Encanto

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $95.36 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some thematic elements and mile peril.
Voices of Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitán, Diane Guerrero.

The 60th feature film from the Walt Disney Animation studio, the colorful Encanto provides a heartfelt story with strong Latin American flair that will keep audiences thoroughly entertained.

With songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the film tells the story of a small Colombian village protected by magic and watched over by the Madrigal family. The family’s matriarch, Abuela (María Cecilia Botero), was fleeing oppression with her three children when her husband was killed by a pursuing force. Out of anger and despair, she unleashes a magical blast that propels her attackers and creates the encanto, a charmed realm hidden by mountains. The magic protecting the new village is contained in a perpetually lit candle that gives members of the Madrigal family special powers on their fifth birthday, with the exception of Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), who is seemingly given no gift.

Now 15 and coping with being the only member of her family without powers, Mirabel finds herself as the key to resolving a prophecy that could mean the end of the encanto and the destruction of her family.

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Among the slew of extras is a sing-along mode that displays lyrics on screen, and the ability to jump to any song in the film.

Featurettes include the 24-minute “Familia lo es Todo” about the film’s strong family themes, the 17-and-a-half-minute “Discover Colombia” about the cultural touchstones of the film, the 24-minute “A Journey Through Music,” the eight-minute “Let’s Talk About Bruno” about a key character and the signature song focused on him, the 10-and-a-half-minute “Our Casita” about the film’s magical living house, and the two-and-a-half minute travelogue “Journey to Colombia.”

There’s also a three-minute clip of outtakes, and four deleted sequences in storyboard form that with filmmaker introductions run a total of about 20 minutes.

Also accompanying the film is the delightful nine-minute animated short Far From the Tree about a family of raccoons that imparts harsh survival lessons down through the generations.

Catwoman: Hunted

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Warner;
Animated;
$24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, bloody images and suggestive material.
Voices of Elizabeth Gilles, Stephanie Beatriz, Lauren Cohan, Kelly Hu, Jonathan Banks, Keith David, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Jonathan Frakes.

The anime-inspired Catwoman: Hunted puts its title character in the middle of a jazzy crime caper, manipulating her way through a cadre of DC Comics characters, none of which is Batman. It’s a fun, sexy ride despite its convoluted plot. And it remembers that there is more than one cat-themed character hanging around the DC universe.

The story involves Catwoman (Elizabeth Gilles) crashing a costume party of gangsters connected to the Leviathan crime syndicate in order to steal a valuable jewel. Though her attempt is eventually thwarted by Batwoman (Stephanie Beatriz), Catwoman is ensnared in a globe-trotting Interpol operation to take down Leviathan’s leadership.

The Blu-ray includes two featurettes. The 19-minute “When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted” is an interesting piece that briefly explores the popularity of Catwoman before diving into how the filmmakers crafted the movie around her. The 40-minute “Catwoman: The Femme Fatale” is a good mini-documentary, originally released online last year, about the history of the character in comics, video games, TV shows and movies, infused with archival interviews with many of the actresses who played her.

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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

 BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 5/7/19;
Warner;
Animated;
Box Office $105.73 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some rude humor.
Voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman.

Picking up directly where 2014’s The Lego Movie left off, the sequel finds the Lego characters under siege by the Duplo invaders for five years, eventually forming a post-apocalyptic settlement a la “Mad Max.”

When Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and a handful of other characters are whisked away in the latest invasion to a far-off planet in the “Systar System,” it’s up to Emmet (Chris Pratt) to try to rescue them, with the help of an adventurer named Rex he meets along the way.

Lego Movie 2 follows the same conceit as the first film that the adventures of the Lego characters are the manifestations of the imaginations of the children playing with them, with more puns about how real-world situations can threaten their existence (this time they fear ending up in the “Bin of Storage”). The film once again hints at the toys being alive, and idea it can only take so far before it starts to delve into “Toy Story” territory.

The war with the invaders stems from a sibling rivalry, as the little sister of the kid from the first film wants to play with her brother, only to be rebuffed. So, there’s a nice little message about sibling cooperation at the heart of the story for good measure.

The animation is as stylish and colorful as the first film, the story works in a few more catchy songs (many by YouTube star Jon Lajoie, who played Taco on “The League”), and the franchise continues to make smart and funny observations about its nature as essentially a Lego toy commercial. But after following up the first movie with “Batman” and “Ninjago” Lego spinoffs, the concept is a bit played out.

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The Blu-ray features the movie in an “Everything Is Awesome” sing-along mode that showcases facts about the movie, on-screen lyrics, trivia games and more.

There’s also a full-length commentary from director Mike Mitchell, writers/producers Phil Lord and Chritopher Miller, and animation director Trisha Gum.

Additional behind-the-scenes material includes the 9-minute “They Came in Pieces: Assembling The Lego Movie 2,” featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

The Blu-ray also offers 12 minutes of outtakes and deleted scenes, including some interesting footage showing parts of the story from the point of view of the kids playing it out.

Just as a reminder that these are toys you can buy at your local store, there’s a two-minute “Lego Sets in Action” video of animations of the new products featured in the movie, and a three-and-a-half-minute featurette that interviews Lego toy designers about the toys created for use in the movie.

The disc also includes four additional minutes of promotional material, including the actors talking about their characters’ minifigs.

On the musical side, there’s a music video for the “Super Cool” song by Beck, featuring Robyn and comedy team The Lonely Island.

Finally, there’s a three-minute Christmas-themed short film called “Emmet’s Holiday Party.”