What made the original Toy Story so great, besides its significant achievement as the first-ever feature-length computer animated film, was its ability to instantly transport viewers into a magical world where it seemed completely plausible that toys were living, thinking beings who sprang to life the minute they were alone and wanted nothing more than to be loved and played with by their children. Toy Story 3 absolutely succeeds in the very same thing--adults and children alike, whether they've seen the original film or not, find themselves immediately immersed in a world in which Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Ham (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn), the aliens, and the rest of Andy's toys remain completely devoted to Andy (John Morris) even as he's getting ready to pack up and leave for college. Woody scoffs at the other toys' worries that they'll end up in the garbage, assuring them that they've earned a spot of honor in the attic, but when the toys are mistakenly donated to Sunnyside Daycare, Woody is the only toy whose devotion to Andy outweighs the promise of getting played with each and every day. Woody sets off toward home alone while the other toys settle in for some daycare fun, but things don't turn out quite as expected at the daycare thanks to the scheming, strawberry-scented old-timer bear Lots-o'-Huggin' (Ned Beatty). Eventually, Woody rejoins his friends and they all attempt a daring escape from the daycare, which could destroy them all. The pacing of the film is impeccable at this point, although the sense of peril may prove almost too intense for a few young viewers. Pixar's 3-D computer animation is top-notch as always and the voice talent in this film is tremendous, but in the end, it's Pixar's uncanny ability to combine drama, action, and humor in a way that irresistibly draws viewers into the world of the film that makes Toy Story 3 such great family entertainment. (Ages 7 and older) --Tami Horiuchi
Manufacturer: Walt Disney Home Entertainment Presents A Studio G
Brand: Buena Vista Home Video
From one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of animated cinema comes the most acclaimed film of 2002. Hayao Miyazaki's latest triumph, filled with astonishing animation and epic adventure, is a dazzling masterpiece for the ages. It's a "wonderfully welcoming work of art that's as funny and entertaining as it is brilliant, beautiful, and deep" (Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal). SPIRITED AWAY is a wondrous fantasy about a young girl, Chihiro, trapped in a strange new world of spirits. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, she must call upon the courage she never knew she had to free herself and return her family to the outside world. An unforgettable story brimming with creativity, SPIRITED AWAY will take you on a journey beyond your imagination. "To enter the world of Hayao Miyazaki is to experience a kind of lighthearted enchantment that is unique to the world of animation" (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times). It's a fantastic tale the whole family will want to experience over and over again.~~(c) 2001 Nibariki -- GNDDTM
Manufacturer: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Brand: BUENA VISTA HOME VIDEO
Witness the majesty of celebrated animated film director Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece, PRINCESS MONONOKE, for the first time ever on Blu-ray High Definition. This exquisitely animated, critically acclaimed adventure from one of the most illustrious filmmakers of all time is now even more spectacular with dazzling HD picture and sound! Inflicted with a deadly curse, a young warrior named Ashitaka sets out to the forests of the west in search of the cure that will save his life. Once there, he becomes inextricably entangled in a bitter battle that matches Lady Eboshi and a proud clan of humans against the forest's animal gods... who are led by the brave Princess Mononoke, a young woman raised by wolves. This monumental struggle between man and nature will have you transfixed as stunning artistry blends with epic storytelling to create a uniquely entertaining motion picture. Experience it like never before on Disney Blu-ray!|As of 2001, PRINCESS MONONOKE is one of only two films to ever break $150 million at the Japanese box office -- the other is TITANIC.
Neo-Tokyo is about to E X P L O D E! Akira isn’t just a movie – it’s the genesis of a genre. Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark cyberpunk classic obliterated the boundaries of Japanese animation and forced the world to look into the future. Akira’s arrival shattered traditional thinking, creating space for movies like the The Matrix to be dreamed into brutal reality. Without Kaneda and Tetsuo, without espers and psionic assassins, without that badass motorcycle – our world would be a far less exciting place to exist. But the manga became the movie and the movie became a phenomenon and the world took notice. Now, Akira is everywhere. If you can’t see it in the streets – if you can’t feel it crawling around inside your brain – then you have yet to be initiated. What. Are. You. Waiting. For? • Listen How You Want: The 25th Anniversary release of Akira features both English dubs that have occurred since 1988, letting you choose the track that’s best for you. • An Audiophiles Dream: Includes the “Hypersonic” 24-Bit, 192kHz Dolby TrueHD remaster of the original Japanese audio track. • Exploding with Extras: Packed with over 120 minutes of on-disc extra features; including the “Restoring Akira” documentary and original storyboards for the anime.
