Prancer Returns (2001)

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Released 22-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
DVD-ROM Extras-Games (2);Colouring Pages;Screensaver;Windows Theme;Web Link
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 86:56
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Joshua Butler
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring John Corbett
Stacy Edwards
Michael O'Keefe
Jack Palance
Robert Clark
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Randy Miller
Kristin Wilkinson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Prancer Returns is a very straightforward formula-based American story. It has all the standard elements: the divorced mother with two kids, one that is having problems with the divorce and wants to go back and live with his father, and another that is the standard misfit who has yet to make any friends and is the occasional target for bullies. The mother and kids move back to the mother's original home town. There are two guys in the town that are very happy that she has moved back, and one is a less-than-likeable character who thinks she will fall head-over-heels for him. He is also in this case the local school principal. The other is great with kids...

    Now, as we know, in this standard story the younger brother is going to get involved in some sort of crisis that will ultimately be resolved, and we will ride off into the sunset for a very sickly sweet and overly happy ending. Because this is a Christmas version of the formula, the crisis in this case revolves around one of Santa's reindeer - Prancer, to be precise. Without delving too deeply into the mythological background that they build up to support the storyline, which actually gets an extra half star as the only original thing in this film, the young boy ends up trying to look after a young reindeer. He initially hides it in his bedroom and the middle of the film is a series of situational skits based around keeping a reindeer at home. Of course, he is soon found out and the poor little reindeer ends up on death row for biting the school principal (see how the complex threads of this story come together), but...hold the phone. This could be one of Santa's reindeer and Christmas just wouldn't be the same if Santa was one reindeer short on his appointed rounds on Christmas Eve.

    To make matters even a little more uncomfortable, this is actually a sequel. In the first film, which appears to have followed the same formula as this one, a little girl (with a troubled family) found an injured reindeer in the forest and nursed him back to health just in time for Christmas Eve when the reindeer, which is of course Prancer, flew off to join Santa on his Christmas flight. This story is reflected in this film by being the town legend and these events are ten years in the past.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Considering that this is a single layered disc, this is a very nice transfer with no real problems.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is sharp and the shadow detail good. There is no low level noise present.

    The colours are good with no noise or bleeding present. Some scenes appear to have been filmed through a very blue filter which does have an effect on skin tones. It would appear that they were trying to give the impression of extreme cold.

    There are no MPEG artefacts visible nor any film to video transfer artefacts. There is also a complete absence of any visible grain.

    There are no subtitles on this disc.

    This is a single layered disc, and thus there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with the surround flag set on this disc.

    There are no problems with the dialogue quality nor with the audio sync.

    The theme song is the best part of this soundtrack and is not bad at all. The remainder of the soundtrack is fairly standard stuff and works well enough with the on-screen action.

    The surrounds help the music draw from the front to surround the listener but there is little else present.

    Other than the theme song which has a reasonable bass line there is not much activity from the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    A simple static menu with a picture of the little boy from the film, accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer (1:06)

    This looks a lot more like a TV ad for the DVD/Video than a theatrical trailer. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with the surround bit set.

DVD ROM: Game: Escape to Antler Ridge

    A very simple little game where you try and avoid the bad guys by throwing snowballs at them. There are energy points etc. to collect. The game is shown as a top down view of you and your reindeer on an ice lake - both appear to be on ice skates. I couldn't seem to get the hang of this game but maybe I am getting old.

DVD ROM: Game: Prancer's Maze Game

    A small version of Pac-man with Prancer as you and animal control goons as the munchins. All the standard power-ups etc. are available - not a bad effort considering that this and the previous game are built in Macromedia Flash.

DVD ROM: Printable colouring-in pages.

    Five pages of scenes from the film in outline. Print them off and the kiddies can enjoy colouring them in.

DVD ROM: Screen Saver and Theme package.

    I'll admit to not having loaded these as I quite like my current settings but assume that they are pretty much the standard offerings for these functions.

DVD ROM: More Prancer fun.

    This link would have taken you to a website with more content. Unfortunately, the Prancer section of the web site appears to have disappeared. The remaining site appears to be a shop of some sort.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    The review that I located for the Region 1 version stated that the 5.1 soundtrack was basically no different from the surround encoded version (which both discs have). The transfer on the Region 4 version does not seem to have suffered from being compressed onto a single layer leaving us with only the Music Video as the main difference. This gives us a technical win to R1, but in reality I would prefer the PAL transfer.

Summary

    The highlight of this film for me was to see Jack Palance in another role, albeit looking a little old. There is probably a market for this film in the correct age group, maybe about 9 or so, but as none of my brood are currently at that age I cannot confirm this.

    The video quality is very good

    The audio is all right for this type of film.

    The extras are aimed at the kids which is probably quite appropriate.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Thursday, February 20, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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