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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Horror > Literature > Fantasy > Holiday > Myth > Fairy Tale > CG Animation > > British > Action > Anim > Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/Nutcracker and The Four Realms (2018/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/OddSockEaters (2018/Film Movement DVD)/Paw Patrol: Pawsome Collecti

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/Nutcracker and The Four Realms (2018/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/OddSockEaters (2018/Film Movement DVD)/Paw Patrol: Pawsome Collection + Pups Save Puplantis (2018/Nickelodeon DVDs)/Tailspin Tommy in The Great Air Mystery (1935/Universal Serial/MVD/VCI Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B+ & B-/B+/C+/C+/C+/B Sound: B+ & B-/A/C+/C+/C+/C+ Extras: B/B/D/D/D/D Main Programs: B/C+/C+/B-/C+/C+

The latest selection of child titles are more wide-ranging than usual...

R.L. Stine's Goosebumps book series was a pivotal part of my childhood, and so I am kind of loving this new rebranding of the franchise for today's young adult audience. While it's a new original story that introduces some characters and elements from the original book series, what Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018) and its predecessor get right is the off kilter silliness of Stine's writing. This isn't going to win any Oscars, but it's admittedly a fun family film that I rather enjoyed being an adult, and I'm sure kids will as well.

The film stars Jack Black (reprising his role as the voice of Slappy and author R.L. Stine), Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs), Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong, Jeremy Ray Taylor (IT), Caleel Harris, and Tyler Silva.

Two young best pals Sonny and Sam (Taylor and Harris) start their own business of cleaning up junk and stumble across Slappy, the possessed talking dummy from R.L. Stine's Night of the Living Dummy book series. Hoping to start his own ghoulish family of monsters and to bring Goosebumps characters to life, Slappy kidnaps Sonny's mother and brings all of his ghoulish friends back to life on Halloween. As the sleepy town becomes overrun with monsters, witches and other mysterious creatures, Sonny joins forces with his sister, Sam (Iseman) and a kooky neighbor (Jeong) to save Sonny's mom and stop Slappy before it's too late.

While it's also available on the 4K UHD format (hope to see that one later), we are just covering the standard Blu-ray/DVD combo pack here. Goosebumps 2 is presented on 1080p Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and an English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, both of which the norm for the format. Colors and details are fine with nothing glaringly out of place. Also included is the lesser (compressed) standard definition DVD with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. And also included is a digital copy.

Special Features include...

Gag Reel

Three Deleted Scenes

Five Featurettes:

"Thrills & Chills - The Making of Goosebumps 2"

"Meet The Monsters"

"Science With Slappy"

"Junk Brothers - Call Now"

"Slappy's Audition"

and Three Slappy-Oke Sing Alongs.

The best Goosebumps film to date, I enjoyed this sequel more than I probably should have.

While it didn't do too hot critically or in the 2018 holiday box office (save overseas, where it found more of an audience), Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) lands on 4K UHD disc and looks incredibly good on the format being as colorful and detailed as it is. Similar in more ways than one to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, ultimately The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a film with more style than substance. That's not to say the film is a complete waste as the production design and cinematography is quite colorful and creative, but it does make one wonder if it would have worked better being a fully animated piece than a high budget live action film.

The holiday spectacle stars Keira Knightley, MacKenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Matthew MacFadyen, and Miranda Hart. The film is directed by Joe Johnson (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Rocketeer) and Lasse Hallstrom (One Hundred Foot Journey). The film is loosely based on The Nutcracker ballet by ETA Hoffmann. Being a Disney production, there's also a nice little visual reference to Fantasia thrown in.

A rich teenage girl named Clara (Foys) travels along a golden thread that she finds at Drosselmeyer's (Morgan Freeman) annual Christmas party. Clara's main mission in life is to find a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a music box that holds a priceless gift to her. But when the golden thread leads her into a parallel world, Clara encounters a Nutcracker soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and three Realm regents, including the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy (Knightley). Ultimately, she must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the evil Mother Ginger (Mirren), to retrieve the key and return harmony to the unstable world.