Batman: The Animated Series, Volume 4 (DC Comics Classic Collection)
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Brand: Warner Brothers
Batman: The Animated Series Vol. 4]]> The fourth and final volume of Batman: The Animated Series is a little uneven but still encompasses some great episodes. Start with "Over the Edge," a nightmarish scenario in which Commissioner Gordon dedicates himself to hunting down Batman following the death of his daughter, Batgirl. "Critters" is a tribute to Japanese monster movies, "Mad Love" recounts the origin of Harley Quinn, and "Legends of the Dark Knight" animates both a '50s-styled Batman adventure as well as a scene from Frank Miller's Return of the Dark Knight. This run of 24 episodes has a lot of Batgirl, too little Nightwing, and a lot of the new Robin, Tim Drake, whose origin is explained in "Sins of the Father." Drake gets a mostly solo adventure, Batgirl teams with Supergirl, and there's still a sense of fun, with goofy humor that includes an appearance by the Three Stooges as the Joker's henchmen. Guest voices include Sela Ward as Calendar Girl and Tippi Hedren, and Mark Hamill continues the excellent work as the Joker that created some early rumors about his taking the live-action role in the sequel to Batman Begins. By this time, Batman had become part of the Batman/Superman Hour, so viewers can choose the opening sequence for either that or the original animated series. That, as well as the unbalanced number of episodes in the seasons (e.g., the first season of the animated series was 60 episodes), is why Batman: The Animated Series was released in volumes rather than as single-season sets. --David Horiuchi
As the Empire of the Sun crumbles upon itself and a rain of firebombs falls upon Japan, the final death march of a nation is echoed in millions of smaller tragedies. This is the story of Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, two children born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, and now cast adrift in a world that lacks not the care to shelter them, but simply the resources. Forced to fend for themselves in the aftermath of fires that swept entire cities from the face of the earth, their doomed struggle is both a tribute to the human spirit and the stuff of nightmares. Beautiful, yet at times brutal and horrifying. Isao Takahata's powerful antiwar film has been praised by critics wherever it has been screened around the world. When their mother is killed in the firebombing of Tokyo near the end of World War II, teenage Seita and his little sister Setsuko are left on their own: their father is away, serving in the Imperial Navy. The two children initially stay with an aunt, but she has little affection for them and resents the time and money they require. The two children set up housekeeping in a cave by a stream, but their meager resources are quickly exhausted, and Seita is reduced to stealing to feed his sister. Despite his efforts, she succumbs to malnutrition. Seita painfully makes his way back to the crowded city, where he quietly dies in a crowded railway station. The strength of the film lies in Takahata's evenhanded portrayal of the characters. A sympathetic doctor, the greedy aunt, the disinterested cousins all know there is little they can do for Seita and Setsuko. Their resources, like their country's, are already overtaxed: anything they spare endangers their own survival. As in Barefoot Gen, no mention is made of Japan's role in the war as an aggressor; but the depiction of the needless suffering endured by its victims transcends national and ideological boundaries. Takahata's extraordinary film suggests a flower on the grave of countless children who, like Seika and Setsuko, died needlessly in wars they neither fought nor understood. (Unrated: suitable for ages 12 and older, violence, emotionally intense material) --Charles Solomon
Manufacturer: Disney Presents Studio Ghibli
Brand: Buena Vista Home Video
Discover KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE, a fantastic coming-of-age tale full of magic, adventure and self-discovery from the sensational imagination of Academy Award(R)-winning director Hayao Miyazaki (2002, Best Animated Feature, SPIRITED AWAY). And now you can explore even more of Kiki's amazing world through never-before-seen bonus features -- exclusively in this 2-Disc Special Edition DVD! Kiki is an enterprising young girl who must follow tradition to become a full-fledged witch. Venturing out with only her black cat, Jiji, Kiki flies off for the adventure of a lifetime. Landing in a far-off city, she sets up a high-flying delivery service and begins a wonderful experience of independence and responsibility as she finds her place in the world. Bring home KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE from Studio Ghibli and Disney for your family's DVD library and share Kiki's high-flying adventure again and again. In Hayao Miyazaki's magical Kiki's Delivery Service, a 13-year-old girl meets the world head on as she spends her first year soloing as an apprentice witch. Kiki (Kirsten Dunst) is still a little green and plenty headstrong, but also resourceful, imaginative, and determined. With her trusty wisp of a cat Jiji (a gently subdued Phil Hartman) by her side she's ready to take on the world, or at least the quaintly European seaside village she's chosen as her new home. Miyazaki's gentle rhythm and meandering narrative capture the easy pulse of real life (even if his subject is a girl flying high upon a broomstick) and charts the everyday struggles and growing pains of his plucky heroine with sensitivity and understanding. Beautifully detailed animation and the rich designs of the picture-postcard seaside town of red-tiled roofs and cobblestone streets only add to the sense of wonder. This charming animated fantasy is a wholesome, life-affirming picture that doesn't speak down to kids or up to adults. --Sean Axmaker
