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DVD review: The Jungle Book: Platinum Edition

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While it would have been nice to have had the alternate Academy ratio version of the film included in the package, it goes without saying that this new Platinum Edition of The Jungle Book belongs on every Disney aficionado’s shelf. Controversial aspect ratio choice aside, this is a stellar package with an array of bonus materials that ranks among the best the studio has ever put out.

Arriving on DVD with considerably more than just the Bare Necessities, The Jungle Book remains many people’s favourite Disney film forty years after its original release. I’ve reviewed the Region 1 2-disc Platinum Edition.

 
Posted: Friday, October 19, 2007 at 6:10 PM | Comments: 7
Categories: Animation | Cinema | DVD | Reviews

 
Comments

1.

Interesting review. If you disregard the bonus materials, which version would you prefer to watch? The new Platinum Edition DVD or the old Academy ratio DVD?

Also, would you think it's worth getting the old DVD in addition to the new one, for someone who doesn't own any DVD of the film so far?

Posted by: BobaFett, October 20, 2007 2:05 AM

2.

It’s a tough question. The presentation on the older DVD certainly has more breathing space, so to speak, but at the same time it has a rather grungy, sickly appearance to it, with an unnaturally green-tinted colour palette and an analogue, LaserDiscy feel. I would say that, on balance, the new DVD is probably preferable, regardless of bonus features, but I really wish they’d included the Academy version as well. The Platinum Edition of Lady and the Tramp included a 1.33:1 version as well as the 2.55:1 Cinemascope presentation, and that was just a pan and scan job, so why one could be included there but not here is anyone’s guess.

Posted by: Whiggles, October 20, 2007 7:40 AM

3.

Michael, I'm starting a collection of Disney animation DVDs for my little niece. She is 4 years old and loves all sorts of films and TV already! I wanted to buy her editions of the Disney catalogue she can keep and appreciate over and over again as she gets older (my grandparents had done something similar for me albeit on dated VHS). I am a little confused at which Region and editions to go for. For example, broadly speaking are the Platinum R1 DVDs superior to the R2 Special Editions?

Any advice would be great.

Thanks

Posted by: Count Fosco, October 20, 2007 7:10 PM

4.

Hi Lee,

Generally speaking, I’d say that the R1 Platinum Editions are preferable, because they have a better track record of including the films’ original audio mixes (mono for most of the pre-80s films, 3.0 for Lady and the Tramp) instead of just the 5.1 remixes. It really depends on whether that sort of thing is likely to bother you or your niece, since you might be able to find the UK releases for cheaper. Certainly, I can’t think of any other disadvantages to buying the UK editions, although bear in mind that, outside the Platinum Edition titles, things get a little muddier. Alice in Wonderland, for example, was released in the UK in a drastically cut down edition (on a single disc, whereas the US release is on two), while Brother Bear is only available in a cropped format in R2 territories (it’s a 2.35:1 film with the opening act windowboxed to 1.78:1, but the only version available in the UK presents the entire film in 1.78:1).

Posted by: Whiggles, October 20, 2007 7:19 PM

5.

Cheers for the lightning quick response!

From checking, I think my sister has bought my niece some of the Disney films on UK R2 DVD already and I previously bought her THE LITTLE MERMAID on R2. Thus, I'll probably stick to the Plantinum R1 USA editions, to be kept at mine for babysitting duty, for clarity and continuity. That way once she is a bit older and wants to take them all home to keep, they will all be the same series and make a nice set.

Thanks again.

Posted by: Count Fosco, October 20, 2007 7:36 PM

6.

Hi Michael,

Further to our discussion on the Disney R1 Platinum Editions vs. UK R2 Special Editions, I've noticed several of the earliest films released on DVD in the Platinum series - SNOW WHITE, LION KING, LADY AND THE TRAMP, BAMBI et al - are currently unavailable. Do you think these titles are likely to be re-released in their Platinum Editions at some point soon? Or should I turn my attention to the Region 2 UK market, where I see some of these same titles are still available to buy?

Also, I see that in the UK several other titles not included in the Platinum Edition series are available in various 'special editions' such as DUMBO, TARZAN and ROBIN HOOD. So again, in the long run do you know if all the major Disney films will be released in the Region 1 Platinum Editions or is it more realistic I will have to merge both R1 releases and R2 releases in order to build up my collection?

Oh, for a world whereby one film equals one DVD release. Thanks.

Posted by: Count Fosco, October 22, 2007 2:25 PM

7.

Lee,

D’oh! I’d forgotten that the earlier Platinums had started to go out of print. In that case, yes, I think you should probably go for the UK releases of the OOP ones, unless you find a particularly good deal on eBay. I’m kicking myself now for not picking up Snow White and Beauty and the Beast while they were in print. Lady and the Tramp ought still to be available, though, as it was only released in 2006.

Disney has a habit of doing this every now and then with its feature animation titles, deleting them and then re-releasing them 7-8 years later. A dubious practice, but at least it beats them cranking out tonnes of endless sequels.

I can tell you for sure that the Platinum Edition collection is only intended to cover a small subset of particularly successful, popular or high quality titles, and that a number of titles definitely won’t be coming out under that label. The titles confirmed for Platinum Edition treatment are as follows:

Snow White - new Platinum Edition likely in 2009
Pinocchio - 2009 (current UK release has a very nice transfer but no original mono track and minimal extras)
Fantasia - ????
Sleeping Beauty - October 2008 (also Blu-ray)
101 Dalmatians - March 2008 (will be matted to 1.75:1)
Beauty and the Beast - new Platinum Edition likely in 2010

I would say that, at this stage, anything else is unlikely to be added to the Platinum line-up. The ones that have recently been released as Special Editions (or Masterpiece Editions, or Most Wanted Editions, or whatever other nonsense labels they come up with) are especially unlikely to see a new release. Some of these Special Editions actually compare very favourably in terms of bonus content to the Platinum Edition titles anyway, especially Alice in Wonderland, Lilo & Stitch and Atlantis: The Lost Empire (the most comprehensive array of extras I’ve ever seen for an animated feature). More likely, they’ll just keep deleting and re-releasing the titles already confirmed, as they appear to be doing with Snow White and Beauty and the Beast.

Ultimate Disney is a great resource for the various available editions of Disney DVD, plus those that are to be released in the future, although they don’t appear to take non-Region 1 releases into account.

I’ll do a post later tonight for what I think are the best available releases for each of the classics.

Posted by: Whiggles, October 22, 2007 6:00 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

https://www.landofwhimsy.com

 

 
 
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