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Seventh Dwarf, The

Shout Factory // PG // August 18, 2015
List Price: $24.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jesse Skeen | posted August 20, 2015 | E-mail the Author

Ever since 2001's Shrek presented a world in which fairy tale characters live and interact with one another, other major and minor animated movies have done the same. The Seventh Dwarf bills itself as "a hilarious mash-up of your favorite fairy tale characters," but it's mainly "The Seven Dwarfs Save Sleeping Beauty." Like Shrek, the movie opens with a narrator setting the story up with drawings before jumping into the CG animation. The premise here is that Princess Rose (technically faithful to the "Sleeping Beauty" story as the title character was named Briar Rose in many versions) is born in the kingdom of Fantabularasa, but the evil witch Dellamorta (surprisingly voiced by new-wave singer Nina Hagen) places the all-too-familiar curse on her which would sentence her to a hundred years of sleep if she is ever pricked with a sharp object before her 18th birthday. The king puts plenty of safeguards in place to keep this from happening, and the kingdom is so sure that she will reach that milestone unscathed that they throw a huge birthday party for her where the bulk of the guest fairy tale characters make their appearance. Near the last minute however, the curse is fulfilled throwing Rose into a century of slumber and freezing the castle and all its guests in ice.

The way out of this with "love's kiss" is still present, and in this tale Rose already has a special someone in her life, the simple Jack (now where have I seen those two names together before?) Dellamorte makes sure he doesn't get in the way of things by having her dragon named Burner (voiced gruffly by Norm Macdonald) fly down and grab Jack, taking him to Dellamorte's castle where he is locked up. Who can rescue him and bring him back to Fantabularasa to kiss Princess Rose and break the curse? Why, none other than- the Seven Dwarfs!

Now before anybody cries foul at the seven dwarfs in this movie as they are clearly much younger, different-looking and differently-named than the famous seven in the Walt Disney film, the original "Snow White" story never named the dwarfs and several adaptations have given them whatever names the writer felt suitable so they are fair game for revision here. The Seventh Dwarf is named Bobo (voiced by Joshua Graham), who is the shortest, a bit awkward but determined. The remaining six are named Cooky, Cloudy, Sunny, Tachakko (who looks and sounds a lot like "Stooge" Moe Howard), Speedy and Ralphy, and they each have distinctive personalities but maybe not the ones you're used to. Bobo blames himself for the events that led to the princess' curse being fulfilled and sets out to make things right by rescuing Jack, but the other six tag along to help.

This rather simple story might be looked at by American audiences with curiosity or indifference, but it's actually a follow-up to two live-action German comedies featuring the Seven Dwarfs characters. This CG-animated movie was directed by Harald Sieperman who worked on a few recent Disney animated productions. The voices for this English version were recorded in Canada, and it was given just a token theatrical release in Los Angeles and New York before appearing on this Blu-Ray disc. Seeing the first films might better prepare a viewer for this (although they aren't available in the US) but taken as it is, it's still quite entertaining. Once you get past the dwarves not being the same as their Disney equivalents they're certainly likeable- besides the Moe-like Tschakko (voiced by Matt Gilbert) I also liked "Cloudy" (voiced by Al Parrish) who stands out looking like a Martin Scorsese gangster film character and not particularly happy or jolly. Despite the director being a Disney alum and the animation done in eye-pleasing 3D, its general quality is only a step above that of typical direct-to-video CG productions. The backgrounds and general design are nice-looking, but the human characters still have that plastic or robotic look to them that plague computer animation, and most notably everyone's hair stays in the same place and doesn't move. If you've watched the DVD extras on any Pixar production you've likely seen them explain hair and fur a lot- it's not very easy to get it right, and not everyone can do it.

As mentioned, the other "favorite fairy tale characters" don't really do much here except serve as party guests until they're frozen by the witch. Snow White turns out to be Rose's "BFF", and Red Riding Hood appears to have patched things up with the Big Bad Wolf and the two now work together as TV reporters. Puss in Boots gets a laugh with the line "These boots were made for walking" and the Bremen Town Musicians provide the music for the event, but the story really belongs to the Seven Dwarfs. The movie is punctuated by a few decent musical numbers that translate nicely in English, including two by Nina Hagen (who voiced both the English and original German versions.)


The 3D Blu-Ray disc is framed at 1.85 and includes a 2D option. I've often complained about compression artifacts and banding in 3D pictures and usually accept their being more noticeable in 3D than 2D, but I saw practically none of that on this disc. (I looked for it at a few points but did not see any, and nothing made itself apparent when I wasn't looking out for it.) The 3D itself doesn't exactly reach out and grab you, but does provide a very nice sense of depth on about the same level as most other 3D CG-animated movies I've seen. Pop-out gimmicks are kept to a minimum, but there's one early on that stands out very nicely. One scene takes place in a snowstorm which is always a good 3D showcase. A standard DVD is also included with an adequate 2D presentation.


The primary English audio is in 5.1 DTS Master Audio and makes rather nice use of multi-channel, with dialogue panned both to the sides and rears as well as a number of well-placed rear-channel sound effects. A separate 2-channel DTS Master Audio track is also included (and the disc is authored to output the sound as bitstream, so if you have the deadly combination I have of an Oppo Blu-Ray player and Pioneer receiver you won't get any center or surround decoding unless you set the player to "PCM" instead of "Auto") as well as a 2-channel French track in the same format (with songs in French as well as dialogue!) Unfortunately the original German audio isn't included. The DVD includes these same tracks in Dolby Digital. Both discs include hearing-impaired subtitles.


A short piece is included showing Peyton List and Norm Macdonald in the recording studio where they talk a bit about their favorite fairy tales (which also wreaks a bit of havoc with my audio receiver). There's a still gallery of "Character Profiles" describing the personalities of the main characters and listing their voice actors, and two "Sing-Alongs" of the songs "Cake" and "Friend" where lyrics appear onscreen. The DVD also includes a PDF file of a "Royal Birthday Invitation", essentially an announcement of the princess' birthday gathering with space to type in the name of whomever you wish to invite. (It gives the date as August 18th, which was the release date for this disc set.) You also get a code for a copy of the movie downloadable to your computer (not UltraViolet.)

Final Thoughts

The Seventh Dwarf isn't ground-breaking in any way and some animation fans might write it off as another "knock-off", but I enjoyed it for what it was with likeable characters, a few catchy songs and nice-looking 3D. Nina Hagen's appearance was certainly a surprise, it turns out she's done a bit of other voice work as well including the dubbed voice of "Sally" in the German version of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I hope I'll get the chance to see the German live-action movies that preceded this.

Jesse Skeen is a life-long obsessive media collector (with an unhealthy preoccupation with obsolete and failed formats) and former theater film projectionist. He enjoys watching movies and strives for presenting them perfectly, but lacks the talent to make his own.

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