Santa Claus: The Movie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The picture displayed some concerns but it usually looked pretty good.
Sharpness seemed clear and crisp for the most part, as most scenes were well-defined. However, definite softness intruded on some segments of the film; most of these occurred when we found wide shots, but the haziness wasn't restricted to those parts. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws remained absent.
Colors were accurate and cleanly-saturated. The film tended toward a fairly golden brown palette, but the workshop showed some nice greens, reds and yellows, all of which looked concise and clear. Black levels were fairly dark and deep, and shadow detail appeared generally acceptable, though some scenes seemed overly thick. Overall, the movie presented a positive image.
Although the DVD from 2000 offered a 5.1 mix, the Blu-ray reverted to a PCM Stereo track. In the front speakers, we got fairly good movement. Music showed nice stereo spread, while effects moved across the spectrum well. The track used the right and left speakers to demonstrate pretty nice localization and panning.
Quality generally appeared good. Dialogue could be a little dull at times, but speech usually sounded fairly natural, with no problems related to intelligibility. Music could have used a slightly brighter tone, but it worked well and seemed dynamic enough, with nice use of the lower register. Effects were clean and largely realistic and rich; some flatness affected them at times, but they usually sounded accurate and clear. All in all, the soundtrack provided a reasonably solid experience.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the 2000 DVD? Visuals showed the expected boost in clarity that comes from Blu-ray. The DVD looked pretty good, but it lacked the precision often found here.
Audio was a more complicated factor since the Blu-ray dropped the DVD’s 5.1 mix. However, I didn’t think this was a major loss. The stereo mix opened up the spectrum well, and it’s not like the old 5.1 track was a world beater; it used the surrounds to decent effect, but it still showed its 1985 roots. I’m disappointed the Blu-ray didn’t include 5.1 audio, but I remained pleased with the 2.0 track.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new supplements. The major extra here is a 50-minute, 16-second documentary called Santa Claus: The Making of the Movie; this piece was created contemporaneously with the flick itself. We find all sorts of great material here, from some of details of how the animatronic reindeer were created to shots that show how hard it was to coordinate the synchronized efforts of all those elves.
The show includes frequent narration and some interview clips, but mostly we see "behind the scenes" material from the set; even when we find movie clips, most of them are shown as basic footage filmed by the documentary crew and few of the scenes are from the final product. The program seems pleasantly raw; although it certainly works hard to promote the film, it does so in an honest and frank manner. We see some "warts and all" moments and the whole show creates a lively impression of the shoot. I found the program to offer an entertaining and informative look at the making of the film.
Shooting the Press Conference Scene runs 28 minutes, 12 seconds and consists solely of raw footage from the set. We view the sequence in question and get to check out a “fly on the wall” perspective. That makes it a cool glimpse of the production.
26 Deleted Scenes fill a total of seven minutes, 13 seconds. Yup, you read that right: the disc packs 26 pieces into barely seven minutes. That’s because virtually none of these exist as full-fledged “deleted scenes”; they’re more like deleted snippets. They fly by quickly and add little more than a bit of attempted comedy.
The disc opens with ads for Spy Next Door and “Epix”. We also get two trailers for Claus.
The Blu-ray loses one extra: an audio commentary from director Jeannot Szwarc. I’d guess it got the axe due to rights issues, but it’s still a disappointing omission. No, the commentary wasn’t great, but I’d like for it to reappear.
Santa Claus: The Movie isn't a terrible picture, but make no mistake: it's cinematic product and it lacks much spirit or life. I found the film to be fitfully entertaining but generally less-than-compelling. The Blu-ray provides erratic but generally good picture and sound along with some interesting extras, including an excellent documentary. Santa Claus may go over better with families than it did with me, but it doesn't seem likely to be a holiday staple in many households.