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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: The Hidden World is Stunning on Bluray

How to Train Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Flying onto Bluray/DVD and Digital this week from writer/director Dean DeBlois, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation is the return to Berk and our favorite characters in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: The Hidden World.

Life in Berk has been busy and becoming slightly crowded as Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), Toothless and Astrid (America Ferrera) lead their friends on adventures to stop the capture of their winged friends. That is went Hiccup remembers his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) telling him the story of the Hidden World that is considered a safe haven for dragons.

Thinking they would search further out for it, Hiccup meets Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham) who finds out that after hunting all the Night Fury’s – there is one left! He tells Hiccup to turn over his dragon or watch the destruction of everything around him.

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What the leader doesn’t know is that a beautiful white Light Fury has caught the attention of Toothless and he is smitten from moment one. Hiccup must tell his people what Grimmel is planning and they decide to leave Berk and look for the Hidden World together.

Discovering a beautiful island, they rest for a short while which gives Hiccup time to plan their next move and give Toothless time to be with the dragon of his dreams. Mom Valka (Cate Blanchett) flies back towards Berk to see how long they have before Grimmel’s attack ships get to them.

Hiccup and Astrid follow toothless and discover the Hidden World and see for themselves the beauty the dragons have built for themselves. They also see that Toothless has become their leader and when they try to protect their Alpha, Toothless is forces to save his friend.

All of this has fallen straight into the hands of Grimmel who captures Toothless and Light Fury and that doesn’t sit well with dragons or the people of Berk. Friendship and loyalty come together to fight for each other!

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Baruchel as Hiccup returns to finish the story he began telling us from the first film in 2010. He is now a young leader still trying to find his place and Toothless is his touchstone. Astrid is still strong on his life and he wants a bigger future with her but the crowding of the village takes precedent at the moment. My family has come to adore Hiccup as his frailties and flaws are right out front. He has become an important animated role model and there certainly isn’t anything wrong with that (just ask my granddaughter).

Ferrera returns as Astrid who has also grown in her role as a strong woman in the middle of a little dragon madness. She supports Hiccup but doesn’t forget who she is and what she has to offer the village. Blanchett as Valka is another strong warrior presence in the village even if she has an admirer that brings us all giggles.

Abraham as Grimmel is a man who just needs a hug or something. Killing off all the other Night Fury’s, he is hostile when discovering he missed one. He plots and plans to get Toothless and is patient to make that happen.

Ferguson as Gobber is still hilarious and full of wisdom in a twisted sort of way that I enjoy. Hill returns as Snotlout and has plenty to say even though I’m not sure he realizes how silly he is. Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs has totally embraced dragon motherhood. Justin Rupple as Tuffnut who tries to give Hiccup marriage advice but it’s hard to take seriously a guy who fakes his beard. Kristen Wiig as Ruffnut who is tough and mouthy yet – I like her.

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Kit Harington returns as Eret who fits into the Berk pack like he was always meant to be there. Robin Downes as Ack, Kieron Elliott as Hoark, Gideon Emery as Trapper and Julia Emelin as Griselda the Grevious.

How to Train Your Dragon is a twelve book series by author Cressida Cowell. The first book published in 2003 has been a huge success and the books can be found world wide. DreamWorks Animation has also brought the dragons to the smaller screen with an animated television series that kids just love. I mean having dragons more often is always a good thing!

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.

DreamWorks Animation brings amazing animated entertainment to films, television specials and series for the young and young at heart audiences around the world. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.dreamworksanimation.com.

The Bluray includes the Bonus Features of Alternate Opening with Intro by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois, DreamWorks Shorts: Bilby and Bird Karma, Deleted Scenes with Intros by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois, How to Voice Your Viking, Creating an Epic Dragon Tale, How I Learned from Dragons, The Dragon Sheep Chronicles, Growing Up with Dragons and so much more and I’m telling you the Bonus Features are a must-see!

