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Kevin Krock, editor

DVD Review

Disney Princess Stories: Vol. 1 – A Gift From the Heart
(2004) | 60 Minutes | Unated (suitable for all ages) | Reviewed November 9, 2004 by Lisa Perkis
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio*** Video*
Goodies*** Interface***
Value**

What is it?

The DVD is a collection of four princess stories: Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, and Jasmine. I found the princess stories to be even worse than a full-length Disney animated sequel. Two of the stories look remarkably like Saturday morning cartoons, and guess what? They are! Ariel's and Jasmine's stories are straight from their respective syndicated cartoon series in the early 1990s. Adding insult to injury, the two “new stories” from Belle and Cinderella are mainly still pictures with accompanying text.

The Goodies

The DVD features "Magic Wand Play." This allows children to click on characters during the movie to hear additional dialog as to what they might be thinking. Surprisingly, they don't ever think that sequels to classic Disney films are bad ideas. The Fairy Godmother narrates "How To Be a Princess" game. It also has a craft activity showing kids how to make a charm bracelet. Hey kids, just get charms, beads, elastic sting or thread, and string them together! It also includes the "If You Can Dream" music video, the new princess song—which appears on all three of the Princess DVDs. One gets the impression that the song was the impetus for all three projects. (More on this new song in the following Sing Along review.)

Video, Audio and Interface

As I mentioned, the video quality of the stories themselves are poor. The interface is actually more interesting and sparkly than the story segments. They feature tapestry-like pictures of the princesses that move around as the viewer clicks on them. The format is easy for even young children to navigate.

The Final Evaluation

Are your children the type to enjoy "extra stories" about their favorite Disney characters? Do they enjoy the cartoon series taken from Disney films? Then they will most likely appreciate this DVD. Probably not passionately, but it should hold their attention for the whole 60 minutes. I doubt the same can be said for the parents that sit though the disc with their children. I know Disney likes to repackage and resell its products, but this seems to hit a new low.


Disney Princess Party: Volume One
(2004) | 100 Minutes | Unrated | Reviewed November 9, 2004 by Lisa Perkis
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**** Video****
Goodies** Interface***
Value***

What is it?

This DVD is a cross between a party-planning instructional and a disc made up of all special features and no movie. It is geared mainly towards younger children. The games are structured so that a group of children can participate, such as "Jasmine Says" a princess version of Simon Says and "Sleeping Beauty's Spell," which resembles freeze dance. The disc includes a section for parents with ideas on how to use the DVD during a princess party, other than turning it on and having some peace and quiet for aproximately 100 minutes.

The Goodies

The DVD-ROM has coloring pages and thank-you cards that you can print out, as well as game instructions and party checklists. It also has the omnipresent "If You Can Dream" princess video (more on that in the Sing-Along Songs review).

Video, Audio and Interface

Everything is very crisp and easy to navigate. The same princess character tapestries from the Princess Stories are used, and are very inviting for young children.

The Final Evaluation

While I would rather sit through Princess Party Volume I than Princess Stories, I'm not thrilled with either of them. This DVD will not hold up well through repeated viewings. The games are too simple, and what 4-year-old wants to watch "Make Your Own Tiara" over and over again?


Sing-Along Songs – Disney Princesses: Once Upon a Dream
(2004) | 45 minutes | Not Rated | Reviewed November 9, 2004 by Lisa Perkis
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**** Video****
Goodies*** Interface***
Value****

What is it?

This is a mostly standard collection of songs and movie clips from Princess movies such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Mulan and the ever-popular Mulan II (coming direct to DVD next year.) We all know that Mulan is not a princess, but I'll be generous and overlook it.

The DVD includes the brand new "If You Can Dream" mish mash of a princess song. There are a few interesting aspects about this new song. The first is the voice talent. All the princesses, with the exception of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, are back with their original singing voices. Jodi Benson (Ariel), Paige O'Hara (Belle), Lea Salonga (Jasmine/Mulan) and Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas) all sound great, and the voices filling in for the other two princesses, Susan Stevens Logan, and Christie Hauser, do a pretty good job of approximation. It's a bit difficult to pick out the particular voices since it seems that each line in the song is sung by a different princess.

The song itself tries to combine all of the princesses' stories together by using phrases or words reminiscent from each movie. Some sample lyrics:

Belle: So the story goes, Never die the rose
Jasmine: There's a whole new world, Waiting there for us...

Get the idea? Rose? Whole new world? Really, it's not a bad song, I've caught myself singing it a few times so I know it's catchy. The music video is much more irritating. It attempts to synch original movie clips of each particular character with the new song lyrics. Those of us who have seen the films many times know what the character is supposed to be saying, and it sure isn't "When you're finally mine, And just a kiss away." I was distracted by the technique and had a hard time concentrating on the song for its own merits.

The Goodies

There are few nice additions on the disc. The karaoke section gives viewers the chance to sing along with just the instrumentals, with or without lyrics included. It also has a few games geared towards younger children. "What's This?" concentrates on reading skills and "Find It" is a word recognition game. There is also a Dance Along section, which has live kids bouncing around to pop versions of princess songs. Brooke Allison's "Put It Together" from Cinderella II, Jump 5's "Beauty and the Beast," and No Secrets' "Once Upon (Another) Dream." The last two songs first appeared on Disney Mania collections. The kids are really, really perky, as are the songs. My kids enjoy the pop versions and like watching the dance moves.

Video, Audio and Interface

The film clips looked wonderful, and the audio (Dolby Digital 5.1 track) was crisp and clean. The interface was easy to navigate, even the "random play" feature was easy for the kids to find.

The Final Evaluation

Of the three Princess Collection DVDs, this one has the highest quality and the best value. It contains clips from actual Disney films, and does not overload on filler games or narration. With the exception of a few clinkers in the form of sequel songs, the music is an all-star line up of classics that your children will want to hear again and again. It's the one DVD in the Princess Collection worth the list price of $19.99.


What did you think of these reviews? Send your thoughts, questions, or comments to Lisa here.


DVD FEATURES
Technical Specifications

Disney Princess Stories: Vol. 1 – A Gift From the Heart

  • 1.33:1 fullscreen (original aspect ratio)
  • Dolby surround (English, French)
  • Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
  • Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

Disney Princess Party: Volume One

  • 1.33:1 fullscreen (original aspect ratio)
  • Dolby surround (English, French)
  • Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
  • Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

Sing Along Songs

  • 1.33:1 fullscreen (mix of original aspect ratio and reformatted)
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround (French)
  • Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
  • Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
ABOUT THE EDITOR

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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