12/14/05 Edition

A KONG-sized disappointment?
Andy Reviews Peter Jackson's Remake

Growing up in the ‘80s, I became a huge “King Kong” fan through repeated viewings of both the original 1933 RKO classic and its less-dignified, though still entertaining, 1976 remake. In between those decades, Kong resurfaced in a silly Rankin/Bass cartoon and an affiliated Toho Studios Japanese “Kaiju” spin-off -- not to mention his immortal battle with Godzilla in the early ‘60s.

Therefore, I have no problem at all with Peter Jackson remaking KING KONG for a new generation -- especially not when you see the loving care that Jackson applied to the remake: references to Fay Wray, Marian C. Cooper and RKO Pictures pop up early on. Later in the movie, Max Steiner’s original ‘33 themes are performed by the pit orchestra as Kong is introduced to the city of New York (conducted by Howard Shore, whose original score to this version was tossed out at the last minute), while the goofy tribal dance from the Cooper-Schoedsack classic is reprised by dancers on-stage. The end credits even appear against a backdrop with the 1933 title card fonts -- elements all respectful of the filmmaking milestone that was the very first “King Kong.”

Naturally, Jackson’s movie has the benefit of new technology behind it: this is a film packed with visual delights, from the authentic recreation of Depression-era NYC, to the amazing animation and “performance” of Kong himself. Articulated to a degree by Andy Serkis (Jackson’s Gollum cohort) and marvelously rendered on-screen, this is a Kong that’s a far cry from the stilted Rick Baker suit in Dino DeLaurentiis’ 1976 remake and ranks with the most awe-inspiring technological achievements that special effects wizards have produced throughout the decades.

So, there’s no problem at all with Jackson’s new film, right? A remake respectful of its predecessor with sensational visuals ought to be something to be admired and savored for generations to come, no?

Sadly, not everything in Jackson’s sprawling, overlong, three-hour (!) opus matches its good intentions and aesthetic qualities. This is a movie that plays like the kind of “Director’s Cut” studios indulge filmmakers on DVD, bulging with superfluous details and side characters with no pay-off, and scene after scene that could have been sliced in half and been every bit as effective -- if not more so for their brevity.

Since the original movie’s premise needs little introduction, it’s best to dissect the alterations Jackson and his collaborators (writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) have applied to this version. Here, leading man Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) is a playwright suckered into one of director Carl Denham’s latest productions. Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) is a down-on-her-luck actress seeking a way out of the Depression, and finds the opportunity of a lifetime despite the suspicious motives of Denham himself. All three, and a crew led by captain Thomas Kretschmann, find themselves on Skull Island, a prehistoric environment teeming with dinosaurs, giant insects, wild natives and one giant ape named Kong...

One of the first things you’ll realize about Jackson’s “King Kong” is that -- after a marvelous beginning in an early ‘30s Big Apple -- the film chugs along at a snail’s pace. The journey to Skull Island finds Jackson spending minute after minute on extraneous side characters and details; unlike his “Lord of the Rings” adaptations, though, the source material here doesn’t beg for a three-hour treatment, with one especially infuriating subplot involving Jamie Bell’s young seaman and his older, wiser superior (Evan Parke). Their relationship doesn’t add anything to the finished film, and could have been jettisoned without any detriment to the central drama.

Over a third of the movie is over before Kong appears, and naturally there are several “jackpot” set-pieces, including a brontosaurus stampede and a chase with raptors (and later, a pair of T-Rexes) not far behind. Regrettably, the movie then stalls out again with sequences that run on too long: the “spider pit” scene in particular is especially bloated (and atrociously spotted with inappropriate music from a mostly subdued, ultimately forgettable James Newton Howard soundtrack). Eventually, Jackson gets Ann, Jack and Denham off the island and back to New York, but even there, every scene feels several beats off-measure: the icy jaunt through Central Park with Ann and Kong is cute but ought to be over in half the time, and even the final battle on top of the Empire State Building (which Jackson wisely refrains from being overly bloody) leaves you feeling like you’ve watched each and every fly-over of the bi-planes that eventually take Kong down.

