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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Melodrama > Family > Conflict > Horse > Friendship > Art > Death > Sports > Water > Romance > Australia > Destined To Ride (2018)/Final Portrait (2016/both Sony DVDs)/Miracle Season (2018/Fox DVD)/Savannah Smiles (1982 w/DVD)/Windrider (1986/both MVD Rewind Blu-rays)

Destined To Ride (2018)/Final Portrait (2016/both Sony DVDs)/Miracle Season (2018/Fox DVD)/Savannah Smiles (1982 w/DVD)/Windrider (1986/both MVD Rewind Blu-rays)

Picture: B/C/B/B & B-/B Sound: B/C/B/B/B Extras: D/C/B/B/B Films: B+/C+/A/B/C+

And now, a group of slice-of-life dramas...

Anna Elizabeth James' Destined To Ride (2018) starts us off. Lily (Madeline Carroll) was looking for to summer cheerleading practice until she found out she has to spend 5 weeks with her nature-loving aunt on her ranch. On the ranch, she meets Pistachio, a temperamental horse in which she didn't get along with at first, but over time they bond and become inseparable friends. When suddenly her aunt's ranch is threatened by an unfriendly neighbor, it is up to Lily and Pistachio (the film's original title) to win rider/horse relay racing contest to save the farm.

Lily is your typical city girl and can't imagine what her life is like without modern comforts, wi-fi and smart phones among the many gadgets. Spending time on her Aunt's ranch to her she considers it is cruel and an unjust punishment. But the truth is, she is afraid to live up to her late mother's legacy of being a great horse rider and also her father has never fully accepted her mother's death, to him Lily reminds him too much of her. At the ranch however she meets new friends and an extraordinary horse named Pistachio. With Pistachio she learns to become a better rider and gains more confidence in herself. Through riding with Pistachio she also learns how to make friends. In the end she not only learns how to ride, but also help save the farm and help her father come to terms with her mother's death.

This was your usual girl meets a horse movie and how it changed her life. It is the typical story of a city girl forced to work/live on a ranch and her learning to overcome her own fears and insecurities (and usually they end up in some sort of horse race or competition) and learning to ride a horse is a growing experience. It is a movie for little girls everywhere who dream of horses or riding one someday.

No extras, but Denise Richards and Joseph Lawrence also star.

The great actor Stanley Tucci takes the helm behind the camera to tell a tale of art and friendship in Final Portrait (2016), about how the world-known artist Alberto Giacometti (another amusing turn by Geoffrey Rush) and good friend/businessman (et al) James Lord (Armie Hammer continuing to recuperate from The Lone Ranger nicely) get together to do a painted portrait of the latter for what should be a day or so, but lands up being longer. Longer than Lord expects.

Some of this is definitely amusing and the actors are interesting to watch, but the script and film (at 90 minutes) finds itself slightly tripping on itself, not being the full character study it had the chance to be, though the actors are convincing. It also looks good and was watchable enough, but I was hoping for a bit more and unfortunately, the missed opportunities add up. It is still worth a look for the many things that work (Tony Shalhoub, Clemence Posey and Sylvie Testud are a plus in the supporting cast) a matter will be most interested.

A Behind-The Scenes clip and interviews featurette are the extras.

Sean McNamara's The Miracle Season (2018) is another tale based on a true story, this time of of Iowa's City West High School girl's volleyball team, after the death of their star player Caroline 'Line' Found (Danika Yarosh) the team was left broken hearted. Line was the heart and soul of the town and the team. But through the tough love of their Coach 'Brez' (Helen Hunt), the faith of Caroline's father Ernie (William Hurt) and Caroline best friend Kelley (Erin Moriarty) they learn to pick up the pieces and help rebuild the team. And even though Line is gone, together were able keep strength and spirit of Line alive.

Caroline 'Line' was the most beautiful, popular girl in school. She embodied and empowered people around to do better and play better. After her death people were at a lost of how to go on living without her, specially the girl's volleyball team. Without Line how could they even play, much less defend their state championship? Everything fell to Caroline's best and closest friend Kelley to fill her shoes and take lead the team, along with the Coach and Caroline's father guidance the team once again finds the strength and courage to become the champions Line believed in.

