Posts Tagged ‘Ster-Kinekor’

Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ 3-D

May 20, 2012

An Active 3-D review of the Ster-Kinekor 3-D Blu-ray release.

[An expansion of my review that appeared in the Johannesburg Saturday Star newspaper:]

Movie: *****

Disc set: *** 

“Allow me to waltz you around my newly dimensionalised library…”

The suits who run the show over at Disney are seldom afraid of recycling product, and this fine film has certainly done the rounds, having appeared in standard cinemas, on home video (in numerous formats), and on IMAX screens. Now, with the entrenchment of Digital 3-D on the theatrical scene, the studio’s taken to converting some of their older releases to 3-D for re-release. This movie recently opened on the 3-D cinema circuit in the States, but the option to do so locally was dropped – which is where this 3-D Blu-ray edition really comes into its own.

The story is a jazzed-up version of the original tale by 17th century French author Charles Perrault, and tells of a beautiful young lady who is held captive by a hideous creature, and who learns, in the course of her stay, to recognise the real, inner beauty of others, regardless of their external appearance. Apart from the extra characters that were created to flesh out the story for a feature-length movie, the tale was turned into a musical; and one that was good enough to be parlayed into a hit Broadway musical. Does it work in 3-D? In stiller scenes which involve lots of foreground and background interest, the 3-D is breathtaking. I found the faster-moving sequences not terribly easy on the eye, however. The original film used a mix of traditional 2-D animation and computer-generated backgrounds, and the 3-D process somehow heightens their differentness…

Extras: Some interesting featurettes, including a chat with the composer of the songs, Alan Menken, and a ‘story reel’ of the original visualisation of the first third of the film – which is worlds apart from the finished product. We also get four versions of the film to watch: the original 1991 cinema release, the same version with accompanying behind-the-scenes videos shown “picture-in-picture”, a slightly longer re-release cut, and – obviously – the 3-D edition. Sadly, this boxset still falls a flat in the bonus features department. Given the vast capacity of Blu-ray discs, one would expect Blu-ray releases to carry forward all bonus features from previous DVD releases. This carries some, but not all.

Also, the bonus disc promises the fascinating behind-the-scenes featurette called ‘Beyond Beauty’ (I’ve seen it on DVD) plus another extra or so, on some other “Disc Two” which doesn’t exist. It turns out that this bonus disc is nicked from the two-disc 2-D Blu-ray edition, in which it is Disc One… (Still with me?) A disappointing rush-job, which one doesn’t expect from a normally-meticulous studio such as Disney.

Three Toy Stories – in Three Dimensions

May 20, 2012

[My review that appeared in Johannesburg’s Saturday Star newspaper:]

3-D Nirvana for Toy Story fans!

Disney has recently been converting selected favourites of the last two decades into 3-D, with varying success. When Toy Story 3 was opened in 3-D, it was decided to release its predecessors (now in 3-D!) as a run-up; hence what we’re examining today. Beauty and the Beast and Lion King were combinations of traditional 2-D animation and computer-generated backgrounds, so their conversion to 3-D yielded predictably mixed results. All of the Toy Story movies, however, were entirely created within a three dimensional virtual world, so the process was easier for the techies – and more impressive for the viewer. The films are all separately available in two-disc sets (which include 2-D versions and bonus features). It’s a treat for stereoptiphiles (which is fancy-speak for 3-D fans).

Toy Story (Ster-Kinekor Disney Blu-ray) *****

A pioneer; the first entirely computer-animated feature film, and an astonishing feat which rapidly has us empathising with the challenges and joys of being a child’s toy. It also establishes an ensemble of lovable, quirky characters headed up by Woody the cowboy (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) the intergalactic cop.

The bonus features offer interesting insights into the development of the lead characters, and how the guys at Disney came to accept the relative autonomy of the newly-formed Pixar team. There are some fun anecdotal shorts, but most the fascinating aspect for me was seeing how much the story’s look-and feel changed from the early days to the completed product.

Toy Story 2 (Ster-Kinekor Disney Blu-ray) ****

As ‘middle child’ of the trilogy, it lacks the originality of the first film and the emotional ‘end of an era’ feeling of the last. It does, however, expand the toys’ social circle by throwing a sassy cowgirl, Jessie (Joan Cusack), and sinister prospector, Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammer) into the mix. And let’s not forget Al, the sinister toy collector, voiced with aplomb by Wayne Knight (perhaps best known for being Jerry Seinfeld’s nemesis, Newman).

Bonus features include a profile on Pixar head honcho John Lasseter, and a moving tribute to the beloved Pixar staffer Joe Ranft. There are also heaps of other extras, too numerous to detail here, but, if you’re interested in behind the scenes info, the extras packed with first two Toy Story movies won’t leave you wanting!

Toy Story 3 (Ster-Kinekor Disney Blu-ray) *****

This closing chapter asks what any toy would do, had it the sentience to contemplate such existential issues: “What will become of us now that ‘our child’ has grown up?” In doing so, it speaks to the issues of moving forward into adulthood and deserting the magic of our childhood fantasies as much as it addresses the issues of looking back; and of loyalty. Cloaked in grand adventure, it’s actually a five-tissue tear-jerker!
Bonus features are lean in this package, seeing as Pixar’s process has already been so well explained in the earlier discs. They’ve thrown in the Oscar-nominated cartoon, Day & Night, that accompanied the film on its theatrical release, but a big let-down is that it isn’t the original 3-D version.

‘X Games 3-D’ skates past South Africa

August 26, 2009

XGames_3Dmovie_1sht.inddThe X Games – for those of us who aren’t teenagers and/or don’t watch ESPN with religious fervour – is the American “Olympics”, so to speak, of the extreme skateboarding, motorcycling and motocross sector of the sporting community.

X Games 3D The Movie is just what it says it is: a 3-D souvenir of these gravity-defying wheel-burners.

Respected American film reviewers such as Roger Ebert have commented unkindly on the film’s sometimes haphazard approach to documentary film-making, and the cheesy voice-over spoken by Emile Hirsch.

No one, however, has been able to completely deny the appeal of such high-adrenaline antics on a big and unrestrained screen.

The film is a Disney presentation, and I was quite surprised to note that Ster-Kinekor Pictures, the local distributors of Disney product, don’t appear to have it scheduled for South African release.

I frankly believe that the distributors are missing out on a potentially very healthy chunk of box office here, if we consider the average age of South African moviegoers, their preference for action over dramatic content, and the fondness that the average South African has for sports.

We’ve contacted the local Disney representative at Ster-Kinekor, upon whom I can rely for prompt and informative feedback. I’ll report back ASAP… [ UPDATE: http://wp.me/pC1s6-6x ]