>disney home video reviews/previews
|Click thelinks below to see reviews/previews for recent Disney home videos on Blu ray and DVD.|
“Cinderella” on Blu-ray/DVD
Available on Amazon.com. I had forgotten what a gem "Cinderella" was until I watched it on the new Blu-ray disc that was just released. The restoration makes it look as if you can see the original art of the characters and the background...it's that clean! The backgrounds themselves are works of art, especially in the scene where Cinderella goes to the backyard garden and meets her fairy godmother. The talent of Mary Blair is evident in the styling, and I have never seen it with such clarity as on the new blu-ray release. The sound is crisp and clear, free of extraneous noise, and the voice of Ilene Woods (Cinderella) has never sounded so lovely. If you are unfamiliar with the story, here's the short version: the death of Cinderella's devoted father leaves her at the mercy of her wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine. Forced to clean the mansion and dote on Tremaine's bratty daughters, Drizella & Anastasia, Cinderella keeps her spirits up with her positive attitude and the friendships she has developed with the mice that adore her. When the local Prince must find a wife at an upcoming Royal Ball, Cinderella sees an opportunity for happiness. However, the selfish Tremaine Trio has other ideas for her. You'll just have to watch this Disney animated classic to see how it all turns out.
Cinderella was a unique Disney heroine. Unlike Snow White, Cinderella seems more true-to-life. Thanks to the warmth of Ilene Woods' voice, Cinderella has a maturity and depth that Snow White was missing. Sure, Cinderella has a positive attitude, but you also sense her weariness with the situation of servitude that she is forced to endure with the Tremaines. When her stepsisters seemingly ruin all chances of her making it to the Royal Ball, her breakdown is so convincingly voiced and animated that it would be hard not to shed a tear or two and feel genuine sympathy for this model heroine. Just as effective are the vocals of Eleanor Audley, whose chilling restraint for Lady Tremaine makes her one of the best Disney villains.
Tangled Ever After animated short: a short little piece of fluff, which shows the wedding of Rapunzel, but focuses on the mishap of how the ring is temporarily lost and must be retrieved for the ceremony. Cute.
Behind The Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland: "Once Upon A Time"'s Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White) leads a tour of the "new" Fantasyland construction at Walt Disney World. Still in progress, Goodwin walks around the construction site while viewers get to see computer renderings of what will eventually be there.
Diane Disney Miller intro: Very short, this basically amounts to a plug for the Disney Museum in San Francisco.
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-You! Personalized Digital Storybook (A Disney Second Screen experience)
The Magic Of The Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story: Another fun piece of fluff, it is a short that shows how Christian Louboutin designed a shoe that was his interpretation of the glass slipper. This short is more of a fantasy, and seems to have its visual styling based on Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" (even using the same typeface, Windsor, for its titles).
The Real Fairy Godmother - The incredible true story of Mary Alice O'Connor: I loved this featurette! Disney layout artist Ken O'Connor used his wife as the inspiration for the look of Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. This short tells how Mary Alice was such a giving person, volunteering for so many worthwhile charities and being such an uplifting and caring soul to boot. You really get the sense of warmth that this woman left behind.
Alternate Opening Sequence: Storyboard sketches show an alternate opening. The one used in the final film is much better!
Plus classic DVD bonus features, which are pretty extensive! They include deleted musical numbers, a "Making of" (38:27 minutes long) feature (did you know talk host show legend Mike Douglas was the voice of Prince Charming?), and a fantastic short about the talented Mary Blair. This is one of the best (albeit short at 14:58) tributes to Mary Blair, who was greatly admired by Walt Disney. He had a hard time finding a place for her to display her talents until it came time for the "it's a small world" exhibit came to be for the New York World's Fair in 1965. There is also a 1922 Laugh-O-Gram Disney silent film version of "Cinderella" (which really shows how Walt's filmmaking abilities matured over the years!) as well as a Mickey Mouse Club Show excerpt with Helene Stanley, who was the model for the live-action reference footage shot for "Cinderella." 3 vintage radio programs with Ilene Woods are included as well as a featurette titled: "From Walt's Table: A Tribute to the Nine Old Men." Present day Disney animators talk about the 9 Old Men and what each one meant to them while they are at the Tam O'Shanter restaurant, a famous hangout for Disney animators. Hosted by the late Joel Siegel. You can also see a Storyboard-to-Film Comparison (6:59) of the opening sequence, plus the usual collection of theatrical trailers.
