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“James and the Giant Peach” (Blu-ray)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Buena Vista Home Video
Genre:
Family
Release Date:
8/03/10
Special Features:

Featuettes, music video, “Spike the Aunts Interactive Game” (HD)

Review:

The dark, amusing world of Roald Dahl received another interesting film adaptation with Henry Selick’s “James and the Giant Peach”. Although it was marketed using Tim Burton’s name, “James and the Giant Peach” is all Selick (“The Nightmare Before Christmas” which he co-directed with Burton and “Coraline”) and he really deserves both the praise and any criticism for the film. Luckily, his adaptation of Dahl’s story deserves plenty of praise and little in the way of criticism. ***

Orphaned James (Paul Terry) lives under the thumb of his horrible aunts Sponge (Miriam Margolyes who also plays The Glowworm) and Spiker (Joanna Lumley). When a magical peach tree grows in his yard producing a huge peach, his aunts see it as nothing more than a money making scheme while James who eats some of the peach escaping inside it from his aunts he discovers talking bugs (David Thewlis, Richard Dreyfus, Jane Leeves, Susan Sarandon, Simon Callow) inside the enchanted peach. The peach eventually breaks off the tree and with the help of a flock of seagulls flying across the Atlantic for a huge adventure with the ultimate goal being New York. ***

Logic takes a backseat in “James and The Giant Peach” and that works perfectly in this absurd, entertaining, surreal adventure. ---

Image & Sound:

Usually Disney has provided exceptional transfers for their animated films from CGI to cell animated projects and even “The Nightmare Before Christmas” which uses pixilation as the primary animation style (with a tiny amount of CGI to help sell the project)looked quite nice. ***

Unfortunately, “James” is a spotty transfer at best; it looks like the film was produced in the 70’s or 80’s rather than being a more recent film. Colors lack the vibrancy that made the film pop in theaters or even the early DVD edition of the film. The images are often soft and it looks like this might have been pulled from an older HD master. Detail is often lost granted this is sharper and better looking than the DVD but it’s not the huge step up I was expecting. ***

Audio sounds terrific with a lossless 5.1 DTS HD that does pop but it’s the only thing in the presentation that flies. ---

Special Features:

We get the original DVD special features ported over but a minimal attempt to create something new. That wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the HD presentation of the film were better. We get the production featurette, the “Good News” music video by Randy Newman and a stills gallery including behind-the-scenes photos. ***

We do get the “Spike the Aunts Interactive game” where you get to poke James’ aunts with a rhino horn. ---

Final Words:

It looks as if this film was just cranked out to meet a deadline. That’s too bad because this marvelous film which was overlooked at the time deserves better. If you must have this on Blu-ray I’d wait to see if we get a better transfer.

 

 
 
 
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