New Iron Man DVD A Solid Season Closer, Lead-In To Iron Man 3 Movie

Courtesy:  Marvel Animation

Courtesy: Marvel Animation

Marvel Animation releases the latest in its “animated” series, Iron Man: Armored Adventures next Tuesday, April 23rdIron Man: Armored Adventures Season 2 Volume 4 follows the continuing journey of the teenage Tony Stark and his friends as they face the forces of evil.  This time out, Tony finally discovers that his father is actually alive only to have to save his life again.  Also in this finale to the show’s second season, Iron Man and his friends also have to face off against the evil Dr. Doom, and Pepper Potts even gets her own suit of armor.  And what action series would be complete without an alien invasion?  The season closes out with an epic battle against the Makluans.  All of this and more spans eight episodes in one more disc that finishes off the second season of Iron Man: Armored Adventures.  The show’s cg-based “animation” continues to stand out from the rest of the crop of CG-based kids’ shows, continuing to help maintain its identity.  This is especially the case considering that the recent Hot Wheels animated series and Stormhawks have gone by the wayside.  Both of those shows used very similar cg based animation.  Together with the packaging and the action packed episodes, audiences get another set of episodes that makes for a nice lead-in to the upcoming theatrical debut of Iron Man 3.

Iron Man Armored:  Adventures Season 2 Vol. 4 succeeds as a continuation of the season’s previous volumes and as a lead in to the upcoming theatrical release of Iron Man 3 thanks to its writing.  This final portion of Season Two leads up to an epic faceoff with the Makluans.  The faceoff in question is a result of actions by the teenage Mandarin in his search for the tenth ring.  Viewers get an origin story not of just The Mandarin, but also of the rings.  According to the legend presented here, the rings are actual alien in descent, and were used by an evil alien warlord to enslave other alien beings.  In the process of everything, Pepper plays a role and is introduced as “Rescue” having gotten her own armor in the buildup to the battle with the Makluan.  Keeping this in mind, the writing of the episodes included in this set, and the timing of its release will really help to build hype for the latest upcoming big screen feature.  All involved with the series and its release are definitely to be commended for all of this.

The writing and the timing of this set’s release make it a success.  This goes without saying.  Its form of CG-based “animation” adds to its success.  There have been few modern “animated shows” that have used and use the form of CG-based art that this show uses.  Two that come to mind immediately are: Stormhawks and Hot Wheels battle Force 5.  Both shows have gone by the wayside.  By comparison, the current success level of Marvel’s properties would seem to suggest that this program still has some life left in itself.  And if that truly is the case, then fans can expect even more adventures from Tony, Pepper and Roady set against this largely unique CG-based animation style art.  Until then, fans can check out all the adventures from this final quarter of the show’s second season when it hits stores next Tuesday alongside, Iron Man: Armored Adventures: The Complete Season 2.  And for all things Iron Man and Marvel, fans can get all the latest when they “Like” Marvel on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Marvel or check in at the official Marvel website at http://www.marvel.com.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Cinderella II One Of Disney’s More Underrated Sequels

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Cinderella II is an interesting work of a sequel.  It’s a sequel that both is and isn’t a sequel at the same time.  There are those who have already had their say with this feature.  And while many of the opinions on it have been anything but kind, it really isn’t that bad of a sequel.  Perhaps the reason that this feature was surrounded by so many negative opinions was its setup.  Rather than being a typical movie, Cinderella II was openly separated into three distinct acts.  From the very get-go, the separation of the story into three distinct acts likely threw viewers for a loop.  That’s not to defend the audiences who complained.  Rather, it made it come across as just a grouping of three different shorts, instead of an actual movie.  Take away the segment separation though, and audiences get what turns out to be exactly that.

While the first and third acts of Cinderella II work quite well together, the story’s second act seems to have no link to either the first or third on the surface.  This also likely threw off audiences and in turn, made them not enjoy it.  However, a deeper look at the story shows that its second act actually does indeed play a role in the near ninety-minute feature.  It ties the story’s first and final act in that dreams came true even for the little mouse, Jaq.  He found romance and learned a very valuable lesson at the same time.  In connection, even Cinderella’s now not so mean step-sister learns how evil Lady Tremaine was.  She even tried to keep Anastasia (voiced by veteran voice actress Tress McNeille—The Simpsons, Futurama) from having any romantic connection to a commoner.  Through help ironically from Cinderella, Anastasia finds love with him and even learns her own valuable lesson.  At the same time, even Cinderella herself learns another lesson in that now that she was gone from that house, both the sisters had seen for themselves how Lady Tremaine was.  It put things into perspective for Cinderella, which led her to be so willing to help Anastasia.  So it makes for a good conclusion to this story.

