Toon Talk: Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition
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by Kirby C. Holt
50th Anniversary Platinum Edition
MPAA Rating: G
Although it has been just five years since Disney last awakened her for a two-disc Special Edition DVD (click here to read my original Toon Talk review of that release), there is a lot to celebrate about the newly released Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition.
First, for those who currently own the previous release and are wondering if it is worth the upgrade, the answer is: most definitely. Yes, the new release does have the expected carry-overs from the Special Edition (such as the Academy Award-winning short subject Grand Canyon and the supplemental shorts Four Artists Paint One Tree and The Peter Tchaikovsky Story, plus the trailers and galleries), there is certainly enough new material (including a spiffy new “making of” feature and a chatty audio commentary with John Lasseter, Andreas Deja and Leonard Maltin) to make the extra purchase more then worthwhile. And that’s not even mentioning yet another in-depth look at a beloved Disneyland attraction (more on that later).
Then of course, there is also the fact that this is the first Disney animated classic to be presented on home video in high def with the corresponding Blu-ray release. That edition comes with its own set of bells and whistles, plus a standard DVD of the movie for those who haven’t upgraded their hardware yet. That includes me, so this review will focus on the standard Platinum Edition release.
But even if you too haven’t “gone Blu”, the standard DVD does offer many new features to satisfy and entertain, not the least of which is the film itself, now seen in all its original aspect ratio, widescreen glory (a full screen version is not included). This is actually the first time anywhere (in theaters or on home video) that the true aspect ratio has been seen, as the original theatrical presentation actually shaved off a little bit of the sides. The film has also been digitally restored and is presented with a new 5.1 Disney Enhanced Home Theater mix.
Sleeping Beauty the feature is, of course, featured on disc one, which also offers the Fast Play function as well as optional English, French and Spanish language tracks. While most of the bonus features are reserved for the second disc, disc one does include (in the “Music and More” section) the standard “Disney Song Selection” (with optional onscreen lyrics) and a new music video of the film’s most well-known tune, “Once Upon a Dream”. This time, Hannah Montana’s Emily Osment (Haley Joel’s little sister) sings the song, which is typical of these things of late: bland and uninspired.
In the “Backstage Disney” section, viewers can chose one of two enhanced viewing options for the feature, beginning with the “Princess Fun Facts”. With the option enabled, onscreen pop-up windows appear throughout the film to provide trivia on the movie as well as real facts on real princesses. And for something more substantial, an all-new Audio Commentary is also available. Replacing Jeff Kurti’s excellent commentary from the Special Edition, this one isn’t quite as informative, but does offer an entertaining listen, and even a video introduction of its three participants, Lasseter, Deja and Maltin. “Joining” them are audio sound bites from the likes of such original Sleeping Beauty creators as Eyvind Earle, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis, Frank Thomas and, of course, Walt himself.