Muppet Treasure Island: Special Edition (1996)

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Released 26-Mar-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Brian Henson (Director), Gonzo And Rizzo
Featurette-Making Of-The Tale Of The Story Beyond The Tail
Song Lyrics-Sing - Along
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 95:32
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:34) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Brian Henson
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Tim Curry
Jennifer Saunders
Kevin Bishop
Jerry Nelson
Kevin Clash
Billy Connolly
Bill Barretta
Frank Oz
Steve Whitmire
Dave Goelz
John Henson
Danny Blackner
Harry Jones
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Barry Mann
Hans Zimmer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Norwegian
Danish
Swedish
Finnish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Muppet Treasure Island is a wonderful film with an all-star cast. Not only do we get to see all our Muppet friends but they are joined by Tim Curry and Billy Connelly. I know there are some that won't watch what they regard as a kids film with puppets in it but that is their loss, as this is a wonderful family film with something in it for everyone.

    The story of Treasure Island is well known and the Muppet people have had a wonderful time placing all the regulars in various roles as well as coming up with some great new pirate Muppets. The captain of the ship is Kermit, the island princess is Miss Piggy, and the first mate is the American Eagle, which works particularly well. Jim Hawkins is played by Kevin Bishop and is accompanied by Gonzo and Rizzo the rat. Billy Connelly plays only a small part but is one of the highlights of the film - he is Captain Billy Bones, the man who starts off with the treasure map and who sets the tone of the rest of the film.

    Without a doubt the man that makes the film for me is Tim Curry as Long John Silver. The Muppets are larger than life and just love to upstage each other and anyone else within their range, so to star alongside these characters you need to be even larger than they are - no easy task. Tim Curry pulls this off perfectly throughout the film - his energy levels are electric.

    The music in the film and the songs are very, very good, not just for a Muppet film but in absolute terms as well. With the songs composed by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and the music by Hans Zimmer you are in for a musical treat in this film. The songs range from the truly outrageous Cabin Fever to the love song sung by Kermit and Miss Piggy whilst upside down. Both adults and children are going to be bouncing along in their seats.

    They have adopted the original story very well to the world of the Muppets. Where they have gone overboard by placing a Muppet character in the scene simply to include all the Muppets they have made a joke of it by pointing this out to us. It is still a coming-of-age story and the relationship between Jim and Long John works well. Just in case you are unaware of the story, we have the young Jim Hawkins, who comes into possession of a treasure map. He goes to town and meets with the idiot son of a large shipping owner and talks him into supplying a ship to follow the map to the treasure. The ship is crewed by a cutthroat band of Muppets led by Long John Silver who are determined to get that treasure for their own, no matter what they have to do along the way, even including song and dance numbers. Long John befriends young Jim but later betrays him for the sake of the treasure.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer sits somewhere between average and good.

    It is most likely that this film was produced in 1.85:1 and thus we have received the original aspect ratio here in Australia. The transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is sharp and shadow detail is good, with only some very minor low level noise.

    While I expected the colour palette to be a little brighter overall, the colours are accurately reproduced and free of artefacts.

    There are no MPEG artefacts present in the transfer. There is some minor aliasing such as above the door at 18:23. The film master is not in the best condition with a fair amount of grain present and some dirt and marks as well. The most annoying is the regular white flecks that are sometimes quite distracting.

    There are both English subtitles and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles on the disc. The hearing impaired titles include some sound cue information. Both are accurate and easy to read.

    This is an RSDL disc with the mildly distracting layer change placed at 69:34.

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

Audio

     There are three soundtracks on this disc. The first two are Dolby Digital 5.1 being in English and Spanish and the third is Dolby Digital 2.0, carrying the director's commentary.

    Dialogue quality is good as is the audio sync.

    The music is just wonderful and so typical of the Muppets.

    The surrounds are used throughout the film for ambience and the occasional effect.

    The subwoofer was used to support the main soundtrack without drawing undue attention to itself.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is a view over the side of a sailing ship with the gentle rocking of the sea and the ocean visible and moving (waves and so on) in the background. In the foreground, Rizzo and Gonzo move across the screen checking out the menu. The menu is presented at 1.85:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The transition to the special features menu is a little long with Rizzo and Gonzo going through a great production to drag the new menu across the screen. The first time it is entertaining. Thankfully, from then on you can skip this with the chapter forward button.

Documentary: The tale of the story behind the tail (sic) (21:41)

    This is interesting at times, particularly when they talk about the difficulty in filming with the Muppets. You don't realise during the film because they do it so well, but there is a very big hole in the floor in every scene where the Muppets appear and they have apparently lost more than one live actor down this hole. It gives an appreciation of just how difficult it is to make a Muppet film. There are interviews with the director Brian Henson and some of the main characters along with the writer. Intercut with footage from the film and with interludes supplied by Rizzo and Gonzo. Some of these interludes do lose their shine after a while though they do get one of the best lines in the documentary. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 sound track.

Directors Commentary: Hidden Treasure Commentary.

    This commentary was a little disappointing. While there was some interesting material it was slowly paced and much repeats what is in the documentary. There are long silences which get longer as the commentary proceeds. On eleven-odd occasions they have used seamless branching to take you to snippets of information related to the scene that you are watching. These are either very quick comments by one of the actors or footage taken during the filming. They are preceded by a rather unnecessary banner each time they play. You return to the point in the film from which you left when each segment finishes. I think this is better than the 'white rabbit feature' as I am not particularly quick on the draw with the remote.

Treasure Island Sing Along (5:28)

    Two of the songs from the film play one after the other so that you can sing along. To help you out they have added the words in very large type over the image. These are burned in and not subtitles. The first song is the Pirates song and the second is Cabin Fever.

R4 vs R1

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

    Well, it is not often that R4 comes out on top, at most we tend to come in with a draw, but here...

    The Region 4 version of this film misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Can you believe that they appear to have rubbed in the fact that this is a 1.33:1 transfer in the US as the menus are 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced! This leaves us with a clear R4 winner.

Summary

    As you can probably tell I am a fan of the Muppets. The bonus here is the inclusion of two of my favourite actors, Tim Curry and Billy Connolly. Another small part is played very well by Jennifer Saunders whom we all know from Absolutely Fabulous. A great family tale with lots of Muppet humour - what more could you want?

    The video is good but does show the age of the film master.

    The audio is also good.

    The extras are a nice inclusion.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Saturday, April 10, 2004
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.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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