Just as the story ends solidly enough, its opening segment is a nice continuation of the original Cinderella, too.  What critics of Cinderella II have overlooked with this story is that despite being separated into three separate segments, it really does continue the original story.  What’s intriguing about the opening segment is that it shows Cinderella’s life after happily ever after.  The lead older woman of the house comes across as another evil stepmother type.  That is until Cinderella gets her and the King to loosen up.  In turn, even her dreams of living happily ever after come true.  So overall, dreams do come true for not just Cinderella, but for everyone in this largely underrated sequel to one of Disney’s most classic princess tales.  Now that it has been re-issued in a triple-disc blu-ray/DVD set, perhaps those people who criticized this story before will have a different view on it and give it another chance.  It’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online via the Disney store and at the official Disney DVD website at http://www.disneystore.com/cinderella-ii-and-cinderella-iii-3-disc-set/mp/1324153/1000316/ and http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/cinderella-ii-and-cinderella-iii-special-edition-2-movie-collection.html#48097.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Prep & Landing Double Feature Holiday Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Disney’s new Pre & Landing Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is a great holiday set for the whole family.  It includes not just the original adventure of Lanny and Wayne in Pre & Landing but also its half-hour follow-up, Pre & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice

Most audiences have likely already seen both of these enjoyable holiday shorts. But for those who have yet to see them, they’re both entertaining and heartwarming.  They both teach very valuable life lessons.  One even carries on Disney’s long-running tradition of emphasizing the importance of family.  In the original Prep & Landing, audiences first meet Lanny and Wayne when Wayne is teamed up with Lanny after being turned down for a long coveted promotion.  Wayne isn’t too jolly after finding out that he had lost his promotion to another elf.  So when he’s teamed up with the young, inexperienced Lanny, he’s anything but enthused.  But through a series of misadventures, Wayne learns a very valuable lesson about appreciating what one already has and where one is in life, regardless of which stage of life.  It’s a lesson that both parents and kids can learn together.

Equally valuable to the lesson taught in Prep & Landing is the lesson about valuing family taught in that feature’s sequel, Pre & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice. The follow-up to Prep & Landing re-introduces Wayne and Lanny to audiences.  This time the pair has to trace down a conduct calculator lost by another elf a year before at the house of a naughty child.  The child in question wants to use the calculator to break into the elves’ database of naughty kids so as to make a slight alteration.  In the process, audiences are also introduced to Wayne’s brother, Noel, as he joins Wayne and Lanny in their mission.  The long held issues between Wayne and his brother alone makes for a very important lesson about letting go of the past and forgiving.  Those same messages are taught when audiences discover who exactly the naughty child is that the elves have to face off against.  Audiences will have to discover for themselves the secret of the naughty child.  The revelation of the child makes the lesson of family that much more important, relatable, and heartwarming.

The main features presented in this new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack make for a great viewing experience for the whole family.  They’re just part of what parents and kids will enjoy in this set.  Families also get a bonus short in the Emmy award winning short, “Operation: Secret Santa.”  The elves have to help Mrs. Clause get something special from Santa’s office for her.  Why?  Again, audiences will have to find out for themselves if they haven’t already had the pleasure of seeing it.  Even Tiny gets his own little short that will have the whole family laughing.  And the retro style newsreels that teach the elves all about their duties are just as entertaining as bonus features here.  They, along with the pair of bonus shorts included in this new set, are the icing on the cake that is the Prep & Landing double feature BD/DVD combo pack.  Families can pick up the set in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct via the Disney store at http://www.disneystore.com/prep-landing-naughty-vs-nice-blu-ray-and-dvd-combo-pack/mp/1323107/1000316/ or at the official Disney DVD website at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/home.html

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages.Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Disney’s New Fairy Tale A Welcome Addition To Disney Fairies Franchise

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios announced before the release of its 2010 movie, Tangled, that the movie in question would be the last of its princess movies for the foreseeable future.  It noted that it wanted to focus more on male audiences.  This announcement sent waves through the entertainment world.  While Tangled may have been the last of Disney’s princess movies for the foreseeable future, young female audiences did still have movies aimed at them in the form of the new Tinkerbell adventures.  These movies have seen their own level of success.  Now another new movie has been released featuring Peter Pan’s fairy sidekick.  It’s called Secret of the Wings

