Archive for the ‘DVD Reviews’ Category

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.

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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.

DVD Review – "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" Extended Edition DVD Review

February 23, 2009

The international musical phenomenon of the decade concluded with a spectacular grand finale in October, but its DVD leaves room for improvement.

By Blake

Originally posted February 22, 2009.

Soundtrack release, movie release, international mania, DVD release with several bonuses, more mania, special edition DVD release with more bonuses, even more mania, sequel.

That’s been the pattern for both the first two High School Musical films, released in January 2006 and August 2007, respectively. As the third movie, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, makes its way through its release process, that pattern seems to be continuing yet again. The soundtrack was released on October 21, 2008, the movie was released (in theaters this time) on October 24, international mania followed, and now we’re up to the film’s DVD release. Although there’s definitely more mania ahead, I don’t know if we can expect a sequel or not. And as for another DVD release? Probably, especially when you look at the contents of the new DVD, which was released last Tuesday, February 17, 2009.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year Extended Edition DVD

Total approx. disc running time: About 180 minutes (about 3 hours) (includes bonus features)
Highlight of Disc: Feature film
Highlight Runner-Up: “Cast Goodbyes” featurette
First of all, the movie itself is sensational. All of the East High Wildcats return for thirds and are getting excited as the milestone events of their senior year approach, including the prom, graduation, and preparing their own musical (which the audience gets to see this time). All in the midst of this, each of them must decide where their future lies as they prepare for college, a concept that each of the six main characters Troy (Zac Efron), Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale), Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), Chad (Corbin Bleu), and Taylor (Monique Coleman) finds very pressuring and uncertain. Each of them is unsure whether to stick together or to follow their own individual desires, while at the same time staying true to themselves. Of course, there are a few cheesy moments, but overall the film deserves its spot on the silver screen as opposed to the television set format its two predecessors had. The music and dance sequences are on a more vast scale, the characters reach new heights in the depth of their personalities, and the emotion of the film is on an entirely different level than the two other High School Musical films. These components make Senior Year blossom into much more than the small Disney Channel franchise that High School Musical once was.

Zac Efron as Troy Bolton and Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella Montez in High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

Release

However, the great movie that’s also the show-stopping conclusion (for now, at least) to the High School Musical phenomenon arrives on DVD with no real excitement, not even on its two-disc Extended Edition. I gave in to the Extended Edition version, thinking I would be getting two discs’ worth of bonus features. However, just like with November’s release of Wall-E, I was tricked into believing something that wasn’t. Here, two discs means one disc for the movie with a few bonuses and one disc for the digital copy of the movie for your iPod, not two discs of material. With Wall-E, that was OK because in total it was a three-disc set (I was thinking there would be three discs of material, instead there were two). However, with High School Musical 3: Senior Year, the set is labeled as a two-disc compilation, and technically it is. Unfortunately for consumers, with the introduction of the DisneyFile digital copies, purchasing a DVD has now turned into a question of what we’re really buying. Which makes me uncertain as to whether next month’s release of Bolt will turn out the same way.

Anyway, the bottom line here is that there’s the regular, standard version of High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which includes one disc that features the movie and one bonus feature, and there’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year Extended Edition, which includes one disc that features the movie with slightly more bonus features and one disc for the digital copy of the movie.

Bonus Features

The one bonus feature that’s included on both versions is also the most worthwhile: “Cast Goodbyes” (about six minutes) is a featurette that includes interviews with the cast about not only their characters graduating from East High, but also on themselves graduating from High School Musical. Emotional and teary, I’m glad Disney included this in the set – it was definitely the highlight of the bonuses and to see how the performers of this wild phenomenon said goodbye to three years of their life was something really special.

Zac Efron (who plays Troy Bolton) and Vanessa Hudgens (who plays Gabriella Montez) on the set of High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
That’s the only bonus feature that the standard DVD offers, though the Extended Edition includes several other bonuses. Though to be called “Extended,” there’s nothing really added on to the movie itself at all. I was half-expecting a new musical number like the one that made High School Musical 2’s DVD “extended,” but here I suppose the word really means the inclusion of deleted scenes (which, played together, are about six minutes). All together there are eight deleted scenes, most of which seem too short to even consider being deleted at all. The most memorable, though, is one where Zeke asks Sharpay to the prom.

Continuing through the bonuses are additional bloopers (about three minutes), which are always a pleasurable inclusion.

Next is Disney’s Song Selection, which allows viewers to play all the songs in the film consecutively or by themselves. If you choose to play them all, they’ll total about forty-eight minutes. Personally I prefer to skip to my favorites instead of watching them all.

Lastly, under Backstage Disney, is the aforementioned Cast Goodbyes, as well as two additional featurettes focusing on the prom. The first, called “Night of Nights” (about seven minutes) mostly involves the rehearsals and hard work that went into the choreography of the “A Night to Remember” and “Can I Have This Dance” numbers. The second featurette is called “It’s All in the Dress” (about three minutes) and deals with the costume design of the prom dresses for Gabriella, Taylor, Kelsi, and Sharpay. When played together, these three featurettes offer about fifteen solid minutes of behind-the-scenes entertainment from several different areas of the film as a sort of mini-making-of that should please fans of the movie.

From left: Corbin Bleu as Chad, Monique Coleman as Taylor, Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella, and Zac Efron as Troy in the “Can I Have Dance” number from High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
The absence of more similar featurettes hint that another DVD release is on the way in the future, possibly with an additional disc of bonuses that would further continue these entertaining featurettes. We can hope for an audio commentary, too, though that’s unlikely. Another DVD release would certainly make sense, especially since the first two High School Musical films did exactly this, and it would follow the aforementioned cycle that appears to be patterning with these films. However, for the record, no announcement, confirmation, or declination of a future DVD version of High School Musical 3: Senior Year has been released by Disney.

Menus

The menus of the Extended Edition are themed to the East High yearbook, and with all of the pictures, “autographs,” and other items placed on the screen, it’s often difficult to see where your selection icon is. This is primarily the case with the bonus features sub-menu, where the underline that serves as your remote control selection is red, and the background is a different shade of red.

Wrapping It Up

High School Musical 3: Senior Year is probably a film that Disney fans or families that have kids in the elementary- and middle-school stage will be wanting to have on their shelves. If you want to know the truth, the smart thing would be to hold off about a year to see if another, more elaborate release of the film is coming. However, that decision to hold off is likely not to happen due to the impatient nature of today’s generation, including myself. For now, you’re better off with the standard, single-disc version of High School Musical 3: Senior Year. The two additional featurettes and deleted scenes included on the Extended Edition are nice, but I don’t think they justify purchasing the more expensive option, unless you really think you’re going to use to the iPod copy of the movie that’s also included on the Extended Edition. I’d advise the standard version – you’ll get the great movie, as well as the better bonus feature, for a reasonably low price, especially if buy it at a discount store like Wal-Mart or Target. Because High School Musical 3: Senior Year really is a special film, and this time it’s not the start of something new, but the end of something great.

How do I rank High School Musical 3: Senior Year Extended Edition DVD? (Bolded is my choice.)
Very good movie + good bonus features =
  • Aaaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

High School Musical 3: Senior Year Extended Edition DVD will most likely please: Disney Fans – Musical Fans – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10) – Tweens (ages 11-13) – Teenagers – Parents

By Blake; posted February 22, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

DVD Review – Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition

February 21, 2009


Walt Disney’s most magical movie of all returns in a spectacular DVD set.

By Blake

Originally posted February 21, 2009.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here: Mary Poppins is the absolute best Disney movie ever made.

Walt Disney was very involved in the development of the film throughout its production, possibly more than any other movie, and his hard work definitely paid off in the final results of Mary Poppins. The irresistible characters, fantastic music, amazing story, and magically happy mood reflect this, as does its outlasting acclaim and success.


The only person to date to ever receive an Academy-Award for Best Actress in a Disney role, Julie Andrews plays the titular nanny who literally blows into London when Jane and Michael Banks request someone new to watch over them. With the help of the cheery Bert (Dick Van Dyke), Mary Poppins takes the children on an outing inside sidewalk chalk drawings, to a tea party on the ceiling, on a trip through the London rooftops, and several other magical adventures. Not only does Mary Poppins successfully fulfill her job as the Banks’ nanny, but she also willingly triumphs to mend the entire family’s relationship with one another.

Disney Legends Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman supplied the outstanding songs for the film, including the Academy-Award winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” as well as the wonderful “Spoonful of Sugar,” “Step in Time,” and many more. The hilarity that ensues in “I Love to Laugh” has to be the funniest scene Disney’s ever produced. And “Feed the Birds” definitely has to be the saddest.

The new 45th Anniversary Edition of the film is now available in stores, and offers two discs’ worth of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious bonuses that are just as surprising as the contents of Mary Poppins’ carpet bag: they keep coming and coming in a seemingly endless continuation of fun.


