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Taran Wanderer (Chicago, IL)

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The Jungle Book [DVD]
The Jungle Book [DVD]
Dvd ~ Timothy Forder

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Jetlag's darker outputs; musically appealing but overall mediocre..., 24 Feb. 2008
This review is from: The Jungle Book [DVD] (DVD)
It simply cannot be said that Jetlag Productions is any sort of quality animation company and that it'll go down in history as one; yet, they have managed to produce a fair number of worthwhile titles. Unfortunately, it is also true that the company did not reach or even come near its peak with "Jungle Book"; when I think of the "worst of Jetlag", I immediately think of this one, even if a number of others just as mediocre, or worse, have been made. Of all the different titles from the company, not one has received half the negative attention and criticism that this particular one has. Most of that criticism came from consumers cheap enough to think they'd be getting the then-out-of-print 1967 Walt Disney animated classic for $6, so naturally, their thoughts were of little importance to me. Others pointed out the film's real flaws, such as the typical Jetlag style of mediocre, if not just bad, animation, poor acting, among other things. Once or twice someone has mentioned how this version of the story is more faithful to Rudyard Kipling's stories than the Disney version. Still, I am determined to give my own thoughts on the film.

Based on Rudyard Kipling's timeless tales about the young boy raised by wolves, "Jungle Book" tells the story of Mowgli. When he is very young, Mowgli loses his mother and father to the cruel tiger Shere Khan, he escapes unharmed and wanders off into the home of a couple of wolves who'd just celebrated their pack of newborns. Lead by a motherly instinct, the female wolf takes Mowgli in and raises him as one of their own. Sadly, Shere Khan finds Mowgli and demands that he is given to him so he can eat him whole just like he did with his parents. When Mowgli's new parents refuse, Shere Khan swears revenge on the young boy and is from there on determined to destroy him. As he grows into a young man, Mowgli finds some new friends, including Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear. Unfortunately at the same time, the other wolves feel threatened by Shere Khan's promise of vengeance and thus turn a cold shoulder upon Mowgli. Feeling betrayed, the boy leaves the jungle and enters a man village near by where he is kindly received. Mowgli has trouble adjusting to the ways of men in the village and feeling out of place, decides to return to the jungle with his old friends, and is determined to confront Shere Khan alone or with their help.

I have never read the stories on which this animated adventure is based, but I can definitely say that the story is more focused and serious than the Disney version, which to me was merely an excuse for a musical comedy. It is true the quality of the animation and art in general is mostly low, but that did not bother me, especially since I found the story to be rather captivating. The acting is terribly clichéd and unrealistic, but I've come to expect that from Jetlag Productions. The strongest part of this film is, without a doubt, the selection of three songs; the first one, "The Wild Life in the Jungle" is a catchy upbeat tune that opens and ends the film; followed by "The Life I Lead", where Baloo the bear sings about his carefree life in the jungle. Finally, "Where Do I Belong?" musically states Mowgli's confusion as he feels that he simply does not belong in the man village. The score is sometimes recycled from Jetlag's earlier "Leo the Lion: King of the Jungle" (1994), but nice just the same. To wrap it all up, this is one of Jetlag Productions' darker outputs, so some parents may not find it appropriate for young children. There's a lot of talk of violence as well as a lot of violent themes. They wouldn't have bothered me at all when I was small, but we know how parents are nowadays. Overall, with some major flaws, the film is enjoyable, not Jetlag Productions' finest effort by any means, but definitely not worthy of the numerous amount of harsh criticism it has received. Recommended for fans of Mowgli's stories.

Oliver & Company [DVD] [1989]
Oliver & Company [DVD] [1989]
Dvd ~ Joey Lawrence
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £6.19

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In one hundred years, it may become a cherished Disney classic..., 31 Dec. 2007
Oliver & Company was the last film of Disney's so-called "dark age" during the '80s, an era that started back in 1979, when the great financial failure of "The Black Hole" led the company into great monetary problems which somewhat affected the quality of the projects that followed. This 1988 film produced by Walt Disney Pictures wore the tag-line of "The first Disney movie with attitude", something that may have made it popular back in the late '80s but that somehow fell as the years passed. Frankly, the"attitude" may just be the reason the film doesn't pass being mediocre and why it'll probably take a very long time for it to become any sort of a real classic. The film lacks in many aspects, especially artistically.

Very loosely adapted from Charles Dickens' timeless novel, "Oliver Twist", "Oliver & Company" follows the adventures of a small kitten named Oliver in his search for a home and a family to which he can belong. Oliver first meets Dodger, a street-wise, "cool" dog (voiced by Billy Joel) who introduces him to Fagin's band of canine thieves. Fagin is a homeless man who is in debt with the evil ganster, Sykes. His group of dogs, the attractive Rita, the elderly Einstein, the art-loving Francis and the wanna-be-cool (or insufferable) chihuahua, Tito, try to help him out by stealing throughout the dangerous streets of New York City. In one of their adventures, Oliver is accidentally taken away by a rich girl named Jenny (who bares a more than obvious resemblance to Penny from the previous 1977 hit film, "The Rescuers"), and the little kitten can't help but to finally feel at home in his new 5th Avenue mansion; even if he must deal with the six-time national champion dog, Georgette. When Oliver is "rescued" and brought back once again to his previous home with Fagin and his gang, all of them become part of Sykes's wicked scheme to recover his lost money; at the same time, all of their lives might be in great danger.