The Secret of the Wings is another good addition to the Disney Fairies franchise.  The first thing that stands out about this new release is that it carries on the long held Disney tradition of emphasizing the importance of family.  The continued tradition is directly linked to the secret that Tink discovers when she sneaks across the border into the Winter Mountains.  She meets “The Keeper”, and another fairy who as it turns out, will change everything that she ever knew about her life.  The secret that she learns the first time she goes to meet “The Keeper” is only one secret.  As a result of this first revelation, Tinkerbell also makes an even bigger revelation at the story’s end.  That revelation is tied into another familiar element that makes this a good movie for its audiences.

As already noted, Secret of the Wings will impress viewers as it maintains the theme of family importance that the company’s older works have held.  There is another long held element that makes this movie just as good as its previous princess movies.  Whether it was princess Jasmine, Ariel, Rapunzel, or any of the others, Disney has always made its princesses relatively headstrong.  That headstrong nature has helped lead to change in their kingdoms.  Tinkerbell is much the same way in Secret of the Wings.  It’s because of her determination to overcome the old ways that change eventually comes both to Pixie Hollow and the Winter Mountains.  Of course, that headstrong nature is also the catalyst for the conflict that would eventually lead to the change, too.

The conflict caused by Tinkerbell’s determination leads to another positive factor for the feature’s audiences.  It teaches audiences about the values of not only teamwork, but also of friendship and the importance of family.  The value of teamwork and friendship is something that both male and female audiences can appreciate.  And in terms of the value of family, young female audiences will especially appreciate this message as it’s directly tied to the secret that Tinkerbell learns in this story.

The central themes of Secret of the Wings are important elements in this feature’s success.  They go a long way toward making a story worth watching again and again.  The computer generated world created here will especially keep audiences watching.  The lush colors of Pixie Hollow and the contrast of the Winter Mountains are expertly designed.  They come together to stand out quite well against Disney’s other CG based features that have previously been released.  The people behind this world’s creation are to be commended for that, as it’s nice to see a CG based movie that doesn’t serve as a mirror image to so many others in its genre. 

So much work went into bringing Secret of the Wings to life.  Both the writing and the time spent creating the computer generated world had to have been intensive.  There is one more element that helped to make Secret of the Wings a success.  That element was the voice acting.  The voice cast for this movie reads like a who’s who of Hollywood A-listers.  Veteran actor Timothy Dalton (James Bond, The Rocketeer) joins Anjelica Huston (50/50, The Darjeeling Limited, Martian Child) who returns again as the voice of Queen Clarion.  Dalton lends his talents as the voice of Queen Clarion’s love interest, Lord Milori.  They aren’t the only well known names on board for this ride.  Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Kung Fu Panda, Kill Bill Vol. 1), Raven-Symone (The Cosby Show, That’s So Raven) and pop star Jesse McCartney are all on board this time around.  The chemistry between the cast adds another element of enjoyment for audiences of all ages.    That chemistry mixes with all of the aforementioned elements to make a feature that audiences will enjoy both the first and hundred and first time they have seen it.

Secret of the Wings is available now on DVD, DVD/Blu-ray combo pack and a four disc set including the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, a 3-D Blu-ray, and a digital copy of the movie.  It can be ordered direct via Disney’s online store at http://www.disneystore.com

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Pocahontas II An Underrated Disney Sequel

Disney Studios/Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Disney’s Pocahontas II has had a tough go of things ever since its original release in 1998.  Like so many other sequels churned out by Disney over the years, it has had anything but a positive reputation.  Perhaps the reason for that is that so few people have taken the time to really try to see this flick for its intrinsic value.

On the surface, Pocahontas II comes across as just another sequel from Disney.  On a deeper level, there are some small nuances to it that make it more interesting.  For instance, the combination of the movie’s animation and musical numbers harkens back to the company’s hit 1991 movie, Beauty and the Beast.  Even Pocahontas herself is reminiscent of Belle as she walks down the staircase to the ball in her yellow dress.  Pocahontas II even has an elderly female character named Mrs. Jenkins who may remind some viewers of Mrs. Potts, from Beauty and the Beast (or any other figures of her ilk).

