CARS 2 IN 3D Home Video, takes the checkered flag

 

Now available in 3D Blu-ray, Cars 2 drives some cool animation home in time for gift giving.  The world wide theatrical hit making over $550 million took the planet by storm.   The number 11 over all in the Disney/Pixar domestic releases Cars 2’s a zany feature with a lot of action and the kind of fun the whole family should enjoy.

 

In this episode we find Lightning McQueen traveling around the world competing in the World Grand Prix.  Stopping off in several foreign cities, McQueen along with his pit crew and Mater the tow truck, finds themselves fending off adversaries and getting caught up in international espionage.  But, it’s Mater who puts himself in a quandary when he’s coaxed into a top-secret mission led by master British super spy Finn McMissile and his partner Holley Shiftwell.  When Mater gets in over his head, sparks start to fly.

 

The film features an all-star vocal cast including Owen Wilson who reprises his role as hotshot racecar Lightning McQueen. Larry the Cable Guy provides the voice of Mater (proprietor of Tow Mater Towing and Salvage), Lightning McQueen’s best friend and the heart and soul of Radiator Springs. Bonnie Hunt is back as Sally, the baby blue Porsche 911 Carrera whose motor races for Lightning. Acclaimed actor Michael Caine makes his Pixar debut as Finn McMissile, a top British spy who mistakes Mater for an undercover American agent with a genius disguise. Emily Mortimer brings charm, cleverness and cachet as Holley Shiftwell, a rookie field spy who knows every trick in the manual. Versatile actor John Turturro gives a freewheeling performance as Francesco Bernoulli, the world-renowned Italian racing champ who is Lightning’s chief rival. Tony Shalhoub, Joe Mantegna, Peter Jacobson, Jason Isaacs, Eddie Izzard, Paul Dooley, Cheech Marin, John Ratzenberger, Franco Nero and Vanessa Redgrave also lend their vocal talents. Real-life Formula 1 racing champ Lewis Hamilton and NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon add a touch of authenticity with their cameos in the film.

 

The 3D movie is very kid friendly and although a young lad’s film, it should make the gals in the family happy as well.  I liked the way Filmmaker John Lasseter keeps the action going, adds a layer of adult interest and brings the movie to a show stopping finale. The 3D eye popping effects are very well done and this one has a lot coming at you since it was created in the 3D format for the big screen.

 

The Bonus Features are not overly abundant but what they do have makes for some additional enjoyment. The 5 disc combo pack with the 3D Blu-ray disc, 2 Blu-ray discs, the DVD of the film and movie download disc has the best value since it includes all the formats.

 

The bonuses on the 3D blu-ray have the Cars Toon: “Air Mater” in 3D for their extra.

 

The Blu-ray disc in the combo pack however has a lot more;  In addition to the Cars Toon “Air Mater” in 2D, your are treated to the theatrical short “Hawaiian Vacation, the Director’s commentary, Speak Peek: The Nuts & Bolts of Cars Land and World Tour with interactive access to  Deleted Scenes, Documentaries, Animation and more from different locations in the movie.

 

The DVD has the cream of the extras with “Air Mater,” the Hawaiian Vacation and the Director’s commentary.

 

For fans that are hot on specs of the 5 disc combo pack:

 

Aspect Ratio: Blu-ray 3D: 2.39:1 Aspect Ratio (Feature Film)

Blu-ray:1080p High Definition • 2.39:1 (Feature Film)

DVD: 1080p High Definition • 2.39:1 (Feature Film)

 

Audio: Blu-ray 3D: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Near Field Mix 2.0

Blu-ray: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio ES, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Near Field Mix 2.0

DVD: English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Near Field Mix 2.0 Dolby Digital, English SDH Subtitles

 

Cars 2 is rated G for General Audiences and the movie runs approximately 1hr and 36min, but you can bet that it will be played over and over again.

 

I like the packaging with the 3D cover, the content and the movie with an overall rating of B+

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE LION KING 3D BLU-RAY, MAJESTIC

 

Rating System (with best being a 5): Film- 4.5, Video- 5, Audio- 5, Extras- 3.5, Overall 4.5

 

I don’t know if you recently had the opportunity to see The Lion King in 3D at your local theater or the original version in 1994 when it came out, but I had the opportunity to see the film in the 3D Blu-ray disc version and it’s amazing.  The film will probably never be replaced as the all time animated entertainment event for me because it has all the action, drama, comedy and values that make it the best for family viewing, and now in 3D Blu-ray.