The DVD includes all of the bonus features that were included in the 40th Anniversary Edition of the film that was released in 2004. These range from stellar to so-so. The audio commentary is great – it features Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Richard Sherman, and Karen Dotrice. We learn that Dotrice, who plays Jane Banks in the film, didn’t know that Dick Van Dyke played the old bank owner until she saw the end credits at the film’s premiere. For those that would rather watch the movie without a commentary but would still like to learn some trivia, a pop-up fun fact version is also offered. The lengthily wonderful making-of documentary reveals some of the many secrets that went into casting the actors and actresses and creating the special effects. There’s also a discussion featuring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and Richard Sherman reminiscing about the music of the movie. Disney’s Song Selection is also included and, even though I usually don’t bother to use it on other DVDs to watch all the songs consecutively, for this film I found it a welcome addition to the set. Other highlights of the DVD include the theatrical trailers for the movie, one of which includes Walt Disney proudly introducing the film to the public for the very first time.


Though the DVD has many stellar bonus features, there are others that were a bit mediocre for me. The art gallery features an expansive display of wonderful art pieces, though like most DVD galleries lacks an efficient navigational structure. The 2004 short film The Cat That Looked at a King features Julie Andrews returning in another P.L. Travers story. The park set of Mary Poppins was re-created for this short, and the adventure includes Andrews (possibly re-playing Mary Poppins herself, though that is indefinite) taking two children inside another sidewalk chalk drawing, this time to visit a troubled cartoon king who finds his relationship with his wife not as strong as it used to be. I don’t know whether to view this short as cheesy or magical – at times it’s just awkward, but it also has its share of Pixie Dust. Another not-so-great bonus feature included on this DVD set is “Movie Magic,” a quick featurette displaying some of the special effects (which were already covered in the full-blown making-of), but this time shows them with an annoyingly hip narrator. Groovy.

Fortunately, those are the only low points of the entire two-disc set of this marvelous film. All of the aforementioned features were included in the 2004 DVD version of Mary Poppins, so you’re probably wondering that with all of those features having already been released, there couldn’t possibly be anything left to include on the new DVD. In that case, you’d be wrong. The new 45th Anniversary Edition includes a very surprising look at the Broadway version of Mary Poppins. I had initially thought we might be getting a 15-minutes-maximum peek at the making of the show, so I was very pleasantly pleased when the featurette turned out to be over 45 minutes! It includes interviews with Thomas Schumacher (president of Walt Disney Theater Group), Ashley Brown (who plays Mary Poppins on Broadway, and soon in the U.S. tour), Gavin Lee (who plays Bert on Broadway, and soon in the U.S. tour), Richard Sherman (music writer for the film), George Stiles (composer for the Broadway show), Anthony Drewe (lyricist for the Broadway show), Bob Crowley (set designer for the Broadway show), and several other contributors who show us what it took to create all areas of the Broadway musical.


Also included is a full performance of “Step in Time” from the Mary Poppins on Broadway cast, as well as a free MP3 download of the song. An additional art gallery of Bob Crowley for the set design of the Broadway show is also included.

As far as menus go, the ones featured on this DVD are pretty easy to navigate, with the exception of the aforementioned art galleries. Everything else, though, is pleasing, with a small easy-to-identify icon indicating your selection on the screen. Disc one’s menus are themed to the skies of London, while disc two is themed to the Broadway show, with its various set designs.

There is no hardcopy DVD guide included in the case, which is unfortunate but easily overlooked. Additionally, there is no disc art on both discs, but instead just plain grey, much like the DreamWorks animated releases’ DVDs. However, the outstanding DVD bonuses more than make up for these minor negatives.


There’s not much not to like on the wonderful Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition two-disc DVD. It’s surprising that the movie is being released again on DVD without a simultaneous Blu-ray release, but since my family hasn’t purchased a Blu-ray player I’m not complaining. The amazing bonus features compliment the film excellently, providing hours of behind-the-scenes sneak peeks. If Disney’s only intention in re-releasing the film was to get viewers interested in the Mary Poppins musical on Broadway, it certainly worked in my case and definitely had me wanting to see the show. The new bonuses focusing on the Broadway show are great, and even might justify purchasing the movie again if you already own a previously-released copy. However, the obvious highlight of the entire DVD set is the magnificent film itself. One of Walt Disney’s greatest masterpieces, it shines with enough Pixie Dust, tears, songs, and laughs to illuminate filmmaking long after the movie was initially released.

How do I rank Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition DVD? (Bolded is my choice.)
  • Aaaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

By Blake; posted February 21, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

DVD Review – "Tinker Bell"

November 29, 2008


Every Disney fan’s nightmare has come true: Tinker Bell has spoken for the very first time.

By Blake

Originally posted November 29, 2008.

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. The beloved and up-until-now silent fairy Tinker Bell, who first made her Disney debut in 1953’s Peter Pan and has become somewhat of a mascot for the entire Walt Disney Company, was bound to speak at some point. Not that she hasn’t truly spoken before. In fact, she’s been quite talkative for many years, though only Peter Pan could understand her. All of us regular humans only heard bell chimes. However, now that we’re shrinking down to Tink’s size and entering the world of fairies, we’re able to hear her speak for the first time.


It’s a pretty wild concept, and not one that I was pleased with when I initially found out about it. I’m still not 100% satisfied with Tinker Bell talking – it’s not that her actual voice (provided by Mae Whitman) displeased me, it’s just that I guess I was more happy with what I thought she would sound like instead.

The new direct-to-DVD animated CGI film Tinker Bell not only serves as our first glimpse to hear Tink speak, but it’s also the official kick-off of the new Disney Fairies franchise. The movie’s story takes place within the heart of Never Land, where a secret land called Pixie Hollow is nestled. Here, fairies prepare to change the seasons all over the world and bring joy to the many natural wonders of the Earth. Each fairy belongs to a unique group, each assigned a different job that they have to perform to get ready for the forthcoming season. When Tinker Bell arrives as a new fairy (brought to life by a young baby’s first laugh), she’s grouped as a tinker fairy. Tinker fairies are in charge of creating different gadgets and gizmos aplenty to help the production of changing seasons run more smoothly. However, Tink doesn’t enjoy being a tinker fairy, and takes it upon her to switch jobs, something unthinkable in the world of fairies, as each job is especially assigned to each fairy when they’re born.

Soon Tinker Bell makes new friends and longs to be like them. She tries each of their talents, including those of Silvermist the water fairy (voiced by Charlie’s Angels’ Lucy Liu), Iridessa the light fairy (voiced by That’s So Raven’s Raven-Symone), Fawn the animal fairy (voiced by America Ferrera, a.k.a. Ugly Betty), and Rosetta the garden fairy (voiced by Kristen Chenoweth from Broadway’s Wicked and the upcoming Disney film Rapunzel). Her friends try to help Tink use her talents and abilities to their best use, while other fairies, like Vidia ( voiced by Pamela Adlon) find Tink absolutely useless. Jesse McCartney even pops up a few times to voice somewhat of a crush for Tink.

Basically if you smashed together A Bug’s Life and The Little Mermaid and added Tinker Bell as the main character, this new self-titled movie about her is what you’d get. Everyone except her few select friends views Tink as an outcast because, although her intentions are pure to positively change Pixie Hollow, her efforts often end up in mishaps (like Flik). Additionally, because being a tinker fairy doesn’t seem to be working out for her, she feels like she needs to be part of another world, like Ariel. There’s even a “giant” bird that swoops down to attack her. Add in Heimlich acting as live bait and you’ve got it sealed.

However, even though A Bug’s Life and The Little Mermaid were both great films, Tinker Bell doesn’t come off as being that same kind of greatness. The way the characters split each other up into different social groups with some bullying others seemed a little too cliquey and more like the kind of material I’d see on an episode of Hannah Montana.


Although there were supposedly many different revisions of this film since its original conception and it’s been said that John Lasseter (who is executive producer here) saved the film immensely, it still didn’t achieve its prestigious quality that its trailers led audiences to believe it would be. I fully realize that I’m not the target audience that Disney had in mind when they were creating the movie. I’m sure little preschoolers and elementary-aged children will adore the film – lines to meet Tink and her friends at the Magic Kingdom have been reported to be several hours long – but the movie seemed to be along the same lines of other direct-to-DVD Disney movies for me.


It didn’t save the film entirely, but there was one particular scene in the film that really got me and just had Disney magic written all over it. It happened to be the last scene, and I don’t think it really would have worked out the same way unless I had watched the whole movie. Perhaps it was because the rest of the movie wasn’t so spectacular that this specific scene stood out to me, but it certainly had Pixie Dust all over it. Like I said, it didn’t save the film, but it sure did make for one hoopla of a finale.

