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Writing Credits:

A collection of nine Christmas-themed specials/films.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (Rise of the Guardians)
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (Rise only)
Spanish Dolby 5.1 (Rise only)
French Dolby 5.1 (Rise only)
English Audio Description (Rise only)
Spanish (Rise only)
Supplements Subtitles:
Spanish (Rise Only)

Runtime: 290 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 10/15/2019

Holiday Collection Disc:
• “Shrek’s Yule Log”
• “12 Days of Christmas Pop-Up Book”
Dragons Deleted Scenes
• Sing-Along Music Videos
• “Learn How to Draw” Featurettes
Rise of the Guardians Disc:
• Audio Commentary with Director Peter Ramsey and Producers Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein
• “Behind the Magic” Featurettes
• “The Man Behind the Guardians” Featurette
• “Dreamers & Believers” Featurette
• “Sandy’s Dream Guide” Interactive Feature
• “Jack Frost Snowball Showdown!” Game
• “Rock, Paper, Scissors with Sandy” Game
• “World of DreamWorks Animation” Segments
• Sneak Peek & Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


DreamWorks Ultimate Holiday Collection [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 6, 2019)

A collection of Christmas-related tales, DreamWorks Ultimate Holiday Collection packs nine different programs. Here’s what we find:

Shrek the Halls: Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) doesn’t care about the holiday, but Fiona (Cameron Diaz) wants a happy Yule so he does his best to deliver a warm family Christmas.

Of course, this doesn’t go according to schedule. Donkey (Eddie Murphy) interjects himself into Shrek’s plans and sends things in a different direction.

While Shrek crafts a quiet evening with Fiona and their babies, Donkey brings all their pals over for a more raucous festival. Hijinks ensue.

“Shrek the Halls” doesn’t dazzle in any way, but then again, it doesn’t really attempt to do so. Despite the presence of its big stars, it provides a rather modest tale that throws out enough laughs and charm to be worthwhile.

Donkey’s Caroling Christmas-tacular (7:46): Donkey hosts a big party for all his pals. Much singing ensues, though with twists such as “Fleas Navidad”.

“Caroling” is little more than an excuse for a lot of bad puns and wacky vocals from the Shrek regulars. As always, it’s nice to hear from the original actors, and the show moves well to create a reasonably entertaining piece.

Kung Fu Panda Holiday: The winter feast for kung fu masters is on the horizon, and Po the panda (voiced by Jack Black) gets tabbed as the host by his mentor Shifu (Dustin Hoffman). At first, this excites Po, but a few issues arise. For one, Po feels a lot of pressure to do his best, and he fears he’ll let down his friends.

In addition, Po can’t invite his father Mr. Ping (James Hong). Since Mr. Ping already worries that Po will leave him, this factor exacerbates those concerns. We follow these various themes as they build toward the climactic feast.

“Holiday” offers a substantial disappointment. Perhaps all the voice talent cost so much that the producers couldn’t afford a good script. All I know is that “Holiday” winds up as a dull dud.

DreamWorks Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury: The yearly winter holiday of “Snoggletog” comes to the Viking village of Berk, the first such occasion since humans and dragons joined together in peace. However, the dragons suddenly up and fly away for reasons unknown to the locals.

All except for Toothless, the dragon paired with resident hero Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), because Toothless lacks a tail and can’t fly. Even though no one understands why the dragons left, Hiccup feels bad that Toothless can’t join the other dragons, so he creates an artificial tail to allow the creature to soar. We follow his departure, attempts by the villagers to enjoy Snoggletog sans dragons, and the ultimate reveal of why the dragons left.

“Fury” avoids the pitfalls suffered by “Panda Holiday” in that it creates an unusual story of its own. “Panda Holiday” just generated bland platitudes and went nowhere, while “Fury” comes up with a pretty fun and clever way to get into the standard themes.

It still gives us the usual “Christmas/Snoggletog is about giving/caring” but it livens up the notion with some interesting twists. Throw in a little action and some comedy and “Fury” turns into a likable little special.

Merry Madagascar: As our zoo animal friends Alex (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Gloria (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Melman (David Schwimmer) try to leave Madagascar, King Julien (Danny Jacobs) shoots down their vehicle. Why? Because he thinks they’re the Red Night Marauding Goblin, a character who throws black rocks at them once a year.

As it turns out, the “Goblin” is Santa Claus (Carl Reiner), and the black rocks are coal that he drops on Julien due to his status on the “Naughty List”. Alex and company don’t realize the Goblin’s real identity until it’s too late and they’ve helped bring him down, so they then need to fix their mistake, save Christmas – and maybe get back to New York, too.

