Disney Blu-ray Extravaganza

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Disney, Disney Movies, Features, The Disney Review

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Published on August 17, 2014 at 1:00 am with 15 Comments

George: Muppets Most Wanted has finally made it to Blu-ray after it’s theatrical release in March, 2014. I didn’t get the opportunity to see it in the theaters (due to the amazing CommuniTOUR) and I was disappointed to hear the negative comments about the film. So, is it worth picking it up on Blu-ray?

Jeff: I kind of shared some of those comments about the film when it first came out. I was blown away by The Muppets, the revival film put on by Jason Segal, because it was so full of nostalgia and joy. The first time I saw Most Wanted, I walked away liking it, but not loving it. But upon viewing it again, I like it even more. It’s more in line with the Muppet films of old, having more in common with The Great Muppet Caper than the recent film.

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George: I know that I really enjoyed the film a lot and I wonder how it will stand up to the Muppet film from 2011, which had all the right pieces. Muppets Most Wanted had a ton of fantastic cameos while Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey are as amazing as expected. What really surprised me was Ty Burrell. His performance as a Clouseau-like Interpol agent paired with Sam Eagle was incredible. I’m still chuckling over that Interpol car.

Jeff: I agree, Burrell was a hilarious standout, and his exchanges with Sam made the film for me. Speaking of great pairings, Gervais with Constantine, the criminal mastermind, is pretty great. My favorite song of the film is their duet, with Constantine reminding Gervais’ Badguy that he is number two to his number one. On the most wanted criminals list, that is. This isn’t a bathroom break, folks.

George: I think Muppets Most Wanted is a definite purchase. It’s kind of skimpy on the extras. The extremely long extra on outtakes was pretty funny, but not a necessary reason to buy. The fact that it’s the Muppets with a great cast and some amazing songs by Brett McKenzie (who also wrote the songs for The Muppets) make it a fantastic film.

Jeff: It now dawns on me that the reason I love the songs so much is that they have a very “Flight of the Conchords” feel. New Zealand….why not? Let’s move onto Bears, the latest DisneyNature offering. The film, narrated by John C. Reilly, follows the story of two cubs named Amber and Scout, and their mother Sky. It’s an interesting look at their first year of life, and how their mother helps them along to learn.

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George: At first, I couldn’t figure out why the amazing John C. Reilly was narrating a film about a mother bear and her two cubs. Within a few minutes, everyone was laughing at his jokes as the cubs interacted with their mom and the outside world. Reilly’s narration never takes anything away from the film, especially when the bears find themselves in a troubling situation. It’s a very heartwarming film with lots of drama that will keep you rooting for Sky and her cubs.

Jeff: One thing many people wonder is “How the heck do they film these documentaries?” I know George has been asking about this for years, and thankfully this time, Disney obliged and added a special feature to answer this question. It’s truly amazing to go behind the scenes and see how these DisneyNature films are actually pulled off!

George: I was so excited to see the extras on the making of the film. It made me realize how tough it would be for someone to try and film us in the wild, especially when we’re recording an episode of Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show™). Watching the making of episodes drove home the fact that the filmmakers really have a lot of love and respect for nature and they’re willing to do whatever is needed to get the shot.

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Jeff: Definitely a nice education film for the kids, and an interesting look at the filming process for nerds like us! And finally, we have Toy Story of Terror, the fantastic special from last Halloween, which is packaged with a few other Toy Story shorts. Of course, all of these are to tide us over until Toy Story 4.

George: Toy Story 4?

Jeff: You mean that part in the opening song of Muppets: Most Wanted is a lie?!

George: The Muppets NEVER lie, unlike the Doctor. So, I didn’t expect to enjoy Toy Story of Terror as much as I did. The first 15 minutes of the half-hour special was so spooky and well done that it created a perfect Halloween atmosphere. I have to admit that the final act, although it was exciting and kept me glued to the screen, seemed rather formulaic.

Jeff: Considering it was a special on TV, I think it’s a “get what you pay for” type of thing. I mean, I most certainly didn’t hate it! For something I originally watched in my living room at Halloween last year, I thought it was great! Upon second viewing, it was just ok. But Still enjoyable! Rounding out the desk are a few of the other shorts, that played in front of other Disney films over the last few years. It’s nice to have them all in the same place!

George: There was a short documentary about how an animated short is made at Pixar which was a nice addition, mainly for the look at the Pixar campus. I never saw the animated short, Partysaurus Rex, that played before Finding Nemo 3D and I was completely enamored with it after viewing it on this collection. The Pixar shorts are always entertaining and a great training ground for future directors.

