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Disney films - animated and live-action


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Please review Disney classics DVDs here, thanks. When reviewing, good things to keep in mind that people want to know: how good was the film quality, was the film itself any good, what were the extras and how good were they, was there a good commentary, etc. You know, stuff you would like to know if you were thinking about buying a particular DVD.

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Enchanted (reviewing the Blu-ray version)


I was at first hesitant to post a review of this feature since it is so new, but there are enough elements of classic animated films of Disney from the past in here to warrant it, plus there is a special "D-Files" section (exclusive to Blu-ray) mentioned later that does show classic Disney animated clips in high def.

The first twenty minutes of "Enchanted" takes place in an animated, musical world where our heroine lives, waiting for her prince to arrive, but the film truly comes to life (no pun intended) when she in is transported to live-action modern day, real-life Manhattan and becomes real (played by the truly charming and captivating Amy Adams). While she waits for the prince to come rescue her, she stays with a lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter who help her. She in turn brings magic into their lives. The film is very enjoyable and the tunes are good.


As I mentioned, there are plenty of references to older Disney classics, from easy ones like the evil queen (Susan Sarandon) who turns herself into a spitting image of the old hag from ?Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?, to harder to spot salutes like Paige O?Hara in a TV soap opera telling the man she is with she could never love someone who doesn?t like himself (a reference to starring as the voice of Belle in ?Beauty and the Beast?). The receptionist sitting near the fish tank at the lawyer?s office is played by Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in ?The Little Mermaid.? One of the men who played the chimney sweeps from ?Mary Poppins? is a dancing elderly man in a scene in Central Park. The women who were the voices of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella have lines in a ball sequence. There is much more like this.


That in itself is enough to do a review here, but there is a bonus feature on the Blu-ray disc, not on the standard DVD, that earns it a place here. There is an interactive game that can be selected for viewing during the movie called ?The D-Files? ("D" for Disney). A whole lot of multiple-choice questions, mostly easy for fans of Disney history, are asked at different points during the viewing of the film. When you answer correctly, you are taken to a section with someone involved with the filmmaking process of ?Enchanted? and usually a clip from one of the past Disney animated classics involving princesses, such as ?Snow White,? ?Cinderella,? ?Sleeping Beauty,? ?The Little Mermaid,? and ?Beauty and the Beast (okay, so she became a princess at the end).? The best thing is that each clip is done in FULL 1080p HIGH DEFINITION! ?Snow White,? due to its age is the only one that looks like it will not benefit from HD, but the rest are a visual treat and make me long for their eventual Blu release!


Highly recommended!


P.S. -- I almost forgot to mention that the Blu-ray picture quality and sound of "Enchanted" itself are extraordinary, a definite demo to show people when they come to your home.

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News on a 45th Anniversary Edition of "The Sword in the Stone"



On June 17, 2008, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release a new 45th Anniversary Edition of the classic animated film, The Sword in the Stone. It will street for $29.99 and will include:


"Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers" Featurette

"The Sword in the Stone Scrapbook" Featurette

"Knight For a Day" Short Film

"Brave Little Tailor" Short Film

"Merlin's Magical Academy" Interactive Game

"Disney Song Selection" Feature

And More!

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  • 7 months later...

*Dr. Syn - The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh*


I have been waiting for this film for many years to be released on DVD, and it has been worth the wait. Disney has done a first-rate job. They have released a 2-DVD set that has the original "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" three-parter from Disney's Wonderful World of Color (including opening and closing introductions for each part by Walt Disney) on the first DVD and the condensed movie, "Dr. Syn Alias the Scarecrow" on the second.


I loved this title as a kid and found I had forgotten so many bits in the first chapter because they were cut from the feature film. The three-parter is the preferred one to see, and the video quality and original mono sound both quite excellent. We benefit from this DVD release because we see a wider image than was originally seen on TV (and as a bonus, there were wider image intros by Disney, too).


The first disc also has a short on the history of Dr. Syn, including interview segments with Patrick McGoohan.


The second disc has a short feature on Disney's productions in England. I would like to have had both specials be longer than they currently are, but still they are worth watching.


The case is a tin box or steelbook, and a card photo of McGoohan as Dr. Syn accompanies the package, as well as a certificate of authenticity.


This is a highly recommended DVD to get!

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  • 4 weeks later...

The episodes look very, very good on a widescreen TV! Who'd have thought a TV series from the 60's could look so incredibly great on the latest TV sets in the 21st century... I love that it's in widescreen, although it was shown "cropped" when it first aired in the 60's.


I wonder how many people watched it in colour originally when it first aired.

