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The Little Mermaid Blu-ray
Disney has been routinely re-releasing some of its canon titles on to Blu-ray for the last several years. However, The Little Mermaid remained firmly vaulted for quite some time before the company ultimately opted to bring it on to Blu-ray for the first time ever today. Fans will have plenty of options to choose from, including a 3D Blu-ray copy, a couple of different Blu-ray combo packs and a regular old DVD for those without Blu-ray capacity. That may seem like overkill on the releases, but I actually like that Disney is giving fans a ton of different options for one of its most prominent films.
The beloved classic follows Ariel, a feisty mermaid who has a secret obsession for all things human. So, when she gets the opportunity to trade her fins for human feet, she jumps at the chance without thinking about the potential ramifications of her decision—especially where the sneaky Ursula is involved. While several generations are familiar with the story, thanks to either being a child or having been an adult with a child around the time of the film’s release, Disney’s unvaulting of the title should be able to introduce The Little Mermaid to a brand new generation. More importantly, the picture looks incredible.
The Little Mermaid was initially released back in 1989, but you wouldn’t think it when watching the Diamond Edition. The picture in the Diamond Edition Blu-ray set has been tinkered with, but it looks beautiful and clearly defined in HD. Still, we’re watching a film from the handdrawn era, and while Ariel is one of the most expressive characters in Disney’s canon, there’s a roughness to the picture quality that you wouldn’t find in a movie like Tangled.
Regardless, there’s a charm to Ariel’s defiance, her romance on land, and her occasional damsel-in-distress qualities that remind us of Disney's early princesses. You can choose to see the latter as a problem, but it’s better to sit back and enjoy the retelling of the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairytale for what it is, a great animated story featuring excellent music from Alan Menken that still holds up more than two decades later.
You can order The Little Mermaid over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Other than the half hour of previews available at the start of the disc, the set is put together particularly nicely. There’s a brand new menu page for the Diamond Edition Blu-ray set and there are a ton of new bonus features available, along with all of the classic DVD bonus features that you may or may not have already perused. Another nice touch: if you click to access the menu while the film is playing, it will tell you how many minutes and seconds into the film you are.
The best of the new bonus features is the @DisneyAnimation segment, which tells the stories of some of the animators and takes viewers behind-the-scenes to look at the access to a lot of the new technologies being used today. It pretty much has nothing to do with The Little Mermaid, but any Disney fanatics will appreciate the storytelling within the extra.
Other Special Features:
“Part of Your World” Music Video featuring Carly Rae Jepsen
Deleted Character- Harold the Merman
“Under the Scene: The Art of Live-Action Reference”
“Part of Her World: Jodi Benson’s Voyage to New Fantasyland”
Classic Deleted Scenes
Classic Backstage Disney
Classic Music & More
Classic Audio Commentary
Classic “Behind the Ride that Almost Was”
Classic “Under the Sea Adventure: A Virtual Ride”
This is the End DVD
This is the End is only the most recent in a trend of “the world is ending” sorts of comedies. This one’s a little different from outings like The World’s End and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World in that it is chock full of famous people playing famous people, making for a movie that’s often funnier than it is good.
Jay Baruchel makes it known from the very beginning of the film that he isn’t a fan of Los Angeles. When he shows up to stay with his pal Seth Rogen, he’s invited to a party at James Franco’s house, a party that he is reluctant to attend. However, when blue beams of light, fires, earthquakes and more interrupt the big event, six friends must figure out how to survive the ordeal, eventually heading out into the open and confronting their biggest fears and their biggest issues as individuals.
Joining Baruchel, Rogen and Franco are Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride. Since the crew is made up completely of dudes, it leaves space for plenty of penis jokes, but the conversation is more often witty, and watching celebrities parody themselves is particularly amusing, especially in the moments when a slew of famous people get engaged with the plot, including but not limited to Rihanna, Emma Watson, David Krumholtz, and Martin Starr. Still, the plot is flimsy and occasionally drags, and the gross out element of some of the humor may not be appealing to some audiences. This is the End is not without the occasional problems, but it should keep viewers laughing throughout its wild run.
