Reviews Archive for Ben Simon
One of Disney’s biggest surprises of the year is this wonderfully good-natured gem, a mighty fine family film that stands out from all the other talking animals and fish currently out there. Just lovely.
Spielberg directs a rare misfire that draws on Roald Dahl’s book, Amblin production values and Disney magic, but disappointingly fails to deliver on all lackluster counts.
The Secret Life Of Pets
Illumination’s latest finally breaks away from those Minions, with a less distinctive movie that still delivers laughs even if it gets close to being lost in the animal comedy fray.
Kubo And The Two Strings
Laika steps up stop-motion, and largely western animation in general, with this beautiful and deeply heartfelt tale, nicely showcased on this disc.
Pixar’s Nemo sequel is a movie in search of a plot and, despite huge audience approval, one just doesn’t get the feeling the filmmakers were really invested in what amounts to being a major creative disappointment.
Back In Time
Back In Time strives to entertain with stories of making Back To The Future and the fan community that has built up around the trilogy, but you’ll end up using your remote to travel forward and save a few minutes.
All Things Must Pass: The Rise And Fall Of Tower Records
It used to be the place to buy your LaserDiscs and soundtracks, remembered fondly in this entertainingly celebrational retrospective.
Beauty And The Beast: 25th Anniversary Walt Disney Signature Collection
As with Snow White, this second Signature disc is perfectly fine, but loses everything that made past editions must-haves.
The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot To Remember
Becky Cline and Steven Clark prove there is a lot to remember about the Walt Disney Studios, and all of it worthy of discovering or revisiting in this lavish new book.
The Jungle Book
A terrific audio-visual presentation, commentary and documentary bolster this disc debut for Disney’s triumphant re-do, though it feels more might come in a promised 3D edition.
Raiders! The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
A terrific extras package makes up for a slight lack of focus in the main feature itself, which tells of a bunch of kids remaking Indy’s first screen adventure.
Not for everyone, and certainly not for kids, Anomalisa reminds us that animation is a medium, not a genre, and can be used to tell all kinds of stories, from the fantastical to the mundane…in a fantastical fashion.
The Force isn’t too strong with this peek behind the masks of a bunch of Star Wars actors and bit-parters that’s as down to earth as its personalities and lacking a true spark of real content over curiosity.
The Good Dinosaur
Pixar’s latest makes a quick transfer to home video, where its simple pleasures will be enjoyed by a younger than usual audience for the Studio’s films, even if parents may wonder why the originality is extinct.
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs: Walt Disney Signature Collection
Disney’s first feature is back on Blu-ray in a decent, maybe even solid but certainly not spectacular edition that repeats as many extras as it drops more significant ones.
Toy Story That Time Forgot
The traditions of Toy Story are put aside for what is essentially an overlong imaginary sequence (without anyone imagining). It’s fun while it lasts but may easily end up being forgotten.
Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection
A recommended way to catch up on some recent oddities and curios alongside more well-known modern cartoons, even if the selection doesn’t quite feel complete enough.
Where is Jar Jar Binks when you need him? Only interminable tedium is to be found in George Lucas’ jukebox musical, which you get the feeling Disney has (quite rightly) dumped out due to a contractual obligation.
Frozen: The Poster Collection
Disney keeps the Frozen merchandising wheel a-turning with an oversized print presentation of 40 pull-out-and-frame poster images. Most collectors will likely keep the book intact – if they can fit it onto their shelves!
Big Hero 6
It’s Frozen for the boys as Disney strikes back with their take on lesser-known characters from the pages of Marvel Comics for another, freshly Academy Award-winning blockbuster!
One Hundred And One Dalmatians: Diamond Edition
Walt Disney’s fantastic animated thriller makes a solid return to disc, here in an HD transfer that hits the spot and with a fairly robust package of old and new extras.
Laika returns with another slightly oddball release, where the film’s strong villain isn’t quite matched by such a solid storyline, even if the hand-crafted animation is as exquisite as ever.
Angelina Jolie is excellent as Disney’s iconic villain, here given the backstory treatment in a visual feast of a film, though this new Blu-ray disappoints with a lack of any magnificent extras.
Planes: Fire & Rescue
Dusty is back again with the second in the Planes franchise (and fourth film set in the world of Cars), this time joining a band of air firefighters for a lightweight diversion.
Toy Story Of Terror!
With Halloween upon us, we take a look at the Blu-ray release of the Toy Story gang’s creepy stay at a roadside motel, now on disc with a terrifyingly great package of extras!
Saving Mr Banks
Disney’s own retelling of a moment in the Studio’s history doesn’t dig deep enough to be a real “making of Mary Poppins“, but a unique story angle and fun 1960s recreations add up to a jolly confection that should please fans and casual viewers alike.
Peter Pan: Return To Never-Land
Pan flies again in Disney’s direct-to-video turned theatrically-released sequel, breaking the curse of the DTVs but not really providing anything we haven’t seen before.
Oliver & Company: 25th Anniversary Edition
Disney does Dickens as the story of Oliver gets a new twist in a modern-day New York setting populated by celebrity-voiced canines. An HD transfer is top dog, but the (same old) extras are kitty litter.
Robin Hood: 40th Anniversary Edition
This fast and furry-ous animal take on the Robin Hood legend is Disney at its most economical artistically, but that doesn’t hamper a good tale being told with fun characters and music; the Studio’s new disc is a winner too.
The Sword In The Stone: 50th Anniversary Edition
Walt’s side-swiping comedy take on the King Arthur legend isn’t what you’ll be expecting, though it is a lot of fun and cooks up some great characters, even if Disney’s HD disc has its own severe problems…