The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

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Released 19-Mar-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The Making of The Rescuers Down Under
Featurette-Mickey Down Under
Featurette-Daddy Duck
Karaoke-Rescue Aid Society Sing-Along
Gallery-The Rescuers Down Under Scrapbook
Game-Outback Rescue Game
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 73:59
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:02) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Hendel Butoy
Mike Gabriel
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Bob Newhart
Eva Gabor
John Candy
Tristan Rogers
George C. Scott
Adam Ryen
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Bruce Broughton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Greek Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Bernard and Miss Bianca are back, and this time the adventure is Down Under!  The two intrepid agents of the Rescue Aid Society are called into action by a distress call from a young boy being held captive by a ruthless poacher in Australia's outback.

    Cody (voiced by Adam Ryen), a young boy living with his widowed mother in the shadow of Ayers Rock in central Australia comes to the aid of a giant eagle named Marahute (which sounds more like an American Indian name rather than an Australian Aboriginal name) who has been captured by a local animal poacher. After coming to the aid of the giant eagle, the thankful creature takes Cody to its nest to show him her new eggs. It seems that the heartless poacher Percival C. McLeach (voiced by screen legend George C. Scott)  has killed the father and now the only chance for the giant eagles to survive lies with the eggs and their very protective mother. On the way home, Cody falls into a trap laid by the poacher who soon learns Cody's secret and seeks out to recapture the last poor giant eagle and destroy the nest of eggs, thus ensuring the value of his captured prey. With the help of an Australian field mouse, word gets out about the plight of young Cody and soon The Rescue Aid Society (a society of  mice dedicated to the aid of the defenceless and headquartered in the United Nations Building in New York)  is called to an emergency session to deal with the matter. It's decided that the best men (or mice) for the job are the team of Bernard and Miss Bianca, (voiced by Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor respectively)  who take up the challenge to rescue Cody from the evil poacher and his sidekick Joanna the Goanna (voiced by voice-over great Frank Welker). So, with the help of Wilbur the albatross (Orville's brother, voiced by the late John Candy) and local kangaroo mouse ranger Jake (voiced by Tristan Rogers), the two head to Australia in search of Cody and adventure.

    This is the sequel to Disney's 23rd animated feature, The Rescuers (1977). The contrast between The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under is dramatic in the extreme. While The Rescuers is a very statically shot and "old school" animated feature, The Rescuers Down Under features many innovations that would become a hallmark of Disney animation during the 90s and even a precursor to the big Hollywood style of Atlantis: The Lost Empire. This film was an early collaboration between Disney and Pixar and features some very early use of CG rendering and pure CG mixed with traditional animation, and it does a fine job of combining the two. This is not easy to do (see Titan A.E., a film I rather like despite its poor blending of traditional and CG animation) but the team at Disney did a fantastic job technically with this film. Some of the techniques by the animators were pioneering, such as using slow motion effects, 180 degree centre panning (a la The Matrix) and complex shadow imaging. The opening shot itself is a testament to the advances in modern animation and still looks fantastic all these years on. This was a real surprise package in regards to the standard of animation, considering the fairly ordinary animation of the The Rescuers, which relied on the charm of the characterizations of the main cast and not on any great technical achievements.

    As an Australian, there is quite a bit wrong with this movie. After the first 3 minutes, you get the idea that this movie has been made by and for Americans. With the exception of one major character (Jake the mouse ranger voiced by Australian Tristan Rogers), the cast speak with American accents. This would be fine if the characters portrayed were in fact American as some are, but not all are. Cody (who is voiced by Adam Ryen, a Norwegian) clearly speaks with an American accent despite being a boy from outback Australia, as does Percival C. McLeach. The Australian characters are mostly voiced by Americans putting on some sort of accent purporting to be Australian, and as usual, they do not do a very good job. It is sad that the producers of the film did not have the fortitude or foresight to employ Australians to voice the main Australian characters as this would have greatly improved the overall quality of the film. Creative license is taken with some of the locations of this film. For example, Cody lives near Ayers Rock, yet he is able to reach tropical rainforest just a few minutes from home.

    Also at issue is the tone of the film. It is much darker than the original. While this is not that much of an issue, as we have seen just as dark a tale many times before, the fact is that this is aimed at youngsters and is rated G, so some littlies my find this a bit scary.

    This is a fun film that, despite its many flaws, I found to be better than the original. Fun for the bigger little kid and an interesting look at what was to be the future of animation for the young-at-heart oldies.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer of this film is watchable and any faults may not be an issue for younger viewers, but this title has some major problems with excessive grain. Whilst grain is not a major bane of this particular reviewer, it is a stand-out artefact with this title.

    This film is presented in its correct theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    There is no real issue with the sharpness or shadow detail of this feature and the picture is quite watchable during its darker sequences. The image could have been a bit sharper had the film not had so much grain. Low level noise is kept at bay even with the huge fields of single colour animated in this feature.

    The colour use is fine, with nice use of bright colours in many sections as would be expected of an animated feature. There are no issues with colour noise or colour bleeding on this disc.

    MPEG artefacts are nowhere to be seen on this disc and the transfer seems to accurately render the image presented to it. Aliasing is not a major problem with this title. There are quite a few film artefacts to be seen, usually consisting of either blue or yellow spots of various size that flicker into view with reasonable regularity (see 45:13 for a prime example). These do not ruin the enjoyment of the film at all, but they are there. As stated before, grain in a major issue with this title and is omnipresent. Stand-out times for grain are at 41:36, 54:39, and 59:37. It is a shame that a cleaner print wasn't used to master this disc. If this was the best that could be found, then perhaps some sort of restoration is in order as it would be a shame to think that this is the best transfer we will ever see of this movie.

