Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish
(Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Lion
(Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/VeggieTales:
The Best Christmas Gift
(Universal DVD/all 2019)
Ultra HD Picture: B Picture: B- & C/B-/C+ Sound: B- &
C+/B+ & B/C+ Extras: C-/C/C Main Programs: C-/C/C+
the holidays arriving, here come a new cycle of family releases and
these are three of them, though not as good as one might ask for...
start with a 'was this a sequel?' Michelle Johnston's A
Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish
is yet another entry in what seems like a bottomless pit of would be
TV movie comedy/holiday films where everyone is happy and any sadness
is quickly solved, this time with Laura Marano as a would-be
singer/songwriter and Gregg Sulkin as her live interest. She even
meets him when being forced to play an elf in some gaudy Christmas
fiasco. Any 'music' is obnoxious and it gets worse from there.
humor early on was insulting and condescending and I felt bad for the
actors about as much for myself for losing 86+ minutes of my life on
this one. Hate to be so negative, but who is this aimed at?
Isabella Gomez from the solid One
Day At A Time
revival is also here, but even her likability and talent cannot
overcome the odd/bad teleplay and mess.
include Digital Copy and two behind the scenes pieces in The
Looks and Costumes of Christmas Wish
Mic and The Stage.
up is John Favreau's new practically, totally CGI remake of The
Lion King 4K
(2019) which was a big hit, another of Disney's new live action/CGI
remakes of their animated feature film classics and even sports a
voice cast of actors I like, including Donald Glover, Seth Rogen,
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfie Woodard, singer Beyonce and James Earl Jones.
They had a huge budget, all the songs that made this a hit (a few of
which are now standards and maybe classics) and a ton of money to
there is money on the screen, talent, the best CGI technology from
Disney (and their subdivisions LucasFilm and PIXAR, the latter of
which was a spinoff of the former and as part of their split, share
all their technical innovations with the former) and the people who
made this obviously loved the original, so why does this not work?
What happened? Why is it being called soulless and even Elton John
just stated his disappointment?
is because it is too soon, not energetic enough, also has to now
compete with the wildly energetic stage version that is constantly
touring and has other issues. Favreau, a good actor in his own
right, is also a good director, whether an outright comedy/drama
or juggling people and tech well (the first Iron
film, one of the more cinematic Disney/Marvel feature films, but he
loses control of his films to various extents when he is overwhelmed
to various extents by tech that he likes, but overwhelmed
doubt after the opening shot (the only live action shot here, of a
sunrise), the rest of the long 118 minutes tries to keep in the same
'Lion Orange' color aesthetic the franchise has ad since day one.
However, this remake then puts itself in a corner by not having the
color range of the original animated film and that can say this new
version is accusing the original of being too colorful, which most
fans would disagree with. As well, just because this is intricate
CGI animation, it does not mean its technical proficiency makes it
superior to the older original.
Because it has lost the naturalism the original still has over this
version. The makers are totally consistent with the style chosen to
their credit, but I kept watching and asked why this was so
problematic. Then it hit me. There is no flowing hair, flowing
plants or anything else you would see in the wild where the wind was
unhampered by buildings and even larger mountains. The result is
that these characters are living in a nature and wild where there is
no summer breeze or any other breeze, the hair of the characters
hardly moved because they are all somehow pre-groomed (how? A secret
species of animal beauticians?) so it also implies there is only so
much oxygen in this world, so no wonder the critics of it feel a bit
this extends to an unexpected issue, how the mouths look when they
move to the voice actors. I never bought this either and it looks
phony, so much so that it reminded me of an upscale version of poorer
1960s animated TV where the mouths hardly moved. All together, that
makes this one of the oddest and strangest CGI productions of any
kind I have ever seen. Thus, if you are interested and have not
already seen it, this is what you get along with new performances of
the songs that did not work that well to me either. Now you can see
for yourself if you want.
include Digital Copy, plus (per the press release) DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE:
- Dung beetle shares the importance of his 'roll' in the African
Savanna in a fun, bug's eye view of the land and its inhabitants.
The Blu-ray adds...
Journey to 'The Lion King' -
Music - Go inside the studio with the cast and crew as they work to
honor and elevate The Lion King's beloved music.
Magic - Discover how the filmmakers blended the traditional
filmmaking techniques with virtual reality technology to create
amazing movie magic.
Timeless Tale - Filmmakers and cast reflect on the story that has
moved generations and share how this Lion King carries a proud
More to Be Scene -
Recording studio and layer-by-layer progressions of some of most
iconic moments in 'The Lion King.'
of Life' - Peel back the layers of effects and go behind the scenes
of this iconic musical moment from the film
Just Can't Wait to Be King' - See all the effects, talent and fun
that went into creating this vibrant version of 'I
Just Can't Wait to Be King'
for the movie
Matata' - Join Donald Glover (Simba), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa) and Billy
Eichner (Timon) in the studio for the making of this memorable
Length Audio Commentary by Director Jon Favreau.
- Director Jon Favreau, the Lion Recovery Fund and conservationists
highlight efforts to protect the majestic lions and their home.
we have a program that is also all CGI, only an hour long and with a
much lower budget, but VeggieTales:
The Best Christmas Gift
(2019) is the best release here by default, a half-decent, latest
entry into a very long and successful series that has always been
amusing, child-friendly and not bad overall. There is limited
repetitiveness in these programs and they are pleasant enough and do
not hit the viewer over the head with anything. This is in line with
release above, the characters here (regulars from the franchise) are
trying to put on a show at a theater, but what a difference. This
one is not insulting, loud, obnoxious and unfunny when it tries to be
funny. It just is funny in a regular way without trying so hard.
Though it still plays like a lesser Charlie
like all these shows do, but this one is watchable. It might still
be for fans only, but those unfamiliar with these characters have a
decent introduction with them here if interested.
include a trailer, music remixes and audio commentary.
my dissatisfaction with the film, the 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.78 X 1, HDR
(10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Lion
is the best performer here, though it was actually issued in choice
theatrical screenings in better 12-bit color Dolby Vision. This
still plays well enough, but is not the best CGI on 4K I have seen no
matter what. Definition is solid for the most part, but it has minor
flaws. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the
regular Blu-ray has more motion blur and more of the flaws I see in
the 4K edition.
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Cinderella
is not that well shot, has more blur than either Lion
disc and is a little sloppier than the shoot ought to be. This is
made much worse on the
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the DVD version that is
very hard to watch.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on VeggieTales
actually looks better as a DVD and has better color all around,
though you can see its budget limits.
for sound, Lion
has sound as its biggest highlight it its Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby
TrueHD 7.1 for older systems) soundmix that is far form the best such
sound mix I have heard, but it is professionally done just enough to
gain its letter grade, but the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless
mix on its Blu-ray edition is not that bad by comparison, though it
is still not the greatest soundmix. It also means the poorer music
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Cinderella
is weak and barely has a soundfield, which dissipates even more on
the DVD's lossy Dolby Digital 5.1. Flat and boring.
leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on VeggieTales
sounding at least as good as Cinderella
and is a little more consistent to boot.