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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Animals > Melodrama > Comedy > Elderly > Cheerleading > > Animation > Fantasy > Cable TV > Sports > Rec > Swan Princess: Kingdom Of Music (2019/Sony DVD)

A Dog's Journey/Poms (2019/both Universal Blu-ray w/DVD Sets)/Shimmer & Shine: Legend Of The Dragon Treasure (2017 - 19*)/Skateboard (1978/MVD DVD)/SpongeBob Squarepants: The Best 200 Episodes (1999/*both Nickelodeon DVDs)/Swan Princess: Kingdom Of Music (2019/Sony DVD)

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

Its a mix of the old and new for our latest children/family titles...

Gail Mancuso's A Dog's Journey (2019) is the unexpected, and sort of unnecessary, sequel to A Dog's Journey, which was a moderate hit a little while ago. For fans and severe dog lovers only, the dog Bailey has to protect a young lady, the daughter of Dennis Quaid's character/owner, which is a bit much for a plot that is almost exploitive, but this is mostly boring for its very, very, very long 109 minutes. Why, why why...

Extras include Digital Copy, four featurettes, audio commentary with the director, a Gag Reel with no laughs and Deleted & Extended Scenes, though not enough was cut.

Zara Hayes' Poms (2019) is the unfunny comedy about a group of women who live in a retirement home and start a cheerleading squad, but it has lame cliches, good actors wasted and no point, leading it to be very, very forgettable and I did not like the look of it either. It is a shame that you can get Diane Keaton (hit or miss these days in her choices), Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Celia Weston, Rhea Perlman and Bruce McGill, yet come up with something that is fluff and goes nowhere.

If I were not so bored and it were not so boring, I could accuse it of age-ploitation, but that would actually make it more exciting than it is. The culprit here is the production company STX, the king lately of the package deal film that no one has thought out by lightyears and miles. They just throw projects together and toss them down the pipeline, though they are now (unsurprisingly) having problems. It did not have to be like this.

Digital Copy is the only extras.

Shimmer & Shine: Legend Of The Dragon Treasure (2017 - 19) is the latest basic Nickelodeon DVD from the series and like the basic DVDs form all the series they keep releasing, not too distinct from each other. Young fans will be happy, but I just wondered if the re-merger of Viacom and CBS can stop these token releases from happening. It runs 92 minutes and the shows aren't awful.

No extras, of course.

George Gage's Skateboard (1978) seemed like a quick cash-in film for a sport that was considered by many to be a phase, flash in the pan or even a joke, but of course, actual skateboarding is now a huge business and thankfully survived the backlash against anything good from the 1970s. Besides featuring some very important skaters from the time, this was actor and singer Leif Garrett's big screen acting debut, though he does not have as much of the spotlight as you might expect.

Allen Garfield is a guy in some financial trouble who sees how good the skaters are and thinks he can make money with them, but also wants to see them win. He's good here and equal to the happenings in the film, but skateboarding is king here and to see how good and fun it is shown here defines its appeal from the beginning. The film is no documentary or classic, but the kind of more for-real commercial kids film we used to get versus the precalculated franchise product we get too much of. That makes it more interesting to watch.

Extras include separate on cameras interviews with Director gage and legendary skater Tony Alva, who also recorded a feature length audio commentary, a Photo/Poster Gallery, and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

SpongeBob Squarepants: The Best 200 Episodes is a reissue of the first nine seasons of the hit show in two previously issued sets, now in one larger box, starting with the First 100 Episodes DVD set we covered years ago at this link....


The second set has no new extras, but includes a few music videos, a bunch of shorts and a Making Of featurette on how to make the title character, but this box set adds a poster. Of course, fans may already have all this and the poster is only so much of an incentive, but the real question is if these will ever get issued in HD or is that not possible in some way because of how they may have been finished in post-production. Otherwise, this will have to do for now.

Finally, Princess Odette returns with Princess Alise for her coming of age ceremony in a music festival where princes and princesses from other countries for a chance to dance with Alise. Prince Li of Cathay has enter music competition, but secretly his twin sister Princess Mei Li stowed away to seek help from Princess Odette to help break the on her true love Chen who has been cursed and turned into a dragon in The Swan Princess: Kingdom Of Music (2019).

Princess Alise has always wanted to be a 'modern' princess, to go on adventures and to find true love and to live her own life. She has grown up together with Lucas, a commoner boy who shared her adventures as a child, but now, with the coming of age ceremony more than ever she is reminded to become a 'proper' princess. After meeting Prince Li, Alise finds herself sweep off her feet and begins wondering if she should find someone more of equal status, how is Lucas expected to compete with a Prince for the love of Alise? Will Princess Mei Li find a cure to lift the curse on Chen?

This was a CGI, 3D-like animated children's movie, it was like a mix of Western and Eastern stories and fairy tales with talking animals, magic and singing. The animation was nice enough, but the singing was surprisingly better than I thought. All the songs, characters and dances were symbolic of different cultures around the world. Extras include sing along songs and behind the scenes featurette.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Journey and 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Poms are current HD shoots that are competent at best, but not very memorable and to be blunt, the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on the Skateboard DVD looks better, is more convincing and even more naturalistic. Even without the landmark skateboarding, it should be on Blu-ray too. The anamorphically enhanced Journey and Poms DVDs are wearer still and hard to watch, so beware.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Shimmer is good enough as it has been on all the previous DVDs we covered, as well as the 1.33 X 1 image on all the SpongeBob DVDs, which we have also covered often before. That leaves the anamorphically enhanced Princess image as good as any of them, being a new production not hurting and the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is as good as it can be for the format.

Journey has Dolby TrueHD 7.1 sound on its Blu-ray, while Poms has a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, but it makes no difference since both just offer some music and much talk, made weaker on the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 DVDs. Shimmer has lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound that is consistent with previous DVD releases, plus is not better or worse than the DVDs of these feature films.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the old SpongeBob DVDs are also just fine and similar to all the past discs we covered of his small screen exploits, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Skateboard is a bit on the weak side, sadly, so be careful of high volume playback and volume switching. Mickey Thomas, a year before joining Jefferson Starship (replacing Marty Balin!) cut a few songs for this film with another band, and all a better than the hits he had with Starship in the 1980s and beyond!

- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Swan)


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