Bonus Features

Magical Guide to Pixie Hollow (about 7 minutes) is a virtual tour of three different areas of Pixie Hollow. Narrated by Tinker Bell and Queen Clarion, the tour includes information about the setting of each area we’re “flying” through, as well as what different kinds of fairies work there. Although Tinker Bell states that the guide is temporarily unfinished, I expect that we’ll see a completed version of it sometime soon on the forthcoming Disney Fairies DVD’s.


Tinker Trainer (time varies) is a DVD-ROM game. I had never played a DVD-ROM game before this one because every time I try, I can never find out where to find the game on my computer. However, this time the DVD kindly gives specific instructions on where to find the game once you place it into your computer (instead of just saying “insert the disc into your computer to play”). I don’t know if all DVD-Rom games are like “Tinker Trainer,” but it was certainly an elaborate set of games that feature very brief film clips to go along with the instructions. Involved but a little complicated for very young children, this set of activities is mostly aimed at the 7-9 crowd. You go through several activities to learn how to become a tinker fairy, including counting items and constructing an object. I only earned 1500 out of 4500 points, but all players are given a code to use online at PixieHollow.com to receive special virtual “jewelry” at the end of the game.


Ever Wonder (about 4 minutes) is a somewhat cheesy short of sorts that features live-action footage with animated fairies. It shows how the fairies create their work without humans realizing it. Like the Tinker Bell movie itself, this short to me seemed mostly mediocre until the end, when one bit of Disney magic shined through.

“Fly To Your Heart” Music Video by Selena Gomez (about 3 minutes) shows the Wizards of Waverly Place actress/singer performing in a sunny flower garden, even flying (literally) through several verses.

Creating Pixie Hollow (about 10 minutes) is a look at how the animators initially looked to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan play, Walt Disney’s Peter Pan film, and mostly nature to create the setting for Tinker Bell, Pixie Hollow. Featuring interviews with director Bradley Raymond, producer Jeannine Roussel, screenwriter Jeffrey Howard, and executive producer John Lasseter, a more full-blown making-of might have been a nice and more elaborate way to show how this first Fairies film was made, but I suppose this brief look is satisfactory for now.

Deleted Scenes (about 13 minutes) show 6 sequences that were unused in the final version of the movie. The first 2 are fully animated, while the rest are storyboard sketches. With optional introductions by director Bradley Raymond and producer Jeannine Roussel, I could see why they were deleted. I especially enjoyed the first 2, however, in which the fairies receive their Pixie Dust from Queen Clarion instead of Terrence and the other being an extended version of the final scene.


Wrapping It Up
I was somewhat scared to review Tinker Bell because I knew once I introduced myself to this new version of the timeless Disney fairy I wouldn’t be able to look at her previous performances the same way again. That’s probably true, but I suppose the final results weren’t as frightening as I had anticipated. Am I wild about the idea that Tinker Bell is now freely speaking just as much as any other character? Not really. But if Disney is going to go ahead and create a full series about her (which they are), then I’m glad that John Lasseter is there to oversee it and bring some extra quality to the production.

This first movie itself isn’t really anything to go nuts about – it’s charming, but nothing really made me say “Wow” until the last few minutes where the Pixie Dust really worked its cinematic magic. But that’s just the thing. This movie wasn’t intended to make me happy. It was created to make young children happy, and I certainly think it will do its job where that’s concerned.

However, I don’t know if Disney is going about the right way in the strategies they’re taking to make this Fairies franchise work to its best potential. Its other franchises (such as Disney Princesses, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, and many others) were made into full franchises after their initial films took off and became surprise, underestimated hits. If each of the Disney animated classics involving princesses were made with the thought in mind that they would all evolve into some great franchise, I don’t think they would be the same. Each of them was created individually and only after many years later did Disney realize they could create a franchise out if them. Additionally, with the Pirates and Cars movies, it was only until after the first films took off that Disney decided to push forward with more theatrical and theme park involvement with those series.

With the Fairies, it’s different. Instead of taking it one step at a time, it seems like Disney is saying “Meet the Disney Fairies. We’re not waiting for you to make up your mind as to whether or not you like them, we’re just going forward with a full-blown four-movie series and various theme park and consumer products promotions and you’re going to like it.” I’m not sure how the public will react at these Fairies suddenly being thrust full-force in their faces. It seems to be working right now, but will consumers get sick of them after a while?


Anyway, without getting ahead of myself, Tinker Bell will most likely please its intended target audience of 2 through 10-year-old girls but probably not anyone else, which is just fine for the time being. Like I previously stated, it wasn’t until the last scene that I really saw some Disney magic in use and I think that that same kind of effect could have been utilized throughout the rest of the film. The bonus features are somewhat substantial, and will again please the film’s intended audience. I’m just still not sure how I feel about the Disney Fairies very suddenly being in the spotlight and Tinker Bell finally talking. I just hope Dopey isn’t next.

How do I rank Tinker Bell? (Bolded is my choice.)
Not good movie + Good bonus features =
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

Tinker Bell will most likely please: Toddlers (ages 1-2) – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-8) – Older Kids (ages 9-10)

By Blake; originally posted November 29, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

DVD Review – Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition

November 22, 2008

Walt Disney’s third princess arrives on 2-disc DVD set in stellar fashion, filled with exceptional digital restoration and plenty of bonuses to keep Disney fans busy for hours.

By Blake

Originally posted November 22, 2008.

For all the promotional consumer products she’s on, all the hype she gets in character meet & greets, and the three of her castles that reign at Disney parks worldwide, Princess Aurora ironically hardly appears in the movie that carries her namesake. Granted, she’s asleep for about the last third of it, but overall the Sleeping Beauty herself is only featured in about 25 minutes of her own movie.

Though that certainly hasn’t kept the 1959 Disney animated movie Sleeping Beauty from being one of the company’s most cherished films and being entered last month into the beloved Platinum DVD Collection. The new Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD comes with two discs’ worth of superlative bonus features and I was actually surprised at how well the set is presented. Usually on DVDs there’s either a lot of lame bonuses or just a few great ones. Though here, there’s a lot to see, and not much of it disappoints. Highlighting the positives are a very entertaining audio commentary, an informative making-of documentary, and an extremely awesome look into some backstage secrets of Walt Disney Imagineering.


Disc One

Total Approx. Running Time: About 315 minutes (about 5 hours and 15 minutes)
Highlight of Disc: Sleeping Beauty feature film
Highlight Runner-Up: Audio Commentary

The film (about 75 minutes) is a work of art itself. Polished with beautiful background art and striking character animation, it’s no wonder Sleeping Beauty took eight years to produce. All throughout the film, it’s sometimes hard to pay attention to the story because you can get so enveloped in marveling its stunning picture.

The plot tells of Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip, who are betrothed once Aurora is born. However, at the celebration of Aurora’s birth, Maleficent, an evil fairy, casts a spell on the young princess that will cause her to prick her finger on a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday and die. To prevent the terrible curse, three good fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, change the irreversible spell so that instead of dying, Aurora will fall into a sleep until awoken by a kiss from her true love. The three good fairies take the princess to live with them in the woods so as to keep Maleficent away, attempting to prevent the situation as much as possible.

In addition to Aurora barely being in it, the film is also surprisingly a little frightening. Although there are happy moments, much of the length of the movie is loomed under the knowing that Maleficent’s spell will come true soon, or mourning over the spell indeed having come true. This might be due to the fact that Maleficent herself is just plain scary, and is often said to be the ultimate Disney villain. Going on decades later to be the antagonist in The Kingdom Keepers novel series by Ridley Pearson, she’s simply creepy, and certainly adds a sense of darkened fear to Sleeping Beauty.

The movie’s music is either extremely memorable or extremely disposable, depending on what you’re listening to. Most of the songs seem to stream together, with the only real memorable tune being “Once Upon a Dream,” the song that Disney often associates with the movie in promotional devices. Additionally, the score contains many fanciful tunes based on the work of Peter Taichovsky, written years before the movie was made and later used in the hit entertainment spectacle Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams at Disneyland.

If the film’s art was great before, it’s simply excellent now. With the new DVD set comes a new digital restoration containing a sharper, clearer presentation of the film and, for the first time ever, presents the movie in its original desired form: using supreme a widescreen format to lengthen the many attractive “sets” of the movie. This version of the film has not been seen since its original 1959 theatrical run and it’s definitely nice to finally see it here.

