Disney’s Bambi: Anniversary Edition – Blu-ray Review

In the interest of full disclosure, I had never seen Disney’s Bambi before I sat down to watch this latest Anniversary Edition. I know, I know. How is that possible? I’m a huge fan of Disney animated films. The first movie I ever saw in theaters was the 1984 re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, so the foundation of film-going experience begins with the Disney animated feature that started it all. And yet, Bambi had eluded by viewing for the 37 years I’ve been around. Until now.

Here are SIX things I learned while watching and researching the film, Bambi:

1. Bambi is a Milestone for Disney Animation

From its setting of the forest to its more accurately drawn animals, Bambi marked a new era in Disney animation with its eye for realism. Disney created special classes for his animators so they could learn how to draw and animate animals, water, fire, and other elements in order to create a truly believable world. And to their credit the film is a visually stunning masterpiece of pastoral beauty. It’s a feast for the eyes with literal layers of animation to watch and enjoy time and time again.

2. Bambi was not a Financial Success for Disney

It’s hard to believe that it’s the 75th anniversary of Bambi. That means that this film was the 5th animated feature from Walt Disney Studios and it also happened to be released during World War II (1942). This may explain that while we think of it as a classic, it was a failure at the box office. This makes sense given the time period (there was a major war going on) and its box office failings put it in good company with two other memorable Disney classics: Pinocchio and Fantasia (both released in 1940).

3. Not the Story I Thought it Was

I’ve always believed that Bambi’s mom got shot and killed by the Hunter at the beginning of the movie and the rest of the film is Bambi coping with her death with the help of Thumper, Flower, and the other animals of the forest. I was wrong, which to me is a good thing. This meant that I was actually more engaged with the story, and the tension of when Bambi’s mother would be shot and killed made the film all the more suspenseful to watch. I also didn’t know about the big fire that happens during the final act of the film. This, too, made the an unexpected surprise and one that shows that you never really know what a film is about until you’ve taken the time to watch it for yourself.

4. It’s Not a Musical

Along with the story, I was also surprised that there are no musical numbers sung or performed by the animal cast (which may have been a choice by Walt himself given that he wanted the animals to be more realistic…talking aside). Yes, there are songs and music, but knowing how Disney likes to have characters break into song in the majority of their animated films, it was an interesting discovery. In this instance it makes sense, much like in future Disney features like Tarzan, where music is a factor in the overall world of the film, but not in the lives of most of the characters that inhabit the story.

5. Shows a Pattern in Disney Storytelling Still Seen Today

The theme of the orphaned main character is a common story device that is used in the majority of Disney films. And like most of these features – The Lion King and Frozen being two exceptions – how the character copes with that death/loss is handled off-screen. But it is this wound inflicted on the character against their will that helps make them stronger and more independent in the long run as they make their way through the struggles and victories of the narrative. The same can be said for characters what only have one parent in the picture. How they deal with the loss of the other parent is never fully explored if it’s mentioned at all.

It’s also an interesting side note that many of the characters in the Marvel films and Star Wars films also share the orphaned/parentless theme with many of their Disney character counterparts.

6. Incited Controversy

How, you may ask? Well, believe it or not, hunters were very upset over their demonization in the film. According to a 2014 FilmInspector.com article by James Bjorkman: “American sportsmen naturally took offense at this negative imagery: in a 1942 edition of the magazine “Outdoor Life,” editor Raymond Brown denounced the film as “the worst insult ever offered in any form to American sportsmen.” Imagine if they had had a Twitter account back then!

Not only was this an issue for some, but the entire plot point of Bambi’s mother’s death was also a contentious area of debate, especially in the Disney household. Walt himself admitted in an interview that his daughter was horrified over the death of Bambi’s mother and she was not happy that it was in the film. Others who witnessed the off-screen death were drawn to animal conservation efforts and became animal activist in their adult years.

Along with the original theatrical version, the Blu-ray includes a and the following special features:

Studio Stories: Bambi
The Bambi Effect
Inside Walt’s Story Meetings
Bambi Fawn Facts
Short Film: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit – “In Africa Before Dark”
Deleted Scenes
Deleted Song: “Twitterpated”
The Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born
Tricks of Our Trade (Excerpt)
Inside the Disney Archives
The Old Mill: Animated Short
The Golden Age

For a look at what truly was the first Golden Age of Disney animation, I highly recommend Disney’s Bambi: Anniversary Edition!

Disney’s Bambi: Anniversary Edition is available NOW on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Download.

