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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mike Gabriel, Eric Goldberg
Cast:
Irene Bedard, Judy Kuhn, Mel Gibson, David Ogden Stiers, John Kassir, Russell Means, Christian Bale, Linda Hunt, Danny Mann, Billy Connolly
Writing Credits:
Carl Binder, Randy Cartwright, Andrew Chapman, Vincent DeFrances, Don Dougherty, Will Finn, Joe Grant, Susannah Grant, T. Daniel Hofstedt, Broose Johnson, Jorgen Klubien, Philip LaZebnik, Tom Mazzocco, David Pruiksma, Nik Ranieri

Tagline:
Two different worlds. One true love.

Synopsis:
All the music, adventure, and colorful fun of Disney's Pocahontas come to life like never before in the 10th Anniversary Edition 2-Disc Set. Bursting with all the "Colors Of The Wind," Pocahontas tells the story of a free-spirited girl who wonders what adventures await "Just Around The Riverbend." Pocahontas - along with her playful pals Meeko and Flit - relies on the guidance of her loving and wise Grandmother Willow when English settlers arrive on the shores of their village. Her chance meeting with the courageous Captain John Smith leads to a beautiful friendship that bridges the gap between two cultures, and changes history.

Now fully restored, Pocahontas includes the song "If I Never Knew You," and never-before-seen animation seamlessly integrated into the original film. This 2-Disc 10th Anniversary Edition is loaded with spectacular bonus features, all-new games, and soaring Academy Award(R)-winning music (1995 Best Original Musical Score, Best Original Song, "Colors Of The Wind"). Disney's Pocahontas is a fun-filled adventure your whole family will enjoy.

Box Office:
Budget
$55 million.
Opening Weekend
$29.500 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$141.600 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 81 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/21/2012

Available as Part of a Two-Movie Collection

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Directors Eric Goldberg and Mike Gabriel and Producer James Pentecost
• “Drawing Inspiration: The Lost Story of Hiawatha” Featurette
• “The Music of Pocahontas” Featurette
• “If I Never Knew You” Deleted Song
• 9 Deleted Scenes
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Pocahontas: 2-Movie Special Collection [Blu-Ray] (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 17, 2012)

Although it raked in a healthy $141 million at the box office during the summer of 1995, Pocahontas was regarded as a minor failure for Disney animation. This stemmed entirely from the astonishing success of in 1994. That hit grossed an amazing $312 million and raised the bar for what would henceforth be considered "successful" for Disney.

$141 million may sound pretty good, but it represented less than half of the take of King and started the gradual slide in revenue the studio wouldn't start to reverse until Mulan and A Bug's Life in 1998.

Back when Pocahontas arrived on screens, I was a mild Disney animation fan. I owned and on laserdisc and would soon add King, but that was about it. I didn't have any interest in pre-1990s Disney animation, and any upcoming movies were taken on a case-by-case basis. As such, although I now rush to see new Disney animated films, that wasn't the case in 1995.

I only saw Pocahontas theatrically because of one day during which I literally had nothing better to do. I'd taken my car to have massive amounts of stereo equipment installed, and because the store was far from home, I chose to walk across the street to a movie theater. I'd already seen much of what they offered, so I went for the two titles I'd not yet viewed: Apollo 13 and Pocahontas.

Apollo was one I actually wanted to see, whereas Pocahontas came more as a default; that happens sometimes, when you have time and want to see a movie but there's nothing special so you take in something that doesn't really interest you. In the case of Pocahontas, my hesitation stemmed less from a lack of desire and more from an actual aversion, as my first preview of the film did not make it look pretty.

Back in the fall of 1994 Disney released a Pocahontas trailer that consisted solely of the "Colors of the Wind" scene in its entirety. This wasn't the first or last time Disney used this form of advertisement - Lion King offered a similar trailer - but at least for me, it backfired in regard to Pocahontas. Removed from the context of the film, "Wind" came across as insanely "politically correct", preachy and condescending, and it immediately gave me a negative impression of the movie.

Admittedly, "Wind" still seems overly patronizing even as part of the film, but its isolation in a trailer even more strongly emphasized the "white people are bad" overtones. The song makes a lot more sense and is much more tolerable - and enjoyable, even - within the body of the movie.

None of that really mattered when I saw Pocahontas theatrically. I recall finding it to be a decent little film but not terribly stimulating, and I had no desire to add it to my LD collection. Actually, my batch of Disney LDs remained fairly small. Over the three years that followed Pocahontas's theatrical premiere, I picked up boxed sets of Toy Story and 1996's The Hunchback of Notre Dame but passed on all the other releases.

