101 Dalmatians appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The quality of the image seemed solid.
Sharpness was consistently positive. A few shots looked a smidgen soft, but those tended to reflect the original animation. The majority of the film appeared concise and accurate.
No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge enhancement. In addition, source flaws were delightfully absent. This was a clean image.
Colors were quite good. The hues came across as lively and full throughout the movie, with good range and delineation. Blacks looked dark and dense, and shadows showed good clarity. I found little reason to complain about this strong presentation.
The film's DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio was acceptable for such an old movie. Remixed from the original monaural - which also appeared on the Blu-ray – this turned into a passable surround mix, with unspectacular but decent results.
Some stereo effects appeared from time to time. We might hear a bark emit from a side speaker, and some panning occurred on rare occasions. Effects usually remained pretty centered, though.
Music spread to the sides but not with concise stereo imaging; the score sounded more like broad mono. The surround channel basically just gently reinforced the music, though a few unique elements popped up there. For instance, when Cruella first drove into view, a honk came from the right rear.
The quality of the sound seemed fine for its era. Dialogue appeared clear and relatively natural, though the lines could be a bit flat, and effects also seemed fairly realistic. The film's music showed adequate range and also sounded clean and listenable. The audio won't dazzle you, but it's pretty good for a film from this period.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the Platinum Edition DVD from 2008? Audio showed a little more pep due to the lossless presentation, but given the age of the material, the material didn’t show big improvements in that realm.
Visuals delivered more obvious growth. The DVD looked very good, but the Blu-ray appeared smoother and tighter. This turned into a good step up in quality.
The set mixes old and new extras, and we get a music video for a rendition of “Cruella De Vil” by Selena Gomez. She offers an odd pop/hard rock take on the flick’s signature tune. It’s very 80s and it doesn’t work. The video alternates lip-synch “fashion show” shots of Gomez with some movie clips. It’s not particularly interesting.
Next we go to a documentary. Redefining the Line: The Making of 101 Dalmatians runs 33 minutes, 55 seconds as it mixes movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. We hear from current Disney filmmakers Andreas Deja, Ron Clements, Eric Goldberg, Brad Bird, Don Hahn, Pete Docter, Will Finn, Harley Jessup and James Baxter, Disney historians Brian Sibley, Russell Schroeder, Jerry Beck and Paula Sigman, story artists Burny Mattinson and Floyd Norman, voice actor Lisa Davis, director’s son Bruce Reitherman, animation producer/historian Hans Perk, animator’s wife Alice Davis, Ub Iwerks’ son Don Iwerks, animators Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl and Marc Davis (in 1984-1985), production designer/art director Ken Anderson (in 1983), and color stylist Walt Peregoy.
“Line” looks at the source novel and its adaptation for the screen, notes about the filmmakers, the flick’s “contemporary” feel and its use of music, animation techniques and innovations created for the film, other artistic choices, and the movie’s reception.
We get a pretty nice take on Dalmatians via the satisfying “Line”. Like all programs about Disney animation, it comes with a lot of praise. Nonetheless, it conveys many good details about the production, so we learn quite a bit. It’s an enjoyable and informative piece.
One unusual “bonus”: something called the DisneyView Presentation. Also found on a few other Disney Blu-rays, it provides complementary artwork to fill the black bars on the sides of 16X9 TVs.
This sounds tacky, but it actually works pretty well. The art meshes nicely and doesn’t distract from the film. It also helps avoid potential “burn in” problems on your set; the art remains dark, but it’s not black and it changes. It’s a clever way to frame the movie.
A featurette entitled Cruella De Vil: Drawn to Be Bad lasts seven minutes and 10 seconds. It includes notes from Deja, Peregoy, Norman, Beck, Finn, Docter, Bird, Mattinson, Jessup, Signman, Hahn, Sibley, Marc Davis, Alice Davis, and Clements. “Bad” gives us a glimpse of the design and execution of De Vil. In this short piece, we find many fine insights and get a great feel for all the appropriate decisions.
Some archival material shows up in Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney. This 12-minute and 48-second piece shows correspondence between Disney and author Dodie Smith. Voice actors recreate the words of Disney and Smith as we hear the words of their letters from December 1957 through April 1961. A narrator offers some additional comments to place elements in historical perspective. Nothing earth shattering comes from the cordial correspondence between Disney and Smith, but it’s fun to see their long-distance interactions and how they handled some minor quibbles.
Next we find advertising for the film. This area presents five trailers and seven TV spots that span from the movie’s original 1961 release through reissues in 1969, 1979 and 1985. We also get Promotional Radio Spots from 1961. All of these add up to a nice collection of ads.
With that we head to Music & More and various versions of songs. We find “March of the One Hundred and One” (Deleted Song Sequence – 2:29), “Cheerio, Good-Bye, Toodle-oo, Hip Hip!” (Abandoned Song – 2:32), “Don’t Buy a Parrot from a Sailor” (Abandoned Song – 2:39), “Dalmatian Plantation” (Extended Version and Temp Version – 4:48), “Cruella De Vil” (Demo Recordings and Alternate Takes – 51:28), and “Kanine Krunchies Jingle” (Alternate Takes – 5:35).
Most of the sections come with text to explain them, though a couple feature intros from Schroeder. This section provides a real treasure trove of archival audio. I suspect fans will most enjoy the deleted songs, but I got the biggest kick from the alternate jingles; it’s amusing to hear all the different vocal affections attempted for it.
The rest of the materials are new to the Blu-ray. The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt gives us a new animated short. Based on the character shown as a TV star, the one-minute, 46-second piece gives us a quick cartoon. It’s decent but nothing memorable.
The Blu-ray loses a few materials from the DVD. It drops two text commentaries, art galleries, and a few games. I don’t miss those games, but it’s too bad the Blu-ray drops the other components.