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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Adventure > Toys > Fantasy > Drama > Animals > Australian TV > Secret Agent > CGI > Short > Playmobil The Movie (2019/Universal DVD)/Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, The Complete (1967 - 1969/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD Set)/Spies In Disguise 4K (2019/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Tex

Playmobil The Movie (2019/Universal DVD)/Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, The Complete (1967 - 1969/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD Set)/Spies In Disguise 4K (2019/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Tex Avery Screwball Classics: Volume One (1943 - 1951/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Skippy Import DVD set now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K players that can handle the PAL video format and is Region Free, while the Tex Avery Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Now for some more family entertainment, more diverse and interesting than usual in these four releases...

There are some great toys out there, many in the past you can no longer get and many of those continue to climb in value, but there are those still being made like Hot Wheels/Matchbox cars, tie-ins to movies (Star Wars, various superheroes, Barbie) and even construction toys like LEGOs. LEGO has had a great run of a few feature films and many straight-to-video releases, so you can see why a similar line might want to get into the act. Lino DiSalvo's Playmobil The Movie (2019) should have been that release, but it is a weak, sad copy of the lesser LEGO productions and lands up being a package deal that should have never happened.

This one has a lame live action start, then we land up with a contrived disappearing characters plot, silly spies and other elements that are shockingly throw-away and in its 100 minutes, drags on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, missing so many opportunities to get good that I lost count. A combination of not trying and not caring, even voice work by Daniel Radcliffe, Anya Taylor-Joy, Adam Lambert, Kenan Thompson and Jim Gaffigan cannot save this reportedly expensive dud. STX co-produced this and once again, their poorest sense of package deals got to them and this is just really bad. Just stick with the toy line.

There are no extras.

The Complete Skippy The Bush Kangaroo (1967 - 1969) is not only the entire live action international hit children's TV show produced in Australia and that remains one of the biggest hits in that country's history, but a theatrical film release made towards the end of the show's production, all restored by Umbrella Entertainment, et al, on DVD. Sonny (Garry Pankhurst) is the kangaroo's best friend, teaming up on their various (half-hour) adventures each week in what was the only color TV production from Down Under at the time, as like the U.K., color TV had not arrived yet (the PAL system almost had it, while the U.S. NTSC system had it in full swing by about 1965) so the show was being made with export intended.

Worthy of all the child-friendly shows being made at the time, including with animal leads, it is surprisingly smart, ironic to watch recently after the disastrous wildfires that destroyed so much of the outback as we post this and shockingly is in danger of making the iconic koala bear (they are in every episode of this show) extinct!

The show is a time capsule, but we would hate to see it be so for environmental disaster reasons. Ed Devereaux is Sonny's police father and the rest of the regulars fit together well in a show where all melds well and one definitely worthy of rediscovery all over. These kinds of shows remained popular into the early 1980s and Aussie fans will even note a few legendary actors from that industry showing up ion a few shows. With all the plastic, condescending, even angry and loud children's programming too often more interested in selling things than entertaining and enlightening children, Skippy is great to have back.

Extras include a new transfer of the 1969 Skippy movie know as The Intruder, you have a reversible cover and DVD #14 has a bunch of extras including featurettes: "Which way did they go, Skip?": all new interview featurette with Ken James, "Gentler Times" all new interview featurette with Tony Bonner, "Skippy's Playground" - 25 min TV Special, "Skippy's Club" - TV Commercial, Tony Bonner Sings "Skippy the Bush Kangaroo" theme song, "Adventures With Skippy The Bush Kangaroo" - audio adventure with John McCallum, a Stills Gallery with promo photos and a Comic Book in black and white in stills.

Will Smith and Tom Holland extend their voice talent to animated family friendly film, Spies in Disguise (2019), a high tech digitally animated spy film from Blue Sky, the animation company behind the Ice Age films and others. The presentation of the film looks great on this new 4K Ultra HD edition, which is high budget and interesting to watch.

