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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Action > TV > Comedy > CGI > Holiday > Literature > Animals > Mystery > Scooby Doo! and the Curse Of The 13th Ghost (2019/Warner DVD)

Blaze and The Monster Machines: Robot Riders (2018*)/Dr. Seuss' The Grinch 4K (2018/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Peppa Pig: When I Grow Up (2018/EOne/Fox DVD)/Peter Rabbit: Springtime Collection (2013/*both Nickelodeon DVDs)/Scooby Doo! and the Curse Of The 13th Ghost (2019/Warner DVD)

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

These next child/family releases are reissues or continuations, but one os a remake that really impresses...

Though I don't see or hear much about it, Blaze and The Monster Machines apparently is hanging in there as a hit show for the Nickelodeon Network and the new Robot Riders (2018) DVD is 91 minutes of shows meant to capitalize on the Transformers films and the Bumblebee spin-off that did better overseas than here. It is not any direct tie-in to those films or that franchise, but the reference on the cover art is very obvious. That is only four episodes, but it apparently will suffice for fans.

No extras.

Next up is the computer animated feature film Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018), the third major version of the classic book and second hit feature film in a row from Universal, on a roll with the Illumination Animation Studios. Especially after the Boris Karloff/Chuck Jones version alone, it takes a real love of the book and some serious guts to try and revisit such cherished material, but despite some overlap with the earlier versions, I was surprised how all out this new version co-directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney.

The graphics are in the Seuss mode with little compromise or change, while the use of detail and especially of an advanced range of full color are impressive, but really tipping the balance is the new take on the title character, voiced by no less than the ever-great Benedict Cumberbach, who takes drollness into its own new space. His comic timing is great, there are some very funny moments here, including smart ones (one involves a great joke about the classic hit song and now-standard ''All By Myself'' that has one of the film's very best jokes. Too bad the captioners forgot to identify the song for those who might not know it because it is that good. I would recommend you play the song for any children who have not heard it before and before seeing the film. You might want to give it one more listen yourself for maximum laughter impact.

There is also a few surprises in voice casting and Danny Elfman turns in one of his more interesting movie scores of late. No, you have seen some of this before, but the makers have added a new fun and vibrancy to the now-classic material that makes it fun and even fresh, building out the WhoVille world in a way that is more extensive than ever. You can get lost in it in a good way and besides knowing they would be compared to the previous takes on the book, it seems the makers ha plenty of other holiday classics in mind and even the underrated CGI holiday feature film, the underrated Arthur Christmas (reviewed elsewhere on this site).

The film is very three-dimensional and a Blu-ray 3D edition has been issued, but we got the very impressive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray/standard Blu-ray set and the performance is often stunning, which we'll get to below.

Extras are plenty, especially for this 4K set and include Digital Copy, Who's Who in Who-ville (interactive map) which does play like a pop-up book and (as the press release explains) "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" Lyric Video - Tyler, The Creator puts a modern spin on the Seussian Christmas classic.

There are 3 mini-movie including Yellow is the New Black - Before they all make their big escape from prison in Despicable Me 3, a couple of lucky Minions get a taste of freedom as they break free with the help of one of their fellow human inmates, Dog Days of Winter - Max braves the harsh winter weather and an uncooperative Who to bring a sick Grinch his favorite hot tea and Santa's Little Helpers - Fan favorites the Minions are back for another adventure! Having been accidentally dropped off at the North Pole, our Minion pals make the most of the situation by trying to become elves. All in regular 1080p HD.

