Pocahontas DVD Review
PictureDisney have provided an anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TV's 1.66:1 correct negative ratio picture with an average bit rate of 4-5 Mbps peaking at 8 Mbps. This is an almost pristine print, clear, well detailed with bold striking colours, and deep correct blacks. It is free from any original print defects and grain free. Digitally I spotted no artefacts but it did suffer from a little edge enhancement, the price for such a sharp image. The print really does not look its age, and compared to other extras on the disc which have not been cleaned up, it is clear that a lot of attention has been given to make this look as best as it can, near top marks.
SoundThe film has been given three Dolby digital 5.1 surround tracks, English, French and Spanish. All sound exactly the same excepting the language. When the film first starts up there is some nice left - right separation, including the rears, during the initial song. And this seems to be the pattern for the rest of the film, the songs are well realised with nice separation, but most everything else is handled by the front three. This is somewhat disappointing considering Disney's other Dolby mixes which make for a full surround experience. As a track it is not bad, and when the rears spring to life the effect is very good, it is just a shame that their usage is limited. The LFE only gets two or three thumps during thunder moments, otherwise is left to full out the score. It seems as though quantity rather than quality might have been the issue here.
First up a commentary by producer James Pentecost and directors Eric Goldberg & Mike Gabriel; for three people there are plenty of pauses, almost strained comments. There is much made of the changes made by 'the management' from its initial conception to the finished product and perhaps this explains the apparent apathy of the commentators. However, this is the only extra of note on this disc. The rest comprises of two sing along songs, Round the River Bend and Colours of the Wind, which are of terrible quality, sound and picture. Disney's Art project is a 'Blue Peter' style make your own dream catcher or drum with two floating hands. The Follow Your Heart section is a ridiculously easy 'game' and not worth its disc space. Finally there is the music video for Colours of the Wind. The sneak peeks contain trailers for future DVD and theatrical releases.
The second disc not surprisingly contains the bulk of the extras, and is split into six sections; the Making of Pocahontas, Production, Design, Music, Deleted Scenes and The Release. The Making is a half hour piece made at the time of the films release, when all were optimistic about the new film. It is narrated by the speaking voice of Pocahontas Irene Bedard, and contains pretty good information, interviews with both cast and crew, it is quite entertaining in a 'wonderful world of Disney' way.
Production contains three headings; Early Presentation Reel is a set of very early initial concept drawings (many of which, to me, look better than those used) describing the film set to the music of Colours of the Wind which can be played with or without directors commentary; Storyboard to Film Comparison focuses on the meeting with John Smith and Pocahontas showcasing some excellent storyboarding and how close they are to the finished product; finally Production Progression shows the various (four in this case) stages needed to produce the final film from initial drawing, swapping between the stages by the angle button on the remote, the latter two pieces have an introduction.
Design contains a number of galleries for all the main characters (and one deleted one) and backgrounds all introduced by their respective supervising animators accompanied by concept drawings and other art. The Pocahontas section is particularly good with Glen Keane describing, and drawing, for an audience, the differences between (traditional Disney princess) Arial and Pocahontas, he is a funny guy.
Music contains a seven minute featurette entitled Music of Pocahontas which concentrates on the collaboration between composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz and their method of approaching the music for the film, includes interviews with the singing voice of Pocahontas Judy Kuhn. There is also a music video for the newly included If I Never New You, and a making of the same, includes interviews explaining its exclusion and subsequent restoration to the film.
There are eight deleted scenes and a miscellaneous reel ranging from storyboards to rough animation all with sound and demonstrate a slightly more light-hearted approach with talking animals etc some also contain an optional commentary.
The final section is The Release and contains the films two trailers, a short film of the films Premier in Central Park New York, a mammoth occasion with seven huge screens and stage show, containing interviews with cast, crew and ex-mayor Giuliani. The multi-language reel is Colours of the Wind sung in just about every language there is along with a credit for the singer, goes to show just how international Disney really is. Rounding off the disc is a selection of posters and other publicity material in the Public Gallery.
VerdictPocahontas is an odd gun in the Disney arsenal, too silly for the adults, too serious for the children; and while it did not actually fail at the box office it takings were less that half of that of its predecessor The Lion King. Taken as a tragic opera one can gain some enjoyment out of it, I was not bored, but I was not enthralled either, even my children seemed rather apathetic to it all. As a DVD there is much to admire, two versions of the film, a wealth of extras and a splendid transfer, makes for a good rating even if the film itself is rather bland.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £29.99
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