I can’t say I’m too familiar with The Last Unicorn, I mean overall, animated children’s films were in the midst of a decline in the ’80s. However my wife was more than familiar with it and enjoyed it a lot growing up. And Lion’s Gate has presumably cleaned up the film and thrown some extras on it just in time for the film’s 25th anniversary.
Based on a novel by Peter Beagle and directed by the animation team of Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin (who helped produced such shows as the stop motion of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Hobbit animated version back in the ’60s and ’70s), the unicorn in question is named, well, Unicorn (voiced by Mia Farrow, The Omen), who walks around rather peacefully in the countryside. She is captured by a witch and is released by her assistant named Schmendrick (Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine). So when Schmendrick and Unicorn are threatened by an ominous red bull, he turns her into a mortal named Amalthea, who finds love by Prince Lir (Jeff Bridges, Tron) and finds out why she was the last unicorn from King Haggard (Christopher Lee, The Lord of the Rings).
Story aside, holy crap, among the other actors lending their voices were stand-up comic Robert Klein, along with Keenan Wynn (Nashville), Angela Lansbury (The Manchurian Candidate) and longtime voice artist Don Messick, who voiced Scooby-Doo in the ’60s and ’70s. The film itself isn’t too shabby, and in terms of kid’s films is a little bit epic. However, even at its 90 minute runtime, the second half of the film seems to be propped up by excessive musical numbers which sound like they were sung by the cast, the latter of which is to their credit. But in my humble opinion, the film could have been trimmed by 15-20 minutes and nobody would have been the wiser. And how does my wife feel after seeing this film again for the first time in years? Well, she thinks it’s slower than before, and she fell asleep a third of the way in, but that may be a fatigue move.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is a bit of a surprise for this film, but the film is pretty quiet overall and any surround effects feel a little bit forced, even if they sound fine.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation doesn’t look too bad for a 25 year old animated film that appears to have been sitting on a shelf for that time. The colors look OK, not too sharp, not too washed out, the print isn’t pristine but it’s far from unviewable.
Well one would think a lot of extras are on the disc, but in reality there isn’t much to speak of. There’s a look at the story with Beagle that runs about ten minutes look, followed by a couple of stills galleries and a set top game for the kids. There’s also a trailer to complete things.
The Last Unicorn isn’t too shabby a film, though its pacing is a little bit slow for the average kid, so it may be a little more attractive to adults. And it still has a cult following, so for those who are familiar with it and owned the first version on DVD, it’s probably worth the double dip.