102 Dalmatians (2000)

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Released 6-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Kevin Lima (Dir), Garry Gero (Animal Co-Ord) et al
Featurette-Creating Cruella
Featurette-Animal Actors
Featurette-Designing Dalmatians
Featurette-Visual Effects 102
Deleted Scenes-Cruella's Release
Featurette-Puppy Overload
Featurette-Dalmatians 101
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 96:04 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Kevin Lima
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Glenn Close
Gerard Depardieu
Ioan Gruffudd
Alice Evans
Tim McInnerny
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music David Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Portuguese 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
Spanish
Portuguese
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Mildly, a certain television brand
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   Following on from the success of the live action remake of 101 Dalmatians, I suppose that it was somewhat inevitable that a sequel would be made. That immediately raises the hackles, knowing full well that sequels often means cheap imitations with little or no artistic merit. It is not surprising that I was not expecting an awful lot from this film, and indeed was approaching the film with all the expectations of being able to lay into a solid piece of rubbish. It did not work out that way at all, and I have to admit that this was far more enjoyable than I was expecting. Still, I don't think I would bother going out to rent this...

   The story begins with the release of a rehabilitated Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close) from jail, and what does a reformed dog-napper do? Well, first off she visits her parole officer Chloe Simon (Alice Evans) where she happens upon a photograph of 2nd Chance, the only dog shelter in the Borough of Westminster and the potential benefactor of the conditions of her parole (namely £8,000,000). The dog shelter is run by Kevin Sheppard (Ioan Gruffudd) and is not exactly in a strong financial position - indeed the landlord is about to evict them. And so to the rescue of 2nd Chance comes Cruella De Vil, who throws herself and her money into the resuscitation of the dog shelter, and redemption for herself. However, her rehabilitation is undone by the chimes of Big Ben, and the real Cruella De Vil returns, furs and all. Out comes the old spotted fur coat design and off she heads in search of the man to bring it to fruition - furrier Jean Pierre Le Pelt (Gerard Depardieu). Naturally they need spotted dogs for the coat and that means Dalmatians and that means poor suffering vassal Alonso (Tim McInnerny) gets to do the dirty work - well, all barring a couple of dogs, which require the attention of Le Pelt himself. Naturally, since we would not want to stray too far from the standard Disney film script, Kevin and Chloe become an item and after a slight hiccough caused by Kevin's arrest for dog-napping, they head off to rescue the 102 Dalmatians.

   As funny as it might seem, the sequel is actually a lot stronger in story than the original film in my view, since it is an entirely new story and not a remake of the old animated classic. The saccharine levels are kept reasonably low for a change and even the Kevin/Chloe thing has a large amount of believability to it for a change. Like the original film though, it all hangs on Glenn Close's realisation of Cruella De Vil, and she does the job superbly again. She is Cruella De Vil, no doubt about it. However, she to some extent is upstaged by the decidedly younger-looking Gerard Depardieu here - especially in his unforgettable entrance. He took this small role and turned it into something quite memorable because of his over-the-top performance, and a very good costume designer! I am no great fan of the previously gruff and rough-looking Depardieu, but this is well worth seeing. Alice Evans and Ioan Gruffudd (yes, he of Hornblower fame for all those doting female fans) do a good job with their supporting roles and the whole film has a nice little jaunt about it. Kevin Lima is clearly another of those rent-a-director types that Disney seem to favour for sticking in charge of these sorts of films, presumably on the basis that they are in-house and therefore cheaper. There is nothing overly memorable about what he brings to the film, but at least he had the good sense to let Glenn Close loose and get the dogs on film at the right moment.

   102 Dalmatians is a nice family film overall, but man did they come up with some goofs! If I am not mistaken, the Orient Express is shown leaving London's St Pancras station. Unfortunately, trains leaving St Pancras head north towards the Midlands, not south and towards the continent. Trains from London's Waterloo station head south, and that is where the British portion of the Orient Express would travel from. Unbelievably, the train is steam-propelled by none other than LNER A3 Pacific Flying Scotsman, possibly the most well-known steam engine in the world. I don't think it ever pulled a revenue service of the Orient Express, but it actually morphs into a British Railways Class 5 (I think, don't hold me to that) 4-6-0 steam engine of a much later vintage. Still, only real train buffs would probably get too upset by these slight goofs. For the rest, a reasonable enough follow-up to 101 Dalmatians, and a decent enough film in its own right. I suppose the kids will enjoy this one, but I don't think it would sustain repeated viewings too well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a rather nice transfer indeed and looks really good. It does, however, have a couple of blemishes that do detract a little from what is otherwise quite an exemplary effort. It is a wonderfully sharp transfer in general, without any indication of edge enhancement as far as I can see, but is just let down on a couple of occasions by a slight diffuseness in the image. This is possibly inherent in the source material, since the bulk of it is so good. Detail is quite wonderful and you would be hard-pressed to take umbrage with what we can see here. Clarity is excellent and there is no indication of grain in the transfer at all. Shadow detail is excellent, even in the slightly darker scenes in Cruella's mansion. There are no problems with low level noise in the transfer.

