Every week (as part of our new Blu-ray HQ on Rotten Tomatoes) we’re going to share what we’re watching on Blu-ray, whether they’re classics or personal favorites, for a particular studio. With the holiday season in full swing, we’ll be sharing some of our personal favorites from Disney that have been released on Blu-ray. If you’re searching for some family friendly high definition goodness, see if some of our personal Disney favorites can help jump start your gift giving!
Take the hottest Disney Princess since Beauty and the Beast‘s Belle in Enchanted‘s Giselle, add a generous helping of Amy Adams’ charm, a dash of Dr. McDreamy himself (Patrick Dempsey) at his Grey’s Anatomy peak, and weave in some characters and themes from Disney classics, and you have yourself one of Disney’s most enjoyable movies in recent memory. Taken from her animated fairy tale world of Andalasia, where her days consist of the tasks of being pretty, singing with her animal friends, and waiting for Prince Charming (or Prince Edward, played by James Marsden), Giselle is tricked by an evil queen into falling down a well/portal that lands her in modern day New York City. While trying to find her way home to Andalasia, Giselle has to learn what it’s like to not be an animated character and also discover the real life meaning of true love, which begins to understand through, of all people, an emotionally detached divorce lawyer. Nearly all of Enchanted’s special features are presented in 1080P, with the exception of Carrie Underwood’s (another plus!) music video for “Ever Ever After.” The Blu-ray includes making-of clips, deleted scenes, a pop up story, and trailers for National Treasure: Book of Secrets and Sleeping Beauty on Blu-ray.
Monster’s Inc: the other black sheep of the Pixar canon? It’s their least discussed movie outside of A Bug’s Life, but not for lack of quality; this tale of monsters employed by a mega-corporation to scare children in the human world to harness the energy of their screams is a compltely solid, clever tale but somehow lacks a certain je ne sais quoi that keeps it from classic status. The characterizations may not run too deep and the universe of the monsters too overwhelming for most audiences, but it builds up to a stunning emotional finale and the climatic chase sequence is arguably the best action sequence Pixar has ever put out. The Blu-ray features a lengthy commentary feature from the filmmakers, an overview of the Monsters ride in Tokyo, two original shorts, “interviews” with the characters, deleted scenes, and is definitely packed with enough fun stuff for the kids.
It’s old hat at this point to praise Pixar for its innovation, for its attention to detail, for its emotionally satisfying storytelling. So let’s take slightly a different tack with Certified Fresh Ratatouille: has there ever been a more tactile, sensorial animated feature than this one? Nearly everything in Ratatouille seems tangible, from the pots and pans in the Parisian kitchens to the fur on its protagonist’s little rat body. And the tasty concoctions that our hero Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) cooks up are so vividly realized that you can practically smell them. How real does this movie feel in high-definition? You’ll have to find out for yourself, but to entice you, the Ratatouille Blu-ray has a 14-minute documentary on the intersection between cinema and cuisine, along with deleted scenes and two Pixar shorts: Lifted and Your Friend the Rat.
Contrary to what many have come to believe, The Nightmare Before Christmas was not, in fact, directed by Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish); the stop-motion animated film was helmed by Henry Selick, who went on to bring us the similarly animated films James and the Giant Peach and this year’s Coraline. Burton did, however, produce Nightmare and come up with its story, and his fingerprints are all over the film, from its dark yet playful themes right down to the character design. The story focuses on Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, who happens upon a mysterious door in the middle of the forest that leads him to discover Christmastown. Enchanted by the charms of Christmas, Jack returns to Halloweentown and attempts to recreate the holiday for his own townsfolk, with disastrous results. In Blu-Ray, each character bursts with life onscreen in never-before-seen clarity, and Danny Elfman’s musical numbers pop in HD audio. There are also tons of special features, including featurettes, commentaries, an original poem narrated by Christopher Lee, Burton’s short film Vincent, and a lot more. The film is quickly becoming a holiday classic, and with the amount of stuff you get with the disc, this is definitely a Blu-Ray to pick up and store in your collection.
Forget the supposed eco-message about our dying Earth — “I just wanted to cover the world in trash,” said director Andrew Stanton, and never has an entire planet piled high with refuse looked so beautiful. From the opening seconds of WALL-E — as we zoom into a vacated world, the sound of a long-gone show tune collapsing into Thomas Newman’s eerie score — Pixar’s lonely robot movie casts an unforgettable spell, taking us at once back to the glory days of ’70s sci-fi and into the shiny future of CG storytelling. The movie’s bleep-and-clank first half (a sound design marvel from Ben Burtt) is as bold a piece of filmmaking as anything this decade, and if WALL-E resorts to more conventional storytelling for its denouement, it’s never less than superb. As you’d expect the film scrubs up fresher than an oil bath on Blu-ray, where you can really see the intricacy of Stanton’s compositions and his animators work on the robots’ expressions. Features include a picture-in-picture commentary, audio tracks with Stanton and Burtt and a load of making-of featurettes. Essential stuff.