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Blu-ray Reviews

The Fox and the Hound/The Fox and the Hound II Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 11 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted August 08 2011 - 09:58 AM

The Disney animated features produced in the 1970s and 1980s (up to The Little Mermaid) are sometimes thought to be “Innocuous Disney” or “Inconsequential Disney.” The films are certainly professionally done with beautiful animation and good production values, but the stories often seem less than inspired, and sometimes star voices seem to be doing the heavy lifting instead of a really riveting story or superb music. One such pleasant but unmemorable effort is 1981’s The Fox and the Hound, a sweet story of relationships altering over the course of years as affections and priorities change. Since the filmmakers gave something of a short shrift to the story of friendship between the two protagonists when they were younger, a made-for-home video sequel was produced in 2006 detailing an adventure shared by the pair before they grew up and are forced to go their separate ways. As most of these things go, it’s got a few good points, but the quality of the animation can’t compare to the original, and the voices for the returning characters aren’t quite as appealing as before.



http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/The Fox and the Hound/The Fox and the Hound II (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Ted Berman, Richard Rich, Art Stevens; Jim Kammerud

Studio: Disney
Year: 1981/2006


Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1/1.78:1
Running Time: 83/69 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French


Region: A-B-C
MSRP: $ 39.99





Release Date: August 9, 2011

Review Date: August 8, 2011



The Films

The Fox and the Hound – 3.5/5

The Fox and the Hound II – 3/5


In the original film, a baby fox (Keith Mitchell) is left orphaned when hunters kill his mother. With the wise owl Big Mama (Pearl Bailey) guiding things, the foundling is taken in by Widow Tweed (Jeanette Nolan) and named Tod. The inquisitive youngster meets his next door neighbor his own age, the hound pup Copper (Corey Feldman), and they become instant friends. Trouble is, Copper’s owner is an irksome old man (Jack Albertson) who uses his shotgun first and asks questions later. The two enjoy some carefree days together, but there comes a season when Copper is taken for a seasonal jaunt in the woods to learn his duties as a hunting dog, and when he (now with the voice of Kurt Russell) returns the next year, he understands that the relationship between Tod (now with the voice of Mickey Rooney) and him will never be the same.


The script by Daniel P. Mannix, Larry Clemmons, and six others seems a bit hesitant to confront the harsh realities of the world in which the fox and the hound live. (It was the film’s lack of grittiness which allegedly forced animator Don Bluth and eleven others to bolt from the studio and start anew elsewhere.) Truth to tell, we only see momentary tidbits of the two at play as youngsters: swimming together or playing hide and seek, so that really close friendship is more hinted at than actually shown. Perhaps if the storytellers had focused more on Tod’s heartbreak at Copper’s conversion, the film might have had more of an impact. The film also has Pearl Bailey’s Big Mama around mainly to sing the bulk of the music score. She’s fine but never seems to be an integral part of the story past the opening sequence nor do two intrusive secondary bird characters Dinky (Richard Bakalyan) and Boomer (Paul Winchell) constantly on the lookout for a caterpillar meal. Romance halfheartedly enters the story in the form of Vixey (Sandy Duncan), but that, too, isn’t given the attention it merits as the film focuses more on the betrayed Tod staying true to his feelings of friendship and trying to save Copper (and his master) from a grizzly bear.


The 2006 sequel is another matter altogether. With a much lower budget (which must have mostly gone for a very appealing song score and to pay such stars as Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Patrick Swayze, and Vicki Lawrence to lend their voices to the film), the film focuses almost entirely on its musical elements (the story involves Copper (Harrison Fahn) becoming starstruck and becoming part of a doggie crooning quartet headed for the Grand Old Opry replacing the über-diva Dixie (Reba McEntire) whose demands have forced quartet leader Cash (Patrick Swayze) to look for a replacement). With Tod (Jonah Bobo) basically reduced to a cameo in his own film, the movie instead serves up a lively country music score which features Reba’s “It’s Lonely at the Top,” Josh Gracin (dubbing the singing voice of Patrick Swayze) sensational with “Hound Dude,” and Trisha Yearwood’s off-screen warbling of the plaintive “Blue Beyond.” The doggie group has two numbers: “Friends for Life” and “We Go Together,” both toe-tapping winners. The story (filled with frequent slapstick antics) and animation are rather lackluster, but the singing and the new characters give the film its only real distinction.



