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By Christopher Stipp

The Archives, Right Here

Check out my other column, This Week In Trailers, at SlashFilm.com and follow me on TWITTER under the name: Stipp

THE TRIP - DVD REVIEW

the-trip-dvd-imageThere is a moment in this film where Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are having one of their many meals together and they’re riffing back and forth doing impressions of famous English comedians. I’ll be honest and say that I hadn’t a clue about who they were goofing on as they vied for supremacy as it pertained to who was more spot-on but, you know what, it didn’t matter to me.

There were countless moments that were so specific to the history of British humor as these best of friends talked and communicated about the influence of these men on their own lives that the brilliance of the movie comes into focus: it’s not about what you don’t understand but it’s what’s plain as day that makes this such an enjoyable movie. It’s a movie about friendship, about food, about enjoying the company of another person and when the person you love the most just happens to know how to push every button it becomes more about what is discovered along the way than it does where you end up.

This is, without question, one of the best films I’ve seen this year and it’s because it’s all about focusing on just a couple of people. It doesn’t need to service a grand storyline, it doesn’t need to develop multiple characters, and it certainly doesn’t have multiple thematic elements that it needs to properly get through. It just settles on letting Coogan and Brydon do their own thing, honestly, and that comes through. It’s like a glass of wine, actually: meant to be enjoyed slowly. Slow down and pull up a chair, these two are waiting.

ABOUT THE MOVIE:

THE FUNNIEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR – AND THE BEST REVIEWED – BRINGS TWO COMIC GENIUSES TOGETHER (THREE IF YOU COUNT MICHAEL CAINE)

THE TRIP

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon – and Their Remarkable Cast of Comedic Impersonations – Make This the Journey That Every Movie Lover Needs to Take. Michael Winterbottom’s Gut-Busting Hit Arrives on DVD on October 11, 2011

“The hardest I’ve laughed at a comedy this year.”
– Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

You may never be able to watch a Michael Caine performance with a straight face again after experiencing Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon trade hilarious spot-on impressions of the great actor in THE TRIP. And Caine is just one of the celebrities that this priceless comic duo “does” in maverick director Michael Winterbottom’s brilliant new spin on the road movie. After a huge theatrical success, spurred on by immense viral popularity, the movie comes to DVD from IFC Films and MPI Media Group on October 11, 2011.

When a newspaper offers Steve Coogan (24 Hour Party People, Tropic Thunder, Around the World in 80 Days, TV’s Alan Partridge) the chance to review a series of fine restaurants in the English countryside, he thinks it will make for a lovely getaway with his girlfriend Mischa (Margo Stilley, the daring star of Winterbottom’s 9 Songs). When Mischa backs out, Rob Brydon (TV’s Little Britain, Oliver Twist) – Coogan’s best friend and source of eternal aggravation – fills in as a less-than-ideal travel companion. In semi-fictional performances using largely improvised dialogue from these two real-life friends (the co-stars of Winterbottom’s similar reality/fiction mashup Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story), Coogan and Brydon can’t help but try to outdo each other as they endure long car rides between meal after meal.

Conversations about their careers, literature, family, good food, fame, geology and ABBA highlight this hysterical comedy. Winterbottom guides this delightful feature-length cut of the BBC series, as the brilliant comic stars freestyle with flair, driving each other mad with constant competitions and celebrity-impression battles. In the end, the two come to understand a rich amount about not only good food, but the nature of fame, friendship and their own lives.

THE TRIP has had a remarkable journey. Initially released in limited run by IFC Films, its immediate box-office success and strong word of mouth – spurred by the huge popularity of clips on YouTube; the Michael Caine scene alone has scored more than a million hits – quickly pushed it into a wide rollout to 100 markets.

The reviews from America’s top film critics have been ecstatic. Time magazine’s Richard Corliss wrote: “Do not, however, bring a beverage into the theater. While watching Brydon and Coogan’s dueling impressions of Michael Caine, Sean Connery and Hugh Grant, you may laugh so hard that liquid will come out of your nose. I speak from experience.” Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman gave it a Grade A-, calling it “a hilarious and touching road movie. The dueling impersonations of Michael Caine is the funniest scene of the year.”

“Laced with lacerating laughs,” said Manohla Dargis of The New York Times. “Terrific! Hysterical. I had some of the biggest laughs I’ve had in a movie all year,” wrote Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle. “The funniest, laugh-out-loud film of the summer. Comedy lightning in a bottle,” said James Verniere of the Boston Herald.