Jeff: So, in summary: Muppets Most Wanted? Yes. Bears? Yes. Toy Story of Terror? Yes. BUY ALL THE THINGS!

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George: So, the second round of Blu-rays that Disney has released runs an interesting gamut. Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Hercules, and Tarzan are getting the hi-definition treatment, but is there a reason to pick any of them up if you already own them on DVD?

Jeff: I think, for most of them, the answer is yes. Which ones? Well, let’s start with Hercules. I have been waiting for this film to get the blu-ray treatment for YEARS now, and I am so happy they did. This movie, while not the most popular of Disney films, has always had a certain amount of charm to it. It’s a humorous take on Greek mythology, and I have always loved it. And the transfer looks and sounds great!

George: The music is wonderful (I Won’t Say I’m In Love is an amazing song) and the style of animation is a great change of pace, so to speak. The humor is very well done and never gets dated like that Shrek film. But, for me, the real gem of the film is Meg, who is not your traditional Disney princess. Susan Egan turns in a wonderful performance that shows strength, humor and heart. I guess you could say I’m a big Meg-aholic. Or something.

Jeff: George forgot to mention that he is literally in love with Susan Egan, so his opinion is only SLIGHTLY biased! Though the film is FANTASTIC, the extras are a little…lackluster. There are only a handful, ports from the DVD, and all in standard definition. A brief making-of, a Ricky Martin music video (anyone remember him?), and a “sing-along” that is not as sing alongy as most would like. They make the disc, meh, the but movie alone, I think, is worth it.

George: Although I’d love to see new extras, I’m just glad to have one of my favorite animated films on Blu-ray. To me, it’s worth picking up just to see it in hi-definition. Next up, let’s jump back to 1971 to check out Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Disney released a version on DVD in 2009 and there’s nothing new here, except the hi-definition treatment. But, the film is gorgeous and the special effects hold up surprisingly well.

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Jeff: I remember watching this over and over again as a kid, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what the heck it was about until I just revisited the tale. It does look and sound great! However…on closer inspection, I don’t love it as much as I used to. A good chunk of the film could have been cut out to make it more manageable, and less bulky. Still quite enjoyable, though!

George: I remember texting Jeff halfway through the film about how much shorter it needed to be. Bedknobs and Broomsticks was the film that Walt was preparing in case the rights to Mary Poppins fell through. You can see how it just needed a little more magic to make it better. But if you’re a fan of the film, then the blu-ray version is a great one to have because of the hi-definition transfer and the sound quality.

Jeff: The big plus side to this disc is that all of the special features on it are AMAZING. This one really is jam-packed with special features, and in high-definition as well. The mini-documentary about the Sherman Brothers is fantastic, and the look at some of the special effects was pretty impressive.

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George: Let’s swing over to see how Tarzan stacks up, shall we?

Jeff: You’re a butthead. Heh. Tarzan is a somewhat underrated film in the overall Disney cannon. When it came out, it wasn’t amazing, but it also wasn’t bad, either. There are some good story beats to it, and I think the Phil Collins songs really add to the overall feel of it. The transfer, yet again, looks fantastic. Disney really knocked these out of the Park this time around.

George: There are very few good Tarzan puns. The animated film has always been a favorite of mine. A lot of the jungle reveals stunned me in the theater and they still look great almost 15 years later. Tarzan was sort of the last great film of the second Disney renaissance and it never got as much attention as I wished it had. The animation is gorgeous and Phil Collin’s five songs are pretty spectacular. He really encapsulated the entire film with those songs. And although Meg is my favorite, I do have a soft spot for Jane, too.

Jeff: I read on the Internet that she is related to Belle, and that Tarzan’s parents are actually from Arendelle. IS THAT TRUE?! But in all seriousness, it’s a great film that needs more love. The extras themselves, unfortunately provided in standard definition, are just OK. Nothing overly spectacular about them, and are ported over from the DVD release.

George: The big reason to get Tarzan is because it looks gorgeous and sounds amazing. Just like Hercules. Bedknobs and Broomsticks looks and sounds great, too, but there’s not enough to warrant a purchase unless you’re a big fan.

Jeff: So, basically, we’re saying, in order of our review: Yes, Maybe, Yes. Two out of three ain’t bad!