Between the bloated running time, over-reliance on side details and minor characters, what one is left with in “King Kong” is a film where the viewer ultimately has little interest in its heroes. Watts looks fetching and is effectively emotive in her encounters with the big ape, yet her scenes with Brody’s Jack are confined to the first third of the movie -- something that detracts from any real chemistry between the two. Brody himself looks as if he could have made for a perfect “everyman” kind of hero, but the script doesn’t give him nearly enough to do. Worst of all is Jack Black’s Denham: the movie clearly didn’t want to make him into the nefarious bad guy that Charles Grodin served up in the ‘76 version, and subsequently balances out some of the character’s despicable behavior with comedic elements. Yet, he’s still unhinged, and the film ultimately doesn’t come down hard enough on him: his reading of the movie’s final line rings false because it’s still Denham in this version who’s truly responsible for the tragedy of the final act.

By the time the would-be heart-tugging climax arrives, I felt more exhausted than moved by the 2005 “King Kong.” This is a reverent and beautifully-made picture that nevertheless wears you down: after all the running, shooting, shaking camera and muddled characterizations, it becomes apparent that Jackson’s movie left its heart somewhere between here and Skull Island. (**½, 187 mins., PG-13).

Aisle Seat Holiday Wrap-Up Part 1

Andy Gives The Bottom Line on the new DISNEY TREASURES Tins

Christmas is less than two weeks away, and in anticipation of the holiday, studios are pumping out one big release after another as we approach December 25th.

Top among the new releases for collectors is the fifth wave in the “Walt Disney Treasures” line of limited-edition DVD box-set tins. These sets have been highly popular with fans, and have offered collectors comprehensive anthologies of animated shorts, documentary materials, and other goodies as well.

Wave 5 offers four new box sets, all dressed up with host segments from Leonard Maltin, packaged with an exclusive lithograph, and spotlighting programming both familiar to Disney fans of all ages as well as some geared specifically towards “Golden Age” aficionados.

The Chronological Donald, Volume 2 (1942-1946) will be of the broadest general interest, sporting exactly what the title implies: a compilation of Donald’s starring shorts spanning the WWII era. Included among the goodies is the 1943 Oscar-winning short “Der Fuehrer’s Face,” in addition to “The Village Smithy,” “Donald’s Snow Fight,” “Donald Gets Drafted,” “Donald’s Garden,” “Donald’s Gold Mine,” “The Vanishing Private, “Sky Trooper,” “Donald’s Tire Trouble,” “The Flying Jalopy,” “Fall In, Fall Out,” “The Old Army Game,” “Home Defense,” “Trombone Trouble,” “Donald Duck and the Gorilla,” “Bellboy Donald,” “Commando Duck,” The Plastics Inventor,” “Donald’s Off Day,” “Clock Watcher,” “The Eyes Have It,” “Donald’s Crime,” “No Sail,” “Cured Duck, “Old Sequoia,” “Donald’s Double Trouble,” “Wet Paint,” “Dumb Bell of the Yukon,” “Lighthouse Keeping,” “Frank Duck Brings ‘em Back Alive,” “Contrary Condor,” and “Duck Pimples.”

Bonus features include the Disneyland episode “A Day in the Life of Donald Duck”; featurettes on Donald’s current voice and legendary artist Carl Banks; a time-line of the Disney Studios during the WWII era, and still frame art galleries.

Of equal interest for many Disney aficionados is Disney Rarities: Celebrated Shorts, 1920s-1960s, which offers two discs filled with assorted historical shorts.

Beginning with the rarely-screened “Alice” shorts from the 1920s, the two-disc set also features vintage (1930s-60s) shorts “Ferdinand The Bull,” “Chicken Little,” “The Pelican and the Snipe,” “The Truth About Mother Goose,” “Paul Bunyan,” “Noah’s Ark” (an unusual 1959 stop-motion production!), “Goliath II,” “The Saga of Windwagon Smith,” “A Symposium on Popular Songs” (offering commentary from Richard Sherman), “Ben and Me” (a delightful 20-minute cartoon from 1953 involving a mouse and Ben Franklin), “Football, Now and Then,” “Toot, Whistle, Plunk & Boom,” “Pigs Is Pigs,” “Social Lion,” “A Cowboy Needs a Horse,” “Hooked Bear, “ ”In the Bag,” “Jack and Old Mac,” “Story of Anyburg, U.S.A.,” “The Brave Engineer,” “Morris, The Midget Moose,” “Lambert, The Sheepish Lion,” “The Little House” and “Adventures in Music: Melody.”