 

The movie follows the adventure of a young lion cub Simba who is next in line to be King of the pride.  But his uncle Scar has other plans and sets up Simba to fail leading to his taking of the throne.  Cast out into the wilderness Simba runs into Pumbaa and Timon who help Simba get his strength and courage back.  When Simba returns to the pride a fight for leadership begins.

 

The songs are classics with “The Circle of Life” at the very top.  It’s hard to get most of the songs out of your brain once you revisit them and I still toe tap to “Hakuna Matata”.  But my heart belongs to “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, especially watching Simba and Nala begin their journey in life.

 

In 3D the movie takes on another level of entertainment.  This super visual mode put me right into the movie showing the characters up close and providing an amazing depth that brought the jungle to my living room.  If you have the 3D television and 3D Blu-ray system it’s the most unique way to see this classic spectacular movie.

 

The Four Disc combo pack turns out to be the best buy for now and the future.  This packaging includes the Blu-ray 3D, a regular Blu-ray disc with the feature film and the bonus features, a DVD of the film with it’s own bonus feature and a fourth Digital copy of the feature so you can download it and take it with you inside your laptop computer or other mobile device.

 

The Lion King has remained my favorite animated film over the years with just a few being it’s equal.  But, even though it has equals, it’s still the top one on my library shelf.  With the new Diamond Collection beginning, the original DVD has a new guest the 3D Version that will sit along side.  This product is among the new Disney’s Blu-ray Diamond Collection a selection of the most prestigious animated classics in the Disney vault.  The collection will be comprised of those treasured titles and will be released through the year 2016.

 

The Diamond titles represent the highest level of picture and sound, feature groundbreaking, state-of-the-art immersive bonus content, and include unprecedented levels of interactivity, personalization and customization, made possible because of Blu-ray technology. It all starts with The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, both available October 4, 2011.  Look for Lady and the Tramp DE in Spring of 2012.

 

Disney makes it easy to upgrade your collection to Blu-ray by just going to dineyupgrade2blu.com for instructions. You don’t have to give up your old DVD format disc and you get an $8 coupon to use for a discount on that Blu-ray title for which you send in purchase tab.

 

For all you ‘techie’ people let’s look inside the box and find out about the cool technical aspects of this baby.

Video

 

The color, sharpness, contrast and other goodies depend on your system, but if it is high grade you can depend on the discs inside the box to be top notch.  I found the 3D to be extremely well presented in its 1.178:1 aspect ratio a widescreen format that filled the whole screen with pop out quality and no black bars to distract.  Imaging has been greatly improved over the 2004 release of The Lion King with this pristine high definition picture. It’s hard to beat Disney’s Blu-ray for quality of picture including the fine sharpness, contrast, color and black levels.

 

Audio

 

Featuring AC-3, Dolby Digital Surround Sound my system would have blew the doors off the room if I jacked up the levels to full bore.  Instead I notched the film at a level that would fix my body in the center of all the action without destroying the ‘feel’ of the film.  Sound is at least 50% of any film showing and without good levels the presentation fails. The Blu-ray 3D disc provides (English) a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that easily drives my speaker system.

Special Features

 

The special bonus features on the discs are quite good and do have more than 2004’s 2 Disc Special Edition of The Lion King. On the 3D Blu-ray there’s just the film where you will experience 3D to the max.  The Blu-ray disc included in the combo pack has many bonus features, but don’t get rid of your 2004 SE because it has some features this edition doesn’t.

 

Deleted Scenes: 4 never-before-see deleted scenes (6 min)

Bloopers: New funny ‘animated errors’ that make you laugh (1 min)

Deleted Song: I guess the film was a little too long or the scene was cut, but this special song was not in the original.

The Morning Report: After you watch the film check this bonus out as it provides a longer sort of alternate version of this scene from the film. (2 min)

Pride of the Lion King: a visit with the crew on the film (36 min)

Sing-a-long mode: The songs from the film are set up with subtitles so the kids (and yourself) will know all the words.

Interactive Blu-ray Gallery: It’s worth the look.

 

The DVD disc includes the bonus:

 

The Lion King: A Memoir- Don Hahn: Hahn takes you on a journey into the creation of the film introducing the people who helped make it happen.  It’s a wonderful behind the scenes memory not to be missed. (20 min)

 

Disney Second Screen: The Lion Ling Edition provides a chance to sync your laptop or iPad with your Blu-ray disc to provide additional content you control as your movie plays.  It can be a bit dicey to set up and a little techie to use but once you do,…Revelations!

