Home

Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers (Blu-ray combo)

Leave a comment

ThreeMusketeerscoverGrade: C
Entire family: Yes . . . but?
2004, 68 min., Color
Rated G
Disney
Aspect Ratio:  1.78:1
Featured audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD Copy
Bonus features: C-
Trailer

The Three Musketeers is that rare Disney animated feature that’s tough to recommend, even for youngsters in the family.

Made in 2004 as a direct-to-video offering, the Mickey, Donald and Goofy version of Alexandre Dumas’ timeless novel seems mechanical and uninspired, almost to the point of being tedious to watch. And it’s not just one thing. Many facets of the filmmaking process are disappointing.

There’s much more detail and heart in another Disney adaptation of classic literature, Mickey’s Christmas Carol. That 1983 animated film felt like a performance of Dickens’ story in which Mickey and the gang were cast as characters, and their “acting” was good enough to pull us into the story. Although that film was only 26 minutes long, it was so well done that every family and Disneyphile wanted to add it to their collections.

The Three Musketeers is 68 minutes long, and it feels longer. My family wasn’t drawn into the story at all, because it seemed more like those Warner Bros. and Disney cartoon shorts in which the characters are still the characters, but transposed to different settings. The scenes felt bloated to take up space, the animation seemed pedestrian, and the character locomotion was unimaginative. In short, there was nothing that brought a laugh or a smile of delight, as usually happens when we watch a Disney animated feature.   More

DIVERGENT (Blu-ray combo)

Leave a comment

DivergentcoverGrade:  B
Entire family: No
2014, 139 min., Color
Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality
Summit Entertainment
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Featured audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD Copy
Bonus features: C+
Trailer

These days, the money seems to be in young adult novels—especially if they’re made into movies. I suppose you could say J.K. Rowling started the trend with a Harry Potter series that began in 1997, and then in 2003 Stephenie Meyer hit pay dirt with the first of her Twilight vampire-werewolf romance novels. The next big score came from Suzanne Collins, whose futuristic Hunger Games novels first emerged in 2008. Now to film comes Divergent, based on a popular young adult trilogy from Veronica Roth that began in 2011 with Divergent, followed by Insurgent (2012), and Allegiant (2013).

In our family of four, my daughter is the target audience for all of these books, while my wife reads them with her. They’re fans of the films as well, and they thought, as I did, that the film version of Divergent is pretty comparable to the The Hunger Games, only instead of Jennifer Lawrence as an archer playing a futuristic survival game in the world’s largest arena we get Shailene Woodley as a free running initiate into a faction of a futuristic society that’s charged with the task of protecting it from outside—and inside—dangers.   More

HERCULES (1997) (Blu-ray combo)

Leave a comment

HerculescoverGrade: B+
Entire family: Yes
1997, 93 min., Color
Rated G
Disney
Aspect ratio: 1.78.1
Featured audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD Copy
Bonus features: C
Trailer

Hercules has always struck me as an underrated film—maybe because it has a little more attitude than your typical Disney animated feature. Like Avis Rent-a-Car or the City of Chicago, it tries a little harder to be hip, cool, or whatever the current vernacular is, and much of the sass comes from a lass. The lead female in this ancient adventure is Meg (Susan Egan), and she’s no maiden in distress. Like Katharine Hepburn in any movie, she’s the equal of her man, a film noir femme fatale sort of gal, and that’s kind of refreshing.

It’s energizing too that embedded in this revised story of Greek mythology are extended references to a number of films. Hercules is found on earth by mortal parents and raised as their own, just as Superman was—and the little guy does super boy stuff, like lifting Dad’s entire wagonload with one hand. Eventually Mom and Dad tell him that they adopted him and show him a medallion with his name on it. He came from Mt. Olympus, and though Hades tried to make the little guy mortal to ensure his own future power, baby Hercules fought off the last drop and so retained some of his super strength.

Like Rocky, he finds a trainer (Danny DeVito) who’s been itching to coach a champion. And every hero needs theme music. Herc gets his from five muses who act like vamps and come to life off of a Grecian urn to narrate through song—a gambit we saw in Little Shop of Horrors and There’s Something about Mary. Like Meg, they’ve also got a little attitude, and it adds another layer of fun.   More

Newer Entries