remember what it was like to be a
young kid. Unfortunately, that's the kind of thing that some people
forget over the course of their lives. Not everyone fondly
those youthful days either. For those individuals who do reminiscence,
I would expect many of the generations of the 80's or 90's to remember
experiences that were had watching some genuine animated classics by
animation master Don Bluth. Bluth directed some of the all time
animated features: An American Tail, The
Land Before Time, The Secret of Nimh, and (of
course) All Dogs Go to Heaven. Upon the initial
release of All Dogs Go to Heaven
critics were generally negative towards the film and indeed audiences
seem as receptive to the work as some of Bluth's earlier efforts. The
widely considered as one of the greater achievements in his career
fans and has a strong following that remains passionate about this
animated project despite those unfairly negative critical stances found
in the films ongoing history.
I have heard the complaints
There are many viewers who feel the film is too dark for young children
(thematically, as well as through the way the film presents violence,
gambling, etc.), that it features too many unremarkable songs,
animation, and even religious undertones that might alienate some
those elements. The curious thing for myself to contemplate and examine
"When did a children's film have to become something sanitized?" The
truly dark for a children's film, and that is something I will not
However, the story also focuses primarily on giving a positive message
children about the important power of love and friendship. The 'bad
characters do exhibit some unlikeable traits throughout the film, as do
flawed 'good guy' dogs featured in the story. Yet the thing that makes
threads weave together into an entertaining and meaningful way are how
portrays its characters as being more understandably human: everyone
and no one is perfect. Here is a film that doesn't try to mask that
children. It acknowledges the fact that life isn't always something
clean and works within that foundation of honesty to explore characters
are heading towards redemption.
All Dogs Go to Heaven is presented in 1080p High Definition with an AVC encoded transfer at a bit-rate of 32 MBPS. The film is presented in the original theatrical exhibition ratio of 1:85:1 widescreen (and not the 1:37:1 negative ratio or the 1:33:1 full frame ratio used for previous DVD editions) on a 25 GB Region A Blu-ray disc. It was a substantial delight to finally be able to see the film in its theatrical aspect ratio as I was never able to see the film in theaters. This presentation is leaps and bounds better than previous DVD editions for that reason alone (as this is the first time the film hasn't been presented in full frame). The image looks exactly as it was intended and doesn't appear cropped or manipulated (which should be helpful information for anyone who would be doubtful of the widescreen presentation). The print itself is clearly dated and it appears as though MGM likely used the same source material as previously employed for prior editions. I appreciated the fact that grain was left intact, though some might be annoyed that this isn't a shiny new restored release. Print damage is occasionally noticeable but this rarely distracted from the experience as it was relatively minor. Colors are noticeably better than they ever looked on DVD but the film's color palette has also never been as striking as some might prefer. The presentation also fluctuates slightly between being sharper and slightly soft. While this isn't a great transfer by any means, I am happy to acknowledge that the film has never looked better.
First of all: the audio on this release isn't the most engaging or dynamic mix one might hope for. The relatively good news is that the included 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track does a decent job of representing how the film probably sounded when it was released in theaters 21 years ago. Nothing sounds particularly enveloping with this track, but the score by Ralph Burns is well represented and the audio is mostly clear and easy to understand. The audio is a noticeable (if slight) improvement over previous editions of the film with the lossless audio upgrade. This release also includes Spanish and French Dolby Surround options. Subtitles are provided for French speakers and the deaf and hard of hearing.
Unfortunately, there are no respectable extras to be found anywhere on this release. There isn't even a menu (only pop-up menu options are available). I would hope that future MGM releases of similar titles would at least include a menu screen, as well as informative 'making of' extras, but the only thing provided here is the original theatrical trailer. That's all fans get. At least the release isn't losing any extras (the previous DVD editions were barebones as well).
All Dogs Go to Heaven is one of Don Bluth's most enchanting animated efforts and it should succeed at entertaining audiences of all ages. The Blu-ray release features a significant upgrade over previous DVD editions in PQ/AQ, even though it fails to meet the high standards of Disney animated releases or other catalogue title releases in general. This is a release worth upgrading to for any devoted fans who want to see the film in the proper aspect ratio. Highly Recommended.