I do feel it's worth a warning for very small kids (or people who are afraid of clowns), that the fourth realm is pure nightmare fuel! A scene where Clara ends up in a circus tent surrounded by ghastly clowns circling and taunting her almost felt like a deleted scene from Stephen King's It! The highlight of the film for sure is Kiera Knightley as Sugar Plum Fairy, who pretty much steals the show here, but otherwise the film plays its safe in terms of its casting and overall narrative.

This is a top of the line 4K UHD transfer that really shows off how great a film can look in an 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image presentation. The film is presented with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and audio mixes in English 7.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, and Spanish and lossy French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks. James Newton Howard's score is the soul of the film and uses many musical cues from the original Nutcracker ballet as one would expect. Also included is a 1080p Blu-ray disc of the film with the same widescreen and audio specs, but a less detailed image. A digital copy is also included.

Special Features include...

On Pointe: A Conversation with Misty Copeland featurette

Unwrapping "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms" featurette

Deleted Scenes

and Music Videos:

"Fall on Me" Performed by Andrea Bocelli Featuring Matteo Bocelli

and "The Nutcracker Suite" Performed by Lang Lang.

I could see The Nutcracker and the Four Realms becoming a bigger hit on home video than it was in the theater and may be looked back upon kinder in a few more years. It's a bit weird and doesn't always work, but there's some fun to be had if you're a kid or a kid at heart.

Next is the CGI animated OddSockEaters (2018) based on Pavel Srut's book with illustrations by Galina Miklinova, which this production apparently follows. This British-dubbed release from Film Movement has been issued only on DVD so far, but is not bad for children. The titles characters are the reason you sometimes really loose a matching sock, but the adventure here is when one named Hugo has to go into the big wide world.

We've seen this kind of thing before, but it is an amusing twist sometimes, yet it takes a good bit to make this work for even 87 minutes. Needless to say older audiences might find it wears thin quickly, but it works within the logic of its own world and the makers are hoping they get fans and readers of the book or create new ones. Maybe an acquired taste, there are no extras.

Nickelodeon has two 'new' DVD releases from one of their current new hit shows. Paw Patrol: Pawsome Collection (three previously issued basic single DVDs in one set) and Pups Save Puplantis (capitalizing on the new hit Aquaman film without having him or naming him) arrive with the same lack of extras issues these releases have had for the most part of this series, but doing a triple set helps a little bit, consisting of the Sports Days, Meet Everest! and Marshall & Chase On The Case singles. At this point, if you don't know the show, you don't, but these are as good as any of the increasingly many DVDs on its we've covered.

All three DVDs present decent, anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 images as good as the old standard definition format can deliver, though OddSockEaters is a bit more complex and stylized. Color is fine in all cases. Sound is lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 in all cases save Marshall & Chase On The Case, offering only lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo being an early DVD release in the series. Both soundtracks are offered on OddSockEaters.

Finally we have a serial we've been waiting for for years. Tailspin Tommy in The Great Air Mystery (1935) is a sequel to the 1934 hit Universal Serial we reviewed on DVD a decade ago at this link:


Universal tended to do the most sequel serials and did them well enough to watch, so we get more of the same with title character (Clark Williams) getting involved with Nazi-targeted oil reserves (that's very early!) on a little-known island. This is as amusing as the original release for the then very popular character (like Jack Armstrong), loves flying airplanes, has an amazing knack for that and is the equal of the original serial. Plenty of energy here.

Sure, some things look fake or cheap, but they can also be charming, fun and unintentionally hilarious, which is why you should watch. There are sadly no extras, but this is the best I have seen any serial look to date, thanks to VCI creating new 2K scans of high quality 35mm fine grain copies that can look far better than anyone would expect. Noah Berry Jr. and Jean Rogers also star.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the chapters and many will not believe these are 85-ish tears old. The PCM 2.0 Mono sounds as good as it can for its age, a little better than lossy Dolby Digital, but only expect so much here. This has at least been cleaned up.

- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Nutcracker, Goosebumps)



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