Disney just released five movies on Blu-Ray for the first time: Tarzan, Hercules,Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The 10th anniversary of Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. All five hit the store shelves on August 12.
I’m always interested in reviewing Disney re-releases of older films to see how they stand up in HD. Having seen them all in VHS many times over, seeing them on Blu-Ray is amazing — almost like getting glasses for the first time. And I’m happy to say that Disney doesn’t disappoint. Some of the bonuses packed into these discs are in HD as well.
This is the newest of the five releases, so I was expecting that the quality of the picture would be better than the rest. And I was great. The HD had rich, vibrant colors and excellent sound in the main feature.
Included in the bonuses are Get Up And Dance, a feature where kids can dance along to the characters. It also has a commentary, which is cute, although I have to admit, if I have to hear Donald going off, I’d much rather see him doing something funny and go off rather than just hear him. There are also deleted scenes, which I find fascinating because you get to hear why sequences end up on the cutting room floor — and there are several for this movie.
The first thing I notice is a cool loading animation. It’s the silhouette of Tarzan being drawn. A nice touch.
The main menu has Tarzan and his gorilla family exploring the man-camp, which is one of my favorite parts of the film. Maybe it’s because when my kids were really little, their banging on pots and pans in the kitchen always reminded me of this part of the film and the song.
The Blu-Ray has the same long list of classic bonus features that came out on the DVD release, including deleted scenes: Introduction, alternate opening, Terk finds the camp, and Riverboat fight, Backstage Disney and Music and More. And by more, they mean more. There are at least three musical features. This disc has the most bonus features, which if you haven’t already seen, are very cool.
There isn’t much new to report about Hercules. The fact that it’s on Blu-Ray and it looks great is the biggest feature. As far as bonus features go, you have the making of the film, a video by Ricky Martin and a karaoke clip of “Zero to Hero” — none of which are in HD. Not riveting by any means, but stuff that big fans of the film will appreciate.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
This is truly a Disney classic, and my favorite of the new releases..Set in London during World War II, three siblings are sent from London to the English countryside to escape the German bombing raids. They discover their hostess is an aspiring witch who sweeps them up on an adventure to a mystical land run by talking cartoon animals. They also fend off their town from invading Nazis using a Medieval army.
The main menu was cute. It features the main characters flying around the countryside on the bed. I had to watch it for a little while to catch all of the little visual subtleties. This disc also had a special loading animation: a glowing bedknob.
I especially like the bonus features included with this release. A newer segment titled “The Wizard of Special Effects” explains the ground-breaking technology used in 1971 to pull off the show’s special effects. Next is song selection. It allows you to jump right to the songs from the movie and turn on or off the subtitles. So now you can sing to your heart’s content with Tomlinson and Lansbury as they bob along “at the bottom of the beautiful briny sea” — decades before Ariel or Flounder come on the scene. You also get extended scenes and songs; and snippet of the recording session in which David Tomlinson records the end of “Portobello Road”. It’s more of a historical piece than entertainment, in my opinion, but interesting nonetheless. Finally, Disney includes a video called “Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers”, about the musical masterminds behind this and several other Disney features.
Last, but not least is Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Unlike the movies mentioned above, these films, which are combined on one Blu-Ray disc (or on two DVDs) do not include a digital copy. They do, however, look great on Blu-Ray. Bonus features include a film called “The Reluctant Dragon”, which follows the fictional writer of the story of the same name to Disneyland to pitch his story to Walt himself. He’s allowed on Disney property, and along the way to his meeting, gets to see how Disney movies are made. It’s a fun feature for fans of early Disney and that time period.
If you’re looking for some wholesome classic movies, give any of these titles a try. They’ll have you singing along before you can say bibbity, boppity, boop!