(softcover book) + Cricket,
Dragon (2016 live action
remake/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)/The
Secret Life Of Pets
(2016/Illumination/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray + Blu-ray
Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B & C/B & C+ Sound: B &
C+/B+ & C+ Extras: C+ Films: C+ Book/Magazines: C+
our latest child titles, including some fun in paper print media...
start with the many print releases of Cricket
best known for the magazine that bares the company name. Like the
offer illustrations, text, short stories, games and other items that
treat the young readers with respect and talk up to them, meaning
they are pro-education. In an era where so many print publications,
including specialty ones are folding, it is great to see that these
healthy, progressive, fun, kind, gentle, pleasant works continue to
have a healthy circulation. These have the same pleasant quality I
remember from many years ago, sometimes with themes (they just did a
round of Halloween issues) and in this age of some backward thinking,
they are as vital, welcome and important as ever.
company also has other items they publish and this includes books
that are in the mode of the same responsible, fun, smart work the
magazine line is known for, a short stories set with more quality
illustrations that will also brings Scholastic to mind.
Unfortunately, you cannot find these great releases in all stores,
but finer stores have them and for
more information about content and ordering, you can visit
and see the whole lineup.
for two high-profile feature film releases that show animals are
particularly popular this year.
Them Bodies Saints)
is the interesting independent filmmaker Disney chose to helm their
action remake of their 1977 hit
but Elliot The Dragon (now voiced by John Kassir) is a CG creation
and for older viewers comes across more like Dragonheart (voiced by
Sean Connery) than the hand-drawn animated original. Pete (Oakes
Fegley) is orphaned and needs a friend when the mythical creature
turns up. However, this is much visually darker than the 1977 film,
which was brighter and more upbeat. This remake is very laid back
(maybe too much) and in the end, is no overall improvement over the
original, even with Robert Redford (in one of his last acting roles
before recently announcing he was retiring from acting), Bryce Dallas
Howard, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban and more money for the latest visual
effects. Following so close to the new live action Jungle
remake (reviewed twice elsewhere on this site), that explains why it
may not have done the business it could or would have if they waited
result is a fairly good revisiting, but it should have been better,
or this remake should have been delayed until they thought of some
other things to do with it. For those very interested in seeing it,
its not bad, but the rest should only expect so much.
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other
cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds Bloopers, a
feature length audio commentary track by Director Lowery, co-writer
Toby Halbrooks and co-stars Fegley & Oona Laurence, two Music
Videos, two Making Of featurettes and ''Disappearing
where Lowery shows us ''lost'' scenes and in all honesty, some of
them should have stayed.
more on the original film, try this link...
CG animals have graced hits like Jungle
and even in a first for the legendary character, The
Legend Of Tarzan,
but computer animated features have been even more animal-bonkers
Age: Collision Course,
Angry Birds Movie
and this one, Yarrow Cheney & Chris Renaud's The
Secret Life Of Pets
(2016) comes from the Illumination Studios, who gave us Despicable
in what has been another huge hit. Again, we have animals going
through the city in a view of their secret and sometimes funny world,
but the script relies more on situation comedy and slapstick that
storytelling, which holds this one back a bit too.
(voiced by Louis C.K.) is unhappy when his owner takes in Duke (Eric
Stonestreet) and thinks maybe he'll suffer from loss of attention, et
al, but he's still got his animal friends visiting him when no one is
looking. There's just enough humor and a new animation style here to
keep the film going for young children, but I expected a little more
at least. Jenny Slate, Kevin Hart, Lake Bell, Albert Brooks, Steve
Coogan, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and an especially welcome
Dana Carvey make up the rest of the cohering voice cast. Needless to
day, there will be a sequel.
can see why it was a hit, but they'll have to deliver much more next
time out. Thus, it is worth a look for the gags that work.
from both sets include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC
portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray
and DVD add 3 new Mini-Movies and four Behind The Scenes/Making Of
featurettes, but the Blu-ray has two additional exclusive Making Of
featurettes with How
To Make An Animated Film
Of A Scene.
for performance, the
2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 1.85 X 1 Ultra
High Definition image on Pets
is easily the best performer on the list and even if they do not have
the absolute top CGI animation, the color range (though I thought it
odd) is better and more interesting here than in the 1080p 1.85 X 1
digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray included in both sets.
That struggles with color range and a bit of detail in comparison,
versus the smoother 4K presentation on the Ultra HD disc.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Dragon
is less concerned with being colorful, but does resolve its darker
shots and section better than you might think, though I found the
look a bit repetitive and it cannot compete with the 4K Pets
disc in playback quality either.
and the second Pets
sets have anamorphically enhanced DVDs that are passable and
convenient, but Pets
tends to be softer than Dragon
for some reason, though both pale against the Blu-ray and especially
for sound, the 4K and 1080p Blu-ray versions of Pets
all feature Dolby Atmos 11.1 lossless mixes (the same mix) that are
the sonic highlight here (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdowns if your receiver
cannot do Atmos yet) and may not be the greatest demo quality versus
the best out there, but is very consistent, professional, well
recorded and has some fun highlights just the same.
settles for a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix that is a
mixdown from its 11.1 theatrical soundmaster, but the surrounds are
solid, soundfield consistent and though nothing stands out sonically
in particular, this is very well done and thought out. The DVDs for
both films are presented in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and they are
passable, but you can hear plenty of nuance is just not there versus
the fine lossless presentations op the Blu-ray versions.