Definitely one of Walt Disney Pictures's weakest efforts since Walt Disney's Nine Old Men left the company in the late '70s. Though the animation is mostly good, Disney did try for a realistic New York City, adding touches such as dirt, trash, advertising, vandalized walls... all together creating a very unappealing setting indeed. Perhaps, and I'm not sure if many would agree, a more idealistic view of New York City, even if less accurate, would have worked better and given the film a better outlook. The scenes taking place in 5th Avenue or Central Park are definitely among the best in terms of visual appeal. The next, and perhaps even worst, flaw is the insufferable voice acting. Though often praised as grand, I personally think that the choices were very poor. Yes, Billy Joel, Bette Midler and others are wonderful singers and actors, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee good voice acting. The wanna-sound-cool Cheech Marin takes the cake as the most insufferable, unbearable, annoying, repulsive Disney voice actor ever and his role here as Tito is definitely the very worst (He went by rather unnoticed in "The Lion King" as Banzai, one of the hyenas); I couldn't help but cringe whenever Tito opened his mouth. The songs are mostly good but a bit on the overrated side; only "Once Upon a Time in New York City" and "Good Company" come off to me as great, the rest are only so-so. So in the end and overall, the film is enjoyable to watch from time to time, even with its lack in the artistic and sound department, it does have a number of endearing characters, good animation and an interesting and rather unusual plot. Very different from what the term "Disney classic" has meant in the company's good years, but still tolerable. Recommended.
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Magic Gift Of The Snowman [DVD]
Magic Gift Of The Snowman [DVD]
Dvd ~ Toshiyuki Hiruma
Offered by Preowned Discs Direct
Price: £3.81

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleep and dream, dream and sleep, float away on a magical moonbeam..., 29 Dec. 2007
Magic Gift of the Snowman, produced by Jetlag Productions in 1995 and released on DVD by Goodtimes Entertainment, is an original story from Jetlag Productions. Though their stories are similar, this animated production is not to be confused with the 1982 classic animated short, "The Snowman" based on Raymond Briggs' charming Christmas book. Original stories from Jetlag Productions are only a handful, since most of these are based on classic children's, and sometimes more adult-oriented, stories. A few other original tales from the studio include "Leo the Lion: King of the Jungle" (1994) and "Curly, the Littlest Puppy" (1995). Though not one of the studio's best efforts ever, "Magic Gift of the Snowman" is a sweet, even touching Christmas tale, nicely, though not elaborately, animated for children and a good one to watch during the holidays.

This is the story of two children, a little boy named Landon and his little sister Emery Elizabeth, who's been ill and very delicate for quite some time. The doctor warns the children's parents that Emery Elizabeth is growing weaker and weaker each passing day and that she'll be lucky if she makes it until Christmas. Down-hearted with the horrible news, Landon tries to confort himself by going outside and building a snowman, who eventually becomes their guidance into a great adventure. In an attempt to get his sister to eat well and rest when she needs to, Landon promises Emery Elizabeth that he will tell her a magnificent story about an enchanted winter wonderland if she does what the doctor wants her to do in order to get well. Emery Elizabeth, excited about a grand story about Princess Electra and her kingdom, agrees to eat her oatmeal and to take her needed naps. Landon introduces his sister to their new friend Snowden, the snowman he had just built, and tells her of a wonderful kingdom ruled by the Princess Electra where there are no grown-ups, only children who can play all day long in a place where there's always fresh snow on the ground. In their imagination, Landon and his sister join Snowden into that kingdom where Emery Elizabeth slowly finds joy and a new reason for living. One night during their visit, they are told by Snowden that the wicked Charlatan, the ruler of Yuck, has stolen Princess Electra's smile, therefore casting great sadness and despair over the children in the enchanted land. Now, with newly found inner strengths, Emery Elizabeth, Landon and Snowden travel to the horrid kingdom of Yuck, where Christmas candy and sweets are transformed into revoting "yuck", and must defeat the wicked Charlatan in order to restore happiness to Princess Electra's kingdom once more.

