Audiences Of All Ages Will “Dig” ‘Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs’

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Splash Entertainment

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Splash Entertainment

Lionsgate has officially released the latest installment in its long-running Alpha & Omega series, Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs.  The series’ sixth installment, it is another enjoyable addition to the family friendly animated franchise.  The movie’s writing is the most important of its elements.  This applies to the movie’s main story and to its underlying eco-friendly message.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note as its writing.  Last but hardly last of note in this movie is its collective run time and pacing.  Each element is important in its own right to the movie’s presentation.  Altogether they make this movie another enjoyable installment in Lionsgate’s Alpha & Omega franchise and worth at least one watch.

The latest addition to Lionsgate’s Alpha & Omega franchise, Alpha & Omega Dino Digs is another enjoyable installment in the studio’s ongoing series of adventures from the wolfpack.  Its ranking from the series best to worst is up to each given viewer.  But it can be said in watching this forty-seven minute movie that it is worth at least one watch regardless of where viewers feel it fits into the franchise’s overall picture.  The main reason for this is the movie’s writing, courtesy of Tom Kane.  This applies both to the movie’s story and its underlying eco-friendly message.  Kate and Humphrey’s pups –Stinky, Claudette, and Runt—are once again at the fore of the franchise in this story. This time the trio discovers a prehistoric pal named Amy (voiced by Erin Fitzgerald – Ed, Edd, and Eddy, Sabrina: The Animated Series, Bleach) who has magically come to life when the site of her burial is dug up by an unscrupulous Native American and his henchman.  The group aims to turn sacred Native lands into a golf resort.  It’s up to the pups to get Amy back to the site of her burial so that her spirit can be returned to its rightful place.  It’s a pretty simplistic story.  Kane even goes so far at one point to poke fun at himself for its seemingly contrived nature, beating the critics to the punch instead of allowing them to throw their verbal and written punches.  It plays right into another element of the story’s writing that should be noted.  The element in question is the story’s underlying eco-friendly message.

The story at the heart of Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs is a very simple piece to follow.  It received quite a bit of criticism when the movie was accidentally streamed online in whole via Splash Entertainment’s website.  But the reality is that far more outrageous and unbelievable stories have been turned out by much bigger studios throughout Hollywood’s history.  To that extent, the story at the heart of this Alpha & Omega flick is actually worth at least one watch.  It is just one important part of what makes the movie’s writing so important to its presentation in whole.  The eco-friendly message that is embedded within the movie’s story is just as important to the movie’s presentation as the story itself.  The message in question is presented as the sacred land in which Kate and Humphrey plan to settle is being plundered by the previously noted (and unnamed) businessman.  His brother notes that what is happening should not be happening as nature will react in the same way that it is treated.  This sentiment is echoed at random points throughout the movie. But luckily it isn’t inserted so much as to be considered preachy.  Keeping that in mind, the eco-friendly message that essentially serves as the movie’s foundation proves to be just as important in the movie’s overall writing and presentation as its story.  As important as both elements are collectively to the movie, the writing in whole is not the only important part of the movie’s presentation.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in the movie’s presentation as its overall writing.

Tom Kane’s work behind Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs is unquestionably important to the movie’s presentation.  The plot might seem somewhat outrageous on the surface.  But in reality it is no more outrageous than the plot of so many other movies (both for kids and adults).  The eco-friendly message that serves as the movie’s foundation strengthens the writing even more.  That is because it doesn’t come across as being preachy (again unlike so many other movies).  As important as the movie’s writing proves to be to its presentation it is just one part of the movie’s presentation that should be noted.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note as the movie’s writing.  Once again, Kate and Humphrey’s pups Stinky, Claudette, and Runt are at the center of the story as with so many of the franchise’s recent installments.  Those behind the pups are to b commended for their work, too.  They are Kate Higgins, Hunter Swan, and Lindsay Torrance.  Higgins is the voice of not only Stinky but also the pups’ mom Kate.  Hunter Swan handles voice duties for Runt. And Lindsay Torrance brings voice to Claudette.  The trio’s initial reaction in discovering Amy is one example of what makes their work notable.  They do a good job of capturing the pups’ innocence in their curiosity.  Their reaction to discovering Amy is just as fun for the whole family as is their initial reaction to the new “cave” home.  Between these moments and others throughout the movie, it can be said of the trio’s work that it stands out in this otherwise standard offering from Lionsgate and Splash Entertainment.  Chris Smith is notable in his own right as the voice of the pups’ godfathers Marcel and Paddy.  Viewers will be entertained by the snooty, comical personality that Smith gives the pair.  Even with Smith being a supporting actor he still adds his own touch to the movie as the pair’s voice.  His work and that of his cast mates, when set against the work of the movie’s cast, to show even more why this movie is another Alpha & Omega story that the whole family will *ahem* dig.  The cast’s work is still not the only element that makes this movie worth at least one watch.  The story’s pacing is just as important to its presentation as its writing and the work of its voice cast.