“I was in seventh heaven bordering on eighth during THE TRIP,” praised Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal. “I would have been happy with an additional half-hour of Steve and Rob doing more impressions.” Stephen Rebello, in his review in Playboy, said: “Line for line, insult for insult, THE TRIP is the year’s most addictively quotable movie….It’s not only hysterical and acrid but also unexpectedly touching.”

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THE LION KING - BLU-RAY REVIEW

lion-king-diamond-bd1Do I need to say how well this movie is made?

A true symbol of the power that 2D animation truly has in an age when everything is CGI and pixels, THE LION KING succeeds because of how strong its story is and for its timeless soundtrack. When other films want to bring in artists-of-the-moment to add their own musical elements in a movie, THE LION KING excelled because Disney put its trust in Elton John, Tim Rice, and Hans Zimmer. What the three of these guys accomplished was tantamount to a genius move as the focus was less on what could be heralded as the “hit single” and more on what could be seen as a score that would best serve the needs of the story.

The story of a young lion who has to overcome so many obstacles to realize his own destiny, as well, wasn’t one that was a familiar wheelhouse to the mouse house. It was a risky move but one that paid off so well because of the level of dedication to the story. The Blu-ray that was just released by Disney comes loaded with not only special features but comes looking better than it ever has before. When it comes to reference quality releases this is one that deserves your investment.

The real gem, though, besides being able to revisit this movie in startling clarity is checking out the behind-the-scenes documentaries. While this may or may not be anything new to true Disney purists there were some really unique things to learn about this movie’s impact and development.

ABOUT THE MOVIE:

AUDIENCES TO EXPERIENCE DISNEY’S “THE LION KING” LIKE NEVER BEFORE…

Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa are back and better than ever this fall when Disney’s “The Lion King” roars into theaters and homes in breathtaking 3D. A special two-week theatrical extravaganza kicks off Sept. 16, 2011, showcasing the Oscar®- and Golden Globe®-winning film on the big screen in Disney Digital 3D™ for the first time ever, and its highly anticipated home entertainment debut kicks off October 4, celebrating the Diamond Edition release of the epic movie “The Lion King” in high-definition Blu-ray™ and Blu-ray 3D™.

“‘The Lion King’ is the best-selling home entertainment release of all time—and this is ‘The Lion King’ like never before,” said Bob Chapek, president of distribution, The Walt Disney Studios. “The all-new 3D format immerses viewers in the epic settings and puts them face-to-face with these beloved characters. We’re showcasing one of the all-time favorite Disney movies in theaters and making it available in Blu-ray hi-def and in Blu-ray 3D—it’s the must-see, must-own title for everyone.”
Nearly a decade since “The Lion King” last appeared on the big screen, the upcoming theatrical release invites new generations into the “Circle of Life.” The two-week, 3D-only presentation is a planned wide domestic release—the biggest since the film’s 1994 debut—and the film’s first-ever 3D release.

The Blu-ray debut marks the first time “The Lion King” has been available in any form since 2004. Featuring pristine high definition picture and sound, the Blu-ray creates an incredible at-home experience with a host of picture and sound enhancements, interactive features and bonus content, including a new set of hilarious animated bloopers.

“The Lion King”: Diamond Edition home entertainment release will be available from the Disney Vault for a limited time only beginning October 4 as follows:
· 4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (for the suggested retail price of $49.99 U.S./ $56.99 Canada)
o “The Lion King” = Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray 2D + DVD + Digital Copy™
· 2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (for the suggested retail price of $39.99 U.S./$46.99 Canada)
o “The Lion King” = Blu-ray 2D + DVD
· 8-Disc Trilogy (for the suggested retail price of $100.00 U.S./ $115.00 Canada)
o “The Lion King” = Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray 2D + DVD + Digital Copy
o “The Lion King 1 1Ž2″ = Blu-ray 2D + DVD
o “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride” = Blu-ray 2D + DVD

And the one-disc DVD Edition will be available on November 15.

“The Lion King,” first released in 1994, won the Oscar® for Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer) and Best Original Song (Elton John/Tim Rice “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”), earning Golden Globes® in both categories, as well as for Best Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical.

The film inspired an immensely popular, Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical, which is currently featured on stages worldwide. It became the seventh longest-running musical in Broadway history in January 2011.

