Archive for the ‘Disney Animation’ Category

Disney Talk – Toys “R” Back, Part Two

August 2, 2009

Image © Disney/Pixar.



It’s official: Andy’s headed to college.

By Blake

Originally posted August 1, 2009.

There’s been plenty of speculation flying around for years (yes, years) concerning the return of a certain space ranger and his cowboy doll buddy. But it wasn’t until some very exciting Twitter updates were posted on several official Disney accounts live from the recent Comic-Con in San Diego that I had heard of official word from Disney themselves saying the details about the further adventures of Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

Buzz and Woody are back for thirds. Image © Disney/Pixar.

It was already known before now that both Buzz and Woody would be returning to the big screen not once, but twice, within the coming year, with the releases of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 as a double feature in 3D on October 2, 2009, and with Toy Story 3 on the way on June 18, 2010.

The teaser trailer for Toy Story 3 was released alongside 3D screenings of Pixar’s Up in May, 2009, and the preview does a great job at re-introducing audiences to the series’ main characters and unveiling that another sequel is indeed coming.

Now flash-forward to July 24, 2009, a pivotal day for Toy Story fans. First off, the teaser trailer for the Toy Story and Toy Story 2 double feature debuted alongside 3D versions of G-Force. Once again, Pixar succeeds at creating excitement and anticipation for viewers, and also makes clever use of 3D emphasis to further enhance the trailer. You can see it for yourself here.

Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are being released as a 3D double feature on October 2. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Also on July 24, at the Comic-Con panel for Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, John Lasseter (director of Toy Story and Toy Story 2) and Lee Unkrich (director of Toy Story 3) were on hand to deliver some very special news. Firstly, they told that plot of TS3 will be of Andy, the toys’ owner, leaving for college. Secondly, they said the film will also introduce a new character, Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton), who is sure to be a hilarious companion to Barbie, who made her debut in TS2 (and is voiced by Jodi Benson, aka Ariel). For those of us that weren’t at the Comic-Con, Disney relayed the news via the official Twitter accounts of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, and D23.

The Toy Story series has already dealt with several deep and moving concepts. In the first film, friendship and jealousy were covered. By the second movie, more somber emotions like rejection, abandonment, and betrayal took the stage, as did appreciating the present without fearing the future. The decision to place Toy Story 3 some ten years later is very appropriate, then, in my opinion. We’ve already seen the toys develop a close bond with Andy, and seen them prove their loyalty to him. Now we’ll most likely get to see what happens when Andy has to leave the toys as he moves on into adulthood, making an important decision on what to do with them.

Hopefully this will be a great opportunity the audience to get a further knowledge of Andy’s personality. Although he’s been a very important part of the plot lines in the previous films, he’s been more of a representation of a concept or a theme than an actual character.

The idea of Andy growing up was an issue already hinted at in Toy Story 2, which I would think was long before the filmmakers knew for sure that they would make another sequel. Back then, the threat of the toys being forgotten was more of a distant fantasy, but now it could become a very real and impactful core of the series.

Many emotional topics have been the basis of the first two Toy Story films, and the third installment will likely cover even more moving issues as Andy heads to college. Image © Disney/Pixar.

I can’t wait to see what Pixar has up their sleeves for Toy Story 3. The thrill of seeing Woody and Buzz back in the spotlight is certainly an exciting feeling that Disney fans should appreciate, for infinity and beyond.

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted August 1, 2009. All images © Disney/Pixar.

Silver Screen Review – ‘Up’

June 3, 2009
Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

A clever work enriched by colorfully comical characters, magnificently creative sequences, and a winning story driven by emotion, Up superbly delivers a great film and a heartfelt message.

By Blake

Originally posted June 3, 2009.

Most people have at least one desire that they’d like to fulfill before they pass away. It could be anything from settling down in a quiet retirement community to participating in some sort of extreme journey. But establishing a home in South America with a view of a colossal waterfall outside your porch? That would be a little bizarre. Not for Carl Fredricksen, though.

In Up, the tenth film from Pixar Animation Studios, a lonely elderly man named Carl Fredricksen dreams of living next to Paradise Falls in South America and experiencing the “spirit of adventure.” Carl decides that the best way to do so is to fly, by attaching a hoopla of balloons to his house.

When he arrives in South America, Carl is far from the ideal peace and quietness he had pictured. Everything from a stowaway wilderness scout named Russell to a hilarious dog named Dug (who has a special collar that makes his thoughts auditory) to a crowd-pleasing bird that’s trying reach her separated babies all deter Carl from the relaxing living he was supposed to have reached in Paradise Falls.

Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

With such wacky situations as those, Up gets pretty zany at times. Many sequences are filled with hilarious craziness that amounts to a lot of laughs and plenty of giggles, especially from the tinier set of audience members. Additionally, there aren’t that many characters to keep track of. By having only about five main characters, each one that is presented gets developed very well. By the time the film is through, each of their personalities has been excellently portrayed to the audience.

From left: Dug the dog, Kevin the bird, Russell the wilderness scout, and Carl Fredrickson in Up. Each of the characters’ personalities gets developed very well, and their own distinctive traits are all featured just right in this picture. Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

Not only are the characters’ distinctive traits communicated well, but they also have a definite drive for their actions. Perhaps more than any other film I’ve seen, Up’s characters have a very emotional motivation behind what they’re doing. Carl’s entire reason for heading to Paradise Falls is to fulfill a personal issue that’s very important to him, and that reason is what keeps him going and what causes him to press forward throughout the entire film.

Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

Up conveys several impactful messages that relate on a number of levels, some subtly hinted at and others clearly spoken out by the characters. Similar to Cars, in which Lightning McQueen learns that life is a journey, Up includes Carl (and the audience too, for that matter) realizing that some of life’s most important epiphanies and fondest memories occur when we’re looking for something else. Perhaps the most powerful message of Up is that you can’t rely on material, tangible “things” or items to get you through life. Carl strives (with much difficulty) to hold on to his symbolic house, which represents so many of his special memories and so much of his lifelong achievements, but when it comes down to it, it’s just a house. In parallel, when you really look at the big picture, it’s the people surrounding you and the relationships made with them that matter most.

Lastly (yes, it gets pretty deep), time is also an issue covered in Up, particularly in valuing the time spent with others. Life on Earth doesn’t last forever, and it can be gone at any time, so don’t take any part of it for granted.

Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

Up is a very special masterpiece. It’s not often that a film rolls along with such an excellent story containing such endearing characters and is able to deliver a hilarious comedy while still attaining a very powerful sense of emotion and impact. That’s what Up succeeds at doing magnificently.

How do I rank Up? (Bolded is my choice.)

  • Aaaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

Up will most likely please: Disney Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10) – Tweens (ages 11-13) – Adults

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted June 3, 2009. All images (C) Disney/Pixar.

Disney Talk – Toys “R” Back

April 8, 2009

Toy Story returns, as do two of Disney’s beloved animated princesses.

By Blake

Originally posted April 8, 2009.

Disney re-releases several of their classics onto DVD every year. But with the spread of DVD and Blu-ray, it’s been quite a while since a Disney masterpiece has been given a re-release in theaters. Until now.

I reported in January 2008 that Disney was planning a return of the Toy Story franchise. It began last year with the openings of Toy Story: The Musical onboard the Disney Wonder and Toy Story Midway Mania! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s California Adventure. It continued promotionally when the Buzz Lightyear balloon appeared in the 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The next phase of this Toy Story return will begin this fall, when a video game based on Toy Story Midway Mania! will be released on the Nintendo Wii game system.

Toy Story Midway Mania!, a theme park attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s California Adventure, will have a video game based upon it, coming to the Nintendo Wii system this fall.

Then comes the really exciting part. On October 2, 2009, both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 will be re-released to select theaters in 3-D as a double feature presentation! Previously, the films were going to have two separate re-releases (with Toy Story in October 2009, and Toy Story 2 following in February 2010). Now they will both appear together in a double feature for the price of one ticket.

Economically, this is fantastic. Two movies for the price of one? Count me in! However, both movies back-to-back total about three hours of sitting in a theater. I personally don’t have a problem with that, but squirmy preschoolers might. Additionally, many families own Toy Story already on video or DVD. Even if you are indeed getting to see two movies for one price, a movie theater outing is still expensive, especially with the added-on price of 3-D films. Will families justify going to the theater to see two movies that they can rent for a fraction of their ticket price?

I think it’s worth it for Disney fans who know and love these films and are eager to see them again in a new medium. Additionally, getting to see a movie on the big screen that you’re used to watching on a TV set should be very exciting. Not only that, but both films have been reported to have received some tweaking in lighting using technology that wasn’t available during their initial theatrical runs. Overall, the Toy Story double feature in 3-D would probably be a pleasant experience that wouldn’t hurt the wallets of individuals or couples, but I don’t know if entire families will give in to the cost.

What’s all of this Toy Story hoopla leading up to? The very anticipated release of Toy Story 3, coming to theaters in June 2010.

Toy Story 3 is coming to theaters in June 2010!

Just a few days after the first two Toy Story films will be re-released to theaters in 3-D, another Disney classic will be re-released, but this time not in theaters. On October 6, 2009, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be released on Platinum Edition Blu-ray. It’s quite the coincidence that Toy Story (Pixar’s first feature film) and Snow White (Disney’s first feature film) are being re-released in the same week, isn’t it?

However, a DVD version of Snow White will not be available at first. It will eventually, with a two-disc Platinum Edition DVD release on November 24, 2009. However, if consumers want to see Snow White on DVD before then, the only option is the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, which includes both formats of the film. However, an individual DVD option (without the Blu-ray) won’t be available until November 24.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is coming to Blu-ray in October and DVD in November.

I think this is somewhat clever on Disney’s part, because previously they’ve just implemented the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack a few days before wide DVD releases (like they did with Bolt). Most people are content to wait a mere few days to purchase a DVD version if that means they don’t have to pay extra for the Blu-ray. But a few weeks? That could pose an issue.

Personally, I won’t be giving in to the Combo Pack, although I certainly would rather Disney not decide to implement it in the first place. I don’t see the point in purchasing a player for a few hundred dollars just so I can see a movie a few weeks ahead of time. I’m content to wait. Besides, Platinum Editions are fun to anticipate, anyway. They provide a plethora of bonus features that delve deep into the making of their respective films and give plenty of behind-the-scenes glimpses that are pleasurable to watch. They’re not worth buying an entire Blu-ray player just to see them in advance, but they’re worth their wait, and for that reason I’m content to hold off until Snow White’s individual DVD release.

Next up is a re-release that I am absolutely ecstatic about. Coming to 3-D in IMAX on February 12, 2010 is Beauty and the Beast! I’m not sure if it’s going to be limited to just IMAX theaters, but I would hope that it will be released in the same way that the Jonas Brothers 3-D concert was in February, available in both regular 3-D theaters and in IMAX.

Beauty and the Beast will be re-released in 3-D and IMAX in February 2010.

For Beauty and the Beast, I don’t see the financial issues discussed above with the Toy Story re-release being such a problem. Although Beauty and the Beast has been released in IMAX before (in January 2002), it also hasn’t been released on video or DVD since October 2002. This was during the later part of the video-to-DVD transition that many families were making, and at this time my family hadn’t bought a DVD player yet. Because of this, we purchased the VHS version of Beauty and the Beast, and other families may have done the same thing. For this reason, Beauty and the Beast may not be as accessible to families today as Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are because VHS players are scarce and both Toy Story films were released on DVD in both 2000 and 2005. Long story short, I’m very excited about Beauty and the Beast being released in theaters again.

With Toy Story and Toy Story 2 coming to 3-D in select theaters in October, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs coming to Blu-ray in October followed by a DVD release in November, and Beauty and the Beast coming to 3-D in select theaters and IMAX in February, Disney fans have plenty to be celebrating about! Those are four of some of Disney’s greatest animated features, and to see them again in a new experience should be fantastic.

By Blake; posted April 8, 2009. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Beauty and the Beast images (C) Disney. Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, and Toy Story Midway Mania! images (C) Disney/Pixar.

DVD Review – “Bolt”

April 4, 2009

The fantastic Bolt comes to DVD with a new short highlighting its release.

By Blake

Originally posted April 4, 2009.

I absolutely love Bolt. The characters are some of the best Disney has developed in years, the sophisticated animation sequences match that of any Pixar production, and the overall appeal of the movie, complete with its engaging plot and winning heart, blended together with a splash of comedy, make it an excellent film.

