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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
Universal // Unrated // September 19, 2006
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Mike Long | posted October 11, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

It was certainly an interesting coup when the officially licensed Barbie doll appeared in Disney/Pixar's 1999 film Toy Story 2. And now, it seems that Barbie is taking a cue from Walt Disney herself. As with Walt Disney's early animated films, the first entries into the modern line of "Barbie" animated stories (which began in 2001) have been based on classic tales, such as Barbie in the Nutcracker or Barbie as Rapunzel. But recently, those responsible for the "Barbie" movies have begun to explore original stories. Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses is the latest entry to hit DVD.

Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses is set many years ago in a far away land. There, King Randolph (voiced by Christopher Gaze) is a benevolent ruler. He lives with his 12 daughters; Fallon (voiced by Adrienne Carter), Edeline (voiced by Chiara Zanni), Delia (voiced by Kathleen Barr), Courtney (voiced by Lalainia Lindberg ), Genevieve (voiced by Kelly Sheridan), Ashlyn (voiced by Nicole Oliver), Blair (voiced by Jennifer Copping), Hadley (voiced by Ashleigh Ball), Isla (voiced by Ashleigh Ball ), Janessa (voiced by Britt McKillip), Kathleen (voiced by Maddy Capozzi), and Lacey (voiced by Chantal Strand). The girl's are all very strong-willed and each has a very distinct interest and personality. As their mother has died, King Randolph feels that the girls have not had a proper role model to learn how to be young ladies. Thus, he calls upon his cousin, Duchess Rowena (voiced by Catherine O'Hara) to come to the castle and teach to girls proper manners and etiquette. What King Randolph doesn't know is that Rowena is desperately poor and that she has her sights set on Randolph's throne and wealth. Rowena is very cruel to the girls and it's up to Genevieve (who is played by Barbie in the story) to help her sisters overcome this tyrannical newcomer.

For decades, programs such as G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have fueled debates over inappropriate entertainment aimed, for the most part, at young boys. More recently, this view has swung towards titles aimed at young girls, such as Bratz. It's good to report that young females have a wise choice in the "Barbie" productions and that Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses is no exception.

Don't get me wrong, Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses isn't perfect. As it's Barbie, the female characters have impossibly skinny bodies, beautiful features, and perfect hair, all of which could create an image which children could never live up to. And in the movie's world, things are very black and white when it comes to the personalities and motivations of the characters. But, in today's landscape of children's entertainment, one must take the good with the bad.

And there are many things to like about Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses. On the surface, the story presents itself as a standard fairytale archetype, as the 12 sisters are confronted by a character who is essentially a wicked stepmother. But, Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses adds another layer to this by adding...well, basically another fantasy fairy tale layer on top of this, but at least this twist keeps the story moving. The movie also does a fairly good job of presenting positive female role models. Yes, all of the sisters are beautiful, but they don't rely on this to get by. In order to defeat Rowena, they use their intelligence and natural talents. And even when Rowena is being severely cruel, the sisters still show respect for their elders. All of girls love dancing, and there's a heavy emphasis on ballet here. (The New York City Ballet was involved in the production.) So, if a young viewer was interested in dancing, she could A) enjoy this aspect of the movie, and B) see one of her favorite characters performing ballet.

Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses comes from Mainframe Entertainment, makers of the classic show ReBoot. The animation will never be mistaken for Pixar, but it's definitely serviceable. The images are fairly detailed and the character's faces are expressive. The backgrounds are also nicely done. All in all, Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses is solid package.

Video

Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses gives a jete and a saute onto DVD courtesy of Universal Home Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. I'm not sure if the transfer was taken directly from a digital source, but it looks very good. The picture is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The image has a nice amount of depth and the CG animation has a nice 3-D look. The colors are splendid, from the pastels to the darker tones. The only problem that I saw was an issue with horizontal lines (check out the noise in the castle steps), but otherwise the transfer looked fine.

Audio

An issue which I have with most family DVDs is that little attention is paid to the audio. That isn't the case here. The DVD features a very nice Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The classical music sounds wonderful here. But, what's most surprising is the abundance of stereo, surround, and subwoofer effects. This movie has a very nice sound design. Note the bass response during the finale. You don't hear bass like that on many kid's DVDs.

Extras

The only extra features on the Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses DVD are a music video for the song "Shine" and a set-top game, "The Merry Memory Ballet".


I hate to sound...well, like a boy...but for a "Barbie" movie to hold my interest, it's got to be pretty good, and Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses was able to do so. The animation is fine and the story is easy to follow yet well-paced. And I have to say, I honestly didn't see Genevieve's last move coming. Barbie fans of all ages should enjoy this one.
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