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|Kevin Krock, editor|
Summer is traditionally a slow period for home video, as most studios focus their resources on blockbuster theatrical releases and Disney pretty much sticks to that same philosophy. Disney's June, July, and August release schedules for family home videos are pretty bare, and the titles being released are either direct-to-video titles or marginal theatrical features.
The quiet summer period ends in September, when the Sleeping Beauty special edition, The Apple Dumpling Gang special edition, Escape to Witch Mountain special edition, and Return from Witch Mountain special edition DVDs are released. After that, we'll start to see the bigger name theatrical titles and the Platinum DVD release of The Lion King. So, hold tight for a couple more months, and in the mean time, enjoy your summer, stay cool, and mull over whether or not you really need to pick up the following two discs:
Rather than spend a bunch of time rehashing the movie, I will defer the discussion to my wife's very capable review from several months ago. I have to admit, though, that she likes the movie a bit more than I do. As she said in her review, it is not a bad movie, but for me, it lacks some of the finer points that I expect in a theatrical release. It will never be considered a Disney classic on par with the original Jungle Book, but it has enough entertainment value that younger viewers will enjoy it.
First impressions are always important, especially with retail products like home video, and one of the fundamental pieces of DVD packaging that I expect is an insert with a list of the chapter stops for the disc. I always hope for a bit moremaybe a catalog, an expanded insert, an information bookletbut every DVD should have a simple sheet with some basic movie art and a simple list of chapter stops. It just makes the package look more complete and polished.
When I cracked open the cases for The Jungle Book 2 and Rolie Polie Olie: The Baby Bot Chase, all I found were ads, coupons, and blank left panels. I'm sure it was Disney's way of saving a few bucks on production costs, but it really emphasizes just what Disney is willing to do to maximize its profit on these discs by cutting back on some of the things that set DVDs apart from videotapes. I just hope this is not a sign of things to come for future standard edition releases.
As for the bonus features, there are a few of them, but they are strongly skewed towards a young audience. For adults, the best features on the disc are a brief, behind-the-scenes featurette on the legacy of The Jungle Book and two deleted scenes. They are both nice to have, but they are quite short and not completely satisfying.
The disc also has a synopsis of the original film, a trivia-based, set-top game, some Web links, and a few music videos. None of those are particularly outstanding, but speaking from experience, given the chance, four-and-a-half-year-old children will enjoy watching the W-I-L-D and Jungle Rhythm music videos over and over. To prevent this, just make sure the remote is well hidden from any children capable of navigating the menus.
The Video, Audio and Interface
As with most of Disney's recent theatrical releases, its eventual move to home video brings very appealing video and audio transfers, and The Jungle Book 2 is no exception. The video features bright, saturated colors that are rock stable throughout the movie, and there are no significant visual distractions to detract from this colorful movie.
The audio is quite acceptable, and will sound good on any system. Although, once again, Disney has provided both Dolby Digital and DTS audio tracks for a movie targeted primarily at children and it just seems like a bit of audio overkill, as I know adults who have a tough time telling the two apart. Finally, the interface is along the line of most other Disney DVDs, and it features audio cues as well as animated menus and screen transitions.
Overall, the disc quality is good, but nothing more than I would expect from any other recent Disney DVD.
The Final Evaluation
Given the fine presentation of the movie, it is a bit hard to completely fault this disc, but it is one of those DVDs that children will probably like more than their parents. Adult Disney aficionados will and probably should stay away from this one, as there just is not much outside of the movie for them and unless they particularly enjoy the movie they will be disappointed.
In the end, if your children really enjoyed the movie, it might be worth picking up at a discount store, especially if you will be watching it multiple times. Although, if your children were not crazy about it or you did not catch the movie when it was in the theaters, you may want to just drop by a rental outlet and bring it home for a family movie night.
As I have said before, my children and I enjoy Rolie Polie Olie, and I am happy to see the continued success of this fun and odd animated series. I know some folks just cannot quite get into this show, but it does exhibit a wonderful sense of family, creativity, and fun that I am happy to share with my children any day.
The Baby Bot Chase is the second full-length direct-to-video animated feature starring Rolie Polie Olie, and this one takes place some time after the first one.
For Family Frolic Day, Olie and his little sister Zowie want to give their parents a wishing star. But when they set off to catch one, they return with two baby robotsor botswho are lost. The Polies then spend the rest of the movie trying to help the little bots find their forever family. It ends up being a pretty cute and enjoyable movie that both children and parents can enjoy together.
Regarding bonus material, the first Rolie Polie Olie DVD was pretty good, and my children still ask to watch it and play with the activities, but this disc has left them a bit flat. There are only two rather average activities for children, and neither appears to have captured the attention of my two youngsters. This is a bit disappointing, especially given the decent set of goodies provided with the first disc.
I have mentioned this before, but as a parent, I would still like to see some bonus material targeted for the parents, such as background on William Joyce, animation development, and so on. For some folks, this may be their first exposure to Rolie Polie Olie, and I think it would be great to have a short featurette that introduces parents to the world behind Olie and his family.
I would also like to see examples of Joyce's other works and see how he participates with the creation of the television series and movies. I think that information would be useful and interesting, and it would also tie in the literature aspects of Joyce's work.
The Video, Audio and Interface
As with the previous Olie DVD, the video and audio are better than that of the television series. The shadows, colors, and resolution of the digital animation look much cleaner on the DVD than they do on the series. The colors are bright and solid throughout the movie, but there are a few occasions where minor digital compression artifacts rear their head. You will notice them if you are familiar with them, but children and many adults will not notice them at all.
The audio is also clean throughout the movie, with plenty of surround effects. Finally, the interface is very similar to the wonderful design of the first DVD. There are a ton of animated effects in the menus and transitions, and each of the menus has voice directions instructing children on what each of the menus leads to. It is a very nice touch.
The Final Evaluation
If your children are big Olie fans, then they will probably enjoy this show as much as any. But as a parent, I did not like this one as much as the first direct-to-video Olie release. The video and audio are very nice and will play well on any system, but the disc falls short on bonus features, even for the tikes.
This $25 (MSRP) definitely disc falls into the take-it-or-leave-it category: if your children will watch this over and over, then it is probably worth buying. However, if you or your children are not big fans, then I would recommend just leaving this one on the shelf and finding something with a bit more value to your family.
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