ABOUT THE MOVIE:

An unforgettable story, breathtaking animation, beloved characters and award-winning music sets thestage for “The Lion King”, a Disney classic that follows the adventures of Simba, the feisty lion cub who “just can’t wait to be king.” But his envious Uncle Scar has plans for his own ascent to the throne, and he forces Simba’s exile from the kingdom. Alone and adrift, Simba soon joins the escapades of a hilarious meerkat named Timon and his warmhearted warthog pal, Pumbaa. Adopting their carefree lifestyle of “Hakuna Matata,” Simba ignores his real responsibilities until he realizes his destiny and returns to the Pride Lands to claim his place in the “Circle of Life.” The all-star vocal talents—including Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Ernie Sabella, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Robert Guillaume, Cheech Marin and Moira Kelly—rip-roaring comedy and uplifting messages of courage, loyalty and hope make this a timeless tale for all ages. Produced by Don Hahn and directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff from a script by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton, “The Lion King” is rated G by the MPAA.

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AFRICAN CATS - BLU-RAY REVIEW

b00559sgcu01lzzzzzzzThe last Disneynature documentary I sat through was Oceans and, while it was good, the movie was the visual equivalent of a sleeping pill. The information was kind of interesting but the sounds of bubbles just served as a relaxation device than it was informational documentary.

AFRICAN CATS, though, excels at being a documentary that has a story to tell and it does it without it ever feeling false. The tale of life on the African mesa where these savage felines vie for food, shelter and togetherness ends up being compelling if only because the editing that is made to construct storylines helps to make this a movie that doesn’t just focus on the natural circle of life. This is a movie that has characters, cats are given names, and, by so doing, this becomes less a documentary from a sterile perspective. It becomes something to be invested in and you find yourself getting lost in the gorgeous photography and trying to figure out what will happen by the end of the movie.

Some will make it, some won’t, but that’s the gloriousness of this entry of Disney’s nature films. When you think you’re just getting something you could see on Nat Geo is when the surprise gets you. It’s an epic tale that is playing out in front of you and the only thing that’s shocking is wondering why this movie wasn’t recognized like MARCH OF THE PENGUINS. This certainly deserves to be up there with that.

ABOUT THE MOVIE:

This coming October, don’t miss Disneynature’s latest home entertainment release, AFRICAN CATS, an epic film profiling two incredible families as they strive to make a home in the wilds of Africa. Disneynature AFRICAN CATS will debut as a 2-Disc Blu-ray™ + DVD Combo Pack, a High Definition Movie Download and/or On-Demand viewing on Tuesday, October 4, and is the perfect family-friendly film that provides an exciting journey into the wild while also raising consumer awareness for these incredible animals. For every movie purchased through October 10, 2011, Disneynature will be contributing a portion* of its home entertainment sales through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to the “See AFRICAN CATS, Save the Savanna” effort – an initiative developed between Disneynature and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to protect lions, cheetah, elephants, zebra, giraffe and a host other species in Africa. For more information on this release, please visit www.DisneyNature.com/AfricanCats.

AFRICAN CATS takes viewers deep into the breathtaking African savanna to witness the heart-stopping rivalry between two lion prides and the epic journey of one brave cheetah family. Shot over the course of two and a half years using state-of-the-art camera equipment, AFRICAN CATS captures the awe-inspiring beauty of one of the wildest places on Earth as it tells the dramatic and often intimate stories of Mara, an endearing lion cub who strives to grow up with her mother’s strength, spirit and wisdom; Sita, a fearless cheetah and single mother of five mischievous newborns; and Fang, a proud leader of the pride who must defend his family from a rival lion clan.

An awe-inspiring adventure blending family bonds with the power and cunning of the wild, AFRICAN CATS captures the real-life love, humor and determination of these majestic kings of the savanna in an exciting, heartwarming and visually stunning tale that is sure to engage children and adults alike. The film is narrated by Oscar®-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson and directed by Alastair Fothergill (Disneynature EARTH) and Keith Scholey.

In addition to the film, the discs include an incredible array of bonus features that take viewers deeper into the savanna through extensive interactive behind-the-scenes footage including filmmaker and conservationist interviews, an incredibly touching music video featuring Jordin Sparks singing “The World I Knew,” plus a look at the global efforts to which The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund contributes.
Bonus Features:

DVD:

Disney & Nature - Viewers get a deeper look into the conservation efforts around the world being sponsored by The Walt Disney Company.

Save The Savanna – A comprehensive look at Disney’s “See AFRICAN CATS, Save the Savanna” program and its impact on the region.

BLU-RAY:

Everything on the DVD, plus…

Filmmaker Annotations – This interactive in-movie feature is a viewing mode with 12 different segments that allows consumers to watch behind-the-scenes footage of the production process and hear stories from the filmmakers and conservationists who spent several years making the film.

