DVD Review Htf Review: The Swan Princess (i & Iii: Se)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Mar 21, 2004.

  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

    Jun 24, 2003
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    Real Name:
    Michael Osadciw

    The Swan Princess (I & III SE)


    Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
    Film Year: 1994

    U.S. Rating: G
    Canadian Rating: G

    Length: 89 minutes
    Genre: Animated Action

    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Audio: English & French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English, French
    Closed Captioned: Yes


    Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
    Film Year:

    U.S. Rating: G
    Canadian Rating: G

    Length: 72 minutes
    Genre: Animated Action

    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Audio: English, French & Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English, French
    Closed Captioned: Yes

    SLP: US$26.29ea

    (The Swan Princess (SE)
    and The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the
    Enchanted Treasure (SE)
    SLP: US$47.95

    Release Date: March 30, 2004

    Film Rating

    The Swan Princess [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The Swan Princess III [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The Swan Princess is based on a children’s fairytale called Swan Lake. Brought to the motion picture screen, it tells the tale of Prince Derek (Howard McGillin) and Princess Odette (Michelle Nicastro) - two kids from nearby royal families - who are planned to unite with marriage once they came of age and be king and queen of the land. But as the time comes for Prince Derek to merry Odette, he’s stuck for words of why he loves her. Odette then believes that all along Derek is not the man for her so she chooses to leave his kingdom.

    A turn of events happen as an evil sorcerer named Lord Rothbart (Jack Palance) kidnaps Odette. Everyone believes she is dead because she has been missing for so long. Lord Rothbart wants her father’s kingdom, but would also like her love. But to keep her under control, it turns out Lord Rothbart is holding her captive on a lake and has a spell on her. In daylight she is a swan, but as soon as the moonlight hits the lake she can become human. The only way for the spell to be broken is to have someone vow everlasting love for her publicly. Captive on a lake, she makes new friends with a French frog named Jean-Bob (John Cleese), a turtle named Speed (Steven Wright) and a bird named Puffin (Steve Vinovich). She awaits the moment for Prince Derek to rescue her as long as Lord Rothbart has nothing else evil planned for both of them. Will Prince Derek save her? Of course! Or how would there be two sequels?!

    The Swan Princess III: The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure continues where The Swan Princess left off. This time evil sorcerer Zelda tries to obtain the papers containing the writings of the Forbidden Arts she created for Rothbart before he banished her, but they are located in Derek and Odette’s castle. Derek didn’t want to destroy these papers because they gave the keeper unlimited power and he thought that someday they could be used to do good. But things go wrong; Odette is kidnapped and (ah-ha!) turned into a swan again. Can Derek save the day again? Watch and see this time!

    Between the talking and the action, these are musical cartoons with songs, dancing, and singing. The music takes on a variety of styles from Jazz to Swing to cabaret-style performances. Some of the songs are cute in the first film, but the third film Enchanted had less pizzazz just like the story. What happened to the second film, you ask? Swan Princess II was released by Warner Bros. as a direct to video release, probably because the first film did so-so making just under $10 million at the box office. The third film, back in Columbia’s hands, is also a direct to video release. Nevertheless, these films are winners of the Film Advisory Board of Excellence and a Parent's Choice Award.

    These two films are available separately or in a 2-pack. Both are labeled as special editions but their features are slim. There really isn’t anything interesting enough on these discs that would single them out over a standard release to deserve a ‘special edition’ tag. A behind the scenes animation featurette, interviews with animators or cast would have been alright to show a little extra work put into this release, but it appears this set isn’t geared at all towards adults hence the children’s only features.

    Video Quality? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The Swan Princess was released theatrically so it must have been matted for a widescreen release. I am guess it is shown here open matte rather than cropped since there doesn’t seem to be any information lost. Columbia has chosen to release this in 1.33:1 probably to mirror the other Swan Princess release included here with the original direct to video aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Still, the image quality doesn’t suffer much on either title. The first film has quite a few film specs throughout while the second film looks a touch noisy. The animation between these two titles is very different. The Swan Princess has more of a “Sleeping Beauty” style animation having similarities of 13th century dark ages drawings with defined lines and pointed edges. Swan Princess III looks like a Saturday morning cartoon with jump out at your face colour and round and curvy borders. Black level is really good on both titles, and white level is high enough to provide nice contrast. There are a few compression artifacts with both titles, but they are very minor and appear around edge lines. Edge enhancement isn’t a factor with either title.