Bolt’s impact since its initial release in November has been quite the to-do, at least for a Disney animated film in today’s day and age. The line to meet the film’s three main characters at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been consistently long, the movie gained a Golden Globe nomination for Best Song (for “I Thought I Lost You”), Miley Cyrus was nominated a Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Voice From an Animated Movie for her role as Penny, and the film was nominated for Best Animated Movie at the Academy-Awards, Golden Globes, Annie Awards, and the Kids’ Choice Awards. And the public absolutely adores Rhino.

The premise of Bolt (about 96 minutes) surrounds the titular dog headlining his own TV show that he thinks is real-life. Naturally, when a cliff-hanger episode of the show leaves his owner, Penny, in the clutches of the bad guy, Bolt heads off on a trek to save her, thinking she’s really been taken away. He then finds himself shipped to New York, where he enlists the help of Mittens – an independent alley cat – and Rhino – a hamster, and Bolt’s biggest fan – to travel back to Hollywood.

Bolt encompasses all areas that a film should contain – it uses its brilliant characters to not only touch the viewer emotionally, but also provide a heap of laughs. Hopefully this is the beginning of a new line of Disney animated classics headed our way. You can read my full review of Bolt here to read more of my thoughts about the film itself, but here I’ll also be reviewing the DVD bonus material.

Bolt Deluxe Edition
Total Approx. Disc Running Time: about 132 minutes (about 2 hours and 12 minutes)
Highlight of Disc: Bolt Feature Film
Highlight Runner-Up: Super Rhino animated short

Like the High School Musical 3: Senior Year DVD, Bolt has come to DVD in two separate editions. The first contains one disc, which includes the feature film and a bonus short. The Deluxe Edition contains two discs – one for the movie, the bonus short, and several other supplemental features and another disc for the digital copy of the movie.

Bonus Features

The only bonus on the standard edition of the film, Super Rhino (about 4 minutes), is an all-new short from Walt Disney Animation Studios. I was very surprised, yet also delightfully pleased, that a new Bolt short was created for its DVD release. The short has the ever-popular crowd favorite Rhino saving Bolt and Penny from the Green-Eyed Man. It includes hints of the original film cleverly throughout, and my only complaint is that it’s not a little longer. Nonetheless, I wasn’t expecting a short in the first place, so the fact that Super Rhino was even created has me happy that the folks at Walt Disney Animation Studios see the potential that Bolt, and more specifically Rhino, has.

All of the other bonus features described from this point are only available on the Deluxe Edition DVD and the Blu-ray release, not the standard DVD edition.

Next, two deleted scenes (about 7 minutes) are shown, and include optional introductions with directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard. The first deleted scene involves two alley dogs confronting Bolt in Las Vegas, while the other has Rhino flowing down a river and calling for Bolt’s help. Had either of them been included, they would have altered the way that some of the pivotal moments in the film would have been portrayed in its final version.

Two bonuses are found under the “Music & More” section. The first is the music video for “I Thought I Lost You” (about 2 minutes), which features clips of Miley Cyrus and John Travolta singing in a recording studio, along with clips from Bolt shown in-between the recording footage. The next bonus is “In Session with John Travolta and Miley Cyrus” (about 1 minute), which includes brief interviews with the two about their feelings towards the song.

The first featurette under the “Backstage Disney” sub-menu is “A New Breed of Directors: The Filmmakers’ Journey” (about 5 minutes). It mainly consists of interviews with the directors of Bolt – Chris Williams and Byron Howard – as well as one from executive producer John Lasseter. Also included are glimpses into the Walt Disney Animation Studios (formerly Walt Disney Feature Animation) building, which is something that I had never gotten a peek into before. Usually we’re toured all around Pixar’s studio, so it was nice to see what the other side of Disney animation’s offices look like and what wacky happenings occur there, including animators rolling in a giant hamster ball through the hallway.

Next is “Act, Speak! The Voices of Bolt (about 10 minutes). It’s a rundown of the main characters’ voices in the film, plus interviews with the voice actors as well as directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard, executive producer John Lasseter, producer Clark Spencer, and character animator Amy Smeed. Highlighted are Miley Cyrus as Penny, John Travolta as Bolt, Susie Essman as Mittens, James Lipton as the TV director, and Mark Walton as Rhino. Here we find out that Walton is a Disney Studio story artist and originally did the voice of Rhino in the early storyboard version of the film, and was soon cast as the permanent voice of the hilarious hamster.

Lastly, there’s “Creating the World of Bolt (about 7 minutes), which is a look at the unique style of the film, which features CGI backgrounds that are meant to look like hand-created paintings. The end result looks beautiful in the film, and here we see interviews with the people that created that look, including art director Paul Felix (who also created Mickey Mouse’s 80th anniversary portrait) and director of look and lighting Adolph Lusinsky. Also discussed are the different techniques and research that was used to create the different types of lighting for each of the locations featured in the film, ranging from New York to Las Vegas.

Concluding the disc are sneak peeks (about 11 minutes). They include previews for Schoolhouse Rock! Earth DVD; Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray; The Black Cauldron Special Edition DVD; the Disney Channel movie Princess Protection Program; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs DVD and Blu-ray; Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure DVD and Blu-ray; the TV channel Disney XD; The Princess and the Frog; Lilo & Stitch Big Wave Edition DVD; Bedtime Stories DVD and Blu-ray; Disney Blu-ray titles; and Disney Movie Rewards. The big surprise here for me was The Black Cauldron being re-released, which I had not heard of until I saw the preview.

Menus

The DVD’s menus have various stills used as backgrounds, except for the main menu, which includes animation of Bolt, Mittens, and Rhino on a train. A transparent grayish rectangle surrounds the remote control’s selection on the screen, making it easy to see what you’re choosing.

Over the past several months, most Disney DVD releases have not included a hardcopy DVD guide to map out the disc(s)’ contents. Additionally, for the most part there is no art or pictures adorning the actual discs, but instead a blank mirror. Both of these are minor adjustments, however, and I guess if something’s got to be cut back, I’d rather it be these than less bonus features.

Wrapping It Up

Bolt is a great combination of classic and enduring characters, breathtaking animation, and a magnificent story that all culminate together to create a wonderful film. Hopefully it’s a sign of what’s to come in the future in Disney animation.


