I Love Minnie (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse/CG Animation/Disney DVD)/Nickelodeon: Dance To The Music (DVD)/Stellaluna (2004/Scholastic DVD)/Treasure Train (ala Odyssey Of The Pacific/1982/Odyssey Blu-ray)
C+/C+/C/B- Sound: C+ Extras: C-/D/C/C Main
Here is a
new cycle of children’s titles and it is an odd mix.
I Love Minnie is the latest Mickey Mouse
Clubhouse episode compilation, though it offers Disney’s classic characters in Computer
Animation. If you can tolerate the
change of format, these are fine and children may not mind as much, but they do
not impress me as “modern” as they may be.
They are child-friendly and of course, young ladies will be happy to see
Minnie get the spotlight, but there is little else here. Extras include Digital copy for PC and PC
portable devices plus bonus episodes, while the inner sleeve of the cover has
games you can draw on.
Nickelodeon: Dance To The Music is a compilation of musically
inclined episodes of Dora, Team Umizoomi, Bubble Guppies, Diego, Wonder Pets
and Ni Hao. Except as a starter disc, I
was not impressed, especially since some of these shows are better than others
to me. A weak sing-a-long is the only extra.
better is the animated Stellaluna
(2004) about the title bat, based on the popular book. It has some charm and is child-safe, but the
animation is a bit limited and is a short 41 minutes, though they stopped while
they were ahead. Interesting at times,
you could do worse, but it did not stick with me. Extras include sing-along and read-along
features on the disc and an activity booklet in the DVD case.
we have Fernando Arrabal’s Treasure
Train (1982), part of a cycle of more intelligent children’s fantasy films
with Mickey Rooney as a mysterious man in the middle of the woods living alone,
but with unusual friends, adversaries and knowledge. The tale begins when a well-to-do family
adopts a young boy who has survived the genocide in Cambodia, then they do what they
can to help him fit in, including the brother and sister. The brother keeps having fantasies of being
part of all kinds of adventures, but this does not necessarily prepare the trio
for Rooney’s character or how he will change their lives.
honest than similar surreal films and TV shows since, Rooney gives one of his
most interesting performances and the cast is not bad. This can be a quiet, even thoughtful film,
though it does not work all the time. It
is still ambitious for its time and has more interesting set pieces (furthering
the narrative) than expected, but I can see why it was lost in the
shuffle. Still, it is worth a look,
especially since it has some heart to it and I liked its ending. The only extra is a new interview with
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Minnie
is fine for a DVD showing its kind of simpler computer animation, but will do
as will the 1.33 X 1 on the Dance
DVD. The 1.33 X 1 on Stellaluna is weaker and looks like an older transfer with
staircasing, softness and color issues. The
1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Train shows the age of the print used, but the transfer of that
problematic print (including being able to see dust on transparencies used for
credits) is as good as it can be. The
film needs some restoration.
Digital 2.0 Stereo on the three DVDs are about even with each other, having
their sonic limits and flaws, but despite Train
being here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 lossless Mono, the age of the
soundtrack is the oldest of all and it is no warmer or better.
- Nicholas Sheffo