Final Thoughts

 

For me The Lion King 3D Blu-ray is a no-brainer, but if you are not ever planning on purchasing a 3D system it may not be for you.  However, with the Blu-ray and DVD enclosed in the 3D combo pack, if you are going to purchase the Blu-ray anyway the Combo Pack may be a better deal for any future changes in your entertainment system.

 

 

 

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS IN 3D Blu-ray

 

Things are changing fast in the world of home video and Disney has not fallen behind. Now in release is one of there all time favorites The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D.  The 3D box set comes with 3 disks, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD/Digital hybrid.  But the biggest delight is the 3D quality that enhances the clarity and depth of the film for an amazing performance.

 

The film has been in theaters off and on over the years since it was first released.  However for those who haven’t seen the film the animated story by Tim Burton goes like this: Bored with his perennial role as Halloween Town’s frightening Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington wanders off and discovers the cheerful village of Christmas Town. Determined to shake things up in Halloween Town, he enlists the help of some mischievous trick-or-treaters to kidnap Santa Claus and takes over the job of delivering gifts to the children of the world himself. When his plan goes awry, Jack attempts to restore Santa to his rightful place. But first, he must rescue St. Nick from the clutches of the evil Oogie Boogie!

 

The extras are plenty and include:

 

A Special Introduction by Tim Burton

 

What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour – Viewers choose the way they want to tour Disneyland’s Holiday Haunted Mansion. “On Track” explores a tricked-out version of the Haunted Mansion, while “Off Track” reveals what went into creating all the creepy fun.

 

Frankenweenie Short Film– A un-cut version of the Frankenweenie short with introduction by Tim Burton.

 

Vincent Short Film

 

Tim Burton’s Original poem narrated by Christopher Lee – Tim Burton’s poem that inspired the creation of the movie. Now, the original verse comes to creepy life as performed by legendary actor Christopher Lee.

 

Film Commentary – commentary by producer and writer Tim Burton, director Henry Selick and composer Danny Elfman.

 

The Making of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – Go behind the scenes of the very first full-length stop motion animated movie with the filmmakers.

 

The Worlds of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – Witness the creation of the film’s richly imagined dreamscapes, including Halloween Town, Christmas Town and the Real World.

 

Deleted Scenes

 

But, will the kids like the film?  With Halloween just weeks away it fits right into the holiday season and mature youngsters should gobble the film up, especially if you have Blu-ray or the ultimate Blu-ray 3D.

 

MARS NEEDS MOMS, on 3D Blu-ray

 

Technology has really taken a big leap with 3D home viewing and many films with the original format are now available on Blu-ray 3D.  This is the case with the newest Disney Release to 3D called Mars Needs Moms.  Sure it hit big in theatres to its target group kids and pre-teens, but now adults can check it out at home.  Whether you have 3D or other mode of video, the animation in Mars Needs Moms rivals PIXAR.

 

The story involves a nine-year-old named Milo who like most all pre-teens can’t seem to get a grasp on growing up.  Whether it’s at the dinner table or keeping his room tidy, Milo’s not one to follow that drill.  But his mom thinks otherwise and while she provides a good life for Milo, she finds herself in the same boat as other moms when it comes to adolescents.

 

One evening a huge commotion outside brings Milo to out of bed only to see his mother being whisked away by an alien space ship. In hot pursuit he catches up to the ship and stows aboard.  What happens next is an adventure filled with comedy, danger and a chance to make it all up to mom.

 

The 3D special effects are blazing on a home theater.  The strength comes mostly on the depth of field, but there’s plenty of action that comes out at you.  The most exciting thing I found however is the crispness of the animation.

 

Like most Blu-ray and DVD the fun for the kids here is the replay button that will allow them to run the film over and over again.  The story has a lot of kiddy twists and keeps them interested and laughing.  I found myself getting involved in the story even though I found it a little trite and corny at times.  Sure it’s a one time through for me, but since there are children in my life, it will get played plenty of times.

 

There are some cool extras on each of the formats.

 

If there is a 3D theater in your future you’ll want to get the 3D combo pack which has 4 ways to view, 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy all in one package.  Otherwise Mars Needs Moms can be obtained in a Blu-ray Combo or just a DVD.