The movie itself is fantastic, though its DVD presentation seems to be less satisfying. This seems especially odd because the film certainly has plenty of fascinating history and background to elaborate on with bonus features, though that history is not shown here. What would have been really cool would be a look at what Bolt was originally supposed to be – American Dog. The basic storyline was supposedly going to be the same as the film’s final version, though several characters and locations were to be completely different. It would have pretty neat to see what the film was initially supposed to be like. Additionally, most of the bonus features that were included seem to be relatively short, as if there was something more to them. An audio commentary would have been welcomed, possibly even with Mark Walton as an in-character Rhino (like the hilarious audio commentary with Rutt and Tuke on the Brother Bear DVD).

However, I do thank whoever decided to create a new short to be included with Bolt’s DVD release, especially since I wasn’t even expecting it to be there in the first place. Super Rhino was definitely the highlight of the bonus features, and I’m very glad that not only a new short was included, but also that it was all about Rhino. Thankfully, Super Rhino is the one bonus feature that’s included on the standard single-disc edition of Bolt, so those who opt out of the Deluxe Edition still get to see it.

Unless you really want a digital copy of the film, I recommend the standard single-disc edition of the DVD. You’ll get the feature film and Super Rhino, which was the best of the included bonuses. Overall, Bolt is the best non-Pixar Disney animated film since Lilo & Stitch and has me anticipating what Disney has up their sleeves next.

How do I rank the Bolt DVD? (Bolded is my choice.)
Brilliant movie + Good bonus features =
  • Aaaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

The Bolt DVD will most likely please: Disney Fans – Dog Owners – Animation Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10) – Tweens (ages 11-13)

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted April 4, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

DVD Review – "Pinocchio" 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition

March 24, 2009
For the first time in ten years, Walt Disney’s second full-length animated film is released on DVD, and its already wonderful story grouped with its excellent new restoration and bonus material make the magical set well worth the wait.

By Blake

Originally posted March 24, 2009.

When thinking of top-notch, best-of-the-best Disney animated classics, Pinocchio is certainly near the top of the list. Its compelling story, touching lessons, breathtaking animation, superb character development, and impactful music all play key roles in culminating together a wonderful film experience.

The last time the movie was released was on a single-disc edition as part of Disney’s Gold Collection in 1999 and the movie’s only theme park experience is the Pinocchio’s Daring Journey ride at three Disney parks worldwide. So, it’s been a while since Pinocchio has had its time in the spotlight.

Fortunately, with the arrival of the new two-disc 70th (that’s right, 70th) Anniversary Platinum Edition the film has been given, an entire new generation can experience Pinocchio in a stellar set that has plenty to celebrate about.

Featuring many great new bonuses that include an audio commentary, a making-of featurette, and much more, the set is definitely worth its modest value.

Disc One
Total Approx. Running Time: About 289 minutes (about 4 hours and 49 minutes)
Highlight of Disc: Pinocchio feature film
Highlight Runner-Up: Audio Commentary

The movie itself (about 88 minutes) looks stellar. Its digital restoration has dignified outlines and pleasing colors without overdoing its enhancements. The movie tells of an elderly toymaker named Gepetto who lives with his cat, Figaro, and his goldfish, Cleo. When Gepetto wishes upon a star for his newest toy, a wooden puppet named Pinocchio, to become alive, the Blue Fairy grants him his wish. However, for Pinocchio to become a real boy, he must demonstrate bravery and honesty. To aid him through his temptations, Jiminy Cricket is named Pinocchio’s conscience. Although there are plenty of diversions that try to get in the way of Pinocchio’s goal of becoming a real boy, through these distractions he learns life lessons and in the end Disney magic shines through and the power of dreams stands true.


I hadn’t seen the film in a while, and I suppose I had never noticed until now just how dark it is. Yes, it’s a Disney film, but it certainly has its frightening moments. About the first third of film is just one sequence, while the rest of the film progresses at a faster pace with scenes that have to be some of Disney’s scariest. Just when you think Pinocchio would have learned his lesson to not make foolish mistakes any longer, a new temptation is given in to and a new eerie situation with its own set of villainous characters is introduced. The count of villains almost reaches the amount of good guys.

The film is also not very socially appropriate in terms of today, either. Pinocchio and other characters are shown smoking and drinking. A notice is shown before the film warning viewers that they should not take the same actions that the characters do, as both smoking and drinking can cause serious illnesses and side effects.

Those are really the only negative comments I have to contribute about the movie, though. The film is brimming with dazzling animation, superb for its time and featuring amazing special effects, particularly in the infamous Monstro sequence. Additionally, the film’s music earned it two Academy Awards for best score and best song, earned by “When You Wish Upon a Star,” somewhat of a theme song for the Walt Disney Company today.

After the movie itself comes the first of its bonus features.

Under “Music & More” is the music video for “When You Wish Upon a Star” (about 3 minutes) performed by Meaghan Jette Martin from the Disney Channel movie Camp Rock. The music video is a current remixed version of the classic song, and features Martin gazing upon stars with other teens.

Also under “Music & More” is Disney’s Song Selection (about 11 minutes), which allows the viewer to see the movie’s five songs consecutively with the lyrics on screen. In this case, Pinocchio’s songs are enjoyable and the Song Selection feature was a nice inclusion.

Next is “Backstage Disney,” where we’re treated to an audio commentary (about 88 minutes) of the movie with film historian (and host of the Walt Disney Treasures DVD’s) Leonard Maltin, current Walt Disney Studios animator Eric Goldberg, and film historian J.B. Kaufman. Each of the three contributors provides a very entertaining commentary, filling us in on many tidbits of trivia throughout the course of the film. In addition to Maltin, Goldberg, and Kaufman, throughout the commentary we hear clips of audio from some of the late animators that worked on Pinocchio, including Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Ward Kimball, Ken Anderson, and Wolfgang Reitherman.

The one inclusion under disc one’s “Games & Activities” is Pinocchio’s Matter Of Facts, a version of the movie where pop-up trivia facts appear on the screen as you watch the film. They mostly feature some background about the movie’s location, animal counterparts, props, and animation. Appearing about once a minute, the orange-font facts are sometimes difficult to see. The facts are overall geared for families, and those wanting a more insightful look at the making of the film should watch the audio commentary.

Concluding disc one are sneak peeks (about 11 minutes). The set includes previews for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Platinum Edition DVD & Blu-ray (the first look at this upcoming title), Up, Disney Blu-ray, Disney Movie Rewards, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure DVD & Blu-ray, My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too DVD, Schoolhouse Rock! Earth DVD, Disney Parks, and Bolt DVD & Blu-ray.

