DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Disney Treasures - Mickey Mouse In Living Color Vol 2, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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  1. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]


    MickeyMouse
    inLivingColor
    Vol.Two
    (1939-pres.)
    Studio:Disney Year:1939 - presentRunTime: @ 5 Hours of program-material (plus bonus material)Aspect Ratio:4x3 encoded 1.33:1 OAR (16x9 encoded 1.66:1 OAR for select program material)Audio:DD English mono (5.1 for certain features)Subtitles:English (captions for the hearing impaired)SpecialFeatures:The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (segment from Fantasia), Deleted animation from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey and the Beanstalk (outstanding), Mickey’s Christmas Carol (16x9 1.66:1 OAR), The Prince and the Pauper, Runaway Brain, Mickey’s Cartoon Comeback, the voice behind the mouse, Mouse Mania, Mickey Cartoon Physics from ‘Plausible Impossible’, Mickey on the Camera Stand, Color Titles from the Mickey Mouse Club, The Making of ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’, Publicity and Memorabilia Gallery, Story and Background Art Gallery (galleries have image-specific audio commentary for select images). Sound like a lot? It is!!ReleaseDate:May 18, 2004


    If you haven’t already, please read my reviews of the other Treasures sets:

    Tomorrrowland

    On The Front Lines

    Chronological Donald




    The Feature...

    Magnificent. And Mickey is not even a Disney character for which I have a strong affinity. You do NOT need to be a “Mickey fan” to own this set. Neither do you need to be a Disney Die-hard. You simply need to enjoy classic animation, and the value of the historical context that’s conveyed when you have the opportunity to sample such a wide swath of content (from 1939 to the present). The program material ranges in style from the usual “cartoon” shorts you might be used to seeing on the Disney Channel or (for those of you with memories this far-reaching) before a feature films, all the way to full-length “features” (30 mins each) like Mickey’s Christmas Carol and the Prince and the Pauper (both of which are presented 16x9 1.66:1 pillarboxed OAR).

    I hope you’ve already managed to purchase the previous “Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume One”, as this Volume Two is its companion; together they complete the Mickey-in-living-color series (those of you with better knowledge can let us know if this actually makes all the Mickey cartoons available or if there are still some Mickey treasures hiding in the vault). Much of this content is being released on “home video” for the first time, and the presentation is immaculate. These shorts have been preserved and restored to glowing splendor. Much to Disney’s credit, the historic cell-dust and photographic grain artifacts have been left in tact where present, preserving the “film medium” authenticity of these marvelous historic works. I’m getting ahead of myself, I’ll save that for the PQ review.

    It is nothing more than a privilege to have the opportunity to purchase and own this animated artwork on the DVD medium. Walt Disney’s “Treasures” is an absolutely appropriate title for this and every other DVD set that has born this banner.



    The Presentation...

    Hardware:
    Like with all the previous Treasures sets you own, this one comes in an outer tin canister case that is just oh-so-cool. Unlike previous incarnations of the Treasures series, this one is not “stamped” with the serial number. Inside there is an “extra wide” double-shell DVD case containing two DVD discs along with some generous printed booklet material. Also inside you’ll find a certificate designating the individual production number of your set out of the total run lot.

    This is presentation with class. If only Disney would produce more of them! Get them while you can. They are all limited issue.

    Software:
    There are no forced trailers. If you’re familiar with the previous Treasures sets You’ve got the same type of menu style and “flow” here. The Program material on disc one contains a plethora of cartoon shorts that can be sorted chronologically or alphabetically (same as the previous releases and same as with the Donald Duck set). There is also a “Play All” option making enjoying hour after hour of these shorts an easy remote-free endeavor. Disc one also contains a few special features like the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment from Fantasia, deleted concept from that sequence, and “Mickey and the Beanstalk” quasi-feature (more than a short, less than a full-length feature). Disc two contains three more modern features: Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Prince and the Pauper, and Runaway Brain (the most contemporary feature, which I had never seen, and thoroughly enjoyed—especially the Millennium Falcon “false start” sound effect. Watch it and you’ll know what I’m talking about).

    Each disc has an “overall” introduction by Leonard Maltin as well as a brief introduction for many of the feature/short presentations. I cannot express the value of Maltin’s contributions highly enough. His comments are educational, and add depth and context to each feature they precede. In no way to I view his presence here as anything that lessens or weakens the integrity of this historic work; Maltin’s words serve to honor and enhance this important work.