Jordin Sparks “The World I Knew” Music Video

MOVIE DOWNLOAD

Introduction To Masai Mara – a segment from the Filmmakers Annotations Blu-ray feature

Filming The Cats – a segment from the Filmmakers Annotations Blu-ray feature

Sophie’s Elephants – a segment from the Filmmakers Annotations Blu-ray feature

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3D - 3D BLU-RAY REVIEW

beauty-and-the-beast-3d-blu-ray-moviesBuy this. Honestly, if you’re any kind of Disney fan you know how important this animated film was to the success of Disney as they pulled out of the tailspin that was their animated department before movies like THE LITTLE MERMAID and ALADDIN reestablished the company’s dominance in animated entertainment.

The story of Belle and the Beast is nothing new to anyone with a passing interest in this movie but, what is interesting, is that this version of the film is PHENOMENAL. Through a 1-2 punch of the animated vibrance that comes along with this movie being on Blu-ray you also get a extra oomph through the 3D technology that just launches you into a new realm of experience.

If there ever was a way to re-experience a movie for the 1st time all over again, doing it through 3D, especially a movie as good as this, is the one way you can go home again. All the memories of what made it so wonderful of a movie, resplendent with its musical numbers and with Gaston being his larger than life buffoon-ish self, come flooding back with this release.

While the true cost of this movie is a little more than you would spend on a Blu-ray there is just no denying that you get your money’s worth. For the movie, for the special features that show you what an ordeal it was to get this movie made, there is just no debate about whether it’s worth picking up again because, honestly, it is.

ABOUT THE MOVIE:

View Disney’s Academy Award®-Winning Animated Classic As You’ve Never Seen It Before!

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: DIAMOND EDITION

Releases For The First Time In Mesmerizing Blu-ray 3D™ - October 4, 2011

The Walt Disney Studios today announced plans to release one of its most critically acclaimed animated films of all time, Beauty and the Beast, for the first time ever in mesmerizing Disney Blu-ray 3D™ for in-home viewing. Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition 3D will be available in market beginning on October 4th as a 5-Disc Combo Pack (providing families with value, versatility and flexibility to enjoy this film on several formats of choice including Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray™, DVD and/or Digital Copy) and/or 3D Movie Download. For more information, please visit www.disney.com/BeautyAndTheBeast3D.

Additionally, the company will also release two Special Edition releases, “Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World” and “Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas,” to follow on November 22, 2011 just in time for the holiday gift-giving season.

The same Disney classic that taught us beauty is found within, now comes to life in spectacular Disney 3D bringing the characters, sound, and storyline to a whole new immersive dimension. Fans can once again meet and enjoy their favorite characters - Belle, Beast, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and more – in an entirely new fashion as if they were watching the film for the very first time.

This new Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition 3D release will join the studios existing catalog of in-home 3D movies currently available in market including: Disney’s A Christmas Carol, Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, Step Up 3D, Tangled, TRON: Legacy and Gnomeo & Juliet.

Bonus Features:

Three Versions of the Film:

Original Theatrical Release

Special Extended Edition

Original Storyboard Version

Deleted Scenes
Alternate Opening and Ending

Belle In The Library –Belle meets four new characters in the Library
Backstage Disney

Beyond Beauty: The Untold Stories Behind Making Beauty and the Beast -

An interactive experience that allows fans to expand areas of the documentary to uncover even more about each topic making have up to 3 hours of additional content.

Broadway Beginnings - Up-close and personal celebrity interviews with Nick Jonas, Donny Osmond, Jamie Lynn Sigler, Deborah Gibson and others who have starred in the Broadway production

Composing A Classic - A Musical Conversation with Alan Menken, Don Hahn & Richard Kraft where they reminisce, sing songs and share personal stories of the times during production of Beauty and the Beast

Music And More

Jordin Sparks ‘Beauty and the Beast” Music Video
Disney Sing-Along Mode
Deleted Song: “Human Again”
Alternate Version of “Be Our Guest”
Alternate Score of “The Transformation”
Introduction To Deleted Songs By Don Hahn: “Human Again”
Introductions To Deleted Song By Alan Menken: “Human Again”
Beauty and the Beast Music Video Performed By Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson
Family Games & Activities
Bonjour, Who Is This? A Disney TelePlay Game powered by BD-Live. Using any phone, guess the identity of the other players before they guess yours.

Available in the US and English speaking Canada only. Requires BD-Live enabled Blu-ray player and internet connection.
Enchanted Musical Challenge: A DisneyQuest Game
Chip’s Musical Challenge
Mrs. Pott’s Personality Profile Game

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