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    Friends are Forever - Tales of the Little Princess
    Force Entertainment/Force Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 82 mins . G . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    For years the neighbouring kingdoms of Tuleba and Bleblona have enjoyed a peaceful, fictional co-existence. Every year their respective monarchs get together to enjoy a festival and checkers tournament to celebrate their friendship. However, when the evil Drakko and his huge moustache waylay the princess of Bleblona on her way to the festival, her father suspects Tulebaen involvement and the threat of war hangs over the two lands.

    Meanwhile three friends – Zak (a cockney cat), Veronica (a fox in a fur coat) and Robert (a courageous rooster-general from Tuleba) are on their way to Beblona through the forest. Suddenly they stumble upon Drakko, his moustache, and his captive, and take it upon themselves to liberate her from bondage. But, it seems, the evil Drakko has cast a spell over the princess, changing her from a blonde beauty into a plain and grubby brunette. Charged with the task of returning the princess to Beblona and averting the threat of war, the three friends must find a way to reverse Drakko’s evil spell.

    Despite the story being a little on the simple side, I actually quite enjoyed Friends Forever: Tales of a Little Princess and, filled as it was with soppy tunes, I actually found the story quite engaging. But let’s not take my word for it. I thought a kid's perspective might be useful, and so I’ve asked my 15-month old daughter Claudia to give us her impressions. Of course I have translated her stream of unintelligible gibberish into English...

    Gavin: Claudia, thanks for taking time to give our readers your impression of Friends are Forever...

    Claudia: No problem Dad. Thanks for letting me stay up past 5:30.

    Gavin: So what did you think?

    Claudia: Yeah I liked it. A little clichéd but you’ve got to expect that. I especially liked the army of talking spotted mushrooms – trippy. Was that some kind of thinly veiled drug reference? Drakko and his wife did seem a bit like '60s throwbacks. Did you see his moustache?

    Gavin: Heh, Heh... yeah I did. Anything you didn’t like?

    Claudia: Well, yes actually. I was a little disturbed to see such appalling ethnic stereotypes being portrayed – Drakko and his wife Belinda are quite plainly gypsies, what-up with that? You know a more impressionable kid...

    Gavin: Yeah I wasn’t overly impressed with that myself...

    Claudia: Don’t interrupt! And what was with that rooster Robert and the fox Veronica? I mean the two were so obviously lovers - how the hell does that work?? I mean he's all...

    Gavin: Wow is that the time?? I think it’s way past your bed time...

      Video
      Audio
      Extras
    Contract

    Friends are Forever is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, from what I suspect to be full frame source material. The cartooning style is very simple, with hand-drawn characters and backgrounds that have been coloured using computers. Despite the simple style, the image looks good, displaying no film or MPEG artefacts. Colours are a little muted for kid’s animation, but black level is solid - all in all there's very little fault to find.

    The disc provides a single English audio track, that is presented in Dolby Digital stereo and displays no surround or subwoofer activity, even when processed by the Prologic decoder. Thankfully the dialogue is clear and distinct – always important for kids' programmes, and the many songs that punctuate proceedings sound nice and full through the front speakers. Not an effects-laden extravaganza, but suitable for kids nonetheless.

    The disc itself comes with simple non-anamorphic menus and chapter stops. There are no other additions to sweeten the deal.


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  •   And I quote...
    "A simple cliché-ridden plot and simple animation style still add up to a reasonably engaging distraction for the tiddlers.."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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