Cinderella (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Despite being mistreated by her stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters, a spirited Ella (Lily James) resolves to take charge of her fate. Add a royal ball, a Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) and a glass slipper, and suddenly magic becomes reality.
This is an absolutely lovely retelling of the fairy tale. James is wonderful as the ever optimistic protagonist who takes her mother’s dying counsel to heart: “Be generous and be kind.” One element it’s reassuring to see maintained is Ella’s relationship with animals. Fortunately none of the creatures can speak until they are transformed into Ella’s servants the night of the ball, avoiding any hints of madness. The aesthetic is an ideal balance of elegant and fanciful, using rich and vibrant colours that make the picture tangible but not quite real. The actors’ spot-on performances play an essential role in bringing the fairy tale to life in a manner that arouses adoration or abhorrence respectively. However the one minor but valued alteration is a slightly more autonomous Ella who seems like she eventually would have found a way out from under her stepmother’s thumb even if the Prince and Fairy Godmother hadn’t shown up.
Special features include: alternate opening; “A Fairy Tale Come to Life”; “Staging the Ball”; “Ella’s Furry Friends”; and Frozen Fever short. (Disney Home Entertainment)
Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom (Blu-ray & DVD)
Maya, a clever and resourceful monkey, finds her world forever changed when she welcomes her son Kip into her colorful extended family. Maya strives to keep Kip safe through unexpected and sometimes perilous adventures.
Over the years, Disneynature has released a number of documentaries that put a spotlight on various wildlife by recording intimate moments in their natural habitats. In addition to enlightening viewers about the subjects, part of the purchase of each title also goes to a relevant conservation organization. In this picture, the focus is on Maya, a poor, single mom just trying to make it in the world. The scenes captured are magnificent, taking viewers into the heart of the Sri Lankan jungles and dropping them right in the midst of monkey politics. Though the narration is often amusing, the film doesn’t shield audiences from some of the harsher realities of predators, weather and hierarchies.
Special features include: “Tales from the Kingdom”; on the set with Jane Goodall and Wolfgang Dittus; “The Conservation Story”; a special thank you from Disneynature; and Jacquie Lee’s “It’s Our World” music video. (Disney Home Entertainment)
Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles (DVD)
After headstrong Luke nearly delivers the good guys into Palpatine’s clutches, Master Yoda and the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi unearth the Holocrons — last remnants of the secrets of the Jedi — to further Luke’s training. But Darth Vader also seeks the Holocrons, and he’ll stop at nothing to get to them first. Meanwhile, courageous superclone Jek-14, a Force-sensitive clone, comes out of retirement to help bolster the Rebels.
Anything Lego-related has become a coveted form of entertainment and their Star Wars imaginings are no different. The characterizations are hilarious, turning serious personalities into likeable goofballs. The story introduces a second, slightly less cryptic Yoda and references classic moments from the original series. For example, when Leia is attempting to show the group an important video the clip that actually plays (on repeat) is her call for help, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope.” In addition, the Lego universe is a rich set of connecting pieces and fun designs. The four episodes of this release is the perfect length for a few laughs and narrative extensions.
Special features include: alternate ending. (Disney Home Entertainment)