Extras include a look at the Alice shorts with Leonard interviewing Virginia Davis, who played the original heroine at age four; a timeline of Disney’s silent era dubbed “From Kansas City to Hollywood”; a commercial Disney made for Community Chests of America; and a stills gallery.

Picture quality is as good as can be expected given the age of much of this material, with several shorts involving “Humphrey the Bear” filmed in Cinemascope and here presented in widescreen (purists should take note that there’s been some discussion about slight cropping of the edges on the usual message boards).

Overall, unless you have a strong preference for Donald Duck, the “Rarities” box set is the best of the four Disney Treasures collections and comes highly recommended, even for casual Disney fans.

The Adventures of Spin and Marty: The Complete First Year, 1955-56, meanwhile, offers nostalgia for Golden Agers, featuring the entire first season of the “Spin and Marty” segments broadcast during the original “Mickey Mouse Club.”

David Stollery and Tim Considine play Marty and Spin, respectively, who meet up at a summer ranch camp and get involved in all kinds of innocuous adventures. Harry Carey, Jr., Roy Barcroft and J. Pat O’Malley co-starred in these fun, old-fashioned episodes that ought to appeal even to kids today.

Disney’s two-disc box set includes 26 episodes that aired during the “MMC,” plus the full-length Mickey Mouse Club episode that introduced the series; Considine’s original screen test; the “Return To The Triple R” featurette, with Considine and Stollery returning to the original filming locale; an interview with Harry Carey, Jr., conducted by Leonard Maltin; and a still gallery.

Last among the four new tins is another Disney effort from the small-screen, Elfego Baca and The Swamp Fox: Legendary Heroes, which couples together episodes from two separate TV productions, which aired over the course of several years on Disney’s weekly series.

“Elfego Baca” is a rather straightforward western with Robert Loggia as a gunslinger who opts to take the higher road and become a sherriff and, later on, a lawyer. Leslie Nielsen, meanwhile, top-lines “The Swamp Fox” as Francis Marion, the Revolutionary War hero who matches wits with the British in this standard but exciting series that holds up a bit better than the creaky genre elements of “Elfego Baca.”

Disney’s two-disc Treasures collection offers three episodes from each production. “Elfego Baca” includes “Nine Lives of Elfego Baca,” “Four Down and Five Lives to Go” and “Attorney At Law”: “Swamp Fox” is represented by “Birth of the Swamp Fox,” “Brother Against Brother,” and “Tory Vengeance.”

Extra features here include an interview with Robert Loggia; an examination of the real Baca and Marion; and still frame galleries.

Each volume retails for approximately $32 (about $25 in most outlets) and comes recommended for Disney fans, though the “Spin and Marty” and “Elfego Baca and Swamp Fox” sets are somewhat dated and should appeal mainly for aficionados of Disney’s small-screen entertainment from the ‘50s.

New This Week From Paramount

AIRPLANE! “Don’t Call Me Shirley!” Edition. 1980, ***½, 87 mins., PG, Paramount. DVD FEATURES: 16:9 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 Surround; Commentary; Trivia Track; “Long Haul Version” with interviews, deleted scenes.

One of the funniest movies ever made, David & Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams' 1980 classic "Airplane!" is back on disc with this somewhat disappointing release.

As far as “Airplane!” itself goes, there's little to write about how hysterical the picture still is, aside from the fact that what constitutes so much of today's "comedy" hits (like the work of would-be funnymen the Farrelly Brothers and Keenan Ivory Wayans) is put to shame by watching ZAZ’s "Airplane!" Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty star as the star-crossed lovers on a doomed flight across the U.S.; Leslie Nielsen plays a doctor onboard the ill-fated plane; Peter Graves is the captain with a penchant for gladiator movies; while guest appearances by everyone from Kareem Abdul Jabbar to Ethel Merman round out the cast.

Paramount’s new “Don’t Call Me Shirley Edition” follows on the heels of their 2000 DVD release, which included both a superb 16:9 transfer, remixed 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, and commentary from the Zuckers and Jim Abrahams.

