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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Spanish, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Audio commentary
  • Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • Karaoke

Muppet Treasure Island: SE

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 96 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

When Robert Louis Stevenson originally put quill to parchment to pen his now classic Treasure Island, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume he could never have imagined what would happen when a menagerie of fuzzy 20th century frogs, pigs, rats, bears and whatevers got a hold of it. Still, if he’s rolling in his grave now it would be hoped it’s with mirth.

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She'll be apples...

Much as they assaulted Dickens’ A Christmas Carol a few years earlier, here the Muppets are let loose on the classic swashbuckling tale, adding their unique blend of silliness, singing, dancing, karate chops and pop culture references throughout. For the less well-read amongst us, it’s basically a coming of age tale involving lots of hairy blokes who tend to say things like “ARRR!” a lot. He who comes of age is young Jim Jimmy Jim Jimmy Jim Jim Jim Hawkins, a schlepper in an inn along with The Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat, both of whom star as themselves. When young orphaned James is given a treasure map by a dying resident of the inn in Billy Bones (Billy Connolly in his usual fine form) he decides it’s his chance for a better life. With his two fuzzy friends in tow he sets off to source a ship and to tackle the high seas bound for Treasure Island, wary of Bones’ dying warning – beware the one-legged man.

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Captain Smollett: Raging volcano...

Snaring a ship with remarkable ease, a crew is assembled and they set off in search of treasure, under the able command of Captain Smollett (Kermit the Frog). On board as cabin boys, our threesome soon meets the cook – Long John Silver (Tim Curry) – and discover to their horror that he is half legless (or to put it more clearly, he only has one leg - damn these feeble attempts at humour). As the voyage continues, a paraphrasing of those classic words from the pantheon of BDAF classics comes to mind – they didn’t count on the cook…

Naturally all the Muppet faves pop up here and there – in fact it’s sometimes joyously farcical how they managed to write some of them in – and as seems to be the way with these guys when given a movie nowadays they do tend to break into song an awful lot. For some of us, Billy Bones sums it up best when he drunkenly rages at one point…

"Enough with the singin’!"

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Long John Silver and Polly the, erm, lobster...

Still, Julie Andrews tendencies aside, this is another deftly assembled Muppet adventure that’s filled with great performances from those of both fabric and skin and bone assemblage. Tim Curry may have only one gear in his acting style, but it suits things magically here, while brief appearances from Connolly and Jennifer Saunders are captivating. Young newcomer Kevin Bishop does well in keeping up; although a certain staginess in his performance makes it’s hard to shake the feeling that he should have a magic flute named Freddy in his hand. Ultimately, however, this belongs to Kermit and the gang, with enough of the barely controlled Muppet mayhem so many of us love present to keep things interesting, but without running completely roughshod over the bones of Stevenson’s classic tale.

  Video
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The rich halfwit son of a shipbuilder consults Mr. Bimbo...
Ahoy! The cinematic ratio has been retained me hearties! As such we get a widescreen-friendly 1.85:1 transfer, which is naturally all neatly anamorphically enhanced. Being still quite young, the film is hardly an obvious candidate for Davy Jones’ locker as yet, a fact which is borne out by the quite decent print on offer. It isn’t without its foibles – odd spickles and speckles here and there being the most noteworthy assailants – however otherwise it’s steady as she goes, with a decent range of colour palettes used for various locations, good sharpness and more than passable shadow detail. The layer change scuttles by quite rapidly at a scene change and… and… and… well, the subtitles are handy. Arrrrrr!

  Audio
Contract

Given the Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment, Muppet Treasure Island scrubs up quite a treat aurally. Being all piratey and swashbuckly and stuff, there are plenty of booms and bangs to get the surrounds doing more than just boofing up the score, although the subwoofwoof doesn’t exactly join in the action much. Dubbing of singing and such like has been done well so as not to provide much in the way of obvious synching booboos, while naturally some slack has to be given to the Muppets because, well, we don’t want to spoil things for anybody by giving away a big secret, so let’s just say because it has to.

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Waldorf and Statler reduced to figureheads...

As mentioned, if you dig musicals you’re onto a real treasure here, with all manner of songs bursting forth with alarming regularity. While some veer alarmingly towards the mawkish, a few break the monotony by being gloriously silly (such as Cabin Fever), and they’re accompanied by another swarthy score form Hans Zimmer, who must be good ‘cos he won an Academy Award for the music he made for The Lion King

  Extras
Contract

The Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat make for a fun main menu that’s well worth sitting through and indeed they invade everything that’s on board here extras-wise.

First up is a 21:41 featurette entitled The Tale of the Story Beyond the Tale…, which is your usual concoction of interview snippets (Brian Henson, writers, production designer, a couple of the actors), clips and behind the scenes footage, but with an added Muppification that makes it more of an effortless watch. It is interesting to see some of the effort that goes into making it all appear so effortless.

Budding Pavorottis and Sutherlands may dig the karaoke numbers included, just two of them with the lyrics appearing on screen in large, friendly letters.

Finally, there’s an audio commentary from director Brian Henson, Gonzo and Rizzo. Sadly it isn’t as appealing as it may sound on paper (or indeed, as in this instance, on computer screen). Brian takes up the bulk of the chat duties, however it’s an annoyingly gappy performance fuelled only by the odd gem here and there, with his two Muppet pals dropped in separately – in fact they only pipe up once in the first 17 minutes. Some oomph is added by occasional detours to bonus footage (‘Hidden Treasure Time’) which happen automagically, generally brief looks at stunts, chats with actors and behind the scenes things ranging from sets to music to the arrival of an elephant. One featuring Tim Curry with a Muppet likeness of himself is quite fun, actually.

  Overall  
Contract

Disney have had a tendency to splatter the words ‘Special Edition’ about like mouse droppings when it comes to their DVD releases, and with little in the way of extras this is no exception. The picture and sound quality, however, are quite spiffy indeed, as is the collision of classic literature and glorious Muppet nuttiness the story delivers. In all it’s a great one to buy for the kids that won’t have you chewing your own leg off in agony should you also have to sit through it.


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      And I quote...
    "A great collision of classic literature and glorious Muppet nuttiness..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-466-K
    • TV:
          Loewe Xelos 5381ZW 81cm 100Hz
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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