Probably the wackiest of the specials on this Blu-ray, “Merry” manages another clever show. I like a Christmas piece willing to portray Santa as a villain – albeit a misunderstood one – and tangents like the battle between the reindeer and the penguins add value.

The program moves at a brisk pace and brings us fun, nutty take on the standard Christmas special – all largely devoid of the usual sentiment and morals, which makes it even more refreshing.

The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper (10:50): The Private (Christopher Knights) tries to help spread some Christmas cheer. When he goes missing, the others search for him.

This becomes an amusing short that comes with the disc’s cheapest production values, but it still has plenty of fun. It’s more sentimental than “Merry” but it’s got enough semi-perversity/weirdness to make it a hoot.

Trolls Holiday: Queen Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) feels bad that the Trolls’ former enemies don’t have their own holidays. Along with her pal Branch (Justin Timberlake) to bring them a special occasion to celebrate.

Of the films that inspired these shows, Trolls and Home compete for the weakest. That sent me into “Trolls Holiday” with low expectations.

To my pleasant surprise, “Holiday” actually works pretty well. It uses music more than the others, and the songs meant to reflect the Trolls’ nutty holidays offer amusement. It’s not a classic, but “Holiday” entertains.

Home: for the Holidays: Space alien Oh (voiced by Mark Whitten) doesn’t understand the concept of holidays. His human pal Tip (Rachel Crow) helps him get into the Christmas spirit.

The longest of this disc’s specials at 45 minutes, “Home” also becomes the only one to lose the original actors. Apparently to compensate, the new performers overdo their roles.

“Home” feels like the most hyperactive of the various shows, as it rams attempted entertainment down our throats. Some of it works, so “Home” doesn’t turn into a dud, but it seems too over the top and obnoxious.

Rise of the Guardians: We learn of the existence of “The Guardians”, a group of mythical characters who unite to defend the children of the world.

This organization consists of Santa Claus (voiced by Alec Baldwin) – here called “North” – as well as the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Sandman and the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman). With a threat from Pitch (Jude Law) – aka the Boogeyman – the group adds a new Guardian: Jack Frost (Chris Pine).

Not all members greet this situation happily, and Jack himself doesn’t seem all that eager to join the gang. We watch the Guardians battle Pitch as well as Jack’s quest to come to terms with his own past.

Whereas all the other programs here offer fairly short specials, Rise brings us the full feature film from 2012. To read my longer discussion, please click here.

To summarize, while not devoid of entertainment, Rise of the Guardians lacks consistency and usually falls fairly flat. It gives us occasional enjoyment but suffers from dull characters and a lackluster story. Rise gives us passable family fare at best.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

DreamWorks Ultimate Holiday Collection appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on its Blu-ray Discs, while Rise of the Guardians went for 1.85:1 on its platter. As expected, these computer-generated animated programs looked great.

At all times, sharpness looked excellent. Every aspect of the image came across as crisp and well-defined, without any soft or fuzzy elements on display.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and edge enhancement failed to occur. Source flaws also remained absent in this clean presentation.

The various programs provided differing palettes, though they all tended toward Christmassy tones. Even when they avoided the standard green and red, they still came across as warm. The hues came across well, as they always appeared vivid and full.

Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows seemed clean and well-developed. All the components here looked great.

Though not as impressive, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtracks of the Holiday Collection shows were perfectly acceptable for the material. The soundscapes favored the forward channels.

They offered good stereo delineation for the music as well as a bit of localized speech. Effects cropped up from logical spots and blended together nicely.

Surround usage varied from segment to segment. “Fury” was probably the most active of the bunch due to the flight of the dragons, but “Merry Madagascar” came with plenty of movement and involvement as well. Though none of the sequences dazzled in terms of soundfield, they used the channels in a satisfying manner.

Audio quality succeeded as well. Speech was concise and natural, while music sounded full and rich.

Effects demonstrated good clarity and accuracy, and those elements also boasted pretty nice low-end response when necessary. There wasn’t enough “dazzle” on display for the audio to merit a grade above a “B”, but the soundtracks satisfied.

Note that Rise of the Guardians came with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 affair that worked even better. With all the movie’s action, the mix gave us many active moments and lots of impressive sequences.

Elements like North’s sled and the tooth fairies zoomed around the room, and other components – like Pitch’s nightmares – made strong use of the various channels. These all combined to form a well-integrated soundscape.

Audio quality was top-notch. Speech appeared distinctive and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music seemed robust and rich, while effects gave us clean, accurate information.

Bass response also appeared deep and taut. Everything here worked well to create an “A-“ soundtrack.

On the Holiday Collection disc, we get an animated piece called Shrek’s Yule Log. It runs 30 minutes, 19 seconds and provides a “video fireplace”.