 

The extras on the 3D disk include everything on the Blu-ray & DVD plus…. “Mom-Napping (All-new 3D Exclusive) – There‘s more than meets the eye during the Martian abduction of Milo‘s Mom”. This alternate scene — completely finished in 3D — tells all.

 

Blu-ray 2D includes Everything on the DVD plus an “Extended Opening – The movie begins… but wait, there‘s more. See it here.”

 

They all have deleted scenes, and many other fun things to search out.  You know, I never thought the youngsters as young as 5 years old would even find the extras, but my son’s children are pros at it.  And even if they have seen it once, unlike me, they will upload it again.

 

Things like  “Life On Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience” – Go way behind the scenes to where the actors performances are captured. This feature-length, picture-in-picture viewing mode also lets you listen to director Simon Wells and actors Seth Green and Dan Fogler give a fun and insightful look into creating the movie.

 

Deleted Scenes with Simon Wells introductions (4 Blu-ray 2D Exclusive Deleted Scenes) – 7 deleted scenes of which four are exclusive to the Blu-ray 2D release. Some cool scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Now you can see them with introductions by director Simon Wells.

 

“Flower Power” Easter Egg – the name of the show that Ki watched and learned English from is entitled ?Freaks on the Street.

 

GNOMEO & JULIET out on 3D Blu-ray

 

Talking about eye-popping 3D the current release of Gnomeo & Juliet provides a heaping helping of the special entertainment on Blu-ray.  The combo pack provides four ways to watch the film Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray disc, DVD and a Digital Copy so even if you do not have 3D right now, it’s yours for the future.

 

The story follows a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ relationship between families of Gnomes that live on different sides of a huge fence.  The two families have been feuding forever and are abiding by the rules they have set up for themselves.  One day Gnomeo has an accident that brings him together with Juliet and a comical romance begins.

 

The movie, although directed at youngsters who will probably wear out the disc with their repetitive use, does play to an adult level.  Filled with a lot of tongue-in-cheek comedy for adults I was never bored watching the hour and 24 minute film.

 

Watching the funny animated film in 3D on a pretty good size screen (say 35” or larger) gives approximately the same experience of seeing it in a movie theater.  Especially with Gnomeo & Juliet since it has a lot coming at you from your TV screen.  But, although the kids will love the popping effect, the depth of field really makes the film magical.

 

Bonus features include:

 

DVD & Movie Download:

• Elton Builds a Garden

• Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen

• “Crocodile Rock” Music Video, featuring Elton John and Nelly Furtado

 

Blu-ray:

 

• DVD Bonuses plus:

• 2 Alternate Endings with Filmmaker Introductions

• Deleted & Alternate Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions, including an alternate opening of the film and an added alternate scene. The disc includes six scenes not shown in the original movie theater release.

• The Fawn of Darkness, featuring Ozzy Osbourne

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  Whether you have 3D or other form of player, this is truly a KID pleaser. (B+)

 

The movie is rated G for the whole family.

Studio Ghibli Releases New Film on DVD

Japan’s most prestigious animation studio has released a new entry into the market called Tales of Earthsea.  Studio Ghibli the production company that made the Academy Award winner Spirited Away and the recent kid favorite Ponyo delivers exciting family friendly films that inspire and entertain.

A new animated feature from Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro has been released on DVD.  The adventure called Tales From Earthsea is the first directorship for Goro and it shows a lot of influence by his father.  The movie is based on the series of fantasy books by Ursula Le Guin.

Set in a fantasy world of magic we follow Arren a prince who is conflicted over a wrongful deed against his father.  Arren travels the land where he meets Lord Archmage Sparrowhawk a master wizard who takes the troubled youth under his wing.  When THE mysterious Cobb tries to destroy Arren over the special sword he carries, an epic battle ensues.

The attention to detail in all of Studio Ghibli is evidenced in this adventure of a troubled youth looking for redemption and self-discovery.  I like the feel of the film in this Asian style of 2D animation that’s more story oriented than the computer graphic delivery we get with most USA productions.

The DVD special features include the The World of Studio Ghibli where you can visit the land of Earthsea in an interactive experience.  It also contains a trivia challenge an much more.

Tales of Earthsea is rated PG-13 for some violent images.  It stars the voice talent of Timothy Dalton (Toy Story 3), Willem Dafoe ( Spider Man) Cheech Marin (Cars, Beverly Hills Chihuahua) and Mariska Hargitay (TV’s Law & Order)