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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Ella Enchanted (2004)

Ella Enchanted (2004)

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Released 15-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Director And Actors
Deleted Scenes
Additional Footage-Extended Scenes
Game-Prince Charmont's Fan Club
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Magical World Of Ella Enchanted
Featurette-Ella Enchanted Red Carpet Premiere Special
Music Video-'It's Not Just Make Believe' Performed By Kari Kimmel
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 92:09
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tommy O'Haver

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Anne Hathaway
Hugh Dancy
Cary Elwes
Aidan McArdle
Joanna Lumley
Lucy Punch
Jennifer Higham
Minnie Driver
Eric Idle
Steve Coogan
Jimi Mistry
Vivica A. Fox
Parminder Nagra
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Nick Glennie-Smith

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian 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
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Italian Titling
German Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    One of the characteristics of business is the hunt for 'the next big thing', and once someone has found it there is a mad rush to exploit the success. Hollywood is no different; a box-office smash often results in numerous sequels and copy-cat films. Ella Enchanted belongs to the latter group - as one of its stars Minnie Driver notes in one of the extra features on this DVD, the film has some very "Shreky type humour". In fact, it is basically a live-action take on the off-kilter fairy tale embodied in that very popular film.

    Ella is based on a best-selling book, and opens to the strains of the popular ELO song Strange Magic as the camera pans majestically across a Fantasy landscape. Our narrator, Eric Idle of Monty Python fame, sets the scene brilliantly and we are soon in Cinderella territory, with some notable twists. Our heroine is given the dubious "gift" of obedience at birth, and unable to say no to any command comes to wish nothing more than to rid herself of this kindness. Plagued by her evil step-sisters and worried by the changes being wrought in the land by the aristocracy, she meets the handsome Prince Char, and both soon develop a mutual attraction.

    As it turns out, Char has an evil Uncle (over-acted to perfection by Cary Elwes), who has designs on the throne (boo, hiss). Amongst comic hijinks, and a colourful cast of elves, ogres, giants and talking snakes, the young couple must fight to free the land and secure the throne for the rightful heir. Our narrator sums up pretty nicely early on when he notes that the land has some "good guys and bad guys and some GUYS in-between", and it is quite entertaining to watch the interaction between them all.

    The actors in this film are a diverse group, but all come across quite well. Anne Hathaway is charming as Ella, carrying her role with the same warmth she brought to The Princess Diaries. Hugh Dancy is suitably charming as Char, and the rest of the cast seem to be having fun, which is infectious. Unfortunately, the pace starts to flag about half way through, as if the writers had begun to run out of ideas. Apparently the film strays a long way from the book, and perhaps the screenwriters lacked the imagination to take up the slack. This lack of direction was reflected at the box-office, where the film was a moderate performer.

    I watched this DVD with my usual sample audience of young folk (see my bio if you want to know who they are), and they enjoyed it a lot. I found it pleasant enough, but lacking the originality and consistent good humour of the films it was modelled after such as Shrek and The Princess Bride. To be fair it is aimed at a young audience, and its mix of fantasy, humour, romance and drama should be more than enough to keep them happy (and my daughters in particular responded well to the 'girl power' theme underlying the main narrative). Older viewers will probably be happy enough to watch it with them, but will probably forget all about it soon after.

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Transfer Quality


    For a recent film the video transfer on offer here is a little disappointing, but this may be a result of artistic and economic factors. There is a dated look to it that may be due to the director seeking a 'medieval fairy-tale' look; less acceptable is some of the shoddy blue screen work which is jarring at times, given the otherwise excellent effects work.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, which is the theatrical release ratio.

    While the picture is bright, focus is a little soft overall (bearing in mind I viewed the disc on a large screen). Shadow detail is poor (as at 6:33) but happily there is no low level noise in those black areas that show up on screen far too often.

    Colours are bright and natural for the most part (check out that nice colour at 4:21 as one example), with the Irish countryside (where the film was shot) showing up particularly well in all of its emerald green splendour. There is a soft golden edge to the colour which contributes to the fantasy feel, though it is a little overdone at times.

    There is next to no damage on screen, as seems fitting for such a recent film. There is no aliasing, but you may notice occasional edge enhancement if you watch for it. Otherwise the print is in pretty good shape.

    I viewed sections of the film with the English and the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles (you can choose from 4 other language options in the subtitles if you so desire). The English titles are quite good, with most of the dialogue accurately represented. The Hearing Impaired titles are less successful - they omit many possible audio cues which would add to the enjoyment and understanding of the experience.

    The layer change takes place at 76:48 and was quite short on my equipment. It takes place during some onscreen action, and could have been better placed during a fade, of which there are a number during the movie.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer is quite good, but is let down a little by the rather average surround presence.

