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The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: G

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Starring: Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Ann-Margret, Eric Lloyd, Spencer Breslin, Liliana Mumy with Alan Arkin and Martin Short

Written by: Ed Decter & John J. Strauss
Based on characters created by: Leo Benvenuti & Steve Rudnick

Directed by: Michael Lembeck

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Michael Lembeck, Alternate Opening, Jack Frost & Mrs. Clause: A Very Different Look, The New Comedians: On The Set with Tim and Marty, Creating Movie Magic, Blooper Reel, Christmas Carol-oke, Aly & AJ Music Video: "Greatest Time Of Year"

Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scenes (20 Scenes)

Released: November 20th, 2007

 

 

"The Santa Clause 3" is presented in "family-friendly" widescreen, which is anamorphically enhanced and in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This is a really lovely transfer, as the whites and reds of North Pole really glisten, and dare I say, look a bit magical at times. This image looks very sharp, as colors are well saturated and are really quite vibrant, and look as if they'll pop right out of the screen at any moment. Fleshtones are accurate, and detail is pretty marvelous. There is really a lot of energy and life in the film, that the transfer captures. Mark this on the naughty list, though: there is very slight edge enhancement, and a bit of noise, slight shimmering at time and some edge halos. Still, it's not enough to ruin a remarkable transfer.

Also included is a full screen version of the film, in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. (It's been ages since I've seen two transfers for the same movie on one disc.)

 

Matching the transfer is a pretty lively English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. This is a pretty creative mix, with a bunch of discrete surround sounds with fantastic imaging. There's some time traveling, boisterous sleigh rides and antics in the North Pole - you might feel like an elf yourself in the toy factory scenes, with all those toy-building gizmos humming in the background. Dialogue is very clear and easy to hear, while George S. Clinton's compositions are mixed very nicely through the channels - there's a certain warmth the music brings to the track. Subwoofer use is pretty decent, while fidelity is quite high and dynamic range is very strong. In short, this is a really great and enveloping track that captures the spirit of the movie.

A French Dolby Surround track is included, a Spanish Dolby Surround track (only on the full screen version), and subtitles in English, French and Spanish. 
 



Director Michael Lembeck delivers an Audio Commentary, and it's a great one. I don't know if the wee ones will care for all the details, but if you're an older fan of the movie, you should give this one a listen. Lembeck is incredibly enthusiastic, and keeps chatting and chatting (in fact, his rapid-style sorta reminds me of Martin Scorsese). Lembeck is quite articulate in how he crafted this movie, and he really guides you through his vision: how he made the snow look better than it looked in "Santa Claus 2," working with the cast, working with kids, the sound stages, visual effects shots and how the production process was sped up at times. Lembeck also gives offers some great production anecdotes, particuarly in how Tim Allen tried his hardest to get Alan Arkin to laugh... but the man just didn't budge. I was really impressed by Lembeck's work ethic, and his approach to filmmaking. I really hope a lot of people do listen to this track.

A really intriguing featurette on the disc is Jack Frost & Mrs. Claus: A Very Different Look. As it turns out, Martin Short's Jack Frost and Elizabeth Mitchell's Mrs. Claus initially looked very different - and it didn't sit right with director Michael Lembeck, so two days into shooting each of these actors, he decided to change their on-screen appearances - and it made all the difference in the world. Short's Frost became less hippie-ish/Elfish and a bit more sharp, and Mrs. Claus became less chubby - even though that was the original intention, as hinted by the end of "Santa Claus 2." This goes to show how much of a character's look can impact what's on screen, and really, how an actor does his or her job.

The New Comedians: On The Set with Tim and Marty is a 3 minute glimpse at Tim Allen and Martin Short fooling around on the set, and some of the crew commenting how much the two enjoyed working with each other. Lasting 4 minutes is Creating Movie Magic, where Lembeck gives his take on special effects, and some of the visual effects crew and production designer Richard J. Holland talk about their work. A few examples are shown, and it is indeed impressive in how seamless it is (not to mention time-consuming).

Rounding out the disc is an Alternate Opening, an enjoyable 3 minute Blooper Reel (more of Short and Allen goofing off), Christmas Carol-oke (where you can sing carols while clips from all three "Santa Clause" films play) and the Music Video for Aly & AJ's "Greatest Time Of Year."

 

"The Santa Clause" franchise comes to an end with this third installment (sans David Krumholtz - grr!), and this DVD really delivers: the transfer is wonderful, and the 5.1 mix does pack a lot of punch. While the extras are a bit on the sparse side and aimed mainly for the kids (which makes sense), I must make special note of director Michael Lembeck's outstanding commentary that certainly warrants a listen. If you want to spread some holiday cheer to your family (and complete your franchise collection), then you might want to check out the conclusion to this "epic" holiday trilogy.