All of those elements (as well as the trailer) are reprised here, with two new additions included: an on-screen trivia track, plus an optional feature dubbed the “Long Haul Version.” This function will stop the movie every few minutes for a bevy of new interviews, including the Zuckers, Abrahams, Robert Hays, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Lorna Patterson, and others. The Zuckers discuss Elmer Bernstein’s score, while a few snippets of deleted scenes from the TV version are also on-hand. The problem, though, is that these snippets (running anywhere from 1-2 minutes each) are sadly available to view ONLY in conjunction with the film -- thus, you have to actually watch the entire movie from start to end to access them!

It’s regrettable that Paramount didn’t include these mini-featurettes in a separate supplement, since to re-watch any of them, you’re going to have to scan through the movie and remember where exactly the specific footage was placed...not exactly an easy thing to do with so many different fragments on-hand!

Aside from that disappointment, there’s a coupon for your own inflatable Otto the Autopilot (sales receipt and $5.50 shipping required) and the transfer and soundtrack are the same as the previous DVD, making this release the one to snag for “Airplane!” fans -- disappointing presentation of the new supplements aside.

BAD NEWS BEARS (**½, 2005). 113 mins., PG-13, Paramount. DVD FEATURES: 16:9 Widescreen; 5.1 Dolby Digital sound; Commentary by Richard Linklater, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa; Deleted Scenes; Making Of featurettes; trailer.

Among the recent roster of cinematic remakes was this occasionally funny attempt at reworking the original 1976 “Bad News Bears,” the classic Walter Matthau-Tatum O’Neal comedy about a hapless group of little league ball players.

Star Billy Bob Thornton brought his “Bad Santa” screenwriters along to update Michael Ritchie’s original, while Richard Linklater was recruited to direct, fresh off the success of his semi-family comedy “School of Rock.”

The results are intermittently funny -- Thornton’s Morris Buttermaker is an exterminator who dumps animal carcasses into dumpsters outside the ball field -- but somehow, despite the increased profanity and adult references (enough that you could see parents walking out with their kids), the ‘05 “Bad News Bears” plays out with less of an edge than its predecessor.

Thornton almost comes off here as too much of a nice guy, and not the grizzled veteran that Matthau portrayed. One could certainly sense Matthau’s Buttermaker being reluctant at coaching these kids and giving a damn; Thornton, though, simply seems too easy-going by comparison, making his switch to caring about the Bears less dramatic and effective.

In addition to less than stellar performances from the young cast (as the young heroine, real-life baseball player Sammi Kane Kraft will certainly not remind anyone of O’Neal), the filmmaker’s attempts at adding fresh elements -- like Marcia Gay Harden playing a possible love interest to Thornton -- fail to pay off. And, although Jerry Fielding worked them to outstanding effect in the original, composer Edward Shearmur’s arrangement of Bizet’s “Carmen” themes seem totally out of place in the “modern” context of Linklater’s film, where half of the soundtrack consists of modern rock tracks.

The ‘05 “Bad News Bears” isn’t a total misfire, and might play OK with older kids who never saw the original, but with its predecessor remaining a popular favorite among viewers (and a TV staple), there seems to have been little incentive for audiences to see it -- something its modest box-office results confirmed last summer.

Paramount’s single-disc DVD edition offers commentary from Linklater and writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who clearly were big fans of the original (and it shows in how little they stray from Bill Lancaster’s 1976 script). A few deleted scenes, outtakes, and Making Of featurettes round out the package, which boasts a superb 1.85 transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.

GALLIPOLI: Special Collector’s Edition (***½, 1980, 111 mins., PG): Outstanding Special Edition from Paramount gives Peter Weir’s superlative 1980 film a new life on DVD. Mel Gibson and Mark Lee play a pair of young friends in WWI Australia who enlist in the conflict, only to be sent to Turkey and the ill-fated Battle of Gallipoli. Vivid cinematography, strong performances, and assured direction from Weir make this gem a must-see. Paramount’s disc offers a terrific 16:9 transfer complimented by “Entrenched”: a new six-part documentary that touches upon every aspect of the film’s production, offering interviews with Weir, Gibson, many of the film’s supporting players and technical crew. If it weren’t for Brian May’s dated synth-heavy score, “Gallipoli” would remain as timeless as its anti-war message. Highly recommended.

New From Universal

THE FRIGHTENERS (**½ movie, ***½ content; 1996). 123 mins., R, Universal. DVD FEATURES: Commentary and four-hour Documentary; Director’s Cut; 16:9 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.