That still leaves The Making of the Mini-Movies - Mini in size but not in heart, these short films are fan favorites. From the Grinch and Max to the Minions - you'll explore the themes of each of the mini-movies through the eyes of the filmmakers who made them. From Green to Screen - It takes a lot to bring grumpy green to your home screen. This inside look at the making of Illumination's Dr. Seuss' The Grinch features interviews and behind-the-scenes moments with the cast, filmmakers and artists whose hearts have all grown three sizes bringing this classic tale to life. Illuminating THE GRINCH - Using filmmaker and cast interviews, concept art and progression reels, we take a behind-the-scenes look at how the characters evolved from initial sketches to fully realized characters. My Earliest GRINCH Memories - The cast and filmmakers of Dr. Seuss' The Grinch reveal their earliest memories of the grumpy green character and the enduring appeal of this Christmas curmudgeon's journey to redemption. Grinchy Gadgets - From his body-size blow dryer to his moving mechanical chair, from his catapult to his dog drone-rig and more... you'll get to explore the wondrous world of Grinch's gadgets. "I Am The Grinch" Lyric Video - A stylized look at Tyler, The Creator's original song created just for the film. Songs From His Little Heart - Take a deep dive into the toe tapping beats of Dr. Seuss' The Grinch. From score to specialty songs, you'll hear from the film's A-list musicians on what it took to create the music behind the movie. X-Mas Around the World - Every culture practices Christmas in a slightly different way. We'll highlight some of the more fun permutations of the holiday around the globe. Cindy-Lou's Yule Log - Nothing says the holidays quite like an animated fireplace blasting fake heat from your living room television. Just in time for winter, we'll recreate Cindy-Lou's living room on Christmas Eve for all to enjoy. Production Babies - A celebration of the babies born to the filmmakers during the production of Illumination's Dr. Seuss' The Grinch. AND... Any Who Can Draw - Hosted by an Illumination artist and head of story Mark O'Hare, you'll see step-by-step how to draw some of your favorite characters from this beloved holiday classic; Grinch, Max and Fred!

Peppa Pig: When I Grow Up (2018) is a too-short 12-show set (the box will not even list the 62-minutes-long playback length) that remains charming, but still makes one wish for more episodes and extras in the face of yet another basic-only release. At least the quality of the show is consistent and as good as just about any of its contemporaries, but its vague-if-smart theme is the only thing to distinguish it from other such basic DVDs of the many we've seen by now.

No extras.

The Peter Rabbit: Springtime Collection (2013) simply combines the two basic Nickelodeon DVDs we already covered elsewhere on the site: Peter Rabbit and Spring Into Adventure. Apparently, a new release connected to the franchise is on the way, so we'll see how that works. In the meantime these are as child-friendly as Peppa Pig and safe for all ages.

No extras.

Lastly we have the disappointing Scooby Doo! and the Curse Of The 13th Ghost (2019) with the premise that they caught 12 ghosts and forgot the last one, now coming back to haunt them figuratively and literally. With the legendary single-episode closure of every entry in franchise history, this is far fetched and I did not buy it, plus it seems like almost an insult to fans and the characters.

The voice work is not bad, but this rough-edged animation style is my least favorite approach to bringing these characters to life, so this is for die hard fans only. I was very bored often and all involved can do better than this!

Two episodes of one of the more recent Scooby series (To All The Ghouls I'Ve Loved Before, Horror-Scope Scoob) are the only extras.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition image on Grinch is among the best anywhere on home video today, with superior color range, variety, grading and superior pallet that make this s amazing a CGI animated feature visually as anything on 4K disc or otherwise and is good as any CGI film produced to this day. Illumination has pretty much caught up with Disney/PIXAR and with DreamWorks Animation mostly out of the picture, that leaves only Sony Animation (we'll see the new animated Spider-Man soon) so the pool of CGI feature films will only get more interesting.

Grinch in 4K looks so good that only the very best 4K feature films, usually shot in larger than 35mm film or larger than 4K cameras, can match it. Think Kubrick's 2001, Dunkirk or Branagh's Murder On The Orient Express remake among the elite 4K releases to demo the best video screens anywhere to match this. That's how high a level the 12-bit color is here and will stun just about anyone.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the regular Blu-ray is not bad, but it is a far cry from what you get in the 4K edition, though both discs offer high quality, well-recorded Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix for older systems) lossless mixes that are sometimes a match for the image, but the sound design does not go overboard either. Like Sing (also in 4K from Illumination and Universal, also reviewed on this site), the music choices are superior, so that adds to how great a demo the 4K edition is.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on all the DVDs are fine for the format with few issues or flaws as they stand. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 in Scooby and Blaze have a little more kick that the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Peppa and Rabbit, but they are as well recorded, resulting in pretty much as sonic draw as well among the DVDs.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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