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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > Feature Film > The Thief & The Cobbler (aka Arabian Knight/Genius)

The Thief and the Cobbler (aka Arabian Knight/Genius)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: D     Film: C



When animator Richard Williams started to formulate the animated adventure film The Thief and the Cobbler (1995) it seems he had very high ambitions, with thoughts of a grand visual experience; the problem is this film is no Roger Rabbit.  Reportedly, it was in production for years as Williams’ pet project.  The film takes most of its inspiration from (like Aladdin) the ancient Arabian Knights tales, the problem being however Richard Williams left the pot on the stove too long and Disney beat him to the bunch.  Not only did Disney beat him to the punch with their extraordinary blockbuster smash Aladdin, the art design and music of their film was much crisper and better prepared.  The Thief and the Cobbler follows the tale of a poor peasant Cobbler and his rise to fame and fortune at the side of a princess, while an evil and often times humorous thief follows his every move unwittingly to the eventual occurrence of the stealing of three, magical, golden, balls.


Like Disney’s hit Aladdin with its peasant and royalty, there is also an evil sorcerer type character who wished to marry the princess and rule the kingdom (Jafar anybody).  Oddly enough his companion is a loud mouthed bird (vulture) who has an oddly enough Jewish ethnic twang to his speech (Iago anybody).  In the end the tale is quite passé having followed the much better Disney’s Aladdin, but it does have its own personal quirks.


The animated feature’s background art is at times stunning with its very wide and detailed landscapes, but the problem comes as the camera gets closer (so to speak).  The detail form far away as previously stated is wonderful, but the detail on individual characters is quite too simplistic and drab.  The characters seem to have been torn from a coloring book with little detail or life.  The picturesque scenery I could look at in stills for hours never the less.


The technicals of this DVD feature are quite sad.  The picture is presented anamorphic 16 X 9/1.78 X 1 widescreen which is the only upside to the presentation.  The picture quality is often grainy; the coloring is off balance with the dark and bright colors being completely out of sync at times making the animation quite bland, taking away from the splendid scenery and even individual characters.  The sound is equally as poor in its Dolby Digital 2.0 format having high and low issues, at certain points in the feature the sound is quite distant, not allowing me to partake in Mathew Broderick’s charming voice.  The extras are not to be found and because the only effort the studio placed into this ‘Special Edition’ was a fancy pop-out cover featuring a splendid view of the palace this is hardly a DVD to run out and buy.


Overall, this reviewer expected more from Richard Williams.  The film seems to be hastily put together and though at times resembles the wonderful Beatles animated feature Yellow Submarine, it is far from containing enough heart to be passable as the classic it should have been.  In the end hold off on this title and buy Disney’s Aladdin.



-   Michael P Dougherty II


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