I maintained that status until November 1998. At that time the LD was in steep decline and some great prices could be found on previously-pricey material. I saw that one store was selling the boxed set of Pocahontas - which originally went for $100 - for only $30. At that price, I figured I should give the movie another shot, especially since my opinion of Disney animation had recently started to pick up again after that prior summer's Mulan. (I'd also really liked Hunchback but initially found 1997's Hercules to be a big disappointment.)

Ironically, that decision to buy the bargain box of Pocahontas indirectly sparked my own soon-to-be-heavy interest in the history of Disney animation. I delighted in the terrific supplements in that set and decided it was time to branch out to some older Disney films. After all, with the acquisition of Pocahontas I already owned all of the modern-day Disney animation in deluxe boxed sets, but there were a bunch of older movies I had yet to peruse. During late 1998 and early 1999, I developed an intense interest in Disney animation and quickly snapped up slew of LDs.

As such, I owe a debt to Pocahontas since I'm really happy that I've become a bigger Disney fan; I'm actually mad at myself for not pursuing the classic films much earlier, but I had bizarrely convinced myself that I only liked the new stuff. That opinion changed once I started to watch the classics.

I've developed a greater affection for Pocahontas, and not just because it kick-started my fascination with Disney animation. Now that I can better distance myself from my disdain for the film's heavy-handed message, I find it to offer an above-average Disney experience. It doesn't stand up to the studio's best efforts, but it remains a solid effort that stands up well to repeated viewings.

Pocahontas may well be Disney's most dramatic feature. Hunchback comes close, but it relies too heavily on comic relief, most unfortunately near the film's climax when - in an incongruous and disruptive move - the story leaves the action to provide a goofy musical number starring the gargoyles, the darkness quickly dissipates. Which is too bad, as much of the rest of Hunchback truly takes Disney to a satisfyingly dark place that the studio had largely been unwilling to visit prior to 1996.

Pocahontas lacks the depth of the experience provided by Hunchback, but it remains more consistently serious and "heavy." Yes, it includes the traditional sidekicks who exist for comic relief, but they're less of an intrusion than the gargoyles. In fact, I think they blend well with the action.

Most of the humor comes from Pocahontas's animal friends Meeko the badger and Flit the hummingbird. We also get a few laughs from two of malevolent Governor Ratcliffe's companions: his manservant Wiggins and his pampered pooch Percy. I don't find the comedy that revolves around these characters to appear forced or intrusive, and it should be noted that when the action becomes serious, there are no comedic pauses to lighten the tone; the filmmakers essentially follow through on what they promise.

Virtually every Disney animated title receives criticism from some groups and Pocahontas took a greater beating than most. This occurred due to the film's rather loose retelling of history. Pocahontas differs from prior Disney cartoons in that it doesn't adapt characters from a fictional source and it utilized actual historical figures. (Although I believe Sleeping Beauty was based upon some really lazy chick Walt once knew.)

Disney takes their lumps for altering the storylines of the fictional works they adapt, but those beatings don't compare to the assault that accompanied the release of Pocahontas. It probably didn't help that they took a person who was in reality a fairly young girl at the time of the events related in the film and made her into a rather idealized – and built - woman. Make no mistake - this movie's Pocahontas is quite a babe! Even when she reached adulthood, the actual Pocahontas was nothing to look at, so many protested over Disney's "sexist" treatment of the character.

This ruckus ignores a few issues. For one, John Smith looked nothing like the figure we see depicted here. Also, if the movie created characters who resembled their historical forebears in age and appearance, we'd have a pretty sick story, since a grown man would be smitten by a very underaged girl; they'd have to call it Lolitahontas.

I'm fine with all of the alterations Disney made. Do I encourage films to depict factually inaccurate material? Nope. However, one has to consider the form that the product takes. Some movies purport to be historically accurate and realistic; Pocahontas is not one of those pictures. At no point did Disney claim this would be a biography or anything other than a fantasy loosely based on some historical material. The film takes from the legend of Pocahontas; as such, criticisms of its lack of factual accuracy are misplaced.

Personally, I think the folks who criticize the alterations in Disney films miss another point. I believe that these movies create interest in the subjects that otherwise wouldn't exist. How many kids decided to read Tarzan because of the film, or learn more about Greek mythology due to Hercules? A lot? Maybe not, but enough to make the endeavors worthwhile.

