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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Fantasy > Sea Life > Comedy > Animation > Adventure > Action > Mystery > Computer Animation > A Dolphin Tale 3D (2011/Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray & DVD)/Dora The Explorer: Dora Loves Boots (Nickelodeon DVD)/Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/SpongeBob Squarepants: SpongeBob’s Frozen Face-

A Dolphin Tale 3D (2011/Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray & DVD)/Dora The Explorer: Dora Loves Boots (Nickelodeon DVD)/Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/SpongeBob Squarepants: SpongeBob’s Frozen Face-Off (Nickelodeon DVD)/The Three Investigators: The Secret Of Skeleton Island (2011/Lionsgate DVD)/A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy Adventure (2009/Vivendi DVD)


3D Picture: B     2D Picture: B- & C/C+/B- & C/C+/C/C+     Sound: B & C+/C+/B- & C+/C+/C+/C+     Extras: C+/D/C-/C/D/D     Main Programs: C+/C+/C-/C+/D/C+



A year end look at children’s titles offers an interesting mix of the new and familiar.



Charles Martin Smith’s A Dolphin Tale 3D (2011) is an interesting entry based on a real even where a dolphin washed up on shore one day and was in such bad shape, that it lost its fin.  A young man (Nathan Gamble) helped free it and follows it to the aquarium that is trying to save the poor animal.  He gets more involved and befriends the group there (including Harry Connick. Jr. and Kris Kristofferson) while the young boy’s mother (Ashley Judd) is at first unaware of what is going on to begin with.  When the boy’s brother returns from military service with problems, this leads his younger bother to meet an orthopedics expert (Morgan Freeman) who might be able to help the endangered dolphin by designing a new fin.


Though not anything much we have not seen before outside of the dolphin angle, I was surprised how nicely this flowed and how family friendly (for a change) it was.  Plus, the 3D is better than I expected, if not always involving.  Still, it is not bad and is worth a look for those interested.  Extras include UltraViolet Digital Copy with Flixter, five behind-the-scenes featurettes, an additional scene and gag reel.



Nickelodeon offers their latest DVD singes with Dora The Explorer: Dora Loves Boots (Boots is the name of her mascot) with four episodes and SpongeBob Squarepants: SpongeBob’s Frozen Face-Off with six episodes and an amusing cover are both consistent with the company’s output.  The Dora disc is basic, while SpongeBob has two bonus episodes each of the T.U.F.F. Puppy and Fanboy & Chum Chum series.



Jim Carrey tries and fails to get back on the live action track with Mark Waters’ Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011) in which he plays a business who may not be paying attention enough to his nice family until penguins start to invade his life and it takes just one.  The concept is weak and has very few places to go, plus compared to the Dolphin Tale dolphin seems more contrived and this is more self-amused than amusing.  Carrey is using an approach to humor that he played out years ago and the result is boring.  Carla Gugino and even Angela Lansbury show up, but they cannot save it either.  See it when you are awake and not operating heavy machinery.  Extras include Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices, two featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel and animated short Nimrod & Stinky’s Antarctic Adventure.



With a cover desperately trying to imitate an old Hardy Boys novel (like the designs on the Stevenson/Cassidy series credits), The Three Investigators: The Secret Of Skeleton Island (2011) is nowhere nearly as engaging, silly, flatter and more forgettable than I imagined as this pseudo-adventure with three young leads could have been a nice surprise, but imitates, derives and rips-off everything we have seen in the young action genre for too long played out.  The action leads them to the title locale, but it’s less exciting than a Carnival Cruise Line trip.  Boring….  Extras include a Photo Gallery and two trailers including one for another (yikes) installment).



Finally we have a somewhat interesting surprise in A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy Adventure (2009) in which an older turtle tells about his life in flashback in this CG animated feature that includes Melanie Griffith, Tim Curry, Stacy Keach and even Kathy Griffin voicing various characters.  Some of the jokes work, some of the uses of color are nice and even the use of licensed music has its moments.  It is also child-friendly and at least as watchable as the highly disappointing Cars 2, so if you’re looking for something for your children they do not have, this is for you and them.  Sadly, there are no extras.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image on Dolphin is more impressive often than expected and the preferred way to see it (despite not being demo quality all the way) versus the 1080p 2D digital High Definition image version which has more softness than expected and the anamorphically enhanced DVD which is really soft.  The 1080p 1.85 X 1 AVC @ 31 MBPS digital High Definition image on Penguins is as soft and anamorphically enhanced DVD just as softer. 


The 1.33 X 1 image on the Nickelodeon DVDs is on par with the colorful-but-somewhat-soft performance of pervious releases in those series and the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Turtle is narrowly more colorful and more consistent.  That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Island as the softest of all with too much bad digital work to boot.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on the Blu-rays are no even as Dolphin has a warmer sound and better soundfield than Penguins, which is more towards the front speakers and in the center channel than I would like and the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 versions on the DVDs are weaker as expected.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 on Island is weaker than I could have ever imagined, but the same on Turtle is not bad and I wish a Blu-ray would be issued.  That leaves the Nickelodeon releases with simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that fares just fine.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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