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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > Education > History > Music > African American > Reading > Books > Hoodwinked (2005/Weinstein/Vivendi Blu-ray) + Duke Ellington + Lincoln & Douglas (Scholastic DVDs)

Hoodwinked (2005/Weinstein/Vivendi Blu-ray) + Duke Ellington + Lincoln & Douglas (Scholastic DVDs)


Picture: B- & C/C+/C+     Sound: B & B-/C+/C+     Extras: C+/C/C+     Animated Feature: B-     Shorts: B



The debate over children’s programming and children’s television is an old one, especially since the 1980s when regulations were lifted and companies more interested in selling toys and junk than education a generation got carried away more than they should have or should have been allowed to.  Still, I believe there is room for both and they are not contradictory.  They thrived together in the 1970s and can again.  Therefore, a look at two examples of the different programming types.


Outside of Pixar/Disney and DreamWorks, computer animated features have not been so good, but I have to admit that Hoodwinked (2005) with Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, Patrick Warburton and others voicing the characters makes as much of a funny satire of fairy tales of the past as any of the Shrek installments.  Done with some good humor that did not date as badly as expected, the feature can get a little too silly at times, but I surprisingly entertaining and has a few laughs along the way as a much wiser Little Red Riding Hood (Hathaway) has to battle a resilient Big Bad Wolf (Warburton), but Grandma (Close) has some surprises of her own.


No, the CG animation had dated a bit, yet the actual style has not and the makers did not let money or technology get in the way, so its Blu-ray release is a welcome addition to the genre and just before so many key CG features hit Blu-ray and even Blu-ray 3D.


The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is pretty good, but has a softness that is a combination of the tech limits and style the animators chose, resulting in a picture that has some nice shots, if not all the time.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD included is much weaker and does not do justice to the color or other details the Blu-ray is much better with.  Video Black is also inferior.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix holds up well and is better than the Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD mix with a better soundfield, warmer, richer sound and fuller delivery than the Dolby.  However, I had at first missed that the .1 LFE track was missing on the Blu-ray DTS-MA and Dolby 5.1 mixes, but it is and though I still like the DTS best, a restored LFE would likely have me raise my rating.  The DVD’s 5.1 is still underwhelming, if more accurate.


Extras include a Theatrical Trailer, Music Video, Feature Length Audio Commentary with Cory Edwards, Tony Leech and Todd Edwards who wrote and created it, Deleted/Extended Scenes with optional Cory Edwards Commentary, How To Make An Animated Feature Film featurette and Blu-ray Exclusive The True Behind-The-Scenes Story.


Scholastic continues to roll out its catalog of exceptional shorts, adding two single DVD collections for Black History Month.  Duke Ellington … and more stories to celebrate great figures in African American history is for everyone, focusing on mostly key music figures who built the Jazz genre and influences music worldwide.  Forest Whittaker narrates a short named after Ellington, Phylicia Rashad narrated the equally terrific Ellington Was Not A Street which covers many music figures including other musicians and early vocal groups like The Orioles and The Clovers, Billy Dee Williams is great as a cat who witnessed the rise and rise of Ella Fitzgerald in Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale Of A Vocal Virtuoso and Samuel L. Jackson wraps it up with a short on John Henry.


Lincoln & Douglas: An American Friendship is based on a book on the subject of the little-discussed relationship that led to a better America, even if it was the hard way.  Danny Glover narrates that adaptation, Jeff Brooks narrates The Journey Of The One & One Declaration Of Independence, The Pilgrims Of Plimoth (that is the spelling) continues the Presidents Day/American History theme and James Earl Jones narrates the hilarious John, Paul, George and Ben, which plays the founding fathers’ lives out as if they were The Beatles complete with sound-a-like Beatles songs.  Needless to say the Schoolhouse Rock influence is strong on this disc.


The 1.33 X 1 image on all the shorts are consistent with good color and copies in good shape, though some can be a bit softer than others and you can get aliasing errors, cross color and other minor detail issues depending on the short.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on all fares as well and only in some cases is there compression or other minor audio limits.  Both have text read along functions and discussion questions sections, while Lincoln adds Nikki Giovanni giving a nice interview on her book Lincoln & Douglas: An American Friendship.


There is no reason children should not be able to enjoy both types of entertainment.



You can read more about Scholastic DVDs by entering the company name in the search engine and/or going to this link:




For more Duke Ellington, try these links:


Big Band Feeling: Stars Of Jazz DVD



Memories Of Duke DVD



Swinging At His Best DVD



Duke with Ella Fitzgerald/Duke: The Last Jam Session DVDs



For more Ella Fitzgerald, try these links:


Ella & Louis (Armstrong) – Autumn In New York (1965/Super Audio CD)



Norman Granz – Improvisation DVD



Norman Granz Jazz in Montreux – Ella & Basie: The Perfect Match DVD




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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