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 MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

This final film in the series is beautiful and laced with everything we have come to expect from Hiccup, Toothless, Berk and the entire gang. What is even more stunning about the film is that as each of the films has gone along, so has the timeline for the characters. In this film that have each come into their own and made a memorable place in their community.

Much of the time we don’t see the progression of animated characters if there is more than one. In the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON trilogy, we have seen Hiccup grow from a young boy to a man and Toothless grow by his side (along with the rest of Berk). The series has dealt with life and death as well as everything in between when a community is as close as this one is.

Each film has made me laugh hilariously; get teary eyed a little and even now will openly admit to moments where an ‘awwwwwww’ or two escapes my lips. Now my granddaughter and I have the opportunity to watch our favorite Vikings again and again as your family can now do.

I am thrilled with the way DreamWorks closed the trilogy and as much as I know I’m going to miss visiting the characters of Berk, the storyline of the closure was epic and satisfying in a heartwarming way…now everyone can revisit Berk anytime.

In the end – their final quest and the friendship of a lifetime!

 

 

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TROLLS is Stunning, Funny and a Winner!

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Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from directors Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell and DreamWorks is a sing-song, dance along life of TROLLS.

Troll Village is a happy place unless you’re an unhappy Bergen! The only way a Bergen can be happy is if they have swallow a troll! The only Bergen who hasn’t experienced happiness is Prince Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). On his big day all havoc breaks loose when the royal Chef (Christine Baranski) fails to bring the Prince his prize.

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That’s because the Trolls have escaped to start a fearless and fun life far away from the Bergens and the Chefs banishment. Led by King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor), his daughter Poppy (Anna Kendrick) plans a celebration that is filled with fun, decorations, music, singing and dancing – how else would a troll celebrate?

The one troll who isn’t happy about it is Branch (Justin Timberlake) a downer troll who thinks Poppy’s celebration will do nothing but give away their location to the Bergin. But Creek (Russell Brand), DJ Suki (Gwen Stefani), Cooper (Ron Funches), Guy Diamond (Kunal Nayyar), Harper (Quvenzhane Wallis), Satin (Aino Jawo) and Chenille (Caroline Hjelt) are just a few friends who believe in Poppy.

On the outskirts of the Bergen kingdom, the Chef has been searching for the Trolls. The night of the party Branch’s prediction comes true as the party lights are a beacon for the Chef to follow and she kidnaps Poppy’s friends. Determined to get them back she and Branch (after some convincing) head toward the Bergen castle where now King Gristle lives.

There they meet Bridget (Zooey Deschanel), a Bergen who has a secret crush. Poppy decides to help the disheveled servant find love in exchange for freeing her friends. When none of them know is that all their plans may be thwarted by someone they never suspected.

But nothing stops a dancing, singing, positive Troll!

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Kendrick as Poppy is delightful, funny, and just so darn cute. Her voice lends to the charming troll with a quickness of wit. Of course I am a Kendrick fan so it doesn’t surprise me that she seriously makes me laugh – a lot – in this film.

Timberlake as Branch, I mean seriously, vocally grumpy, funny, sarcastic, and facial expressions that, even though they are animated, are hilarious. I love that this is something different for Timberlake and I’m sure having a child of his own now makes this more fun than he could have realized.

Mintz-Plasse as King Gristle is a spoiled yet entertaining troll believing a myth that he defines his life by. Deschanel as Bridget is very cute and there is something to be said for colorful troll hair as a man-attractor!

Brand as Creek seems to have made a comfortable life for himself with doing vocals in animation. Winning over hearts in the DESPICABLE ME series, he has now landed himself one again with TROLLS.

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Other animated voices are Jeffrey Tambor as King Peppy, John Cleese as King Gristle Sr., James Corden as Biggie, Walt Dohrn, Smidge, Rhys Darby as Bibbly, Meg DeAngelis as Moxie Dewdrop, GloZell Green as Grandma Rosiepuff, Kandee Johnson as Mandy Sparkledust, and Mike Mitchel as Darius.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give TROLLS five tubs of popcorn out of five. I went in hoping that this would be everything that is it. There is fun, music, color, a fantastic story, dancing and silliness in mass amounts.

