Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on November 17th, 2004
The original Around the World in 80 Days is known for its spirit of adventure, wild cameos, and also one of the weaker movies to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. Disney’s remake of Around the World still has that sense of adventure, has a few funny cameos, and is in no danger of winning Best Picture.
Based on the Jules Verne book, Around the World in 80 Days stars British actor Steve Coogan as the infamous inventor Phileas Fogg. His famous balloon is supposed to go around the wo…ld in 80 days to prove a point to his conservative “explorer’s club”. France, China, Turkey, and New York are all stops in this globetrotting trek. But it’s Jackie Chan that steals most of the screen time as Passepartout, Fogg’s partner on this adventure. It seems that the filmmakers designed the film around Chan’s comic antics. Chan also choreographs a lot of martial arts scenes because, well, that’s what Jackie does best. Not sure how Jules Verne would feel about that.
But the director, Frank Coraci, has fun with the premise. After directing two Adam Sandler movies, Coraci seems ready to let loose. The movie is more of triumph of art direction than special effects. I wouldn’t say it’s a visual feast, but a definite hearty dinner. There’s always something interesting to look at. The cameos by the Wilson brothers and the Governor himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, are cute. Chan and Coogan have a good chemistry together. If you’re looking for a fun, goofy movie to watch with your kids on a lazy afternoon, this is perfect fare.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. This is strong, crisp audio track. No worries about a lot of bass here. I thought there would be more surround effects. Especially since the screen is almost filled with action. But the music comes through loud and clear. And, sometimes, it’s even heard on the back speakers. Don’t worry, your surround will be put to use. Just not as much as I had figured.
Anamorphic 2:35:1 widescreen. Colors are lush and bright, but not too eye-poppingly so. Even the darker hues have character. Flesh tones seem a bit unnatural at times, but this is a fantastical story. Zero evidence of grain, or halos. Pixilation and edge enhancement are at a bare minimum. The transfer for Around the World in 80 Days is, well, world class.
There is a healthy, if not exorbitant, dose of extras on this disc. First off, there is a commentary by director Frank Coraci and actor Steve Coogan. They mostly reminisce about the filming of the movie and the genesis of their involvements in the project. At a two hour running time, the commentary is a tough go. But it’s always neat to hear American and British guys talk together. Their accents are sooo different.
The other extras rundown like this…
- There’s an Alternate Ending feature that is worth taking a look at. I won’t spoil if for you.
- “Around the World of Jackie Chan” is a behind the scenes featurette of the martial arts choreography. If you’re into to seeing the “master” at work, it’s kind of interesting.
- “Discovering Around the World in 80 Days” is the standard behind-the-scenes featurette. And when I say standard, I mean standard. It’s exactly what you would expect from one of these things.
- There are about 8 deleted scenes. You can watch them with or without commentary by Frank Coraci. Most of the deletions had to do with pacing. Most of the scenes are really short, and then we’re taken back to the main menu. So make sure to click on PLAY ALL.
- There’s also a music video “Everybody All Over the World,” performed by Dave Stewart and the Sylvia School Children’s Choir. It’s got some Terry Gilliam, Monty Python-esque style animation. But the song sounds like a rip off of “A Kind of Hush” by the Carpenters.
Lastly, he menus are scored and very fun.
I will bet you money that Disney’s remake of Around the World in 80 Days will not win the Oscar for Best Picture. But it might win the award for best Frank Coraci movie (The Waterboy running a close second, of course). But with excellent video, strong audio, and good extras, this disc has its merits.
Special Features List
- Commentary by The cast and Filmmaker
- Never-Before-Seen Director’s Alternate Beginning
- Deleted Scenes
- “Discovering Around The World In 80 Days” Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
- “Around the World with Jackie Chan” featurette
- “All Over The World” Perfomed By Dave Stewart And The Sylvia School Children