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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 5, 2000 | E-mail the Author
We've all seen the story of the marionette that comes to life to become a real boy, or at least you've heard of it if you're one of the very few who haven't viewed this animated classic. I'm not going to argue that this is not a great film, because it is. What I will choose to focus the majority of my discussion on is the DVD itself, since I'm sure more are interested in exactly just how this, the first Disney animated DVD, fares.

All DVD fans remember when they first heard that Disney was bringing 9 of their animated titles to the format. Some of us were among the first to pre-order these titles at various internet retailers at $34.95. Although it was a little much to ask for a featureless effort(oh, I'm sorry- the disc actually does include the trailer!), we accepted it. For a while, everything was calm in the land. Then suddenly, Disney realized that they could make more money and upped the price to $39.95 for all of their animated offerings. The lateness of this decision makes it even more obvious that Disney is still greedy after all of these years. Adding to it all is the painful attempt at describing "special features" on the back of the DVD. Disney goes as far as including "full-color character artwork on disc" as an extra. I see artwork on what seems like 1 out of every 3 DVDs lately- it's nothing new, nor interesting. During the recent problems with Disney DVDs(no extras that were advertised actually making it onto their "Halloween H20" disc, wrong aspect ratio on "Playing By Heart" and a missing 5.1 track on "She's All That", the response has been one of little caring for the customer in trying to fix these matters.

One wishes that these titles belonged to another studio. I can only imagine what Dreamworks could accomplish making a special edition of this film, or any other of these animated offerings. Their content on their recent special edition of Prince Of Egypt was quite excellent, offering looks into the animation process and a number of documentaries. Disney really has no excuse for not even providing a featurette on here. I really don't see why the studio couldn't at least ask celebrities their memories of seeing the film for the first time, or at least a message from the studio introducing us to this, the first of the Disney animated series. I mean, there's not even animated menus. I apologize for going on this rant, but the complete lack of special features here is a mountain-sized missed opportunity.

The film certainly looks excellent, and whether that alone is worth $39.99 to people, it's up to the buyer. Still, the lack of special features is nothing new from a studio that still shows very few signs of trying to improve.


VIDEO: The film certainly does look great after all these years. The full-frame(1.33:1-original aspect ratio) picture is clear and crisp, with colors that are really impressive: looking rich and very vibrant throughout the picture. There are no cases of bleeding in the colors, either.

Although the majority of the image quality here is quite excellent, there are still a few flaws that are visible. Occasionally, there seems to be some slight grain as well as a few small, but noticable marks and scratches on the picture. The flaws seem to be generally isolated into a few scenes, and aren't a problem consistently through the movie.

SOUND: The original soundtrack is fairly basic, but it's been produced very well for this DVD release: although somewhat limited in range, the score does sound very clear and very clean for this release and dialogue is problem-free, sounding clean throughout. There are really no noticable problems with the soundtrack in terms of distortion. Like the image quality, the sound quality is quite pleasing.

MENUS:: Again, as I mentioned before, there's not much at all to these. A missed opportunity.

EXTRAS:: Just the original trailer. An even bigger missed opportunity. Although the disc includes Disney's usual "film recommendations"(this time it's simply the other 8 animated titles), they don't even include trailers for them, either. I'm imagining "the movie" soon to be listed as an extra on upcoming Disney DVDs. Like Disney has done in the past with discs, they'll probably release this basic edition now and then a special edition in the future so they can get customer's money twice. And speaking of the "Full-Color character artwork on disc" as an extra mention on the box, give me a break. If they're not going to include extras, don't make up "special features" that sound incredibly silly and not only are nothing new to the format, but add nothing to the DVD. The lack of creativity that went into the presentation on this disc is astounding.

Final Thoughts: If you're looking for the finest quality edition of this film in terms of audio and video quality(and you're willing to pay $39.95...), then this disc is fine. Personally, $39.95 is asking too much from me for any movie on DVD with just the trailer. Or, If you're looking for a copy for your children to watch over and over again, your best bet to find a non-outrageously expensive copy will likely be the online stores, where this disc will likely be less than $30. The arguements that this disc will likely start will end quickly anyways: the title will stop being sold on 12/27/99. And a day afterwards, the Ebay bidding will likely begin.

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