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|Kevin Krock, editor|
It has been years since Mickey, Donald, and Goofy were on the same screen together, and this is the first time they have co-starred together in a feature-length movie. I am not sure what the Disney definition of that is, but it appears to be any movie longer than 60 minutes.
At first, I was a bit skeptical of the trio taking the leads as the Three Musketeers for 60+ minutes, but I was pleasantly surprised that this adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel comes across as entertaining and humorous for both adults and children. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are still the sympathetic characters that we adults relate to, but they also have a contemporary edge to them that definitely keeps younger viewers watching. I would not say this is a Disney animation classic, but it is a fun watch with the family.
The movie opens showing how Mickey, Donald, and Goofy grew up together dreaming of becoming Musketeers, yet they have only become small-time janitors that still dream of becoming Musketeers. However, when the captain of the Musketeers, Peg-Leg Pete, plots to rid the kingdom of Princess Minnie and take over the throne, things start to turn around for the intrepid trio.
As part of his plan, Pete jokingly promotes the three janitors to the Musketeer role of protecting the Princess, expecting them to fail and to allow him to easily take over the kingdom. Much to his chagrin, Pete watches Mickey, Donald, and Goofy thwart everything that he throws at them, including his sinister lieutenant Clarabelle Cow and the bungling Beagle Boys. In the process of saving Princess Minnie, the trio exhibit the true meaning of the Musketeers' motto, All for one, and one for all, and Minnie rewards them by making them certified Musketeers.
Also thrown in to the entertaining mix are several songs provided by a heavily French-accented Troubadour turtle, who is very reminiscent of Clopin from Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Troubadour essentially acts as the narrator for the story, and at various points in the movie, pops in and offers up a song to highlight a plot point. The six songs are mostly re-spun versions of classical songs from Offenbach, Strauss, Bizet, Grieg, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky, but they work pretty well and my boys are still singing the songs.
There are also a couple other minor comments worth mentioning. First, the animation looks quite nice, especially given its direct-to-video status. The ToonDisney Studio in Australia has done other quality animation work, like Lady and the Tramp 2, and this movie looks equally polished. This is no House of Mouse, thankfully. Second, the voice work is spot on, and all the characters are voiced by the voice actors that have been performing them for nearly 20 years. This continuity makes the characters feel more familiar and lets you just enjoy the action. All in all, the movie is pretty decent for the whole family, and my young boys cannot seem to watch it enough.
It both amuses and disappoints me how some of the recent direct-to-video DVDs have a better selection of bonus material than several of the classic animated Disney DVDs. While The Three Musketeers is not packed with goodies, there is enough there to keep the family interactively involved with the disc for a while after the movie is over (or before the movie starts, if your children are like mine). Also, most of the items are solely intended for young children, so they do not contain much depth and are fairly short.
Of particular interest to me and my boys were the three brief behind-the-scenes-type items. The nine-minute featurette on the making of the movie provides a sweeping, high-level look at the animated production process for this movie. Even though it is short, both my boys and I enjoyed seeing the people behind the art and hearing how they put all the pieces together.
The four deleted scenes are also nice to have, as they always provide a unique look at the different directions or ways a scene could go before the movie is completed.
Finally, there is a cutealbeit limitedcommentary by Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pete as they talk about one of their scenes together. My boys typically do not like commentaries because they usually cannot relate to the information or the people talking, but they enjoyed listening to this one because they could easily relate to Mickey and the gang on a more personal level and appreciate the humorous comments about their actions on the screen. Even though they only amount to about 20 minutes of extra material, they are always welcome additions to any DVD release.
There are also a couple of activities that caught the attention of my boys. The first one is called, Opera-Toon-Ity, which allows the viewer to build a silly animated opera from a series of options. Once the selections are made, the opera plays with sing-along lyrics. A bit to my surprise, my boys ended up playing with it for about 20 minutes before running out of options. The second activity took up a little less of their time, but The Many Hats of Mickey allows users to select from a series of hats and watch clips of Mickey appearances in various animated features over the years. It was pretty easy for me to guess the movies, but it was fun for me to watch my boys recognize the movies that the clips were taken from. They, too, make nice additions to a pretty decent collection of goodies for a direct-to-video release, but if you are a hard-core DVD or animation fan, just be aware that these bonus items were not intended for you.
The Video, Audio, and Interface
There really is not much to say about the video and audio, as they are impeccable. The colors are saturated and crisp, and the anamorphic widescreen picture is detailed and spot-free. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack is lively and fun, with plenty of environmental and directional surround effects. Additionally, the disc features a DTS 5.1 soundtrack for those of you with DTS decoders. It is a great presentation platform for this light and fun movie.
The interface is pretty typical of past Disney titles, but this time around, Disney has thrown in a new twist called FastPlay. Essentially, this feature turns your DVD player into a VCR, and if you just put the disc in and do not do anything, the disc automatically plays the commercials and the movie without ever going to a menu. Wait, wait, wait! I thought a fun interactive user interface and menu system was one of the big advantages of DVD. Apparently some marketing committee at Disney prefers to have a less interactive home video experience, but fortunately, there is an option to skip the FastPlay and use the more traditional menus. Speaking of the menus, Disney has also tweaked and standardized the menus with icons representing categories, such as Bonus Features, Music & More, Games & Activities, and Backstage Disney. Maybe I have been around DVD too long to appreciate these changes, but neither of these changes enhanced my DVD viewing experience at all.
The Final Evaluation
The movie itself makes for a good, but relatively short, family movie, and it is very nicely presented on the DVD. The bonus material is pretty short, not real deep, and definitely youth-centric, but a few of the items are nice additions to the disc and worth watching with your family. If you have young children, especially boys, who enjoy watching Mickey and the gang repeatedly, then buying the DVD at a discount outlet is a worthwhile consideration. But for the rest, you and your family may want to rent this for a family movie night.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Kevin here.
Kevin Doc Krock is been a long-time animation buff and home theater fan. He's been following the rise of the DVD format in the home market since its introduction, and he hopes to help you make the most of your family's home theater viewing time and video collections.
You can contact Kevin here.
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