That’s important to me because my granddaughter is a lover of animated films that keep her little toes tapping and I can not wait for her to see this. In fact I know she will love it so much that TROLLS will definitely become a mainstay in her DreamWorks library.

The characters each have their own defined personalities which is what makes TROLLS such a winner. There is something relatable for everyone along with all the elements we have come to love in animated films.

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TROLLS has love, family, friendship, acceptance, dancing, singing, and scrapbooking! The animation is so sharp and defined down to the wisps of troll hair, the fuzz on their felt outfits and the fluffs of their Cloud friend. DreamWorks has absolute set the bar high on these details adding so much visually. All of that gives kids what they love and adults a moment to be a kid again.

This weekend is the perfect time to gather up the kids and the kids at heart to experience everything TROLL!

In the end – find your happy place!

KUNG FU PANDA 3: Speaking with James Hong

Ping Mr Hong

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray on June 28th from DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is everyone’s favorite Dragon Warrior in KUNG FU PANDA 3.

In 2008 KUNG FU PANDA introduced us all to a loveable Panda named Po who lived in the Valley of Peace. Son of Mr. Ping the noodle maker, Po’s one dream was to meet his Kung Fu heroes in the Furious Five! Little did he know that his little dream would become a life changing big dream when he is chosen as the Dragon Warrior.

KUNG FU PANDA 2 followed in 2011 with Po and the Furious Five bring down the evil peacock Shen. He also learns more about how he came to be with Mr. Ping and the noodle shop learning that love comes in many guises.

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Now, in 2016, KUNG FU PANDA 3 is coming to Bluray to again delight us as Po discovers his panda family, where they live and teach them how to protect the village from the supernatural villain Kai!

In the third installment as Po finds his Panda-Dad, you can be sure that Mr. Ping isn’t about to let his son just go off into this new world without him! Voicing this protective and loving feathered father is actor James Hong who has over 60 years of experience in Hollywood. From comedy to drama, this versatile actor has done both the big screen and small.

On the smaller screen, Hong has been a part of some of the most iconic television shows such as The Man Called X, The Millionaire, General Electric Theater, Playhouse 90, Dragnet, Peter Gunn, Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Kung Fu just to name a few (and trust me there are dozens more!).

Hong also stood out on the big screen in films such as BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, THE GOLDEN CHILD (my personal favorite), WAYNE’S WORLD 2, and BLADE RUNNER, BALLS OF FURY again to name just a few. Animation isn’t new to this fine actor either playing Chi-Fu in the 1998 animated film MULAN.

So imagine how pretty jazzed I was to have the opportunity to speak with one of Hollywood’s coolest to talk about being the voice and heart of Mr. Ping and what the two share in common.

Thanks for speaking with me today James!

JH: Hi Jeri, how are you?

I’m doing good thanks! I have to tell you that I’m actually a huge fan of yours.

JH: Well, that’s always a good start.

When you originally read the part of Mr. Ping, what did you think?

JH: Let me see, going back now because it’s been so many years since we did the first, it was close to me because I was practically born in a restaurant. My father put me to work washing dishes and cutting celery in a Chinese restaurant and so I watched the cooks doing their things and learned to make noodles. We made hand made noodles in those days along with my brother. We started with it all on the table with the flour and making circles, putting the water and milk kneading it by hand. We didn’t have a machine in those days. So I grew up making noodles and of course in order to make the noodles taste good in a Chinese restaurant you have got to make good soup. In that sense I learned how to make soup from the bones of pork and chicken, I was born into it all. It wasn’t hard to do Mr. Ping after all that and of course I’m a father as well. I would say Mr. Ping is a cross between a Jewish Mama and a Chinese waiter.

