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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Adventure > Comic Strip > Educational > TV > Literature > CGI Animation > A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)/Snoopy Come Home (1972/Peanuts Gang/National General/Cinema Center/CBS Blu-rays)/Elmo: Love To Learn (Sesame Street/2016/Warner DVD)/Disney's The Jungle Book (2016 Liv

A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)/Snoopy Come Home (1972/Peanuts Gang/National General/Cinema Center/CBS Blu-rays)/Elmo: Love To Learn (Sesame Street/2016/Warner DVD)/Disney's The Jungle Book (2016 Live-Action Remake/Blu-ray w/DVD)

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

Here's a new set of children's releases for you to know about...

To go with the first CGI Peanuts film that arrived in the past year and the classic Holiday TV special on Blu-ray for a while, CBS is issuing the first two Bill Melendez-directed animated feature films of the franchise: A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) and Snoopy Come Home (1972). We reviewed the DVD of the first film a good while ago at this link...


Melendez had already directed the first six TV specials with the great Peanuts line-up, so he and his crew were more than up to bringing the strip to life on a larger canvas. Originally distributed by National General/Cinema Center, the frames are larger and color impressive as the strip literally comes to life. The second Snoopy film gives us an almost-convincing take of Snoopy and Woodstock visiting a female friend in a hospital who turns out to be Snoopy's earlier owner. Viable or not, it is still a fun film with a few sad moments, but not out to hurt or insult its audience.

The larger problem is it runs only 81 minutes-long, but its story is wrapped up well just the same. Rod McKuen wrote 3 songs for the first film, while the equally legendary Sherman Brothers wrote even more for the sequel film. The Spelling Bee plot of the first film can still be a real hoot, while both films shine when they go for fancy animated sequences. Its easy to forget how good these are not having seen them for a while, but they not only impress, but on Blu-ray, offer big surprises worth going out of your way for.

There are very sadly no extras, but two more theatrical films were made, so maybe we'll get something on them?

Elmo: Love To Learn is the latest DVD entry from the fan favorite Sesame Street character and this compilation runs about 70 minutes (previews are added to the end without warning, pushing the runtime a little longer, but those bits do not count) and my problem with this release is that it is too much fantasy and not enough street. It's still good and child-friendly enough, but it just did not have the impact of the other DVDs in the series.

Fortunately, extras not only include those clips and the brief (just over 10 minutes) Twiddlebug ABCs program, but a real surprise in All-Star Alphabet, a mid-2000s production with comedienne Nicole Sullivan as the letter 'A' and Stephen Colbert as the letter 'Z' at a mall in New Jersey (they are dressed as giant letters) joking around and teaching the language to us all. Warner and Sesame Workshop made a big mistake not putting a note about his on the back of the case, but know you know. That makes up for the main program's limits and puts this on par more so with past Elmo releases.

Jon Favreau's new live-action remake of Disney's The Jungle Book (2016) was a big hit with good voice acting and a cast of talking digital animals that were lifelike enough, but it is not the colorful animated musical the original hit was in 1967, which we reviewed on Blu-ray ta this link...


Neel Sethi is fine as Mowgli (cheers for his endurance during what was likely a ton of green screen and maybe even blue screen work) with voices of various animals by Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johannsson, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito and the late Garry Shandling. This all works well and consistently in its own enclosed world, but I was less a fan of the original than my fellow writer and this only did so much for me. I am not the audience for this one, but I also hope this is the last version of this book for a long time, but I hear otherwise.

The money is on the screen and the makers care about what they are doing all around, thus why it was a hit. However, I was only so impressed. Still, you should see it for yourself if you're curious and you might like it more. I give the studio credit for pulling this one off, as so much could have gone wrong and did not.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the discs add a feature length audio commentary track by Jon Favreau and three Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image on both Peanuts Blu-rays are a little more like 1.66 X 1, but either way are a big surprise with terrific color and when originally released in 35mm in theaters, both were issued in a dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor and that great color comes through here very strongly. Charlie looks to be a slightly newer HD master than Snoopy (which windowboxed its 1.33 X 1 opening and closing credits for some reason), but the differences are highly minimal. Both offer plenty of demo shots through you have to see to believe. Those impressed with the TV specials on Blu-ray will love these.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Elmo has more than its share of 1.33 X 1 bookended video material (flaws include slight video banding, cross color and slight staircasing), but that's better than the 'standard' presentation the case accidentally misidentifies for this release. This is about on par with most Elmo and Sesame Street releases as expected.

Finally we have the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Jungle shot for 3D and with an Arri Alexa XT M HD camera. This is almost too dark, but the Blu-ray resolves the image well enough. The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image DVD is much softer, but not as bad as expected.

Released in theaters in Dolby Atmos 11.1 sound, the Jungle Blu-ray offers a lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 mixdown that is very effective, but it seems more sound is being lost in the mixdown than in similar cases we've encountered in the past. It's still the sonic champion, but the DVD version's lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 loses plenty more of that sound, yet there is obvious some state-of-the-art sound here.

The lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixed on both Peanuts films upgrade the theatrical monophonic sound of both films very well, easily outdoing the lossy Dolby Digital on the older DVD versions and the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 on these discs that are particularly weak. They also sound less compressed than the recordings from the TV specials on Blu-ray, which sound fine for their age, but not as good as these soundtracks do.

That leaves Elmo with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that is simple, fine, clean and just about clear enough throughout.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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