Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Alice in Wonderland (1951) Blu-ray Review

Release Date: Feb. 1st, 2011
Disc Size: 40.9 GB
Film Size: 16.0 GB
Film Rating: G
Region: ABC
The Video
Alice in Wonderland’ debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The film can be viewed in its original aspect ratio or with DisneyView, a feature which allows you to fill the black bars with beautiful and unique borders by veteran Disney artist Michael Humphries.

I had high expectations for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ based on Disney’s perfect record when it comes to bringing classic animated titles to Blu-ray. I am not entirely sure why I was so surprised by how wowed I was by the video presentation, likely because I forgot the look of the film since I haven’t viewed it in years.

The film looks absolutely beautiful in high-definition. The animation quality is amazing and it is even more incredible when you realize the film is now sixty years old. Clearly some scrubbing has been done to remove dirt and grain, but unlike other studios, Disney does a careful job to keep the film looking stunning.

Colors are also top notch, rich and vibrant throughout and they really had me in awe at times. The DisneyView feature while not for everyone looked fantastic as well and fits the film surprisingly well. Thankfully Disney gives us options with viewing mode.

Overall this is an amazing high-def presentation and it makes me much more excited for future animated classics. The presentation really impressed me and I had high expectations to begin with. This is one high-def release that must be seen. 10/10

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option included. Also included is a restored original mono soundtrack, as well as French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French and Spanish.

Disney has not included a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track like with other releases, but thankfully the studio has included a lossless mix regardless. The original mono track is included for those who prefer it, it is also newly restored.

I went with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and was pleasantly surprised by the results. Everything is clear as one could imagine for a film released in 1951. The surround use moments are nicely placed as well for a film of its age, but of course it won’t compare to a new release film (nor should one expect it to).

The audio isn’t perfect, but I have a hard time imagining the film could ever sound any better than it does now. The audio is a clear improvement from previous DVD releases and fans will notice that right from the start. 9/10

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc):

View the film with optional painted borders by veteran Disney artist Michael Humphries.

Through The Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland (16:17) (HD)
Kathryn Beaumont (Voice of Alice) introduces this feature. Film historians talk about how Walt Disney adapted the novel by Lewis Carroll.

Reference Footage: Alice and the Doorknob (11:33) (HD)
Reference footage from production is featured in high-definition and Includes optional commentary by Kathryn Beaumont.

Pencil Test: Alice Shrinks (0:54) (HD)
Kathryn Beaumont introduces a pencil test from production of the film.

Walt Disney Color TV Introduction (1:15) (HD)
See a TV introduction by Walt Disney from 1959.

Painting the Roses Red (Interactive Game)
Paint the roses red via interactive puzzles.

Classic DVD Bonus Features (SD):
  • Reflections on Alice
  • Operation Wonderland
  • “I’m Odd” Newly Discovered Cheshire Cat Song
  • “Tru the Mirror” Mickey Mouse Animated Short
  • One Hour in Wonderland
  • An Alice Comedy: Alice’s Wonderland
  • Original Theatrical Trailers
  • Walt Disney TV Introductions
  • The Fred Waring Show (Excerpt)
  • Deleted Materials
  • Interactive Art Gallery
Disc 2 (DVD):

DVD copy of the film
With select bonus features found on the Blu-ray disc.

Plenty of bonus features are included on this release and thankfully on the disc (unlike the Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 release which used BD-Live). There aren’t too many new bonus features, but the additions are extremely neat to see. The classic DVD features are included as well; topping the release off is a DVD copy of the film, I just wish a PiP track was included. 9/10

The Movie
It has been years since I remember watching the classic animated film, ‘Alice in Wonderland (1951).’ Now on Blu-ray in celebration of its 60th anniversary, I had the perfect excuse and opportunity to revisit the film.

Let me start off by saying I really had forgotten so much about the animated classic. I really enjoyed Tim Burton’s version of the film and I even thought it was better than this 1951 adaption. Revisiting the film however, my opinion has changed.
This animated classic holds up surprisingly well, far better than other Disney classics. The characters are fantastic and the animation is impressive throughout. The storytelling is fun, charming and very funny. I was surprised by the many laughs I had watching the film, with mostly intentionally funny moments.

I am in love with the film all over again and It will definitely get many more viewings throughout the year. The film makes for perfect family entertainment, as trippy as the storyline can be. I can’t get over how much I enjoyed the film.

‘Alice in Wonderland (1951)’ is one of the best film experiences I have had on Blu-ray. I keep mentioning how surprised I was, but I really was. The film is magical like most Disney classics, but don’t know why I let myself forget about the magic that is Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ 10/10
The Blu-news Summary
Alice in Wonderland (1951)’ is an incredible family film with a stunning Blu-ray release. The strong video presentation, pleasant audio mix and great selection of extras make this release ‘A Must Own’ for fans of the film and ‘Highly Recommended’ to anyone else.

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