Directed by David Block
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 56 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French, Spanish
Release Date: September 4, 2007
Review Date: August 29, 2007
We haven’t heard anything much from Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip since they supposedly lived happily ever after at the end of Sleeping Beauty, but Disney’s new made-for-video animated film Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams takes care of that. The new movie in the Disney Princess line of videos takes two of Disney’s most popular heroines (Aurora and also Jasmine from Aladdin) and gives each lady a new story. Both stories revolve around a single theme, and there are also new songs for each lady to sing. Though I was most looking forward to Aurora’s continuing story (Aladdin has already had two made-for-video sequels), I have to admit that Jasmine got the better story and the better songs (she also has a better singer doing them, Tony Award-winner Lea Solonga).
Both stories revolve around perseverance as each princess is asked to do a task that she at first finds difficult and frustrating, but by gritting her teeth, baring down, and singing to buck up her spirits, she manages to triumph. In Aurora’s case, she must take over all official royal duties for a day. Fairy godmother Merriwether loans Aurora her wand to give her some confidence, and its use gets out of hand creating havoc. In Jasmine’s case, tiring of posing for portraits and appearing in parades, she chooses her own worthwhile activity, teaching school. Only the lovely lass quickly loses control of the class and feels a failure until another problem presents itself: her father’s prize steed Sahara has bolted from the stables, and she attempts to find him.
Three Amy Powers-Russ De Salvo songs are woven into the two tales. Aurora’s is a big belt number “Keys to the Kingdom” which singer Cassidy Ladden struggles somewhat with maneuvering its wide range of notes. Jasmine’s “Peacock Princess” and “I’ve Got My Eyes on You” are gloriously delivered by Solonga with attention to vocal shadings and lovely lyric interpretation. Gilbert Gottfried as Iago the parrot is also around from the original to offer Solonga support in the first number.
Kudos to the artists who have tried to capture the look of the original animated features. Sleeping Beauty was more stylized in its drawing technique while Aladdin was more richly and exotically colorful, and both unique looks are presented with a surprising faithfulness to the originals (even if the aspect ratios of the individual features don’t match in either case the 1.78:1 of this film.) No, the smoothness and depth of feature film animation aren’t possible within the restraints of a video budget, but what’s here is certainly an adequate substitute.
Young girls, the primary audience for sequels such as this, will be delighted with the further adventures of two of their favorite princesses. With the villains for each lady vanquished in their previous individual stories, these two young women find other antagonists to match wits with. Surprisingly, as they learn, their own impulsiveness is sometimes their own worst enemy.
The film is presented in a beautiful anamorphic transfer that shows absolutely no encoding problems whatsoever. Lines are strong and solid, and the color is richly and deeply saturated, perfect for these animated fairy tales. The film has been divided into 11 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding is very well done with active use of all available channels apart from a lack of much LFE. The only problems noted were with the occasional directionialzed voices which once or twice seem to have some audio-phase problems. Otherwise, music and ambient sound effects are beautifully woven throughout the sound design for this movie.
The two games included on the disc pretty much make clear what age child this set is being targeted for: pre-10 year olds. Both are presented in 4:3.
“Aurora’s Dress-Up” allows the player to select gown, shoes, and jewelry to dress Aurora up for a palace ball. (Naturally there are bad choices mixed in with the glamorous ones.)
“Find Sahara” is a search puzzle that has some replay value as you follow Sahara’s hoof prints and select objects he may have dropped in an effort to locate him.
A music video from the next entry in the Princess series is actually the best item on the entire disc: “You’ll Never Lose This Love” as sung by Belle and Mrs. Potts is a beautiful song and appears to reunite Paige O’Hara and Angela Lansbury from Beauty and the Beast for this lovely tune. (The music video format doesn’t identify the actual voices of the singers.)
There are the usual trailers for upcoming Disney releases: Meet the Robinsons, Tinker Bell, High School Musical 2, The Jungle Book, Enchanted, and Little Einsteins, among others.
Enchanted Tales: Find Your Dreams keeps the stories of two of Disney’s princesses going strong. Adults won’t find much of interest here, but younger folk will undoubtedly watch it repeatedly and with much enjoyment.