Though not a masterpiece of animation in any way, "Magic Gift of the Snowman" is an endearing story of imagination and courage. With good morals about the need of dreams, happiness and imagination in order to hold on to our inner strengths. Though Jetlag Productions hasn't managed to turn Princess Electra's kingdom into one that would really stir anyone's imagination, the idea is present and to some, that should be good enough. A major flaw with this production is the clichéd voice acting. Once again, characters speak with the same old, same old voices. Emery Elizabeth's voice actress is the exact same one who voiced the protagonist in "Heidi" (1995), while Snowden's voice is a bit more fresh here, having been used, I believe, before in Golden Films' 1993 production, "Pinocchio", where it was used for the Cat. Snowden's voice and "cool" talk may get on some kids' and parents' nerves from time to time, but I wasn't too annoyed with it, it was all part of a really cute story, not the most original perhaps, but cute just the same. The character design is typical Jetlag Productions, too, not the most appealing; Landon for example, looks almost exactly like Peter Cratchit in the previous "A Christmas Carol" (1994). Naturally, Jetlag Productions' trademark of three songs per film is not violated here: first of, the film begins with the soothing melody, "You Have the Power", a reminder of the power that comes from within; next up, "The Enchanted Land of Kids" briefly describes Princess Electra's magical world through song and a familiar singing voice heard many times throughout these films; finally, "Sleep and Dream" is the cute melody sung by the Lullaby Birds as Emery Elizabeth and Landon prepare themselves to sleep, eventually becoming an important theme from there on. So in the end, anyone looking for a good, fresh children's animated Christmas story, this is definitely one to be seen at least once during the holidays. Children are sure to enjoy a trip to Princess Electra's kingdom where life is nothing but play. For adults seeking more elaborate animation, I'd recommend "The Snowman" (1982) instead, though this one remains highly recommended for family viewing.

Alice In Wonderland [DVD]
Alice In Wonderland [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alice in Wonderland
Offered by Rikdev Media
Price: £3.75

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as enchanting as other trips I've taken to Lewis Carroll's Wonderland..., 1 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Alice In Wonderland [DVD] (DVD)
Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" is one of my favorite books of all time and thus, it is hard for a movie adaptation to live up to my expectations; it has been done, though, and I'll explain later. This particular animated version of "Alice in Wonderland" was produced by Jetlag Productions in 1995 and released to DVD in 2002 by Goodtimes Entertainment. I've never been too pleased with the animated versions I've seen of "Alice in Wonderland", not even Walt Disney's 1953 classic, and unfortunately, Jetlag Productions' takes the cake as the worst I've seen so far and one of the studio's weakest titles. Most animated films from Jetlag Productions have a balance between strengths and weaknesses, but sadly, "Alice in Wonderland" fits the category in which weaknesses outnumber its strengths. The film is simplified to appeal to children's tastes, but I think they went overboard, as I doubt children will find the film entertaining enough. The weak storyline moves along ungracefully and slowly, generating a lot of yawns from scene to scene, and the characters are not on screen long enough to be too memorable. Even with its many weaknesses, the film has one or two good points, too.

Based on Lewis Carroll's timeless literary masterpiece, "Alice in Wonderland" follows the adventures of Alice. Her story begins when she is sitting alongside the riverbank with her cat Dinah listening to an uninteresting history lecture from her older sister. Just when she could not be any more tired of listening to passages from a book without pictures, a strange white rabbit with clothes and a pocket watch appears and seems to be in a great hurry. Burning with curiosity, Alice follows the strange creature down its rabbit hole which turns out to be a deep tunnel leading, it seems, to the center of the earth. When she reaches the bottom of the tunnel, Alice finds herself in a brand new world; Wonderland. In this enchanting place, Alice discovers a tiny door leading to the most beautiful garden she had ever seen and thus begins a journey to find this beautiful place. In her journey, Alice stumbles upon many strange creatures, all of which seem to be just plain mad. Alice attends a mad tea party with the March Hare and the Mad Hatter, and plays a silly game of croquet against the fearful Red Queen. When the poor Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the queen's tarts and taking them quite away, Alice attends his trial and confidently, stands up against the unfair tyrant and her pack of playing card-warriors. Discovering at the same time that the whole enchanting world of Wonderland was just the works of her wild imagination.

Once again, though the story is pretty much the same as with most other adaptations of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", this version really does lack much of the charm that made others so grand. The film suffers from an artistic crisis; Jetlag Productions films have never been high on quality of background art and animation, but this is them at their worst. Most of the drawn sceneries suffer from poor choice of color, though much of it might be due to an unbalance in the DVD's colors, but still, the coloring is anything but appealing. Then there's the character design; once again, very poor. The protagonist is very badly designed, especially her face. She suffers from that typical eye design seen also in "Jungle Book" (1995). The rest of the characters have too simplistic or awkward a design to be visually likeable. The animation is not much worse than I've come to expect from this studio, but it still seems to be one of the weaker efforts. Voice acting is also a problem here; the characters speak in a way in which it sounds like a kindergarten play, with little emotion and very unrealistically. The same thirty-one voice actors from other Jetlag Productions films are listed in the credits, so of course, that means we're once again listening to the boring same voices from other films from the studio. In fact, seeing Jetlag Productions' films dubbed in other languages usually improves their appeal altogether. One thing I missed in this particular version of "Alice in Wonderland" is the moral; all other versions of the story I have seen resulted in some sort of lesson learned by Alice after her long journey. For example, in Walt Disney's 1953 version, Alice learns that too much curiosity can be a very bad thing and that it often leads to more trouble than one can handle. In the 1988 Burbank Films Australia version, Alice had been bored of reading her book, "The Principals of Logical Calculus" and arrived in Wonderland to search for the beautiful garden, only to wake up and discover the beautiful garden that was her very own, as well as appreciation for anything that was "logical". Finally, in the wonderful 1999 Hallmark version, Alice learns to have confidence in herself, and to enjoy, not fear, the fun of performing . There was nothing of the sort here, other than a few hints that curiosity was not a good leader. On the bright side, there are a few cute sequences, such as the Mad Hatter's drawing scene. The songs are rather nice, especially the first song, "Anything Goes in Wonderland", which opens, and closes, the film nicely with a soft melody and a catchy tune. The second song, "The Caucus Race" plays during one of the most repetitive and completely dumb sequences in the film. Finally, "M is for Me" is played during the Mad Hatter's drawing sequence of things "that start with the letter M"; catchy, but not too great. All things considered, Jetlag Productions' "Alice in Wonderland" may or may not be a hit with the children, but for Lewis Carroll's fans and older viewers, I recommend the other three versions I mentioned, especially the 1999 Hallmark version, which is my favorite film of all time.