Disc Two

Total Approx. Running Time: About 101 minutes (about 1 hour and 41 minutes)
Highlight of Disc: No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio
Highlight Runner-Up: Deleted Scenes

The only feature under disc two’s “Games & Activities” is Pinocchio’s Puzzle Game (time varies). In the game, the player is trying to complete a series of six puzzles to finish a new music box Gepetto has been working on. Once all six puzzles are completed, the music box is finished. Each puzzle has about ten pieces, and often I was filling in the pieces based on their shape and not the visual on the piece, since they were a bit too small to actually see the picture on them. Jiminy Cricket is the narrator of the game, and encourages the player on throughout the puzzles. The game does get a bit repetitive by the time the player reaches the sixth puzzle, but the game will most likely entertain the elementary-aged set for a while.

Next, a hoopla of bonuses await under disc two’s “Backstage Disney” section. First is “No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio (about 56 minutes), which covers just about every aspect that went into creating the film. Everything including initial concepts for the movie, animation, special effects, voice acting, and music are all featured. Interviews include animation historians Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck, the late animators Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnston, and even the voice of Pinocchio, Dickie Jones. The making-of is very delightful and is one of the highlights of the DVD set.


Next are three deleted scenes (about 10 minutes). Excellently presented (especially considering their age), each scene is brought to the viewer through storyboard drawings from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library. A narrator provides a background for each scene, tells where it was to have been used in the film, and shares when it was created. The first scene is “The Story of the Grandfather Tree” and involves Gepetto telling Pinocchio a bedtime story about Pinocchio’s grandfather, who was supposedly a kind tree. The next scene is “Starving In the Belly Of the Whale” and has Gepetto, Figaro, and Cleo very hungry inside Monstro and having dreams of food. Gepetto goes a bit crazy for a minute, and I can see why this scene was removed. The last scene is an alternate ending which has Pinocchio changing into a real boy on the beach just after the climactic battle instead of back at Gepetto’s workshop.

The Sweatbox (about 6 minutes) is a fascinating look at how Walt Disney and his animation staff innovated filmmaking by reviewing rough drafts of films in a room called the “sweatbox” (earning its name from lack of air conditioning). The process is still used today when creating movies. The featurette includes interviews with modern Disney animators recalling the process, as well a re-enactment of sorts of Walt and his animators in the sweatbox.

Gepettos Then and Now (about 11 minutes) starts out as a quaint look into modern-day toymakers who, like Gepetto, fascinate children’s imaginations with their toys. About halfway through the featurette, though, the pace changes and turns into a commercial for current toys such as Ultimate Wall-E, I-Sobot, and Emotiv System. One of the modern-day Gepettos that was included in this feature, Cyril Hobbins, was also featured in an article of the premiere issue of Disney twenty-three magazine and was also interviewed on the D23 website.

Live-Action Reference (about 10 minutes) is a narrated peak at some of the live-action footage that the Disney Studio taped to give the animators an idea of how the film should be presented. Actors were hired to perform in temporary “sets,” and the animators would study that footage as they created the work for the film. This featurette does get a bit lengthy, but its content is fascinating and to see that footage so old is still preserved today (when it was just used for the animators’ reference) is remarkable.

Pinocchio Art Galleries have a hoopla of art pieces categorized into several groups. The organization of the art is helpful to choose what kind of piece you’d like to view, but (like most DVD art galleries), viewing all of the art in any given category at one time requires some going back-and-forth between menus. Nevertheless, the art galleries offer a wonderful look into the development of the film, particularly in the “Character Design” and “Background & Layout” areas of the gallery.

Publicity (about 5 minutes) includes three theatrical trailers for Pinocchio – one for its original 1940 release and others for its 1984 and 1992 re-releases.

Lastly, there’s a deleted song called “Honest John” (about 3 minutes). Sung by a group of males (I’m not sure which characters would have sang it in the movie, though), the song mostly describes the mischievous personality of Honest John, also known as Foul Fellow.

Although most of the bonus features were excellent, I was surprised that none of them talked about the inclusion of Figaro in the Pluto cartoons of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Indeed the same Figaro from Pinocchio, I’ve always been puzzled about how Figaro went from being Gepetto’s cat to Minnie Mouse’s cat in some of the later Disney cartoon shorts, an issue that I don’t think has been cleared up by Disney. Figaro even had three of his own shorts after playing a supporting role in Pluto cartoons.

Gepetto’s cat, Figaro, was featured as Minnie Mouse’s cat after Pinocchio, and that mystery is not covered on the new Pinocchio DVD set.
Additionally, Jiminy Cricket being featured as somewhat of a Disney symbol is also not covered. Aside from a mention in the audio commentary of Jiminy narrating the 1947 Disney film Fun and Fancy Free, nothing is gone into detail about the character’s further involvement in Disney works. Some of these include his roles in Wishes and SpectroMagic at Walt Disney World, appearing on The Mickey Mouse Club, hosting the I’m No Fool educational short series, playing the Ghost of Christmas Past in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and hosting several volumes of Disney’s Sing-Along Songs video tapes.

Jiminy Cricket is another Pinocchio character that went on to be featured in other Disney productions.

Menus

Disc one’s menus are themed to Gepetto’s workshop, which is presented in CGI animation on the main menu. Disc two is themed to the village where Gepetto and Pinocchio live, featuring the village streets and the theater. The viewer’s selection on the screen (on both discs) is indicated by two light blue squiggle brackets, which are sometimes difficult to see if the background is light, but most of the time are easy to identify.

Wrapping It Up

Although it’s definitely not the most smile-filled Disney movie, since its debut 70 years ago, Pinocchio has enchanted audiences with its likable characters, amazing animation, wonderful music, and meaningful lessons. As a follow-up to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (being the first Disney film to be made after it), Pinocchio had plenty of pressure on its shoulders when it was first released. That being said, it proved to the world that the hardworking staff and animators at the Walt Disney Studios were there to stay, able to produce multiple lasting and enduring films.


The new 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition of Pinocchio is up to par with past Platinum releases, featuring plenty of bonuses to please Disney fans. The audio commentary, making-of featurette, deleted scenes, and re-enactment of Walt Disney’s “sweatbox” routine are all the high points of the set and each offer a unique view into the creation of the film. After a ten year absence from stores, the excellent new Pinocchio set is a welcome addition for those who have anticipated its arrival.

How do I rank Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD? (Bolded is my choice.)