    Each disc offers only English audio and optional English subtitles “for the hearing impaired”. The menus are nicely rendered and really fit the look and feel of the historic material. Bravo Disney for another superb job.



    Picture...


    Much of this part of the review shares script with my other Treasures reviews. This isn’t a cop-out, it’s because the same comments apply.

    Obviously we’re dealing with source material that is quite dated, so expect to see some film/animation/production-related artifacts. However, “natural” film/production related artifacts don’t bother me and (on soapbox) they shouldn’t bother you either (off soapbox). That’s the medium and that’s the content’s history. What does bother me are “electronic” artifacts that are introduced during film-tape transferring and/or subsequent mastering for DVD. Blessedly, this latter type of “artificial” artifacting is nary to be seen except for just a FEW instances where I saw the slightest bit of ringing around hard-lines in some of the animation sequences, but the effect was minimal, benign, and non-distracting (though causing me to shave off just a fraction of a point for final PQ score).

    Many short convey plenty of film-grain and cell-dust. And that’s good. It means the Disney compression/DVD mastering center hasn’t opted to digitally air-brush all that natural film-grain away…which would have left a “clean” picture but one devoid of authenticity and fine detail. Color balance is striking. I presume that a Technicolor process was used for most of the color sequences we see. Colors are sumptuous, rich, vivid, and bold. Animation sequences naturally impress the most with a lush and vibrant pallet, but even live-shot sequences are worth noting. Depending on the animation of the particular program, colors are in a word: Stunning.

    Particular on this Mickey set (as distinguished from several of the other treasures sets I’ve reviewed), I found the colors even MORE vivid and at time ultra-saturated, which to my eyes almost looked like the black-level or contrast of the content may have been tweaked to enhance this effect but I’ll assume that the images here are presented properly according to the intended look of the film originals. The features that really blew-me-away visually in terms of color saturation were the three features on the second disc (all presented 16x9 1.66:1 pillarboxed): Christmas Carol, Prince and the Pauper, and Runaway Brain. I just HAVE to say yet again how impressed I am with Disney’s presentation of these features…all loaded with rich natural image detail, film-grain (Runaway Brain least of all, but still there), and vivid, sumptuous colors that just drip off the screen. If you’re thinking of upgrading your display, please take my advice and start saving/planning for a boni-fide front-projection system. The resulting image these features produce on my 8-foot wide screen is nothing short of an astonishing-utterly-film like picture. Email me and we’ll talk if you need some more convincing.

    Black level also without fault. The space scenes displayed black level as black as my projector can produce—in other words, black level is “absolute” on this disc giving the picture a wide and saturated dynamic range. Whites are bold without ever appearing “crushed” and grayscale is as good as the source material will allow. I noticed no compression artifacts from my 1.75 screen width distance.



    Picture: 4.75/ 5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Sound...

    For once he’ll be brief. Try to stay calm. The audio is perfectly acceptable DD mono for the majority of the program material (all except the 3 more modern 16x9 WS features on disc two, which are 5.1). Sound is quite listenable on a high-resolution audio system without sounding thin and irritating. Neither is there a thick fog of hiss or noise overlaying the sound. Sound is clear, dialog easily intelligible, and music and score have a reasonable sense of dynamic range and frequency response.

    Audio (multichannel) for the 3 WS features on disc two is notably superior to the more historic content. I was almost taken-aback by the sonic purity of the 5.1 sound (and bass response…especially in Prince and the Pauper and Runaway Brain) of these more modern features. Runaway Brain accomplishes a truly reference 5.1 mix that will satisfy any serious HT enthusiast.


    Sound: 4.5/ 5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Special Features...

    There is so much bonus material to cover, please forgive me if I only give a cursory listing. Once the disc are in-hand, if any of you care to go more in-depth and provide your own personal review of the special-feature content, email me and I’ll post your comments here to share with others. All bonus materials are on Disc two unless otherwise noted.

