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Monday, September 1, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: Tarzan Special Edition

Tarzan is one of my favorite Disney animated films. It  made great use of hand-drawn and CG animation. The vine surfing scenes hold up as well today as they did in 1999. There is also a very smooth flow to the film as it moves from one scene into another. This was the Disney animated film that showed me that Disney could tell a mature story with heart and sensitivity. In a sense, Disney animation had grown up and reached me on several levels. How does the blu-ray look? Well, it's not bad but it's not perfect either. Let's get into the review shall we?



Video Quality:

Sadly the 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation doesn't live up to Disney's usual high standards. There are issues with this transfer such pixilation, macroblocking in the animal fur, and some strange flickering. I had high hopes for another flawless Disney transfer of an animated film that deserved a better presentation. It's not bad but it's not perfect either.



Audio Quality:

Another strange choice here is that Disney decided to go with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 mix instead of remastering the audio and create a 5.1 surround track. I was wondering why there wasn't the powerful thundering sound coming from my speakers as Tarzan fights an enemy or two or when he is vine surfing. Now I know why. The rest of the soundfield is fairly solid as dialogue is clear, directional focus makes this a fun immersive experience, and the songs and score will fill your room. So the audio presentation is good but just not as strong as it should have been. 



Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary: The same audio commentary from Directors Chris Buck and Kevin Lima and producer Bonnie Arnold that was recorded for the DVD release of the film but still very insightful if you have never listened to it. They cover everything from the design, to the script, to the voice talent, to the animation, to innovations, and the music. They also make reference to the first time that any Tarzan film has shown the progression of Tarzan's famous yell.
  • History and Development (SD, 8 minutes): An all too brief look at some of the early development of the movie, "From Burroughs to Disney," "Early Presentation Reel" and "Research Trip to Africa."
  • The Characters of Tarzan (SD, 23 minutes): A great look into the character development, featuring "Creating Tarzan," "Animating Tarzan," "Creating Jane and Porter," "Creating Kala and Kerchak," "Creating Terk and Tantor" and "Creating Clayton."
  • Animation Production (SD, 14 minutes): I love this look into the "Deep Canvas" innovation for the film. Four segments are presented here, including: "The Deep Canvas Process," "Deep Canvas Demonstration," "Production Progression Demonstration" and "Intercontinental Filmmaking."
  • Story & Editorial (SD, 6 minutes): Take a look at the script writing and the storyboarding with these two featurettes: "Building the Story" and "Storyboard-to-Film Comparison".
  • Music & More (SD, 41 minutes): Learn more about the score and the songs of Tarzan in these featurettes: "The Making of the Music," "Tarzan Goes International," "You'll Be in My Heart" and "Strangers Like Me" Music Videos, a "Trashin' the Camp" studio session with Phil Collins and N'Sync, and an original Phil Collins song demo.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 10 minutes): Take a look at several unfinished and deleted scenes along with two scenes with an alternate opening. 
  • DisneyPedia: Living in the Jungle (SD, 6 minutes): An educational featurette for kids.
  • Publicity (SD, 5 minutes): Three theatrical trailers.


Conclusion:

One of my favorite Disney animated films and I was disappointed by this blu-ray release. The problems with the video and audio are minor though. While not perfect the movie still a lot of fun with great action and heart, great music and some fun bonus features. This still deserves a place on your shelf.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided but the review is strictly my own opinion.*

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: Hercules Special Edition


Bring home the mighty Hercules, new on Disney blu-ray! Follow Hercules as he taken from the gods as a newborn and adopted on earth by mortal parents. As Hercules gets older he learns that his home is on Mount Olympus if he can prove himself to be a hero. With his trusty flying horse named Pegasus and his trainer Phil, Herc works towards being a hero. Herc meets his match with the beautiful Meg and the evil Hades, who is trying to takeover the universe. Will our hero be able to stop him?



Video Quality:

The 1080p/AVC-encoded video looks great! Colors are rich and vibrant, details are amazing and backgrounds are crisp! Another great effort by Disney!



Audio Quality:

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track flexes its muscle! Dialogue is clean and clear, the music is dynamic and the rear channels fill the entire soundfield! A solid audio presentation by Disney!



Bonus Features:
  • The Making of Hercules (SD, 9 minutes): A really short promo that leaves me wishing that Disney would have included an actual documentary, or audio commentary, or a look back on the film. 
  • Music Video (SD, 5 minutes): Ricky Martin sings "No Importa la Distancia".
  • "Zero to Hero" Sing-Along (SD, 3 minutes): A Standard definition sing-along.



