“Long ago and far away…”
So begins the latest direct-to-video CGI-animated Barbie movie, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper. Based on Mark Twain’s classic tale, this video/DVD is a modern-retelling of the story. It’s Barbie’s first musical, and it does a fantastic job of both entertaining kids and giving them something to think about.
At the same moment, two identical baby girls were born. One, Princess Anneliese, had everything, while Erika, born to a poor village family, lived a li…e of hard work and poverty. Both girls were equally loved, but their circumstances were starkly different. The girls looked amazingly similar, with the exception of hair color.Princess Anneliese’s mother, a widowed Queen, was encountering some serious problems. The gold had run out, and her Kingdom was now bankrupt. In order to care for her people, she planned that her daughter meet Dominick, a young King in “need” of a wife.
This movie explores the urge for freedom and the desire to be responsible. The princess is compelled to fulfill her duty to her mother and their kingdom by marrying Dominick. Erika, the pauper, feels responsibility to her own family, hoping to repay her parents’ debt.
Both girls are determined and adventurous, and their lives quickly become intertwined after Preminger, the Queen’s “trusted” advisor, kidnaps the Princess. Erika will need to assume Anneliese’s identity in order to foil her kidnapper. More suspense and complications arise when King Dominick falls in love with Erika, mistaking her for the Princess. A rather royal cat, Serafina, and her rival, Midas (a French poodle) are funny supporting characters in this musical. The songs are charming—even Preminger sings a deliciously evil little ditty.
In the end kids will learn about courage, honor and responsibility in this present day interpretation of the classic story.
Barbie Princess and the Pauper is presented in “Family Friendly” Widescreen 1.66: 1 Aspect Ratio. I’m not sure what “Family Friendly” is but this does look very good. The computer generated images are bright and sharp and do not show any edge enhancement. The colors are vibrant and striking and while not up to the levels presented in Pixar productions, it is a notch above CGI TV shows. The black levels are well set as can be seen during the night scenes where the light intensity allows for subtle differences in black shades to be noticed. A very nice transfer.
The 5.1 Dolby Surround track is very well used to full effect. The dialogue comes through very clear through the centre channel while the musical soundtrack is well reproduced through the right and left speakers. The surround speakers are used quite frequently for ambient sounds and for the occasional movement effect. The bass does not get a full workout here, but one would not expect much bass coming from songs featuring female leads.
The disc contains a sing along feature to allow the kids to sing with Barbie as she progresses through the songs. There is a favorite songs menu that allows kids to find their favorites immediately. There is a trailer for the next Barbie movie Fairytopia. The trailer really does not give one much idea what this movie is going to be about other than it contains fairies.
This is a very good movie for kids aged 4-8 who will enjoy the lush visuals and catchy songs. Definitely worth a rental.
Special Features List
- Sing-Along feature
- Songs menu
- First look at the next Barbie movie