No, I don't claim that Disney creates these films in the hopes that they'll spur additional study by youngsters; they exist to earn money. Nonetheless, I think it's a positive byproduct and it shouldn't be discounted. I'm certain that most kids see the movies, dig them and then move on, but I'm also sure that a fair amount of children discover material that otherwise might have remained unknown to them. It's all about broadening horizons, and while it's true that "the Disney version" of a story tends to become the last word to the general public, Disney releases also create awareness that the material would not otherwise obtain. Whine about Pocahontas's rack all you want; the final result still gets the job done.

Personally, I rather like Pocahontas's rack, but I think the movie works for reasons other than the hormonal. One positive aspect of the film that gets lost in the criticism stems from the nature of her character. For many years, Disney heroines remained fairly passive figures such as Snow White, Cinderella, and Briar Rose. Ariel and Belle displayed more spunk, but neither really took charge of events.

The same cannot be said for Pocahontas, as she's tough, brave, smart and caring. The first time she meets John Smith, he holds a rifle on her; she reacts by simply standing up and staring at him. Whether through defiance or ignorance - logically, she wouldn't know what that weapon was, though I'd expect she would glean a negative intent from Smith's posture - she's nobody's victim and won't be bullied or intimidated.

Pocahontas is a romance, but it avoids the "Someday My Prince Will Come" trappings of many other Disney films in which the women are clearly viewed as incomplete if they lack mates. In fact - possible spoiler ahead! - Pocahontas stands as one of the rare Disney films in which the boy and the girl end up apart. In fact, I think it's the only Disney romance that ends in such a manner. Yeah, Quasimodo remains single at the conclusion of Hunchback, but Esmerelda and Phoebus get matched, and at least Quasi’'s made some new friends and gotten out of that filthy tower.

Pocahontas, on the other hand, features a relatively downcast ending. I won't call it "sad", but it does seem bittersweet. Part of me dislikes the fact that Pocahontas and Smith end up separated at the conclusion of the story, because for all of the film's preaching about racial harmony, it seems bothersome that the only romantic couple in Disney history who don't walk off into the sunset together would also be Disney's first interracial couple. Was that a consideration? I doubt it, but I must admit it makes an otherwise satisfying conclusion more disappointing. However, the ending seems in keeping with the tone and the spirit of the movie, so I won't complain too much.

By the way, if my preceding comments make it appear that I'm an enthusiastic supporter of Pocahontas, that's not the case. I still dislike the generally preachy tone of the movie, plus many of the characterizations seem stiff and bland. Irene Bedard's Pocahontas stands out so far above the rest that everyone else suffers in comparison. Mel Gibson's Smith never rises above generic action-hero fluff, though I won't fully - or even mostly – blame Gibson for that. While I understand the filmmakers' reluctance to draw a Smith who looked like a real-life troll, his UCLA frat boy appearance here makes him look like a dude more at home on a surfboard than in a new land.

Ratcliffe seems to be a decent villain, though he's underdrawn and flat, and I strongly disagree with the decision to cast David Ogden Stiers as both Ratcliffe and his lackey Wiggins. Stiers gives satisfactory performances in both roles - though he stands out in neither, unlike his strong turn as Cogsworth in Beast - but it seems obvious that the same guy does both voices. This lends the proceedings a quality of cheapness that I found hard to shake, as though the producers were too stingy to pay for two actors.

Also, since literally all of Wiggins' scenes come along with Ratcliffe - though not vice versa - I got the uncomfortable impression of a man talking to himself. This sort of double-casting can work for uncommonly talented voice artist - such as Mel Blanc - or if both roles are minor or at least don't interact. None of those qualifications exist here, so I find the dual performance by Stiers to detract from an otherwise strong film.

Ultimately, that's how I would classify Pocahontas. It's not the best Disney has to offer, but it presents some definite strengths and it creates an appealing sense of drama and seriousness lacking from many of their other movies. I may not have cared for the film initially, but my tune has changed since 1995, and I now find it to be a solid and compelling effort.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Pocahontas appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No concerns emerged in this strong presentation.

The movie remained crisp and well defined. Virtually no softness appeared during this tight image. Shimmering and jaggies remained absent, and edge haloes weren’t a factor. In regard to print flaws, I noticed none, as the movie looked clean and fresh from start to finish.

