and I made $8.50 a day, which was a lot then. So my mother became a “Hollywood mother”, but she really wasn’t very good at it [laughs]. I remember the first time I walked onto Warner Bros lot, it was terrifying. I worked with Meglin Kiddies, which is the group that MGM hired for their films. Producer Al Burton started out and put me down as a co-host of a local show where we found talented high school kids and put them on the show. At the same time, I was working in radio and was cast as the eldest sister on “The Ruggles”. I also had done the Eddie Cantor movie “If You Knew Susie” and you can see me on YouTube dancing up a storm. Next, I got hired to do a movie at Fox. So while, I was working at Fox I got the call if I wanted to try out for the reference model of Tinker Bell. Also while I was working at Fox, I was with a choreographer named Roland Dupree, whom I ended up getting him the reference model for the character Peter Pan. So all come around that is how it happened.

MG: Can you reflect on your experience working with the legendary Walt Disney?
MK: I have worked at almost every studio in town by the time I was working at Fox. So I was pretty well-versed at what studios were like. When I got the call from my agent that I might have a chance at working at Disney Studios, Michael I can’t tell you how exciting that was. During those times, Disney was the premiere studio to work with. It was just thrilling. In fact, I was just there a few days ago and it is still just as thrilling. Everything is for the employees. Creativity is blessed there. And Mr. Disney himself was just great. You will see in my book (more on that below) photo archives found two photos with him working on the same sound-stage as Buddy Ebsen. He would then come over and chat with Marc Davis, who was the animation director of “Peter Pan” and I got to chat with him at least five times. There were people who worked in the studio for over a year and never even met Walt. So I was so fortunate. I went to school with both of his daughters at Monticello School for Girls, while they were there for a short period. So I spoke to him about that and it was like I was the only person in the whole world. It was such a great experience.

MG:How long did you work on the film?
MK: It was about 9 months. But I wasn’t there every day. I also voiced the red haired mermaid in the lagoon along with June Foray and Connie Hilton. I said lines like “Oh Peter, we just wanted to drown her.” We also did the live-action work and had our legs bounded together and we had to slither around. It was just fabulous.

MG:Where you ever approached to model for any other Disney films after “Peter Pan”?
MK: I got married and had a family. When I met Jodi Benson, from “The Little Mermaid”, I told her that I was the great-great-grandmother of Ariel and we had a great laugh. But I ended up going into voice over. I speak 21 different dialects and 48 different voices. So I worked on shows like “Clutch Cargo” and “Space Angels”. So my primary focus was voice-over and radio. But they keep calling me back each time they re-release “Peter Pan”.

MG: Tell us about your autobiography “Tinker Bell Talks: Tales of a Pixie Dusted Life”?
MK: I am shooting for Valentine’s Day 2013, but of course you never know what can happen with printers. There are 110 chapters, none of which are over six pages. There are 80 photos and some really fun stories. Did you know I produced an animation short for George Clinton from Parliament-Funkadelic. In 10 days, I produced seven minutes of animation for one of their concerts. There is a funny story about that because this as well.  Since my boss (at the time) did not get the cash for the animation when it was delivered, I had to go and track down this group of people on the Sunset Strip. There are all these very tall black men around me and I am only 5’2 [laughs]. I walked up to them looking to get paid. We had a great laugh and they were such nice people. Those are the some of the stories included. It has been great fun to work on.


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Disney’s "Peter Pan: Diamond Edition" Blu-ray™ Combo Pack Giveaway [ENDED]


© 2013 Disney

Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Disney’s Classic Adventure As It Soars to New Heights for the First Time on Disney Blu-ray™
Available For Purchase on February 5, 2013

To celebrate the release of Disney’s “Peter Pan: Diamond Edition”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway 5 copies of the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (1 Blu-ray™ + 1 DVD). If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email indicating your top three Disney animated films. This giveaway will remain open until February 15th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to residents of the United States only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

On February 5, 2013, The Walt Disney Studios celebrates the 60th Anniversary release of Walt Disney’s classic, “Peter Pan,” as it soars to all-new heights – with a new digital restoration and high definition picture and sound – for the first time on Blu-ray™. The classic tale that taught us all “to believe” and first introduced us to the Darling children – Wendy, John and Michael – as they flew with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell past the second star to the right and straight on ‘till morning to the enchanted world of Never Land. Rediscover the magical adventure and relive childhood memories of this great bedtime story.