Snow White [DVD]
Snow White [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tony Ail
Offered by movielovers786
Price: £3.49

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The enchanting classic fairy tale, but definitely not the best adaptation..., 29 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Snow White [DVD] (DVD)
Snow White, produced by Jetlag Productions in the year 1996 and released on DVD format by Goodtimes Entertainment in 2002 is based on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, "Snow White". Alright, so Jetlag Productions has produced some pretty mediocre animated films and I have to say that "Snow White" really is one of them. Unlike "Pocahontas" (1994), "Snow White" does have very strong competition from Disney, the 1937 "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is an animated masterpiece if there ever was one. Even alone, Jetlag Productions' "Snow White" will come off as poorly crafted and somewhat bland. Its weaknesses overshadow its strengths, for it does have one or two, and it really doesn't fall as downright awful in any particular category, either. Compared to other adaptations by the studio of Grimm's and Charles Perrault's fairy tales, such as "Cinderella" (1994), "Snow White" falls flat. Some may be a bit too harsh and argue that the film is not worth its price, which I doubt would ever pass the six dollar mark, but I think that's an exaggeration. "Snow White" shows enough strength to show that some care and attention was put into the film and that it wasn't simply made as a quick Disney rip-off as it has often been accused of.

The story begins when the king and queen of a beautiful, happy kingdom have a child. The new princess' skin was white as snow and therefore, her parents named her Snow White. Sadly, shortly after her birth, the queen fell ill and died. The king soon remarried, choosing for a new wife a woman that was beautiful, but sadly, her beauty went no deeper than her skin. The new queen was vain and selfish and cared only about making herself even more beautiful. When her husband died fighting off in a war, she wasn't the least bit sad for she could now tax the people heavily in order to buy new beauty potions for herself. Her favorite past-time was looking at herself through her many mirrors, especially a magical one which always told the absolute truth. When the queen asked the question of who was the most beautiful maiden in the land, the mirror always replied that it was she. As Snow White grew up, she became more and more beautiful and one day, the answer given to the queen by her mirror changed, telling her that now Snow White was the fairest in the land. The queen could not tolerate any woman in her kingdom being more beautiful than she was and so ordered her royal huntsman to murder the princess. The huntsman saw no option but to obey the queen's cruel request and walked with Snow White to the forest. However, instead of killing the princess, something the huntsman couldn't bring himself to do, he gave her an opportunity to escape and asked her to never return. Shocked, Snow White left running deep into the woods where she eventually found a small, wooden cabin that she made her home. In the cabin lived seven little dwarfs who accepted to give Snow White shelter when they learned of the queen's evil wishes. Unfortunately, the queen soon learns that Snow White still lives and decides to take the matter into her own hands. Snow White is a very trusting creature and the dwarfs must repeatedly warn her to keep a look out for the queen trying to harm her. Snow White will have to overcome her stepmother's jealousy and hatred if she wishes to be alive to share the rest of her life with a handsome prince in the safety of his palace.