Beauty and the Beast is not the only classic movie to which Disney makes references in Pocahontas II.  As subtle as it was, the movie had a scene in which Pocahontas was running away from the ball after having been set up by the evil Lord Ratcliffe.  Whether or not it was intended, this scene pays homage to another Disney classic in the form of 1950′s Cinderella.  As Pocahontas is running away into the forest, she loses her shoes very much in the style of Cinderella. Again, this may have been wholly coincidental.  But those with any knowledge of Disney’s history will likely catch the reference, just as this reviewer did.

The animation and classic Disney references do their fair share to make Pocahontas II worth at least one watch.  While they play some role in making it an interesting flick, there is at least one more factor that makes Pocahontas II fun for both kids and adults.  That factor is Pocahontas’ animal friends.  Miko, Percy, and Flit are all back again for this adventure.  And just as in the original of the pair, Miko’s seemingly bottomless pit of a stomach gets the trio in all sorts of trouble.  At the same time, all three help Pocahontas at times, too.  And their antics are worth more than their share of laughs for audiences of all ages.

Pocahontas II does change the history of the famed figure for which it is named, just as in the first movie of the pair.  Would it have been nice to have a more accurate history?  Obviously.  But the laughs from Pocahontas’ animal friends along with the animation and classic Disney references make up for that.  They’re enough, all together, to make this Disney sequel worth at least one watch.

Pocahontas II is available now with Pocahontas in a special triple disc blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  It’s available in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct via Disney’s online store at http://www.disneystore.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Disney’s Pocahontas Teaches Valuable Lessons To The World

Courtesy: Disney Studios/Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Disney’s Pocahontas has never enjoyed the success of the company’s other princess movies.  It’s given that the story takes great liberties with the actual story of Pocahontas and John Smith.  But there are many positives that come from those liberties being taken.  Those messages can be summed up in one sentence.  Despite the liberties taken with the original history of Pocahontas, this story is one that teaches lessons of love both for environment and for one another. 

The message of love for environment is one that has rung true for generations.  America has grown not just as a country over its two hundred plus years, but also in its population.  Urban sprawl has destroyed this country.  It has wiped out animals’ land.  And as shown in Pocahontas, this behavior has been happening ever since the introduction of Europeans to America.  Human greed for wealth and for land has destroyed mother Earth.  The movie’s hit song ‘Colors of The Wind’ tries to serve as a reminder of nature’s importance.  It makes reference to the sycamore tree, and the impact of cutting it down.  This theme of taking care of the planet comes throughout Walt Disney’s body of work during his life.  This work simply serves to continue that theme.

Pocahontas reminds viewers not only of love for the environment, but also for one another.  That message is one that rings true even today.  When the Europeans first came to the New World, a lack of understanding and acceptance on BOTH sides nearly led to all out war.  To this day, racial intolerance and inequality continues to scar the world’s populations terribly.  Pocahontas reminds viewers in its own way that we are all more alike than we are different.  We all have the same human needs.  Yet despite those needs and concerns, we continue to let our few differences cloud our better judgment, leading to so many potentially unnecessary conflicts.

Pocahontas may never be as fully respected as Disney’s other princess movies.  Unlike the company’s other princess movies, it isn’t a fairy tale.  It’s a reminder to the world of one of history’s most important figures.  It serves as a good starting point to get young audiences interested in history.  It’s also a reminder to the world of the positive differences love for one another and for the land can make.   Pocahontas is available along with its sequel Pocahontas II on a triple disc blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  It’s available in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct through Disney online at http://www.disneystore.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Disney’s Lady And The Tramp II Is A Modern Family Classic

Courtesy: Disney Studios

Lady and the Tramp II is a nice continuation of Disney’s classic Lady and The Tramp.  Nearly fifty years passed between the debut of the original Lady and The Tramp and this direct home release.  One would have thought that in the time that passed between the two movies, something would have been lost along the way.  But the reality of this sequel is that it’s a surprisingly enjoyable movie.

Lady and The Tramp II is enjoyable in that despite having multiple hands in the pot, the story is solid and believable.  That believability is related directly to the fact that the story is relatable.  It’s a coming of age story.  Every person was young at one time.  Who during their youth hasn’t had the desire to break out and really be independent and experience life?  That’s Scamp’s “predicament.”  Scamp only sees life as a bunch of rules.  He feels that he’s being held back by all the rules and is only getting punished.  Again, what person hasn’t felt this way during their youth?  As a result of this feeling, Scamp manages to break off of his leash, and join Buster and the Junkyard Dogs.  Along the way, Scamp discovers a secret that his dad, Tramp, had kept from him.  That secret plays into the story’s ultimate outcome, which is a happy one, of course.