What’s your favorite Disney animated feature? Leave a comment and let us know!

Queen Sugar: The Complete First Season – DVD Review

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”

Oprah Winfrey (Greenleaf, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) have joined forces to bring audiences the powerful and mesmerizing drama, Queen Sugar. This dynamic and engaging series explores the themes of family and race in America in a unique and compelling way that will have you glued to the screen from the first moments of the pilot until the frame of the season one finale. It’s a great series with great characters that never lets up on the drama, the tension, or the realism that is one of the hallmarks of Queen Sugar’s universe.

When the three siblings of the Bordelon family – Nova, Charley, and Ralph – have to cope with the death of their father, they discover that his life’s work, a sugar cane farm, is part of their inheritance. The three must work together, with tensions rising from all sides, to figure out what to do with the sugar cane farm while maintaining and balancing their current life situations.

It is through their common connection to the farm that these three siblings find deeper meaning in their lives, their relationships to one another, and the to the world as a whole. Will they be able to keep their father’s legacy alive while keeping their own world’s in tact?

The three actors who portray the siblings – Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, and Kofi Siriboe – have fantastic chemistry on-screen. Their trials and tribulations as brother and sisters are all brought to bare as the raw nerves of their pasts and presents bubble to the surface as they make decisions that could cause upheavals to their lives and their futures.

One of the unique things about Queen Sugar is that all the episodes are directed by a wide range of female directors. This diversity in directing definitely enhances the tone of the series and gives each episode a perspective that it may not have had had a male director been at the helm.

The Season One DVD includes the following special features:

Inside Queen Sugar: Origins

Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Making Queen Sugar

Oprah Winfrey and the Cast of Queen Sugar

Deleted Scenes

If you love family-based drama series, I highly recommend Queen Sugar: The Complete First Season.

Queen Sugar: The Complete First Season is available now on DVD.

What’s your favorite family-based drama series? Leave a comment and let us know!

Major Crimes: The Complete Fifth Season – DVD Review

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”

Captain Sharon Raydor and her team at the LAPD are back for more crimes, more confessions, and more drama in season five of the TNT series, Major Crimes. One of the primary reasons this series is so engaging and addictive is its strong ensemble cast that deliver quality performances time and time again. Along with that, the show finds new twists on familiar procedural storylines that help it stand out from being just another cliché-filled police drama.

I also like how the series not only follows the case-of-the-week format but also has a serialized set of storylines that have been part of the show from the pilot. I feel like we know these detectives and their lives outside the walls of LAPD Headquarters, which humanizes them and shows us their flaws, insecurities, and personal sides. In this was we can identify and empathize with them as people and care more about them when danger strikes while they are on the case.

Leading the pack is the always mesmerizing Mary McDonnell (Dances with Wolves, Independence Day), who is a force to be reckoned with as she tirelessly works to solve tougher and more challenging cases each episode. Along with McDonnell, the cast is loaded with a talented roster of performers that include G.W. Bailey (The Closer, Police Academy), Michael Paul Chan (Spy Game, Hawaii Five-O), Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul), Kearran Giovanni (One Life to Live, Designated Survivor), Graham Patrick Martin (Two and a Half Men, The Girl Next Door), Robert Gossett (Arlington Road, NYPD Blue), and Ransford Doherty (Body of Proof, Touch). It’s a great cast with a great chemistry, and it all links back to the series that started it all: The Closer.

Once you start watching this season, it’ll be hard to stop. With so many crimes to solve, mysteries to uncover, twists to reveal, and scum to apprehend, Major Crimes is a crime show fan’s dream come true!

The Season Five DVD includes Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel.

Whether you’ve been hooked since the beginning or are looking for a new series, I highly recommend Major Crimes: The Complete Fifth Season. It’s great TV!

Major Crimes: The Complete Fifth Season is available May 30, 2017 on DVD!

What’s your favorite crime series ensemble? Leave a comment and let us know?

Max 2: White House Hero – Blu-ray Review

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”

There’s a lot going on in Max 2: White House Hero. It’s a dog movie, a precocious kid movie, a political intrigue movie, and a political satire all rolled into one. And it’s family friendly on top of all of that! Max, the star of the film, was first seen in 2015’s Max about a military dog whose adopted by the family of one of the soldiers her assisted in Afghanistan. The sequel finds Max on a new mission as a White House Secret Service dog who quickly becomes the playmate and protector of the First Son.