I've seen several adaptations of Snow White and by far, Walt Disney's has always been the best one. The producers at Jetlag Productions must have been rather discouraged because of that when they created their version of Snow White, because unfortunately, this 1996 production is rather disappointing. The film does have one strong point as opposed to Disney's film, however, and that is that it follows the original Brothers Grimm tale more faithfully. There simply wasn't enough room to adapt each of the queen's evil attempts to murder Snow White in the 1937 version, but they're all included here, even the less romantic "rescue" by the prince. Speaking of the prince, these princes have always been rather clichéd, but this guy is just beyond ridiculous; "Oh miss, I'm sorry for bumping into you. This must be love". If something like that could be considered a strong point, then "Snow White" does have plenty of unintentional humor. Watching Snow White's dress getting caught on thorns as she runs through the woods and seeing her ripping herself free is pretty amusing. The voice acting, as with most of these, was pretty unrealistic, and hearing the same voices from previous films is a bit boring. Neither Snow White nor the vain queen are drawn in a way in which they're really beautiful; as a matter of fact, the art in "Snow White" is rather mediocre; the colors used, at least in the DVD version, are far too "warm", making the film somewhat "stuffy". On to the good points; "Snow White" features a selection of three songs; The first song, "The Power of Love" is short, but it has a lovely message and a soft melody. The second song, "Hip, Hip Hooray!" sounds like Walt Disney's "Heigh Ho" as the dwarfs sing while they work. The third and final song, "A Little Big of Magic" is great; the song sends a great message about love and one's dreams. All things considered, the film was made primarily for children, and even with lackluster animation, the film manages to remain entertaining for the younger audiences. I recommend adults to avoid it, for this is one title that was definitely not thought out to please older viewers.

A Christmas Carol [VHS]
A Christmas Carol [VHS]
Offered by Discountdiscs-UK : Dispatched daily from the UK.
Price: £4.05

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The classic holiday tale of how Ebenezer Scrooge became a new man!, 27 Nov. 2007
This review is from: A Christmas Carol [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A Christmas Carol, produced by Jetlag Productions in the year 1994 and released on DVD format by Goodtimes Entertainment in 2003, is based on Charles Dickens' timeless Christmas story, "A Christmas Carol". This animated re-telling of Dickens' classic masterpiece is probably the fifth or sixth of the different versions I've seen. I picked it up for under four dollars at a local convenience store and I must say it was well worth the price; just compare it to the many other poor, cheap animations you can find at such retailers. Jetlag Productions' "A Christmas Carol" cannot brag about its good animation, but it can certainly say that thought and the needed attention was put into it, far too many other animation "productions" can hardly even make that claim. "A Christmas Carol", along with Jetlag Productions' "The Nutcracker" (1994) and "Magic Gift of the Snowman" (1995) are often found on bargain DVD shelves at Christmas time, and all three features can be bought together on a special, online semi-exclusive Goodtimes Entertainment pack. "A Christmas Carol" is directed mainly at a younger audience, rather than saying exclusively, and adults should take that into consideration upon viewing, perhaps with that in mind you'll enjoy the film more.

"A Christmas Carol" tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a cruel and selfish business man who's idea of Christmas is a very poor one indeed. He believes Christmas is nothing more than an excuse for workers to take the day off, for people to be merry despite finding themselves in tough economical situations, and to spend on things that are of no use and a waste of what he values above anything else: money. Ebenezer works at a counting house and his reputation as a cold-hearted man has spread throughout London; children fear him and keep at a distance, but the one who fears him most is Bob Cratchit, his over-worked, under-paid employee. Seven years had gone by on that very Christmas Eve since Ebenezer's old partner, Jacob Marley, had passed on. Like Scrooge, Jacob Marley had wasted his days counting money and caring only for work while watching the world go by. This Christmas night, the ghost of Jacob Marley makes an appearance at Ebenezer's lonely home as he sits in his living room. Jacob explains to his former friend and business partner why he has come, how he now realizes how foolish he had been in life, and how he will forever regret and pay for his actions now after death. Jacob wishes to spare Ebenezer the same fate and tells him that on that night, he is to receive visits from three spirits. Indeed, Ebenezer is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and is haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come. Each of the spirits takes Scrooge on a journey through time and through his life, awakening awareness about the time and the opportunities lost, the ones he is losing on that very Christmas season, and the dark outcome of it all unless changes are made. Though a bit stubborn at first, Scrooge slowly becomes a new person through this remarkable experience; earning regret for a wasted past and opening his heart to those who he had considered the worthless, "surplus population".

As I've said before, I've seen several animated and live-action adaptations of Charles Dickens' story and I must confess that this was probably the one I enjoyed the least. It is certainly not bad, but as with all other Jetlag Productions films, the running time is limited to 45-50 minutes, not allowing time for deep characterization of any sort and making many of the characters have rather bland appearances. Tiny Tim, for example, is hardly a character one can really care for here, as his on-screen appearance is just so limited. The animation is good for Jetlag Productions' standard and the same goes for the chracter design, especially when compared against the disappointing character design in "Jungle Book" (1995). Songs and music are nice, however, Jetlag songs have been much, much better. The singer, who later sung the great "A Little Bit of Magic" in "Snow White" (1996) or "Follow Your Heart" in "Sleeping Beauty" (1995) seems to still be training here, and her voice gets a bit annoying. The first song, "Sleep No More" is somewhat awkward and not much like the typical song from this studio; the song plays just as Scrooge says farewell to Jacob Marley and is haunted by scary visions of lost spirits wandering the streets of London. The second song, "A Very, Wholesome Merry Christmas" is far more lively and uplifting, much more like the stuff I'm accustomed to. The song expresses the joys of Christmas as Scrooge finds himself a changed man, ready and able to enjoy and be part of them. The last song, "Keep Christmas in Your Heart" is played during the ending credits and serves as a final reminder that Christmas is the season of giving and of being kind to others, probably the best of the three songs in my opinion. As a few closing thoughts, the character of Ebenezer Scrooge is not drawn as I've come to picture him from other adaptations. This time around, instead of a crabby old man, he looks more like a crabby, well, younger man, with brown hair as opposed to white hair. Anyways, this version of "A Christmas Carol" is cute, and if you're like me who doesn't mind seeing and owning five different versions of a good story, then why should you not see this if you enjoyed Charles Dickens' story? Better versions in my opinion are definitely Burbank Films Australia's 1982 made-for-TV animated version; the 1984 made-for-TV live action version starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge and of course, who could forget Disney's 1983 animated short, "Mickey's Christmas Carol"? All in all, an enjoyable addition to any children's Christmas film collection. Recommended.