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  • 3 months later...

*Pinocchio (Blu-ray)*


What an incredible package this is. I just finished watching it all and there are so many wonderful things to say about it that I hope I don't forget any.


And to start it up right, Disney offers us a high def trailer for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Blu-ray (coming in October). It looks like it will be another magnificent restoration from Disney.


Okay, on to "Pinocchio"...


Let's begin with the film. First off, this is Disney quality at its best when it came to storytelling and animation...sheer perfection from start to finish.


Second, the film has been beautifully restored and is something you will be proud to have in your collection. Colors are drop dead breathtaking, the print is free from flaws, sound is excellent...a true work of art captured the way it should be on Blu-ray.


And the extras...wow! Those of you know how much Disney puts into their Platinum editions will not be surprised by the great material here. All of the DVD special features are here (all in HD, except the three Pinocchio old trailers) plus there are Blu exclusives.


The first Blu disc contains the film, and you have the option of watching it one of six ways: 1. The regular way, just the movie; 2. the movie, with border art to hide the black bars on the left and right; 3. watching the film with a video commentary, whereby you see the people who do the audio commentary, intercut with production drawings, other artwork and photos of what they are discussing while the movie plays; 4. the movie with the same commentary but only audio; 5. the movie with a text trivia track; and 6. by BD Live (over the Internet) with others across the country at the same time, adding commentary text as you go.


Scattered over the two discs are an exceptional documentary on the making (which runs almost an hour), a feature on real-life Geppettos, Carnival Games, a large section of still galleries featuring photos and drawings, several deleted scenes told through storyboards, an alternate ending, plus more.


And the two-ray Blu-disc set comes with a third disc...the DVD version of the movie, which is great for two reasons: 1. If you don't have a Blu-ray player yet, you can buy this and play the DVD for now and be ready for when you do go Blu; and 2. Keep the Blu-ray for the player you have and give the kids the DVD version. (Note: only the 1st DVD of the 2-DVD set is here, but that is okay because it is the movie and a couple of extras.)


This is a must-get release. A full 5 out of 5 stars.


By the way, I did a close up, shot via my cellphone, of the new Blu and the DVD restored versions, each on still frame, so you can see what differences there are in picture quality between Blu and DVD: The TV was the same, the player was the same, with no change in settings.







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  • 4 months later...

*Escape to Witch Mountain*, *Return to Witch Mountain* (DVD)

*Race to Witch Mountain* (blu-ray)


Those with fond memories of the 70s Disney classics may wish to revisit them now that a 3rd installment in the franchise has been released by Disney. Whether the 2009 movie is worth watching depends greatly on one's tolerance for movies that are very loud and full of explosions (but still G-rated).


Disney recently re-issued the original two movies and these have excellent presentations, which look especially good when played on a blu-ray player that upconverts the DVDs. The source material is obviously still in very good condition, or has been carefully restored. There are some nice extras with behind-the-scenes footage that go into some detail about such things as the special effects.


Race to Witch Mountain, like many action-oriented movies being made these days, is (like I said) very loud and full of explosions. The plot borrows heavily from the Terminator movies and has a monster right out of Predator. And yet they somehow manage to keep it all G-rated, even with The Rock as its star.


The sound and image quality are pretty good, as is the case with most recent releases. The extras include deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and a short feature in which the movie's director explains all the connections between the 2009 movie and the two earlier movies, such as several references to 1975 (the year of release of the first movie) and to the names of characters of the first two movies.

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  • 4 weeks later...

*Pete's Dragon* (high-flying edition - DVD)


Arriving on shelves without too much publicity, this one nonetheless promises to satisfy fans of this 70s Disney flick, which like Mary Poppins and Song of the South before it, combined live action footage with animation.


The movie is framed at 1.78:1 approximately and has OK stereo sound. I've always found most of the songs in the movie to be forgettable, with the lone exception of "The Brazzle Dazzle Song", which I think is actually kind of catchy.


One of the best new bonus features, is in fact a look at the evolution of techniques used by Disney over the years (going all the way back to the silent Alice shorts in the 20s) to combine live action and animation in often startling ways - and a big part of the success of these projects has to go to Ub Iwerks.

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  • 3 weeks later...

*Earth* (blu-ray)


I was thoroughly impressed with this Disney title, in a way I didn't think I could be by a "True Life"-style nature documentary.


From what I've read, this 90-minute documentary is largely made up of footage from BBC's Planet Earth, which is also available on blu-ray but which I have not had time to watch. All of the footage on this version was apparently filmed with HD cameras, and it looks absolutely amazing - especially the aerial and time-lapse photography.