This was a totally feel good movie, it is about overcoming tragedy, love, friendship, teamwork and sportsmanship. It is about how to carry on even after losing someone close to us and not forget how to live. Those interested should catch it. Extras include 'Star Player', gallery and trailers.

We conclude with the first of two entries here from the MVD Rewind Collection, which defies genres and brings VHS hits that are all but lost to stunning new life in HD, comes Mark Miller's Savannah Smiles (1982), a fun (yet dated) family friendly caper.

Savannah (played by Bridgette Andersen of The Parent Trap 2) is the six year old daughter of a politician, who ends up in the hands of two bumbling criminals. While they at first appear to be unlikely people to look after a little girl, the crooks end up bonding with her and become the family that she always wanted but never had. The film is slapstick and has quite the lively goofy country music-style soundtrack that adds to the comedic tone.

Savannah Smiles stars Mark Miller, Donovan Scott, Chris Robinson, and Michael Parks.

Special Features include:

'The Making of Savannah Smiles' brand new documentary about the making of this classic comedy featuring writer / producer Mark Miller, star Donovan Scott, Teresa Andersen (mother of Bridgette Andersen) and composer Ken Sutherland (HD)

'Memories of Bridgette Andersen' featuring all-new interviews with Teresa Andersen (Bridgette's mom) along with writer / producer Mark Miller and actor Donovan Scott (HD)

'The Songs and Music of Savannah Smiles' featuring brand new interview with composer Ken Sutherland (HD)

Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)

Collectible Mini-Poster

Finally, another release featuring an early role for Nicole Kidman. The VHS-era classic Windrider (1986) gets the deluxe treatment thanks to the new MVD Rewind Collection. An '80s coming-of-age beach movie, the film centers around windsurfing (what else?) and follows the exploits of Stewart 'P.C.' Simpson (Tom Burlinson) whose remarkable talents on the ocean water impress everyone (and might even qualify him to become one of the world's best) but his father (who just wants him to get a REAL job already) is constantly intervening. Things change when PC meets a rock singer (Kidman) and ends up with a few setbacks in life that drive him away from his championship goals. Can love and windsurfing coincide or does PC have to make a hard life choice?

Windrider also stars Jill Perryman, Bud Tingwell, and Simon Chilvers.

Special Features include...

Audio Commentary with Director Vince Monton and Writer Everett De Roche

Music Promo featuring Nicole Kidman (1:06, SD)

''Young Days'' Music Promo (1:36, SD)

Extended Bedroom Scene (:38, SD)

Windsurfing Promo (2:44, SD)

Stills Gallery

Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)

Collectible Windrider 'Mini-Poster'

While wind riding isn't a sport commonly portrayed in cinema, the core romance/coming of age drama seen here has been done plenty of times since this 1986 effort. For Nicole Kidman fans, this should be a fun film to revisit as she looks so young (and different as this is pre-plastic surgery) here.

Now, how do they playback when watching. Using a print from The Library of Congress to use as a source for this new HD remaster, the new 2K HD transfer of Smiles isn't perfect but isn't necessarily terrible either. The film's widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and an uncompressed English LPCM 2.0 mix present the film here looking better than it has in ages. Also included is an anamorphically enhanced standard definition DVD with similar, yet compressed, specs.

Windrider has also been well-remastered in HD with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a new compressed Mono audio mix, there's no doubt that this is the best that the film has looked or sounded maybe ever. There's a bit of grain on the transfer but seeing that when the film was made, it's pretty impressive what MVD has done here.

The remaining stand-alone DVDs are offered in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 (2.35 X 1 for Portrait) image. Everyone seems happy enough with the DVD playback, but our critic on Portrait adds that the image is a bit soft and motion blur in places throughout. All three DVDs also have lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mixes which play as well as they can for the format, but note that Portrait can be on the quiet side more than expected, so be careful of high volume playback and volume switching.

- Ricky Chiang, Nicholas Sheffo (Portrait) and James Lockhart (Blu-rays)



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