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WRECK-IT RALPH (3D Blu-ray combo)

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Wreckit200Grade:  A-
Entire family:  Yes

2012, 108 min., Color
Rated PG for rude humor, mild violence
Disney

Aspect ratio:  2.39:1
Featured audio:  DTS-HD MA 7.1
Bonus features:  C
Includes:  Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Trailer

When Wreck-It Ralph and Brave came out of Disney-Pixar studios last year, it felt like a case of babies being switched at birth. But it really WAS the Pixar gang that produced Brave, a princess fairy tale with a traditional, realistic look to it, while Disney animation gave us Wreck-It Ralph, a spunky homage to video games that depicted multiple virtual worlds.

For gamers, the fun comes from spotting allusions to such popular and historic video games as Super Mario Bros., Q*bert, Street Fighter, Pac-Man, Paperboy, Pong, Dig Dug, Qix, Frogger, BurgerTime, Sonic the Hedgehog, Metal Gear, World of Warcraft, and Altered Beast. But you don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy Wreck-It Ralph.

The premise is similar to Toy Story. Once the lights go out, the “toys” (here, characters in a video game) are off-duty and have a life of their own. It turns out that acting out these video games is their day job, and there’s a transportation terminal that takes them to and from their games at the Arcade.

Once again Disney has created an immersive world that’s rich with detail, populated by characters who have problems humans can identify with and characteristics that make them likable—even “bad guy” Ralph (John C. Reilly), who’s hurt that he wasn’t invited to the game’s 30th anniversary celebration. Just once he wants to be the guy who gets the medal at the end, rather than the hero of his game, Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer). If he can’t get a medal here, he’s determined to find another game where he can be the hero. More

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H2O: JUST ADD WATER – SEASON 1 (DVD)

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h2O200Grade:  B+
Entire family:  Yes
2006, 26 episodes (650 min.), Color
Unrated (would be PG for mild thematic elements)
New Video
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Featured audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Bonus features:  F
Trailer

H2O: Just Add Water is an Australian-made TV series obviously intended for teen and pre-teen audiences—girls especially. But the creators and writers add a lot more than water.

There’s a little Lost, a little Splash, a little Flipper, some Power Rangers and Wonder Twins, a hint of Gilligan’s Island, an allusion to Baywatch, a bit of Bewitched, some Little Mermaid, and a lighter (more G-rated) twist on Secret Life of the American Teenager. As a result, it also holds appeal for other family members.

In this show, filmed on location on Australia’s Gold Coast, three 16-year-old girls end up in a boat that drifts out to sea, forcing them to swim to mysterious Mako Island. As a result of an incident in an ancient cave (during a full moon, of course), they’re somehow transformed so that any time afterwards that they touch water—even the tiniest drop—they turn into mermaids with heavy, golden tails and a golden fish-scaled crop top.

Unlike Daryll Hannah’s character in Splash, these kids know exactly what will happen if they’re discovered. They’ll end up being dissected as a science experiment or exhibited as freaks of nature. But they have more immediate problems, in addition to the usual teen concerns (like parties and siblings and boyfriends). More

SKYFALL (Blu-ray combo)

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skyfall200Grade:  A-
Entire family:  No

2012, 143 min., Color
Rated PG-13 for intense violent sequences, some sexuality, language, smoking
MGM/Fox

Aspect ratio:  2.40:1
Featured audio:  English DTS-HD 5.1
Bonus features:  B-

Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy and UV
Trailer

After the mind-numbing narratives and hyper-seriousness of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, Craig’s third outing is a nostalgic return to the old Bond films in which a strong-but-simple plot mattered as much (if not more) than the explosions, stunts, and special effects. Yes, there are a number of big-concept effects here, but there are also enough cheeky moments and one-liners to make you recall those early outings. Frankly, it’s refreshing to have the filmmakers put the fun back into Bond films.  More

MONSTERS, INC. (Ultimate Collector’s Edition)

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monstersinc200Grade:  A-
Entire family:  Yes

2001, 92 min., Color animation
Rated G
Disney-Pixar

Aspect ratio:  1.85:1
Featured Audio:  Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Bonus features:  A-

Includes:  3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Trailer

Not many people have 3D TVs, but there’s reason to pick up a copy of Monsters, Inc. on 3D Blu-ray even if you’re not equipped to watch with those funny glasses just yet. For this release the fourth Pixar animated film got an audio makeover—even the standard Blu-ray—and the English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 is a considerable upgrade over the previous Blu-ray and DVD.

The sound really fills the room now and matches the “wow” factor of the video, where you can see every hair on big blue monster Sulley’s body. If ever a film was made for Blu-ray, it’s this one. More