Friday, November 9, 2012

Lady and the Tramp II – Scamp’s Adventure: Special Edition Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Disney’s beloved classic continues in Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure – for the first time ever on Disney Blu-ray.  Picking up where Lady and the Tramp left off, this direct to video sequel focuses on Lady and the Tramp’s mischievous pup Scamp who is always in the doghouse. Now, an itch for a collar-free life and freedom is sending him on the ultimate adventure!  While it is nowhere as good as the original, for those people that really wanted to see the story continue past Lady and the Tramp, this movie does that with a couple of laughs, some new songs and some new bonus features.  Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure is a new Disney movie for the whole family!

Film (2 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

It’s 1911 and it’s just a couple of days before the Fourth of July the Dear family is excited for the holiday to arrive. Lady (Jodi Benson) and the Tramp (Jeff Bennett) now have three daughters who are as well behaved as Lady and a son named Scamp (Scott Wolf) who takes after his father.  All Scamp wants to do is  be a “wild dog” and be allowed to play as he pleases.  Scamp is disappointed with his father who is happy to be a house dog and he constantly prods his father to play with him.  When the two of them play a little too much and Jim Dear’s hat get torn up in the process, Scamp is warned to settle down but when he makes a huge mess while chasing a ball, he’s chained up outside to the doghouse.   His parents Lady and the Tramp, are sad to see their son chained up like that and Tramp tries to talk to him but the talk leads into an argument because Scamp won’t listen to his father and continues on about wanting to be a “wild dog,” and the Tramp leaves in an angry huff.
While Scamp is sitting outside, he notices a group of dogs teasing a hapless dogcatcher and especially a cute female dog amongst them.  When they take off, Scamp decides that he needs to join them and he finally breaks free of his chain and chases after them.  He finally catches up to some of them in an alley including the female named Angel (Alyssa Milano).  Scamp tries to act tough but Angel sees right through him and tells him that he should go home. Not that Scamp is about to listen since being free has been his life long dream.  He is taken to see the other junkyard dogs and meets their leader Buster (Chazz Palminteri) who won’t let Scamp join their gang until he passes Buster’s “tests”.
The first test is to test Scamp’s courage by having him steal a can from a huge vicious dog named Reggie.  Scamp almost succeeds but accidentally wakes Reggie and is forced to run for his life.  During his desperate escape, the dogcatcher sees them and attempts to capture all of the dogs and when he manages to capture Angel, Scamp comes to her rescue.  Lucky for them, the only dog that does get captured is Reggie who is taken to the pound. Angel and the other junkyard dogs are impressed with Scamp’s selfless courage except for Buster who tells him that for the junkyard dogs it’s every dog for himself.  Buster deems the first test to be a failure so he tells Scamp that he will need to take another test.
Back in the junkyard, Scamp is regaled with tales of the most famous dog in the area who was known as the Tramp and it doesn’t take long for Scamp to realize that they are talking about his father.  Not that Scamp is going to tell them that fact once he learns that Buster was Tramp’s protege and who is bitter that Tramp picked Lady over him. Time passes and Angel and Scamp grow closer and when they are almost run over by a train, Angel saves Scamp for a change.  On the way home, they see Scamp’s family out searching for him and Scamp forces them to hide in the bushes so they won’t see him.  When Angel sees that Scamp is willing to hide from a family that loves him to live on the streets, she leaves him in disgust since she was once a house pet and would love to be part of a family again.
During the Independence Day festivities, Buster spots his old friend Tramp at a picnic with the rest of the Dear family. He quickly decides how to get revenge on Tramp by telling Scamp that his final test is to steal the chicken from the Dear family picnic.  Scamp ignores his reservations and decides that being a junkyard dog is what’s most important to him so he steal the chicken.  Tramp chases him into an alley and tries to convince him to come home but Scamp decides to stay with Buster instead.  Although Scamp is happy about being anointed as a junkyard dog, it’s just a matter of time before he starts to see what kind of life it really is and what he will need to give up to maintain it.  Soon, he will have to decide what’s really important to him and which life he wants to lead.
As a fan of Lady and the Tramp, I really wanted to like this movie more than I did.  I also wanted to see the story continue with the main characters from the first film, but just like The Rescuers Down Under, the main characters are sidelined through most of the movie which makes no sense.  I don’t understand how Disney didn't understand that those movies were successful because audiences loved the characters and their interactions.  When you barely include those characters in the sequel, then what is the point?  The cynic in me believes that they are just cashing in on the name recognition, but it might just be that simple.  This story (just like the Rescuers sequel) could have been a stand-alone story on its own without Lady and the Tramp.
For as little as they’re in it, it could have been a generic dog movie and worked just about as well.  But because it’s a Lady and the Tramp movie, you've got a built in audience.  It’s disappointing since this movie has a weak script, poor songs, and it’s a pale imitation of the original.  The only main difference between the two story-wise is that this time it’s the female half of the couple that comes from the wrong side of the tracks.  I love sequels but not when they aren't planned well or treated with the respect that they deserve.  This could have and should have been a lot better than it turned out to be.

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

While the movie itself isn't that great, the same can’t be said about its video quality.  This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer looks very impressive for a direct to video movie.  The animation looks sharp and fluid with no serious defects or blemishes to complain about. Detail is very fine and the colors are all vibrant and distinct.  Some of the CG doesn't look as good as it could but it’s not really enough to complain about.  Fans of the movie will be pleased with this much better than expected transfer.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars) 

Lady and the Tramp II – Scamp’s Adventure’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is also very impressive for a movie that wasn't given the feature treatment.  The front channels offer clear and clean sounding dialogue while the rear channels deliver a fairly active mix of action, songs, and music.  These songs aren't as memorable as the ones fromLady and the Tramp but they do sound very good in this mix.

Extras (3 out of 5 stars) 

The extras don’t measure up to the audio and video quality but at least we got some on this disc.  All of extras are in high definition with the exception of the “From Tramp to Scamp.”
  • From Tramp to Scamp – A seventeen minute look at the making of the movie from storyboards to completion and more.  This is the most comprehensive look behind the scenes on the disc.
  • Audio Commentary - A decent commentary track with director Darrell Rooney, animation director Steve Trenbirth and co-director and producer Jeannine Roussel.
  • Puppy Trivia Track  – A pop-up animal trivia track for kids.
  • Sing-Along Songs - There’s five different songs to sing along with their karaoke subtitles.
  • Classic Walt Disney Shorts - There’s three different cartoons on here including: “Pluto Junior,” “Bone Trouble” and “Pluto’s Kid Brother.”

Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

Lady and the Tramp II – Scamp’s Adventure isn't as good as the original film, but it’s decent enough that kids will enjoy it.  The animation is surprising good for a direct to video release, as is the impressive audio and video quality on this disc.   The extras could have been better but at least the rest of the presentation is really good.
Order your copy today!

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