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  • Tangled: Before Ever After (2017) DVD Review

    Tangled: Before Ever After (2017)

    Director(s): Tom Caulfield & Stephen Sandoval

    Starring: Zachary Levi, Mandy Moore, Eden Espinosa, Clancy Brown, Julie Bowen & Jeffrey Tambor

    Released by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Taking place after the events of the original film but before the lead characters’ eventual marriage, Tangled: Before Ever After brings the charming heart and humor of Rapunzel and beau Eugene to the small screen in this original movie event, kickstarting its new episodic series.  Exchanging its slick computer-generated animation for a more traditional 2D style that echoes an illustrated storybook come to life, Rapunzel, although thrilled to be back home and surrounded by loved ones, struggles to adapt to her new royal lifestyle and the responsibilities it demands.  Temporarily turning down the love of her life’s proposal in order to explore sights beyond her castle walls, the barefoot beauty teams up with her resourceful aide Cassandra and encounters a mystical rock formation that returns her lengthy locks.  Attempting to fulfill her coronation ceremony, danger is not far behind as the vengeful Lady Kaine and her ruffians seek to infiltrate the castle leaving Rapunzel and Flynn, along with their animal friends, leading the defense.  Welcoming back the voice talents of Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore, Tangled: Before Ever After sets the stage for the Disney Channel’s seemingly surefire followup to the much loved feature.  Introducing new characters, familiar locations and retaining the enchanting tone audiences fell in love with several years ago, this anticipated return for Corona’s favorite couple, complimented by new original songs by legendary Disney composer Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), is a romantically fun adventure fans will looks favorably upon.

    Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents Tangled: Before Ever After in a widescreen format, bearing a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Digitally mastered and warmly preserving its very vibrant color scheme, characters and busier castle backgrounds look solid making the watching experience a satisfactory one.  Joined by a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, dialogue is efficiently handled while, the Menken penned song numbers give the track a subtle but, gracious boost in quality.  Bonus goodies include, four Short Cuts mini movies including, Checkmate (2:32), Prison Bake (2:22), Make Me Smile (2:32) and Hare Peace (2:27).  Furthermore, Sneak Peeks at Disney Movie Rewards (0:20), Elena of Avalor (0:48), Descendants 2 (0:34) and Born in China (1:16) are also included.  Lastly, an Exclusive Replica of Rapunzel’s Journal, as seen in the film, is also included in the packaging.  Fans awaiting for more fairy tales to be told from the world of Tangled, fear not, as this humorous new beginning for the beloved characters is on par with the magic of its 2010 originator.  With its formal series now airing and already renewed for a second season, Tangled: Before Ever After is the perfect start to catching up with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, making for a prime Easter basket treat for young viewers this holiday season.

    RATING: 3/5

    Available now from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Tangled: Before Ever After can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014) Blu-ray Review

    Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014)

    Director: Bobs Gannaway

    Starring: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, Curtis Armstrong, Stacy Keach & Hal Holbrook

    Released by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From DisneyToon Studios, Dusty Crophopper and a new gang of soaring characters take to the skies in this action-adventure follow-up.  Confronted with hard truths, accomplished racer Dusty, must adapt to his new situation in order to help those closest to him.  Dane Cook (Dan in Real Life) returns to voice the cropduster who could as he faces endless obstacles and dangers on his road to becoming a firefighter.  Above the world of Cars, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment proudly presents Planes: Fire & Rescue.

    Following the success of world racer Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), Planes: Fire & Rescue finds the noble former cropduster confronted with crushing news about his malfunctioning gearbox.  With his racing career halted, an accident caused by Dusty signals the inadequate firefighting capabilities of Propwash Junction airport.  In order to reopen, Dusty heads to Piston Peak National Park to undergo firefighting training by working side by side with seasoned vets and combating intense blazes.  Ed Harris (A Beautiful Mind), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Curtis Armstrong (American Dad!), John Michael Higgins (Bad Teacher), Hal Holbrook (Lincoln), Teri Hatcher (Coraline), Stacy Keach (American History X) and Cedric the Entertainer (Larry Crowne) co-star.

