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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Comedy > Monster > Australia > Musical > Sequel > British > CGI Animation > Animals > Cable TV > Frog Dreaming (1986/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Mary Poppins Returns (2018/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Meet The Baby Animals (2019*)/Top Wing: Eggcellent Missions (2017 - 2018/*both

Frog Dreaming (1986/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Mary Poppins Returns (2018/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Meet The Baby Animals (2019*)/Top Wing: Eggcellent Missions (2017 - 2018/*both Nickelodeon DVDs)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The Frog Dreaming Import Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can play on all Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the link below.



The latest children/family titles are a mixed bag, but you cannot say they are not at least interesting...



E.T.'s best friend Henry Thomas goes on another search for otherworldly beings, this time in the Australian lakes in Frog Dreaming (1986). While not as successful as the Spielberg classic, this young adult fantasy has been newly remastered from Umbrella and hasn't aged too badly thanks to this new HD restoration.


The film also stars Rachel Friend, Tamsin West, Tony Barry, and Katy Manning.


From Australian filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith (BMX Bandits, Dead End Drive-In) comes the story of a 14-year-old orphan named Cody (Thomas) who learns about a ancient Aboriginal myth called the 'Donkegin'. Setting on his own personal quest with his girlfriend Wendy (Friend), Cody is destined to find this mythical creature in a nearby dam, where he's convinced it's been lying in dormant.


The film is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a nice sounding 2.0 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) Stereo lossless mix. The film is nicely shot and was only available on DVD recently from Umbrella. This is the certainly the best transfer of the film on the market and definitely worth tracking down.


Special Features include...


Audio Commentary with Director Brian Trenchard-Smith

Extended Interviews from Not Quite Hollywood

The Depths of a Legend featurette

The Go Kids featurette

The Dream Quest: Locations featurette

Trailer

Image Gallery


While it's not as magical as E.T., there's a lot to like about Frog Dreaming, which is worth revisiting in this new HD master.



Next up is a project some thought a bad idea, making another Mary Poppins film and without Julie Andrews. Not that her blockbuster hit was a masterpiece, but it is iconic and so strongly identified with Andrews that it followed her throughout her career, including in Victor/Victoria, et al. It was also a pop culture phenomenon and remains one of the most successful live action films Disney ever produced. Now we have Rob Marshall's Mary Poppins Returns (2018) with Emily Blunt assuming the title character role without explanation. A family (led by Ben Wishlaw, 'Q' from the Daniel Craig James Bond films) might lose their home and face some other problems, but arriving with her handy umbrella that allows her to fly, she'll try OT fix everything.


It opens with a song sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is Poppins' friend in this version and we get Colin Firth as the mean bank owner, some other very British casting in a film that is more British than you might expect, but needed to be by necessity. Meryl Streep oddly turns up and so does Angela Lansbury in a moment with mixed results (feels like it is promoting a certain PIXAR hit), but the greatest moment as fleeting as it is has (as a new character) Dick Van Dyke showing up and actually doing some singing and dancing in a moment that steals the movie and shows its many limits.


For its time, the original film was very magical, had visual effects the likes that had never been seen before and proved Walt Disney was still the U.S. king of the fantasy genre, no matter his own personal flaws. Even as those effects often dated, the film still had its charm and cast its chemistry. I think the casting is solid and the money is on the screen, but we don't get enough chemistry, the songs are not bad, but none really stand out and part of the problem is that the film just plays it too safe.


No doubt Marshall knows his way around the Musical genre, but that genre has been mostly dead since the 1970s and few such films made since have ever really wo0rked. I even liked the color schemes used, but it just is not enough, especially at 130 minutes. Still, I'll give them points for ambition. We got to review the film in Disney's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with Blu-ray set, so we cannot say we did not get a good look at it.


At least there are plenty of extras, including (from the press release)...


  • Deleted Song ''The Anthropomorphic Zoo'' - In this early song sequence, Mary Poppins and the children visit a very special zoo where the humans and animals trade places.

  • The Practically Perfect Making of Mary Poppins Returns - Join filmmakers and cast on an amazing journey to embrace the legacy of the original film while making a fresh modern sequel.

    • Introduction - Filmmakers and cast remember the first Mary Poppins movie and share the thrill of working on Mary Poppins Returns.

    • ''(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky'' - Discover how the team mined PL Travers' books for a fresh perspective on a much-loved character. Plus, meet the Banks children!

    • ''Can You Imagine That?'' - Be on location for Mary's iconic entrance from the sky, and explore the movie's original songs, inspired by the Sherman Brothers.

    • ''Nowhere to Go but Up'' - Experience being on set with the legendary Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury, and celebrate the joy of choosing the right balloon!

  • Seeing Things From a Different Point of View: The Musical Numbers of Mary Poppins Returns - Go behind the scenes and experience the film's production numbers from a new angle.

    • ''Trip a Little Light Fantastic'' - Led by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the cast performs the film's biggest production number, with dancing lamplighters, bicyclists and more!

    • ''The Royal Doulton Music Hall'' / ''A Cover Is Not the Book'' - Find out what it takes to create two musical extravaganzas inside an animated world, highlighted by dancing animated penguins!

    • ''Turning Turtle'' - Mary's eccentric cousin, Topsy Turvy, played by Meryl Streep, has an unusual house that turns this musical number upside-down.

    • ''Can You Imagine That?'' - Dive under the bubbles with the cast and crew to see how this exuberant number was created.

  • Back to Cherry Tree Lane: Dick Van Dyke Returns - Dick Van Dyke, who played Bert and Mr. Dawes Sr. in the first film, returns after 54 years to Cherry Tree Lane as Mr. Dawes Jr.

  • Practically Perfect Bloopers - There's nowhere to go but up with the cast and crew in this lighthearted collection of flubs, goofs and prop fails!

  • Deleted Scenes

    • Leaving Topsy's - After their visit to Cousin Topsy, Mary, Jack and the children pause to take a look back.

    • ''Trip a Little Light Fantastic'' - The leeries light up the screen in this extended clip from the movie's biggest musical production.

  • and Play Movie in Sing-Along Mode - Sing along with all your favorite songs as you watch the movie.


Though (as the end credits reconfirm), the film was shown in 12-bit color Dolby Vision in select Dolby Theater bookings, this 4K version offers the film in 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition image. Regular 10-bit color HDR is fine and fine here, but not as good as 12-bit color so why Disney made this choice is odd. What are they holding back for?


It still is better than the still-decent 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the regular Blu-ray, where you can see the better color range and detail, but not spectacularly so.


On the other hand, the 4K version's soundtrack offers Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on older systems), while the Blu-ray has a decent DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mixdown that has some impact, even if it is not as good as the Atmos mix. The 4K edition is the way to see this best at home for now.



Finally we have two more basic DVDs from Nickelodeon that have no on-disc extras and run just over 90 minutes long: the compilation release Meet The Baby Animals (with episodes of Bubble Guppies, Paw Patrol, Shimmer & Shine and Blaze & The Monster Machine) and Top Wing: Eggcellent Missions. The company threw a few stickers into our copy of Wing, but it is uncertain all future copies will have this.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on both discs are sufficient, if not great, amazing or exceptional, so it is competent like the rest of the discs. Its no better or worse than most Nickelodeon releases, but that's the problem. We need more and better, instead of the obvious and predictable. Let your child chose carefully so you don't have discs they get bored with quickly.



To order the Frog Dreaming Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link:


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



- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Frog)

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


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