Archive for the ‘Platinum Edition’ Category

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 – 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 – “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)

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

DVD Review – ‘The Jungle Book’ 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition

October 14, 2007

The latest Disney Platinum Edition is a jungle of fun.
By Blake
Originally posted October 14, 2007.
Well, it’s that time of year again. Last Tuesday, October 2, Disney fans across the country fled to the nearest DVD store to get Disney’s annual deluxe, royal treatment-given DVD. Yup – it was Platinum Tuesday!
Twice each year (in March and in October), Walt Disney Home Entertainment releases one of their most beloved animated features on DVD, each volume beautifully restored to original brilliance and jam packed with supplemental features. Disney dubs these titles “Platinum Editions”, and they’re quite something. Most are provided with extensive in-depth backstage looks at how these magnificent films were made, though some are clearly shoving every sort of promotional device to the film’s franchise right in our faces. Thankfully, the latest Platinum installment, 1967’s The Jungle Book, falls into the category of the former, as it delivers everything fans could ever want: wonderful digital restoration and multiple making-of featurettes, as well as a few tossed-in games.
The Jungle Book was the 19th motion picture in the Walt Disney animated feature canon, and was the last to receive personal instruction from Walt Disney, as he died in December 1966, (8 months before the movie was released). The movie is loosely based on 19th century novels in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book series, and tells the story of Mowgli, a human boy, who grows up in the care of jungle animals and is forced to choose between two worlds when he learns that he belongs in the nearby “man village”. And this choice won’t be so easy, as although Mowgli has dear friends in the jungle, including the laid back & care free bear Baloo and the protective panther Bagheera, he also has enemies who are prowling around every corner, including the sinus-infected snake Kaa, the sneaky & beat-loving monkey King Louie, a prowling band of vultures, and of course the predator tiger Shere Khan.
The Jungle Book’s animation style involves soft, vague backgrounds and dignified, sharp characters in the foreground. It sports excellent use of the Multiplane Camera, as the setting looks stunningly fantasized and come to life with the dimensions the Camera provides.
The characters in the film also have a brilliantly stunning life and realism in them, especially the way in which they move. Their weight moves with them across the screen when they dance; you can actually FEEL them moving. When Baloo scratches his back up against a tree in sync with the rhythm of “The Bare Necessities,” the audience can fully feel the bear’s relaxation. It’s so real, it’s almost impossible to think how the animators working on the film accomplished such a feat. No longer did characters carry stillness when they moved or were in action, they were capable of shifting and progressing themselves and the audience moves right along with them. If there’s anything majorly different that sets The Jungle Book apart from other Disney animated films, it’s the characters’ movement compelled onto the screen.