Very good movie + Brilliant bonus features =
· Aaaah!
· Blech
· Not good
· Good
· Very good
· Brilliant

Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD will most likely please: Disney Fans – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10)

By Blake; posted March 24, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Disney Talk – Disney Wants You to Bolt to the Theater Again

December 10, 2008

Disney wants you to see Bolt a second time to view an all-new Pixar short.

By Blake

Originally posted December 10, 2008.

I’ll admit that I was a tad bit disappointed when I saw Bolt last month. The movie itself wasn’t what let me down – it was actually quite superb – but I was half-thinking that I’d get the pleasure of viewing one of the new Pixar Cars Toons shorts beforehand. Cars is one of my favorite Pixar movies and Pixar has recently begun to create several three-to-four-minute shorts starring Mater. The first three of these new shorts originally aired on Toon Disney last October, and Disney had announced in September that a fourth short was in the works and would be released theatrically. Naturally, I had thought that this meant that the fourth cartoon would appear alongside Bolt when the movie debuted in theaters on November 21. However, I was half-right.

How could I be half-right? Well, I was right to think that the fourth Cars Toons short would appear with Bolt, but wrong to think that it would do so just when Bolt was released. The good news is that audiences will get to see the next Cars Toons short starting this Friday, December 12, 2008. The bad news is that they’ll have to pay to see Bolt a second time to view it. That’s right, beginning on Friday, the new Cars Toons tale will be shown to audiences just before Bolt begins in theaters.


This wouldn’t be the first time Disney has enticed audiences to see their films twice. If you’ll remember back to the late 90’s/early 2000’s, Pixar would release hilarious outtakes for their movies a few weeks after the respective films would be released. They did this for A Bug’s Life; Toy Story 2; and Monsters, Inc. Later the outtakes appeared on the DVD releases of those films, but delaying their release in theaters certainly helped to bring people back for more.

The question is, is seeing a three-minute Cars short going to be enough for you to pay an extra $8+ to go see Bolt? I’d say it depends. While Bolt is a great film and definitely worth seeing twice, I usually don’t end up seeing movies twice in the theater simply because ticket prices are so high these days. The way I see it is if I’m paying that much money to go to the movies, I’d rather see a new movie than see something I’ve already viewed. And, although Bolt is wonderful, I’m content to wait for its DVD release (expected this spring) to see it again. Even though I did enjoy the first few Cars Toons when they aired on TV in October, I’ll wait and see if this fourth short winds up being released on some future Pixar DVD or even airing sometime soon on TV instead of seeing it in the theater.

By Blake; originally posted December 10, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

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Silver Screen Review – Bolt

November 26, 2008

Hold your breath – ‘Bolt’ could turn out to be something really special.

By Blake

Originally posted November 26, 2008.

It’s been a pretty rough patch of time for the past few years at Walt Disney Feature Animation, and Bolt is honestly the first time since Lilo & Stitch that I really saw a quality combination of story, characters, and entertainment wrapped up into one superb Disney animated film.

Let’s just take a look at some of the films that have been cranked out of the Studio since 2002: Treasure Planet carried too much prestige and dignity to be well accepted. Brother Bear held plenty of emotional strength but relied too much on individual characters to perform certain jobs – some to carry the story forward, others just for comedic enjoyment – instead of an entertaining combination between the two. I never saw Home on the Range, but based on the fact that I’ve never heard anything about it since its original release, I’ll take it that it wasn’t too good. Chicken Little was a little improvement, though maybe relied too heavily on comedy. Meet the Robinsons was yet again a slight increase towards a more quality production but was just about the opposite of Chicken Little – it had lots of heart, but lacked real comedy and thrust too many characters at the audience at one time, not allowing them to digest each of them before another one was introduced.

For the first all-Disney animated movie to be chiefly created since Disney acquired Pixar in January 2006, Bolt promised plenty of potential to show audiences just what effect the $7.6 billion purchase could do for Disney. Some of the many changes Pixar executives made to Bolt include a director swap, a name change (the film was originally to be called American Dog), some character revises (the cat was initially going to be an eye-patched pirate of sorts), and several other alterations. I certainly am curious to see just how different the movie would have been had these changes not been made, but I think overall the movie works very well as it is now.


The plot focuses on Bolt, a canine Hollywood star who headlines a hit weekly television series. Though there’s just one problem: Bolt doesn’t know he’s on a TV show. Thinking his owner, Penny, is in real danger when her character on the TV show is kidnapped by a villain, Bolt breaks out of the Hollywood set to go find her. Mistakenly, he winds up being shipped to New York, where he’s going to need some big time help – and a hoopla of luck – to find his way back home.


Something that Bolt had that I hadn’t seen in a long time was such a powerful reliance on strong characters. Mainly we only spend time with four chief characters, resulting in each of them getting to be developed extremely well since they don’t have to share the spotlight with anyone else. The title character Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) heralds back to when the delusional Buzz Lightyear thought he was a space ranger, as Bolt gallivants around the country thinking he’s a super dog. Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus – a HUGELY clever move on Disney’s part) is very concerned about her lost dog and will do anything she can to get him back. She also, like Lilo, has a vast photo collection of pictures she’s taken herself of her and Bolt on their many adventures. Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman) is a rogue alley cat who Bolt mistakes for a television villain, and enlists her to help him find Penny. Rhino the hamster (voiced by Mark Walton) is definitely the crowd favorite, and is Bolt’s biggest fan. Having watched Bolt’s show on TV, he’s ecstatic at the opportunity to join the star on his cross-country search to find Penny.


Like I previously stated, each character gets lots of screen time and has plenty of opportunities for the audience to see many different levels of their personalities. Each of them becomes a dynamic character (meaning that they change emotionally) by the time the movie ends and we certainly feel that emotion. Being a dog owner and having lost my dog before, I could feel Penny’s pain as she longed to see Bolt again, and I just felt each character’s emotions in a way that I hadn’t seen in a Disney movie in a long while. Remember when Stitch felt like an ugly duckling that didn’t belong? That’s the kind of power we see here with the characters.

Not only is emotion involved into Bolt, but comedy is also equally taken into account. I don’t know if I’d agree with billing the film as a full comedy as Disney’s currently doing, but it certainly delivered its fair share of laughs. Aimed to mostly please the younger set, I think the jokes came across as successful: there were plenty of high-pitched giggles all throughout the audience. Several particular instances come to mind when thinking of the comedy side of Bolt, but of course I wouldn’t want to ruin any of the surprises for you.

