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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > WWI > Spain > Birds > Trucks > Trains > Teens > TV > Outer Space > Mystery > Adventure > Tele > The Aviators (2008/Cinedigm Blu-ray w/DVD)/Blaze Of Glory: A Mini-Movie (2014/Nickelodeon DVD)/Chuggington: Turbo Charged Chugger! (2015/Anchor Bay DVD)/Dora & Friends (new version/2014/Nickelodeon DV

The Aviators (2008/Cinedigm Blu-ray w/DVD)/Blaze Of Glory: A Mini-Movie (2014/Nickelodeon DVD)/Chuggington: Turbo Charged Chugger! (2015/Anchor Bay DVD)/Dora & Friends: Into The City! (new version/2014/Nickelodeon DVD)/Scooby Doo!: Moon Monster Madness (2015/Warner DVD)

Picture: B (DVDs: C+) Sound: B (DVDs: C+) Extras: D/D/C+/D/C Main Programs: C+/C/C+/B-/C+

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Miquel Pujol's The Aviators (2008) has been issued in an English-only version with dubbers including Brad Garrett and Jeff Foxworthy (as a mouse trying to invent a flying machine) in a somewhat amusing comedy adventure set during WWI, but obviously cleaned up for child audiences. Echoing Orwell's Animal Farm a bit visually and thematically, the story centers on a group on a farm that is happy, peaceful and tranquil until all is disrupted by the incoming, unprecedented war. Originally entitled Cher Ami... iy yo! in Spain, et al, has this story loosely based on the legendary, actual bird who figures more so later in this 77 minutes feature.

Maybe this worked better in Spanish, plus it is hard to say if we are even getting the same edit, but one source listed this as originally being 85 minutes and I believe it, reminding me of how Japanese animated films and TV shows were badly edited to fit U.S. markets in ways that ruined them and this plays like a case of history repeating itself just so the issuers can try to get a small piece of the Disney/PIXAR/DreamWorks (et al) pie. It may be passable at best, but this version disappoints.

There are no extras.

Blaze Of Glory: A Mini-Movie (2014) is meant to launch a new franchise for the Nickelodeon cable network, but despite some amusing bits, it hardly reaches its potential as a young man Named AJ has a best friend in a monster truck named Blaze that talks among many other vehicles that talk. Sure, it does not look bad or even sound bad, but there's no much to this one, with the writing relying on viewers to be big truck fans. We get two adventures in all, but there are no extras.

Chuggington: Turbo Charged Chugger! (2015) is more like it, with the talking trains actually having a script to follow and we get more energy and fun (as has been the case with this series) in 6 episodes that run just over an hour. This is on par with those previous DVD singles, so you have to consider extras if you are trying to choose a disc among those issued so far (esp. that we've covered).

Coloring Sheets, a Badger Quest episode, Character Montages and sticker booklet inside the DVD case are the extras.

Dora & Friends: Into The City! is a new version of the franchise in that she is older, a little taller and Nickelodeon is clearly going for Barbie/Bratz territory. The results are not bad in there four episodes (running a healthy 92 minutes), though some of the charm of the original series is a little lost in the shuffle despite this variation not differing too much from the series we are all too familiar with.

However, you can understand, especially after so many years of success, why it seemed time to try this direction for Dora. However, it should not be considered a way to stop the original style to end, which would be a big mistake that fans would likely reject in large numbers.

There are no extras.

Finally we have Scooby Doo!: Moon Monster Madness (2015) which runs 80 minutes and is dubbed a movie, albeit a telefilm going directly to video. I have not been too happy with the slap-dash nature of most of the recent releases in the franchise, but this has a little more humor, character and energy than what has been issued late, which has felt like a series of benign package deals and formula releases for the most part. This outer space romp does not feel totally like it is on auto pilot (yes, that pun), so it is better by default than recent entries, child friendly and worth a look for fans if no one else.

The Space Travel Is Groovy featurette hosted by Mindy Cohn (who has aced Velma's voice) and trailers are the extras, though our copy came with a light switch cover sticker.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Aviators Blu-ray is easily the best performer here as expected, but the surprise is how the look of older hand-drawn animated features is stressed here and is decent throughout, with the anamorphically enhanced DVD version not bad for what it is. The rest of the DVDs, all surprisingly anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 in this case, all are consistently decent throughout

As for sound, the English-dubbed DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Aviators may not be perfect (the original is in Spanish, et al), but has a consistent soundfield that even the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD somewhat retains. Still, I think both soundtracks should have been included. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the rest of the DVDs, save the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Chuggington, is equal to the Aviators DVD and to each other as the 5.1 DVDs are decent if not spectacular sonically.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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