Let’s get the business end of things out of the way: I am a huge Disney fan/nerd/enthusiast. That does not, however, mean that this review will come with a strong positive bias–in fact it’s this enthusiasm that makes me more critical of anything that comes from the studios, new or via “the vault”.
I purchased the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, because I still use my PS2 to watch movies sometimes and I like having the dual format. The combo pack comes in the DVD-sized box (as opposed to the smaller, sleeker Blu-ray packaging), which is a little disappointing but I’m sure I’ll get over it. The slip cover is holographic, like many Disney re-releases, but the box itself looks pretty average. Again, I’m sure I’ll get over it, but I for a “Diamond Edition” I would expect a little more sparkle.
What the movie lacks in aesthetic presentation, however, it makes up for in “remastered” quality and bonus features. Lady and the Tramp originally came out in 1955, which is pretty early on the history of animation timeline.I just watched the original version of Lady and the Tramp a few months back on Netflix, and the animation looked clumsy in high definition. The remastered edition, however, is glorious. Everything looks crisper and cleaner without sacrificing the nostalgia of early animation.
Now I’d like to take a minute to talk about the oft-neglected “bonus features” of DVDs and Blu-rays. When DVDs first started being produced, they weren’t worth their weight to me without some stellar bonus features, and to some extent I still retain that philosophy. Disney films in particular, however, run the risk of throwing in bonus features that act as advertisements for other products rather than extensions of the film itself. Lucky for me, Lady and the Tramp managed to avoid such a fate. A little known fact about many of the Disney classics is that almost none of them hit the ground running–Lady and the Tramp was in production for more than twenty years before it made its way to theaters. One entire rejected script, a brand new writer, “Disney” approved book version and all-star soundtrack later, the movie became what we know and love today.
The bonus features on Lady and the Tramp are, for the most part, pretty impressive. There are mini-documentaries on every aspect of the film itself, including the process of
storyboarding which was essentially invented during early production of Lady and the Tramp. No Disney movie goes into filming without an extensive storyboarding process which includes an entire team of artists and directors, and few if any other movie studios neglect the process today. Bonus features also cover Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri, which provided inspiration for the nostalgia and Americana which dominates the art of the film. Interviews with Disney artists and historians as well as experts in animation, music theory, and current film makers all pepper the features, which gives a great perspective from both inside and outside the Disney studios. Remastered recordings of the original Disneyland television show and selections from Disney’s Magical World of Color are also included, for those of us who just can’t get enough Disney history.
The only feature exclusive to the Blu-Ray format is Disney’s Second Screen, which I have to admit in theory sounded redundant to me. Second Screen is an app or a website that you pull up while watching a blu-ray disc. It functions like a pop-up video, where images and information shows up as commentary to the film. I haven’t gotten to use Second Screen properly yet, because I can’t get it to work. First of all, the app has only been developed for the iPad, so I cannot use it on my iPod Touch or my Kindle Fire (which operates on Android). When I tried using the website on my computer, the audio wouldn’t recognize itself to sync with the film and I got error messages. Instead, I scrolled through the site myself and my first impulse was mostly right–Second Screen is redundant. The audio commentary is interesting because it’s all from original production notes; however the audio paired with a separate device and mini-games is overwhelming rather than enriching.
Overall, the Lady and the Tramp Blu-Ray is awesome. The remastered film is beautiful and the bonus features will satisfy even the most devout Disney geek. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you pick up your copy before it heads back into the vault.