At the start, we see Shrek set up the Yule log, and occasionally characters like Donkey and Puss pop into the image to make comments. It mostly remains a view of a CG fireplace, though, so don’t expect much from it.

Next comes 12 Days of Christmas Pop-Up Book. This one goes for two minutes, 18 seconds and features a quick bedtime story from Shrek. Though brief, it amuses.

From Dragons: Gift of the Night Furies, we locate a five-minute, 29-second collection of four Deleted Scenes. These tend to add some character beats and a few action or comedy moments, but nothing especially memorable.

Director Tom Owens gives us background for the clips and lets us know why they got the boot. This turns into a nice compilation of clips.

Under Sing-Along Music Videos, we find four tunes. The area encompasses “We Wish You a Merry Penguin”, “Jingle Bells”, “12 Days of Christmas” and “Deck the Halls”. Most involve Penguins, though we see Madagsacr characters too.

The videos themselves are cheap and crude. However, the songs offer amusing riffs on the classics.

This disc finishes with Learn How to Draw. Here we find artistic tutorials for “A Baby Gronckle” (4:04) and “Wo Hop” (5:43).

Tom Owens brings instructions during both segments. He offers useful insights and makes these segments enjoyable.

Footnote: the disc titles the second tutorial “Wo Hop Scared Shrekless” but I can’t figure out why. Wo Hop is from the Kung Fu Panda universe, and Owen’s discussion never touches on Shrek.

On its separate disc, Rise comes with copious extras, and we launch with an audio commentary from director Peter Ramsey and producers Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, story/character areas, visual and character design, score, animation and technical issues.

While you'll learn a little about those subjects, you shouldn't expect many insights. Instead, happy talk dominates this commentary to an absurd degree. From start to finish, the participants gush about the great work done and what they love about the film.

When Ramsey claimed to be “super-critical” of the movie, I nearly had a stroke. Across the movie's 97 minutes, you’ll find maybe five minutes of actual film-related information – and that’s a big “maybe”. I won’t say this was the most tedious, least enjoyable commentary I’ve heard, but it’s close – I view it as pretty worthless.

Under Behind the Magic, we find a collection of four featurettes. With a total running time of 27 minutes, 43 seconds, we see “Dreaming Up the Look” (8:06), “Naughty and Nice: Designing Memorable Characters” (8:39), “Enchanting Effects” (5:32) and “Creating an Epic Score” (5:26).

Across these, we hear from Ramsey, Bernstein, Steinberg, production designer Patrick Marc Hanenberger, executive producer Guillermo Del Toro, executive producer/author William Joyce, head of character animation Gabe Hordos, head of story Hamish Grieve, head of effects Yancy Lindquist, visual effects supervisor David Prescott, effects lead Stephen Wood, and composer Alexandre Desplat.

The pieces examine character, set and visual design, influences and inspirations, animation and effects, and music. After the painful commentary, “Magic” comes as a relief. While not the most in-depth examination of filmmaking I’ve seen, it covers its subjects well and offers a useful take on the topics.

Another featurette called The Man Behind the Guardians goes for six minutes, 25 seconds and includes notes from Joyce, Steinberg, Bernstein, and Hanenberger. We get info about the development of the novel on which the movie’s based and other aspects of the story/characters. Joyce dominates and makes this an enjoyable view of his work.

For the final featurette, Dreamers & Believers fills 10 minutes, 47 seconds with info from Ramsey, Steinberg, Joyce, and actors Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, and Jude Law.

“Dreamers” discusses cast, characters and performances. Like its predecessors, it gives us some good info, and I like the shots of the actors in the recording studio.

Sandy’s Dream Guide gives us an interactive feature. This presents a variety of potential dream subjects – like parents or castles – and interprets their meanings. It’s a cute addition for kids.

Two Blu-ray exclusive games follow. We locate Jack Frost Snowball Showdown! and Rock, Paper, Scissors with Sandy. In the former, you use your remote’s arrows to move Jack around the bottom of the screen to dodge/throw snowballs.

Expect a tedious affair. For the latter, you play the old kiddie fave in either single elimination, best of three or best of five configurations. It’s simple and not much fun.

The disc opens with an ad for The Croods and Dragons: Riders of Berk. These pop up under Previews along with clips for Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, the Rise of the Guardians video game and Madly Madagascar.

Sneak Peek also provides a promo for Turbo. Worlds of DreamWorks Animation throws in musical snippets from Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. No trailer for Rise shows up here.

While the programs involved demonstrate inconsistent quality, the Dreamworks Ultimate Holiday Collection still packs a lot of entertainment. It becomes a fun choice for Christmas viewing. The Blu-rays boast excellent picture as well as good audio and a decent array of bonus materials. This turns into a likable package.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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