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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 83:28)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Spanish, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 2 Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • Music video
  • Interactive game

101 Dalmatians: SE

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 99 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The delightful animated feature of 101 Dalmatians was a huge hit for Disney and still to this day remains a favourite with adults and children alike. Many questioned the studio when they decided to produce a remake of the classic, only this time with real life characters. The choice to do this was a just one, however, as the human version is extremely enjoyable and not a direct copy of the animated original. This remake did very well for the studio, but the initial DVD release was the bare bones film with no extras whatsoever. To further boost the Disney coffers, they have decided to release the film yet again as a 'Special Edition', only this time with an abundance of extras – well not quite.

Most will be familiar with the plot of this film, but here is a brief run down for those who are not. Roger (Jeff Daniels) designs video games for a living and is not having much luck seeling them at present. He owns a Dalmatian named Pongo and regularly takes him for walks in the park. One day while there he bumps into Anita (Joely Richardson), who is a fashion designer. Anita also has a Dalmatian companion - named Perdy. Not surprisingly Perdy and Pongo instantly fall for each other and push their human pets to do the same.

After what seems a very brief time the humans and dogs are living together and Perdy is expecting a litter. When the big day arrives, to the amazement of everybody she produces 99 puppies. There is one person who is happier than most about the new arrivals – Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close). She is not what you would call an animal lover, not unless wearing the fur of animals fits into that category and we all know it doesn’t. Her intention is to steal the puppies and use their spotted coats to produce a stunning new fur coat to make her the envy of the fashion world.

"Get me those puppies!"

She manages to kidnap the puppies with the help of her bumbling helpers Jasper (Hugh Laurie) and Horace (Mark Williams). Now Pongo and Perdy must find a way to get their offspring back so the whole clan can live happily ever after. Will they be able to achieve this? Well, it is Disney after all...

The basis for this film and the original animated feature are the same, that is to say there are a ton of puppies that get kidnapped by an evil woman and the good guys must find a way to overcome many obstacles to win the day. The differences between the two are significant enough though to make this an enjoyable film in its own right, rather than a copy of the original. Each has its own redeeming qualities, but rest assured that this is an enjoyable film that adults and kids alike will love. Glenn Close is superb as Cruella and without doubt steals the show. There are many cute puppy scenes and a lot of mishaps from the offsiders to keep the kids laughing out loud. The usual Disney morals are there and of course these are portrayed in an entertaining way.

  Video
Contract

The first major relief with this 'Special Edition' version is that the hideous pan and scan original released has been replaced by the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is 16:9 enhanced. Picture is sharp throughout and colours are spot-on, with no over saturation problems. Grain is never an issue and detail is also quite impressive. The biggest problem, though, is aliasing - it appears far too often and really is an annoyance. There are also some minor film artefacts, but these are not too much of a distraction.

The layer change on this dual layer disc appears at 83:28 and is no distraction as it is so well placed. Subtitles are supplied in a few languages and the English ones sampled are accurate to what is said on-screen.

  Audio
Contract

Audio supplied is a choice of English, Spanish or Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. I listened to the English track and it is quite impressive. Dialogue is clear throughout and surround use is constant. The original release only contained a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track, so this is a vast improvement. The subwoofer gets a solid workout and there are no synch problems. The musical score is well suited and creates a nice ambience throughout.

  Extras
Contract

Now onto the reason many will be interested in this 'Special Edition' – the extras. Surprisingly the quantity is disappointing making this 'Special Edition' not so special.

Behind the Scenes
This featurette runs for a brief 4:01 and doesn’t offer too much information or entertainment. It takes a behind the scenes look at the production of the film and due to its running time is really nothing more than a promo for the film.

Dog Stars
Another featurette that this time looks at the dog stars of the film. It has an even briefer running time of 2:09, but is a little more entertaining than the first.

Music Video
This music video is for the song Cruella De Vil by Dr John. It is an entertaining clip that comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track.

Connect the Spots
These interactive games are purely for young children. There are six games that challenge a child’s mathematical ability, nothing too taxing though. When the puzzles are completed the reward is a sketch that goes into the relevant segment from the film.

That's it I am afraid, not even a trailer!

  Overall  
Contract

Overall this is a film that adults and kids will love. It is typical Disney, with the standard formula of good versus evil and of course a happy ending, but also offers plenty of entertainment along the way. The performance of Glenn Close is worth the purchase price alone and although she doesn’t carry this film on her own, she really makes it worthwhile. If you own the previous release of this film then you will have to decide if the addition of the original widescreen, the DD 5.1 and the few extras are worth the expense. Although the extras are disappointing, I would suggest that the widescreen and audio changes make it worth it.


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      And I quote...
    "What makes a Special Edition special? 101 extras perhaps?"
    - Adrian Turvey
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS305
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-29S55AT 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DE685
    • Speakers:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SAVE815ED
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