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<We both break out laughing which happens quite a few times during the interview and, of course, I am more a fan than before>

I can see that because the relationship between Mr. Ping and Po is so endearing and I have to say it is because of you.

JH: Thank you very much, for that you get one free wonton.

Hey, I’ll take a free wonton anytime!

JH: The Chinese waiter part I mean all you have to do is go to San Francisco, there was once this three story restaurant where there was a waiter there that would say ‘whachuwant’. It’s famous! All the Chinese waiters I have met in my life all go into the character of Mr. Ping.

You pretty much based your character on that?

JH: Yes, the impressions of them. It’s like a popular song where the melody keeps popping into your mind. As an actor, all these images play in my head and I get to the studio to say my lines and they all come out.

Where you excited to come back each time to expand on your loveable character?

JH: Yes, they were all different with different directors and direction but Mr. Ping, he stays the same. Finally in number KUNG FU PANDA 3 he gets a bigger role following Po and watching over him. It is very endearing and Mr. Ping makes sure he is safe and eating correctly. All of that is close to my heart and I pour it all into the role of Mr. Ping. It is very easy for me to do that. DreamWorks is a great bunch to work for.

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In KUNG FU PANDA 3 you were saying Mr. Ping gets more play, even though Po finds his birth father your character never gives up or changes. No matter what anyone says Ping is going to protect Po.

JH: Of course, to me as Mr. Ping, Po is part of me therefore how can you cut that out or make it any different. It is a part of your soul, your being and you treat it as it’s a part of you by protecting it. That’s the way I treat Po, he is really part of me. Forget this father thing, it doesn’t matter if he’s his real father or adopted father, Po is part of Ping.

That’s what makes the film so special, you show how it is about heart and soul. As Ping you let us know that in your own unique way. You have had such an amazing career, how did you start?

JH: Believe it or not I came here one summer as part of a comedy team called Hong & Parker and that summer we thought we would break in show business. Finally I got on Groucho Marx’s television show You Bet Your Life (1950) and somebody said, “There is this Chinese kid who does impressions and he does one of you Groucho” and he said, “Put him on!” I got the second biggest fan mail ever on his program. That opened all doors and I decided to stay in Hollywood. Movies came rather easily for me with the first with Clark Gable, the second one with John Wayne and the third one with William Holden. The roles came pouring in ten at a time. It was both television and movies. In the early days it didn’t matter I did them all from comedy to quirky films like BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA to iconic films like BLADE RUNNER. I did them all. That’s the story.

Do you have a favorite genre or are you up for anything?

JH: I throw myself into all the roles so it doesn’t matter. I love them all, BLADE RUNNER was a huge role and people remember me in roles like that for some reason. That’s my award, I don’t get nominated for an Academy Award but I think my fans have nominated me in a sense.

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When you are reading the script for the next film do you have the character already planned out in your head?

JH: Yes, when I read the script I always ask myself ‘what precedes my scene and why is my scene here?’ and then I analyze what I will be doing. You have to or otherwise the story will be out of place. If you can see the character and call upon your talent to portray that then it will be good.

You make the role of Ping sound a lot easier than other roles you have played.

JH: He is part of me but I do that with every character. I think the most important thing is that you can’t let any of that go to your head. You can’t walk around thinking “I’m great”, no, you can’t do that as an actor. You are hired to be an actor and play a role and do your best. You don’t go off the deep end, you have to stay level and keep your head above water. Do that and you’ll have 60+ years and more in this business.

That’s a wonderful attitude to have towards your work. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone I’ve spoken to actually come out and say that.

JH: It’s true.

My family and I enjoy you so much and I’m really honored to talk to you. I think you’re an amazing actor and I love you as a noodle making Dad!

JH: Oh, thank you!