Conclusion:

Hercules is a fun adventure with with a solid video presentation, fantastic audio, and while light on bonus material, this one deserves a place on your shelf. 

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided but the review is strictly my own opinion.*

Disneyland Photo Report: Halloween Creeps Into The Park - Merchandise - Crows and Ghostly Materials

Hey everybody - it's time for another Disneyland photo report! Summer is just about over and the fall is setting in! That means it's almost Halloween Time! So come along with me and see what's new! A light crowd today as we head into Disneyland!
The colors of the flowers! So bright and cheerful! The park is happy to see us!
A closer look at the flowers!
As we head onto Town Square, Disneyana is presenting art to help celebrate the 45th Anniversary of The Haunted Mansion!
A great take on the stretching portraits! How cute do these characters look?
Donald and his nephews visiting the mansion. Dewey is feeding the ghost horse that pulls the hearse.
Hmmm reminds me of the painting called American Gothic.
This is perhaps my favorite piece of art on display here. The organ in The Haunted Mansion was the one used in the movie 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. So that is Captain Nemo, played by James Mason, as the spirit playing the organ.
Merchandise such as this Goofy pumpkin have arrived. Don't worry you will see more merchandise below!
Walking down Main Street I saw this skull in the window. I'm sure it has been there for a long time and not just part of the Halloween decorations slowly going in.
I also noticed this awesome stained glass spider web in one of the windows on Main Street as well.
As promised back to more Halloween merchandise! Check out these cute Pumpkin Mickey and Minnie mugs!
Here is a larger mug for those of us that require more coffee in the morning!
A cute tabletop decoration. Would have been cool if it was an actual alarm clock!
Love this candy bowl!
Halloween hand towels!
Cute Mickey-o-lantern!
Great Witch Minnie reusable bag!
Another great tabletop decoration!
I love this Countdown to Halloween!
The Haunted Mansion is preparing itself for Jack Skellington's yearly visit!
The sign lets us know that September 12th will be the day that Jack's back!
One of my favorite signs in the park!
Oh no, the crows have invaded the Fortuosity Shop on Main Street!
It's like a scene from The Birds.
So many crows!
One last look at some of the crows!

Halloween Time is quickly approaching! The Halloween Time festivities begin September 12th at Disneyland! Will you be there?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad/Fun And Fancy Free


Not only are The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad and Fun and Fancy Free just great fun, you will also find the fully restored The Reluctant Dragon, making this a huge bargain of three movies!

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad adapts two classics, "The Wind in the Willows" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." In the first, Mr. Toad develops an obsession for motorcars, leads into big trouble and it's up to his friends to clear his name. Then it's onto one of my all-time favorites with narrator Bing Crosby. Teacher Ichabod pursues Katrina Van Tassel while rival Brom Bones tells Ichabod a tale of The Headless Horseman.

Fun and Fancy Free is the last animated feature starring Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse. There are two classic stories here as well, "Bongo," based on "Little Bear Bongo," and "Mickey and the Beanstalk," based on the classic fairy tale. In the first Bongo tells that tale of a mistreated bear who escapes the circus and discovers that life in the forest isn't any better than with humans. In the second Mickey, Donald and Goofy climb the magic beanstalk and come face to face with a giant. The trio must work together to stop the giant and bring peace to their home.



Video Quality:

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad has a decent 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. Nice details, soft colors, and the only issue here is the age of the film and not the encode. This is the best it has ever looked as a home release. 

Fun and Fancy Free's 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation on the other hand needs some work. There is some smearing and some of the live-action shots are blurry.


Audio Quality:

Both films offer a pretty good DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The dialogue as well as the narration are wonderful and the rear channels do a good job of created a directional soundfield. Considering the age of these films, they sound great despite the years. 


Bonus Features:

The hidden treasure here and the best reason to buy this blu-ray is the amazingly restored and remastered 1080p presentation of The Reluctant Dragon. Mixing black and white live-action and technicolor live-action and four animated shorts, it offers a great look at the studio and the animation process. 


Conclusion:

This set is a great look at The Walt Disney Studios in the 1940s. It was a rough time but all three films are fun and entertaining. The video and audio presentations all vary from one film to the next with The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad being the best of the three. Even so this is worth owning and adding to your collection. You cannot beat three films for the price of one and plus you get the beautifully restored The Reluctant Dragon.