Bolt is certainly something to get excited about. For the first time in six years, a non-Pixar Disney movie has produced a quality, well-rounded entertainment experience. Colorful character personalities wrapped up in an engaging and solid story are balanced beautifully to create a wonderful film. I couldn’t be more ecstatic.

How do I rank Bolt? (Bolded is my choice.)
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

Bolt will most likely please: Disney Fans – Dog Owners – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-8) – Older Kids (ages 9-10)

By Blake; originally posted November 26, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

Disney Talk – Oscar Recap 2008

March 2, 2008

Image © Disney.

This year’s Academy-Awards have come and gone with ten Disney nominations and one win.

By Blake

Originally posted March 2, 2008.

2007 certainly was a prosperous year for Disney movies, particularly three of them which garnered special success. Ratatouille proved that some Disney films could have a surprisingly large adult fan base. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End capped off its very popular trilogy proving that Disney could have a solid franchise that stood up among the ranks of Harry Potter. Lastly, Enchanted cranked out some of the best new Disney music in years. All three of these spectacular films came to the attention of the Academy, collectively receiving ten nominations for the 80th Annual Academy-Awards, which were held last Sunday, February 24, 2008.

First, let’s talk about Ratatouille. It was nominated for Best Animated Film, Best Original Score, Achievement in Sound Editing, Achievement in Sound Mixing, and Best Original Screenplay. Thankfully, it did win Best Animated Film. Unfortunately, Ratatouille lost its other four nominations. Juno won Original Screenplay, Atonement won Original Score, and I still don’t know the difference between Achievement in Sound Mixing and Achievement in Sound Editing. However, the same film, The Bourne Ultimatum, won both awards.

Ratatouille won Best Animated Film and was nominated for Best Original Score, Achievement in Sound Editing, Achievement in Sound Mixing, and Best Original Screenplay. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Next up is Pirates. It was nominated for Achievement in Makeup and Achievement in Visual Effects. Well, it lost Makeup to La Vie En Rose. However, I was 99.9% sure Pirates would win for Visual Effects . . . but it didn’t. Instead, The Golden Compass took home the award. Although I haven’t seen The Golden Compass, it must have had some pretty nifty effects to beat out Pirates’ maelstrom sequence.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was nominated for Achievement in Makeup and Achievement in Visual Effects. Image © Disney.

Lastly, we come to Enchanted. Three of its songs (“Happy Working Song,” “That’s How You Know,” and “So Close”), written by acclaimed Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, were all nominated for Best Song. All five songs in the Best Song category were performed throughout the show, and all three of Enchanted’s songs had excellent performances. “Happy Working Song” was sung by Amy Adams, who plays Giselle in the film, and was spot-on and in character 100%.

Three songs from Enchanted were nominated for Best Song. Image © Disney.

“That’s How You Know” (which was introduced by Miley Cyrus) was performed by Kristin Chenoweth, which kind of confused me because Chenoweth isn’t even in the film. As it turns out, Amy Adams apparently only wanted to perform one song, so a substitute was used for “That’s How You Know.” Chenoweth did the song justice and the performance (featuring a packed stage full of brides, grooms, construction workers, and senior citizens) was quite spectacular. (Although, if there had to be a switch of performers, I’m glad it was in “That’s How You Know” . . . anybody other than Amy Adams singing “Happy Working Song” might have sounded out of character.)

The last of Enchanted’s nominated songs, “So Close,” was introduced by Patrick Dempsey, who plays Robert in the film, and was sung by Jon McLaughlin, who sings the song in the film. The performance was done in true Disney fashion, reenacting the ballroom scene from the film quite nicely, complete with a “Hidden Mickey” and performers portraying the film’s four main characters (proof that Enchanted characters COULD work out for appearances in the parks!).

The moment soon arrived to reveal the winner for Best Song. Who won? “Falling Slowly” from Once, which was performed on an acoustic guitar and a piano. The song’s writers, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, did seem very deserving in their acceptance speech, telling that they only had had $100,000 to make the movie and had come through a long journey to get where they were. So, yes, I felt happy for the winners but still disappointed that Enchanted didn’t win.

However, even though Enchanted didn’t win, its nominations prove several very important points. First, Disney music is alive and well again. I mean, think about it. The music featured in Enchanted could go on to become signature Disney classics. (If this keeps up, we can possibly hope to see a few performances from High School Musical 3 at next year’s Oscars.) Second, the performances prove that Enchanted is definitely fit for the stage. Whether it be on Broadway or somewhere in the Disney parks, the film would work out wonderfully in a lavish stage production. (Hey, isn’t old theatre in DHS’s Streets of America being refurbished as you read this?)

So, although only one out of its ten nominations won, this year’s Oscars certainly had Disney representation all throughout its ceremony. I admit I am a bit surprised at Pirates’ losses, though I’m glad Ratatouille won Best Animated Film. And then there’s Enchanted. Even though the film didn’t bring home any wins, if the Disney execs had their heads screwed on right as they viewed last week’s Oscars, they’ll realize that Enchanted would definitely work in a stage production someway.

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By Blake; posted March 2, 2008. All images © Disney. Ratatouille image © Disney/Pixar.

DVD Review – ‘The Aristocats’ Special Edition

February 9, 2008
Image © Disney.

For the first time in eight years, Disney’s 1970 classic arrives on DVD with a fun story and clear restoration, but the lackluster bonus material questions its overall value.

By Blake

Originally posted February 9, 2008.

Now that I come to think of it, I don’t think one specific country has been the setting for an animated Disney movie more than France. Beauty and the Beast and Ratatouille prominently display the French setting in their respective films, and a touch of France is also subtly seen in Cinderella. Another Disney movie set in France, 1970’s The Aristocats, isn’t on the same grand scale as any of those three films, but still has plenty of charm, innocence, enduring characters, beautiful animation, and heaps of fun.

Originally advertised as a two-disc set to be released in March 2007, the new DVD of The Aristocats was eventually pushed back and degraded to a single-disc version, for reasons that are unknown. So, to say the least, it’s nice to have The Aristocats released again on DVD after an eight-year absence from the shelves.