The “Peter Pan” Diamond Edition Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (Blu-ray™ + DVD + Digital Copy & Storybook App) is a “must-own” addition to everyone’s home entertainment collection, filled with high-flying bonus features for all ages that includes – the groundbreaking feature Disney Intermission, Growing up with Nine Old Men short film, never-before-seen Deleted Scenes and a never-before-heard Deleted Song.

“Peter Pan” is a timeless classic from Disney’s Golden Age of animation. The film is one of three to boast all nine of Walt’s famous “Nine Old Men” as Directing Animators, and is a revered audience favorite. “Peter Pan” Diamond Edition 3-Disc Blu-ray™ Combo Pack will be available for a limited time only for the suggested retail price of $44.99 (US) and $51.99 (Canada) from Walt Disney Studios.

Blu-ray Review "Peter Pan: Diamond Edition"

Actors: Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Paul Collins, Tommy Luske, Bill Thompson
Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
Number of discs: 3
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Run Time: 77 minutes

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

“Peter Pan” has always been my second favorite Disney movie (behind “Alice in Wonderland). It’s story is so timeless.  I mean, who doesn’t want to fly, no worries and get a chance to fight buccaneers (and pirates too!).  Seems like the perfect fairy tale  right? Walt Disney Studios is celebrating the 60th Anniversary of this wonderful classic and what better time than to release it for the first time every with a new digital restoration and high definition picture and sound on Blu-ray. “Peter Pan” is also a great display of Disney’s Golden Age of animation and was one of three films to actually include all nine of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men” working as Directing Animators. This release will have you soaring high, past the second star to the right and straight on ‘till morning.  If you have always wanted to take a trip to Never Land, this Blu-ray a good start to relive your childhood memories with Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy, Michael, John and Captain Hook with his band of bilge rats. If you don’t believe me take the words of the Indian Chief: “Me no spoof’em”.

Now let’s get down to the meat of this release   First of all, I am head over heals for the cover art of this release.  I love when a classic film get’s re-imagined. I understand the love of original art but this just feels so fresh and yet classic at the same time.  Disney is delivers a three-disc Blu-ray combo pack within under its well-respected Diamond Edition label.  Besides the Blu-ray disc, it also comes with a DVD, Digital Copy and even an Storybook App for iPhones and iPads. Now onto the wonderful (and probably much-debated) 1080p transfer. This film has been beautiful restored thanks to new digital advances used by the Disney restoration team. “Peter Pan” has been slightly altered in order to improve it to it’s original Walt Disney expectations.  But despite that, the film has never looked better.  And man, the colors just absolutely stunning! Disney tops it off with a first rate DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track that works so perfectly with the film’s beautiful music.  Of course, then there is also included is an original Dolby Digital Mono track. I easily prefer the 7.1 track, even if it is a little bit overkill for this film.  It still sounds amazing and really immerses you in this wonderful world of Never Land.

Disney did not skimp on the special features for this Blu-ray at all.  They come stocked with some great content.  To start there is an Introduction by Diane Disney-Miller, which has her reflecting on her father’s work. Roy Disney hosts a fantastically extensive audio commentary track, which was taken from the previous DVD release. Disney himself is a little stiff but still delivers some great knowledge and chats with animators, voice actors and more. Highly recommended. “Growing Up with Nine Old Men” is a 40+ minute feature on the Walt Disney’s famous group of lead animators. There are two deleted scenes and two deleted songs that have been restored to HD and dug out from the Disney Vault,including an alternate ending “The Journey Home”. They are presented either in original storyboards, concept art or rough cel elements format.  Also included are the classic DVD extras, starting with “Backstage Disney”, presented in SD and running just over an hour. This is made up of five behind-the-scenes featurettes and documentaries including “You Can Fly: The Making of Peter Pan,” “In Walt’s Words: Why I Made Peter Pan,” “Tinker Bell: A Fairy’s Tale,” “The Peter Pan that Almost Was” and “The Peter Pan Story”.  There is also a bunch of classics music extras as well including “Disney Song Selection”, “Deleted Song: The Pirate Song,” “Never Land: The Lost Song,” “Music Video: Never Land, performed by Paige O’Hara” and “Music Video: The Second Star to the Right, performed by T-Squad.”