The work of both writer Tom Kane and the voice cast behind Lionsgate’s latest Alpha & Omega installment are clearly important in their own way to the movie’s overall presentation.  Collectively they are even more important to the movie’s presentation as they are alone.  As important as they are to the movie’s presentation they are not the movie’s only important elements.  The movie’s collective run time and pacing is just as important to note in its overall presentation as the work of its writers and cast.  The movie clocks in at only forty-seven minutes.  That is about average for each of this franchise’s installments.  Thanks to the work, again, of the movie’s writer that time passes right by before audiences even realize it has ended.  It never lags or moves too fast at any one point throughout the movie.  Thanks to Kane’s concerted efforts, it keeps the action moving just enough from the movie’s opening setup to the pups’ first meeting with Amy all the way up to their bittersweet final farewell to the friendly female dino.  Thanks to that balance of energy audiences will never feel left behind or lost to any extent. It is because of this that the story’s pacing is deserving of being noted as one of its positives.  When it is set alongside the work of the movie’s cast and its writer, the movie proves to be a work that that the whole family will “dig.”

Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs has been received to quite the mixed reception by audiences and critics ever since its release in stores earlier this month.  It is not a perfect production.  That is clear through its computer-based animation.  The problems posed by the animation in question are not enough to overpower the positives presented by the movie.  Its eco-friendly story is simple enough for audiences of any age to follow.  And in all honesty it is no more outrageous than the fare presented by the likes of Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks or Lionsgate’s other counterparts.  What’s more the eco-friendly message that serves as the story’s foundation avoids becoming preachy at any point.  The work of the movie’s cast adds its own interest to the movie.  The story’s pacing never wavers from beginning to end.  Each of its three acts maintains receives the same energy and attention.  The end result is a story that will certainly keep audiences entertained and engaged if for that reason alone.  The acting and writing add to that mix to make the movie a whole that audiences of all ages will “dig” with just on watch or more.  Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Lionsgate’s online store at  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:








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Disney Earns Its Own Wings With Cars Spinoff

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment






Disney’s Planes is not as terrible as many critics (this critic admittedly included) had previously considered it to be.  However, it is also not one of the year’s best.  One has to take into account the comments made by co-writers Klay Hall and John Lasseter in the movie’s bonus material to fully appreciate what Planes actually offers audiences.  Their comments play directly into the movie’s overall plot.  The resultant effect is that Planes’ story comes across more as its own story and less of a rip-off of Pixar’s Cars.  The end result is a movie with just enough heart to make it worth at least one watch.

Walt Disney Studios was lambasted by audiences and critics alike (this critic included) when the studio announced that it would be releasing a spinoff of Pixar’s hugely successful Cars franchise.  The very fact that Disney would simply title the new spinoff Planes was to thank for that reaming of the studio. The instant reaction was to say that this movie was just Cars in the air.  While it largely is that, the movie is also worthy of at least some defense.  In its defense, the bonus features included in the movie’s new home release help it to earn at least a slight respect.  Pixar head and Planes co-writer John Lasssetter discusses the movie in a sit-down interview.  He explains in his interview that there had been a proposal to spin off Cars with a movie about trains.  Yes, a movie about trains.  All they would have needed were Steve Martin and someone to take the place of the late John Candy.  Anyone that gets this reference should stand up and take a bow right now.  Getting back on the subject, Lasseter explains wisely that a movie centered on planes instead of trains made more sense.  He explains in his own wording that a movie on planes obviously gave more story options, which makes sense.  That sentiment alone makes the movie more bearable.

Lasseter’s Planes co-writer Klay Hall is also interviewed in the movie’s bonus features.  He explains in his bonus interview that the idea for a story centered on planes was largely thanks to his own late father being a Navy pilot.  The result was a lifelong love for all things aerial.  He explains in depth how his love for all things aerial led to the precise details used throughout the movie, too.  He explains that he wanted to make the movie as factual as possible.  And he did just that.  Anyone that has ever watched the likes of the Red Bull Air Race World Series will appreciate the shots down the long axis of the planes during the qualifying sessions for the big round-the-world air race.  They will also appreciate the technical jargon tossed about throughout the movie’s run time, which barely tops the ninety-minute mark.

The interviews with both Lasseter and Hall earn Planes a new respect that without which, it might not have earned.  Also worthy of note is the plot behind this continuation of Pixar’s Cars franchise.  The writing team of Lassetter, Hall, and Jeffery M. Howard have crafted in Planes, a standard underdog story complete with underlying romance subplot.  This is not the first time that such a story has been done, just as Pixar’s Monsters University was hardly the first college based comedy ever crafted.  In Planes’ defense though, it didn’t directly rip off either of the Cars movies.  It actually does have its own story.  To that extent, it develops even more its own identity.  Add in the fact that comedian Dane Cook has proven that he can actually handle more mature—anyone that has seen Cook’s standup act understand how immature and boring he comes across as being—material, and Planes actually proves that it has not only its own identity, but also has heart.  All of this being noted, Planes proves to be a movie that while hardly one of Disney’s best or even one of 2013’s best, is worth at least one watch with the family.