Not very well known today is that "Cinderella" was a crucial film to the future success of The Disney Studio. At that time, "Snow White" had been the only truly profitable feature that Disney has released; a lot was riding on the success of "Cinderella." Fortunately, "Cinderella" was a blockbuster hit and allowed the Disney Studio to continue creating animated classics.
75 minutes, 1:33:1 aspect ratio (original Full-Frame) • Blu-ray audio of 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Original Theatrical Mix • Language/Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
BOTTOM LINE: This is another must-have for Disney and animation buffs!
Available on Blu-ray/DVD at Amazon.com.
“Once Upon A Time” on Blu-ray/DVD
I found myself addicted to this creative twist on the familiar fairy tale. "Once Upon A Time" takes some of the most famous characters known to most of us through their Disney version (Snow White, Prince Charming, Cinderella, Pinocchio, The Mad Hatter, and Belle) as well as some that haven't been Disney-fied yet (Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood) and puts them all together in modern times in a town called Storybrooke. None of the Storybrooke citizens remember their fairy tale origins (which are seen in flashback sequences), except for the Evil Queen from "Snow White," who runs the town as Mayor. It was she who engineered their memory loss and move to Storybrooke, so that she could remove all happiness from their lives out of her vengeance for a slight from Snow herself. It is the Evil Queen/Mayor's adopted son who figures it all out by reading a book of fairy tales. He makes the link between the Enchanted World and that of Storybrooke, and enlists the help of his birth mother, who he believes to be the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. If it sounds a little convoluted, well...at times it can be. Yet with each episode, I found myself drawn further and further in as each character becomes linked and intertwined, drawing towards the season's breathtaking finale...which only leaves the viewer with more questions that will have to wait until the second season.
The cast is stellar. Lana Parrilla shines as the Evil Queen/Mayor, rising to the occasion of being the villainess you want to hate, but also giving her just enough touches of humanity to make you sympathize (just a little bit!) with her and feel the pain that created the vengeful creature she became. Note: without giving away any plot twists, Barbara Hershey has a fantastic cameo as The Evil Queen's mother...talk about chilling! Ginnifer Goodwin is letter perfect as Snow White, but even more perfect in her characterization of the teacher in Storybrooke. Conflicted by the hate of the Mayor, she struggles with choices that seem a little unlike her fairy-tale counterpart. This is what makes this series so fun; perfect characters become imperfect in our present world, and it can be difficult to predict what they will do. Jennifer Morrison was an excellent choice as Snow White's Daughter, aka Emma Swan of Storybrooke. I do have a bone to pick with the writers though, who flip flop her Storybrooke character from being a tough and determined mother to being a wimpy whiny mess who wants to run away. This flopping of character only serves to draw out the drama, and not in a good way. No such problem with Robert Carlyle's characters of Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold. He goes head to head with Parrilla, serving up a performance that you love to hate, but at the same time also sympathize with.
The special effects are top notch; when looking at the extras, it is hard to believe just how much of the sets were done in CGI. I doubt that this series could have been done on a television budget ten years ago. On blu-ray, the visuals and sound are spectacular. Great detail, clarity, and color. Aspect ration is 1.78:1, with the sound in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround.
The extras on the DVD/Blu-ray include the following featurettes: * Fairy Tales in the Modern World: How the classic stories we all know and love were adapted to coexist with Storybrooke.
* Building Character: Using Belle (from "Beauty and the Beast") as the example, it shows how the production team re-created her character for "Once Upon A Time," using just enough visual queues from the Disney version to make her recognizable, but adding a few new twists to make her fresh. Actress Emilie de Ravin's input was also taken, which you can see in her interview when she was asked to give her thoughts on Belle.
* Welcome to Storybrooke: This was one of my favorites, showing how the town in Canada used for Storybrooke was transformed each time it had to be used for filming. The production crew had the changeover down to a science, as they took existing stores and restaurants and made them the ones that you see on screen. I'm sure this will bump up the tourism, as visitors have already asked when will Mr. Gold's Antique shop be open!
* The Story I Remember...Snow White: Interesting to hear the different actors in the show describe the version of Snow White that they are familiar with (note: there exist many more versions besides the Disney one). Some darker than others!
The usual commentaries (including co-creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, writer Jane Epenson, and cast members Goodwin, Carlyle, Parilla, Morrison and Josh Dallas, aka Prince Charming), bloopers and deleted scenes are included, too. Some of the deleted scenes added a little extra information (especially revolving around the plot of Snow being in jail), but in the end, nothing that really was missed. For the sake of pacing, the deletions were correct.
