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

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    First released in 1997, Ali Baba and the Pirates is an Italian-produced sequel to the original animated production Ali Baba, that sees the return of all the old characters for a brand new adventure.

    Fresh from his wedding to princess Aliah, our hero Ali and his talking donkey Misery take to the high seas in search of Ali's brother and father. The two of them have been missing for many a long year, and the Baba clan fear they have been enslaved by the Spanish. Borrowing a ship from his new father-in-law the Sultan, Ali and Misery set off for Spain with a motley crew of old sea-salts and a ship full of gold. But no sooner have they taken to the sea when a fierce storm sees them shipwrecked on a lush tropical island.

    Now, quite apart from the geographical improbability, this island is inhabited with friendly four-armed pygmies who agree to help Ali and his shipmates repair their vessel. However, Ali and the crew soon discover that the island has other inhabitants. There are surprises all round when the first such inhabitant turns out to be Aliís long-lost brother Taheib - making a living, it seems, as Shaggy from the original Scooby Doo series. However the island also has some more unsavoury residents Ė none other than the thieves from the original instalment who plot to steal Aliís ship and precious cargo.

    Itís downhill from there Iím afraid, with magic spells, pirates and genies all putting in appearances over and over and over until the credits roll. Thereís even a fist fight, but all in all it just isnít enough to keep your eyes open or your head from nodding. Suffice to say this sequel, unlike the original production, definitely does not take its plot (however loosely) from the tales of the Arabian Nights. Will Ali, now re-joined with his brother Taheib, finally track down his long lost father? I wouldnít dare spoil it for you...

      Video
      Audio
      Extras
    Contract

    Like the original instalment, Force presents Ali Baba and the Pirates on a single-layer disc, at the full-frame aspect ratio of 4:3. The feature retains the same simple, hand-drawn approach to cartooning and backgrounds that characterises the original release. While still not the equal of Disney or your average Anime, Ali Baba and the Pirates is a vast improvement over Ali Baba in one important area Ė colour. Whereas the colour in the original instalment appeared muted, Ali Baba and the Pirates is vivid and bright, literally leaping off the screen.

    In terms of the transfer itself, colours are solid with no bleeding, black levels are perfect, and the image displays no film or MPEG artefacts to speak of. By anyone's measure this is a good animation transfer.

    As with the previous instalment, the disc provides only 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, but thankfully the dialogue is clear and distinct Ė always important for kidís entertainment. Whereas the score for Ali Baba concentrated on Arabian musical stylings, Ali Baba and the Pirates also offers calypso and Caribbean tunes. Itís no less cheesy than the original, but at least itís different.

    Unlike Ali Baba, Force have provided a menu with this release, albeit static, that gives access to the featureís chapter stops. This is a much appreciated improvement over its predecessor, but still leaves a release that is the barest of bones.

    Ultimately, thereís only one word to describe Ali Baba and the Pirates and that, Iím afraid to say, is boring. But then again Iím no 6-year-old. It may well be that your kiddies will love it, but I would definitely suggest renting before you buy.


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  •   And I quote...
    "It's not Disney, but unfortunately, it's not entertaining either."
    - 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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