From reading the back of the box, one would think that this film was one of the true Disney animated classics. Phrases like â€œdigitally remastered for the first time on DVDâ€ and â€œthe original Disney classicâ€ would certainly lead one to believe such a thing. The fact of the matter is, however, that this â€œclassic Disney filmâ€ was just originally released in 1997. Sure, it’s remastered, but we’re talking about remastering a print that is less than a decade old. Improvements were undoubtedly made, but this re…ease is not the towering accomplishment that one might be led to believe.
The plot revolves around Pooh and the gang setting out on a cross-country trip to find Christopher Robin, who has mysteriously gone missing. As the gang travels on their search, they find opportunities to conquer their fears and accomplish great things. The viewers, however, know that Christopher was just at school the whole time.
It is a proven fact that for whatever reason, young children like Pooh. Adults, however, are a mixed bag. While I personally have no attraction to the characters whatsoever, there are some that are extremely dedicated to the property. My basic rule for such polarizing titles is as follows: if you are a big fan of Pooh, then you are probably going to pick this disc up no matter what I say. If you are a skeptic, however (like I am), I strongly suggest you rent this title before making a blind purchase.
The audio is surprisingly dynamic here. Not only do the sounds and dialog accurately follow their sources on the screen, but the surrounds are used especially well, providing lots of great ambient sounds that really help to put the viewer in the locations. Even the subwoofer is given a thorough workout when Tigger uses his powerful tail. The voice acting is also first rate, which is a crucial component of an animated feature. Finally, the film’s score rises above the standard kids faire to reach something closer to Broadway quality. All told, the audio track on this disc is really quite good.
With all of that modern animation and remastering, you would think this disc would look much better than it actually does. On the plus side, there don’t seem to be any problems with dust or scratches on the negative. Also, the film is in a widescreen format, which means that it will look perfectly accurate on a large widescreen display. However, the film’s cells looks washed out, and a bit faded. Truth be told, the film actually looks older than it is; not vibrant and new as one would expect.
There are also some discrepancies in quality when moving from shot to shot. As a general rule, close-up shots look quite nice, but the colors on long shots don’t transfer as well. Edges don’t look too bad, and there is no problem with extraneous digital noise. The video is not on the same level as the audio, but it hangs in there nonetheless.
Usually, Disney packs more special features than this onto their discs. That’s not to say that there isn’t some quality stuff here, it’s just that they didn’t go above and beyond the call like they normally do. The extras start off with my favorite of all the Disney offerings, the FastPlay feature. This is an excellent way for parents to not only let their children learn how to play their own movie, but it allows parents’ hands to be free for other tasks, such as driving or making dinner.
In the more traditional realm of extras, this disc includes a bonus short film called Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. This 1968 animated short was rewarded with an Academy Award, and it is really nice to have it included here. The Pooh’s symphony segment is a documentary featurette aimed solely at children that discusses the music in the film. For me, this educational segment is actually better than the film itself. These are just the kinds of things that kids need to be taught about film and music, yet they so very rarely are.
Finally, there is a set top game called Adventures in 100 Acre Wood. I’ve never really been a fan of set top games, as they are always so basic and clunky. This one seems to be especially difficult to manage, which is a real shame, as it is provided exclusively for children. Even I, as an adult, sometimes had some frustration trying to move the cursor to the correct location. Games are best when they are on computers or gaming consoles. They are almost always a mess on DVD.
While I am not a fan of Pooh’s adventures, I will admit that this disc turned out to be better than I expected it to be. Children will undoubtedly be thrilled with the movie, and adults should be able to tolerate it easily enough… at least for the first 100 or so viewings. When you have quality audio and the essential addition of the FastPlay feature, it makes this kiddie product a little bit easier to take.
Special Features List
- Bonus Short: Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day
- Set Top Game: Adventures in 100 Acre Wood
- Pooh’s Symphony
- Disney’s FastPlay