Directed by Kevin Lima
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:11080p AVC codec
Running Time: 107 minutes
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French Spanish
MSRP: $ 34.99
Release Date: March 18, 2008
Review Date: March 13, 2008
Enchanted is enchanting. At once an homage to the glories of Disney animated and live action musicals of the past (from Snow White to Mary Poppins) while at the same time forging its own modern identity as a musical romantic comedy, Enchanted is a pure delight. Melodic tunes, a first rate cast, and tremendous and ingenious production values add up to another jewel in Disney’s increasingly crowded crown of delights for all ages.
Giselle (Amy Adams), a fairy tale heroine for all-time, is waiting to be swept off her feet by her prince (James Marsden). Unknown to her, however, the prince’s stepmother (Susan Sarandon) is not eager to cede control of the kingdom to her stepson on his wedding day and so schemes to get rid of Giselle by magically transporting her from her animated world of wonder to modern day Manhattan where, like a fish out of water, she expects Giselle will perish. Prince Edward darts after her, however, so the evil queen must send toady Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) to New York City armed with three poison apples to finish off the goodie-two-shoes once and for all. Giselle, however, lucks into the orbit of divorce lawyer Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) who finds the naïve Giselle charmingly unsettling as he attempts to help her get back home.
The script by Bill Kelly joins together Giselle’s magical way with animals with the hustle and bustle of present day Manhattan in some hilarious riffs on Snow White’s “Whistle While You Work” and Mary Poppins’ “A Spoonful of Sugar.” And as Giselle spends more time in the city absorbing its own brand of magical pleasures (e.g. hot dogs, mariachi bands), she and the city each begin some subtle changes that are a pleasure to see develop. Throughout there are so many allusions to classic Disney features that to list them all would be tedious and spoil what is, first and foremost, a joyous and captivating entertainment all on its own.
Kevin Lima’s massively difficult job of direction is an amalgamation of live action, animation, and CGI and is a wonder to behold. When you add several show-stopping musical sequences to the mix, you’ve got just about unbeatable entertainment and a film that‘s surely unique to today‘s film market. Tops among the large scale production numbers is “That’s How You Know,” one of a handful of lilting songs by Oscar winners Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, that gets all of Central Park in on the fun in a tune that will take you back to The Little Mermaid’s “Under the Sea.” “Happy Working Song” is a riot of special effects that will have you grinning from ear to ear while “So Close,” where Patrick Dempsey’s Robert finally succumbs to the amorous lure of dancing and singing, is the very essence of musical comedy romance at its peak.
Amy Adams is the walking and talking embodiment of a Disney princess, and James Marsden is her masculine counterpart: a stalwart, brave, and handsome Prince Edward for the ages. So perfect are these two actors for their roles that I had a stupid smile plastered on my face every time they were featured in a scene or song. Patrick Dempsey is the modern-day equivalent of Prince Charming here and very well played, while Rachel Covey acts his daughter Morgan with just the right amount of wide-eyed spunk. It seems a little odd that Tony-winning musical star Idina Menzel is in the picture as Dempsey’s ill-fated girl friend and yet doesn’t sing a note. Susan Sarandon has the presence to do wonderfully wicked things with the evil Queen Narissa while Timothy Spall’s conniving Nathaniel will remind you of the role he’s most known for presently: Wormtail/Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter series. And cheers for the character of Giselle’s chipmunk protector Pip (voiced by director Kevin Lima). The feisty rodent steals every scene that he’s a part of.
Yes, I could nitpick a few things. The animation which begins and ends the film is ambitious but doesn’t come close to the classic Disney animation it‘s inspired by and paying tribute to (I’m sure the cost would have been prohibitive). The switching couples are a tad too predictable, and the choreography by John O'Connell in the musical numbers can’t match the acrobatic expertise found in Disney’s best live action musicals (particularly something like “Step in Time” in Mary Poppins).
Still, the ingenious idea, the superb singing actors, and the outstanding overall production make Enchanted something of a minor miracle.
The Panavision 2.35:1 aspect ratio is presented in an excellent 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. It’s a very film-like transfer with outstanding sharpness, film grain that seems completely natural, wonderful color with deep blacks and very fine shadow detail. A couple of scenes seem a bit too bright with contrast off just a hair, and occasionally flesh tones veer a little toward brown, but otherwise, it’s a pristine transfer with all the detail one could want. The film is divided into 20 chapters.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track (48 kHz/24 bit) is a pleasure in every way. The music is superbly filtered through the fronts and rears to astonishingly good effect, and there’s more than a fair share of wonderful discreet sound effects worked into the mix. The subwoofer gets used in the climactic confrontation between good and evil in expected ways, but LFE also turn up elsewhere in the film, too, and are always welcome.
Exclusive to Blu-ray is the disc’s most significant inclusion called The D-Files. Select this option and you can watch the movie, pausing every so often to answer a trivia question concerning allusions to a classic Disney feature contained somewhere within Enchanted. If you select the right multiple choice answer, BD-Java streams you into a featurette where director Kevin Lima (or sometimes someone else) discusses the reference and then treats the viewer to a clip from the classic feature in full 1080p. Need I say what a sensational treat it is to see these classics pop up in high definition, one after another (Aladdin and Cinderella will knock your socks off, and Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, and Snow White also look terrific). The viewer is allowed the chance to save the game at any point and go back to it later (this worked flawlessly) and at the end, your score is tallied and depending on what it is, you’ll be treated to behind-the-scene glimpses into the writing and production of up to three songs in the score. If you miss the Disney trivia question, it doesn’t show you the clip then, but at the end, the viewer is taken to a table of contents with the missed featurettes marked for easy reference where you can watch them then. (Incidentally, if you want to just answer the trivia questions and not sit through the entire movie again, you can hit the next chapter button and it takes you right to the next interruption to ask a question.)
The rest of the bonus features are the same as on the standard definition release of Enchanted.
“Fantasy Comes to Life” offers three featurettes on the production of three scenes in the film: “Happy Working Song” with its myriad of digital effects, “That’s How You Know” with its elaborate choreography, and the climactic ballroom sequence with the sophisticated dragon effects. The viewer can watch each separately or all at once in a 17¾-minute chunk. They’re presented in 1080i.
There are 2 minutes of bloopers presented in 1080p.
6 deleted scenes are each introduced by the director explaining why they were cut. Together they run 8 minutes and are in 480i.
“Ever Ever After” music video presents American Idol winner Carrie Underwood singing the song in both animated and real life incarnations. It’s in 480p and runs 3½ minutes.
“Pip’s Predicament: A Pop-Up Adventure” is the disc’s weakest bonus, a 5½ minute pop-up book vignette with the spirited chipmunk trying to save Prince Edward. It is presented in 1080p.
The disc offers previews in 1080p of Sleeping Beauty, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and Tinker Bell. The trailer for Enchanted is not here but can be found on other Disney releases.
Disney doesn’t make live action musicals much any more, but with the enormous success of Enchanted, perhaps we’ll see more of them in the future. This Blu-ray release with its superb picture and sound plus a handful of enjoyable bonus features comes highly recommended.