"DISNEY PRINCESS ENCHANTED TALES: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS"
Cinderella just got her own sequel a couple months ago, so she’s noticeably absent from the line-up. Instead, the highlighted princesses are Aurora from “Sleeping Beauty” and Jasmine from “Aladdin.” While Jasmine has had a chance to be in her own direct-to-DVD sequels, this is the first original story from the “Sleeping Beauty” universe.
Both stories run about a half hour each and teach lessons about self determination, hard work, honesty and teamwork. Aurora has to deal with running the kingdom while her parents are out of town. She gets some help from one of her fairy godmothers, but learns to not rely on magic too much. In Jasmine’s story, she must track down a prize horse which has escaped from her father’s stables.
While I’ve not been a huge fan of the Disney Princess series – not just because I’m not a young girl but because I felt they’ve relied too heavily on retreading old stories – I have to hand it to the Mouse House on this one. I like getting original stories, and we get two in this release. The stories are obviously geared towards young girls and are pretty soft on the action, but what do you expect from Disney Princess?
The DVD comes with a music video and two Disney Princess set-top games.
"RETURN TO HALLOWEENTOWN: ULTIMATE SECRET EDITION"
The biggest thing fans may notice is the replacement of Sara Paxton for the lead role. I personally found her a step up from Kimberly J. Brown, who originated the role and starred in the first three films. Paxton commands the character with more maturity and has a more mainstream accessibility.
As “Halloweentown 4,” this film has improved upon the previous two sequels, which were not as good as the first film. There seems to be a significant effort to make a compelling story beyond the disaster that was “Halloweentown High.”
The premise still has a bit of a Hogwarts feel to it, although it’s much more of a bubble gum movies than the Harry Potter films are. However, behind all the basic Disney Channel teenage relationship bits, there is a story with real peril in it. Fans might miss Debbie Reynolds as Marnie’s grandmother, but once the story gets going, it’s a nice Halloween treat for the family.
The DVD includes a making-of documentary that features interviews with the stars and a spotlight on the special effects.
This little film about a bunch of suburban biker wannabes from Cincinnati took the county by storm and made news as the first big comedy hit of 2007. The key to watching this film is to not take things too seriously. Yes, John Travolta lays his character on a little thick, and Martin Lawrence is almost as out of place in this movie as he was in “Bad Boys 2,” but I can forgive that.
The best parts of the movie come from William H. Macy, John C. McGinley and Ray Liotta as the leader of the rival biker gang that picks a fight with our heroes. There’s plenty of points in the film that will make people laugh, even if the scenes are a bit random. However, even if you don’t like the movie, stick around for the ending credits, which has a television spoof that made me almost fall on the floor laughing.
The DVD comes with a making-of featurette, an alternate ending (with a little more John C. McGinley), deleted scenes, outtakes, an audio commentary and some tips on how to get your wife to let you buy a motorcycle.
"BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA"
I’ll have to admit that I was dreading “Bridge to Terabithia.” I was never a fan of the book. In my opinion, it force-fed difficult issues down children’s’ throats. Librarians love it, but I wanted more real fantasy instead of depressing reality.
However, when I saw the film, I was pleasantly surprised. In a strange way, the story works better as a movie because the viewer can experience the childhood fantasy a little more, even if it is all in their minds. Although the movie was advertised as a new Narnia, I knew not to expect high fantasy. And since I knew the ending, I was prepared for it.
Overall, “Bridge to Terabithia” has an excellent cast, and both Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb act circles around their adult co-stars. The fantasy elements are slick but not overdone, and they are merged nicely with the reality of the film itself. I still wouldn’t recommend this for the young viewers hoping for Narnia, but fans of the book will find that it has done justice to the original novel.
The DVD includes spotlights on the digital effects and the larger themes of the book. There’s also two audio commentaries and a music video from AnnaSophia Robb.
"THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH: THE FRIENDSHIP EDITION"
Disney has given Pooh fans a great gift this summer – the re-release of “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” on DVD. This is the theatrical compilation of the first three releases – “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree,” “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” and “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.” (Those looking for the fourth theatrical short “Winnie the Pooh and A Day for Eeyore” only have to look to the special features of this disc to find it.)
While “Blustery Day” won an Oscar, all three cartoons deserved it. These introduced the world to the Disney version of the stuffed bear with very little brain before it was pounded down in the television show. These are heartwarming tales with the favorite characters in their element. I remember seeing this film in the theater as a little kid, and watching it today takes me back to a simpler time.
The rough pencil animation and the classic voice cast makes this a must-own for any Disney fan... or anyone who has kids.
The new DVD contains all the special features from the 25th anniversary release (including a making-of featurette, art gallery, sing-along song of “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers,” two set-top games and the “A Day for Eeyore” 1983 theatrical short). New to the DVD is a bonus episode of the new Playhouse Disney show “My Friends Tigger & Pooh,” which still doesn’t live up to these original classics.