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By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us at
[email protected] or [email protected]

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About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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  • SDCanadian

    My personal theory on the criticism towards “Muppets Most Wanted” as opposed to the previous “The Muppets” is that the new film didn’t tug the heartstrings like the previous film. The previous film left the audience a little choked up in moments like the “Man or Muppet” song and especially that moment when Kermit tells Miss Piggy that it might just be the last time they sing together just before “Rainbow Connection” because it reads on both the level of the context of the film and true for the Muppets in general had the movie tanked (fortunately, that wasn’t the case). So when “Muppets Most Wanted” hits the screen bringing with it a far more typical Muppet meyhem, it clearly wasn’t going to deliver the emotional punch the previous film was going for.

    My only complaint about the film that could have been a quick fix was, clearly, from the introductory song, the movie was intended to be called “The Muppets Again” and I think it should have had a title screen showing “Muppets Again” and have the “Most Wanted” stamped right across the “Again” and it would have completely solved that minor issue that makes the song seem a little strange about what the title of the movie is. I think Bret McKenzie did a great job with the songs in “Muppets Most Wanted.” They certainly capture the spirit of the Muppets and stand up quite well to the songs that have made up past Muppet feature films.

    I also wanted to comment briefly on “Hercules” and “Tarzan” as both just felt like Disney was sweeping those out on Blu-Ray with as little fanfare as possible. I didn’t see either one in their original theatrical releases. I was looking forward to “Hercules” to see because I had been introduced to the song “Go The Distance” on an independently released album of a Broadway theatre singer I enjoy, Louise Pitre, and thought her version was absolutely amazing. I was very surprised by how bad the song is in both the version in the context of the movie and Michael Bolton’s phoned in performance in the credits. Despite the poor versions of “Go The Distance” I liked the gospel touch to tell the story.

    “Tarzan” I was dreading because I will admit, I dislike Phil Collins and really the whole reason I bought the Blu-Ray of it was because I enjoy Disneyland and thought maybe I should see it because of the Tarzan version of the Swiss Family treehouse. Story wise, it was alright, for me, I think the film would have been much better without Rosie O’Donnell’s character and the Phil Collins songs. (Nothing against Rosie, I love her but her character felt out of place.) Some pretty cool animation in there but certainly not one of Disney’s best efforts. Now if they’d just release a domestic version of “Aladdin” on Blu-Ray with some new features….

    • Internitty

      Now that Robin Williams is gone you can rest assured Aladdin is on it’s way, I know that sounds cynical but you know it’s true.
      I would personally like to see it in both the original theatrical version and the re-edited video version but we know that’s got about as much chance of happening as a blu ray release of Song of The South.

  • zachazlett

    Great reviews this week! I always look forward to them.

  • rstar

    Thank you, guys for helping me decide which films are best to pick up on Bluray! My buget is limited and I trust your opinions.

    Oh, and you may want to fix Jeff’s mention that Hercules is a “butt movie”! ;)

    “They make the disc, meh, the but movie alone, I think, is worth it.”

    Jeff, you crack me up!

  • TOONager

    I love all these movies and can’t wait to add them to my collection!

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I feel that Tarzan is an underrated movie. It has all the elements that make a great Disney film. It has heart, characters you care about, music that is worth humming after the film, and great animation. Because of the beauty of the drawing in Tarzan and the quality of the music and story, it is well worth adding to other iconic Disney films.

    Hercules, on the other hand, is a movie that for some reason seems to hold no interest for me. The animation feels “saturday morning cartoon.” The lead character feels flat and someone you don’t care about. The music is forgettable except for for one song. It just does feel appealing ass a movie. The best thing about that film is the villain. And comparing him to other villains, he is only mediocre.

  • LouProsperi

    Great reviews! Thanks!

    • LouProsperi

      I think that both Tarzan and Hercules are underrated. While they may not be at the same level as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and Beast, Aladdin, or The Lion King, they are both fun films with catchy songs and good stories.

  • Jerm

    I bought Hercules wanting so much more in the extras, the life of the “making of” tv special looks like someone set a video camera in front of a tv and recoded it. But the film itself does look amazing!

  • bookwyrm

    I really enjoyed Muppets Most Wanted the first time around – it had more of the classic Muppet feel, I thought. Less human love story, more Muppets.

    Also, Meg just might be my favorite Disney heroine. She’s certainly got the best song.

  • mrmeseeks

    I liked it, but then again i never dislike anything muppet. the songs were pretty good

  • CazzaCarroll

    Great reviews as always, hopefully these all make their way down to Australia to purchase as well

  • Bryiank

    can someone explain why Airbud is on Bluray and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea is not? I have been waiting for that one for years with no movement from Disney Movies….

  • markwduns

    Somehow, I’ve never seen “Bednobs.” Need to change that, soon.

  • nathanchu

    Thanks for the review. These always help me figure out if I need to pick up the blu ray or not. To many released at once.