*Disclaimer: The review copy was provided but the review is strictly my opinion.*

Snacking In The Parks: Spoonful of Sugar (Limited Time Offering) at Disneyland

To help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Mary Poppins, these almost too good to eat spoonsful of sugar were available at the Jolly Holiday Bakery in Disneyland!

Blu-Ray Review: Mickey, Donald and Goofy - The Three Musketeers 10th Anniversary Edition


Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers is geared for the younger set and is a cute movie produced by the folks at DisneyToon Studios.


Mickey, Donald and Goofy are best friends and also janitors with dreams of becoming Musketeers. But the evil plans of Peg-Leg Pete, captain of the Musketeers and his lieutenant Clarabelle use them in a plot to overthrow Princess Minnie. Mickey, Donald and Goofy must work together to save the day.


Video Quality:

Another fine effort by Disney with a beautiful 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. Colors are bright and details are crisp. There is nothing really here to criticize. The animations is nice and sharp, backgrounds look fantastic, an exceptional transfer.


Audio Quality:

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is decent. While there is nothing wrong with the mix, the soundfield just feels flat and not dynamic. It does the job it is meant to do. Dialogue is clear, there is a bit more power when it comes to the action scenes, and the rear channels create an involving environment, 


Bonus Features:
  • Cast Commentary (SD, 5 minutes): Oddly enough there is this random scene-specific commentary instead of a film commentary. While it includes Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pete, it would have been really cool to have all the characters give the full movie commentary.    
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 5 minutes): DisneyToon Studios Vice President Brian Snedeker provides commentary on these unfinished, storyboarded deleted scenes.
  • Get the Scoop (SD, 10 minutes): A Three Musketeers behind-the-scenes featurette.
  • Disney Song Selection (HD, 7 minutes): Five songs to sing along karaoke style.
  • Get Up and Dance (HD, 2 minutes): A dance-along for your kids.
  • Sing-Along (HD): Hidden within the Disney Song Selection is a Sing-Along track so everyone can sing-along.


Conclusion:

Excellent video and audio presentation with some interesting bonus features make this a film to add to your Disney collection.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided but the review is strictly my own.*

Blu-Ray Review: Bedknobs and Broomsticks Special Edition

Bedknobs and Broomsticks comes to blu-ray for the very first time! Considered a classic in its own right, it is one of my favorites from childhood.

The story follows three children, Charlie, Carrie and Paul as they move to a small village during World War Two. Their host, Miss Price, turns out to be a witch in the making. Her early attempts at magic don't turn out as planned but her spell on a bedknob creates a flying machine. Everyone including con-artist Mr. Browne end up on the animated island of Naboombu in search of a medallion that will save England from the Germans' blitz on London.

Video Quality:

The 1080p/AVC-encoded remastered video is gorgeous! Colors are vibrant and skintones look natural! The animated sequences have been completely cleaned up and practically look brand new! Another high quality restoration from Disney!


Audio Quality:

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is pretty solid. The dialogue is crisp and clear though you can hear some hiss here and there. The rear channels are fairly soft but the soundfield is pleasant.


Bonus Features:
  • Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers (SD, 21 minutes): By far one of the strangest oversights was to not include the 139-minute extended version of the film but to include this featurette discussing the cut that was on the DVD release of the movie in 2001.  
  • Deleted and Extended Songs (HD, 24 minutes): Four deleted songs included here are, "A Step in the Right Direction," "With a Flair" and "Nobody's Problems." Two extended songs included here are "Eglantine" and "Portobello Road."
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 10 minutes): "Captain Greer," "Ulterior Motives," "The First Supper," "Letter from Professor Browne," "Extortion," "Traveling Spell," "Substitutiary Locomotion" and "Matchmaker."
  • David Tomlinson Recording Session (SD, 1 minute): This recording session from 1970 features David Tomlinson singing the ending of "Portobello Road".
  • Disney Song Selection (HD, 21 minutes): Songs include here are "The Old Home Guard," "The Age of Not Believing," "Eglantine," "Portobello Road," "The Beautiful Briny" and "Substituiary Locomotion." 
  • The Wizards of Special Effects (SD, 8 minutes): Wizards of Waverly Place star Jennifer Stone compares special effects from Bedknobs and Broomsticks to those used in the Disney Channel series.
  • Theatrical Trailers (SD, 9 minutes): Four trailers are featured here.

Conclusion:

A charming Disney classic with a wonderful video and audio presentation with some great bonus features. The inclusion of the longer extended cut of the film would have been a great addition and made the Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers featurette make more sense. But Bedknobs and Broomsticks still deserves a place on your movie shelf.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided but the review is strictly my own.*