The audio commentary (about 75 minutes) is newly recorded and features the thoughts of John Lasseter, Andreas Deja, and Leonard Maltin. Now, those are some pretty big names in the world of Disney and I knew I was in for a pleasurable time when I saw their names listed as the contributors to the commentary. John Lasseter is Chief Creative Officer at both Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering, and the director of Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, and Cars; Andreas Deja is a well-known Disney animator who did the supervising animation for Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Jafar in Aladdin, Scar in The Lion King, Lilo in Lilo & Stitch, and several others; Leonard Maltin is an animation historian and the host of the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD collection/series. Obviously, watching Sleeping Beauty with three big names such as these brings a sense of vast knowledge and experience with it. They’re all keen to acknowledge details throughout the film. Deja tells personal stories and interactions he’s had with many of the animators and voice performers that were involved in the film. Lasseter comments on how he studied much of the work of the film and taught under the eyes of its animators while he was a student at CalArts and subsequently as a young Disney animator. Maltin mainly discusses his memories of how he remembers the film as a child and how it affected him later on in his career.

Additionally, Lasseter, Deja, and Maltin’s comments are occasionally interrupted by small clips of audio from animators and supervisors (including Walt Disney) about creating the film. Unlike past audio commentaries for classic Disney movies, this one doesn’t seem choppy – most likely because its contributors were all present together in the same recording session. It was nice to not go back and forth between many different discussions. It was certainly one of the most enjoyable commentaries I’ve sat through in a while and had me not wanting to pause or turn away for a moment. You can tell by watching it that the three contributors all also had a pleasurable time watching the film again.

The Princess Fun Facts (about 75 minutes) are a collection of pop-up facts that appear during the film as you watch it. Appearing about once every minute, they partly have to do with some statistics and numbers of what went into creating the film, but mostly include some facts about what real-life princesses would do in medieval times. Oddly enough, the facts appear rather blurry when they pop up on the screen. They’re still readable, but they’re certainly not crisp and clear. Aimed more at families than fans, this feature is easily skippable.

Grand Canyon (about 29 minutes) is a Walt Disney nature documentary featurette that very nicely displays, you guessed it, the Grand Canyon. Recycled from the 2003 Special Edition DVD version of Sleeping Beauty, it features marvels including the Canyon itself, its furry animal inhabitants (who will earn a few “Awwww”’s from you, and at times, caused me had to turn away from due to predators in “action”), its beautiful clouds, its thunderstorms, its wonderful snow, and its amazing sunset. The featurette is set to the music of the “Grand Canyon Suite.” It really is magnificent to see God’s amazing untouched natural environment like this with its true beauty and majesty. It really makes you think of what an amazing planet we live on. Although younger audience members might get a little bored early on, Grand Canyon will mostly satisfy its viewers. What really makes me puzzled here, though, is why exactly Grand Canyon is included on the Sleeping Beauty DVD. I suppose it might be because both features were created in Cinema Scope widescreen format, but other than that I can’t find any similarities between the two.

Again recycled from the 2003 Special Edition, The Peter Tchaikovsky Story (about 49 minutes for one version, about 98 minutes if you watch both) is an episode of the classic Disneyland television series and was the first ever television program to be broadcast in widescreen format and have a simulcast. Two versions are offered, and the only difference between the two is that the first one includes instructions for how to set up the stereo systems to make the simulcast play, while the other doesn’t and instead features replacement visuals. Anyway, the first 30 minutes of the program mostly tell a re-enactment of sorts of the biographical life of Peter Tchaikovsky, the composer whose work inspired the Disney animators while creating Sleeping Beauty and whose story seems rather depressing. The narrator of the program seemed to me an awful lot like the “Ghost Host” from The Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The last 20 minutes include clips from Sleeping Beauty. I was actually surprised at how much of the film was shown on TV at the time of the movie’s release, as the clips shown lasted about a third of the film’s length and gave away the entire plot, all the way up to the very end. They certainly weren’t shy about giving away any spoilers. All in all, the Tchaikovsky part of the program I found to be a bit dull, and the rest of it were clips from Sleeping Beauty that I had already seen by watching the film.

Disney Song Selection (about 8 minutes) heralds back to the days of Disney Sing-Along Songs VHS tapes, by playing the film’s five songs – “Once Upon a Dream (Main Title),” “Hail to the Princess Aurora,” “I Wonder,” “Once Upon a Dream,” and “Sleeping Beauty” – all together with the lyrics for each of the songs appearing at the bottom of the screen.

The “Once Upon a Dream” Music Video by Emily Osment (about 4 minutes) shows the Hannah Montana co-star in a contemporary city setting alongside a woodland setting singing the classic song, though much of this version’s lyrics are entirely new. It isn’t stellar, but this is definitely one of the better adaptations of Disney songs put to contemporary music videos that I’ve seen in a while.

Disc Two

Total Approx. Running Time: About 138 minutes (about 2 hours and 18 minutes)
Highlight of Disc: Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough Attraction
Highlight Runner-Up: The Making of Sleeping Beauty

Briar Rose’s Enchanted Dance Game (time varies) is actually a set of two different games. One is a dancing game in which a sequence of dance steps are performed by animals on the screen and the player has to remember which order the animals danced in. I could definitely see youngsters getting frustrated with themselves in this one. The next game is a waltzing game where you play as either Prince Phillip of Princess Aurora and the narrator teaches players how to waltz properly. More interactive and better set up than most Disney DVD games, I’d give this particular set of activities a thumbs-up.

Sleeping Beauty Fun With Language Game (time varies) is another installment of the Fun With Language Games that seem to be popping up more often on Disney DVD’s lately. They are clearly aimed at the pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grade set who are just learning to read. They involve a narrator speaking veeeerrrryyyyy slllooowwwwlllyyy and teaching the players what different objects are (such as a cloth, mop, and ribbon) and then players will choose the image on the screen when the narrator calls out the term. Unlike previous versions of the game, however, this one includes objects that children should be familiar with and should positively help them learn to spell. However, I still stand by what I said earlier – the narrator gets annoying very quickly and I honestly don’t think many people pop in a Disney animated classic to be grammatically educated.

Picture Perfect: The Making of Sleeping Beauty (about 43 minutes) is a very nicely done and well put together new documentary including many interviews with animators and voice actors that worked on the film, as well as today’s current animators and animation historians that give their insight on how the film was made. Original story development, animation, background art, voice acting, music writing, and the film’s legacy are all topics that are covered, making this one of the best making-of’s that I’ve seen Disney put together.

Eyvind Earle: The Man and His Art (about 8 minutes) is a short mini-biography of sorts about Eyvind Earle, the man/animator who is responsible for the wonderful background art pieces throughout Sleeping Beauty. Coming from a harsh childhood and literally making his way across the world before he wound up at Disney, he started working for the company in 1951 and went on to have a successful art career beyond Disney, into his own art pieces.

Sequence 8 (about 5 minutes) tells of the huge amount of time, effort, and costs went into creating the film, particularly “Sequence 8”, a.k.a. the forest/“Once Upon a Dream” scene. That particular scene was masterfully directed by Eric Larson and took an entire year to complete.

The Alternate Opening (about 3 minutes) includes the townspeople and citizens celebrating and singing at the arrival of the new baby Princess Aurora, proclaiming that her birthday shall be “a holiday.” The song is accentuated by animated storyboard pieces and I suppose was deleted due to the filmmakers wanting a more majestic feel to the film instead of a typical Disney song. The scene particularly reminded me of “Belle,” the opening song sequence for Beauty and the Beast.

Deleted Songs (about 13 minutes) offer three songs that were unused in the final version of Sleeping Beauty. “I Happen to Have a Picture” is sung by King Hubert and King Stephan, each singing of their young children. It was to be put at the beginning of the film right after the (deleted) opening number “It’s a Holiday” (which was shown in the alternate opening) and seems to be a different version of “Skumps,” a song that was used in the final cut of the film.

The next deleted song, “Riddle Diddle,” was to be sung by the three good fairies as they clean up the house. It seems to be along the lines of “Whistle While You Work” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and “The Working Song” from Cinderella. Coincidentally, it has been said that this particular deleted song (along with the two other aforementioned working songs) were used in preparation for “Happy Working Song” when it was created for the movie Enchanted in 2007.

The third and last deleted song is “Go to Sleep,” and was to be simply a replacement of the title song “Sleeping Beauty.” It was originally going to be in the same place that the title song was put in the film, where Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather are putting the kingdom to sleep.

Storyboard Sequences (about 4 minutes) show a comparison between two finished scenes in the film and their respective storyboard art pieces. With an introduction explaining the storyboard process by current Disney animator Andreas Deja, it really is neat to see just how much of the final film was planned out far in advance by the storyboards that were drawn beforehand. The two scenes shown here are the one where the three good fairies put the citizens to sleep and the scene where Maleficent surprises Prince Phillip.

Live-Action Reference (about 2 minutes) is a short but sweet look at rarely seen footage that shows the acted-out live-action scenes that animators studied as they drew the film.

The Art Galleries (time varies) feature a vast array of original art pieces that were created in the development of the film. There are a TON of great art pieces featured here. And I mean a TON!!! It really seems to go on forever. In addition to being some of the most unique art pieces for any Disney animated film (since the movie’s art style was distinctive and more elegant than any other), a very helpful added bonus to this particular art gallery is that, unlike almost all other DVD art galleries, this one actually allows the viewers to go through all of the art pieces within each category at one time, instead of reverting back to the previous page at the end of each small set of art pieces.

Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-Through Attraction is a real treat for any Disney fan. Very much like the “Under the Sea Adventure” virtual ride-through on The Little Mermaid Platinum Edition DVD, here we’re given a complete walk-through of a former Disneyland attraction that, in the form shown here, has been closed for 30 years. It’s just getting ready to re-open in a slightly different form, but it’s simply great to see the story of Sleeping Beauty conveyed in a museum-like atmosphere with a plethora of special effects that were ingenious for their age, originating to 1957 (which, ironically, was two years before Sleeping Beauty was even released in theaters).

There are several versions for the attraction. First, you can simply Walk Through with no narration (about 8 minutes). Then, you can watch the Audio Commentary with Imagineer Tony Baxter (about 20+ minutes). Not only does Baxter comment with a hoopla of trivia facts and little tidbits of fun info, but throughout the tour, every time the silhouetted icon of the blue good fairy, Merryweather, glows up in the bottom left corner of the screen, click on it and the tour will be paused briefly so that Baxter, along with fellow Imagineer Chris Merritt, will reveal some additional secrets about how specific effects were created or elaborate a little more on the how the scene was built. One of the highlights of the entire DVD set for me, I was certainly captivated by this feature.

As if those two options weren’t enough, there is a third feature involving the Castle Walkthrough, the History of the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough (about 10 minutes), which involves a detailed look that includes many interviews with former and current Imagineers about the various versions of the walkthrough throughout the years. From its original opening day featuring a ceremony with Shirley Temple, to its destruction and different form, to its closure, and even to its upcoming reopening and what it took to recreate the original attraction, everything is fully covered in brilliant fashion.

Next up is Publicity (about 6 minutes), which features original teaser & theatrical trailers from 1959, as well as a re-release trailer from 1995. The 1959 trailers especially show their age, especially with the advertisement that states Sleeping Beauty was “The FIRST exclusive Premiere Engagement with CONTINUOUS PERFORMANCES so that you can see it at times best suited to YOUR convenience.” Hehehe.

Rounding up the disc is “Four Artists Paint One Tree” (about 16 minutes), a featurette that was mostly likely released theatrically and is really like a sort of mini episode of Disneyland. Recycled from the 2003 Special Edition DVD version of Sleeping Beauty, here we follow animators Marc Davis, Joshua Meador, Eyvind Earle, and Walt Peregoy as they create their artwork for the then-forthcoming Sleeping Beauty, and then as they each draw a different variation of the same oak tree in a field. Although somewhat dull, it’s still nice to get a look at some of the classic Disney animators of Walt’s time that we often don’t get to see and I imagine it could be very helpful to any artist or aspiring artist to see an instructional, step-by-step look at how the Disney pros do their work.

Wrapping It Up

To be honest, I really wasn’t expecting much from the new Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD when I initially purchased it. It had seemed that the Platinum titles were slowly but surely decreasing downhill in value, though I was pleasantly surprised to find more than enough quality work on this Sleeping Beauty set to exceed my expectations entirely. Although the Disneyland episodes included do tend to be a bit dull for today’s modern audiences, the rest of the set delivers a worthwhile abundance of excellence. Those who own the 2-disc Special Edition version of the film that was released in September 2003 might want to consider upgrading to this newer edition for its dazzling digital restoration, its fun and informative audio commentary, its delightful making-of featurette, and its simply wonderful Castle Walkthrough presentation. If this is the way Disney wants to continue to produce their animated classics on DVD, then I absolutely can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves for future releases. Taking eight years to fully complete and requiring the lengthy work of Walt Disney and his animators, Sleeping Beauty worked hard to earn its place as a Disney classic, and I think you’ll find it a welcome addition to your DVD collection.

How do I rank Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD? (Bolded is my choice.):
Good movie + Brilliant bonus features =
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition will most likely please: Disney Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-8)

By Blake; originally posted November 22, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

DVD Review – “Enchanted”

March 22, 2008

Image © Disney.


The movie itself still blows me away and its first ever DVD presentation delivers bloopers, deleted scenes, making-of featurettes, and a new animated segment, but still leaves viewers thirsty for more.

By Blake

Originally posted March 22, 2008.


Every time I enter a local theater to view a new Disney movie, I expect to at least be entertained by the film I’m attending. Do I usually expect to have my socks knocked off? Of course not. I’m just there to have a good time, no matter if the movie isn’t the next cinematic masterpiece. However, each time I do see a new movie in theaters, I can’t help but feeling the tiniest inkling of hope that it will be the next classic. Sure, this is usually not realized, and that’s OK. But every once in a while, a film rolls along that has Pixie Dust sprinkled all over it and has that amazing “WOW” Disney experience and I know that the film is something special. Enchanted gave me one of those occurrences.

In the film, Disney pokes fun at itself when a clueless, animal-befriended princess-to-be, Giselle (Amy Adams), is thrusted from her safe animated world into the place “where happily-ever-afters don’t exist,” New York City, by the evil queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon). As Giselle’s fiancé, the even-more-clueless and goofy Prince Edward, searches for her, Giselle befriends a divorce attorney named Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and takes the city by storm as she enchants it with her touch of the fairy tale world.

Giselle (played by Amy Adams) and Robert (Patrick Dempsey) in the “That’s How You Know” sequence of Enchanted. Image © Disney.

The first ten or so minutes of the film herald back to the golden age of Disney animation with hand-drawn sequences reminiscent of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella. Once Giselle enters New York, the film changes gears and switches to live-action for the duration of the movie, at which point it’s just scattered with all sorts of references to Disney films. Everything from “name-recycling” of Mr. and Mrs. Banks from Mary Poppins to cameo appearances by the voices of Ariel, Belle, and Pocahontas make the film a pleasure to hunt around to find references like these. Additionally, Amy Adams’s Golden Globe-nominated lead role performance is many references in itself, seeing as Giselle is a combination of Ariel’s red hair with a dash of Belle and Snow White in her personality. And I must say the opening scene is probably the cleverest transition between a company logo and the beginning of a movie that I’ve ever seen.

Additionally, the music of the film is phenomenal. The songs follow the cutout of most past Disney animated features, complete with an “I Want” song, a cleaning song, a showstopper, a love ballad, and a contemporary final song, this time performed by Carrie Underwood. Written by the legendary Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, the film’s songs even received three Academy-Award nominations for Best Song, the first Disney feature to reach that number in that category since 1994’s The Lion King.

Bonus Features

Unfortunately, the single-disc compilation is the only option as Enchanted rolls along to DVD. It’s definitely more thorough and enjoyable than most single-disc Disney DVDs, but still has room for improvement.

“Fantasy Comes To Life” is a set of three brief featurettes displaying the creation of some of the most memorable pieces in the film. They include the processes of each scene’s conception, on-the-set filming, and post-production tweaking and feature interviews with several of the film’s key players.

The “Happy Working Song” portion (about six minutes) deals mainly with the technical aspects of creating the quirky cleaning tune. It shows how a rig was built as a substitute for birds twirling Giselle’s dress, the creation of the CGI street animals that helped Giselle clean, plus how several of the animals were actual live creatures that were trained to perform in the song.

The next featurette (about six minutes) deals with the shoot of “That’s How You Know,” the massive production number that includes dancers, gymnasts, and even stilt walkers performing in New York’s Central Park. Interviewed here are several choreographers who give us their insight on what it was like to create such an immense number as this.

Amy Adams as Giselle in “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted. Image © Disney.

The third and final featurette, “A Blast At the Ball” (about five minutes), mainly takes us through the special effects that were used to create the climax of the movie. While fascinating, I can’t help but think these three featurettes are leaving something out. While we do get plenty of technological and choreography-related secrets of several of the film’s songs, we just hear a little bit from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz concerning how or why they were written. In any case, the three featurettes collectively provide about seventeen minutes of entertainment.

The deleted scenes (about eight minutes) include six portions that were cut from the film. Included is an extended opening in Andalasia, a different introduction to Robert, a scene at Nancy’s design studio, a scene where Giselle orders a hot dog, a section where Nathaniel confides in Pip, and an extended version of the climax in which two older women commentate on the action. Interesting though brief, the most fascinating piece we come away from these deleted scenes with is a little bit of trivia: the last name of Nancy (Robert’s girlfriend) is “Tremaine,” the last name of Cinderella’s stepmother!

Bloopers are always a welcome addition to any DVD set, and the outtakes presented here (about two minutes) are certainly fun to watch.

