The Adventures Of Prince Achmed (1926/Animated/BFI Dual Format Edition Region B
Import Blu-ray w/DVD)/Amazing World Of
Gumball: The Party (Cartoon Network/Warner DVD)/Chuggington: Chug Patrol – Ready To Rescue (Anchor Bay DVD)/Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec
(2010/Shout! Factory DVD)/Fleischer
Collection (Gulliver’s Travels
(1939)/Bugville (1941)/Legend DVDs)/Meet The WotWots (Lionsgate DVD)/Sesame Street: Arts & Crafts Playdate
(Warner DVD)/Wheels On The Bus: Animal
Adventures (E1 DVD)
& C/C/C+/C Sound: B/C+/C+/C+/C
& C-/C+/C/C+ Extras: B/C-/C/C-/C/D/C/D Main Programs: B/B-/C+/C-/C+/C+/B-/C+
PLEASE NOTE: The Adventures Of Prince Achmed Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Import is
only available from BFI and can be ordered from the link below.
new set of children’s releases, a few of which everyone can enjoy…
Reiniger's The Adventures Of Prince
Achmed (1926) is an underseen animated classic finally making its way to
in a new BFI Blu-ray/DVD set, but we have been lucky to catch up with the film
in a U.S. DVD edition from Milestone we reviewed at this link:
U.S. Blu-ray has been issued yet of this groundbreaking animated feature
composed strictly of silhouette cutouts, BFI has and it is a fine improvement
over the DVD Milestone pressed a few years ago which looked decent and BFI has
included a DVD version here which we did not get, but you will if you order it. This is a vital film that everyone should see
once and I am glad to see another great company pick it up.
this edition are different from the U.S. Milestone DVD (all underlined items
are repeats from that DVD) and include original orchestral score by Wolfgang
Zeller, newly recorded alternative narration based on Lotte Reiniger's own
translation of her German text, spoken by actress Penelope McGhie, The Adventures
of Dr. Dolittle (Lotte Reiniger, 1928, 33 min.): a series of three
short films based on the classic stories by Hugh Lofting, The Flying Coffer (Lotte
Reiniger, 1921, 9 min.): a poor young fisherman tries to rescue the Emperor of
China's daughter, The Secret of the Marquise (Lotte Reiniger, 1922, 2
min.) which is actually an early advert for Nivea skincare products, The
Star of Bethlehem (Vivian Milroy, 1956.18 min.): the nativity story
with music performed by the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus, The Lost Son (Lotte
Reiniger, 1974, 14 min.): the New Testament parable animated in Lotte
Reiniger's inimitable style, the DVD version of the film in the PAL/Region 2
format and another fully illustrated BFO booklet with new essays by Jez Stewart
and Philip Kemp, and a contribution by Marina Warner. The Reiniger documentary Lotte Reiniger:
Homage To The Inventor Of The Silhouette Film is not here, though.
The hit Cartoon
Network series Amazing World Of Gumball
is one of the more entertaining new entries we are covering here and after
watching the Warner DVD single release The
Party, one can see why this is popular.
The 12 episodes here give us more characters in another animated comedy
partly expressed in terms of a role playing game like Adventure Time, but the show and its amusing characters (even the
High School is amusingly named Elmore) offers a self-contained world that is
consistently energetic and interesting to watch.
character gallery (which had us skipping explaining all the characters) is the
Chuggington: Chug Patrol – Ready
To Rescue marks
the return of the CG-animated talking trains franchise TV series we covered
before and were also very pleased with, but this single DVD only has five shows
and I was a bit disappointed we did not get more programming considering the
room left on the disc. Still, I
understand the appeal of this show as well and expect the series will continue
to grow in popularity as long as it has this kind of quality.
are nice here including bonus stickers inside the DVD case, while the disc adds
DVD-ROM Coloring & Activity Sheets, bonus episode of the Badge Quest series entitled Koko’s Guard and The Chugger Spotlight: Calley & Embry.
I am no
Luc Besson fan, but I was curious enough to see what he had done outside of his
usual modern, slick, formulaic, action schtick and the resulting Extraordinary Adventures Of Adéle Blanc-Sec
(2010) starts out promisingly enough with the title character (Louise Bourgoin)
going on an archeological search (think Perils Of Penelope meets Indiana Jones)
to find not just knowledge, but a cue for something that is killing her sister
that no one can cure.
all fine at first, but a thirds of the way through, the script starts to get
silly, ridiculous, too silly and when the first of many gross humor moments
surface, suspension of disbelief fades quickly. I could buy an ancient bird unleashed on 1922
Paris (though the highly superior CG animated feature A Monster In Paris did that angle in a far superior way) but this rest
of this just gets dumber and dumber to the point that it never recovers and
lands up looking like a really bad Indiana Jones sequel (worse than the recent
one, in fact), so see it at your own risk or if you are really, really curious. Besson strikes again and it is not good!
include Deleted Scenes, a Music Featurette and a Making Of featurette.
better are two older animated features in The
Fleischer Collection on DVD that features the two attempts by Max &
Dave Fleischer to compete with Disney (the man and his studio) before they fell
out with Paramount Pictures and each other.
