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    The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Disney

    Aug 26 2013 01:31 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    A.A. Milne’s whimsical books about his son’s stuffed animals come-to-life were purchased by the Walt Disney Company in 1961, and the first animated short was released in 1966. Subsequent shorts followed in 1968 (winning an Academy Award) and 1974 (netting an Oscar nomination). In 1977, the three shorts were blended into a feature film with new bridging sequences and a coda to bring the story to a logical conclusion. The “new” feature was called The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which received its first DVD release in 2002 on its 25th anniversary. This release marks this movie’s first appearance on Blu-ray and with an aspect ratio wider than any previous home video version.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Disney
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
    • Rating: G
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 14 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
    • Case Type: keep case with slipcover
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: ABC
    • Release Date: 08/27/2013
    • MSRP: $36.99

    The Production Rating: 4/5

    Winnie the Pooh (voiced by the great Sterling Holloway), a not-so-bright bear of a gentle nature and a warm and fuzzy disposition, spends most of his days searching for honey and devouring it. He’s joined in his quests by such friends as the shy Piglet (John Fiedler), the sullen donkey Eeyore (Ralph Wright), the worried Rabbit (Junius Matthews), the wise Owl (Hal Smith), and, in the latter two shorts, Tigger, the bouncy tiger (Paul Winchell). Pooh and his friends’ adventures are of the slight sort, rarely manic or very frightening, and the humor in the shorts is more genteel than raucous even with a dose of Disney slapstick destruction of Rabbit’s home or Owl’s lodgings. The friends and their human companion Christopher Robin (Bruce Reitherman, Jon Walmsley, Timothy Turner over the years in the three shorts) must deal with angry bees, blustery winds, and a fear of heights among other small conflicts.

    The tone of the stories is very mild, perfect for children young enough to grasp story concepts without anything too disturbing going on that might lead to frightening bedtimes, but unlike Disney’s animated classics from Snow White onward, there is less here for older children and especially adults to enjoy other than the pleasure of seeing their small fry enchanted by these delightfully capricious characters (which they more than likely will be). Though the shorts were produced during the period when Disney was turning out more energetic animated features such as The Jungle Book and Robin Hood, the pictorial quality and the sweetly naïve pitch of these featurettes is closer in spirit to The Rescuers. Additionally, the very simple, hummable songs provided by the Oscar-winning Sherman Brothers are as delightful as ever and will do doubt continue to be sung along with for generations to come. And the coda added for the feature, where Christopher Robin seeks out Pooh to tell him he’s going off to school (and effectively leaving his childhood with him behind) is quite emotionally right and not over sentimentalized, much to the credit of the animators.

    The voice cast is simply wonderful with these characters (and Sebastian Cabot who serves as the narrator). So indelible are Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell and the others with their characterizations that subsequent Pooh shorts and features have bent over backwards finding voice actors who can mimic the cadence and pitch of these superlative performers. For those who have seen this film (or the shorts before they became a feature) numerous times, no one has ever been quite able to get the sound of the voices exactly right in all the years since. This is the definitive animated account of the Pooh tales that should be sought out.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film has been framed at 1.66:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Purists will not be happy with the changeover from 1.33:1 which was the aspect ratio used on all previous home video releases, and while the film plays just fine for the most part (only a couple of moments where characters go up out of the frame during vigorous activity), there will obviously be debate about the aspect ratio decision. As with all Disney animated features, the amount of clean-up may be more than some fans want (the DVD releases seemed to have some dust specks), and again there is some slight motion blur with the images particularly early in the film which might be due to the use of DNR to de-grain the images. Color is consistent throughout the presentation (though it’s clear the films were produced over a period of years since the size and look of some characters changed from one short to the next, and the second and third shorts seem a little richer in color than the first one). There’s a slight bit of banding to be seen but no problems with aliasing with lines solid throughout. The film has been divided into 21 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix spreads the Sherman Brothers’ songs and the background score by Buddy Baker through the soundfield in the most expansive aural treatment this film has ever had on home video. Dialogue is easy to discern and has been placed in the center channel. It is never overwhelmed by the music or the film’s sound effects.

    Special Features: 3/5

    Disney Intermission (HD): pops up when the movie is paused. The content is the same as the next bonus feature listed. This feature may be turned off in the set-up menu.

    Pooh Play-Along (1:48,HD): the narrator mentions activities various characters are engaged in during intermission (all clips from the feature).