You see, the Russians are coming to the White House (the movie is rather timely and topical) to discuss a new nuclear arms treaty between the two countries. The Russian President, Vladamir Bragov, brings along his young daughter Alex (Francesca Capaldi) who befriends First Son TJ (Zane Austin).

But something is amiss; in fact, there’s a sinister plot afoot that Alex, TJ, and Max uncover while the adults are completely oblivious to the badness on the horizon. Can Max and the kids prevent an international incident before it’s too late?

I can honestly say that I enjoyed this movie! It had its moments of action and suspense, it was well-acted, and the dog is pretty awesome. Directed by Brian Levant (Jingle All the Way, Beethoven), Max 2: White House Hero is a kid-friendly, family friendly movie that the whole family can enjoy together.

The Blu-ray includes two fast-paced and entertaining featurettes:

Kids on the Case: Making of Max 2

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film with Francesca Capaldi and Zane Austin.

Max 2: A Ruff Life

It took four dogs to bring Max to the screen. See what it takes to train a dog for a movie like Max 2!

As I said above, I had a good time watching this movie. It’s upbeat, fun, and quite entertaining. I highly recommend it for family movie night!

Max 2: White House Hero is a available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Download!

What’s your favorite dog movie? Kid’s movie? Political satire? Leave a comment and let us know!

DC Superhero Girls: Intergalactic Games – DVD Review

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”

Supergirl, Batgirl, Bumblebee, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and more are back for another girl-powered adventure in DC Superhero Girls: Intergalactic Games! This time, the students of Super Hero High have their hands full when Granny Goodness and the Furies along with some other nefarious ne’er do wells do their best to ruin the fun and spirit of the Games that all the girls have been training for. Will they succeed and take home the gold, or will evil prevail through unscrupulous deeds?

An extension of the TV series of the same name and a sequel to the original DC Superhero Girls movie, Hero of the Year, Intergalactic Games provides plenty of superhero fun centered around a strong female cast of characters that prove that it’s not always male superheroes that can save the day; sometimes a little girl power can do the trick!

DC Superhero Girls: Intergalactic Games is a fun, family-friendly film with plenty of lessons about teamwork, strength of character, and the dangers of cheating. These Super Hero Girls are great role models that have strong senses of self and are confident in who they are and in their abilities not just as superheroes but as young women as well.

DC Superhero Girls: Intergalactic Games Special Features include:

“That’s My Girl” by Fifth Harmony Music Video (DVD only)

Animated Shorts:
– New Beginnings
– Hero of the Month: Supergirl
– Batgirl l vs. Supergirl
– Quinn-tessential Harley
– Doubles Trouble
– Franken-Ivy
– Dude, Where’s My Invisible Jet?

So, get ready to Get You Cape On with DC Superhero Girls: Intergalactic Games! I highly recommend it!

DC Superhero Girls: Intergalactic Games is available now on DVD!

What’s your favorite superhero animated series? Leave a comment and let us know!

Peanuts by Schulz: Go Team Go! – DVD Review

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”

Get ready as Snoopy and the gang deliver their patented dry wit and comic strip antics in Peanuts by Schulz: Go Team Go!, the latest incarnation of the beloved comic series. Since 1950, the Peanuts have been delivering laughs via newsprint, animation, and feature films, and Peanuts by Schulz is no exception.

With Peanuts by Schulz: Go Team Go!, Charles Schulz’s comic world is brought to life for a new generation in a fun and energetic style. And like the comics, valuable lessons are learned as Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and the rest deal with the trials and tribulations of being a kid, being a friend, being a dog owner, or being a sibling.

What I really liked about the series is the animation design. It looks as if they took Peanuts comic strip panels and animated them, which adds an air of authenticity to the entire series. They even did a fantastic job with the voice casting; every character sounds very similar to the voices featured in the Peanuts specials and films from decades gone by.

Unlike the previous entries into the Peanuts canon, each episode of Peanuts by Schulz: Go Team Go! is split into two different fast-paced stories that will definitely hold your interest since there’s no time wasted over the course of each sequence. Peanuts by Schulz: Go Team Go! is a lot of fun!

No matter your age – if you grew up with them or are just discovering them – the Peanuts gang’s antics can be enjoyed over and over again. These iconic characters have delivered their unique style of comedy and thought-provoking moments for over six decades and there’s no sign of them slowing down.

I highly recommend Peanuts by Schulz: Go Team Go!

Peanuts by Schulz: Go Team Go! is available now on DVD!

Who is your favorite Peanuts character? Leave a comment and let us know!