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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Coming Of Age > Sports > Soccer > Animation > Fantasy > TV > Baseball > Alex & Me (Blu-ray w/DVD)/Dorothy & The Wizard Of Oz: Emerald City (DVD/both 2018/Warner)/Nella The Princess Knight: Royal Quests (2018/Nickelodeon DVD)/PJ Masks: Save The Summer (2015/Fox DVD)/Popeye

Alex & Me (Blu-ray w/DVD)/Dorothy & The Wizard Of Oz: Emerald City (DVD/both 2018/Warner)/Nella The Princess Knight: Royal Quests (2018/Nickelodeon DVD)/PJ Masks: Save The Summer (2015/Fox DVD)/Popeye The Sailor Man (1936 - 1957 Theatrical shorts/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD Set)/The Sandlot: 25th Anniversary Edition (1993/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The Popeye Import DVD set is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players that can handle the PAL DVD and can be ordered from the link below.



Here's more child/family titles just released...



Reagan Willis had only one dream, to play on the top girls soccer team and to be like her hero Alex Morgan. After failing to make the cut to join the top soccer team she accidentally hits her head and suddenly Alex Morgan appears in front of her (which only she can see) and tells her not to give up and even gives her tips on how to improve her soccer skills. Now, along with her 'Alex', Reagan instead joins with another underdog team and shows that they might have not made the cut to be on the top girl's soccer team, but they are not out of the game in Alex & Me (2018).


Reagan loves soccer and she idolizes Alex Morgan, a female champion soccer player. Reagan loves Alex so much she has a shrine to her with a full life sized poster of her, but after years of living in her brother's shadow and not making the cut to join the team of her dreams, she was just about to lose faith until she hits her head and the poster on her wall comes to life. Now, Alex Morgan tells her not to give up, but to continue to work hard and that a true champion isn't just talent, but it also takes hard work and dedication. So instead of giving up she joins another group of outcast girls soccer team, but when they are about to lose their field, Reagan and her team decides to hold a game/fund raiser to save their team.


This was your typical feel good sports movie, in someways it reminded me of the movie from the '80s, Sidekicks. A young child dreaming of their hero with their imaginary hero helping them to believe in themselves and become the true champion (and in the end they actually get to meet their hero/heroine too). Extras include Getting to know Alex Morgan, Aspire to Inspire: Success In Hard Work, Soccer, Script to Set: A Playbook on Alex & Me, Outtakes and trailers.



The next three titles are basic, single DVD editions continuing TV series we previously reviewed with about the same quality as before (all elsewhere on this site) including Dorothy & The Wizard Of Oz: Emerald City (based on the 1939 movie classic), Nella The Princess Knight: Royal Quests (Nickelodeon's hope for a new TV show) and PJ Masks: Save The Summer (a very Superhero-lite series that can be amusing, but only goes so far.


Oz is easily the most watchable of the three and is most likely to receive repeat viewing by its intended audience, but none have any extras and do not seem to want to stretch beyond expectations, which is too safe considering how competitive the marker is for young viewers. Fans will go for it, but how many exist now (or later) is anyones guess.



Before we were set to post this set of reviews, we were notified that Popeye just happens to celebrate his 85th Anniversary as an animated character on July 14, 2018. Eight decades! There was a time he was even more popular than Superman in the 1930s to early 1940s, so it is with some irony that we received a new Popeye The Sailor Man DVD set, even if it is an import from Umbrella in Australia. Covering some of the theatrical shorts from 1936 (The Fleischer Studios) to 1957 (Famous Studios starting in the early 1940s), it includes decent copies of three of the early color Popeye shorts (most were black and white for years) and they were all color by the end of their run.


Two DVDs fit 34 shorts in all, the same ones Warner issued on DVD recently, but these copies are often not always great and we get no extras, so it is not the ultimate set, though keep in mind none of these shorts have hit Blu-ray yet! The higher quality of the PAL video format only helps so much too. This will suffice for some until those Blu-rays somehow roll around.



The classic kids film The Sandlot (1993) lands on Blu-ray five years after its 25th Anniversary disc and doesn't offer too much new in terms of extras (a digital copy is the only thing missing from the previous release). Still, if you don't have this film on Blu-ray (or are just a hardcore fan still trying to forget the dreaded direct to video sequel), then this release is worth picking up.


The Sandlot stars Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna, Chauncey Leopardi, Marty York, and Brandon Quintin Adams with direction by David Mickey Evans.


The period piece film centers around Scotty Smalls (Gury) who is the new kid in town and not too sports-savvy like all of the other kids. Hoping to fit in, he steals his stepdad's baseball signed by Babe Ruth and hits it into the wrong yard... one that's guarded by a ferocious dog. As the boys devise a plan to get it back, they end up coming to terms with lots of other life lessons along the way.


Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the film looks great after all these years and has a nice detailed transfer that's pretty good for Blu-ray disc. Of course, this film has been released on DVD and lesser formats over the years so a quick comparison of new and old, you can plainly see the difference. There's also that new digital copy that we were mentioning above, that's really the only new about this release.


Special Features...


Featurettes


Trailers/TV Spots


TOPPS baseball cards


Insert booklet


Slipcover


Full color poster


The Sandlot joins other Fox releases that are landing on disc again but sans anything too new in the way of features. While some may be a bit discouraged by this, it is still nice that the studio is taking notice of this film from their back catalog. Hopefully, when it's released again, it will be on 4K UHD disc.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Blu-ray of Alex is as good as anything on the list, but it is nothing special outside of just looking good, so Sandlot might offer a bit more character. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Masks, Nella and Oz are about even with good color and as much sharpness as the old format can offer, but it also makes one wonder why no Blu-rays have been issued of any of these either.


The 1.33 X 1 image on the Popeye DVDs are a mixed bag as noted, with the dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor version of the shorts looking decent color wise, but the black and white shorts are rough and some of the later color shorts have color that can be off.


As for sound, Alex has a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix like Sandlot, but a lack of character or memorability again limits performance. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Oz is about even with the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Nella and Masks, but these are not very loud in the first place. They are professional at best. Popeye has lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono that is a generation down or so, so be careful of volume switching or high volume playback, so like the image quality, the sound needs some work and was better on the U.S. Warner DVDs.



To order the Popeye Umbrella import DVD set, go to this link for it and other hard to find titles:


http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/



- Nicholas Sheffo, Ricky Chiang (Alex) & James Lockhart (Sandlot)

https://www.facebook.com/jamesharlandlockhartv/


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