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Featured Blu-ray Review: 101 Dalmatians

February 4th, 2015

101 Dalmatians - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray Combo Pack

101 Dalmatians first hit theaters more than 50 years ago. Since then, the film has been released on the home market a number of times, including in 2008, which is when I previously reviewed it. My opinion on the movie hasn't changed much, it is definitely worth owning, but is the new Blu-ray Combo Pack worth picking up for those who own the DVD?

The Movie

I'm going to keep the movie review portion short, for two reasons. Firstly, I've reviewed it in the past. Secondly, it is a classic and odds are nearly everyone reading this knows a lot of the plot already.

The film begins with us being introduced to the first of the two main human characters, Pongo, a dalmatian, who is worried that his pet, Roger Radcliffe, will stay single forever. He sits at the window looking for perfect mate for Roger. He isn't quite sure what makes a human woman attractive, so he chooses mostly based on the breed of dog the woman is walking with. When he spots Perdita, another dalmatian, it is love at first sight. And Perdita's human, Anita, isn't bad looking either. Pongo races to get Roger to the park so he can get Roger and Anita to bump into each other. It works. It works so well that in the next scene the pair are married.

Not only are Roger and Anita married, but so are Pongo and Perdita and very quickly the pair are expecting a litter of puppies. The only one more excited about the puppies than those two is Cruella de Vil. Cruella is an old classmate of Anita and extremely rich. She really wants to buy all of the puppies, but she wants to turn them into a fur coat, so Roger and Anita refuse to sell. In response, Cruella dognaps the puppies. Roger and Anita turn to the cops to get their puppies back, but when that doesn't work, Pongo and Perdita use the Twilight bark to find out where the dogs are and go to rescue them.

Like I said before, 101 Dalmatians is a classic for a number of reasons. In the scope of animation history, the film is important, because it used a very early automated animation technique using Xerox machines. The film also has one of the best villains in the history of movies, not just the history of Disney animated films, Cruella de Vil steals the movie. Add in top-notch adventure and one of the most memorable action scenes in a Disney animated movie and this is a film that has more than enough replay value to be worth owning.

The Extras

New extras begin with Disney View. Because the film was made when the standard movie aspect ratio was 4:3, there are black bars on the side of the image. You can watch the film with Disney View and those black bars will be replaced with paintings. Up next is The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt, a two-minute extended scene / short based on the TV show the dogs watch in the movie. Lucky Dogs is a nine-minute featurette on working at the Disney animation studio in the 1960s. Dalmatians 101 is a five-minute featurette with Cameron Boyce giving trivia about the movie. Up next is Walt Disney Presents: The Best Doggoned Dog in the World, a TV special used to promote the movie back in 1961. The Blu-ray also has the old extras from the previous release, minus the interactive features.

The technical presentation is excellent, which is a relief, as Disney has had some issues "remastering" some of their classics and has instead just gotten rid of fine details. That is is not case here, as you can see all of the pencil marks the Xerox process maintained, while the grain has been significantly cleaned up. Colors are strong and the blacks are deep. There are no compression issues or digital artifacts. The audio comes in the original 1.0 mono, as well as a new 7.1 surround sound track. The 7.1 surround sound track isn't as active as others I've listened to, but then again, it was built up from a mono track, so this is understandable.

The Verdict

101 Dalmatians has one of the best villains of all time and one of the best animated action scenes of all time. Additionally, there are plenty of new extras on the Blu-ray Combo Pack, enough to make it a contender for Pick of the Week.

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Filed under: Video Review, 101 Dalmatians, Cameron Boyce, Betty Lou Gerson