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"Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars" goes on a collision course with the Death Star in new DVD.
"Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars" goes on a collision course with the Death Star in new DVD.

"Phineas and Ferb" find a new hope in "Star Wars" DVD

When George Lucas and his Lucasfilms company handed over the keys to the "Star Wars" universe, it did a couple of big things.

One, it probably filled the writer and director’s bank vaults. Second, it made it possible for more stories to be told from a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away long after Lucas is on the Earthly side of the Force.

But it also allowed for some new crossovers. Former "Simpsons" writers Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh couldn’t say no to putting "Star Wars" on a collision course with their "Phineas and Ferb" on the Disney Channel. On the half-hour cartoon on cable, the two neighborhood friends spend their summer days building inventions and getting caught in crazy situations with their platypus Perry.

Now, on the DVD released last month, Phineas and Ferb find themselves in an intergalactic adventure when they accidently get their hands on the plans for the Death Star. Now Perry – Agent P – is at the point of the conflict, having to stop Darthenshmirtz from using his Force-powered "Sith-Inator."

The big questions are if Phineas and Ferb will be able to resist the Dark Side, if Stormtrooper older sister Candace will track down the rebels and if anyone wouldn’t mind catching some rays with Tatooine’s twin suns.

With more than two hours of content, the DVD includes the "Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars" adventure, five additional episodes from the cartoon series and a collectible keychain of Perry trapped in carbonite like Han Solo was in "Empire Strikes Back."

I had the opportunity to screen the DVD, and while young fans of the show will like the episode, it will be the parents who catch many of the wonderful references and phrases from the series of movies we remember seeing on the big screen.

When George Lucas and his Lucasfilms company handed over the keys to the "Star Wars" universe, it did a couple of big things.

One, it probably filled the writer and director’s bank vaults. Second, it made it possible for more …

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"Disney Junior" om the Disney Channel released a new DVD for the holidays - "Minnie's Winter Bow Show."
"Disney Junior" om the Disney Channel released a new DVD for the holidays - "Minnie's Winter Bow Show."

Disney's Minnie presents her "Winter Bow Show" in new DVD release

There have now been a few generations who have had the Disney Channel as part of their cable television viewing options. In fact, there are adults who are not old enough to remember a time when Mickey Mouse and his friends were not found on the cable box.

As part of the Disney Junior block of time on the outlet, the Disney animators make programs for the youngest watchers in the household. One program features many of the classic characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Daisy all paling around on adventures in a club house. As an extension of the program, Disney Junior released "Minnie’s Winter Bow Show" on DVD just in time for the holiday shopping season.

I had the opportunity to screen the full-length adventure, which was a little shy of 50 minutes. If you think about it, that’s about an hour-long show without the commercial breaks.

Minnie is setting up her spectacular Winter Bow Show to share her new fashions for the season with pals Mickey, Daisy, Goofy, Donald and even Pete is helping out. But Minnie forgot that her two nieces were coming over to have a playdate. The little mice thought they were helping when they accidentally take down the main display in the pavilion. Feeling bad about what happened, they go look for another place to play. Minnie goes looking for them when all three are whisked away in a hot air balloon kept in the glove section of Mickey’s clubhouse.

The adventure begins when the balloon takes the three to the Clubhouse North Pole and they have to make it back in time for Minnie’s show. With some tools provided by Minnie’s computerized helper, Cute-oles – like Mickey’s Toodles, but with a "Cute" at the front – the girls solve problems they encounter along the way.

A yeti family, Snow Fairy Clarabelle and her reindeer all help Minnie and her nieces get back, and they all enjoy the Winter Bow Show together. There’s even a Minnie Hair Bow in the package for the young viewer to enjoy, too.

The DVD has three more …

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Angelina Jolie played the heart-broken title character in Disney's "Maleficent."
Angelina Jolie played the heart-broken title character in Disney's "Maleficent."

"Maleficent" puts an outstanding twist on original "Sleeping Beauty"

One of the things that make in-home media so thrilling is being able to dive into the back story that brings a feature film to life.

When "Maleficent" had its box office run, this live action adaptation re-imagined for the big screen brought in more than $700 million worldwide. With Angelina Jolie cast as the fairytale villain, the fan base of fantasy stories lovers was intrigued in this "Sleeping Beauty" twist since promotion of film began.

Disney released the Blu-ray and HD digital combo pack, as well as DVD and on-demand on Nov. 4. It came out less than a month after the release of the Diamond Edition of "Sleeping Beauty" and after Halloween. It was a smart move to place it in stores and other outlets after the costume-themed, candy-fueled obsession in America.

Sure, "Maleficent"-based costumes and decorations were available, but the storytelling is so strong here that is wasn’t worth getting lost in the Halloween hoopla. Kudos go out to the studio executives and marketing teams for understanding the true value of the film. The right choice of releasing the Blu-ray at a proper time was made in this case.

Bravo.

I had the opportunity to screen the Blu-ray in November, but held on the review to be closer to the holiday shopping season after Thanksgiving. When bundled with the "Sleeping Beauty" re-mastered release, the pair of films telling different stories from the same fantastic universe makes a wonderful present for different generations in the family.

Case-in-point: The young ones, especially fans of the Disney Princesses, will enjoy the tale of Princess Aurora from the original classic tale. Warning, the scene with Prince Phillip fighting the dragon form of Maleficent may be a little too intense for sensitive eyes.

The parents and grandparents will enjoy the classic film for what they remember of it from the big screen or the old VHS tapes.

And most, including preteens and teens, will love the story of the new movie. Jolie is wonderful playing the ch…

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Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" used the latest innovations in animation in 1959.
Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" used the latest innovations in animation in 1959.

Art direction, classic characters drive storytelling in "Sleeping Beauty"

When I think of a true Disney movie, I think of "Sleeping Beauty." It is a pinnacle achievement from the animation studio’s golden era.

It is a fantastic tale, one that clearly puts the evil character at its most menacing, and the good characters who muster up the spirit to take evil on. It’s a classic battle, urging the audience to take a side and root for the victor.

Granted, when something is of 1959 vintage, it becomes difficult to sell it on a younger generation that is exposed to the latest computer-animated worlds. I do find, that when an older family member embraces a film like this and a child can feel the heart and soul expressed, that they will get beyond what is not there and get caught up in the great story that is presented.

The youngest of viewers – especially the ones who love the Disney princesses – will love this film about Princes Aurora, who is put under a spell by Maleficent and a deep sleep brought on by a prick from a spinning wheel. Despite the king’s efforts to burn all of the spinning wheels in the kingdom, the good fairies protect young Beauty and arm Prince Philip to take on the fire-breathing alter ego of Maleficent and save the princess with, "True love’s first kiss."

Disney released the Diamond Edition with DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Copy in October. I’ve had the chance to screen the discs, and take in the wealth of background and history shared in the extras. A large amount of featurette footage is from the original DVD release, including the restoration effort of the score of the film which was nominated for an Academy Award. Historians and animators look back at the original footage from the recording sessions to make the songs like "Once Upon a Dream" come back to life.

One story shared is of background artist Eyvind Earle. Walt Disney loved his work so much that he made Earle the art director on "Sleeping Beauty." This was the first time that Disney gave a single artist the responsibility of creating the entire lo…

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