Aladdin [DVD]
Aladdin [DVD]
Dvd ~ Masakazu Higuchi
Offered by hitei
Price: £9.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A funny, humorous tale of a humble boy and his quest to change his life!, 18 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Aladdin [DVD] (DVD)
"Aladdin", produced in 1993 by Golden Films and distributed on DVD by Goodtimes Entertainment is based on the classic, timeless Arabian Nights tale of the young, humble boy named Aladdin. "Aladdin" is the story of a poor boy, son of a widowed peasant woman, who spends his time out in the streets of his Arabian city in search for any sort of work in order to help his mother. Their fortune appears to finally change the day in which Haseem arrives at their home. He claims to be the brother of the late Mustafa, Aladdin's father and therefore, uncle of the boy. One day, Haseem takes Aladdin to a far off place in the desert where he says he and his brother had often played when they were children. As Aladdin watches how Haseem manages what seems like some sort of dark magic, the boy realizes that the man is in fact an impostor and not his uncle at all. The dark magic uncovers the entrance to a dark, underground cave, where Haseem orders Aladdin to climb down and fetch nothing but one simple oil lamp. Aladdin sees no other option but to obey and within minutes, he has the lamp as well as a sack of precious jewels he found in a lovely garden inside the magical cave. The sack of jewels is too heavy for Aladdin to carry up the slippery steps out of the cave and so refuses to come up. Haseem, enraged, conjures up the dark magic once again and closes the entrance to the cave leaving Aladdin trapped inside. Aladdin regrets his big mouth and tries to find a way out of the cave. As he does so, he accidentally rubs the oil lamp he was carrying and out of it comes a great, big scary Genie. The Genie is a friendly creature who not only helps Aladdin to get out of the cave, but he also promises the boy to fulfill just about anything that he may wish for. There are many things that Aladdin wishes for; for one thing, he wants his mother to live in comfort as she's always deserved, he wants protection against the evil Haseem, who wants to take revenge on Aladdin and get what he thinks is rightfully his; and finally, Aladdin wishes to marry the beautiful Princess Leila, daughter of the sultan.

"Aladdin" is probably the weakest of this seven-title line of Golden Films' animated classics. The film is enjoyable, no doubt about that, in fact, I have always prefered it over Disney's far more popular version, which I always thought to be one of their weakest films of their classic eras. Golden Films' Aladdin doesn't have the charmingly sweet story of "The Little Mermaid" (1993) or "Beauty and the Beast" (1993), the wonderful variety of classical compositions that "Thumbelina" (1993) has, or the lush, wonderfully detailed backgrounds like those in "The Three Musketeers" (1993). As for music, Aladdin has a number of classical pieces heard in other Golden Films animations, but its main musical appeal is in the Middle-Eastern-styled tunes heard in different scenes. The opening song, "Rub the Lamp", though nice and catchy, is probably also the weakest of this line of Golden Films' theme songs. The other Golden Films' productions don't really have a high, strong point; they tend to be balanced with good music, good characters and a good plot, but Aladdin's appeal may very well be in its humor. All of the other films had their touch of humor, but it definitely stands out more in "Aladdin". The characters are funny and humorous, with several wisecracks and little jokes, but nothing in the style of modern children's films, the humor does not take over the seriousness of certain situations. The jokes are smart and the characters are smart; the protagonist is likeable, the villain is purposely dislikeable and all other characters fit into one of these categories. Even being perhaps the weakest of Golden Films' second line of animated classics, "Aladdin" is no less enjoyable and a film I can watch over and over again. As a closing thought, I'll say what I always say, the animation here is nowhere as good as Disney, but people need to keep in mind that these films were made primarily for children and children are not picky enough to notice such things. The film is light-hearted, quality entertainment for children, though closed-minded adults may not find it so. Highly recommended.