    [*]Deleted Animation from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Disc One): A brief work-in-progress animation sequence for a snippet from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (segment from Fantasia).
    [*]Mickey’s Cartoon Comeback: A sort of “behind the scenes” featurette hosted by Maltin who discusses Mickey’s animation history (especially in more modern times) with some of the animators responsible for his character. I found this feature very enjoyable.
    [*]The Voice Behind the Mouse: Wayne Allwine the voice of Mickey Mouse, and his wife Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie Mouse discuss their roles as voice-actors. Very nice.
    [*]Mouse Mania: Historic (and rarely seen) animation short commission for Mickey’s 50th birthday as celebrated in this TV premiere. A very cheesy yet VERY cool 1970’s short that has suffered the ravages of time (faded like so many prints from the 70’s) but a real treat to have here. I remember seeing this on the Disney Channel or somewhere when I was a kid and it was trip down memory lane to see it again. Thanks Disney!
    [*]Mickey Cartoon Physics from “Plausible Impossible”: The entire feature from which this is taken is contained on the “Behind the scenes at the Walt Disney Studio”. This portion focuses on the bombastic and “stunt” action of animation, and also shows how the animators try to convey real-world physics of their characters by subtle animation techniques. A nice portion contained here for those surfing all the bonus material.
    [*]Mickey Meets the Maestro: Brief behind the scenes of Mickey meeting the Maestro in Fantasia 2000. This is taken from the Fantasia Anthology DVD Box set release.
    [*]Mickey on the Camera Stand: 1957 segment from “Tricks of Our Trade” (complete feature from which this is taken is contained on the “Behind the scenes at the Walt Disney Studio”). Shows use of the multi-plane camera.
    [*]Color Titles from the Mickey Mouse Club: Color original film stock of various animated opening sequences from the original Mickey Mouse Club (which was aired on B&W television). Very nice. Fans of the Mickey Mouse Club will really enjoy this.
    [*]The Making of “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”: Just what it says. Cool thing is that this is a historic “making of” that was produced along-side the feature…it is NOT a “new” production. It’s really cheesy…horrid VHS-quality video, bad mono sound and really tasteless be-bop music, and I love it. Some nice clips of storyboarding and some discussion with animators. Despite the “style”, it’s actually a very informative feature and clocks at a decent 24 minutes!
    [*]Galleries: Publicity and Memorabilia and Story and Background Art Gallery. Very nice. The images are scanned with astonishing resolution and looked almost “hi def” on my projector…extremely detailed and clear. There is audio commentary that accompanies various images which I find to be an extremely valuable asset and one that I hope Disney considers using as a standard model for “image galleries” on all their DVDs.
    [/list]


    In Closing...

    Really folks. What do you expect me to say? An astonishing DVD effort on every level: Historic content, marvelous video and audio restoration, gobs and gobs of special feature content that really goes in-depth results in a DVD experience that’s as educational as it is entertaining. Take a wild guess…

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
     
  2. Ray_Gootz

    Ray_Gootz Stunt Coordinator

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    Does this have the 1988 episode of Walt Disney Presents where John Ritter played a newscaster who promises not to bath until Mickey comes back from retirment? That was a preet cool episode. But i'll get this set no matter what. Sounds great!
     
  3. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    /
    No. [​IMG] The contents are limited to Mickey's theatrical release fare.
     
  4. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the review David, I can't wait to own this set.
     
  5. Ryan Wishton

    Ryan Wishton Screenwriter

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    No need to sell me on this set.

    I planned on owning it all along anyways. [​IMG]
     
  6. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

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    This is the one set from this wave that I really wasn't sure about. I've never really liked Mickey (a little too bland really), but after reading your review I think I really should pick this one up. If nothing else, it'll probably be the last time you'll be able to get your hands on these cartoons.
     
  7. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Chris,

    That's exactly the way I would have felt. Mickey is also my least favorite Disney character...as you say...sort of banal/benign...maybe even a tad boring (to me).

    Yet even so, this set impressed me so much that I would urge any and every Disney/Animation fan to pick up a copy. There are quite a few shorts that are worth the while even if you don't like "Mickey" as a rule, and the special feature content is amazing.

    Many of the features (Mickey's Christmas Carol) also blend with many other characters so that it's not "all about" Mickey...

    You won't regret it! Enjoy!

    dave [​IMG]
     
  8. JasonPW

    JasonPW Stunt Coordinator

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    That special--are we talking about the one with NBC casts--Family Ties, Cheers, etc.? That would be a great one to have!
     