Video Quality

The Fox and the Hound – 4/5

The Fox and the Hound II – 4.5/5


The original film is framed at its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. At its best, the animation is superb with much eye-catching detail and beautifully saturated color. Sharpness, however, has a peculiar way of varying throughout the presentation. While much of it is razor-edged just as one might expect, there are establishing shots and some close-ups which have a strange amount of momentary diffusion which disappears in the very next shot. It’s quite a disconcerting variance within scenes. On the other hand, there is no banding, and the colors are beautifully contained and never bloom. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.


The 2006 sequel is framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. The animation is much less detailed owing to a much reduced budget, but sharpness is consistent throughout the presentation. Color seems rather flat throughout and doesn’t pop off the screen as it does in the best animated films. The presentation is pristine, however, with no dust specks or banding. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



Audio Quality

The Fox and the Hound – 3.5/5

The Fox and the Hound II – 4/5


Both films are encoded with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The original film does not present much of a surround presence (owing likely to its stereo origins), but the music score occasionally wraps into the surrounds even if ambient sounds in the film stay firmly frontcentric. One particular sequence set near a waterfall does give the LFE channel something to do. Dialogue resides firmly in the center channel and is always easily discernible.


The sequel offers a much more sophisticated surround sound experience with highly directionalized dialogue throughout (often very effective), ambient sounds split between channels, and, of course, that country-flavored music score by Joel McNeely and the individual songs gaining extensively from the surround encode.



Special Features

2/5


Disappointingly, while the Blu-ray disc offers both films on the one disc, none of the previous DVD releases’ bonus features have been ported over to the Blu-ray. To watch those, one must put in the individual DVD discs also contained in the package.


“Unlikely Friends” offers a look at animals in real life (and in Disney animated films of which there are many clips) which one might ordinarily think are natural enemies and yet here pairing up in unusual situations. In 1080p, this vignette runs 7 ½ minutes.


The disc offers promo trailers for The Lion King, Spooky Buddies, Dumbo, Bambi II, Mars Needs Moms, and Tinker Bell and the Mysterious Winter Woods.


The DVD of The Fox and the Hound offers these previously released features:


  • “Best of Friends” sing-a-long with Pearl Bailey’s vocal and the lyrics printed in karaoke fashion.
  • “Passing the Baton” which showcases the younger generation of Disney animators being trained by three of Disney’s legendary animation masters.
The DVD of The Fox and the Hound II contains these previously released features:


  • “You Know I Will” music video sung over the closing credits by Lucas Grabeel.
  • “The Making of the Music” featuring Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood along with the songwriters writing and recording their vocals for the movie.



In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


Not a Disney classic in the truest sense of the word, The Fox and the Hound doesn't make a particularly auspicious debut in high definition either though the presentation is certainly good (bot not great). With the Blu-ray not containing the ported-over extras from previous releases of both films, the package seems a bit slapdash and not up to the usual (but not always impeccable) standards of Disney animated releases.





Matt Hough

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#2 of 11 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted August 08 2011 - 12:53 PM

Disappointingly, while the Blu-ray disc offers both films on the one disc, none of the previous DVD releases’ bonus features have been ported over to the Blu-ray.

I don't think that is anything to complain about. The extras are ported over to the package, but relegated to the DVD discs. Makes sense to me. Why use space for standard definition material that is better used for picture and sound quality? And it also prevents buyers from selling off the DVD discs as they contain all the extras.

#3 of 11 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted August 08 2011 - 02:09 PM



Originally Posted by Mark-P 



I don't think that is anything to complain about. The extras are ported over to the package, but relegated to the DVD discs. Makes sense to me. Why use space for standard definition material that is better used for picture and sound quality? And it also prevents buyers from selling off the DVD discs as they contain all the extras.


Terrific inconvenience to switch discs if one wants to view those bonuses, but that's just my opinion. I don't think four standard definition bonuses, two of which run only a couple of minutes, would have seriously impaired the audio or video bitrates of the films.


Also, as the 30th Anniversary edition of the original film, possibly a bit more care could have been taken with its celebration in this set by showing it has a place among the Disney classics by at least bringing its bonuses onto the same disc with its movies.




#4 of 11 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted August 08 2011 - 09:05 PM



Originally Posted by MattH. 




