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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > CGI > Children > Comedy > TV > Action > Adventure > Superhero > Spoof > Satire > Strawberry Shortcake: Campberry Stories (2016/Fox DVD)/Tarzan Lord Of The Jungle: The Complete Season One (1976 - 1977/Filmation/Warner Archive DVD Set)/Tarzan The Ape Man (1959 remake/MGM/Warner Arch

Strawberry Shortcake: Campberry Stories (2016/Fox DVD)/Tarzan Lord Of The Jungle: The Complete Season One (1976 - 1977/Filmation/Warner Archive DVD Set)/Tarzan The Ape Man (1959 remake/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Zootopia (2016/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Tarzan DVDs are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can both be ordered from the link below.

Here's a new set of family entertainment releases...

Strawberry Shortcake: Campberry Stories (2016) is the latest set of episodes of the semi-hit revival of the doll franchise form a while ago, upgraded and now in CGI animation. It may be easy to dismiss this as just commercial fare, but it is child-friendly enough and the makers care enough to keep a certain consistency. The shows run about an hour, though why not make it longer with tall the room here? Passably good enough for its audience, its as good as we've seen from the franchise of late.

Extras in this strawberry-scented keep case packaging includes Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the DVD adds a few bonus clips and printable activity sheets.

So of the many Tarzan TV series, which one is the biggest hit? No doubt of all the live action shows, the Ron Ely series is still the longest-running and most successful, but it could be argued that despite having a few less episodes and half the running time, the 1976 animated Filmation Tarzan Lord Of The Jungle: The Complete Season One may be the biggest hit of them all. Held from official home video release while Disney did their animated feature film and TV series versions, this version debuted on CBS as part of their great Saturday Morning child programming block and was an instant hit. Beyond running a few seasons, the show turned up as part of shows with other animated action shows and was a huge success like nothing the franchise and character experienced since the live action Weissmuller feature films at MGM.

Though most of the Saturday Morning programming was comedy and meant to be fun, some animated shows started surfacing that were more ambitious and mature like DePatie-Freleng's Planet Of The Apes, Hanna-Barbera's Valley Of The Dinosaurs and Filmation's Star Trek and Flash Gordon series (all reviewed elsewhere on this site). Especially as compared to recent attempts at Tarzan on TV (with Joe Lara and Travis Fimmel) and live action feature films (Greystoke was at least ambitious (see the great new Blu-ray version elsewhere on this site), but the Casper van Dien film was a missed opportunity and dud), this show stands up as one of the most serious and smart attempts to capture Burroughs' books, though not deeply intellectual either.

Now with the new Warner Tarzan film with Alexander Skarsgard due soon, Warner via their Warner Archive collection are digging into their MGM archives and have landed up with the popular Filmation show. We get 16 episodes running over 5 hours and they may seem simple in their animation, but the art style is more mature than what Disney made (with its emphasis on comedy and even music, that was their approach and it worked for that version, but its not as mature) and is one of the sadly defunct Filmation's proudest moments. Those who have never seen the show or have not seen it for a while will be surprised.

There are very sadly no extras, though it would have been nice to have Filmation scholar Andy Mangels do at least one featurette. However, not to be left empty-handed, the following link gives you an idea of the toys made for the character at the time. The also sadly defunct Mego toy Company made an amazing 8-inch action figure of Tarzan that sold well on the success o the show, plus they made a smaller bendy figure and their Mexican counterpart even made a rarer Fist Fighting 8-inch figure never made anywhere else. They are all very valuable an worth checking out at this link...


Mego eventually let the license lapse early, with Mattel picking it up long before they made the Disney toys in the later 1990s and made a taller Tarzan from one of their Big Jim series action figures (not pictured at the link) that are as valuable as the Mego versions. All remain some of the best, most collectible Tarzan items ever made.