Manufacturer: Flatiron Film Company
Brand: New Video Group
Magic, fantasy, and Celtic mythology come together in a riot of color and detail that dazzle the eyes in a sweeping story about the power of imagination and faith to carry humanity through dark times.In a remote medieval outpost of Ireland, young Brendan embarks on a new life of adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying a book brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the falry Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl, who helps him along the way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendans determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil? In contrast to big-budget Hollywood CG features, The Secret of Kells is a welcome reminder of how warm, personal, and compelling traditional drawn animation can be. The story takes place in the eighth century, a perilous time when Viking raiders threatened to destroy Irish civilization. Since his parents were killed by Vikings, 12-year-old Brendan (voice by Evan McGuire) has lived within the walled monastery of Kells under the stern eye of his uncle, Abbot Cellach (Brendan Gleeson). But his life changes when Brother Aidan (Mick Lally) arrives at Kells with a wondrously beautiful but unfinished illuminated manuscript, created to be "a beacon in these dark times." Brendan realizes he wants to become an illuminator and complete the book, despite his uncle's opposition. His decision helps him win the friendship of Aisling (Christen Mooney), a silver-haired wood fairy--and requires him to battle the monstrous pagan god Crom Cruach. The visuals in The Secret of Kells were inspired by the eighth-century manuscript the Book of Kells, which has been preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. Fans of Samurai Jack will recognize another influence on the flat, angular figures and their stylized movements. Brendan's adventures are exciting enough to keep children entertained, while its graphic beauties will delight adult viewers. The Secret of Kells surprised many observers when it earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, and it's a film no one interested in animation should miss. (Unrated: suitable for ages 8 and older: some scary imagery and violence.) --Charles SolomonStills from The Secret of Kells (Click for larger image)
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Brand: Classic Media
Do you remember when...Santa asked Rudolph to guide his sleigh, Frosty magically came to life on Christmas Eve, and Kris Kringle became Santa Claus? Share the magic of The Original Christmas Classics!Includes 7 Holiday Favorites: Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerWhos got a nose for Christmas? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Just in time for the holidays, here comes Rudolph in the most beloved special of all time! Packed with a sleigh full of memorable songs and unforgettable characters, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer lights up the hearts of young and old alike.Santa Claus is Comin to Town Where does Santas suit come from? Why does he slide down the chimney? Why does he live at the North Pole? The answers to all these questions and the origins of our favorite holiday traditions are revealed in this delightful classic about Kris Kringle, the world s most famous gift giver.Frosty the Snowman Look at Frosty Go! Whats become a bigger holiday tradition than building a snowman? Watching the original Christmas classic, Frosty the Snowman! Grab your scarf, bundle up, and get ready for the incredible adventure of a magical snowman whos got enough personality to win over the whole family. You can t go wrong with Frosty!Frosty Returns Mr. Magoos Christmas Carol Bah Humbug, Mr. Magoo! In this first-ever animated holiday TV special, the bumbling and loveable Mr. Magoo is Ebeneezer Scrooge in a hilarious and heartwarming musical retelling of Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol.The Little Drummer BoyThis story has touched the hearts of families everywhere. In this holiday classic, the true spirit of Christmas is revealed when a lonely orphan stumbles upon the birth of the baby Jesus and affirms what the holidays are really about giving and love. Featuring a beautiful soundtrack by the Vienna Boys Choir, this timeless tale of generosity makes the perfect addition to your holiday collection. Cricket on the HearthA delightful, animated musical version of Charles Dickens classic tale, Cricket on the Hearth, tells the story of a poor toymaker and his daughter whom a helpful Cricket named Crocket befriends on Christmas morning. When tragedy strikes the family, it s Crocket who comes to the rescue and restores peace and happiness.