The bigger question is not whether This is the End is worth a watch, but whether or not it is worth owning. I’ve known some people who have watched the film over and over, but I was quite tired of it by the time I caught the film for the second time, and the set isn’t anything to write home about. I’m sure some of the Armageddon-oriented special effects look nice in HD picture, but the DVD set doesn’t offer anything special, especially in the bonus feature department.
You can order This is the End over at Amazon.
Other Special Features:
Audio Commentary with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Directing Your Friends
This is the Marketing
The Croods Blu-ray
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s The Croods is a family tale about a clan of cavemen who are forced to confront their fears and explore a brand new world after their cave is destroyed. The film suffers from a terrible title, but features a warm plotline that focuses on family dynamics, young romance, and plenty of adventure.
It’s easy enough to identify with the Crood family, even if they are living in a world that is part caveman and part fantastical landscapes and creatures. There’s Grug (Nicholas Cage), the patriarch of the family and the man who has kept his family flourishing when so many others had died. There’s a rascally old Gran (Cloris Leachman), a reasonable mother, Ugga (Catherine Keener), and a very dumb brother, Thunk (Clark Duke). At the heart of the plotline, though are Guy (Ryan Reynalds) and Eep (Emma Stone), two teens who are learning to like one another but also to understand what it is like to trust an outsider for the first time.
The new relationship is mutually beneficial for everyone to combat the brand new hardships along the way, including tar pits and carnivorous creatures. The real joys come from the cutesy ways the characters play off one another. This is mostly due to Cage’s Grug, who gets the best lines playing an overprotective father who doesn’t do overly well with change. Additionally, his hatred for his mother-in-law brings in some of the movie’s best jokes.
The film is missing some of the heart that the best animated films typically have, but The Croods is still an amusing and fanciful adventure film offering plenty of visual wonder. With plenty of star power and a good box office haul, it’s no surprise that DreamWorks would sign on for a second adventure story, either.
You can order The Croods over at Amazon (and it looks like that copy even comes with a furry stuffed animal).
Best Special Feature: “The Croodaceous Creatures of The Croods” is an interactive segment explaining all of the imaginary beasts and creatures that pop up during the tenure of the film. This one is actually particularly helpful, considering the team of animators mixed up owls and felines, whales and more to come up with hybrid creatures that frequently terrorize the Croods.
Other Special Features:
“Belt’s Cave Journal”
“Croods Cuts: Lost Scenes”
“Be An Artist: Draw Creatures from The Croods”
“World of Dreamworks Animation
The Wizard of Oz 3D Blu-ray
Following a limited theatrical release, the latest The Wizard of Oz release marks the first time that Dorothy and her ragtag crew are available in 3D. To market the 3D release, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has put together a 3D cover that rivals the one Once Upon A Time put out for its Season 1 set. It features Dorothy on the cover, popping out of a field of poppies along the yellow brick road. The packaging for the set is lovely, but it doesn’t explain why you should buy this set if you already own a copy of the film—and especially if you don’t have 3D capacity.
The first big reason to nab a copy of this set is the brand new bonus feature, “The Making of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” an extra that seems like its should have been put together ages ago. The full-length documentary takes a look at old interview footage, footage from today’s film critics, directors, and other industry leaders, and plenty backstage photographs and footage from films of the era to explain the story of the making of the classic film. Everything from casting to financing the project is discussed and it’s definitely a reason to nab a copy of the film.
Additionally, huge fans of The Wizard of Oz might want to buy the 5-disc collection 75th Anniversary Edition collection, which comes with numerous collectibles, including a journal, a ruby slippers globe, a pin set, a map of Oz, and a 48-page book. That’s the expensive set with all the expensive toys, but luckily The Wizard of Oz Blu-ray set still comes with a high quality HD copy of the film—better than what you get when you catch half of the movie on cable around the holidays.
You can order The Wizard of Oz 3D over at the Warner Bros. shop.
Other October 1 Releases: Unless otherwise noted, the upcoming releases are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
How I Met Your Mother: Season 8 DVD
New Girl: The Complete Second Season DVD
Glee: The Complete Fourth Season
Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey 3-Season Boxed Set
Bond 50 (with Skyfall)
The Big Parade Blu-ray Book
Magnum P.I.: The Complete Series DVD
Teen Mom: The Complete First Season DVD
Awkward. Seasons 1 & 2 DVD