“Pip’s Predicament: A Pop-Up Adventure” (about six minutes) is a questionable spinoff of the original film that borrows elements from Jack-Jack Attack and The Lion King 1 ½ to create a story-within-the-story. Narrated by a woman who has an uncanny similarity to Maleficent, it tells of how the chipmunk Pip saved Prince Edward when he was under an evil spell and told him that Giselle was missing. What really bothers me about this was the animation. It isn’t hand-drawn like the animated portion in the film, but rather a collection of still images of a book (hence the “Pop-Up” in the title). At least there’s a cameo appearance by Pumbaa.

The bonus features’ DVD menu is somewhat difficult to navigate. The menu is set in Times Square, meaning the screen very busy and you often can’t tell what feature you’re highlighting on the screen. Aside from that, your selection onscreen appears as a colored highlight of the selections, which is already difficult to distinguish even without a busy menu.

Easter Eggs

Although fairly obvious, there are two DVD “Easter Eggs” on the disc, both on the bonus features menu. An “Easter Egg” is the term used to describe a DVD bonus feature that’s not flat-out labeled, and often requires some searching for (such as pressing certain buttons on certain menus) to find. On Enchanted, however, both of the Easter Eggs can be accessed by merely moving along the selection of supplements on the bonus features menu. If you click on the highlighted music note, you’ll see the full music video of “Ever Ever After” performed by Carrie Underwood. I think the video is a bit cheesy, but was still glad to find it here, since it was advertised as being exclusive to the Blu-Ray edition of the film.

The other Easter Egg can be viewed if you click the Mickey ears on the bonus features menu. It’s a small peek of what’s to be found on “The D-Files,” a special feature on the Blu-Ray version of the movie that points out references to Disney films throughout the entire movie. It’s intriguing, but I’m still holding off on a Blu-ray for now.

Wrapping It Up

By now, I think it’s definitely safe to say that Enchanted has secured a deserving spot along the line of wonderful Disney classics and is bound for Disney theme park or Broadway presence sometime in the future. It captures the true essence of what it means to be a Disney masterpiece, while at the same time playfully poking fun at its own genre. With a hilarious story, charming hand-drawn animation, and sensational songs, there’s hardly anything to criticize about the film itself. The supplemental features that are included on this set certainly provide a marvelous look into how the film was made and add on to the original story, but I just feel like a film that’s been this successful would have pulled out all the stops on a lavish, more in-depth set. For now, the one disc is a nice compilation of bonuses, but later on down the road it might be pleasant to see a more thorough release of the movie.

James Marsden as Prince Edward in Enchanted. Image © Disney.

So, to be brief, Enchanted is a truly marvelous, magical, Disney masterpiece that’s a more than welcome addition to any DVD collection.

How do I rank Enchanted DVD? (Bolded) is my choice:
Brilliant movie + good bonus features =

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

Enchanted DVD will most likely please: Disney Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10) – Young Adults – Adults

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted March 22, 2008. All images © Disney.

DVD Review – “101 Dalmatians” Platinum Edition

March 17, 2008
Image © Disney.

For the first time this decade, the Disney classic with the most outrageous villain of all time arrives of DVD with a plethora of supplemental materials, some of which definitely deliver fans a fantastic, worth-the-wait look at this 1961 Disney animated masterpiece.

By Blake

Originally posted March 17, 2008.

Since I had never seen 101 Dalmatians, the 1961 Disney animated film that was recently released on DVD, I was quite excited as I popped the new Platinum Edition into my player. I wasn’t expecting anything too extravagant, but my hopes were a little high . . . after all, this was considered a Disney classic and I hadn’t even seen it yet! Luckily, my expectations were pretty accurate, as 101 Dalmatians, although not extravagant, is certainly a film worthy of the Platinum Edition label.

Disc One
Total Disc Running Time: about 250 minutes (about 4 hours and 10 minutes)
Highlight of Disc: Feature Film
Highlight Runner-Up: 101 Pop-Up Trivia Facts “For the Fan”

The film itself (about 79 minutes) tells the story of Pongo and Perdita, two Dalmatians who marry and settle down in a quaint house with their “pet” humans and nanny. Life is good until Perdita gives birth to 15 adorable Dalmatian puppies (the other 86 are introduced later) that are quickly snatched away by the evil Cruella De Vil and her henchmen Jasper and Horace. It’s up to Pongo and Perdita, along with a crew of other canine (and feline) critters to save the puppies from being skinned and turned into coats.

Three of the 101 Dalmatian puppies. Image © Disney.

The movie seems a bit more contemporary than other classic Disney films, lacking the majestic prestige of some of the other masterpieces but establishing a more modern feel that fits in well with today’s audiences. For one, some of my family that gag and complain when we watch other older Disney movies didn’t do any groaning at this one, and actually laughed at some parts. That being said, 101 Dalmatians seems to have a naturally more mature feel to it, possibly meaning that it might not appeal to the younger audience that draws in the likes of Cinderella or Peter Pan. That’s not to say that 101 Dalmatians isn’t a good movie. If I’m being honest, it’s quite fantastic. It’s just a little more “grown up” than other Disney animated films.

Additionally, I believe 101 Dalmatians is one of the first Disney animated films to slip in references to popular culture. Throughout the movie, you’ll spot six cameo appearances by characters from Lady and the Tramp (Lady, Tramp, Jock, Peg, Bull, and Trusty), as well as a parody of the 1960’s TV show What’s My Line?. Plus, when the puppies are watching TV in the De Vil Mansion, take a look at what’s on screen: the 1929 Disney Silly Symphony cartoon Springtime.

101 Dalmatians is probably most remembered in the Disney canon for its outrageous antagonist, Cruella De Vil. With a dash of Lady Tremaine and a hint of Yzma, she’ll stop at nothing to make sure she gets her precious fur coat! Spoiled and overreacting at almost every situation, she goes to drastic measures to get what she wants. Her sidekicks, Jasper and Horace, play the “Marv and Harry” role of the two henchmen who get constantly beaten upon, making for plenty of scenes with physical comedy.

Unfortunately, like nearly all films, 101 Dalmatians certainly sports a few flaws. The beginning feels somewhat rushed, while the rest seems like it drags on just to get us to a specific plot point in the film.

As for the film’s restoration for its Platinum Edition release, for the most part the picture looks pristine and the sound is great. The only problem I could spot was that at times the restoration of the humans’ faces gives them that look of cheap computer animation, which I know it isn’t. The film is completely hand-drawn, but the way the humans’ faces are restored just looks a bit odd to me. Other than that, the restoration seems dandy.

Disc One Bonus Features

101 Pop-Up Trivia Facts For the Family (about 79 minutes) – In this first of two extra versions of the film, pop-up trivia facts appear on the screen throughout the movie. This version, “For the Family,” is mostly so-so. It mainly deals with the differences between the film and the book on which it was based. There are a few generic facts thrown in about animation, but it primarily deals with the film/book comparisons.

101 Pop-Up Trivia Facts For the Fan (about 79 minutes) – Providing an equivalent, if not more, amount of information to the kind we’d find on an audio commentary, this version of the film has notable fascinating facts that appear on screen dealing with topics that Disney fans or fans of just the movie are sure to find a real treat. The tidbits of info tell us the names and composers of each piece of music that is played, which of the three directors led each sequence, which animators worked on certain characters, and who voiced each of the characters (as well as what other Disney characters that that same actor lent their voice to). There are also several other fascinating bits of trivia throughout.

Sergeant Tibbs (left) and Colonel help search for the puppies. Image © Disney.

“Cruella De Vil” Music Video (about 3 minutes) – Performed by Selena Gomez from Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place, this is another “Disney Mania”-ish, version of a Disney favorite. Aimed to get the tween crowd interested in the DVD set, I’m sure it succeeded in that aspect, but overall is an OK rendition.

Sneak Peeks (about 10 minutes) – The standard pack of Disney previews, this round features commercials of Sleeping Beauty Platinum Edition, Wall*E, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, Tinker Bell, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, The Jungle Book 2 Special Edition (a re-issue of the 2003 sequel), Mickey’s Wonderland, and Disney Movie Rewards.

Disc Two
Total Disc Running Time: about 104 minutes (about 1 hour and 44 minutes) + games and art gallery
Highlight of Disc: “Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney”
Highlight Runner-Up: “Drawn To Be Bad”

Games and Activities

Disney Virtual Dalmatians (running time varies) – Almost identical to the Virtual Kitten game on last month’s DVD of The Aristocats, only this time the poorly-animated pet you’re adopting is a Dalmatian. Unfortunately, this version of the game is even more pointless than the kitten version. All you do is press five buttons that will make your dog do five separate tricks, and then the game is over. Whoopee. However, it says that if you pop the disc into your computer, several DVD-ROM features can be accessed.

Puppy Profiler (running time varies) – Something I haven’t seen on a Disney DVD in a loooong time, this is a questionnaire asking you several questions about your likes and dislikes to match you up with what dog species you’re most like and what owners you’d most likely enjoy. I was matched as a Dalmatian, and the owners I’d most likely be pleased with were Roger and Anita from the movie.

