James and the Giant Peach: Special Edition (1996)

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Released 7-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Featurette
Music Video-Good News
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 76:07
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Henry Selick
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Simon Callow
Richard Dreyfuss
Jane Leeves
Joanna Lumley
Miriam Margolyes
Pete Postlethwaite
Susan Sarandon
Paul Terry
David Thewlis
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Randy Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian
Spanish
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Italian Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, After Credits - Arcade game footage

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

Plot Synopsis

    James and the Giant Peach is the film version of the classic Roald Dahl children's story about a boy who has a magical adventure with new friends and a giant peach.

    James Henry Trotter lives with his Aunts Spiker (Joanna Lumley) and Sponge (Miriam Margolyes) after his parents are killed in a tragic rhinoceros accident. His Aunts are very mean to James and force him to do all the work around the house while only feeding him scraps. One day, James meets a strange man (Pete Postlethwaite) in the garden who gives him a bag of magical creatures and tells him that marvellous things will happen. Miraculously, a massive peach grows in the backyard and James takes refuge from his Aunts inside this.

    Inside the peach, James makes friends with a large grasshopper (Simon Callow), spider (Susan Sarandon), ladybug (Jane Leeves), earthworm (David Thelis), centipede (Richard Dreyfuss) and a glow-worm. When the peach rolls into the ocean, James and his new friends set off on a journey during which they have numerous adventures.

    This film is a blend of live-action and stop-motion animation and comes from the same team that created The Nightmare Before Christmas. This movie was produced by Tim Burton and features a soundtrack including numerous songs by Randy Newman; their creative influence is obvious when watching the film.

    The film is based on the classic children's story of the same name by Roald Dahl that was first released in 1961. Despite a three-year production schedule, the film has a very short running time of only seventy-six minutes, but this is most likely due to budgetary constraints. The movie also differs from the original book in a number of ways but the majority of the storyline remains intact.

    This DVD is proudly labelled as a Special Edition by Disney but the reason for this is not clear as the package only has very minimal extras and even excludes a number of small extras and the dts audio track found on the R1 release.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced. This film was presented theatrically at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 but it appears that the matte has been opened to reveal the original animated aspect ratio.

    During the opening scenes of the movie, the transfer is extremely soft and this is quite distracting. The remainder of the transfer is notably sharper but always remains slightly soft. During the numerous dark scenes, a slightly disappointing level of shadow detail may be seen and it often feels that some details are lost.

    The colours displayed during the transfer are always vibrant and well saturated. During the opening scenes, the palette is notably more dull and drab but this is done intentionally to reflect the depressing environment.

    No MPEG artefacts were detected at any time during the transfer. A small number of aliasing artefacts may be seen during the transfer. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 0:21, 51:31, 52:18 and 56:07. All of these artefacts are very minor and only last for a short period; consequently these artefacts are never irritating.

    No notable film artefacts were detected at any time during the transfer. Some obvious film grain may be seen throughout the transfer but this is not distracting.

    Nine sets of white subtitles are provided on the disc. I extensively sampled the English stream and found it to be consistently accurate.

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

Audio

    English, Italian and Spanish Dolby Digital 384 kbps 5.1 soundtracks are provided on the disc. I listened to the English track in full and briefly sampled the other two tracks. Unfortunately, the ability to switch audio tracks during playback has been disabled and must be done via the setup menu.

    The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand at all times. No dropouts or problems with audio sync were detected at any time during the transfer.

    The original score by Randy Newman makes its presence felt throughout the film and also includes a number of songs. This score always works with the on-screen action and received an Academy AwardŽ nomination in 1997 for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score.

    The surround and LFE channels are used aggressively throughout the transfer to create an enveloping soundfield with numerous directional effects.

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

Extras

Menu

    The non-animated menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Production Featurette (4:33)

    This is a standard short promotional featurette that contains very little interesting information. The featurette is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish white subtitles are provided for the featurette.

Music Video: Good News - Randy Newman (2:27)

    This music video contains footage from the track's recording session and numerous clips from the film. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer (1:22)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish white subtitles are also provided.

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 Region 2 UK Pathe version of this disc misses out on;

    The region 4 release of this disc is clearly lacking when compared to either the R1 or R2 releases. The R2 UK release provides a 16x9 enhanced 1.85:1 video transfer, while the R1 release includes a dts audio track and number of photo galleries. I personally would prefer the R2 UK release as the Dolby Digital audio track is of high quality but fans of dts tracks may prefer the R1 release despite it's lack of 16x9 enhancement.

Summary

    James and the Giant Peach is an enjoyable family film that should appeal to any fans of the book or Roald Dahl's work in general.

    The video transfer presented is acceptable but the lack of 16x9 enhancement is disappointing as is the relatively soft image and average shadow detail.

    The audio transfer is of excellent quality and displays an innovative and enveloping mix.

    The minimal extras provided on this disc are of little value and do not justify this title's Special Edition status.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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Comments (Add)
R2 is anamorphic widescreen - REPLY POSTED
R2 transfer is sensational - Phillip Sametz