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|Kevin Krock, editor|
Disney Princess Stories: Vol.2Tales of Friendship are a mishmash of old television shows, still photos, and poorquality animation held together loosely by a story about a child making a magical flower wreath that conjures up various princesses to introduce their stories.
The first story is from the Aladdin television show, produced back in 1994. Princess Jasmine introduces the story, but is not seen frequently in the episode. The main idea centers around Carpet and how it feels left out of a friendship with Aladdin.
If you are a particular fan of TV animation, or the movie Aladdin, you will enjoy this rerun. The only positive I could find was the use of most of the original voices from Aladdin. The Genie is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, also the voice of Homer Simpson, and I did have a few moments of amusement listening for the D'oh! quality of his Genie. Most children will not be old enough to remember when this series was on the air, so perhaps the episode will seem a bit more novel.
Next up is Snow White introducing her story of friendship with Dopey. Snow White needs to make dinner for the dwarfs and needs Dopey's help. I don't know which is worse: fuzzy old television animation or a whole story made up of stills and clips. Or charging good money for either of them. But I digress. By using the DVD remote you can have Dopey help Snow White save the day and have dinner on the table by five.
Lastly is Ariel introducing her tale of friendship, which issurprise! Another television episode from the 1994 Little Mermaid series. In this madefortelevision episode, Ariel and her friend Gabriella reminisce about their adventures under the sea. At least this episode aligns a little better with the theme of the disc, and all of the original voices from the movie are used.
The bonus features include several games and one music video, "Where Dreams Begin." I suppose they ran out of ideas after "If You Can Dream" from volume 1; this new song sounds like a Jump 5 demo track reject. The music is truly terribleall technobeat with nondescript voices and lyrics. It actually makes If You Can Dream sound like a quality recording; at least most of the original voice actors were used in that one. The video accompanying the song is a jumble of short clips from various Disney movies.
The Princess Academy is a quiz led by a Julie Andrews wannabe narrator who leads aspiring princesses through a series of questions and tests. Grab a book! Walk around with it on your head! It's actually more entertaining than the princess stories, and the audio and video quality are much easier on the eyes.
Finally, a craft activity invites girls to make their own friendship wreaths with paper, glue and glitter. Real live children are used using this segment, all decked out in Disney princess costumes. The children take viewers step by step through the wreathmaking process, failing to mention to let the glue and glitter dry on the crowns before placing it in the hair. Hopefully, parents will understand the timelapse filming used in this segment; I've washed glue out of several little princess' hair before over this same issue, and it's not as obvious to a 5yearold as you might think.
The Video, Audio and Interface
As one might expect, the television show portions of the DVD are of poor quality animation and sound. They are in sharp contrast to the original material used in the bonus activities and the Snow White storybook, which are of excellent quality. The interface is set in the child's bedroom that frames the DVD's storyline. The options are set inside a picture frame and are extremely easy for little remote users to navigate.
The Final Evaluation
I never imagined myself writing this, but if you feel you must have a Princess Story DVD, buy the first volume. The quality is a bit better and the music video will not make you want to break your DVD player into little tiny bits. Better yet, save your money for Bambi or the platinum edition of Aladdin. Quality never goes out of style.
This DVD claims to have everything needed to make your princess party a success. The DVD intersperses old Disney television episodes with games and activities.
The first episode is from the television series. A scheming girl named Saderia is trying to steal away Aladdin from his true love, Jasmine, by casting a spell on all the humans. The animals are not affected by it, and soon everyone is mixed up in wacky situations, until Jasmine is returned to her rightful place. The other episode is from a series that apparently never made it to television at all and was released as a directtovideo selection from Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World, enitled Fifi's Folly. The episode centers around the romance between the feather duster Fifi and Lumiere. Most of the characters look nothing like their original selves, and the storyline is forgettable, which is probably why the show never made it to television as a regular series.
The party games include Pocahontas' Drawing Game, The Perfect Prince game, Princess Pajama Jam, Ariel's Treasure game, Mulan's Fortune Teller, and Belle's Mixedup Stories. None of them are worthy of a lengthy explanation, but unless you have a gift on hand wrapped in several layers, Ariel's game is going to be utterly useless to watch. If you are a fan of Eddie Murphy's Mushu, the FortuneTeller game will be the most bearable: Mushu shows kids how to make what I call a cootiecatcher, and Disney calls a fortuneteller. Kids can also pick their own fortune with a virtual cootiecatcher, also narrated by Mushu.
As in the Tales of Friendship, this disc includes the music video "Where Dreams Begin" and is just as dismal as in the other DVD. Fastforward if you know what's good for you.
The disc also has a DVDROM feature that has party invitations, thankyou cards, checklists and recipes that are available for printout, as well as some coloring pages. Nothing spectacular, but in good keeping with the party theme.
The Video, Audio and Interface
As in the previous review, the Aladdin episode looks pretty horrendous compared to the bright crisp game sections and interface. The interface is pared down so young children will have an easy time navigating the menu.
The Final Evaluation
For 102 minutes of content, I would never recommend anyone pay retail for this DVD, or the Tales of Friendship, for that matter. If your child receives it as a gift, or you pick one up at Sam's Club for under 10 dollars I will rest a little more easily. There are so many other quality Disney DVDs on the market to purchase; classic, remastered, beloved films, that it's hard to justify spending any money at all on these recycled and rehashed DVDs.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lisa 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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