Joseph Newman's Tarzan The Ape Man (1959) is not exactly a direct remake of the original MGM Weissmuller hit remake or first Edgar Rice Burroughs' book, but its closer than the 1980 Bo Derek version. All having been made by MGM, the one thing the two have in common is that the lead actor never returned for a sequel. MGM tried Denny Miller out, but it just did not take, but neither did the film. MGM was trying to keep the profitable franchise a moneymaker (the Weissmuller films were doing very well in syndicated TV for them) and they kept trying to get actors to stick and become a hit in the role, but the likes of Lex Barker, Gordon Scott, Jock Mahoney and Mike Henry still had to compete with Weissmuller (all of whose films were either using the classic Weissmuller Tarzan yell or coming up with a poor substitute). Miller probably would have only seen a few more films if he was rehired.

The evil ivory trade, hidden worlds and 'natives' join the animals, stock footage, week script and the new version of our lead in a none-too-memorable, short romp. Guess MGM was either trying to keep the rights or would try anything to keep things going. Now you can see for yourself, but with more effort and some changes, this could have been better. Joanna Barnes, Cesar Danova and Robert Douglas also star.

An Original Theatrical trailer is the only extra.

Finally we have Disney new CGI animated hit Zootopia (2016) with its supposition of imaging a world and technological civilization if it were built by animals. Unfortunately, it is way too similar to the world we live in now, a fib that's not as bad or damaging as the premises in Tomorrowland, but still a bit cynical and the makers know it. Thus, this gets a PG rating and is only so child-friendly, from the lack of imagination of an alternative world with animals (as was the case with the superior Chicken Little) and items like fake blood and played-out imitations of annoying touches of life today (cable TV news, etc.) make this a mixed bag that turned out to be a big hit.

A young rabbit named Judy wants to be a police officer, unheard of in this world for some reason, but she pushes on and lands up with a con artist fox (reminding me of Fantastic Mr. Fox a bit) named Nick that will ironically change her life for the better. They are able to keep this up for 109 minutes, quitting while they are ahead, but this is not for everyone, so if you have not seen it yet, have moderate expectations. Voice actors include Ginnifer Goodwin, J.K. Simmons, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate and Jason Bateman.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the disc versions add a Shakira Music Video, and Scoretopia, while the Blu-ray exclusively offers several Deleted Scenes that aren't too bad and featurettes Zoology: The Roundtables, The Origin of an Animal Tale, Research: A True-Life Adventure, Z.P.D. Forensic Files and Deleted Characters.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Shortcake is sometimes soft, but clean and colorful, playing just fine for the format. The CGI is fairly good at this point of the artform, but how much fancier should it be?

The 1.33 X 1 image transfer on the animated Tarzan can show the age of the materials used, with some vertical hairline scratches not unlike the DVD release of the Filmation Flash Gordon DVD set (see elsewhere on this site), but this is all far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film on VHS and TV. All Filmation series animated and shot on film deserve HD upgrades as though the animation could be simple, though it is better than usual here, the use of color was often superior.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image Tarzan '59 was not just MetroColor, but dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor and you can see that in this print at times. But even the greatest color system in cinema history cannot hide bad visual effects work. This is fine for the format, but I bet a Blu-ray down the line would yield better results if the proper print was available.

That easily leaves the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Zootopia the champ here visually, though the color schemes are very odd and unusual to me, which is the same on the lesser, anamorphically enhanced DVD version of the film, which is softer than expected. Definition and detail are just fine, showing non-PIXAR Disney CGI is getting increasingly advanced. I still liked Chicken Little more and this was also issued in the Blu-ray 3D format.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on Zootopia is also the sonic champ, a mixdown from the Dolby Atmos 11.1 theatrical presentations in the best theatrical presentations. However, despite how well mixed and presented, it is not a great mix or the best mixdown I've heard, though it is much better than the weaker, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD version. The Blu-ray DTS still offers some good audio moments, but not too many that are great.

Shortcake lands in second place with a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surrounds that is not bad and well-recorded enough, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on both Tarzan DVD releases is a bit soft, second-generation and limited, so be careful of volume switching and loud playback on your system.

To order either of the Warner Archive Tarzan DVDs, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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