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101 Dalmatians
Platinum Edition

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: G

Running Time: 79 Minutes

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Pop-Up Trivia Facts, Cruella De Vil Music Video by Selena Gomez, Virtual Dalmatians, Puppy Profiler, Fun With Language Games, Redefining The Line: The Making Of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Cruella De Vil: Drawn To Be Bad, "Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney", Music and More, Trailers, Radio & TV Spots, Art Galleries

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Enhanced Home Theater Mix, French Dolby Digital 5.1 Enhanced Home Theater Mix, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Enhanced Home Theater Mix, Restored English Mono, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (16 Scenes)

Released: March 4th, 2008

 

 

"101 Dalmatians" has been gloriously restored, and presented in 1.33:1 full screen. Other than hints of noise and some shimmering, this is a flawless transfer. The entire film looks clean without a hint of scratches or blemishes, and there is no edge enhancement either.  The transfer is quite crisp, and the animation flows silky smooth. It is a little hard to describe the effect, but it's as if each frame is literally being laid down before your eyes as if it's just been completed (just check out those pencil lines). Detail is excellent, and color saturation is wonderful: there's no smearing, and the colors appear deep and bold. I don't think anyone could ask for a better transfer of a nearly five decade old movie. 

 

Just like all the other Disney Platinum Editions, "101 Dalmatians" has been upgraded for more modern times: there's a 5.1 "Disney Enhanced Home Theater" mix in English, French and Spanish. Truthfully - and perhaps this is a good thing - I didn't feel this mix to be as artifical sounding as some of the company's past efforts. It really feels like an enclosed mono track spread through the channels, with the subwoofer mildly kicking in here and there. And yet, while the track isn't as expansive as mixes for more recent movies and has its limits, it doesn't feel too thin either. Dialogue is very clear and always easy to hear, George Bruns's playful and catchy compositions - as well as the songs - sound good through the speakers, while surrounds are decent and somewhat natural (if not exactly discrete). The effects, at times, do seem forced. Still, the mix isn't bad and certainly works, but it's nothing outstanding nor really encompassing.

Also included is a restored English Mono track (in one channel). Since I'm a purist, I did prefer this track. It also felt a bit on the warmer side. In any case, I'm glad Disney chose to include it. In the subtitles departments, you have your choice of English, French and Spanish.
 



Another Disney Platinum Edition has arrived, and as nice as it is, I must say that I think it might be the slimmest when it comes to supplements. The first disc has not one, but two Pop-Up Trivia Tracks. One is for "the family," the other for "the fan." I toggled between the two, and Disney has done a nice job of differentiating between information and anecdotes more casual viewers will enjoy, and facts Disney buffs will savor. Naturally, I prefered the fan track - there was a lot I learned from it. The family track has more obvious, known tidbits and compares parts of the source material to the movie (though for the kiddies, it should all be new to them). Depending on what kind of viewer you are, and if you have interest in the film's production, you can't go wrong with either track.

Also on the first disc, is the Cruella De Vil Music Video by Selena Gomez. Yet again, Disney takes one of their classic songs and has it butchered by one of their latest tween stars. Ugh. Somebody plase make this trend stop.

The rest of the goodies are on the second disc. Virtual Dalmatians is sort of a virtual pet game on your DVD player, which kids may like for a few minutes - you have a few commands and options for your dog, and that's it. Puppy Profiler is a quiz that determines what kind of dog you are, and Fun With Language Games lets you learn English words and numbers (assuming if you're a tyke, and if you can stand the painfully slow narrator).

The best of what's in this set is Redefining The Line: The Making Of One Hundred and One Dalmatians. This documentary features the likes of Disney animators, historians and filmmakers discussing what makes this such a special, if unusual, Disney tale and how it broke many conventions. All the spots (pun intended) are covered: the inspiration for the original book, the art style, the groudbreaking Xerox process, its contemporary setting, the music and much more. A ridiculously entertaining and informative piece, this is a must view for all Dalmatians fans. 

Cruella De Vil: Drawn To Be Bad has many of the talents from the "Redefining The Line" doc discuss what makes Cruella such an intriguing, memorable villain. Her actions and colors used are dissected, not to mention that many of her features came from the original Dodie Smith book. Many stills and storyboards are used to show how Cruella came to life, and artist Marc Davis is given a lot of kudos for his work (Mr. Davis is shown in an archival interview, to boot). This is certainly worth seven minutes of your time.

"Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney" is an enjoyable and fascinating dramatization of letters that Walt Disney and Dodie Smith wrote to one another. It gives some pretty interesting insights into the film's development, and the use of archival footage and stills certainly help. However, I could have done without the cornball "filmed" scenes (as in Disney dictating to a secretary). Still, fans of the movie are sure to enjoy this.

Most excellent is the Music & More section, where you can hear alternate takes for "Cruella De Vil" and the Kanine Krunchies Jingle. Also featured is a deleted song sequence, plus songs that didn't make the cut. Each song is given either a text or video introduction that puts the music in context, as well as appropriate visual cues. Amazing archival material all around.

Rounding the set out are a bevy of Trailes, Radio & TV Spots (from the original release, as well as some of the re-issues) and a trove of Art Galleries that show the animation's development, not to mention inspiration (see the adoable production photos of real dalmatians).

 

"101 Dalmatians" is a bona-fide Disney classic, and the film gets a loving treatment in this new Platinum Edition. It is certainly worth an upgrade if you're one of the few who owned the original Limited Edition version from several years ago, and everyone should be pleased by the movie's presentation and supplements. For animation lovers and Disney fans, this is a must-buy for sure.