  9. DavidBL

    DavidBL Stunt Coordinator

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    Great review, thanks. I can hardly wait to spin mine up. One typo made me laugh, though:



    I got this strange image of a little freckled kid with mouse ears, eating Life cereal... not sure why... [​IMG]

    Also I'm VERY glad that the "PLAY ALL" is back. We try very hard to NOT use DVDs as babysitters, but our kids have just loved these animated Treasures compilations and the wave 2 collections (Goofy and Mickey B&W) get much less airtime just because they hate fiddling with the remote between every single cartoon. If they're going to sit and watch cartoons for an hour once in a while, much better these than most of the drivel that passes for animated entertainment these days. IMHO, of course.

    One other note-- since you made a point to cross-reference features that are also found in "Behind the Scenes at Walt Disney Studios," it might be also good to more clearly state that "Mickey Meets the Maestro" is a direct lift from the Fantasia DVD collection. I can't recall if it's on the actual Fantasia 2000 disc or the bonus disc that only came in the Fantasia set, but it's not a new feature.
     
  10. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Typo noted and corrected [​IMG]

    Thanks for the comments. "TV Babysitting" was actually the thought that went through my head when I saw the "Play All" option...
     
  11. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    "I can't recall if it's on the actual Fantasia 2000 disc or the bonus disc that only came in the Fantasia set, but it's not a new feature."

    It's on the bonus disc. I feel sorry for anyone who didn't get the full Fantasia Anthology.
     
  12. DavidBL

    DavidBL Stunt Coordinator

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    Like most conveniences in life, it's a feature that can be used wisely in moderation, or abused to excess. An example where the lack of "Play all" for Goofy was an extreme inconvenience was when we were road-tripping in the minivan and had my laptop hooked up for the kids to watch DVD's to help pass the time. We put Goofy in and the kids loved the cartoon shorts, but it was very tedious to have my wife reach back and try to select a new cartoon each time. After a while we gave up and put in a longer movie.
     
  13. Ray_Gootz

    Ray_Gootz Stunt Coordinator

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    Jasonpw-

    Yeah that was the one. Everyone at Cheers was crying over Mickey because he vanished. That was really great and then Mickey came back with 80's attitude after he spoke to either Minnie or Bill Cosby. It was sorta like a made for TV Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

    They should do another one today if only to hear Mickey scream to Minnie "We were on a break!" that would be priceless
     
  14. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    On disc two, I think only "Runaway Brain" was 5.1 and the others were 2.0 pro-logic. That being said, the pro-logic track on "Prince & the Pauper" is a very well done surround mix.

    Regards,
     
  15. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Ken,

    thanks for the info. Unfortunately, the LED display on my B&K receiver broke the same week I bought my new DVI 720P DVD player...and the new DVD player doesn't display the channel configuration of the DD audio selection. My processor just got fixed (hopefully pick it up today) so I won't make that same mistake again!

    When I get it hooked up right I'll double check everything and post any corrections back to the review.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. rob kilbride

    rob kilbride Supporting Actor

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    Has there been any word as to whether the lip-sync issue with "Runaway Brain" is a DVD issue or did it have the same problem theatrically? The issue was brought up in the Disney Treasures Screenshots thread but I havent been able to find an answer.
     
  17. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    I watched the whole feature and never noticed a lip-sync issue. I'll watch it again and look especially for this and see what I find.

    -dave
     
  18. rob kilbride

    rob kilbride Supporting Actor

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    I noticed it when Minnie slaps monster Pete in the face at about 6:18. The audio is noticeably early. I suppose its possible its a player issue but it was noted in the Screenshot thread so it might be a disc or source issue.
     
  19. RomanSohor

    RomanSohor Second Unit

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    That was a special made for Mickey's 60th Birthday, and it mainly starred Mickey Mouse & Roger Rabbit (when Disney was trying to make RR a member of the full Disney "family"... I have a horrendous VHS copy of this taped off TV. I was thinking about buying a DVD Recorder just to transfer it, LoL.
     
  20. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    Minor nit: David, in each of your excellent reviews you state the following:
    I believe that the number on the side of the paper-band is actually the catalog number of each title. The "serial number" that used to be stamped on the tin (what you refer to as "individual production number of your set out of the total run lot.") is now only found on the certificate inside.
     

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