The coming of age story centered on Scamp is just part of the whole that makes Lady and The Tramp II enjoyable.  The story also carries a touching message about family.  While Scamp might have run off for a period of time, he comes to realize the importance of family, and that his own parents (Tramp and Lady) would always be there for him no matter what.  This is a message that audiences of all ages will appreciate.

The story behind Lady and The Tramp II goes a long way toward making it an enjoyable watch.  It isn’t all that makes it enjoyable, either.  The movie makes countless references to the 1955 original throughout its roughly one hour and nine minute run time.  Those references include not just little things like the stained glass window in the house, or the reference to the famed spaghetti scene at Tony’s restaurant or even the return of many characters from the original film.  Also included is the fact that the people behind this movie’s creation made a valid attempt to stay true to the animation of the original film.

The bonus behind the scenes feature describing how this movie came to life adds even more appreciation to it.  It echoes the sentiments shared in the making of featurette in the recently released Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs re-issue.  The crew behind this movie mentions the importance of making the feature hand drawn, rather than relying solely on CG.  One of the individuals notes that while it’s okay to use CG as a tool, it would be almost dishonorable to go the route that so many companies have gone, and just do things the easy way.  It shows that they really wanted to do honor to the memory of the original movie.  For that, the crew that brought this movie to life should be commended.

Lady and The Tramp II isn’t Lady and the Tramp.  But that isn’t a bad thing.  It’s a continuation of the original story.  And it’s a real and believable story.  Now that Disney has re-issued it on a blu-ray/DVD combo pack, families are getting another chance to enjoy this movie for the first time again.  It’s one that every family will enjoy after watching and will over time itself become a modern classic from Disney. 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Odd Life Of Timothy Green Is Anything But Odd

Courtesy: Disney Studios

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is anything but odd.  While so many critics have obviously had their field day with this magical, touching film, perhaps the reason they so abrasively bashed it is because they couldn’t see past their own noses to actually take in the story.  Yes it is schmaltzy and saccharine.  Yes it is aimed at childless parents.  It’s all that.  But it’s also much more.  It’s a story that teaches audiences about life.  It teaches audiences about the importance of family.  And most of all, it teaches audiences to NEVER GIVE UP.  Hope is the most important thing in life.  As Morgan Freeman noted in the 1994 hit movie, The Shawshank Redemption, “hope is a dangerous thing.”    Without hope, what do we have?

It’s obvious that The Odd Life of Timothy is entirely fantastical.  But at a time when Hollywood is continuing to churn out endless streams of prequels, sequels, and remakes, this heartfelt family film stands as tall and colorful among the forest of movies currently out there as the leaves on the trees in this movie.  What makes it so enjoyable is the emphasis on family.  Jim Green (Joel Edgerton) finally came to realize that he was overdoing it as a father to compensate for his own father not being there for him emotionally.  How many fathers out there can honestly look at themselves and say that hasn’t happened to them?  Perhaps some.  But odds are that number is likely very small. 

Jim isn’t the only one who comes to realize what he was doing as a parent.  Both he and Cindy (Jennifer Garner) realized in wanting a child so bad that they were letting the pressures of parents and others around them get to them.  Most parents will likely scoff and say they have never done such a thing.  That would be a lie, and those parents know it.  No parent is ever ready to be a parent.  A parent can only do the best that a parent can.  And Timothy reminds Jim and Cindy that they were doing fine, as they were just trying to be the best parents that they could.  Perhaps all of this is why so many critics have decided to have the take that they did on this dramedy.  Much like certain sitcoms on television over the years, it’s such a mirror image to reality, that it’s unsettling to its viewers who refuse to admit that they see themselves in the roles.

Let the critics say what they will.  Those critics have obviously forgotten that while yes, movies are meant as an escape, they are also meant to be memorable.  And that is what The Odd Life of Timothy Green is.  It’s an escape in that it is so fantastical of a story.  At the same time, because of its magic and its heartfelt story, it has proven to be on of Disney’s best in a very long time.  In other words, it is a truly memorable story.  Sure the end is somewhat bittersweet (it won’t be revealed for those who have yet to see it).  But it still does have a happy ending proving the value and the power of hope.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.