    Audio Quality?

    The Swan Princess [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Swan Princess III [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Both titles’ press release claims they’d have Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The Swan Princess’s theatrical release even used DTS’s Coherent Acoustics. Yet, the DVDs are released in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround soundtrack. Why the four stars you ask? Don’t forget that 5.1 surround is not always the best soundtrack to listen to for active surround material. There are many titles I can think of whose soundtrack is more active using Dolby Pro-Logic II than listening to the 5.1 encoding. Sometimes the 5.1 mixes lack surround information because nothing was recorded in those channels, and it relied heavily on the space generated by the front soundstage. Much of the time, the 2.0 surround version will have the same active front soundstage but the Pro-Logic decoder will take that information and use it as rear channel information. This makes an exciting listening experience, and that is exactly what happened with The Swan Princess.

    The 2.0 surround soundtrack is active all around complementing the wide front soundstage. There are directional off-stage effects in the front channels as well as directional rear channel information using Pro-Logic II. I listened to this soundtrack directly with traditional Pro-Logic just to listen to the recording present on the disc in its original state. I recommend engaging PLII to eliminate the mono-centric rear sound the older Pro-Logic creates.

    Clarity of the recording is really good as heard in the musical passages, and dialogue is always intelligible. Bass response is a little weak, but this isn’t a bad recording at all.

    The Swan Princess III doesn’t have as active of a soundstage as the first film. While at times there can be a lot of information going on, it is usually in short spurts and around musical interludes. It’s not as exciting as the first film, but given the smaller budget of the film, it’ll do.

    Special Features? [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Both titles get the same rating because they include almost the same features (booo!). A feature on both discs is Odette’s Book of Wonderful Friends. What you can do is select one of Odette’s animal friends: Jean-Bob, Speed, or Puffin. Did you know they have their own exciting adventure stories not told in the film? Well they did! You can read about them in a story book using the arrow keys on the remote, or you can set it to “auto mode” and have Odette read the stories to you. Each story takes about four minutes to get through.

    There are also a few games exclusive to this disc. Help Odette Prepare for Her Wedding gives us the rare opportunity to sneak peak inside Odette’s change room. You get to pick from several wedding outfits to suit your taste. Yes, boys, I know…not the most exciting. If you get any excitement out of this you were probably the same kid that enjoyed playing with your sister’s Barbie dolls. So for you boys, Practice, Practice, Practice is your feature. At first I’d think we’d get an opportunity to take aim with an arrow and shoot for a bull’s-eye, but instead our brains are flexed and we get to do some math instead. You get to select your level of difficulty from smart, smarter, and smartest. You are given an addition question, and if you finish right to the end, you get a royal trophy of the Prince. Now you are just as smart as him…after all, he is the Prince, so don’t think you can step on his toes!

    Lastly, this disc includes some Sing Alongs! Yay! These are always my favorite…well, they used to be when I was young, but heck I still love karaoke so it’s stuck with me. There are five songs to choose from. You can choose to sing along with each of the songs, or chose to watch the whole movie and the sing alongs activate when the music starts. The words are at the bottom of the screen and are taken from the English subtitles.

    Exclusive to the second title features Two to Tango: Dances from Around the World. This feature gives demonstrations (with live dancers) of five styles of dances from around the world. Both discs include chapter selection inserts, the same trailers of children’s DVDs including the Swan Princess Collection (but not the first film’s original theatrical trailer), and the same “up to $50.00 in savings” coupons for various purchases.


    I think the SLP is a little steep for both films and the set, but as we know we’ll probably find these in the “2 for…” or cheapie bin in a few months. That seems the case with almost any new title these days anyway. It’s a nice trend that’ll keep everyone buying and collecting. The Swan Princess is an entertaining film despite its small numbers at the box office. While many critics slammed this title, the critic in me liked it. The second title in this set won’t come out being any kid’s favorite cartoon, but it should provide entertainment without being bored. I sat through it and I’m still smiling [​IMG]

    Michael Osadciw
  2. PerryD

    PerryD Supporting Actor

    Aug 28, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Wow, I didn't even know it was coming out. I checked around the e-tailers and it looks like the list price on each is $20, and the 2 pack is actually only $30.

    That said, I will not be picking this up since it is not OAR. There has already been an anamorphic widescreen DVD release of this movie overseas, and I remember reading rave reviews of that DVD. The movie is less than 90 minutes, so there was always the option of including both versions on the same disc.

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