Pongo and Perdita. Image © Disney.

101 Dalmatians Fun with Language Games (running time varies) – After doing so on the DVDs of The Jungle Book and The Aristocats, Disney again includes a game that deals with identifying words on screen. Obviously this is aimed at the Kindergarten/first grade set, but I really don’t think many people purchase a Disney animated movie to be grammatically educated.

Music & More

“March of the One Hundred and One” Deleted Song Sequence (about 1 minute) – This is a set of storyboard drawings and demo recordings for a song that was eventually scratched in the final cut of the film, but apparently got very close to being green-lit. When seeing the sequence in the place that it would have been in the film, it’s clear to see why the happy mood of the song didn’t blend in well with the tense moods of the scenes before and after it.

“Cheerio, Good-Bye, Toodle-oo, Hip Hip!” Abandoned Song (about 3 minutes) – Another song that was dropped from the film, this would have taken place in the exact same part of the film as the song described above, in-between chase sequences. I suppose the filmmakers were stuck between which of the two songs to choose . . . and ended up dropping them both! Instead of being put into storyboard format, though, the audio is accentuated by random drawings from other scenes in the film.

“Don’t Buy a Parrot From a Sailor” Abandoned Song (about 3 minutes) – Another dropped song with random drawings thrown in, this is a song that was to be sung by Jasper and Horace, Cruella’s two henchmen.

“Dalmatian Plantation” (about 3 minutes) – This feature displays two different versions of a song that was used in the final version of the film. The first is a slower-temped version of the song that was changed in favor of the more upbeat, faster-paced version, which is also showcased here in a piano instrumental.

Pongo and Perdita with their many puppies. Image © Disney.

“Cruella De Vil” (about 20 minutes) – This is an entire third of an hour featuring alternate and demo versions of the song “Cruella De Vil,” which after a while seems to be quite repetitive. The different versions range from a spooky version, a blues version, a “honky-tonk” piano version, different takes for the finished song in the film as sung by Roger, and alternate renditions of the “hit” version of the song as heard towards the end of the film on the radio.

“Kanine Krunchies Jingle” (about 5 minutes) – This feature is really gets annoying after a while. It’s 9 different ways that the filmmakers recorded the “Kanine Krunchies Jingle” song, which is cute the first time you hear it but is not as enjoyable after hearing it 9 times in a row. The ways the song is played is based on how different age groups would sing it (like “young boy,” “young girl,” “boy,” “girl,” or “older”). Also included are several outtakes where either the singer or musician messes up.

Backstage Disney

Redefining the Line: The Making of 101 Dalmatians (about 34 minutes) – Here, we get some insights from some of today’s top filmmakers like Brad Bird, Peter Docter, Don Hahn, Andreas Deja, and others, and additionally we’re shown how the movie was made. The feature goes into detail about the music of the film (and several explanations as to exactly what we were watching in the “Music & More” section of the disc), as well as some looks at the storyboarding process, and the (at the time) new Xerox process (which allowed the animators to see their actual drawings on the screen instead of hand-done inked copies). We also hear what critics, and Walt Disney, thought of the film.

Nanny and Cruella. Image © Disney.

Cruella De Vil: Drawn To Be Bad (about 7 minutes) – A follow-up to the making-of, this feature deals with several interviewees talking about the villainess Cruella De Vil. Included are talks about Cruella’s supervising animator, Marc Davis, and his genius he brought to the character as his last ever animation role. Additionally, the feature goes on to talk about both the voice actress and live-action model for Cruella.

“Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney” (about 12 minutes) – Definitely one of the most fascinating features on the disc, this includes reenacting primary source documents that served as correspondence between Dodie Smith (author of the book on which 101 Dalmatians was based) and Walt Disney. The reenactment is narrated by Disney historian Brian Sibley and features actors portraying Smith and Disney. It features actual excerpts from letters written between the two, beginning from when the Disney Studio was originally conceiving of the idea of making the film, and all the way up to the movie’s release. This truly is one of the most treasured and intriguing features on the entire DVD set, and is definitely worth repeat viewings.

Publicity (about 16 minutes) – This is a handful of thorough, if not a bit repetitive, promotional devices including trailers, TV spots, and radio ads from the film’s original 1961 release, as well as its re-releases in 1969, 1979, and 1985.

Pongo and a pup. Image © Disney.

Art Galleries (running time varies) – A plethora of sketches, paintings, backgrounds, and more art pieces from the film that deal with visual development, character design, layouts, overlays, storyboard art, live-action reference, animation art, and production photos. Well, while that’s all just fine and dandy, it (like most DVD art galleries) severely suffers as a result of its navigational structure. The art is amazing, but viewing all of it at once becomes a hassle of going back-and-forth among several menus to view the next round of art.

Wrapping It Up

Since it hasn’t been available for sale yet this decade, many Disney fans probably don’t already own the 1961 classic 101 Dalmatians, and the new Platinum Edition will surely be a very welcome set to their DVD collection. Taking on a more contemporary and modern feel than other Disney animated features, the film has a tone that can still be enjoyed by today’s audiences in the same context it did 47 years ago when it was initially released. That being said, the DVD certainly supplies a bountiful amount of bonus material, but the main problem is that most of it is discardable. The music video is so-so, the deleted songs and publicity items seem a bit repetitive, the games are seemingly pointless, and the art gallery is somewhat difficult to navigate. However, there are of course some items that definitely make the set a more satisfying buy. The restoration is beautiful and some of the bonus features that especially stand out as exceptional include the making-of featurette, the Cruella De Vil retrospect, the pop-up trivia fun facts, and the reenacted correspondence between Walt Disney and the author of the original book The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Dodie Smith.

101 Dalmatians is a contemporary Disney tale that I’m sincerely sorry I hadn’t seen before two weeks ago. The DVD, with several easily overlooked bonus features, still delivers plenty of goodies to keep fans of the film busy for at least a few hours. And – with October 2008 and March 2009 on the horizon – this set will definitely hold Disney fans’ interest until the next two Platinum releases, Sleeping Beauty and Pinocchio, come rolling along.

How do I rank 101 Dalmatians Platinum Edition DVD? (Bolded is my choice.)
Very good movie + very good bonus features =

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

101 Dalmatians Platinum Edition DVD will most likely please: Disney Fans – Pet Owners – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10)

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted March 17, 2008. All images © Disney.

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.

DVD Review – Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland Secrets, Stories, & Magic

January 20, 2008
Image © Disney.

A very fascinating installment in the seventh wave of the ‘Walt Disney Treasures’ DVD series will delight Disney fans with trivia, little-known facts, and a plethora of exciting vintage footage and interviews celebrating the original Disney theme park.

By Blake

Originally posted January 20, 2008.

It’s about time!

Disney fans have been waiting for this DVD to arrive for over two years now. Originally supposed to be released in July 2005 in sync with the kickoff of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary celebration, Disneyland: Secrets, Stories, & Magic wasn’t initially intended for the Walt Disney Treasures series, but instead for a stand-alone, single-disc set. However, after repetitive push-backs and delays, here it lies on shelves under the Walt Disney Treasures label, jam-packed with plenty of fantastic extras and bonus material that we might not have seen if it was released when it was supposed to.

Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland Secrets, Stories, & Magic was originally supposed to be released in 2005 in a case that would have looked like this. Image © Disney.

Thankfully, the set is WELL worth the long wait it went through, and I advise Disney fans to consider this impressive, limited numbered set before it’s gone.

Disc One

Approx. Total Disc Running Time – about 204 minutes (about 3 hours and 24 minutes)
Highlight of Disc – “Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic”
Highlights Runner-Up – Audio Commentary for “People and Places: Disneyland USA”

Disc One Main Feature

Disneyland: Secrets, Stories, & Magic (about 81 minutes) – The main draw of this DVD set is the newly created documentary that tells the Disneyland story through archival footage and interviews with many faces familiar to Disney fans. Among these interviewees are Diane Disney Miller, Roy E. Disney, Julie Andrews, George Lucas, Pete Docter, John Lasseter, Bob Iger, Michael Eisner, Jay Rasulo, and many Imagineers who helped create the park in the 1950’s. The documentary truly is a magical film that starts out with Walt Disney’s dream of creating a place where all members of the family could enjoy themselves and then journeys through the construction of the park, the chaotic opening day, the continuous growth of the park throughout the years, and all the way up to today with the opening of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in June 2007.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is one of the attractions talked about in the new Disneyland documentary. Image © Disney.

