Tag Archives: Walt Disney

Blu-ray Review: “Alice in Wonderland” (60th Anniversary Edition)

Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Edition (Disney, 2011)

Never one to let an anniversary pass without some sort of commemoration, Disney is celebrating Alice in Wonderland‘s 60th birthday by bringing its adaptation of Lewis Caroll’s classic tales to Blu-ray for the first time. Disney aficionados will note with disappointment that Alice received a DVD upgrade last year (the appropriately titled “Un-Anniversary” edition) — a strange bit of rapid-fire double-dipping for a movie with a mixed legacy, to say the least. Is it worth owning again? Read on.

Synopsis: This Disney feature-length cartoon combines the most entertaining elements of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Chasing after the White Rabbit, who runs into view singing “I’m Late! I’m Late!,” Alice falls down the rabbit hole into the topsy-turvy alternate world of Wonderland. Continue reading

DVD Review: “Bolt”

Bolt (2009, Walt Disney)
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I don’t care whether it’s animated or not — any time I see the words “starring John Travolta and Miley Cyrus,” I feel confident in assuming that the film in question is going to be 100 percent awful. For this reason, I watched Disney’s latest entrance into the world of chatty CG-animated animals, Bolt, with no small degree of trepidation — and maybe it’s just the low expectations talking, but in the end, what I expected to be a powerful new blend of suck proved instead to be an utterly charming little kid’s movie.

Bolt begins with a fast-paced action set piece, which pretty much sets the tone for the entire movie; overall, it’s a smartly concocted blend of high-concept plot, beautiful animation, and enough tender moments, sharp dialogue, cuddly critters, and good old-fashioned adventure to keep viewers of pretty much any age entertained. The storyline follows Bolt (Travolta), the canine star of a television show that depicts the exploits of a superpowered mutt and his owner, a scientist’s daughter named Penny (Cyrus), as they battle the nefarious Doctor Calico.

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Bolt, in a nifty twist, doesn’t realize the show is fake — which proves problematic when he accidentally leaves the lot where the show is filmed, ends up across the country, and has to find his way back to Penny, all the while believing he has the power to pick up cars with his teeth, bark bad guys into submission, and shoot laser beams out of his eyes.

Bolt is joined on his trip by Mittens (voiced by Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Susie Essman), a cat he takes prisoner, and Rhino (Mark Walton), a hamster who just happens to be a rabid fan of Bolt’s show. Their cross-country journey is beautifully animated — despite the fact that the technological advancements of the format have long since numbed us to stuff like lifelike CGI grass and hair, it still looks great — and more importantly, screenwriters Chris Williams and Dan Fogelman never resort to the scatalogical humor or cheap pop-culture gags that have become de rigeur in these films. There’s some mild peril, but unless your kids are either extremely young or extremely sensitive, Bolt is well worth inviting into your home; aside from being thoroughly entertaining, it contains some positive messages about the difference between real life and television, and the power of belief. Parts of it are really sort of moving, actually.

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This three-disc special edition comes bundled with a Blu-ray version, a digital copy, and the film (plus bonus features) on DVD, making it an excellent purchase for any family planning on making the jump to Blu-ray in the near-to-long-term future.

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The features themselves are nothing to sneeze at, either, including a short film that gives Rhino the spotlight, an assortment of behind-the-scenes featurettes that provide a glimpse of how the film was made and the process the voice actors went through, and a music video for “I Thought I Lost You,” the Travolta/Cyrus duet that, I must admit, doesn’t suck nearly as much as I thought it would. If you’re looking for some new viewing material for family movie nights, feel free to rent or purchase Bolt without reservation.

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Blu-ray/DVD Review: “Pinocchio”

Pinocchio (2009, Walt Disney)
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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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