Terrific inconvenience to switch discs if one wants to view those bonuses, but that's just my opinion. I don't think four standard definition bonuses, two of which run only a couple of minutes, would have seriously impaired the audio or video bitrates of the films.


Also, as the 30th Anniversary edition of the original film, possibly a bit more care could have been taken with its celebration in this set by showing it has a place among the Disney classics by at least bringing its bonuses onto the same disc with its movies.



Disney animated movies are being changed and this is not how the films were seen in cinemas, they have removed any film grain seen on the original camera negative at the expense of fine detail and film texture and also are changing the colours, subtle colour changes now lost in favour of the new saturated look and it seems to me that just about every review for a Disney film says the same thing and praises everything to the hilt without any criticism of changes made by the company, this applies to pre-computer animation and not the cheap sequel to this film.


You may say, why do we want film grain on an animated title, because i want the movie to have film texture and more detail, look at The Secret Of Nimh, film grain is retained, sure it needs a general cleanup to remove specks and dirt but its glorious to see the amount of detail that film has compared to so many scrubbed clean animated Disney films.


Even films which have their files stored on a computer and thus they can justify no film grain have issues, Beauty And The Beast has had numerous colour and brightness changes which actually do destroy the original look, i am sure the same will happen to The Lion King, all because everyone is accepting this, i do not accept it. Now you can try and tell me that with Beauty and the Beast, we are now seeing it as intended, nope i doubt it, its colours are now oversaturated and some scenes brightened to ridiculous proportions, the scene when the beast is in the dungeons and revealed is one example of over brightening which destroys the fine work done by the animators.






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#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Brisby

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Posted August 12 2011 - 10:41 AM

Oh, how cheap is this...they didn't even use a three-disc case, they just stuck the two DVD discs on top of the same spindle. :f

#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted August 12 2011 - 02:52 PM

It just shows that even Disney thinks these films are bottom of the barrel and not worth the effort of a decent release; although, nothing can top The Black Cauldron for being the absolute nadir for Disney animation
"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted August 12 2011 - 07:33 PM



Originally Posted by Edwin-S 

It just shows that even Disney thinks these films are bottom of the barrel and not worth the effort of a decent release


I think they're more down on Treasure Planet and Home on the Range.  Each has only had one release.

Part of the problem, at least to me, is that Disney is blowing out a lot of animated product this year.  Tangled, Gnomeo and Juliet, Fox and the Hound, Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, Fox and the Hound, Mars Needs Moms...the upcoming Dumbo, Lion King, Cars 2.  That's a lot without even considering the live action stuff like Pirates 4.  I doubt Fox and the Hound was a priority for the home video department, resulting in the package we got.




#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted August 12 2011 - 07:59 PM



I think they're more down on Treasure Planet and Home on the Range.  Each has only had one release. 

 

Part of the problem, at least to me, is that Disney is blowing out a lot of animated product this year.  Tangled, Gnomeo and Juliet, Fox and the Hound, Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, Fox and the Hound, Mars Needs Moms...the upcoming Dumbo, Lion King, Cars 2.  That's a lot without even considering the live action stuff like Pirates 4.  I doubt Fox and the Hound was a priority for the home video department, resulting in the package we got.

 

I forgot about those two, especially Home On The Range. Treasure Planet isn't great, but it isn't nearly as bad as a lot of people make out. Most Disney villains in their animated films are pretty simple; they're just bad. The Long John Silver character in TP was actually a complex character compared to the normal Disney villain. The only other one that I thought was fairly complex was the Frollo character in Hunchback of Notre Dame. I didn't realize that TP has only had one release on DVD. I actually think TP would look pretty good on Blu ray, so I hope it eventually gets released. Home On The Range is a different matter. The animation was good, but the story and the main characters were lame. It was almost as bad as TBC.
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#9 of 11 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted August 22 2011 - 08:41 AM

I'd love to see Treasure Planet and Atlantis.



#10 of 11 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted August 30 2011 - 08:35 AM

Hey at least they're ON blu-ray. Fricken Hercules has never got a 16x9 transfer!



#11 of 11 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted August 30 2011 - 09:34 AM



Originally Posted by Lord Dalek 

Hey at least they're ON blu-ray. Fricken Hercules has never got a 16x9 transfer!



A BIG pet peeve of mine. It's one of my favorites of latter day Disney animation.