August 12th, we are seeing a slew of brand new to Blu-ray release for Walt Disney Home Entertainment. They are releasing five of its upcoming catalog titles including: “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad / Fun and Fancy Tree” (1949/47), “Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)” ,”Hercules” (1997), “Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers” (2004) and “Tarzan” (1999). I have to admit, these are an interesting bunch of catalog titles for Disney to release but definitely excited to get films like “Tarzan” and “Hercules” for the first time in high-def.
First up, since we are in alphabetical order is “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad / Fun and Fancy Free”. These are great shorts. I remember being terrible of Ichabod as a kid and it was also my introduction to the world of Sleepy Hollow. My sister and used to scoot down the stairs doing “Plippity-ploop” since that is how Mr. Toad’s car used to sound. As a bonus feature “The Reluctant Dragon” cartoon is also included for the first time on high-def. Other extras include a storybook for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Mickey and the Beanstalk” and a making-of look into “The Story Behind Fun and Fancy Free”.
Official Premise “Fun and Fancy Free”: Walt Disney’s 9th full-length animated masterpiece, is a delightful gem that not only sparkles with charm, but is unbelievably rich in history-making Disney moments. It was the last animated feature starring Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse, and the only film featuring all four of Walt Disney’s most famous characters — Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Jiminy Cricket. Following Disney’s classic tradition of great storytelling, unforgettable characters, music, and adventure, “Fun and Fancy Free” is the joyful telling of “Bongo” and “Mickey & The Beanstalk”, two timeless tales magically brought to life by the beloved Jiminy Cricket and the masterful combination of animation and live action.
“Bedknobs and Broomsticks” is an interesting film for Disney to bring out now. It is not celebrating any anniversary this year and doesn’t really feel to relevant but it is still a treat since this is a very funny film. Like “Mary Poppins”, it is also a very long film that will most likely not keep today’s kids entertained but at least the adults can enjoy it for sure. The extras included are “Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers”, Deleted & Extended Scenes, “David Tomlinson Recording Session”, “The Wizards of Special Effects”, Theatrical Trailers, Disney Song Selection and of course a Sing Along With the Movie.
I am a little embarrassed to say this but “Hercules” was a film that was never really big on my radar. I saw it once in theaters and probably once more on TV since it’s release. It is good film and definitely get the show stolen by everyone’s favorite Hades, voiced by James Woods. This film might be a little scary for the little ones as well. I recently caught this film on Disney Junior one afternoon and it came with a warning for little kids that they might be scared. So if you haven’t seen this one in a while might want to approach with caution with the very little ones. Personally, I was really hoping for more in terms of special features from “Hercules”. It comes with a behind-the-scenes look “The Making of Hercules”, a music video from Ricky Martin for “Go The Distance” Music Video and a “Zero to Hero” Sing-Along.
“Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers” is not a perfect film by any standards. It is direct-to-video standards on a rather overused story of The Three Musketeers. But it is still Mickey, Donald and Goofy and how can you say no to that trio. The film is also celebrating it’s 10th anniversary. Crazy to think, I originally rented this film on VHS tape…wow! This film is also the first of the bunch to get a new special feature, which is called “Get Up And Dance!”. Other than that it also comes with some other great extras including Deleted Scenes with Commentary, “Get The Scoop”, Cast Commentary, Disney Song Selection and Sing Along With the Movie.
“Tarzan” is another film like “Hercules” that I was not over-the-moon. Besides the Phil Collins song and the old rollerskating show in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I never cared much for the film. Watching it again on Blu-ray really reminded me that it quite a special film. I know that this Edgar Rice Burroughs classic has been done time and time again but this film has such heart and is extremely funny as well. I think it is time to give this film a second look.
“Tarzan” also comes with the most special features out of any of these new release. There are music videos for “You’ll Be In My Heart” and “Strangers Like Me” performed By Phil Collins. There is also a Studio Session With Phil Collins & ‘N Sync for “Trashin’ The Camp”. More music based extras include “The Making of the Music”, “Tarzan Goes International” and “Original Phil Collins Song Demo”. There is an Audio Commentary included, as well as featurettes “DisneyPedia: Living In The Jungle”, “From Burroughs To Disney” and an Early Presentation Reel
Official Premise: “Tarzan”: Wild with exotic adventure and laughs, Disney’s Tarzan is an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic story of the ape man. Raised by a family of gorillas, including the loving Kala and the wisecracking Terk, Tarzan develops all the instincts and prowess of a jungle animal. But with the sudden appearance of Tarzan’s own kind, including the beautiful Jane, two very different worlds are about to become one. Driven by five songs from pop superstar Phil Collins and featuring the voice talents of Minnie Driver, Glenn Close and Rosie O’Donnell, Disney’s Tarzan delivers incredible adventure as well as important reminders about acceptance and family.
“The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad / Fun and Fancy Free” comes in a 2-Movie Collection Edition with a Blu-ray + DVD included. There is no digital copy included for this release, which is a big of a downer since all of the other Blu-ray’s released here do. Bedknobs and Broomsticks is being released as a Special Edition and including a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. Hercules is being released with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy”Mickey • Donald • Goofy: The Three Musketeers”, tbe 10th Anniversary Edition /is being released with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. “Tarzan” is being released with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy.
Each of these films looks great with their respective 1080p transfers. They are also each accompanied with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track. “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad / Fun and Fancy Free” is easily the oldest films in this collection of catalog releases. For a film like “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”, the film does have some age behind it also but it still looks great. The music here definitely sounds wonderful as well. Still has fun and cheery as the first time I saw it. “Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers” was made during the direct-to-video wave for Disney, so it feels a little cheaper but still has a solid presentation. “Hercules” and “Tarzan” were produced in the late 90’s, which was a period of decline for Disney as well with their hand drawn animated films but they have never looked better. The colors are vibrant and really jump off the page. I would have loved to seen Disney give “Tarzan” a 3D Blu-ray transfer, it would have been perfect.
They haven’t released any catalog titles since this Spring and yet they have bundled them all together in this one week, which makes it hard for someone to want to purchase all of them due to budget. Now if they were split up over a few months, I am sure people would be more able to purchase these…just an observation here, not a critique. I am a little more excited for next year’s releases including “101 Dalmatians” on February 3, 2015 and “Aladdin” on October 6, 2015. These are real classics that deserve Blu-ray releases. Until next wave Disney!