The Adventures Of Pocahontas - Indian Princess [DVD]
The Adventures Of Pocahontas - Indian Princess [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tony Ail
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £9.96

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good tale of friendship, survival and a wise young Indian peace-maker!, 21 Oct. 2007
Pocahontas, produced by Jetlag Productions and distributed in the United States by Goodtimes Entertainment is one of the many titles in the collection of "collectible classics" from the studio. No, this is not the Walt Disney Pictures film released a year later and no I did not view this by mistake. Quite frankly, I am very glad that this version of the story of Pocahontas is very different from Disney's, which was probably one of the most ridiculous, silly and childish stories to ever come from the studio. Despite being marketed towards younger children instead of a "general" audience, this version of Pocahontas is much more realistic than Disney's "fantasy" take on the legend. The weakest thing here will probably be the quality of animation, which is rather weak, something that I've come to expect from Jetlag Productions' films, but something that will not bother me if the story being told is a good one.

Pocahontas is based on the true story of the young Indian princess, who's claim to fame was the noble act of keeping the peace between her tribe and the arriving settlers in the seventeenth century. The young Pocahontas, daughter of the Indian chief Powhatan, is playing in the grassy fields near the shore when she is shocked to see strange pale-faced men arriving aboard ships. Surprised and scared, Pocahontas quickly runs to her father's and her tribe's protection when one of the settlers attempts to question her. A number of the Indians, some of which had had terrible experiences with white men in the past, instantly consider the new arrivals enemies to the whole tribe. On the other hand, Powhatan will take no action against the white men and asks his tribe, as well as his daughter to simply stay away from them until they know what they're up to. As she plays with her friends, Pocahontas takes her father's advice and stays away from the white men, until one day, she meets with the captain John Smith. Though a bit scared at first, the two soon become good friends, which slowly turns into the birth of peace between the two groups of people. However, some members of both groups are not happy with the strangers and wish to do away with them. Fall slowly turns into a hard winter and food starts to become scarce; the men and women will have to put aside their fears and prejudice and learn to cooperate with each other in order for all to survive the cold, harsh season. Luckily for them, Pocahontas is wise beyond her years and a good young leader in the road to success and peace.

Once again, the animation in this film is rather weak and does definitely not compare to Disney's version. In terms of story and characters, however, it easily outdoes the Disney counterpart. The story is a serious and well told one, whether it is historically accurate or not. There's no "listen with your heart" as the key to another's language, no silly animal sidekicks, no out-of-place romance, no cardboard characters, no wise Grandmother Willow, no overcoming of greed at the sight of true love... in other words, there's no fairy tale elements here. This is a story of friendship and survival and it is perfect for little children. In terms of music, Jetlag Productions' Pocahontas has its own fair share of good, catchy songs. The opening (and closing) theme, "Land of Pocahontas" is a great, catchy song with good a rhythm that nicely opens the door into a new land; "Enemy or Friend", the Indians' song expressing the confusion regarding the intentions of the arriving settlers is another, slower, great song. Finally, "Princess of Peace" retells some of the important events of Pocahontas' childhood through song and music, but to me this was definitely the weakest of all three songs, not bad, but not as memorable or enjoyable as the other two. Unlike Jetlag Productions' The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) or Jungle Book (1995), I will definitely recommend this film for young children and to any adults disappointed by the historical inaccuracies and out-of-place fairy tale elements of Disney's film, as well as to any broad-minded adults looking for an enjoyable 45-minute animated adventure with weaker animation. Highly recommended!

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame [DVD]
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tony Ail
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £3.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of their best, but good songs make it an enjoyable film!, 18 Oct. 2007
Jetlag Productions' 1996 animated film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is yet another title in the large line of Goodtimes Entertainment's children animated outputs. I'll make it clear right now that this is not Disney's animated feature released the same year, so don't think you'll be getting a Disney product, quality or no quality, for such a low price as this. Instead of wasting time making detailed comparisons between Disney's film and Jetlag's, I'll review this film based on its own merits and ignore any different adaptations of this story. To be frank, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was not Jetlag Productions' finest hour, perhaps this adult story was simply not intended to become a children's film in any way. Like most animated films from the studio, The Hunchback of Notre Dame has its good points and its bad points.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame was inspired by Victor Hugo's timeless novel, "Notre Dame de Paris", and tells the story of a misshapen young man named Quasimodo. It was Quasimodo Sunday when a peasant mother left her newborn baby at the foundlings shelf within the walls of the cathedral of Notre Dame. The baby, who was horribly misshapen and had the instincts as a wolf cub, was discovered by a young priest named Claude Frollo, who vowed to adopt the baby and raise him out of love for his own family, which had recently died due to a plague; the priest named the baby "Quasimodo" in honor of that day. When he grew up, Quasimodo became the bell-ringer of the cathedral, and was deafened because of the loud bells he had grown to love. Quasimodo became the object of great interest to the people of Paris, for though everyone knew he was the bell-ringer, nobody had ever seen him outside of the cathedral. Some time later, a beautiful gypsy girl named Esmeralda is accused of a crime she hadn't commited: stabbing an arrogant man named Phoebus, who had made Esmeralda believe he was in love with her. In reality, the crime had been commited by Claude Frollo, who had become archdeacon of Paris. Claude Frollo had become crazed and angry due to a romantic obsession with the gypsy girl Esmeralda. Quasimodo helps Esmeralda in her situation, and the two soon form a great friendship, for both learn to see the value of each other within their skin, rather than outside.

