Tag Archives: Blu-ray Disc

Blu-ray Review: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition”

61KEUnRRkcL._SCLZZZZZZZ_[1]If you’ve been looking for an excuse to make the jump from DVD to Blu-ray, look no further. Matter of fact, thanks to Disney’s brilliant strategy of bundling DVDs with their Blu-ray releases, you don’t even have to own a Blu-ray player to take advantage of the new face lift the studio has given its 1937 classic — but if you do have one, make sure you put a pillow under your mouth the first time you watch the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Diamond Edition transfer, because your jaw is going to drop.

There have been a fair number of catalog Blu-ray reissues at this point, and consumers have had to resign themselves to the fact that not all hi-def upgrades were created equal — when you’re dealing with source material from more than, say, 20 years ago, you’re going to see a fair number of defects, even after the most painstaking remastering job (see the Batman Blu-ray for an example). Given this, you’d expect the Snow White Blu-ray to be the kind of pleasant-but-not-remarkable upgrade you’d get out of most older films, but you’d be wrong — Disney has been rolling out some truly breathtaking restoration jobs in the last year or so, and Snow White might be the fairest of them all. Is it perfect? Probably not — you can go over any transfer with a magnifying glass and pick out flaws here and there, however minor. But watching Snow White, you won’t want to; you’ll be too busy marveling at just how incredibly lush and beautiful this hand-drawn classic remains more than 70 years after its release. Every feature-length animated film has its roots in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — along with quite a few live-action movies — and this set gives it the fawning respect it deserves. Continue reading

Blu-ray Review: “Earth”

Remember when DVD players were mostly a luxury for the home theater crowd, and pretty much anyone who bought one also picked up a copy of Twister to test his system’s limits? Well, it certainly isn’t an audio/CGI workout on that level, but Disney’s Earth is so stunningly gorgeous that it might be the first true “gotta have it” purchase for Blu-ray owners. Yes, it’s just another nature documentary — and in an age when you can switch on Discovery Channel HD at almost any hour and see something that takes your breath away — but…wow. Just wow.

Disney took some heat for the way Earth was assembled, and perhaps rightly so; it’s basically a boiled-down version of the BBC’s mammoth Planet Earth series, and though it uses some footage that wasn’t aired on the show, it’s still mostly reheated goods. But nobody wants to watch seven and a half hours of anything in a theater, and this is Disney — they’re aiming Earth at kids, whose attention spans are built for the film’s 90-minute length. This is actually one of the first projects from the studio’s new Disneynature banner, intended to expose the Disney demographic to the sights and sounds of the world around us, which is awfully hard to complain about. Even if you were enthralled by Planet Earth during its TV run, in other words, don’t be so quick to write off Earth as its shrimpier cousin; in any house with kids, it’s got a charm all its own. Continue reading

Blu-ray/DVD Review: “Pinocchio”

Pinocchio (2009, Walt Disney)
purchase this Blu-ray/DVD (Amazon)

Okay, see, here’s how you get cash-conscious consumers to climb aboard a new, more expensive technology bandwagon: You release lovingly curated, value-stuffed titles like Disney’s recent string of “platinum edition” Blu-ray/DVD combo packs. It helps, of course, that Disney is forever taking its classic titles out of print for years at a time, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this 70th anniversary reissue of Pinocchio is well worth the $25 it’ll cost you through Amazon. (If you don’t own a Blu-ray player, and don’t think you’ll be buying one in the next 5-10 years, Pinocchio is also being released as a two-DVD set, with the same bonus features.)

As with last year’s Platinum Edition reissue of Sleeping Beauty, the freshly scrubbed Pinocchio is truly a sight to behold. Disney sent its crew all the way back to the original negatives and removed every speck of dust, every scratch, every speck; the lines are darker and cleaner, and the colors are brighter. You’ll probably come away disappointed if you expect a visual upgrade on the order of Sleeping Beauty, but then again, if you expect that, you’re being unreasonable; the film in question is nearly seven decades old. They’ve also gone back to the original soundtrack and given it a cleanup — it’s offered here in two versions, both in 7.1 “lossless” stereo and Dolby mono. (They both sound great, but Pinocchio is obviously not the first film you want to pull out to put your home theater system through its paces.)

Seeing as how you it isn’t unlikely that you already own Pinocchio in some form, this reissue’s chief appeal may lie in its extras, and they are legion. There are a number of BD-Live features, none of which will really sell the package, but they’re just a tiny fraction of what you can do with the film; the new bonus material includes things like the “Disney View,” which allows you to insert paintings by artist Toby Bluth into the widescreen bars above and below the film, and “Cine-Explore,” which lets you watch the movie with Picture-in-Picture commentary from Leonard Kaufman, J.B. Kaufman, and Eric Goldberg, along with glimpses at behind-the-scenes stuff like sketches, character designs, and interviews with the original film’s crew.

And that’s just the first disc. The second includes games, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, multiple documentaries, more behind-the-scenes footage, more production art, and theatrical trailers. And then there’s the DVD disc, which strips out most of the extras (leaving only a video for Meaghan Jette Martin’s version of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” which is every bit as inessential as you’d imagine) but provides a smart bit of cheap, easy incentive for DVD customers who are on the fence about making the leap to Blu-ray. Disney’s certainly guilty of raiding the vaults at the slightest provocation, but the Platinum Edition line presents the ideal marriage of great content and new technology. If you’re a fan of the studio’s classic films, you won’t want to let them pass you by.

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