The U.S. version is narrated by James Earl Jones. I've read that the British version (also available on blu-ray) was narrated by Patrick Stewart. It would have been nice for the American blu-ray to include that other narration, as an alternate audio track, but they either couldn't or wouldn't do that. Hopefully, the UK blu-ray is region-free, because I'd really love to watch this again with Stewart's narration.


This is probably a good documentary for the whole family, although some of the footage illustrating the "circle of life" might be a bit too intense for younger children.


The bonus feature includes a "making of" which runs about 43 minutes.

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  • 3 weeks later...

*Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs* - ("Diamond Edition" blu-ray)


The folks at Disney have done it again. Thanks to the latest restoration technology and the technical capability of blu-ray, they have come up with what may very well be the ultimate edition of any classic animated movie that we've seen so far.


First of all, a few words about the external presentation of the movie.




I felt strongly enough about this title to get the Collector's Edition, which is a bit more pricey than the "regular" edition most folks will get - and I also got the Best Buy exclusive steelbook to go with it. To me, this is an extremely handsome presentation that fortunately doesn't take up quite as much space as, say, the Wizard of Oz UCE.


This Collector's Edition has a SRP of $59.99 but most folks will be able to get it for half that, with retailer discounts and by using one of the many options to get a $10 discount from the manufacturer. Aside from a small book, there's nothing in the Collector's Edition that you can't also get from the regular Diamond Edition. And, even though the packaging may be different between the so-called DVD and blu-ray sets, the truth of the matter is that all of them have exactly the same 3 discs: 2 blu-ray and 1 DVD.


This won't be to everyone's liking, but obviously Disney wants to make sure that people who already have a blu-ray player have a back-up DVD (or maybe let the kids have the DVD) and they also want to give some incentive to those who haven't upgraded to blu-ray to eventually give that format a try.


Despite all the differences in packaging, and the 2 fancy packages that are even more expensive than the Collector's Edition, what's really worth having is exactly the same in all versions: the movie itself in the blu-ray format that really lets you enjoy it like never before.


To say that the movie has never looked better would be accurate and still seem like a bit of an understatement. As Leonard Maltin pointed out in his website, the movie had been thoroughly manipulated and the colors artificially boosted in earlier video incarnations, to the point that it did not look like a film.


The new edition corrects that, and perhaps for the first time ever really allows you to get a good idea of what Snow White the film looks like, what the movie would have looked like originally when it first opened in theaters in 1937.


There's a couple of things I appreciated particularly the first time that I put it in my blu-ray player: one of them is the ability to press "Top Menu" and quickly get to, well, the top menu, bypassing all of the previews and other stuff that would otherwise have played. I'm sure the preview for The Frog and the Princess is great, but I'm not in any great rush to see it at the moment.


I also like being able to choose the preferred format - either in the original aspect ratio, or in that thing that Disney came up to fill up the black bars on the sides of the picture. On the other hand, I'm not sure I want to listen to the "magic mirror" on the disc's main menu when it starts saying things that make me feel like I might actually be the one being watched. I'd heard about this before, some new technology that apparently takes interactivity to the next level... I'm going to have to get used to it I guess.


As soon as you start the movie, you realize you're in for a very special treat, especially given the great care with which the opening title sequence has been windowboxed to make sure that absolutely nothing is out of frame during the start of the movie.


There's a few audio options, which won't come up unless you go to the Set Up options... There is the English 7.1 soundtrack, and 5.1 soundtracks in French and Spanish. For purists like myself, there is also the restored original soundtrack option. :)


Of course, there is also the Walt Disney audio commentary option, as well, which if memory serves had never been available in earlier versions. I haven't listened to that yet, but I am very excited about it and totally looking forward to it. (I read somewhere that the blu-ray features subtitles for both the feature itself and the audio commentary).


As exciting as that and a lot of the other bonus features may be, there really is no substitute for the film itself, which is a favorite mostly for sentimental and scholarly reasons. Disney has now set a very high standard for animated classics, and one can only hope they find a way to top themselves with future blu-ray releases, such as Dumbo, Fantasia, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland.


But, as far as 2009 goes, it has been a great year for fans of classic animation, thanks to the blu-ray releases of Pinocchio and now, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

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  • 1 year later...

Hi. It seemed to be a good time to ressurect the individual threads that were set up when I helped get this Forum created. We are getting so many threads being started for so many things that could all be in one place that it makes it hard to find anything.


Keeping within a theme thread makes the Classic Film DVD Reviews Forum a much neater place and better organized.. Thanks.

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