    Apart from the Commentary track (which is Dolby Digital 2.0) there are three Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks on the DVD: an English track encoded at a bitrate of 448 Kb/s, and Italian and Spanish tracks encoded at 384 Kb/s. I listened to the English 5.1 track, and to segments of the Spanish track (this latter track was quite well matched to the lip movements of the actors, though the tone of voice was often not so suitable).

    There is also a German audio track listed on the audio menu for the disc. This is there in error, and if you choose it you will find that the film plays in English, not German. The distributors have advised that this option was placed on the menu in error, and there is not meant to be any German track. Apparently (correctly) German is not listed as an option on the packaging, but as I was not supplied with the DVD cover I was unable to check this (perhaps one of our readers can confirm this for me?).

    Dialogue is clear at all times, with good audio sync; though some of the lip-syncing during songs is strictly average.

    The music by Nick Glennie-Smith is pedestrian but this is more than made up for by the excellent collection of 70s and 80s songs either in the soundtrack or sung by the cast. The young audience will appreciate the contemporary versions of many of these songs, while the older viewer will still recognise many favourites. The songs add a lot of bite to the audio (as at 41:52) and are one of the highlights of the film for this reviewer. Special mention goes to Anne Hathaway for a very creditable performance of the Queen classic Somebody to Love.

    The surround presence on offer here is variable. It is generally far too 'thin', with dialogue too narrowly centred and little ambience. By contrast, magical 'whooshes' and some of the fight sequences sound good. With the subwoofer also missing in action far too often the overall effect is underwhelming.

    Trivial audio aside: Bryan Adams, that perennial guest star, manages to work his way onto yet another of my review discs - this time he has co-written the song If You Believe. Is this guy following me?

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is a nice package of extras on this DVD, with some repetition and the lack of a Theatrical Trailer the only negatives (hey, I'm one of the (?few) people who likes watching the trailer).


    The menu is animated with audio, and is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced. From it you can go to the Bonus Features, Scene Selection (23 of those), Set Up (for audio and subtitle options) or Play the main feature.

Feature commentary

    I was a little nervous about listening to this, as the commentary which accompanied the deleted and extended scenes was rather poor, and the film itself just so-so. Luckily the director and the two stars have a lively discussion and pass along some amusing and informative snippets of information. While it has the odd lengthy pause, and every actor (bar one) seems to have been one of the best ever to work with, the rest is pretty good (I particularly liked a running joke about "no XYZ was harmed in the making of this movie"). It was interesting to hear how some of the film was lost at the lab, and key scenes had to be re-shot. I know people either love or hate these commentary tracks, but if you have not given one a go yet, and you liked the movie, this is one commentary track you might want to try out.

Deleted Scenes

    There are 7 of these, running for 9:36 in total, presented at an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1, non 16x9 enhanced, with stereo sound (at a very low volume level compared to the main feature). You can view them with or without a (very dull) commentary, which is provided by director Tommy O'Haver and male star Hugh Dancy. These deletions include a mix of scenes best left out, with one or three which are of some interest in filling in gaps in the main story.

Extended Scenes

    Running for 5:22 and presented in the same manner as the Deleted Scenes these are of some interest, especially the one with the goat (don't ask).

Prince Charmont's Fan Club

    I am firmly of the belief that the people who design these 'games' on DVD should be taken out and slapped about with a wet fish. This one is as dire as most, being a simple memory game, but on completion you are rewarded with a semi-interesting short feature on some Easter Eggs (well, faces actually) hidden in the main feature.

Featurette: The Magical World of Ella Enchanted

    This runs for 28:32 and is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with stereo sound. It is the traditional movie promo piece but has reasonable coverage of the stars of the film, the music in it, and some of the effects work.

Featurette: Ella Enchanted Red Carpet Premiere Special

    Another promotional piece, this runs for 23:14 and is also at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with stereo sound. Unfortunately it repeats over half of its content from the Magical World featurette just discussed, but adds some interesting cast interviews from the film's premiere in New York. The 'female empowerment' theme is a focus of both featurettes.

Music Video: It's Not Just Make Believe performed by Kari Kimmel

    This is a pleasant enough piece of pop presented with rather poor video quality at an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1, non 16x9 enhanced and stereo sound. My eldest daughter really liked this song and was running around the house singing it after watching the clip.

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 of the film includes an (apparently very poor) DVD-ROM feature and a few unrelated trailers which are absent here. The Region 4 has more language and subtitle options and a PAL picture. As the video transfer is not particularly great the overall preference between versions is not obvious - either would serve depending upon availability and price.


    I enjoyed this film, and its presentation on DVD, but perhaps not as much as I thought I might 30 minutes into the main feature. If you have a younger audience at home they will most likely enjoy this disc after they have exhausted Shrek and its sequel, and it would make a good rental for that group.

    The video transfer is good but not outstanding.

    The audio transfer likewise.

    The extras are interesting and reasonably comprehensive.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Robert Davison (read my bio)
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K350, using Component output
DisplaySONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderKenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.

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