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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Computer Animation > CGI > Trains > TV > Fantasy > Fairy Tale > Music > Romance > Educati > Chuggington: The Big Freeze (2015/Anchor Bay DVD)/Cinderella (2015 live action version/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)/Elmo Can Do It! (2015/Warner DVD)/He's A Bully, Charlie Brown (2006/Warner DVD)/Jack & The

Chuggington: The Big Freeze (2015/Anchor Bay DVD)/Cinderella (2015 live action version/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)/Elmo Can Do It! (2015/Warner DVD)/He's A Bully, Charlie Brown (2006/Warner DVD)/Jack & The Beanstalk (1967/Hanna Barbera/Warner Archive DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Jack & The Beanstalk DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Now for the latest children's titles...

Chuggington: The Big Freeze (2015) is yet another solid, if a bit short collection of the talking train adventure series with the title character and his friends. We get six more sows running about an hour and they are just fine. The show has yet to run out of energy and that is why its popularity continues. Not bad.

Two character montages and a badge quest episode are the only extras.

Kenneth Branagh's lave action Cinderella (2015) for Disney was a hot, but there is something flat, calculated and boring about it despite the money on the screen, singing, Cate Blanchett as a not-as-bad-as-usual wicked stepmother and unknowns keeping things going. Lily James is good in the title role, but given little new to do, but we get supporting turns by Stellan Skarsgard, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell and of course, Derek Jacobi. Fans and the curios might find more, but I was a bit disappointed expecting at least a little more.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds the Frozen Fever animated theatrical short and 4 Behind The Scenes featurettes.

Elmo Can Do It! (2015) has a main program that once again compiles some great skits and moments from Sesame Street that holds together a bit better than some other entries in the long-running parade of Elmo DVDs. With a few more star appearances than expected, I thought it was decent and might have more re-playability than usual.

The small Elmo's World: Helping segment and hour-long Bye Bye Pacifier program are the extras.

He's A Bully, Charlie Brown (2006) sounds like it might be a new program dealing with that key social issue, but it is a 9-year-old special revisiting the Peanuts Gang going to summer camp and deal with nature turning on them, but especially here, bullies. The bully here (voiced by Taylor Lautner) is cheating young, innocent children out of their prized marbles, until Charlie Brown finds out Lucy's young brother Rerun is one of the victims. With the help of a 'cool' friend, he's going to get them back!

Under a half-hour and not bad, it is a bit sillier and brisker than most of the specials, but its just fine for what it is and worth a look.

It Was A Short Summer, Charlie Brown and episode of The Charlie Brown & Snoopy Show (with three segments) are the extras.

Jack & The Beanstalk (1967) was one of Hanna Barbera's rare attempts to combine live action with animation (to save money) in this hour-long musical version that features no less than Gene Kelly in an event special than has not aged well or is very memorable. Thanks to Kelly and the attempted special effects, it is a curio getting a web-only DVD release from Warner Archive. Ted Cassidy voices the giant, animator Alex Toth did the costumes and the team of James Van Heusen & Sammy Cahn even wrote the sings, but it does not gel, even in a cult way. Now you can see for yourself.

There are no extras.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Cinderella was surprisingly shot all on 35mm film, one of the reasons for its success. Though there's plenty of digital visual effects this helps the film from looking like a bad videogame or dated digital mess, though the DVD version (anamorphically enhanced) is much softer than expected. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Freeze and Elmo (centering a 1.33 X 1 frame in the middle), plus the 1.33 X 1 image on the Bully disc tie for second place, even if Bully might be a little detail and color-challenged. Because of the dated optical printing, the 1.33 X 1 image on the Beanstalk DVD tis with the Cinderella DVD as poorest playback performer and its color could be a bit better despite the print being in decent shape.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on Cinderella is well mixed and presented, a mixdown from the Dolby Atmos 11.1 theatrical release. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD version cannot match it, but the mix is sometimes more laidback than expected, yet it is the best on this list. The same 5.1 can be found on the Bully DVD, but it is just trying to repurpose the original TV stereo sound at best. We get lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Beanstalk and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the rest of the DVDs and they all land up tying for second place behind the Blu-ray. Sonics are good, if not great overall.

To order the Jack & The Beanstalk Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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