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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Comedy > TV > Fantasy > Toys > Scooby-Doo! And the Gourmet Ghosts (2018*)/Unikitty: Sparkle Party (2018/LEGO/*all Warner Video)

Freedom Fighters: The Ray (2017 - 2018/DC Comics*/Blu-ray w/DVD)/Paw Patrol: Halloween Heroes (2013 - 2015) + Mighty Pups (2018)/SpongeBob Squarepants: The Legend Of Boo-Kini Bottom (2017/all Nickelodeon DVDs)/Scooby-Doo! And the Gourmet Ghosts (2018*)/Unikitty: Sparkle Party (2018/LEGO/*all Warner Video)

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

These are the child-friendly/family animated releases for the latest change of season....

The newest DC Animated movie decides to take on a lesser known (and pretty cliche) superhero to the small screen. Freedom Fighters: The Ray (2017 - 2018) is presented on Blu-ray in two seasons here equaling 72 minutes of animated entertainment. The Ray is a Green Lantern-esque superhero who can fly, has a cool costume, and a team of other heroes (non as the Freedom Fighters) who are basically a second rate Justice League.

Riddled with political undertones, the animated feature centers around Ray Terrill ends up encountered a super hero from another Earth that is actually himself in another film. Facing off against futuristic Nazis in this alternate Earth, known as Earth X, the Ray must come to terms with his new powers, his homosexuality, and finding his place against the fight to save the planet.

Special Features includes An Interview with Russell Tavey, the voice of The Ray.

While it tries hard to be politically and socially relevant, Freedom Fighters: The Ray ends up being a superhero that at the end of the day, is just a mix of other better characters. The animation isn't terrible but on the same wavelength as other 'safe' DC animated features, and just.. isn't very good.

That leaves the pure comedy and adventure of more familiar franchises, such as two releases of Paw Patrol: Halloween Heroes (2013 - 2015) and Mighty Pups (2018) featuring various topic-grouped episodes for the first DVD and a short 44 minutes adventure in the other with a bonus collector's card for fans. That's more than usual at once, even for Nickelodeon, but after the folding of a certain toy chain, the importance of keeping the characters out there is as important as ever to the network (also in the face of merger issues with their parent company still unresolved as we posted this coverage) and we are now seeing toy tie-ins to the show turning up at unexpected places ('huggable' stuffed versions of various cast members at a major drug store chain) to meet demand for sales and further promo of the show.

I just wonder if this will force companies like Nickelodeon to get more creative and fun like they should be to begin with in the face of recent and ongoing changes. We'll see.

Nickelodeon has also issued the occasional stop-motion version of their still big hit show SpongeBob Squarepants: The Legend Of Boo-Kini Bottom (2017) as the new stage musical version of the standard-animated series hits the stage. This is not to be confused with the 'Bikini Bottom' release we covered years ago at this link...


This sadly only runs 23 minutes (stop motion was never cheap) and we get a few behind the scenes featurettes, but not enough for all the room on a DVD. Still, its a nice change of pace and fans will likely want it.

Moving on to the straight-to-video adventures of another TV classic, Scooby-Doo! And the Gourmet Ghosts (2018) is one of the better entries of late (especially after the awful WWE mess, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and may not take total advantage of the humor in Shaggy and Scooby's love of food, it does have famous TV chefs (Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis) voicing their animated selves in a 77 minutes romp that could have been a bit longer has the writers got a bit mote creative, though a possible sequel/revisit could be in the works.

The quality is here as much as any release here and is more in line with the better Scooby releases of late and is worth your time. Three episodes of various Scooby series are the only extras.

Last but not least is out first look at Unikitty: Sparkle Party (2018), which is a LEGO-affiliated world offering a fantasy world with moviemaking, magic and is a two-DVD set that runs 20 episodes in all. By not transforming already established characters into LEGO versions and being something new, it is a bit refreshing and overdue in all, though some may consider it leaning more towards a female audience, anyone can enjoy it.

Still it is for younger viewers and a little may go a long way, but it is at least fresh for now and LEGO needed that boost.

The Ray is presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, the animated is crisp and clean on Blu-ray with no visible issues. Also included is an anamorphically enhanced standard definition DVD with the same widescreen aspect ratio spec and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. A digital copy is also included.

The rest of the DVDs here are also presented in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image playback as well and can compete with the picture quality of The Ray DVD, as well in the sound sense in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes in all cases this time around. Don't expect any sonic surprises, but these aren't bad for the old, dated codec. We'll see what gets Blu-ray treatment down the line.

- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (The Ray)



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