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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Nature > Animals > Drama > Military > Animation > Comedy > Fantasy > TV > Animal Rights > Born In China (2016/DisneyNature Blu-ray w/DVD)/Megan Leavey (2017/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Paw Patrol: The Giant Pirate Rescue (2014 - 2015)/Shimmer and Shine: Magical Pets Of Zahramay Falls (2016 -

Born In China (2016/DisneyNature Blu-ray w/DVD)/Megan Leavey (2017/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Paw Patrol: The Giant Pirate Rescue (2014 - 2015)/Shimmer and Shine: Magical Pets Of Zahramay Falls (2016 - 2017/both Nickelodeon DVDs)/Unlocking The Cage (2016/First Run DVD)

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

More than even we see in one group than usual, here's five new releases to prominently feature animals...

Born In China

The latest installment in the DisneyNature series (which also includes a growing library of inspiring films such as Earth, Bears, African Cats, Chimpanzee, Wings of Life, Oceans and Monkey Kingdom to name a few that usually play in theaters around Earth Day) comes another breathtakingly filmed look at the wonders of our great planet, Born In China (2016).

Narrated by John Krasinski (The Office), the film takes you to places in China where few have been with beautiful looks at the lives of Pandas, the Wetlands, Leopards, Monkeys, and more in their native habitats. The long lenses on the cameras get up close and personal views of the animals, which is very interesting to see and are expertly edited and rendered in HD.

Similar in tone to something that you would see on IMAX film, Discovery Channel, or the BBC Planet Earth series, the film is educational while showing you breathtaking images. Born in China is directed by accomplished Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan, and produced by Disney's Roy Conli and renowned nature filmmakers Brian Leith and Phil Chapman.

A great candidate for the 4K UHD format, the film is presented here in 1080p high definition

Blu-ray with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track that presents the film nicely. Time-lapse shots are beautifully detailed and overall the colors and tones nearly transport you to the exotic locations. The little bit of upscaling to 2160p (or was it shot that way?) would be even grander as mentioned, but this is fine for now. The included standard definition DVD shows a drastic drop in quality, with not nearly as much detail in the image and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital track. There's also a Disney Digital Copy included.

Special Features:

Panda Suits & Bamboo Shoots

Walking with Monkeys

Masters of Camouflage

Wading Through Wetlands

''Everything Everything'' Music Video Performed by American Authors

Disneynature: Get Inspired, Get Involved

An educational adventure that the whole family can enjoy, Born in China is another fine edition in the DisneyNature movie library.

Megan Leavey

One Marine and her dog, this is the basis for Gabriela Cowperthwaite's Megan Leavey (2017) - a tale of heroism and companionship that's based on a true story.

Starring the underrated Kate Mara (The Martian, Morgan), the film centers around Megan, who leaves her home behind and decides to join the marines, where after rigorous training, gets a new best friend in the shape of a combat dog - who together save lives during their deployment in Iraq. Blackfish (2013) Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite crafts a visually interesting film with decent direction and a realistic feel that plays out as authentic and not cheesy.

The film also stars Bradley Whitford, Tom Felton, Common, and Edie Falco.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a nice sounding English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the film looks and sounds fine on Blu-ray disc. The character detail is on point with a natural and not too stylistic cinematic look.

Also included is the standard edition DVD with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which is pretty compressed when compared to the Blu-ray.

A digital HD copy is also included.

The only special feature is a featurette entitled Never Give Up and previews for other Universal releases. All in all, Megan Leavey is a fine film that tells a touching story that will attract not only lovers of War/Military films but animal lovers as well.

Of course, animals in animation and on TV are always there and the two latest, basic, single-DVDs from Nickelodeon from two of their newer hit TV shows have arrived: Paw Patrol: The Giant Pirate Rescue and Shimmer and Shine: Magical Pets Of Zahramay Falls. Both run just over 90 minutes and do deliver enough for fans everywhere of each show. The former poised to capitalize on the a certain Disney movie franchise and both continuing Nickelodeon franchises. However, following this formula has its ups and downs. It delivers consistently, but does nothing beyond issuing the various shows compiled on each disc respectively to make this more exciting.

Still, the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound on each disc is as good as it can get in the format, yet it reminds one that these shows are not coming out on Blu-ray hardly at all. Why? It makes little sense, then as for the content, you can read about the show in the many previous DVD releases of each (and will have in the (near) future) elsewhere on this site, so its good enough for fans, but I hope the company does not get stuck in a corner it cannot get out of.

Unlocking The Cage

In the thought provoking new documentary, Unlocking the Cage (2016), we follow Lawyer Steven Wise and others in the Nonhuman Rights Project file as they file several lawsuits to give animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins and elephants limited personhood rights. The legal hurdles that he has to go through are crazy and his passion against animal abuse is respectful and insightful.

Directed by documentary filmmakers Chris Hegedus (Kings of Pastry) and DA Pennebaker (The War Room), the film is intelligently edited and produced. The case is presented at first as just representing a few animals, mainly those that aren't native to America, to try to get legal backing on a sensitive subject with some potential bad outcomes.

The presentation on standard definition DVD, gives us the film in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. The film could most definitely benefit from being viewed on Blu-ray as there are many flaws in the picture when viewing the disc on a 4K television, however standard viewing is passable.

Special Features include...

Music Video ''Meant to be Free'' (Original song by Steve Wise and Alex Forbes)

Director's Statement

Filmmaker's Biography

For those interested in Animal Rights, this is definitely a documentary for you.

- James Lockhart & Nicholas Sheffo (Nick DVDs)



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