The songs are also on par with the Disney legacy, as to be expected from Richard & Robert Sherman, who before The Jungle Book had also worked on Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (and later went on to compose songs for The Aristocats, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the non-Disney Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Disney theme park attractions Carrousel of Progress, it’s a small world, and Journey Into Imagination).
The movie also sports a familiar voice cast to Disney fans. Baloo is voiced by Phil Harris (who was also Thomas O’Malley in The Aristocats), Bagheera is Sebastian Cabot (the narrator in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), Mowgli is Bruce Reitherman (Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree); Kaa is Sterling Holloway (Pooh in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, and Mr. Stork in Dumbo); Hathi, Jr. is Clint Howard (Roo in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh). Rounding out the other characters that don’t include Disney vets include Louis Prima as King Louie, George Sanders as Shere Khan, and J. Pat O’Malley as Colonel Hathi.
Released only once before on DVD (with no bonus material whatsoever) in 1999, the 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition delivers a plethora of bonus material, much worth the wait.
Disc One opens with the usual option of whether to use Disney’s Fastplay, a VCR-like feature that allows all material on the disc to be played consecutively without touching your remote control. I personally prefer going directly to the main menu, though, where animated submenus are abundant.
Usually Disney DVD menus consist of some background music with maybe a few animated aspects onscreen, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of Pixar’s work has rubbed off on Disney, as the menus have a rotational loop of the film’s highlights on the main menu, with characters dancing & moving on the submenus. As you move your remote control to each selection on the main menu, the icon next to your selection is highlighted (a feature I DETEST on DVDs, due to you not being able to tell which on is highlighted and which is not, though works well in this case), and on each of the submenus, a red paw print appears next to the selection you’re making (I like this way much better).
The digital restoration of the film is fantastic, as it adds sharpness and more dignified color choices to the film, but still keeps that classic “feel” of most of the Disney 60’s and 70’s animated features.
Bonus features on disc one include “The Lost Character: Rocky the Rhino”, a fascinating look into a character that never made it into the film. A promo for Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund advises viewers to donate to Disney’s animal protection efforts. A new Jonas Brothers music video “rocks out” one of The Jungle Book’s best songs, “I Wan’na Be Like You” in an odd and bizarrely strange setting. Deleted songs offer a neat look into songs that never made it into the film, but gets a little boring after a while (as the songs are audio only – no storyboard or concept art are offered). Finally, there’s Disney Song Selection, an option offering all the songs in the movie to be played consequently with the lyrics on the bottom of the screen. The last bonus feature on Disc One is also the most worthwhile, the newly created Audio Commentary. The insight on the commentary is provided by Richard Sherman (one of the movie’s song writers), Andreas Déjà (a current Disney animator), and Bruce Reitherman (the voice of Mowgli and also the son of the movie’s director, Wolfgang Reitherman). Although this might seem like a pretty random bunch, between the three of them we’re provided with plenty inside looks into pretty much all aspects of the film. Sherman speaks of what went into creating the movie’s songs and score, Reitherman remembers the production of the film from the perspective of a voice actor, and Déjà provides a secondary source (he didn’t actually work on the film) of the animators’ jobs in the film. Thankfully, Disney pulled a slick move on this particular commentary by having all its contributors (with the exception of snippets of archival footage from the film’s ancient animators and directors) being all in the same room together while recording their commentary. It wasn’t choppy like some commentaries are (where none of its contributors are together in the same room) and provided very insightful information on the making of the movie. We even learn that the tune to the song “Trust in Me” was originally supposed to be featured for “Feed the Birds” in Mary Poppins. The Audio Commentary provides a feast of other interesting concepts about the film, and is definitely worth checking out.
As we wrap up Disc One’s bonus features, we move on to Disc One’s other menu, Sneak Peaks. Disney is known for jamming lots of previews for upcoming products on their DVDs, and The Jungle Book is no exception. We’re shown here commercials for Return to Never Land (on DVD Nov. 27), The Aristocats Special Edition DVD (release date not specified), High School Musical 2 (on DVD Dec. 11), The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (on DVD Nov. 20), the Adventures by Disney program, Enchanted (in theatres Nov. 21), Meet the Robinsons (on DVD Oct. 20), Ratatouille (on DVD Nov. 6), and the Disney Movie Rewards program. Oddly enough, we’re not shown a preview for the next Platinum Title (expected to be 101 Dalmatians), as that has been a staple on every Platinum release and it certainly is odd that we’re not shown a commercial for it here.
Disc Two

Disc Two is divided into two sections: Backstage Disney and Games & Activities. Under Backstage Disney, there is a 45-minute documentary that delves into the making of the film. It’s a nice addition, but most of its contributors are people who didn’t even work on the film, but instead are feeding us secondary stories about how the movie was made.
Also in Backstage Disney is “The Lure of the Jungle Book”, an interesting feature (and also the highlight of the disc, to me) showing how current Disney animators were influenced by The Jungle Book while animating modern Disney movies.
“Disney’s Kipling” is a look at how Walt Disney transformed the book story to the screen story.
“Frank and Ollie” is a retrospect honoring two legendary animators who basically drew 50% of The Jungle Book themselves.
Lastly, there’s an art gallery, and ever-intriguing look at concept art and early sketches of the movie.

The Games & Activities section of Disc Two could be easily discarded from the DVD, as all its contents are mediocre to say the least. “Baloo’s Swingin’ Virtual Jungle Cruise” is a set of impossible and pointless games that I couldn’t exactly figure out, so I can imagine how difficult they would be to its elementary-aged target audience.

“Fun with Language Games” is a series of games aimed at 5-6 year-olds learning to read, as they show a word on screen and the player chooses the picture that matches the word. Two of these games are DVD-ROM only, though they wouldn’t play even when I inserted the disc into my computer. Go figure.
The other addition to Games & Activities is also the most worthwhile, “Disney Pedia”, which delves into the film’s real-life animal counterparts.
Wrapping It Up
The Jungle Book 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition is certainly a welcome addition to any Disney fans’ library, and is an obvious must-buy if it isn’t already part of your collection. Its master storytelling and amazing animation highlight the film’s exceptional value, and its recent restoration makes the movie even more spectacular. The DVD’s bonus features are satisfactory, but nothing more: the audio commentary and the making-of documentary are the high points, but the cheesy games can be easily defenestrated. Otherwise, this is a no-brainer. Surely The Jungle Book, the last film to EVER be supervised personally by Walt Disney, has a spot awaiting it on your DVD shelf.
How do I rank The Jungle Book 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition? (Bolded is my choice.)
Very good movie + Very good bonus features =
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

The Jungle Book 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition will most likely please: Disney Fans – Kids (ages 5-8) – Older Folks

By Blake; originally posted October 14, 2007. All images (C) Disney.