    The subtitles are in English and English for the Hearing Impaired only and are accurate, although not word for word.

    This disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change at 60:02 in the middle of Chapter 13. It is not the best place for a layer change, but was not overly distracting and most modern DVD players would make it almost unnoticeable.

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

Audio


    We have quite a good Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on offer here that is not overly abundant in gimmicky use of sound, but just gives a nice enveloping soundstage with mostly a forward bias.

    There are three audio tracks available, these being English Dolby Digital 5.1, Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo surround encoded, and Greek Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo surround encoded. The selection of either the Hebrew or Greek soundtracks will take you to a separate DVD Copyright Warning screen in their respective languages followed by a static title shot with the film's title on screen once again in their respective languages.

    The quality of the dialogue was fine despite some of the accents purporting to be Australian. There were no obvious problems with audio sync.

    The music was composed by Bruce Broughton  and the soundtrack does a great job of involving the viewer in the film. The rousing title theme and sequence is spectacular and the music adds just as much excitement to the scene as does the groundbreaking visuals. A fantastic score that hits all the right notes at all the right times.

    The surround channels are used throughout this feature in an enveloping fashion, although they do get your attention at times. An example is at 53:16 with McLeach's tractor going from rear to front.

    The subwoofer also gets some use during this feature and as is the case with the surround channels, the subwoofer is used in concert with the other 5 channels to present a fully encompassing soundstage. The subwoofer does get some extra work at 4:57 during a musical passage, as well as just about any time McLeach's tractor is on-screen.

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

Extras

    We have a fair range of extras presented here that cover a reasonable amount of the background of the feature.

Menu

    The menus are themed around the outback with the main menu starting with a landscape pan and finishing with the DVD features on screen with the clouds rolling by in the sky while music plays in the background. The menu is 16x9 enhanced and the underscore is Dolby Digital 2.0. The choices on screen at start-up are:

     These four selections are static once selected. The Scene Selections option gives you a choice of 4 static images at a time with no titles. The images are small and hard to see. The Set-Up menu gives you language and subtitle options with the language options being in their respective languages. The Bonus Material menu gives you three choices out of six to select from and you can advance to the next screen using the Frank the Lizard icon. All of these screens are 16x9 enhanced and without audio enhancement.

The Making of The Rescuers Down Under

    This is a short but interesting feature detailing the film's genesis. It shows some of the early concepts for the film. There is also some footage of the animators and producers in Australia doing some preliminary research on landscapes, flora and fauna. This documentary was made for the film's initial theatrical release. The feature runs for 10:34 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The sound is Dolby Digital 2.0.

"Mickey Down Under" - Animated Short

    This is a Mickey Mouse and Pluto cartoon with "Aussie" Mickey in the outback (tropical as usual) and Pluto chasing an out-of-control boomerang. An unremarkable cartoon with a little nostalgia value. The short runs for 6:41 and is not 16x9 enhanced. It features a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack

"Daddy Duck" -Animated Short

    This Donald Duck cartoon centres around Donald adopting a baby kangaroo. Once home, it's bath time, but baby has other ideas. Quite funny and enjoyable. This short runs for 6:41 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

"Rescue Aid Society" Sing-Along Song

    This is the original "Rescue Aid Society" song from The Rescuers and features the original footage and sound from the film. Added are karaoke titles at the bottom of the screen so you can sing along. This feature runs for 1:40 and is not 16x9 enhanced. Sound is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

The Rescuers Down Under Scrapbook

    This is a collection of stills detailing some of the original concepts for the film, such as a cuter Marahute and an Aboriginal Cody. Some of the stills have short remarks under them, but are usually just the static image alone. The images are 16x9 enhanced. There is no audio.

Outback Rescue Game

    This is a game where you are given clues from an off-screen Jake and told what items from the film to look for, for example Marahute's feather or McLeach's fishing hook. You use the arrow keys on your DVD remote to highlight any of the possible items from one of four scenes as seen in the film. Get it right and Jake praises you, but if you make a mistake, you can keep trying until you get it right. It may be of some entertainment value for the little ones, but has no replay value. This feature is 16x9 enhanced and features a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

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

    This title has been released in R1 as part of Disney's Gold Collection range. It is due for re-release later in 2002.

    The Region 4 version misses out on:

    The Region 1 version misses out on:

    These two packages are almost completely different in content other than the film itself. With the exception of the Theatrical Trailer available on the R1 version, I think that the package we have available here in R4 is the superior version due to the inclusion of the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Summary

    This movie was a pleasant surprise in comparison to the original film and unlike some sequels, I think this one actually comes off much better. It is a little scary for the littlest ones, but I found it to be an interesting and fun night's viewing. Stand-out innovative animation from the masters at Disney.

    The video was watchable, but displayed much grain and film artefacts.

    The audio quality was fine with an immersive 5.1 sound mix that uses all the channels in service of the film.

    The extras provided, while completely different to those on the R1 version, are more than adequate with the Making Of documentary being a nice plus. Recommended for bigger little ones and the family.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Tuesday, April 09, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic A300-MU, using S-Video output
DisplayHitachi CP-L750W LCD Projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

Other Reviews NONE
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