Like I said, this was definitely not one of Jetlag Productions' finest hours. The storyline is very weak and though it was simplified to be suitable for children, I doubt it could hold the attention of any child for too long. The story remains hard to follow for younger audiences and the fairy-tale ending of the story may disappoint adults. The animation isn't better or worse than any other Jetlag Productions film, though it does get sort of repetitive sometimes, just like in Alice in Wonderland (1995). The best thing about this film is, without a doubt, the songs. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is true to Jetlag's rule of three songs per animated film, and there was no disappointment for me here. The opening song, "Pity not Quasimodo" may be a bit too short, but opens the film nicely with the message that Quasimodo was not to be pitied despite his appearance, for he had a noble heart and was good inside; the second song, my favorite, "Queen of My Heart" expresses the inner beauty and kindness of the gypsy girl Esmeralda, who is of admiration to many men, both good and bad. Finally, the ending credits song, "Love is Everything", reminds me of other Jetlag Productions songs with a message of true love in the style of "Follow Your Heart" (Sleeping Beauty, 1995) and "A Little Bit of Magic" (Snow White, 1996). In the end, Jetlag Productions' The Hunchback of Notre Dame doesn't compare favorably to Disney's animated film in terms of animation; it is as equally mediocre in terms of story and features its own collection of sweet songs to make the film enjoyable. I won't recommend this 45-minute animated film to the very young as I usually do with these films, but for a slightly older audience, for this is a more mature story even if simplified for the kids.

Little Red Riding Hood [DVD]
Little Red Riding Hood [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joanne Lee

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun-filled animated adventure with good morals and characters!, 29 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Little Red Riding Hood [DVD] (DVD)
Little Red Riding Hood, produced by Jetlag Productions in 1995 is one of the few animated versions of this classic story that I've ever seen, in fact, the only other one I have seen was a Nippon Animation production, which was very cute, but I don't remember it too well. This will probably not be regarded as any sort of masterpiece of animation or a film with production values that will appeal to older audiences, but for me, the film was enjoyable from beginning to end. It is without a doubt one of the finest animated releases to come out of the Jetlag Productions studio, as opposed to rather disappointing outputs such as Jungle Book (1996). The character design here is really well done, and differs from what I'm accustomed to seeing from the studio. The faces are appealing and the leading protagonist is well drawn and nicely animated, too.

Little Red Riding Hood was inspired by Charles Perrault's version of the classic fairy tale. It tells the story of a little girl who is known as "Little Red Riding Hood" for she is often wearing a red hood made for her by her beloved grandmother. One day, her grandmother is ill and Little Red Riding Hood's mother asks her to take a large basket full of eating goods to the old woman. She warns her daughter to walk straight to her grandmother's house without stopping to play with her friends or without speaking to strangers. Little Red Riding Hood tells her mother not to worry and soon is on her way. On the long path to her grandmother's house, Little Red Riding Hood finds several animals in need of some sort of help and she gladly stops by to help them, but she also encounters a number of strange people she had never seen before who seem to be very curious about where she's headed to and who she's going to visit. Little Red Riding Hood has no idea that those people are in fact the mean wolf who's lurking around in the woods, very hungry for a little girl and her grandmother to have for lunch. Like in the classic fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood forgets her mother's advise and risks getting herself and her grandmother eaten by the wolf. It'll take a bit of cleverness and the help of her new animal friends to save them both.

This little film was definitely a very sweet Jetlag Productions film, in fact, it is one of the few that can stand up along Diane Eskenazi's 1992 series of Golden Films animated classics. There were very little disappointments here, I can hardly think of any at all. The animation quality, which is usually a given let down due to being inferior, is actually pretty well carried out here, the characters move swiftly and gracefully through the scenes and the backgrounds are lovely and colorful; there's a good variety of colors, flowery landscapes and well drawn characters. This is definitely an improvement over many of the direct-to-video sequels to come out of the famous Walt Disney studio. The songs are neither grand nor disappointing, they may not be among the finest Jetlag songs, but they are sweet and catchy. The opening and closing song, "Made with Love" is a very sweet song describing the relationship between Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, while "Whistle and I'll Be There" is sweet, soft and pleasant to listen to; the last of the songs, "We're a Team" is a catchy tune expressing the effectiveness of teamwork and of helping out when you can. That brings me to another highlight from this animated tale: the good messages. It is filled, from beginning to end, with good, positive messages about helping others and lending a hand, as well as of being cautious of strangers, at the same time, showing that making strangers your friends can have good rewards, since it is implied that Little Red Riding Hood and her new animal friends were strangers prior to this cute little adventure. I can definitely not think of anything disappointing about this production, I cannot judge the voices for I saw the film with a Castilian dub. To wrap us up, this is definitely a good animated adventure that kids and parents can enjoy together, it is nicely done and teaches good morals. Highly recommended!

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