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    Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Disney

    Nov 01 2013 01:24 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    The denizens of Hundred Acre Wood prepare for two most important December holidays in Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year. Compiled of two different segments with connective animation to link them, this release has a rather patchwork quality to it with the animation not always matching with surrounding story elements, but for the younger members of the family, the release will likely be a cozy and warm holiday treat.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Disney
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DD, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 2.0 DD
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
    • Rating: G
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 4 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
    • Case Type: keep case in slipcover
    • Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
    • Region: ABC
    • Release Date: 11/05/2013
    • MSRP: $36.99

    The Production Rating: 3/5

    On Christmas Eve day, Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings) and his pals remember a Christmas when they almost didn’t get word to Santa on time about the gifts they wanted for each other. After Christmas, the gang gets busy with preparations for a New Year’s Eve party at Rabbit’s (Ken Sansom) house, but he becomes perturbed with their frantic preparations and decides to leave Hundred Acre Wood. The friends decide to attempt New Year’s resolutions and change their behavior that Rabbit found so disruptive in attempting to get him to stay, but they unfortunately adopt each other’s bad habits that in effect don’t make any appreciable difference in their group dynamic.

    The two basic segments of the presentation: Winnie the Pooh and Christmas, Too and Happy Pooh Year have the same gentle charm and sweet-natured antics that mark all of Disney’s Pooh-related narratives. The former is definitely the better of the two with representations of the classic characters which seem more in line with the original Disney cartoon shorts than later versions shown in the theater and on television. The animation isn’t bothered with great details or even awe-inspiring visual artistry but rather presents the heart of the characters’ good intentions as the most important aspect of the presentation. Thus, their generosity in wanting to give one another the most elaborate gifts tied to their pleasures or their decisions to lose the parts of themselves they prize so much if it will only convince Rabbit to stay with them impart the simple lessons of love and friendship that the franchise has become known for. The feature is also sprinkled with some music from the original shorts and some holiday classics like “Jingle Bells” interpreted in their own individualistic way by the Hundred Acre Wood residents.

    Jim Cummings does the voices for both Pooh and Tigger in this release (though the original Tigger Paul Winchell is heard in some archival Tigger footage), and while he can get close to the eccentric vocal prowess of the original Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell, it’s never quite right. The young ones at home won’t likely notice the difference or care, but older folk who have precious memories of the original shorts will undoubtedly notice the difference. The always wonderful John Fiedler returns as Piglet, and Peter Cullen intones Eeyore’s sad sack pronouncements. William Green pops up as Christopher Robin in the linking segments. Michael York serves as the most effective narrator for the piece.
    the gang's Christmas wish list

    Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The feature is presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio and is offered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. The pieces of the various films that have been stitched together to make this release don’t always mesh well together. Contrast seems a bit milky in the linking segments, and there is some slight banding to be seen on occasion. There are some motion artifacts that resemble slight ghosting in the Christmas, Too segment that don’t appear in the other animated sections of the feature. Color is generally well handled though there is some mottled green that occasionally looks like contouring when observed closely. The film has been divided into 10 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 3.5/5

    Rather than give this release a lossless high definition encode, Disney has gone with a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround sound mix. It’s certainly effective enough for the presentation with the music in the Christmas carols and other background score filling the audio environment. Dialogue is always easy to discern, and there are no age-related artifacts to deflect from one’s enjoyment of the presentation.

    Special Features: 1.5/5

    Disney Intermission: some fun games and activities for the younger members of the family appear when the viewer presses the pause button. This feature can be turned off from the set up menu.

    Disney Song Selection (5:33, HD): the eight musical interludes in the film can be accessed individually or in montage form with subtitled sing along lyrics provided.

    Sing Along: subtitled song lyrics pop up during the film when this is switched on from the bonus features menu.

    Enchanted Environment (24:01, SD): the warm interior of Pooh’s home is provided in this feature with a crackling fire, a candle-lit Christmas tree, and carols playing in the background. The viewer may also select only sound effects or only music to go along with the visuals.

    Letters to Santa Kit: enclosed in the set is this Pooh-related Santa letter writing kit.

    DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code instruction sheet enclosed in the set.

    Promo Trailers: The Jungle Book, Frozen, Mary Poppins.

    Overall Rating: 3/5

    Fans of Winnie the Pooh will no doubt want to add this new A Very Merry Pooh Year Blu-ray release to their collections as an upgrade to the originally released DVD. In terms of charm and whimsy, however, it’s not quite in the same league with the original shorts and their subsequent feature release, and the price tag seems a little steep for such a slim presentation.

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
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