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A sense of humor and a sense of character-self is what I have come away with talking with James today. His talent is absolutely undeniable hitting icon status in film and now in the KUNG FU PANDA series. There is no one better suited to bring us joy, laughter, care, concern and love than James Hong as the nervous noodle making feathery father of the Dragon Warrior.

On June 28th from DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is a chance to re-experience James Hong’s talent as the ever loveable Mr. Ping along with son Po as KUNG FU PANDA 3 is available on Bluray, DVD and Digital HD.

 

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KUNG FU PANDA 3 Brings Bluray Fun for the Entire Family!

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and DVD June 28th from directors Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh, DreamWorks Animation Home Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment comes the colorful return of everyone’s favorite Panda with KUNG FU PANDA 3.

Po (Jack Black) is still the every lively Dragon Warrior at the Jade Palace. Along with Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross) they keep the Valley of Peace, well, peaceful!

Having his moment of wonder, Po begins to ask questions about who he is and how to find the peace everyone talks about. While visiting his Dad Mr. Ping (James Hong), Po comes face to face with his biological father Li (Bryan Cranston). Excited beyond belief, Po also learns that there is a whole village of family waiting to meet him.

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But Mr. Ping isn’t about to let his panda baby-boy go without him! When Po, Mr. Ping and Li arrive at the village, they welcome is more than the young Panda could ever have expected. He begins to learn the ways of the panda with fun, eating and rolling; the later might take some getting use to.

While Po is visiting his family roots, the Valley of Peace comes under attack. Shifu learns that Oogway’s (Randall Duk Kim) one-time friend Kai (J.K. Simmons) wants to squeeze everything from both the spiritual and real world. The only way Kai can do that is to collect the souls of all the kung fu masters and of the Dragon Warrior.

Tigress manages to escape finding Po in the panda village. Telling him everything there is only one way to stop Kai from destroying the family he has just come to understand and love. His plan is a simple one, train every person in the village in what they do best in order to save the village and return those that Kai has taken. Even Mr. Ping and Li have a moment of realization that coming together for the good of Po’s plan is what makes them both amazing fathers.

It is now time to become more of the Dragon Warrior than anyone, including Po would ever thought possible – but that’s the power of love, loyalty and family!

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Black as Po returns to lend his unique style to the character of Po. In fact, I think it can be said without argument that no one could or should attempt to play the voice role of Po – ever. I love the comedy, the timing and just the love that comes through of Black voicing this character. Po has so many sweet qualities in that he loves being part of the Furious Five, he loves having Shifu for support, he wants to protect those that need protecting and even when he’s afraid he doesn’t let it stop him from protecting all those he has loved and the new family.

Cranston as panda-Dad Li is the carbon copy of Po in every way with a little more fun that Po embraces with such admiration and thrill. The scene inside the Jade Palace is hilarious! Never have I seen a Panda stress less than Po’s Panda Dad, wonderfully done.

Simmons as Kai is absolutely hilarious, even when he’s trying to be a tough guy I can’t help but laugh. When Kai thinks he can just take Po and become absolute in power my first thought was, “yea, he’s never met a Dragon Warrior like Po”. Yes, that pretty much makes me a fan. Simmons has such timing in his line delivery for comedy and at the same time a little scary when he yells – I mean yikes!

Jolie as Tigress stands behind Po and has come to a good place with her friendship with the Dragon Warrior and I couldn’t be happier, is that weird? I love Rogen as Mantis with his snappy lines, Chan as Monkey is fun, Cross as Crane is as steadfast as ever and Liu as Viper is still the fastest snake ever!

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I have to give a shout out to Kim as Oogway. Never have I loved turtles more than the first time I heard Oogway give his pearls of wisdom to Po. I was equally thrilled to see him again in KUNG FU PANDA 3 if only because when he talks with Po, it is such a tender relationship filled with no judgment. We should all be so blessed to find an Oogway in our lives.