The Aristocats Special Edition
Total Approx. Disc Running Time: about 122 minutes (about 2 hours, 2 minutes)
Highlight of Disc: Feature Film
Highlight Runner-Up: Deleted Song

The film itself (about 79 minutes) tells the story of a cat named Duchess and her three kittens, who are treated like royalty by their owner and are stolen by their greedy butler Edgar, who wants to take the fortune that their owner has left for the cats in her will. When the cats get lost and meet up with street alley cat Thomas O’Malley, he shows them Paris like they’ve never seen it before, filled with angry humans, wacky geese, and a jazzy bunch of alley cats. The film has lovable characters, catchy songs, and looks great – the new restoration only ups its value higher. The digital transfer is not too scratchy, yet not too gussied up, either.

Image © Disney.

Additionally, if you listen closely, you’ll recognize several Disney character voices from other films. Eva Gabor (Miss Bianca in The Rescuers) voices Duchess, Phil Harris (Baloo in The Jungle Book) voices Thomas O’Malley, Sterling Holloway (Kaa in The Jungle Book, Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, and Winnie the Pooh) voices Roquefort the mouse, Bill Thompson (White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Smee in Peter Pan, Jock in Lady and the Tramp, and King Hubert in Sleeping Beauty) voices Uncle Waldo the goose, Hermione Baddeley (Ellen in Mary Poppins) voices Madame Bonfamille, and Paul Winchell (Tigger) voices the Chinese Cat.

So, the film is superb and the voice cast is great – but does the DVD package as a whole live up to the film? Well . . .

Bonus Features

Deleted Song (about 8 minutes) – Some DVD sets that include deleted scenes or songs would just have excluded portions of the film with no introduction or explanation as to why they weren’t used. Fortunately, that’s not the case here, where songwriter Richard Sherman presents two songs that weren’t used in the final cut of the film. First Sherman plays a rendition of the songs on piano, and then shows us behind-the-scenes footage of the voice-over recordings for the songs. Then the original recording of each song is played, accompanied by storyboard drawing to show us what might have been happening on screen when the songs were being sung in the film.

Disney Song Selection (about 11 minutes) – This feature simply plays the four songs from the movie consecutively with the lyrics on screen.

Disney Virtual Kitten (time varies) – Apparently Disney thought this game would be the definite favorite on this disc, because it’s been the “big draw” they’ve been advertising on the DVD’s commercials. However, I wasn’t expecting too much out of the Virtual Kitten – and my expectations were just about correct. The game is mainly aimed for the toddler/preschool set, but strains to be entertaining. Players simply do various activities to take care of their kitten, and then are rewarded a virtual surprise at the end.

Aristocats Fun with Language Game (time varies) – Another seemingly pointless activity, this game involves a voiceover person (a different one than the Virtual Kitten, though) listing several instrument names and showing the corresponding instrument image on screen. After he’s gone through the entire list of instruments, a name of each instrument is spelled on screen, and players have to match the word with one of the instrument images. Although its intent may be nice, I just don’t see an audience for this feature. It’s probably aimed at kindergarteners and first-graders who are just learning to read, but the instrument names such as “saxophone” and “violin” are simply beyond the kindergarten and first grade level. As for older children who can identify the words, they probably wouldn’t find any entertainment in this feature. So it’s a lose-lose situation here.

The Sherman Brothers: The Aristocrats of Disney Songs (about 4 minutes) – This feature really just guides us through the creation of the two used songs the songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman created for The Aristocats. As fascinating as this feature may be, I got really excited there for a minute only to be misled . . . they honestly could have come up with a better title.

Aristocats Scrapbook (time varies) – This is a very fascinating compilation of concept art, storyboards, sketches, paintings, publicity posters, and many more images (in fact, enough to fill up 18 pages of a virtual “scrapbook”). It’s also nice that, unlike many DVD art galleries, this one actually features captions so that we know what exactly we’re looking at. The only downside to this is that after every virtual “page” of the scrapbook, we have to return to the menu screen, turn the page, and click on an image to continue the slideshow. It does get annoying, but the images’ quality suffices that flaw.

The Great Cat Family (about 13 minutes) – An excerpt from a 1956 episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color television series, this is simply painful to watch and very “un-Disney”-ish. It begins with a brief introduction by Walt Disney, and then delves into the rather boring history of housecats. Having really nothing to do with The Aristocats whatsoever, I really question why this feature was even here in the first place.

Bath Day (about 7 minutes) – A feature to seem more and more common on Disney DVDs these days is a bonus classic cartoon short, and it certainly is nice to see these shorts highlighted once again on various DVD sets. The one featured here, Bath Day, is borrowed from 2006’s Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto Volume 2 DVD and is one of only three cartoons to have the main star be Figaro, Minnie Mouse’s pet cat (ironic, right?) that originally debuted as Gepetto’s cat in 1940’s Pinocchio. In this short, Figaro is given a bath and gets all gussied up, resulting in ridicule by the street alley cats and a humorous showdown between Figaro and the leader of the alley cats.

Figaro is featured in the short Bath Day. Image © Disney.

Sneak Peeks

The sneak peeks menu features previews for My Friends Tigger & Pooh, Handy Manny: Fixing It Right DVD, Little Einsteins: Race For Space DVD, Twitches Too DVD, 101 Dalmatians Platinum Edition DVD, Wall*E, Snow Buddies DVD, Hannah Montana: One In a Million DVD, and Disney Movie Rewards. Additionally, we’re treated to relatively new previews for Sleeping Beauty Platinum Edition, Tinker Bell, and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning DVDs. One thing I took notice of in the new trailers was that they seemed very prestigious. I can’t exactly put my finger on what was different than Disney promos in the past, but they seemed to be less cheesy, less knock-off-ish, and more refined. Whatever it was, it worked, because now I’m super pumped for October to be here. 😉

Wrapping It Up

The Aristocats is a charming and often-neglected Disney animated classic that’s pure fun to watch. The new restoration has the film looking better than ever, but the bonus material fails to live up to the standard the movie sets. While the deleted scene and bonus short are nice touches, the games aren’t entertaining, and the 1956 TV excerpt is just boring. Fans that already have the film in their DVD collection have no need to upgrade, but those that don’t own the film will find it a happy addition to their set.

How do I rank The Aristocats Special Edition DVD? (Bolded is my choice.)
Good movie + Not good bonus features =

  • Aaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

The Aristocats Special Edition DVD will most likely please: Disney Fans – Toddlers (ages 1-2) – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-7)

By Blake; posted February 9, 2008. All images © Disney.