Tomorrow, August 12, 2014, Disney will be releasing 5 classic titles on Blu-ray and most on Disney Movies Anywhere. This is the first time on Blu-ray for them. Since all these films have been released numerous times in theaters as well as home video I will spare you the synopsis and thoughts on the film itself and instead focus on what is included on the discs. If you would like the synopsis, cast, etc.. information click here to read the release. Below is a listing of the five discs featuring a clip and my first impressions of the new offering.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The film looked in extremely good shape in this format and this version features the full/extended version of the film. It has been digitally re-mastered for this release. The bonus material had been available in previous releases in various forms, so nothing new there. While disappointed there was nothing new I did enjoy watching a couple of the features, and since I did not purchase the previous release they were new to me. The most interesting of which is Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers featurette. It includes interviews with both Sherman brothers, Angela Lansbury and Scott MacQueen. The other noteworthy one was called The Wizards of Special Effects. It takes a look at how the special effects were done for the film using the sodium screen vapor process which won an academy award for its use in Mary Poppins and compared that to some modern green screen of today. If you are looking for a great clear copy of the film and bonus material this is a worthy addition to your library, or if you do not own it already.
Hercules comes to Blu-ray for the first time in this “special edition” release. The disc contains a crystal clear transfer of the film. Unfortunately the bonus materials on this disc are lacking. There is a making of featurette that is just under 10 minutes in length. A Rickey Martin music video of “No Importa La Distania”. There was also a sing a long of Zero to Hero to round out the bonus features. All were on previous releases and vary in picture quality.
I would have really liked to have seen something more.. for example a look at the Hercules Parade at Disneyland or something on the films premiere which was an event in New York City where the Main Street Electrical Parade made its way on 42nd street and fifth avenues. Including a Hercules float.
If you are looking for an update to your collection or you do not own the film this is a great addition as it contains the Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy through Disney Movies Anywhere.
Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers
This film is celebrating its 10th anniversary with this Blu-ray release. Almost all the bonus material is re-used from previous releases. Only a “Get Up and Dance” feature is new I believe. Since I did not purchases any of the previous releases the material was all new to me. I thought the cast commentary had some funny moments in it. It is a five minute featurette with Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pete talking about a couple scenes. The making of featurette is under 10 minutes and called “Get the Scoop” and done in a mock news cast style and a tongue-in-cheek tone. It really does not go in depth into how it was made unfortunately but does have a couple of interesting factoids.
Tarzan swings onto Blu-ray and Disney Movies Anywhere with mixed results in my mind. The great news is the movie has never looked better at home and there are a lot of classic bonus features (almost 30 on a quick count). If you purchased the 2 disc-DVD set Collector’s Edition back in 2000, like I did, then you are aware of the amount of extended bonus material that is available. I have not compared item by item but it appears that everything on that set made the Blu-ray. Some of the highlights include a look at the deep canvas process. An extended look at the music including Phil Collins videos of some of the songs as well as a feature on him singing them in many languages. There are also sections devoted to the story development and characters.
The bad news is it appears they did not go any further. I clicked through all the menus and did not find any new material. I thought they missed an opportunity here to talk about how Tarzan has come to Broadway or a look at its presence in the parks. Or even a comparison looking at the early use of computers in animation with the deep canvas to how it is done today. Or a look back since the film was released 15 years ago this year, June 18, 1999.
If you are looking to update your collection to the newest technology and have a great copy of the film this should be on your list. If you do not have the Collector’s Edition of the DVD and want more bonus material than your traditional releases now a days have this disc fits the bill perfectly with the large assortment of classic bonus material. If you are looking for something new, different, or extended this release falls short.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad + Fun and Fancy Free (including the Reluctant Dragon)
This Blu-ray and DVD set includes both full films as well as “The Reluctant Dragon”. Note this is only the Blu-ray and DVD no Digital Copy is included in this one (unlike the other four titles today). For those not that familiar “Fun and Fancy Free” is a compilation of two shorter films stitched together with live actors. “Bongo” and “Mickey and the Beanstalk”. An interesting note is this is the last animated feature starring Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse’s voice. The “Reluctant Dragon” is included as the only bonus feature the disc and accessible from both films on the Blu-ray.
The treasure on this disc for me is the copy of “The Reluctant Dragon”. For those not familiar with this title it is a 1941 film that features a look around the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank that had just opened in 1940 exploring the process of Animation. It has been released before on DVD and VHS, but seeing it on Blu-ray it looks great! I always enjoy looking around the Studios and it is interesting how it has evolved.