Hong as duck-Dad Mr. Ping has always been so protective of Po and no birth Dad is going to change that! Afraid he is going to lose that place in Po’s heart, every emotion is in his voice to the point where I wanted to reach through the screen and give him a hug. Mr. Ping is loveable, fiercely loyal, and every bit Po’s father as the day the chubby bundle showed up in his radish box!

Other cast include: Kate Hudson as Mei Mei, Steele Gagnon as Bao, Liam Knight as Lei Lei, and Wayne Knight as Hom-Lee.

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Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.

I am an absolute fan of the first two KUNG FU PANDA films and can honestly say I am thrilled about this film on Bluray. There is everything amazing starting with the animation which is color, vibrant, beautiful and magically done. There is such fluidity in the movement of the characters and not just with the fight scenes but even as the pandas roll down the hill. It is a feast for the eyes and a delight for the child at heart in us all.

The storyline gives us answers as to Po’s life before being found by Mr. Ping and the family that has long believed he would return. We get to experience seeing Po become that part of himself he didn’t understand which made him a better panda, son, friend and Dragon Warrior. Po is already quite endearing but KUNG FU PANDA 3 takes that endearment to a whole new level of awesomeness.

The Bluray, DVD and Digital HD include the Special Features Everybody Loves a Panda Party – Join Po and the entire cast of lovable pandas to sing-along and learn why everybody loves a panda party in this all-new presentation. Po’s Posters of Awesomeness – Po leads a deeper exploration of the awesome art in Mr. Ping’s hut as the posters come to life and illustrate his hilarious stories. Panda Paws – Watch the enormously talented panda ribbon dancer Mei Mei starring with Bao in an exclusive animated tale.

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Also included is Make a Panda Party Paper Pal – Learn the mystical art of paper folding and create a village of panda pals as Po hosts this fun and entertaining tutorial. Play Like a Panda – Adorable overload! Learn all about real baby pandas, their amazing lives, and their remarkable playful ways. The Origin of “Skadoosh” – For the first time ever, Po reveals the extra-super-secret origin of his world-famous catchphrase.

Finally, Faux Paws Deleted Scenes – Discover fascinating story insights with this revealing collection of deleted footage you couldn’t see in theatres. This is a Bluray has so much to offer the family!

This truly is a family film in every way filled with fun, laughter, adventure and it is all wrapped up in a big rice ball of love. Every person will be delighted and moved – isn’t that what a family film should be all about? Getting together to see a film that not only has something for everyone but is fun to experience together.

In the end – grab destiny by the rice dumpling!

 

SHREK Celebrates the 15th Anniversary!

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Jeri Jacquin

Can you believe it? Fifteen years ago we were introduced to the biggest, grumpiest and most loyal green ogre in the world! DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment let us relive the magic with the release of SHREK on Bluray and the SHREK 4-Movie Collection on Bluray and Digital HD.

Shrek (Mike Meyers) is an ogre living deep in the woods. Happy with his bog showers and grub worm candle light dinners, life can’t get any better! That is until an edict by Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) brings fairytale creatures running for cover from the guards. Cover means encroaching on Shreks ogre like tranquility.

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Then there is Donkey (Eddie Murphy), a singing, wise-racking, softie who sees the benefits of having an ogre for a friend and decides the swamp looks like a great place to call home.

Frustrated by the intrusion of the fairytale creatures, especially Donkey, Shrek decides it’s time to visit Lord Farquaad and get things straight. The pint-sized Lord is in the market for a bride and has his heart set on Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz). There is a slight problem; Princess Fiona is trapped in a castle guarded by a very large and dangerous dragon.

A deal is struck – if Shrek can deliver Princess Fiona to Lord Farquaad then the swamp will be put back to right. Happy to oblige Shrek heads out to rescue the Princess with Donkey in tow. What this ogre doesn’t expect is to kind of like the Princess. She is smart, funny, caring and has a few moves that impress him, but she also has a secret.

Getting close to his swamp goal, Shrek isn’t so sure that is what he truly wants but isn’t sure how to change it.