We already covered their 1939 Gulliver’s
Travels on Blu-ray in what is still the best (if not perfect) edition of
the film on home video at this link:
and discussed is Bugville (1941, aka
Hoppity Goes To Town) which became
the coda of the brother’s landmark work and the last animated work of its kind
before WWII changed the world forever with a remarkably consistent Jazz music
score (singing included), great animation, stylings and trappings that now
plays like a time capsule of an America about to slip away forever.
country bug going to the city is not overdone or badly done, but this is not
great all the time, yet is very entertaining, watchable, charming, ambitious
and as historic as it is a special time capsule that everyone should catch up
shorts (of varying quality, esp. the color toons) appear as extras including
Gabby (King For A Day, All’s Well) and Betty Boop (…Rise To Fame, Poor Cinderella), cartoons, plus the silent classic Now You’re Talking, In My Merry Oldsmobile (a 1931 Oldsmobile promo that follows
animation with a live-action bouncing ball sing-along), Ants In The Pants, You Can’t
Shoe A Horsefly, Two For The Zoo,
Max Fleischer text bio and Hoppity reissue trailer.
Meet The WotWots is another show we have never
seen before, but a 10-episode DVD single where the puppet-like title characters
have the child viewer meet all kinds of animals and explain a little bit about
each of them. Not bad and this runs 110
minutes. Co-sponsored by American
Greetings, it is superior to almost anything Hallmark has made since they
launched their mindless cable network, but I remind all that this is for
younger children only, so older children mighty get a little bored.
newer entry we really liked was Sesame
Street: Arts & Crafts Playdate which offers more content than their
usual DVD singles at 134 minutes is one of their richest offerings to date and
the fun subject matter is a plus. You
know, this series has been on 46 seasons and counting, yet it never gets boring, bored or ever
lacks energy, vitality or fun. It is
really one of the greatest achievements in TV history and when watching this
particular set, even with some new Muppets joining in (and a few not being seen
as much as I would like), the heart and soul remains.
This is a
great subject for young viewers, has something for all ages and the makers are
able to pull off a greater sense of interactivity as a result. This now ranks at the top of our Sesame Street
include DVD-ROM Coloring & Activities Pages and 5 related bonus segments.
not least is Wheels On The Bus: Animal
Adventures, the last of the series we have never covered before. It is alive-action video-recorded show with
puppets whose title is self-explanatory, yet (in four amusing episodes here)
also has Roger Daltrey of The Who voicing the bus driver Aragon The
Dragon. This is amusingly odd and I had
mixed reactions to the results, but the show is not bad, teaching social skills
and through animals, celebrating diversity in a fun way.
I can see
the appeal, even if it is not as consistent as I would have liked or was what I
was expecting, but it is child-friendly and that is good enough for me.
1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Prince Blu-ray is obviously going to be the best image here, even
if it is 85+ years old. I cannot tell if
this is the same 35mm print Milestone used on their DVD of the animated
classic, but the tint’s color is much better as is the definition, yet the age
of the print gets in the way of detail slightly. Otherwise, a fine presentation.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image quality on the Gumball, Chuggington, WotWots and anamorphically enhanced
2.35 X 1 image on Adéle should all
be tied for the next best presentations, but all save Gumball are somehow softer than usual and in the case of Adéle in a way that comes from the way
digital effects were inserted into the live action footage. Very odd, but this would still look better on
the Blu-ray version all around, so get that if you have a player over this
DVD. So the 1.33 X 1 images on Gumball and Sesame tie for second place with the two of the three 1.78 DVDs,
while the 1.33 X 1 image on the two Fleischer
animated features are the poorest.
Bugville is weak for certain, but Gulliver’s Travels sadly has all kinds
of haloing, aliasing errors, fading and more and is definitely no match for the
mixed Blu-ray from a different company.
Both were originally 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor
theatrical releases, but you would barely get that out of either print here,
2.0 Mono on Prince is the best sounding on the list as expected with much
fuller sound than the U.S. DVD, version, while we get a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1
mix on Adéle that should be the
second-place choice, but the sound codec just cannot handle what sounds like a
good soundmaster. Again, get the Blu-ray
instead if you must see it.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Gumball,
Chuggington (whose packaging
includes Pro Logic surrounds) WotWots,
Sesame and Wheels are well recorded, though sometimes not very loud as
expected for children’s titles, but Sesame
is a little lower than usual, so be careful of playback levels and volume
switching. That leaves the lossy Dolby
Digital 2.0 Mono on Gulliver’s Travels
as weak and Bugville in really awful
shape. Would someone please put out the
money to save this film!
the Blu-ray/DVD import set of The
Adventures Of Prince Achmed, go to this link for it and many more great BFI