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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Fantasy > Action > Fairy Tale > Silhouette Film > Germany > Comic Strip > Comedy > Satire > Cabl > 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

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)


Picture: B/C+/C/C+/C- & 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.



Here’s a new set of children’s releases, a few of which everyone can enjoy…



Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures Of Prince Achmed (1926) is an underseen animated classic finally making its way to the U.K. 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:




Though no 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.


Extras in 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.


A character gallery (which had us skipping explaining all the characters) is the only extra.



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.


Extras 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.


This is 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!


Extras include Deleted Scenes, a Music Featurette and a Making Of featurette.



Faring 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:





Less seen 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.


The 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 with.


Animated 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.


There are no extras.



The other 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 recommended titles.


Extras include DVD-ROM Coloring & Activities Pages and 5 related bonus segments.



Last but 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.


There are no extras.



The 1080p 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.


The 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, sadly.


The PCM 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.


The lossy 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!




To order the Blu-ray/DVD import set of The Adventures Of Prince Achmed, go to this link for it and many more great BFI releases at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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