The setting of Pocahontas meant that it boasted a vivid and varied palette, and the disc presented those hues well.. The hues always came across as lively, and the movie handled lots of colored lighting with aplomb. Black levels looked solid, and low-light images were concisely displayed and tight, with no excessive opacity. This was a nice-looking transfer.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix of Pocahontas, it was good but not terrific. The soundfield displayed inconsistent breadth. At times it could provide a pretty nicely encompassing experience, such as during the first scene in which Smith's boat set sail; the surrounds kicked in strongly when the storm hits, and the track became quite involving.

After that, however, the mixers must have napped, for the soundtrack largely remained dormant. The forward soundstage often provided some decent stereo imaging, but it still appeared somewhat tame. The surrounds received even less consideration and did little more than offer general ambience from the "tweeting birds" school of sound design. The track picked up a bit from time to time, but not substantially, and it never approached the activity level displayed at the start.

The audio quality was positive. Dialogue seemed fine, with clear and natural speech that was easily intelligible. Effects were usually pretty accurate and clean, with no signs of distortion, and music seemed crisp and smooth. Bass response occasionally lagged, with some songs and effects that lacked the expected dimensionality. Low-end sporadically created a more dynamic impression, but not always, as a few scenes – like one with a waterfall – were surprisingly tame in the bass department. Still, this was a generally good track worthy of a “B”.

How did this Blu-ray compare to the 2005 Special Edition DVD release? Audio tended to be a bit more dynamic and involving, while visuals seemed tighter, smoother and better defined. The Blu-ray elevated the material in a consistent manner.

The Blu-ray combines old and new extras. We launch with an audio commentary from directors Eric Goldberg and Mike Gabriel and producer James Pentecost. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They cover the expected subjects, as they get into story topics and history, characters and actors, specifics connected to the animation, the music, cut sequences, and various challenges. The track occasionally drags, but it usually moves along well. It goes over all the requisite information in an appealing and enjoyable manner to give us a good examination of the film.

For something new, Drawing Inspiration: The Lost Story of Hiawatha runs 11 minutes, 49 seconds and includes notes from animation historian Charles Solomon and director Eric Goldberg. We learn that Disney attempted to develop a Hiawatha feature and that some of its elements became incorporated into Pocahontas. Goldberg also narrates an art gallery that reveals how this lost film’s story would’ve worked. We get a good look at an abandoned project.

The Music of Pocahontas lasts seven minutes, five seconds, and presents comments from Pentecost and composers Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, We learn about the Menken/Schwartz partnership, the composition of some songs, and the work of the vocalists. The program gets a little fluffy at times, but it includes nice insight into the collaborative process, and the shots in the studio are solid as well.

Nine Deleted Scenes fill a total of 15 minutes, 29 seconds of material. Most of these appear as storyreels, though “Miscellaneous Scenes” mixes rough and finished animation. Nothing fascinating appears here, though it’s fun to have a look at some abandoned concepts.

We also find a Deleted Song. Re-incorporated into the film for the 2005 DVD, “If I Never Knew You” would show up about two-thirds of the way through the flick when Pocahontas goes to visit the imprisoned John Smith. It’s a sappy tune and the scene slows down the dramatic progress; the movie works better without it.

Eric Goldberg introduces the four-minute, 51-second clip, and he, Mike Gabriel and James Pentecost also offer commentary for the “deleted song”. They tell us about the tune and why it failed to make the 1995 cut of the film. They provide some useful notes.

As the disc starts, we encounter ads for Cinderella and Finding Nemo. These also show up under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Disney Parks, Secret of the Wings, Planes, The Aristocats, The Rescuers, The Rescuers Down Under and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3. No trailer for Pocahontas shows up here.

The package also includes a DVD Copy of Pocahontas. This gives us a full retail version with a handful of extras.

Note that the Blu-ray omits scads of extras on the 10th Anniversary DVD – essentially. Also found on Blu-rays like Lion King and Fantasia, the Blu-ray puts many of those materials online via something Disney calls the “Virtual Vault”. I disliked that presentation when it came with the earlier releases, and I dislike it now. The bonus features should be put onto discs, not stuck in “virtual form”.

I enjoy Pocahontas and think it's a rather underrated Disney feature, though still not one of their best pictures. This Blu-ray delivers excellent visuals and good audio but fails to present all of the earlier DVD’s supplements – at least not on the disc itself. The absence of the old materials disappoints, but at least the Blu-ray provides a fine presentation of the movie itself.

Note that Pocahontas can be purchased only as part of a two-movie collection. The Blu-ray also comes with the 2000 direct-to-video sequel Pocahontas II as well as DVD copies of both films.

To rate this film visit the 10th Anniversary Edition review of POCAHONTAS

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main