Meyers as Shrek is absolutely delightful. He began in 2001 and continued to delight in other SHREK films. We all know the voice and have embraced the big green guy and that’s all due to Meyers’ ability to make us love a fairy tale character that many of us grew up believing couldn’t be loveable. Thanks Mike for that!

Murphy as Donkey is hilarious from beginning to end. Yes, he is sweet, cuddly, charming, not-so-bright at times but is a dedicated and loyal friend who also has a lovely singing voice. Donkey just looks to be loved and accepted by Shrek and although it is testy at times, Shrek can’t help but love him too.

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Diaz as Fiona doesn’t take any guff just because she’s a Princess – and a girl! Of course she initially had dreams of finding her Prince who would give her true loves kiss and sweep her off her feet but let’s be honest – she wouldn’t have been happy with that. Her true colors come out and its fun!

Lithgow as Farquaad is short tempered and just plain mean. Yes there is something about this character, oh yes, it’s Lithgow’s delivery of a line! It is shamefully fun (okay maybe not that shameful) and the first time he got off his horse I think I might have shot soda out my nose laughing.

Other characters include: Chris Miller as Gepetto and Magic Mirror, Cody Cameron as Pinocchio and the Three Pigs, Michael Galasso as Peter Pan, Christopher Knights as Thelonious.

TUBS OF POPCORN: Of course I give SHREK five tubs of popcorn out of five. This is a film I have watched over and over again and now am sharing it with my granddaughter who thinks Donkey is hilarious (yes, we’re obviously related!). DreamWorks started a franchise with amazing animation that is flawless.

SHREK appeared in 2001 followed by the continuing story in SHREK 2 in 2004. SHREK THE THIRD hit theatres in 2007 and SHREK FOREVER AFTER in 2010. People couldn’t get enough of the gang so there was SHREK THE HALLS in 2007 for television and SHREK THE MUSICAL in 2013. Believe it or not there are also videos games!

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In SHREK 2 the couple comes to the King (John Cleese) and Queens (Julie Andrews) for dinner with a few surprises. Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) is hatching a plot to win Fiona. His mother the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) knows bad is the only way to be about the whole thing.

When the King falls ill in SHREK THE THIRD, the couple has to give up the swamp to take over the kingdom. He isn’t happy and tries to find a way to make a young man named Artie (Justin Timberlake) the chosen one.

Now, with a family to think about in SHREK FOREVER AFTER, the ogre wonders if things could have been different. Enter Rumplestilskin who takes advantage of Shrek creating an alternate universe that isn’t exactly how the big green one thought it could all turn out. Careful what you wish for Shrek!

The SHREK Bluray includes Shrek, Rattle & Roll Music, Filmmakers Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Shrek’s Interactive Journey, The Animators’ Corner, Karaoke Dance Party, Secrets of Shrek, Spotlight on Donkey and more.

Now, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has brought all four original films into a 4-film Bluray combo pack. That means you can see Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and Puss n’ Boots (Antonio Banderas) along with the entire Far, Far Away family any time the family wants to pull a pizza marathon.

In the end – it’s the greatest fairy tale never told till now!

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KUNG FU PANDA 3 Brings Fun for the Entire Family!

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from directors Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh and DreamWorks Animation comes the colorful return of everyone’s Panda with KUNG FU PANDA 3.

Po (Jack Black) is still the every lively Dragon Warrior at the Jade Palace. Along with Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross) they keep the Valley of Peace, well, peaceful!

Having his moment of wonder, Po begins to ask questions about who he is and how to find the peace everyone talks about. While visiting his Dad Mr. Ping (James Hong), Po comes face to face with his biological father Li (Bryan Cranston). Excited beyond belief, Po also learns that there is a whole village of family waiting to meet him.

But Mr. Ping isn’t about to let his panda baby-boy go without him! When Po, Mr. Ping and Li arrive at the village, they welcome is more than the young Panda could ever have expected. He begins to learn the ways of the panda with fun, eating and rolling; the later might take some getting use to.

