Friday, March 8, 2013

Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Disney returns to the Hundred Acre Wood with “Winnie the Pooh.” Featuring the timeless charm, wit and whimsy of the original featurettes, this all-new movie reunites audiences with the philosophical “bear of very little brain” and friends Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo – and last, but certainly not least, Eeyore, who has lost his tail. “Ever have one of those days where you just can’t win, Eeyore?” asks Pooh.  Owl sends the whole gang on a wild quest to save Christopher Robin from an imaginary culprit.  It turns out to be a very busy day for a bear who simply set out to find some honey. Disney’s all-new “Winnie the Pooh” movie is inspired by three stories from A.A. Milne’s books in Disney’s classic, hand-drawn art.  It is narrated by the voice of John Cleese and features the vocal talents of legendary voice actor Jim Cummings (over 350 voices including Gnomeo & Juliet) and a host of other distinctive actors including Craig Ferguson (TV’s ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson’), Tom Kenny (TV’s ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’), Bud Luckey (Toy Story 3) and musical performances by Zooey Deschanel (indie folk band “She & Him”).

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Every time we start a Disney movie and the image of the Disney castle comes on the screen along with the fireworks (right before the movie begins) I stop and think how nice Blu-rays look on my HDTV and my three year old son reminds me that he wants to go to Disneyland.  That customary tradition we have shows the power and reach that Disney has on all of us and the longevity that it’s enjoyed.  Considering that The Many Adventures of Winnie the Poohwas released in 1977, it’s fairly amazing that a new movie is being released in 2011.
As you would expect with Winnie the Pooh, honey is always on his mind.  One day he wakes up and finds that he is out of honey.  While searching for more, Pooh bear discovers that his friend Eeyore has lost his tail.  Pooh and his friends along with Christopher Robin, hold a contest to see who can find a replacement with the prize being a fresh pot of honey.
The next day, Pooh visits Christopher Robin but finds a note saying “Gon Out Bozy Back Soon.”  Pooh asks for Owl’s help in reading the note and Owl says that the note means Christopher Robin has been abducted by a monster called the Backson.  The gang comes up with a plan to trap the backson in a pit, but they end up trapping Pooh instead.  The rest of the group falls in trying to rescue Pooh and they have themselves in quite a predicament.  That silly ol’ bear Pooh figures out how to escape and they soon find Christopher Robin who explains what his note actually meant.
Later we learn that it was Owl that actually took the tail and has been using it as a bell pull for his door.  Pooh decides to return the tail to Eeyore instead of sharing a pot of honey with Owl and Christopher Robin is so proud of Pooh, that he rewards him with a giant pot of honey anyway. After the credits, there is more footage of the backson where he seems to be a much friendlier creature than previously thought.  If your child was scared of the backson, you might want to let him or her watch that, so they can see the silly backson fall in the hole for a few laughs.
I was worried that the movie wouldn’t live up to high standard that was set by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and be more like the direct to video releases, but fortunately that wasn’t the case.  Winnie the Pooh has all of the whimsy and gentle humor that the original film did.  With it’s soft watercolor backgrounds and comforting music this is a non-threatening movie for children and my son loved it as did I.  This movie is like a familiar and much loved warm blanket that you can wrap yourself up in to forget about all of your troubles.
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
Winnie the Pooh is presented on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition and with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  The animated colors are rich and vibrant.  The dynamic color pallet makes it look as though you could pause almost any frame of the film and have yourself a painting worthy of being framed.  In the live action shots of the stuffed animals in Christopher Robin’s bedroom the fur on the animals looks warm, rich and positively huggable!  This movie looks amazing and matches the old film’s look and style perfectly.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Winnie the Pooh is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, with French and Spanish language tracks and English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles also available.  The dialogue is clear and consistent throughout.  The soundtrack seems a little front centered, but I did notice the backson stomping across all of the channels.  Tigger’s endless bouncing also shows off the excellent directional effects of this mix too.  Henry Jackman’s music sounds wonderful and is well balanced with the rest of the movie.
Special Features (4 out of 5 stars)
There are a lot of special features on the Blu ray.  A few of them can be found on the DVD.  There is a good mix of features geared toward adults and kids – something for everyone.
The following special features are on the Blu ray:
  • Winnie the Pooh and His Story Too – A featurette about the making the movie.  The history of Winnie the Pooh is discussed, as well as his changing image throughout the years.  Behind the scenes footage and interviews is provided as well as footage of the real hundred acre wood.
  • Deleted Scenes Introduced by the Directors – Five deleted scenes with director introduction in various stages of completion.  Based on the short running time of the movie, I thought they should have kept/put everything in the film.
  • Bonus Shorts – “The Ballad of Nessie” and Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh “Pooh’s Balloon” – Two animated cartoons, the first having nothing to do with Winnie the Pooh, but both are still cute.
  • Disney Song Selection – Puts all the words on the screen, karaoke style, so that you can sing along to the “Winnie the Pooh Theme Song,” “The Tummy Song,” “A Very Important Thing to Do,” “The Backson Song,” “It’s Gonna Be Great,” “Everything is Honey” and “The Winner Song Finale.”   This option jumps right to the songs within the movie.
  • Sing Along With the Movie – Words are on the screen to sing along karaoke style.
  • Creating the Perfect Winnie the Pooh Nursery – Baby Planners talk about how to create a Winnie the Pooh baby nursery.
Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)
As a long-time fan of the silly ol’ bear, I am extremely happy to see him and his friends return in such a wonderful film.  This isn’t a quickie release just to make some money and to sell some merchandise as much love and care has been invested in it.  This is a warm, light-hearted movie that the whole family will enjoy!
Order your copy today!

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