Not only is the film a fascinating timeline into Disneyland’s history, but it also provides MANY small tidbits of trivia information that are quite neat, such as that the front of Sleeping Beauty Castle today was originally supposed to be the back (and vice versa); that due to plumbing issues on opening day Walt Disney had to choose between building either bathrooms or water fountains; that there was originally a “lost” ghost in The Haunted Mansion that’s no longer there, yet Disney has no official record of it ever existing; that the finale of Splash Mountain with all the critters dancing was built because the Imagineers had many left over Audio-Animatronics that they didn’t know where to put; and a simulator attraction similar to Star Tours was considered that involved a cowboy chase and was to be put in Frontierland. And that’s just a small sampling of the plethora of fun treats we find out in this truly magical film that captures the true essence of the Disney theme parks.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, as it looked for the park’s 50th anniversary festivities during the Happiest Celebration on Earth. Image © Disney.

Disc One Bonus Features

Wonderful World of Disneyland Trivia Game (running time varies) – I don’t typically enjoy playing DVD games since there’s not much you can really do with a remote control as your joystick, though this one I actually took a taking to, especially since I’m a Disney fan. The game’s menu is set up like the map of Disneyland, and you select one of the eight lands of the park. After you make your selection, a short overview of the land you chose is played and then a question is asked about the land. If you get the question correct, you move on and get to choose another land yourself. If you get the answer wrong, the game automatically selects your next land choice and you eventually have to go back to the land you missed and answer another question. Once you’ve successfully answered all eight land’s questions, you receive a small virtual prize.

People and Places: Disneyland USA (about 41 minutes for each viewing option, about 123 minutes if all options are played) – A featurette that was theatrically released in 1956 to publicize Disneyland as part of Disney’s People and Places series, this is a nice overview of Disneyland that includes neat aerial views of the park. The featurette can be viewed in three options. First is the original 1956 theatrical version, with a narrator to guide you through the park. The second option is a real treat – an audio commentary of the featurette by Walt Disney Treasures host Leonard Maltin and longtime Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter, who each chime in a good deal of information to give us a backdrop for the time period the film was released and to point out the significant changes the park has gone through since then. The last option is a “Music Version” that plays the featurette with no words or narration, just its score of various instrumental Disney songs.

Disc Two

Approx. total disc running time – about 201 minutes (about 3 hours and 21 minutes)
Highlight of Disc – Building Walt’s Dream: Disneyland Under Construction
Highlight Runner-Up – The Golden Horseshoe Revue

Disc Two Main Features

Operation Disneyland (about 14 minutes) – Originally not intended for the public’s eyes, this is a short bit of footage that was sent to ABC executives in 1955 to give the bosses there a peek into the creation of the daunting task of filming the live Disneyland opening day telecast. (The entire 90-minute broadcast can be seen on the 2001 DVD Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland USA.) The look behind the telecast that we see here is actually pretty fascinating, and it’s especially remarkable to find that construction was still going on in the park while its opening day festivities were being rehearsed.

The Golden Horseshoe Revue (about 49 minutes) – A 1962 episode of The Wonderful World of Color, this is an ENTIRE run-through of the 10,000th performance of the popular Disneyland show “The Golden Horseshoe Revue” that ran for 31 years in the park (and at one time also performed at Walt Disney World in Florida). The show is pure, simple fun. This episode features the Golden Horseshoe’s regular performers Wally Boag and Betty Taylor, as well as celebrity guests Annette Funicello (yes, the same Annette from The Mickey Mouse Club) and Ed Wynn (who played Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins and the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland). The show has a western setting and involves several dance numbers featuring cowboys and Native Americans, as well as some funny comedy routines.

Disneyland Goes to the World’s Fair (about 50 minutes) – This episode of The Wonderful World of Color that originally aired in May 1964 deals with Disney’s participation in the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, in which it contributed several attractions, among them It’s a Small World, the Carrousel of Progress, Primeval World and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, all of which later went on to become Disneyland classics. The episode opens with an animated sequence dealing with the history of world fairs in the form of a nearly 10-minute-long song. Then, we’re taken to the Disney Studio to be shown how the 30-foot-tall dinosaurs of Disney’s prehistoric World’s Fair attraction, Primeval World, were built. Then it’s off to test the Audio-Animatronics for the attractions, a technology that was brand spanking new at the time. Finally, we’re taken to the finished product of It’s a Small World and given a complete ride-through of the attraction as seen in the 1964-1965 World’s Fair. Overall this episode provides a fascinating look into some of the backstage magic behind several classic Disney attractions, though some portions of the episode (such as the opening historical sequence and the Small World run-through) drag on a little too long.

Viewers get a peek into Disney’s attractions of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in several episodes of The Wonderful World of Color. Image © Disney.

Disneyland Around the Seasons (about 50 minutes) – Another episode of The Wonderful World of Color, this recaps the year 1966 at Disneyland with highlights from the openings of attractions such as It’s a Small World, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Primeval World, and New Orleans Square. And, as you can probably tell by the list of those attractions, much of the material in this episode is borrowed from “Disneyland Goes to the World’s Fair” and at times gets somewhat repetitive. We’re also shown the gala openings of these attractions after they were imported from the World’s Fair to Disneyland.

The openings of those attractions take up about half of the episode, while the other half is about the Disneyland 1966 “Fantasy on Parade,” the park’s yearly Christmas parade. The real neat aspect of this is that even though no grand floats or quirky dancers are used, the parade still seems to satisfy the enthusiastic crowd. Another really fascinating thing worth mentioning is the look of all the characters – they look totally different than they do today! Pooh even has a honey pot on his head.

Concluding the episode is the Candlelight Processional, an annual Disneyland tradition where large assemblies of church choirs march their way down Main Street and head into Town Square for a lavish pageant featuring music and the telling of the Christmas story.

Disc Two Bonus Features

Building Walt’s Dream: Disneyland Under Construction (about 38 minutes) – During the construction of Disneyland, Walt Disney placed cameras all throughout the park, and the footage from those cameras is presented here to show a sped-up process of the building of Disneyland. The cameras show us footage from several different views in each of the lands of Main Street, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and Adventureland. As if that wasn’t fascinating enough, the construction footage is accentuated by a commentary track with Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter, as well as Ed Hobelman and Walter Magnuson. They chime in frequently with many little-known bits of information that are quite a treat to hear (such as that the rocket being erected on screen, which was the main draw of Tomorrowland, wasn’t put up until ten days before the park’s opening).

A fascinating look at the construction of the park is shown in “Building Walt’s Dream: Disneyland Under Construction.” Image © Disney.

Gallery (running time varies) – This is a still-frame gallery with a plethora of concept art, sketches, renderings, paintings, and posters for most of the Disneyland attractions and sets. It really is fascinating to see how much of the Imagineers’ original visions of Disneyland in these art pieces made it into what guests see in the park today.

Presentation


On each disc, Walt Disney Treasures host Leonard Maltin provides us with a brief introduction to what we’ll be watching and gives us a background on what may have been happening in the Disney community at that time. Each discs’ menus are easy to navigate, and your selection on the screen is shown by either a small icon (disc one) or sparkling stars (disc two). The only issue I had with the menu format was on disc two – the background is a grid of various images, which made it somewhat confusing when picking images to view in the art gallery. At times I couldn’t tell the difference between the background and the art pieces.

The DVD set is a limited release, with 50,000 copies made, and each is presented in a signature Walt Disney Treasures silver tin, with a numbered certificate of authenticity inside the case. Also inserted inside the case are a sketch of Sleeping Beauty Castle by Herb Ryman and a replica of the original Disneyland ticket book. (Initially guests bought a ticket book that included separate tickets for each attraction, labeled from “A” to “E”, with “E” being the most exciting attractions.) I must say the inclusion of the Disneyland ticket book with this DVD was a nice, subtle surprise that I gladly appreciated.

A replica of a Disneyland ticket book is included in the Disneyland Secrets, Stories, and Magic DVD. Image © Disney.

Wrapping It Up

Disneyland: Secrets, Stories, & Magic is definitely one of the better Walt Disney Treasures installments to be released, and delivers a very intriguing look behind the scenes into the history of the happiest place on earth. The newly created documentary is a real treat with plenty of trivia to keep you watching. The People and Places featurette as well as its audio commentary are fascinating and the vintage episodes of The Wonderful World of Color show somewhat of a time capsule into the history of the park and are welcome additions to the set. Bonus features like “Operation Disneyland” and the construction cam show just how much work was put into creating the park. Additionally, the trivia game and the art gallery will surely keep you busy for a while. On top of that, the inclusion of the ticket book only ups the value of this already extraordinary DVD set, and will delight Disney fans for over seven (yup, seven!) entertaining, fun-filled hours of material.

How do I rank Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland Secrets, Stories, & Magic DVD? (Bolded is my choice.)
Brilliant main feature + very good bonus features =
  • Aaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

Walt Disney Treasure: Disneyland Secrets, Stories, & Magic DVD will most likely please: Disney fans – Adults – Older Folks

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By Blake; posted January 20, 2008. All images © Disney.