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While Po is visiting his family roots, the Valley of Peace comes under attack. Shifu learns that Oogway’s (Randall Duk Kim) one-time friend Kai (J.K. Simmons) wants to squeeze everything from both the spiritual and real world. The only way Kai can do that is to collect the souls of all the kung fu masters and of the Dragon Warrior.

Tigress manages to escape finding Po in the panda village. Telling him everything there is only one way to stop Kai from destroying the family he has just come to understand and love. His plan is a simple one, train every person in the village in what they do best in order to save the village and return those that Kai has taken. Even Mr. Ping and Li have a moment of realization that coming together for the good of Po’s plan is what makes them both amazing fathers.

It is now time to become more of the Dragon Warrior than anyone, including Po would ever thought possible – but that’s the power of love, loyalty and family!

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Black as Po returns to lend his unique style to the character of Po. In fact, I think it can be said without argument that no one could or should attempt to play the voice role of Po – ever. I love the comedy, the timing and just the love that comes through of Black voicing this character. Po has so many sweet qualities in that he loves being part of the Furious Five, he loves having Shifu for support, he wants to protect those that need protecting and even when he’s afraid he doesn’t let it stop him from protecting all those he has loved and the new family.

Cranston as panda-Dad Li is the carbon copy of Po in every way with a little more fun that Po embraces with such admiration and thrill. The scene inside the Jade Palace is hilarious! Hong as duck-Dad Mr. Ping has always been so protective of Po and no birth Dad is going to change that! Afraid he is going to lose that place in Po’s heart, every emotion is in his voice to the point where I wanted to reach through the screen and give him a hug.

Simmons as Kai is absolutely hilarious, even when he’s trying to be a tough guy I can’t help but laugh. When Kai thinks he can just take Po and become absolute in power my first thought was, “yea, he’s never met a Dragon Warrior like Po”. Yes, that pretty much makes me a fan. Simmons has such timing in his line delivery for comedy and at the same time a little scary when he yells – I mean yikes!

Jolie as Tigress stands behind Po and has come to a good place with her friendship with the Dragon Warrior and I couldn’t be happier, is that weird? I love Rogen as Mantis with his snappy lines, Chan as Monkey is fun, Cross as Crane is as steadfast as ever and Liu as Viper is still the fastest snake ever!

I have to give a shout out to Kim as Oogway. Never have I loved turtles more than the first time I heard Oogway give his pearls of wisdom to Po. I was equally thrilled to see him again in KUNG FU PANDA 3 if only because when he talks with Po, it is such a tender relationship filled with no judgment. We should all be so blessed to find an Oogway in our lives.

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Other cast include: Kate Hudson as Mei Mei, Steele Gagnon as Bao, Liam Knight as Lei Lei, and Wayne Knight as Hom-Lee.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give KUNG FU PANDA 3 four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. I am an absolute fan of the first two KUNG FU PANDA films and can honestly say I am thrilled for this film. There is everything amazing starting with the animation which is color, vibrant, beautiful and magically done. There is such fluidity in the movement of the characters and not just with the fight scenes but even as the pandas roll down the hill. It is a feast for the eyes and a delight for the child at heart in us all.

The storyline gives us answers as to Po’s life before being found by Mr. Ping and the family that has long believed he would return. We get to experience seeing Po become that part of himself he didn’t understand which made him a better panda, son, friend and Dragon Warrior. Po is already quite endearing but KUNG FU PANDA 3 takes that endearment to a whole new level of awesomeness.

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This truly is a family film in ever way filled with fun, laughter, adventure and it is all wrapped up in a big rice ball of love. Every person in the audience was delighted and moved and isn’t that what a family film should be all about? Getting together to see a film that not only has something for everyone but allows every person experience it together.

In the end – grab destiny by the rice dumpling!

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