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Walt Disney Animation StudiosHaving had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney Animation Studios on a few occasions, I've seen first-hand what is a truly magical place. While their yearly track record is phenomenal, with recent feature-length releases including WRECK-IT RALPH, FROZEN, BIG HERO 6 and the upcoming ZOOTOPIA, the folks at Disney Animation have continued to be champions of short-form animation, carrying on a long tradition that dates back to the earliest days of cinema. Pairing a short film as the "opening act" in front of a feature has become something that families look forward to, and while those shorts have been included on home video releases of their long-form counterparts, now those released in the 21st Century (thus far) are featured in an all-new collection, just-out on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Disney Movies Anywhere.

A dozen Disney shorts have come together, with the focal point and finale undoubtedly FROZEN FEVER - coming home for the first time, even ahead of the live-action CINDERELLA Blu-ray, on which it will also be included. The Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection is an absolute must-have for any family.

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Comic book movies are certainly the norm these days, but it's a surprise when one hits the scene that doesn't overtly scream "comic book," nor rely on the expectations of a built-in fanbase. Interestingly, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE fits that bill, taking some basic cues from its not-so-distant comic past (2012's Mark Millar/Dave Gibbons collaboration, THE SECRET SERVICE), but tossing much of the book aside in favor of new characters, locations, and more glaringly, the titular organization. When changes as drastic happen to beloved properties with a long history, fans cry foul, but KINGSMAN is spared such outrage due to just how new it is, and the fact that it's a damn fine spy film that goes over-the-top to ridiculously-awesome results.

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Tuesday, June 02 2015 08:31

George Lucas' STRANGE MAGIC (DVD Review)

STRANGE MAGIC is a strange film. Not just the movie itself - a musical fantasy inspired by William Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM - but nearly everything surrounding its release. It's a Disney film, yet it's not - the first film from George Lucas to follow the sale of Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney Studios, but released through Disney's sometimes-used Touchstone Pictures label. It's a Lucas film, yet it's not - with the STAR WARS creator getting a "story by" credit, but screenplay and directorial duties falling on others, most notably Gary Rydstrom, a Skywalker Sound Designer whose credits include WRECK-IT RALPH, FINDING NEMO and TOY STORY. When I first covered the film here on THE ROCK FATHER last November, I commented on how the marketing was sorta old-school in that it came out of nowhere - and it looked really cool. But when the film came-and-went in January with little fanfare, I (like many) missed it until the DVD release in May - a 2015 home video release with no Blu-ray. Again, very strange, indeed.

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Don't let jealousy consume you. Don't lie. Don't steal. Again, don't let jealousy consume you... in fact, don't be jealous of others at all. That's how I would interpret the lessons taught in SOFIA THE FIRST: THE CURSE OF PRINCESS IVY, the latest adventure from Enchancia to make it's way home on DVD. Included along with the hour-long special are three additional episodes of the Disney Junior hit - with "The Amulet of Avalor," "Princess Butterfly" and "The Emerald Key" each adding to the value of the disc. Having already had THE CURSE OF PRINCESS IVY stored on the DVR for a few months, my girls were already well-versed in her sinister intentions long before the DVD arrived here at Rock Father HQ, but a physical copy has already proven to be an invaluable addition to our SOFIA THE FIRST library.

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Released earlier this month in timing with Valentine's Day, CUDDLE ME LAMBIE is the latest DVD collection of the Disney Junior hit DOC McSTUFFINS to hit the streets. While the loveable Lambie ("You need a cuddle") takes center stage on this five-episode collection (which includes the seasonally-appropriate, "My Huggy Valentine"), one of the highlights for me is that this set includes the classic episode "Kirby And The King"/"Bubble Monkey, Blow Your Nose!" - the first part of which centers on my favorite character from DOC McSTUFFINS lore... the Wicked King.

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Growing up, I don't remember there being much love for pirates. In fact, as an 80s kid, the only real "pirate" memory that sticks in my head is One Eyed Willy and his fantastic ship in THE GOONIES (which turns 30 this year), and one of the major reasons why is that most pirates were sorta a-holes, and Captain James Hook was the poster boy. Weird thing is, back then the "talk" of Hook was bigger than the character, as we'd only seen PETER PAN during a theatrical re-release in 1982. Fast-forward a few decades and pirates are everywhere, and as new generations have had instant access to older films, there's a really cool vibe that surrounds JAKE AND THE NEVER LAND PIRATES as an educational, yet fun series that manages to seamlessly bridge the classic and the modern. While Captain Hook might be a little toned-down from his earlier, more sinister days, he's still an a-hole, and that's the driving force behind the recent BATTLE FOR THE BOOK, which premiered last Fall on Disney Junior and is now out on DVD.

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