Rounding out this release is one of my favorite new Disney special features, which is the “Disney Intermission”.  What is it?  Well try pausing the film at point and what what happens.  You are transported to Never Land with over 30 minutes of additional hidden treasures. Included are many fun activities and games for kids.  You can “Hunt for Peter Pan’s Shadow”, “Spot the Doubloon” and “Read Smoke Signals”, all wrapped up with video clips helmed by the first mate of the Jolly Roger.  I found myself pausing just for the heck of it. Even though I know every word to this film backwards and forwards, it is still great that a Sing-Along track is included. We also get to enjoy “DisneyView Side Bars”, which fills in the boring ‘ole black bars on the sides of the picture with beautiful artwork from Walt Disney background painter Cristy Maltese (“Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid”). Lastly, there are a great deal of sneak peeks into what Disney has in store next including “The Little Mermaid 3D”, “Return to Never Land”, “The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”, “The Muppet Movie”, the next “Tinker Bell” movie (no official title yet) and much more.


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Hollis Wilder talks about cupcakes and her new book "Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan"

Hollis Wilder is the owner of Sweet! by Holly, which is a cupcake shop located in Orlando, FL. She is also a two-time Winner on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”. Besides running a successful business she also does a lot of motivational speaking and is releasing a cookbook in May 2013 called “Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan”. Media Mikes had a chance to ask Hollis a few questions about cupcakes as well as her new book.

Mike Gencarelli: When you opened your store, Sweet! by Holly, did you ever think you would be where you are today?
Hollis Wilder: Absolutely not! But in truth I did not plan most of the incredible things that have happened in my life, personally or professionally. What I have gotten far exceeds what I was hoping for!

MG: How does it feel to rank in the The Daily Meal’s Top 50 Cupcakes in America this year?
HW: Always great to get recognition from media sources, but the most important confirmation comes daily from regular customers who like what we are making and keep returning to buy more.

MG: Besides cooking you also deliver motivational talks and presentations to colleges and companiesabout empowerment, success and personal growth; tell us about that side of you?
HW: I speak about how we all need to find our own, “cupcake,” whatever that might be. Trust your inner voice and not the white noise around you. Food is a vehicle for me to communicate what is of value to me and how I try to give back to my community. I try to share the information that I have collected during my own personal journey. I love nothing more than helping others find their own excellence and develop the courage to pursue it.

MG: How did you decide to become an author with “Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan”? Can you give us a sneak preview as to what we can expect from the book?
HW: I was pursued by one of the top publishers in the country, Abrams. Savory meals all prepared in a cupcake pan. It’s all about creating homemade culinary experiences without sacrificing convenience. also, I promote what I call, living life in portions. Instead of dishes that have no beginning or end, like a casserole, I put meals in the perfect portion of a traditional cupcake pan. I am promoting use of the savory bites in our new concept potluxe dinners, a reconstruction of old-fashioned potlucks but with a cutting edge perspective on ingredients and portions. Lots more to come on this as we approach release of the book in May.

MG: What else do you have planning in the cards for 2013?
HW: If i think about all the wonderful projects on my plate for 2013, I get totally overwhelmed. I’ve learned to stay in the moment and do what’s in front of me and things work out. I wrote the cookbook while running a growing business and managing a family with two small children, so basically I was creating meals and testing recipes while everyone was sleeping. This year will no doubt bring more challenges, successes and failures, but in the end I am grateful for all the incredible opportunities I have been given to challenge myself to be the very best Hollis I can be!