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    Ali Baba
    Force Entertainment/Force Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 72 mins . G . PAL


    An adaptation of the much loved story from the classic tales of the Arabian Nights, Ali Baba is an Italian animated production (dubbed I hasten to add) that is aimed at children roughly aged 4 to 8. It follows the adventures of Ali, a poor young woodchopper, and his pet donkey ‘Misery’ as they stumble upon the lair of a group of thieves and learn the magic words that open the door. Open... sesame! Taking a few handfuls of gold, Ali returns to his grateful family with the promise of more to come, and in subsequent days he returns again and again to fill large jars with gold coins.

    Soon the family has all the money they need, but their newfound wealth pricks the attention of Ali’s scheming uncle, who follows him and learns of Ali’s secret. When he too attempts to open the door, the thieves discover him and kill him for his transgression. Their suspicions aroused, the thieves scour the city for others that have visited their hide-out.

    In the meantime, Ali meets and falls in love with the Sultan’s daughter Aliah, and vows to marry her – if he can gather enough money to impress the sultan that is! On his last trip to the cave, he discovers the ‘star of Persia’ a fabulous gem that will undoubtedly gain him the hand of the princess, but will the thieves discover his identity and seek him out before his dreams comes true?

    The story has been greatly simplified for children, and is filled with interesting characters that will generate more than a couple of giggles (if my reaction is anything to go by). Ali's family is a group of real odd-balls, and the 40 thieves have been reduced to just six - each supplied with his own distinct personality. We also get to meet many of the city's key citizens, including the medic who cures everything with a variation on 'mallet to the head'.

    To look at, the production values hark back to the animation of twenty years ago. It's certainly not Disney, but look on the bright side - it's not Disney!!


    Ali Baba 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. As stated, the animation is not on par with anything being produced by Disney (not by any stretch of the imagination), but the image looks good all the same, displaying no film or MPEG artefacts to speak of (great job Force!). Colours do seem to be a little muted for kid’s animation – maybe that’s just the Italian way. The only real negative I found was a tendency for the image to lose sharpness from time to time, but this occurs infrequently and I mention it here only for reasons of completeness. Certainly there are no problems with the video transfer that your kids will notice.

    The disc provides a single audio track, a dub from the original Italian into English, that is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo. The transfer displays no surround or subwoofer activity, even when processed by the Prologic decoder. Thankfully the dialogue is clear and distinct – always important for kid’s entertainment. The score is typical of cartoon offerings of 20 years hence (like the animation), or possibly those with lower budgets. I would categorise it as a simple, cheesy simulation of Arabian musical stylings. Again, this is no Disney production and I never expected an effects extravaganza. I have no doubt that your kids will be perfectly satisfied with what’s on offer, as long as they haven’t developed a keen ear for booming, effects laden soundtracks.

    Disappointingly, the disc does not come with menus, and therefore chapter stops are not accessable by index. The chapter stops do exist (you can skip using the remote), but the lack of a chapter menu really annoyed me, especially since this is not an ultra-budget title. It does make it harder for your kids to return endlessly to their favourite scene.

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  •   And I quote...
    "It's certainly not Disney, but look on the bright side - it's not Disney!!"
    - 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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