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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesIf you’re a Disney fan (and who isn’t?), we’ve hit the motherlode lately with a variety of cool DVD and Blu-ray releases. One thing I love about Disney is that you can usually count on lots of special features and fun stuff on their releases. Let’s take a look at four new ones:

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images, sensuality and innuendo; released on DVD/Blu-ray Oct. 18, 2011; buy on Amazon; read Jane’s full review of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides theatrical release). Remember how convoluted and messy that third Pirates movie was? Thank goodness, this fourth installment gets back on track with a nice clean story.

The filmmakers cut out all the bloat, made the story lean and mean, and put the focus back on Jack Sparrow, which is exactly where it should be. The story begins with a caper involving a judge impersonation, a daring escape, and a quick meet-up with his dad (Keith Richards), but then Jack is back in action and working with Barbossa to find the elusive Fountain of Youth.

Jack crosses paths with long-lost lover Angelica (Penelope Cruz), but my favorite part of this movie is the mermaids (speak about them in hushed tones). They’re beautiful, scary, magical and mystical. Just thing thing to bring freshness to the franchise.

The 2-Disc DVD/Blu-ray Combo includes these bonus features:

  • Bloopers of the Caribbean
  • LEGO Animated Shorts: Captain Jack’s Brick Tales
  • Audio Commentary by Director Rob Marshall
  • Disney Second Screen – Explore interactive content as you watch the movie on your iPad or computer.

The 5-disc Combo Pack includes all of that, plus a 3D version and:

  • Bringing Mermaids to Life
  • Legends of On Stranger Tides
  • In Search of the Fountain
  • Last Sail, First Voyage

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides DVD/Blu-Ray Trailer:

Spooky BuddiesSPOOKY BUDDIES (rated G; released on DVD/Blu-ray Sept. 20, 2011; buy on Amazon). I love the Buddies! And I don’t even care that they keep sequeling this franchise into infinity, because the pups are so darn cute. Whenever I hear human voices come out of those talking dog mouths, it just makes me laugh.

The Buddies find themselves smack in the middle of a Halloween scare that dates back to 1937. Fernfield legend tells of an evil warlock, Warwick, who entered into a pact with the menacing Halloween Hound to open a portal between realities and allow the spirits of the netherworld to escape and take over the world. Time ran out before the Halloween Hound could steal the souls of five dogs of the same blood in order to open the portal. But conditions are just right for Warwick and the Hound to return and complete their mission. Of course, the Buddies stumble into the middle of everything and must save the town.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. The pups are cute, but ghosts and dark forces of evil might be a little intense for little ones. That’s why I’m recommending this for kids 7 and older. Also, there’s a religious message, in that the church is portrayed as a safe sanctuary and the Bible a powerful force to be reckoned with. Being a good Methodist, I don’t have a problem with this, but just be aware that it’s there. The message is good: teamwork and confidence will win out.

Bonus Features on the 2-Disc DVD/Blu-ray Combo Pack:

  • Tour of Rosebud’s house
  • “Monster Mash” music video featuring the cast of Shake It Up
  • Sneak peak of Treasure Buddies

Spooky Buddies Trailer:

Bonus Feature: Monster Mash Music Video:

winnie the pooh dvdWINNIE THE POOH (rated G; released on DVD/Blu-ray Oct. 25, 2011; buy on Amazon). This little  gem, narrated by John Cleese, made headlines when it came out in theaters July 15, 2011, because Disney returned to the original hand-drawn, simple Pooh. No funny skateboard, no sunglasses, no superhero outfits, and none of the product placement often found in other reboots like Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Smurfs.

Instead, we have a graceful and innocent story where Pooh and the gang assemble for an important mission: find the missing tale of gloomy Eeyore. Because of a misinterpretation of a “Back Soon” note left by Christopher Robin, they think it involves a terrible horned beast known as the Backson. Such a sweet, sweet story, and well worth the investment to have this set on your shelves.

Special Features:

  • Winnie The Pooh And His Story Too
  • Sing Along With The Movie
  • 5 Deleted Scenes with Director Intro
  • The Ballad of Nessie: Theatrical Short
  • Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Pooh’s Balloon Short

Winnie the Pooh DVD/Blu-Ray Trailer:



Bonus Feature: The Ballad of Nessie:

Cars 2 on DVD/Blu-rayCARS 2 (rated G; released on DVD/Blu-ray Nov. 1, 2011; buy on Amazon; read Jane’s full review of Cars 2 theatrical release.). I loved this sequel to 2006’s popular Cars. It takes the original concept and adds a fun spy caper into the mix. The result is a cute story with the characters we all know and love, but kicked up a notch with high-speed chases, suspenseful moments, and high-tech gadgets.

The story finds Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) taking a much-needed break in Radiator Springs with his pals Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), Sally (Bonnie Hunt), Ramone (Cheech Marin) and the rest of the gang. But when egotistical Italian Formula One race car Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) issues a challenge, Lightning agrees to join the World Grand Prix taking place in Japan, Italy and England.

The purpose of the race is to show the world that alternative bio-fuel works just as well as regular gasoline. Ok, so that particular storyline might go over the heads of little ones, but they’ll love the fast-paced action when Mater accidentally finds himself smack in the middle of a spy caper led by British intelligence agent Finn McMissile (Michael Caine – perfect casting!) and his assistant Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer).

Bonus Features for the 2-Disc DVD/Blu-ray Combo Pack:

  • Theatrical Short – Toy Story Toon:  Hawaiian Vacation
  • All-New, Exclusive Cars Toon: Air Mater
  • Director Commentary

On the 5-Disc Combo Pack, you also get a 3D version, plus:

  • Nuts and Bolts: A Sneak Peek of Cars Land
  • World Tour – Interactive Map
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Short Documentaries
  • Set Explorations from the Different Cities in the Movie

Cars 2 DVD/Blu-ray Trailer:

Bonus Feature: Hawaiian Vacation Theatrical Short:

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