    Mini-Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (HD): five modern animated shorts which may be played together or separately.
    • “If I Wasn’t So Small” (2:17)
    • “Piglet’s Drawings” (2:02)
    • “The Expedition” (2:32)
    • “Geniuses” (2:32)
    • “The Honey Song” (2:32)
    A Day for Eeyore (25:23, HD): the 1983 animated feature short focuses on Eeyore who’s more depressed than usual since it seems everyone’s forgotten his birthday.

    The Story Behind the Masterpiece (25:05, SD): details the origins of the books and Disney’s acquisition of them, the decisions to go with featurettes instead of one long feature at the beginning, and some of the voice casting in the picture.

    “Winnie the Pooh Theme Song” Music Video (2:34, SD): Carly Simon performs.

    Promo Trailers (HD): Planes, The Little Mermaid, Jake and the Never-Land Pirates

    DVD/Digital Copy: enclosed disc and code sheet

    Mini-Kite: enclosed inside the case

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is certainly a lovely, charming animated feature that the younger members of the family will undoubtedly cherish. That it has less to offer older viewers is what keeps it from achieving that pinnacle of excellence that other classic Disney animated films which are true masterpieces have achieved. Still, it’s unthinkable that families with small children would want to be without it. Recommended!

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
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    11 Comments

    With the inimitable voice of the late, great Sterling Holloway as Winnie-the-Pooh, this is a treat!

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    Chuck Pennington
    Aug 26 2013 02:40 PM
    The 2002 DVD was hardly its first video release. It was on Laserdisc and VHS at least twice, starting with an early 1980s release.

    This should be on my doorstep tomorrow...and I'll be watching tomorrow night.  So looking forward to this!

    The 2002 DVD was hardly its first video release. It was on Laserdisc and VHS at least twice, starting with an early 1980s release.

     

    I did say "video disc" and not just video, but I will change it to DVD.

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    Ronald Epstein
    Aug 26 2013 09:26 PM

    Memories of sitting on the floor, at the foot of my parent's bed, watching

    this on our B&W television as a kid.

     

    Had the soundtrack album which I played to death.

     

    This is going to be an exceptional addition to my collection.  Thanks for

    the review, Matt.

      • Mark Walker likes this
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    Mike Frezon
    Aug 27 2013 06:33 AM

    This should be on my doorstep tomorrow...and I'll be watching tomorrow night.  So looking forward to this!

    +1  I cannot wait until I get a chance to pop this in the player tonight...

     

    "Deep in the Hundred Acre Woods, where Christopher Robin plays...

    You'll find the enchanted neighborhood of Christopher's childhood days.

    A donkey named Eeyore is his friend.  And Kanga.  And little Roo.

    There's Rabbit and Piglet and there's Owl...but most of all Winnie the Pooh."

     

    Sherman Brothers plus a willy nilly silly old bear.  What more does one need?  :biggrin:

     

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    Mark Walker
    Aug 27 2013 09:47 AM

    Fantastic review, Matt!

     

    Thanks!

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    Randy Korstick
    Aug 27 2013 09:48 AM

    This was a theatrical release and shown 1.66 or 1.75. I'll have to check but I'm pretty sure the Laserdisc was 1.75. I refused to buy the DVD because it was not in the correct ratio so I'm very happy to see it released correctly here. I will be picking this up for sure.

    I hate to nitpick, but... why some of these reviews list the (alternate) audio track as "English 2.0 DD"? I mean is it "2.0 mono" (which kinda would be the "original track" for the purists, I guess?) or "2.0 stereo/surround"? Thanks.

    I hate to nitpick, but... why some of these reviews list the (alternate) audio track as "English 2.0 DD"? I mean is it "2.0 mono" (which kinda would be the "original track" for the purists, I guess?) or "2.0 stereo/surround"? Thanks.

    All three of the new Disney releases have neglected to include the original mono sound. Instead they each have a 2.0 stereo mix which is completely unnecessary because all Blu-ray players will downmix for those who require it.

    I hate to nitpick, but... why some of these reviews list the (alternate) audio track as "English 2.0 DD"? I mean is it "2.0 mono" (which kinda would be the "original track" for the purists, I guess?) or "2.0 stereo/surround"? Thanks.

     

    The table we have to pick from in a checklist only has one entry for that particular codec: Dolby Digital 2.0. Thus, that's why there's nothing more specific in the listing. I suppose I should have identified it in the audio discussion, but I guess for that particular release, I didn't even click on it during the review process to see what it was. My bad.