Disney sure loves to pump out direct-to-video releases. And who
can blame them, what with how much money they bring in with
relatively little advertising. But the downside to most of
Disney's direct-to-video releases is that they usually aren't
very good, especially the sequel movies such as The Little
Mermaid II. Thankfully though, 101 Dalmatians II -
Patch's London Adventure doesn't follow suit. Yes, instead
of the badly written and rushed-to-production titles we're used
to seeing, 101 Dalmatians II breaks the trend by
actually being charming and quite funny at times.
The story follows Patch (Bobby Lockwood), who dreams of becoming
a one-of-a-kind wonder dog like his television hero Thunderbolt.
When Patch gets accidentally left behind from his family during
their move to the country he sets his sights on finding
Thunderbolt, and becoming a hero just like him. Cruella Deville
(Susanne Blakeslee), who is suddenly an art lover, teams up with
the eccentric artist Lars, and comes up with a plan to steal the
famous litter to serve as inspiration for his next masterpiece.
Patch and Thunderbolt must then come to the rescue to save the
puppies from certain death.
101 Dalmatians II is cute and certainly likeable, but
what sets it apart from the sea of average releases is its voice
talent. Disney introduces two great new characters to the 101
Dalmatians franchise, Thunderbolt, played by Barry Bostwick, and
Lars, played by Martin Short. Bostwick does an amazingly good job
at sounding cocky and self-absorbed, and comes away with some of
the best lines in the movie. And as usual, Martin Short adds
fantastic foreign flair to his character that only he can
provide. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw one or two of these
characters make a return in the next 101 Dalmatians movie.
Another addition to the cast is Thunderbolt's trusty yet not-so-heroic sidekick Lightning, played by Jason Alexander. All
of the voice talent offers exceptional performances worthy of a
This movie is very easy to recommend for those with young
children, however, I can not fully recommend this title for
adults who love to collect Disney movies because of one
regrettable reason, it's video transfer.
Video: This movie is presented in 1.66:1
widescreen and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. This is a curious aspect
ratio and actually appears to be a bit wider then the claimed
1.66:1. Now the colors looked great, and the animation appeared
well above average, but as I stated before there was one glaring
oversight in this DVD transfer that just about ruined this movie
for me. There is an "interlaced ghosting artifact"
present in just about every single scene in this movie. It
happens very quickly, and those of you with less than 20/20
vision will probably never notice it, but it is there, and is
positively annoying to those who see it. Now for the sake of
sounding too technical, I'll just say that it looks like a jaggy
delayed image that happens usually when one of the main
characters quickly moves. It happens in only one frame. (It is
VERY visible when you go frame-by-frame) I have never seen a DVD
title suffer from such a hideous video oversight, and am utterly
flabbergasted that Disney would release a title that looked like
this, mainly because Disney almost always puts out near reference
quality video transfers.
I would hope Disney recognizes the problem and fixes it
immediately. I would even go so far as suggest they offer a
replacement copy for those who have already bought this DVD. But
like I said, if you have poor vision, you'll never see it.
Unfortunately for those who have 20/20 vision or better, you'll
never be happy with this title once you notice it.
Audio: 101 Dalmatians II comes with
both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio tracks. Both sound
excellent, and although they never go above and beyond the call
of duty, they do offer an appropriately enveloping experience.
Disney continues its grand tradition in offering great sound with
Extras: Though not as packed as some of their
titles, 101 Dalmatians II comes with a nice package of
features for the kiddies.
Behind-The-Scenes "Dog-umentary": Here
you get to see a condensed tour of how this movie was made, all
from a dog's point of view. Cute? Well kind of. Informative? Yes,
but I would like to have learned more. Of course the kids will
love it just the same.
Lost in London Game: Here's your chance to be a
"hero" and save all of Patch's brothers and sisters by
finding the lost puppies who are spread out all through London. I
liked the approach to this game because it actually taught you
something, rather than reiterate a point made in the movie. You
are asked a question about London, and have three answers to
choose from. Winning the game offers little satisfaction, but
it's the knowledge you gain in the process that is the real prize
here. Great for kids.
Thunderbolt: An Inside Look: Here you get to
click on certain items in Thunderbolt's trailer to see what makes
him tick. Some of the items provided some laughs and I'm sure the
kids will like it.
"Try Again" - Music Video: This is a
music video performed by British "Pop Idol" winner Will
"You're The One" - Music Video:
Performed by LMNT.
If not for the "interlaced ghosting artifact" I would
have no problem recommending this title. I liked the story, and I
loved the characters. However, because it was so visually
annoying for me, I have to recommend that you go out and rent it
to see if it bothers you. Hopefully Disney will fix this problem
and it will not be an issue for future buyers. But, if you're
looking to buying this title specifically for children eyes only,
you can feel confident that they will neither notice it nor be
bothered by it. Rent it.