    MOVIE:

    Following the underdog formula of Cars, the original Planes skyrocketed from direct-to- video captivity to become a theatrical box-office smash.  Released only a year later, Planes: Fire & Rescue ambitiously moves the story in new directions with unimaginative results.  While, avoiding repetition and implementing more action, the sequel lacks colorful supporting characters and bolsters a dull narrative.  Moments of genuine emotion are halted far too quickly to be effective and the intended humor fails to register.  Dusty’s lively friends and co-racers from the original film are nonexistent or regulated to cameos, making way for a squad of new unmemorable characters.  Training with an efficient team of wilderness firefighters, headed by Blade Ranger (Ed Harris), Dusty hopes to find a new purpose in life while, restoring safety to his hometown.  Filled with visually impressive sequences of fire blazing action, Planes: Fire & Rescue ultimately registers as all fluff and little flair.

    Incorporating rock tunes from AC/DC and various pop culture references (Howard the Truck), Planes: Fire & Rescue should be commended for its willingness to experiment but, fails to obtain the simple charms that made its predecessor a delight.  Headlined by an impressive voice cast, the performers find difficulty making the shallow story and weak characters gel.  As a professed fan of the original, Planes: Fire & Rescue offers splendid, at times gorgeous, animation with an action-heavy emphasis but, in the end, nosedives into mediocrity.

    RATING: 2/5

    VIDEO:

    Where its narrative falters, its high-definition appearance soars.  Arriving with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, Plane: Fire & Rescue possesses the pristine charm of Disney’s newly released animated features.  Bright and bold, colors pop off the screen, ranging from the varying spectrums of the planes and the glorious scenery.  Black levels are handled with care, appearing with no crush or digital noise, allowing for optimal clarity.  In addition, scenes of intense inferno allow for impressive detail of the element to shine through.  Once again, Disney flies high with a pitch perfect transfer for viewers to marvel at.  

    RATING: 5/5

    AUDIO:

    Equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, Planes: Fire & Rescue registers loud and clearly with more than satisfying results.  Dialogue is crisp with only minor moments of sound effects and music dampening its volume.  The wailing wind as the planes soar by and the crackling fire are effective and balanced nicely throughout the mix.  Music including, Spencer Lee’s “Still I Fly”, is always given priority and forcefully invades your speakers.

    RATING: 4.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    • Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular (5:55): In this exclusive short, Dusty and Chug have to fill in for absent stunt show performers, Air Devil Jones and Vademonium, resulting in hilarity.

    • Welcome to Piston Peak! (2:49): Faux vintage commercial for the wilderness area seen in the film.

    • “CHoPs” TV Promo (0:45)

    • Air Attack: Firefighters From the Sky (4:47): Producer Ferell Barron and Director Bobs Gannaway tour a California Air Attack base giving viewers an inside look at the brave firefighters‘ rigorous training and complex equipment.

    • Deleted Scenes (4:32): Two scenes including Honkers and Dusty’s Dream No More are accompanied by intros from Producer Ferell Barron and Director Bobs Gannaway.

    • “Still I Fly” Music Video by Spencer Lee (1:31)

    • Animated Shorts: Dipper (1:45) and Smoke Jumpers (1:44).

    • Sneak Peeks: Promos for the Disney Store, Star Wars Rebels and Maleficent.

    • DVD Edition

    • Digital HD Code

    RATING: 2.5/5

    OVERALL:

    Hardly taking a breather after the original film’s success, Planes: Fire & Rescue zoomed into theaters less than a year later with lesser reverence.  Willing to spread its creative wings, this continuation ups the action but, substitutes humorous characters for uninspired ones.  DisneyToon Studios, predominately responsible for direct-to-video work including the popular Tinkerbell franchise, simultaneously delivers sensational animation and a hollow story.  Fortunately, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray shines in every way possible from bold colors to quality sound mixing.  With the exception of the enjoyable Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular short, special features are rather scant and uneventful.  Released theatrically in 3D, Planes: Fire & Rescue joins Maleficent as the latest Disney offering to unfortunately evade a 3D Blu-ray release.  While, Planes: Fire & Rescue may entertain younger audiences, its hasty release and monotonous narrative limit a wider appeal.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available November 4thPlanes: Fire & Rescue can be purchased through Disney.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.