Hocus Pocus (remastered) (1992)

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Released 30-Mar-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 92:09
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Kenny Ortega
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Bette Midler
Sarah Jessica Parker
Kathy Najimy
Omri Katz
Thora Birch
Vinessa Shaw
Amanda Shepherd
Larry Bagby
Tobias Jelinek
Stephanie Faracy
Charles Rocket
Doug Jones
Karyn Malchus
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $21.95 Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Danish
Spanish
French
Dutch
Norwegian
Finnish
Swedish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish Titling
French Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, During credits.

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

Plot Synopsis

     It is Halloween night and three witches have been awoken after being dead for 300 years. To stay alive they must reclaim their youth before sunrise, but to do this they need a small child. So, the witches set off on a quest into the town to capture a child and to find their stolen recipe book. Little do they know that the world has changed much in 300 years. Their plans are soon foiled by three kids who know that these three witches are out for more than just a trick-or-treat.

     Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and a very young Thora Birch star in this rather unimpressive comedy from Disney. That is not to say it's a terrible movie, but if you're scouring through your local video store looking for a way to keep the family entertained for 90 minutes there are quite a few other movies that should perhaps take precedence over this. Hocus Pocus is certainly aimed at the younger audience (it is a Disney movie after all), so if it's rainy Sunday afternoon and the ankle-biters are doing just that - ankle-biting - then perhaps this might be worth a spin.

     No doubt you will have noticed the 'remastered' moniker next to the title of this review and no doubt you're wondering what exactly has been remastered. Normally I, and I assume most of you, would associate remastering as an improvement of some kind to the existing product available. In their infinite wisdom Buena Vista Entertainment have sought to change the way we think about remastering from now on. Like Rushmore before it, this remastered version of Hocus Pocus has added no extras and has had the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks replaced with Dolby Digital 2.0 - a significant step backwards in other words. If there is any logic behind this decision it is unbeknownst to me. Just looking at it from a money point of view the remastering of these titles seems almost insane. As a bare minimum, the remastering process needs new authoring not to mention a new glass master which, last time I checked, wasn't cheap. Furthermore, take into consideration that Hocus Pocus, and Rushmore for that matter, are not exactly big sellers and the decision to remaster these titles becomes even more baffling.

     Out of curiosity I decided to check www.dictionary.com to see what the official definition of 'remastered' was - the definition it seems has convinced me that the word 'remastered' should probably be removed from the title of this review.

     "To master again, especially to produce a new master recording of (an old recording) in order to improve the sound quality"

     If anyone from Buena Vista Entertainment can shed some light on the reasoning behind these 'un-remasters' could you please contact me as the countless nights I've laid awake pondering about it are really eating into my social life.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Like the previous version the transfer is presented in 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, although after the audio downgrade it would not have surprised me in the least if the transfer had been a pan & scan one - thankfully it's not.

     Detail is spot on throughout the feature although I did spot some minor use of edge enhancement from time to time. Shadow detail is very good which is pleasing given the majority of the movie takes place at night. There is no low level noise.

     Colours are quite rich with skin tones accurately reproduced.

     There is little in the way of artefacts although the grain in the opening Disney logo had me worried for a second. MPEG artefacts are virtually non-existent with highly detailed scenes being given plenty of headroom by the encoder. The bit-rate is very dynamic - fluctuating between 3-10Mbs. No aliasing caught my eye during the feature but I'm sure there would have been some trivial instances of it present. There is a small amount of telecine wobble present but it's only really noticeable if you're looking for it. Film artefacts are present throughout - just below my threshold of annoyance but perhaps a little more consistent than I would have liked. Both black (positive) and white (negative) artefacts can be seen, although more of the latter given that much of the movie is set at night - against black backgrounds in other words.

     There are a number of subtitle tracks present. I sampled the English track and found it to be very accurate.

     This is a single layered disc. The main file size is 4222 Mb.

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

Audio

     As previously mentioned the audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 and is surround flagged. There are also Spanish and French 2.0 tracks.

     I listened to the feature using Dolby Pro Logic II and despite my many reservations about Buena Vista denying us the full 5.1 track from the original release the 2.0 surround track here is no too shabby at all - at least with Pro Logic II.

     Dialogue was perfectly clear, although being matrix encoded and not discrete there is a little leakage into the left and right channels - this is normal. There are no audio sync issues at all.

     The music is by John Debney who has composed a perfectly suited but ultimately forgettable score.

     There is quite an abundance of surround activity but most is not well defined meaning there's no whiz-bang directional effects, usually only music and ambience. Again this is another area where the downgrade to a matrix encoded soundtrack is noticed. Having said that, Michael D indicated in his review of the original version of Hocus Pocus that the surrounds were used to little effect anyway, so maybe we're not missing out on much.

     There was just enough low frequencies redirected to my subwoofer to keep it awake yet never at any point did I notice it kick in. This is probably my biggest sore point of the lack of 5.1 - the lack of an LFE channel. I haven't seen the original version but I know there were a few scenes throughout the movie where the sub would have kicked in had there been a .1 channel.

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

Extras

    There were no extras available on the original version so it comes as no surprise that there's none here.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 version appears to be identical to the original Region 4 version which now makes it the version of choice. That is, unless you can find a copy of the original Region 4 version - I'm sure without too much effort you could find a retailer with some old stock or even try some second hand stores.

    The Region 4 (remastered) version now misses out on:

Summary

     Hocus Pocus certainly doesn't warrant more than a single viewing but is perhaps a good way to try and keep the kids quiet for 90 minutes. If you are planning to purchase this I strongly urge you to get the original version if at all possible.

     The video transfer is very good but a cleaner print would have been nice.

     The audio is 2.0 and not 5.1 as it should be - enough said.

     Extras. What extras?

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ben Hooft (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-655A, SACD & DVD-A, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe CT-1170 (66cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX
SpeakersFront & Centre: Monitor Audio Bronze 2, Surrounds: Sony SS-SRX7S, Surround Back: Paramount Pictures Bookshelf Speakers

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