Alice In Wonderland: The Masterpiece Edition DVD Review

by AVForums
Movies & TV Review

Alice In Wonderland: The Masterpiece Edition DVD Review
SRP: £29.99

Picture

For a movie that began its life in 1951 the picture here is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Colours are bright and solid with no trace of bleed and even stretching the 4:3 image to fill widescreen TVs will likely introduce only the mildest deterioration in overall quality. Black levels are also impressive. If I am to be extremely picky - I did notice a few areas of print damage/spots of dust or dirt and a touch of edge enhancement at times, but neither detracts from what is a fantastic example of artistic drawing complete with frenetic storytelling, Disney style.
Alice In Wonderland: The Masterpiece Edition

Sound

Whilst the picture has been given a new lease of life, as far as the audio side of things is concerned things fare less well. Alice In Wonderland is some 53 years old and no tweaking and re-mastering yet invented is likely to be able to do much more than has been achieved here. The original mono soundtrack remains an option for purists, along with a newly created and THX certified Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which although it manages to achieve a semblance of “surround sound”, falls rather short in the excellence stakes compared with more recent Disney/Pixar releases. Rear speakers have little to do, with the 384Kbps Dolby track struggling to achieve even minimal base tones and sounding a little compressed at times. Stereo definition is average at best, but at least vocals are always clear and detailed and although the soundtrack will never attempt to challenge the abilities of even some lower end set-ups what we have here is perfectly befitting a soundtrack over half a century old.
Alice In Wonderland: The Masterpiece Edition

Extras

There are a good few extras spread over both discs as listed above. The main points of interest from Disc 1 include the Virtual Wonderland Party - where you can choose from either an interactive live character re-enactment of the Mad Hatters tea party with riddles and songs galore, or an auto playing version of the same scenes; definitely for kids. Next up are a couple of songs from the movie where you can sing along karaoke-style followed by Adventures In Wonderland - more interactive game play and riddles. I'm Odd - a newly discovered Cheshire Cat song - is a short featurette hosted by Katherine Beaumont (the voice of Alice) giving a little insight into just why this song was dropped from the film. Finishing off the extras on disc one is the Mickey mouse short - Thru The Mirror, which has previously been included in the 2 disc Walt Disney Treasures series - Mickey Mouse In Living Colour.

Disc 2 begins with One Hour In Wonderland - an hour long black and white Christmas Day TV show (Walt Disney's first) hosted again by Katherine Beaumont with characters and clips from earlier Disney movies. Next up is a real classic - filmed in 1923 we are treated to a black and white silent short titled An Alice Comedy: Alice's Wonderland starring a very young Walt Disney along some very early animation - this one is a bit of a collector's item and is thoroughly entertaining in a “Wow, that was eighty years ago” kind of way. Operation Wonderland offers a glimpse into how things progressed from storyboards to finished article - computer graphics? Nope...this is tech of the lowest order! For me this was the highlight as far as the extras are concerned. Just compare the live actors here with those from the Virtual Wonderland Party (disc 1); these guys are the real deal and it's a great shame that this particular featurette is a mere eleven minutes long - two hours would still be too short. A game is also included comprising 32 cards - a memory test requiring the matching of pairs of characters from the movie.

Suffice to say - extras are plentiful, although they seem to share the rather hap-hazard planning of the movie itself!
Alice In Wonderland: The Masterpiece Edition
The first time I sat down to review Alice In Wonderland - The Masterpiece Edition I was thoroughly unimpressed with the movie. However, having watched it a second time - at my daughter's insistence - and then a third time, just to make sure, I now regard this Disney release as worthy of the title Masterpiece Edition. This is a many layered movie that may well have you returning to Wonderland time and again in an effort to even partially understand some of the many metaphors and linguistic riddles hidden within. There's something about this movie that reminds me of that other old time classic, The Wizard Of Oz - in fact when the smoking centipede asks, “Who are you?” when speaking to Alice there is a definite similarity with the Wizard in that other children's classic as he bellows the same question to Dorothy.

With excellent packaging including one of those slipcases that folds open a la The Lion King, and extras worthy of the title, I suggest buying Alice In Wonderland - The Masterpiece Edition immediately - before it goes the way of so many Disney releases - OOP (the dreaded “Out Of Print” ).

Scores

Movie

.
9

Picture Quality

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
.
.
.
5

Extras

.
.
8

Overall

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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