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Family Films on Blu-ray: June 2017
 

Beauty and the Beast 2017, Bambi, The Lego Batman Movie

disneyBeauty2017

disneyBambi

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    With kids at home for summer vacation, it is a great time to pick up some new films on Blu-ray for play and replay to help give them a little something to watch during those early summer months. Fortunately, both Disney and Warner Brothers have opened their vaults to unleash some wild popular children’s and family fare both new and classic that are sure to please even the pickiest viewers.  Disney in June will be releasing the new live action remake of Beauty and the Beast starring Harry Potter's Emma Watson, and the animated classic Bambi, while Warner Brothers will be putting out the recent animated treat The Lego Batman Movie following up their recent Lego Movie.

Beauty and the Beast

Director– Bill Condon

Starring – Emma Watson, Dan Stevens

Country of Origin- U.S.

Writer - Scott MacDonald

    I believe at this point we are now at the fifth live action remake from Disney following their initial success (financially speaking) with Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland. Beauty and the Beast follows the formula set by Cinderella and the Jungle Book rather than the aforementioned Alice or Maleficent in that it tells the same story as the original animated version beat by beat with some minor mythological expansions to flesh out story and character.

    The film for those unfamiliar follows Belle (Emma Watson) who journeys to a castle to find her missing Father. It turns out the castle is occupied by a Beast who was formally a human prince, who will remain as such unless he finds true love. He frees her Father, but makes her his captive. She struggles to stay with him, but finds a life with him and his servants who are also former humans, now living objects among the castle. 

    The film is a solid retelling of the original Disney animated version, though truth be told the film has a cold distance where the original had a bit more charm and warmth to it. That being said the visuals are quite stunning throughout, and the film does make a few solid unique new character points that make it a tad interesting as an experience. Watson does a solid portrayal of Belle, however Luke Evans owns the film as Gaston.

    Disney presents Beauty and the Beast in a splendid 1080p 2:39:1 1080p transfer everything is rich in detail and color and looks quite fantastic here. Audio is English 7.1 DTS-HD MA and sounds excellent. Extras include Documentaries, table reads, deleted scenes, extended songs, and more.

The Film (4/5)

Audio/Video (5/5)

Extras (3/5)

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Bambi

Director– David Hand

Starring – Hardi Albright, Peter Behn

Country of Origin- U.S.

Writer - Scott MacDonald

 

    Bambi is one of those children’s films that has an odd right of passage quality to it. Being a fan of horror cinema we are known for having notch on our belt films, but we are usually at a much older age when we see them. Bambi is known for 2 things being a cute children’s film about animals growing up in a forest, and THAT SCENE.  What most people don't remember is that at it's heart is that it is a beautiful love story, and that it is quite minimalist in it's approach.

    Like Wall-E's first act stretched out to feature length Bambi's characters  only deliver dialogue when necessary to the story. Further the animation is deceptively simple and gorgeous in it's depiction of the forest landscape in which Bambi and his friends dwell. The vocal performances from the cast are effective to this day. I will admit having not revisited the film in almost 25 years, and was surprised at how powerful the film was, and in the filmography of Disney Animation it is certainly one of its best.

    The transfer for this new anniversary edition is the same as the prior edition, however it is stunning. It is presented 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded. Colors pop, line detail is excellent.  Audio is presented in a DTS-HD MA 7.1 track in English, everything is crisp and clear, and separation of sound is quite solid. Extras include behind the scenes material, deleted scenes, deleted songs, studio histories, and more.

The Film (5/5)

Audio/Video (5/5)

Extras (4/5)

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The Lego Batman Movie

Director– Chris McKay

Starring –  Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis

Country of Origin- U.S.

Writer - Scott MacDonald

    The Lego Movie came out of nowhere and turned out to be a surprising animated modern classic. I am still 3 years later amazed at how the whole thing turned out, and of course with all great things a sequel is inevitable, but with a world that is so expansive one had to wonder what form would that take. As it turned out it would be a Lego Batman Movie.

    Batman voiced by Will Arnett was one of the breakaway successes of the Lego Movie with his hysterical take on Batman. In his own film the events of the Lego film are never mentioned instead we get the Caped Crusader in his own Lego version of Gotham. As the film begins we see the Joker threatening the city with a bomb, to which Batman predictably saves the day. At the end of the fight, Joker discovers he is not Batman's ultimate nemesis to his own disappointment.   He makes it his mission to earn that status.

    The Lego Batman Movie is not quite as good as the Lego Movie, that being said it is probably the best Batman movie we have had in DECADES. The film blends the camp of the 1960's Batman with some of the darkness of the later Batman (though not much, this is a kid's film) to create a fun and unique experience. Because this is a follow up to the Lego Movie the same wild and weird sense of humor is in place, and we get that in spades. The voice cast is totally fantastic through the piece, and Arnett brings it again as Batman.

    The Lego Batman Movie is presented by WB in a 2:40:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the OAR of the film.  Everything here is rich in color and detail.  Audio is handled by a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in English that sounds quite crisp and clear throughout. Extras include 4 shorts 4 deleted scenes, and a series of BTS featurettes.

The Film (4/5)

Audio/Video (5/5)

Extras (3/5)