Karen Gillan, Ben Mendelsohn, and Rashida Jones also lend their voices to the film.

Behind every Super Spy there's a helper who creates the gadgets. Here, Lance Sterling (Will Smith), infamous spy, and his scientist helper Walter Beckett (current Spider-Man Tom Holland) fit those two bills, but when Lance drinks a potion he isn't supposed to, he turns into a pigeon. The unlikely duo then work together in order to solve a world threatening case.

Special Features include (per the press release):

Super Secret Spy Mode

Infiltrating Blue Sky Studios

The Top Secret Guide to Gadgets

"Then There Were Two" Music Video

"Freak of Nature" Music Video

Making the Soundtrack "Then There Were Two"

Making the Soundtrack "Freak of Nature"

"Lunch Break"

plus: a Stills Gallery

Color Keys and Moment Paintings

Character Designs


and Props & Gadgets Concept Art.

Last but not least is the animated shorts set Tex Avery Screwball Classics: Volume One (1943 - 1951) featuring 19 shorts from various years, so this is not going to be a chronological anthology of any sort, but that's fine. Nine of the shorts are stand-alone gems including the sexual humor of Red Hot Riding Hood, smart mystery genre spoof Who Killed Who?, and the hilarious and relentless Symphony In Slang where a hip guy tries to explain his life at the pearly gates, but all he can do is talk in the slang of the time. They try to translate it and the results are images that are far too visually literal.

Four Screwy Squirrel, two George & Junior bear romps and four Droopy cartoons (which we reviewed among the entire series on DVD years ago) including Dumb Hounded, Wags To Riches, The Chump Champ and Daredevil Droopy especially hold up well and are even funnier when they are this clear, detailed and you can see new details and color in them. It can sometimes even be a revelation and makes some of these funny all over again if you saw them before. Like the Looney Tunes, Popeye and Tom & Jerry Blu-ray sets we've reviewed before, it is a real treat to be able to enjoy these cartoons with high fidelity only previously possible with a quality film print. A truly welcome addition and I hope we see more like it soon.

There are sadly no extras, but more volumes are due, hopefully soon.

Now for the playback quality of these releases.

Spies in Disguise is presented in 2160p, 2.35 X 1, HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on 4K UHD disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a stunning, lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 track that is quite immersive (plus a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) mixdown for older system) and delivers well. The animated feature has a clean and crisp look on disc here that shows all of the detail in the image as the filmmakers intended. The soundtrack is pretty hip but appropriate for the movie, and its wide color ranges are sure to please kid audiences. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the regular Blu-ray is also fine, but not as impressive as the 4K edition.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the Playmobil DVD has odd color in the live-action footage, but the CGI color is better, yet it could look better and the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is not bad, but I wonder if the original soundmaster had more to offer.

The 1.33 X 1 on Skippy is from archival 35mm film that has some variant quality, but looks really good for its age and comparable to shows from the time like Lassie, Flipper, Wild Kingdom and Tarzan TV series of the time. Color is often fine and it is great the series survived as well as it has here. Director of Photography on most of the series was Peter Menzies, Sr., A.C.S, who makes the show look great. His son is now a great DP himself and still lensing great work. Hope we see the show on Blu-ray at some point. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the episodes and 2.0 Stereo on the 1969 feature film sound just fine for their age and have been nicely remastered.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Tex Avery come from various 35mm film sources (the original nitrate camera negatives apparently perished in a fire, but dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints and separation elements of the films have survived and Warner has done an amazing job of restoring them, then scanning them in 4K. You can see how Avery was using the color in all kinds of fun, unique ways, including downplaying Technicolor vibrancy in parts. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on the animated work can show their age at times, but they sound really good otherwise and really, as good as I have ever heard them.

To order the Skippy Umbrella import DVD, go to this link for it and other hard-to-find releases at:


...and to order the Tex Avery Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (4K)



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