A box-office flop released during the summer of ‘96, Peter Jackson’s “The Frighteners” finally hits DVD with all of the supplements intact from its 1998 “Signature Collection” LaserDisc box set that once fetched over $100 (and several hundred more if you count the Ebay auctions it went for over the years!).

Jackson’s movie might be worth a view today considering the success and acclaim the filmmaker received for his later “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but “The Frighteners” isn’t particularly noteworthy by itself: this scare-comedy starts off with few laughs and scenes that feel like outtakes from “Ghostbusters 2,” rambles a bit with over-the-top supporting performances (from Jeffrey Combs, Jake Busey and Dee Wallace Stone to name a few), and then settles into a more compelling, and serious, second half with star Michael J. Fox being pursued by a cloaked figure that resembles The Grip Reaper himself.

Despite excellent special effects for their time, an engaging performance from Fox, and atmospheric cinematography, “The Frighteners” is only intermittently entertaining: the mix of comedy and horror worked for Jackson far more effectively in “Dead Alive,” and the filmmakers weren’t at all helped by their attempts to go for a PG-13 rating. The movie plays like it’s being aimed at kids (and was, in fact, shot for a PG-13), but the MPAA found the film too intense and gave it an R regardless -- something that hurt the picture at the box-office.

Though the movie isn’t especially memorable, Universal ought to be commended for issuing a DVD that does full justice to the film. In 1998, Jackson packaged together a fascinating, four-hour (!) “Making Of” documentary for Universal’s Laserdisc box set, which also offered an extended version of the movie itself. Coming in the final days of the Laserdisc medium, this “Signature Collection” was produced in limited quantities and, as such, became a prized possession of collectors over the years.

Now, for just about $20 a pop, you can experience on one DVD platter everything that the pricey, bulkier laserdisc contained: the Director’s Cut (123 minutes) of “The Frighteners,” along with Jackson’s original 1998 commentary from the laserdisc release (which discusses how “King Kong” was shelved seven years ago out of concerns for competition from “Godzilla” and “Mighty Joe Young”), plus the four-hour documentary that touches upon every aspect of the production. There are numerous interviews with the cast (though few with Fox himself), special effects artists, producer Robert Zemeckis and composer Danny Elfman among others, in addition to outtakes and candid behind-the-scenes footage -- the kind that you rarely see in most studio-produced DVD featurettes.

It’s a sensational package complimented by a 16:9 enhanced transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Highly recommended for “Frighteners” fans -- and non-fans -- alike!

THE SKELETON KEY (***, 104 mins., PG-13; 2005, Universal): Surprisingly effective supernatural chiller stars Kate Hudson as a caregiver who arrives in a pre-Katrina New Orleans to take care of a plantation owner (Gena Rowlands) and her mute husband (John Hurt), both enshrouded in mystery. Director Iain Softley (“Hackers”) and writer Ehren Kruger (“The Ring”) have fashioned an entertaining, creepy film impressively shot by Dan Mindel and scored by Edward Shearmur. There hasn’t been a whole lot of buzz about this Universal release from last summer, but genre fans should definitely check it out. Universal’s DVD offers an effective 16:9 enhanced transfer with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, plus over 20 minutes of deleted scenes, commentary from the director, and numerous featurettes that examine the movie’s location lensing in the Bayou.

New From Sony

THE PRODUCERS: Deluxe Edition (****, 1968). 90 mins., Not Rated, MGM/Sony. DVD FEATURES: 16:9 Widescreen, Full-Screen, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound; “Making of The Producers” documentary; Outtake; Sneak Peek at the 2005 “Producers.”

Double-disc re-issue of MGM’s 2002 Special Edition DVD (see my earlier review for a longer breakdown) offers Laurent Bouzereau’s wonderful “Making Of” documentary, sporting interviews with Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars and others associated with the production of Brooks’ 1968 comedy classic; an outtake of the movie’s “Playhouse” exterior scene with William Hickey; Paul Mazursky reading fan Peter Sellers’ attempts to save the movie from box-office doom; a photo gallery, trailers, and both 16:9 enhanced and full-screen transfers. Both the 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 mono soundtracks have been reprised as well.

The only new element to this re-issue is a brief peek at next week’s “Producers” musical film adaptation, in addition to superior packaging. Thus, if you bought the original DVD, you can take a pass on this edition. Newcomers, however, are urged to check this highly recommended, essential comedy release out!

