Mickey’s House of Villains appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Because the program featured clips from a span of years, their quality varied, but as a whole the show looked fairly good.
The recent material that comprised most of Villains demonstrated the usual concerns seen in cheap animation. Sharpness generally appeared reasonably concise and distinct, but some softness affected a few wider shots. Those concerns weren’t as evident during the older clips, which remained fairly detailed and accurate. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns, and print flaws seemed relatively minor. Really, only the “vintage” clips displayed any problems, as I saw some grain and a few small specks during “Trick or Treat”. However, these problems appeared pretty minor and didn’t create any significant concerns.
Colors varied mainly due to the source materials. Without question, the quality of the animation strongly affected the hues. The “vintage” shots displayed tones that appeared markedly more rich and lush than the relatively crude and simple colors of the modern clips. To be sure, those tones came across as acceptably distinct and vivid, but the older image put them to shame via its warmth and depth.
In addition, black levels consistently appeared rich and dense. Those elements were consistent throughout the different shorts, as was shadow detail. Low-light sequences came across as appropriately opaque but not excessively thick, as dim shots appeared clear and easily visible. Ultimately, Villains offered a consistently good but unexceptional visual experience.
Though Mickey’s House of Villains included a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, it didn’t provide too much sonic pleasure. Really, there was only so much the mix could do, since significant portions of Villains featured monaural sound. The three “vintage” shorts offered one-channel audio with no remixed expansion of the soundfield. As for the House of Mouse shots and the other shorts, except for the score they often seemed essentially mono as well. The music spread reasonably well to the sides, and a few ambient elements appeared at times, but as a whole, the image stayed pretty firmly within the center.
Surround usage appeared minimal. I heard a little reinforcement of some music and effects, but I detected virtually no split-surround information. The general ambience seemed subdued and didn’t add a lot to the package.
Audio quality was good but not tremendously strong. For the monaural sequences, the sound seemed just fine. These segments betrayed the limited response typical for one-channel presentations, and the advanced age of the clips obviously added greater restrictions, but overall I found them to offer nice, clear mono audio that seemed acceptably distinct and well defined.
As for the newer material, it also worked fairly well. Dialogue appeared natural and crisp, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects offered a minor aspect of the mix, but they came across as acceptably clean and accurate, and I detected no distortion. Music appeared surprisingly bland. The tunes weren’t distinctly flawed, but they failed to display much brightness or depth. Low-end response lacked much power, and the highs were slightly muted. The music seemed acceptable for the most part, but it didn’t appear as vivid as it should have. In the end, the soundtracks for Mickey’s House of Villains were serviceable but somewhat drab.
In regard to supplements, Mickey’s House of Villains only includes a few minor ones. First we find a trivia game called the Reel of Misfortune. This requires you to correctly answer five questions, and you can’t miss more than three of them. Since the problems seem very easy, that shouldn’t be an issue. The contest offers no real reward for a perfect score, so it seems moderately interesting at best.
Next we find two montages of Disney film clips. Actually, we get the same compilation twice, as the second one simply provides an alternate soundtrack. 5.1 House Mix shows the compilation with full music and effects, while the 5.1 Villains’ Mix just uses the effects. Oddly, the activity level of the surrounds seemed different between the two. The rears appeared much more active during the “House” mix; when I listened to the “Villains’” track, the usage was less out of control. In any case, these 182-second clips seem pretty pointless to me.
Within the Sneak Peeks area, you’ll discover a slew of advertisements for other Disney offerings. Some of these appear at the start of the DVD as well; when the disc begins to play, we find trailers for Treasure Planet, Beauty and the Beast, Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year, Lilo & Stitch, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure. Within the “Sneak Peaks” domain itself, we see these promos plus additional clips for Country Bears, Inspector Gadget 2, and Teamo Supremo.
For a very minor Easter egg, go to the DVD’s main menu. It shows portraits a few villains. If you click on Hades, the Evil Queen and/or Ursula, you can watch short montages of their material. Oddly, Captain Hook appears at the top of the screen, but I couldn’t figure out a way to access his montage. Not that I really cared, for these pieces seemed pretty dull.
Disney always want to find new ways to repackage material, and the “House of Mouse” series seems like one of the cheesier attempts. Though not without its merits, Mickey’s House of Villains rarely comes across as much more than a cheap conglomeration of loosely-related clips, and the whole thing lacks inspiration. The DVD provides fairly good picture with average audio and a weak roster of supplements. Kids may get a kick out of Villains, but otherwise the DVD doesn’t provide much entertainment.