Planes is available now on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  It can be ordered online direct from the Disney online store at and  More information on this and other releases from Walt Disney Studios is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Nicktoons Nostalgics Will “Scream” With Joy for Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series


Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Halloween is right around the corner once again.  That means that lots of people are looking for entertainment for their annual parties.  This includes parents looking for entertainment for their children’s parties.  Next Tuesday, Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory will release one more new fun release for the whole family that is a perfect fit for those parties in the form of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series is great fun for both new young audiences and for those that grew up with the series.  It is one of Nickelodeon’s famed Nicktoons that brought Arlene Klasky and Klasky Csupo to fame during the 1990s and early 2000s.  And just as the pair set itself apart from the crowd with its groundbreaking series, Rugrats and the equally innovative Wild Thornberrys, it did so just as much with this series, too.  Klasky Csupo showed just how far ahead of its time it was with this series.  To an extent, one could argue that it might well have been the influence behind Disney/Pixar’s 2001 movie, Monsters, Inc.  That’s because the movie in question didn’t come into being until at least three years after Aaahh!!! Real Monsters had ended in 1998.  This is just one part of what makes the series so important for any fan of Nickelodeon’s golden era.  In direct connection, audiences will appreciate the show’s writing.  Again, a comparison to both Klasky Csupo’s other cartoons and to Monsters, Inc. is necessary to show how far ahead of the times and quick the writing was in this series.  A third factor to consider in deciding whether or not to buy or order this new set is its packaging.  Yet again, Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have set the bar with another box set’s packaging in this collection.  What can be said that hasn’t already been said about that?  But that’s a good thing.  And it seals the deal on what is another great trip back in time for any purist Nicktoons Nostalgic.

Klasky Csupo was the Pixar of the television world from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.  That is thanks to its long strain of original hit cartoons that would be the backbone of Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons programming.  Those hits included the likes of Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, and what would end up being the studio’s last Nicktoon, All Grown Up.  Throughout all of the cartoons created by the studio, each one was entirely different from the last.  And Aahhh!!! Real Monsters was one that definitely stood out.  It stood out among both other Nicktoons and other cartoons in general.  The only other studio doing anything remotely similar at the time was DiC Enterprises with its claymation based Bump in the Night.  Between the two, Klasky Csupo’s cartoon still stood out and in a good way, as it lasted well past the latter of the two toons.  No one at the time had thought of the concept of a trio of young monsters living in a dump, learning how to scare humans.  Even the characters themselves were original.  One look at David Eccles’ Krumm makes one wonder if he in fact wasn’t an influence behind Mike Wazowski.  Both of these factors (and others) show just how far ahead of its time this series was.

Aahhh!!! Real Monsters was well ahead of its time in so many ways.  From the general story and characters to other smaller aspects, its cast and writers proved that in so many ways.  In direct connection, it is just as impressive thanks to its writing.  From learning how to scare and avoiding the wrath of their teacher, The Gromble (Gregg Berger—Garfield & Friends, The Angry Beavers, The Garfield Show) to trying to escape capture by Simon the Monster Hunter (Jim Belushi—Life According to Jim, Hey Arnold!, the Adventures of Jimmy Neutron), the writers found so many ways to keep the show fresh through all four of its seasons.  There was even a hunt for a pail that sends Ickis on a wild chase that will leave audiences laughing.  It’s one more of so many wonderfully entertaining moments that make this new set so fun for anyone that grew up with the series and for their kids, too.

The writing and general ingenuity of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters went a long way toward making it one more of Klasky Csupo’s most beloved cartoons.  The same can be said of what made it one of the best Nicktoons of Nickelodeon’s golden era.  There is one last factor in this new set that fans of the show will appreciate in its upcoming release.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have already released both Rocko’s Modern Life and The Angry Beavers in complete series sets.  Those sets both managed somehow to contain eight discs in a box that only takes up the space of two standard DVD cases on any DVD rack.  The same can be said of this set’s box, too.  Each of the set’s discs are placed on either side of their own “plate” within the case.  As large as it may make the box seem, it actually manages to conserve space in the long run.  For that, both companies are more than deserving of even more credit.  What’s more, this form of packaging also protects the discs from being scratched up.  So it serves as a double whammy in the best possible manner.  Keeping this in mind along with the original writing and the generally original concept behind the show, audiences are presented with another welcome shining release from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory.  One can only hope that from here, the two companies will eventually strike a deal to release Klasky Csupo’s other classic Nicktoons next.  Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series will be available online and in stores Tuesday, October 8th.  It can be ordered direct online from Shout! Factory’s store at  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is available on the official Shout! Factory website, and Shout! Factory Facebook page,  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at