Found on the Blu-ray (but not DVD) is: *Once Upon A Time: Origins: Dallas guides viewers through the various fairy tales represented in "Once Upon A Time," discussing the history beginning back to when they were first told/written right up to the Disney versions. Obviously, some have been changed more than others. Very interesting to see the differences. This set is highly recommended, but I warn you...it will be difficult to put down once you start watching!
Available on Amazon.com.
Available on Blu-ray/DVD at Amazon.com. Walt Disney was involved with the planning of this movie (back when it was originally to be a live-version TV movie); once he passed away, much of the plot and motivations were changed. According to some of the featurettes on the disc, economy was a major factor in keeping the animation simple, removing characters, plot twists, and a few songs. Although the economy can be very apparent (especially in the style of animation), it is still a very sweet movie. Imagine a melding of "Lady and the Tramp" and "101 Dalmatians" for cats, and you would probably be able to figure out the storyline here. There are no nail-biting sequences nor extraordinarily evil villains, yet the resulting animated film is definitely endearing and full of memorable songs. Maurice Chevalier was coaxed out of retirement by the Sherman Brothers (details are in one of the extra segments) to sing the title song and none other than Louis Armstrong sings the wonderful fast-paced song, "Everybody Wants to Be A Cat." Phil Harris lends his voice to the lead male role of O'Malley the Alley cat (and duets with Louis on the previously mentioned song). Eva Gabor plays the female lead, Duchess, the mother of three kittens and apple of her wealthy mistress' eye, Adelaide (the voice of Hermoine Baddeley). I can't say enough positive things about Gabor; she has a subtlety of emotion, charm, and humanity that shines through her wonderful accent. Despite her character being spoiled by her mistress and obviously living a very pampered life, through Gabor's voice, you can also hear that Duchess is very wise to O'Malley's flirtatious ways.
Briefly, the story is of Duchess and her three kittens who live in pampered Parisian luxury with the elderly Adelaide until the greedy butler, Edgar, decides to kidnap the cats so that he can inherit all of Adelaide's wealth instead of the cats. Dumped far away in the country, it takes O'Malley the Alley Cat to help get them back to Adelaide's, but not without a few fun journeys along the way. Sterling Holloway is wonderful as the cat's unlikely pal and hero, Roquefort. The animation has a similar rough-sketch look to it that "101 Dalmations" did. The picture quality is crystal clear on Blu ray, as is the sound. Don't expect a whole lot of dynamic range from the soundtrack, other than during some of the chase sequences or the jazz song "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat."
The extras appear to be pretty much the same from the previous DVD release, although the Blu-ray Disc (mercifully) doesn't have any of the games on it. "Bath Day" (6:38) is a cute Minnie Mouse cartoon with Figaro the cat. I really enjoyed the excerpt from a 1956 Wonderful World of Disney show (hosted by Walt himself) entitled "The Great Cat Family" (12:50) with a fun history of the cat, accompanied by some wonderful animation. Richard Sherman introduces a deleted song ("She Never Felt Alone"), accompanied by storyboard sketches and production drawings, using the original demo audio recordings. Sherman also talks about "The Lost Open" of the movie, which is an expanded version of what we currently see. One of the characters was written out due to economy and the action was definitely tightened up. Although I can't say the character is really missed, it is obvious that with all of the deletions from Walt's original intent, some of the richness of the original narrative is lost. Adelaide's strong bond to her cats is not quite as established because of the loss of the song "She Never Felt Alone." "The Sherman Brothers: The Aristocats of Disney Songs" (4:33) has both of the Sherman brothers (but mainly Richard) talking about how they created the memorable musical numbers for this animated feature. There is also an odd little "Oui Oui Marie" remix music video by Ditto thrown in, as well as the ability to sing-along with four different tunes from the film.
What's missing? Sure would have been nice to have an overall "Making Of" featurette, but still this is a solid release and an enjoyable movie.
If you already have the previous DVD release, then I can't necessarily say that you have to rush right out and purchase the Blu-ray upgrade. However, if you don't have a home video copy of this movie (or it's a VHS copy), then definitely purrrrrrrchase this version!
“The Muppets” 20th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray/DVD
Available on Amazon.com.
Available on Blu-ray/DVD at Amazon.com.