F.I.S.T. (***, 1978). 145 mins., PG, MGM/Sony. DVD FEATURES: 16:9 Widescreen, mono sound.

Sylvester Stallone IS Johnny Kovak, a union worker who ends up becoming the head of a very Teamsters-like union in Norman Jewison’s decades-spanning tale of crime and corruption.

Though Sly’s non-Rocky/Rambo output is often the grist for numerous jokes, F.I.S.T. is a well-intentioned, and occasionally quite entertaining, tale: Stallone co-wrote the script with Joe Eszterhas, and the movie manages to be compelling and worthwhile in spite of its shortcomings (which include an endless final third). Jewison receives a fine performance from Stallone, and the supporting cast -- including Rod Steiger, Peter Boyle, Melinda Dillon, and Tony Lo Bianco -- enhances the drama. Just as impressive are the movie’s technical credits, including superb cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs and a rousing score by Bill Conti.

Sony’s DVD, out this week, marks the debut of F.I.S.T. on DVD. The 16:9 transfer of this United Artists release is sometimes soft but is more than acceptable -- it’s the soundtrack that’s the problem. The tinny, pinched audio often sounds like something you’d hear over an old drive-in speaker, and never does justice to either Conti’s score (which sounds tepid) or the dialogue (which is muddled and sometimes difficult to comprehend).

Also New From Disney

ONCE UPON A MATTRESS (***, 2005). 90 mins., Disney. DVD FEATURES: 16:9 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound; Making Of featurette, rehearsal-to-film comparison.

Delightful new made-for-TV adaptation of the late ‘50s Broadway musical -- a send-up of “The Princess and the Pea” that initially made a name out of its young star, Carol Burnett.

Burnett executive-produced and stars here as Queen Aggravain in this upbeat, highly entertaining filming, with Tracey Ullman as the “moat swimmer” who falls for the Queen’s well-meaning son (Denis O’Hare). Tom Smothers is the mute King who watches helplessly as the Queen ruins things for most everyone around her; Zooey Deschanel and Matthew Morrison, meanwhile, are the young leads waiting for the Prince to marry so they can do the same.

Kathleen Marshall, a Broadway vet, directed and choreographed this colorful production, offering superb arrangements (courtesy of veterans Michael Kosarin and Danny Troob) of Mary Rodgers and Marshall Louis Barer’s original songs. The cast, which also includes Edward Hibbert and Michael Boatman, seems to be having a good time, and chances are that musical aficionados and families will as well with this entertaining holiday treat.

Disney’s DVD release will be available on December 20th, just a couple of days after “Once Upon a Mattress” makes its debut on ABC (where it will air on 12/18 at 7pm). The 16:9 enhanced transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital sound are perfect, while a couple of short Making Of featurettes touch upon Burnett’s original involvement in the show’s first production and Marshall’s debut as director here. Recommended!

KRONK’S NEW GROOVE (**½, 2005, 75 mins., G; Disney): Amiable made-for-video sequel to “The Emperor’s New Groove” turns the spotlight over to big lug Kronk (voiced by Patrick Warburton), henchman to Emperor Kuzco (David Spade once again), who haplessly tries to impress his visiting Papi. Colorful animation should entertain the kids in this 75-minute small-screen affair, which is no better or worse than most of Disney’s made-for-DVD releases. Extras include a couple of interactive games, a 1.78 widescreen transfer (enhanced for 16:9 Tvs) and 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks.

VALIANT (**½, 2005, 76 mins., G, Disney): British-produced tale of a courageous, underdog named Valiant who joins the ranks of carrier pigeons in WWII met with lukewarm box-office results last August, but it’s still an inoffensive, good-hearted time-killer for kids. The CGI animation isn’t anything extraordinary but the vocal performances (from Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese and others) are energetic and the story equally worthwhile. Disney’s DVD offers a stellar 16:9 enhanced transfer with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Supplements are limited to an interactive game and the now-requisite faux “blooper” reel.

NEXT TIME: More Christmas DVD Ideas and More!
Don't forget to drop in on the official Aisle Seat Message Boards, direct any emails to the link above and we'll catch you then. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Get Firefox!

Copyright 1997-2005 All Reviews, Site and Design by Andy Dursin