    Just like the earlier film, the colour scheme is a little cartoonish in feel, but is handled quite wonderfully well. The overall feel of the colours is quite lush and vibrant, with oodles of saturation and depth of tone. The blacks are handled rather well indeed and always look solidly black, which is very important for the film obviously. The bright colours come up very well and without the slightest indication of oversaturation. There is no problem with colour bleed in the transfer.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were a few problems as far as film-to-video artefacts go in the transfer. Aliasing was quite minor in general, but was certainly there and occasionally intruded in the picture (try the awning at 21:13). Far more of an issue however was the moiré artefacting, which becomes a little too noticeable at times, especially in the window blinds around 33:17 and in the van around 76:27. There was nothing much in the way of film artefacts in the transfer.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 74:18. Whilst it does occur almost at a scene change, it is not quite there and the result is that it is just a little too noticeable. It is not overly disruptive to the film, but I cannot help but feel that there were a few better places where it could have been inserted without issue.

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

Audio

    There are four soundtracks on the DVD; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to the two English soundtracks, although admittedly not all of the commentary.

    This is one of those annoying instances where the dialogue level was all over the place, which compounded slightly too much bass in the overall mix at times. The result is a transfer that is not especially easy to listen to and I frequently had problems understanding what was being said. I seemed to be forever fiddling with the volume level to try and understand what was being said, only to have to turn it down again to assuage the bass assault upon my ears. Apart from the obvious sync problems with Waddlesworth, the macaw, there did not appear to be any issues with audio sync in the transfer.

    The original music score comes from David Newman, and a fair effort it is too, but certainly not truly memorable. It does a reasonable job of supporting the on-screen action, but hardly forces the emotional issue at any time.

    The noticeable issues with the soundtrack itself are the slight overemphasis of bass in the overall mix and the somewhat poor surround channel use. The former is especially grating as the film does not require much in the way of bass support at all, with just the odd door thumping and the like that really requires any serious emphasis in the mix. It also contributes to the problems with understanding the dialogue since it is mixed a tad too high compared to the vocal track. The surround channel use is really disappointing though, especially the lack of serious rear channel support. When it does get a run, the rear support is really terrific, but there are so many scenes where support was expected and nothing was present. A good example is in the bakery where all the dogs are assembled: I would have expected some lovely directional effects from this sort of scene, yet there is virtually nothing on offer. Aside from these quibbles however, the soundtrack is quite decent: nice frontal separation, no distortions nor congestion and overall reasonably convincing.

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

Extras

    Somewhat unusually for a rental-only release, this has a fair extras package, at least on paper.

Menu

    Decently handled but they desperately need a slightly better highlighter - one that you can actually see without squinting at the screen. They are 16x9 enhanced and after some introductory animation the main menu has audio and animation enhancement to boot. Do the job pretty well overall, but hardly the greatest efforts ever committed to a DVD.

Audio Commentary - Kevin Lima (Director), Gary Gero (Animal Coordinator), David Sousa (Animal Trainer) and Julie Tottman (Lead Puppy Trainer)

    Can you say boring? This is not an overly exciting effort at all, and at times I could not get past the feeling that it was actually four separate efforts edited together, due to the almost total lack of interaction between the participants. And frankly there are only so many times you can stomach being told about whether the dog on screen is a real one or a CGI one, how they hid all the animal trainers, how they trained the dogs and generally how difficult it is to get dogs to work together. The latter apparently is on a par with getting a straight, sensible answer out of the Australian Taxation Office. Oh, and Glenn Close was such a sport doing the film, too. Actually, boring might be the wrong description - irritating might be more apt. I would hazard a guess that you would need to be a real commentary freak to enjoy this languid effort.

Featurettes (3) (17:37)

    The three featurettes can be played as either three separate efforts or as one continuous effort, and cover aspects of the making of the film. Creating Cruella (4:39) is obviously about the making of the main character of the film, Animal Actors (7:01) is a spotlight on the animal cast of the film and Designing Dalmatians (5:56) destroys the whole naive notion that they actually used 102 real Dalmatians in the film. The featurettes are presented in a Full Frame format, and therefore are not 16x9 enhanced, and come with rather nice Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Apart from the last being a little too shimmery, there is nothing much wrong with the transfers in themselves. The only issue I have is that I foolishly watched the extras first, and thus spent much of the film picking faults with the CGI dogs that have been so readily pointed out in the extras.

Featurette - Visual Effects 102 (5:31)

    This comprises four small segments showing how they did some of what they did. Making Birds Talk shows how they did the animated beak for the macaw, to at least approximate the look of speech. Spot Removal details the time consuming task of digitally removing all the spots off Oddball. Computer Puppies returns to the theme of the CGI puppies, whilst Putting It All Together does exactly that - show how various CGI composites go together to make a final scene. The presentation is a bit of a downer, as it is done in a fake television screen that effectively wastes half the viewing area and makes the demonstrations a little too small to be of great worth (unless you are blessed with a huge screen to begin with). Some of it is done with stills as well and I cannot see why the whole thing was just not done as an automatic piece without needing input from the remote. Aside from it being to short and too small, the only real problem is that the end of the first still in Computer Puppies jaggies badly when it pauses. All are done in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Ultimately, what should have been an interesting look at an important aspect of the film is barely interesting and does not do a good enough job of improving the enjoyment of the film.

Deleted Scene - Cruella's release

    The screenplay-by-the-numbers approach to the film, fairly typical of Disney really, is highlighted by the fact that there is just the sole deleted scene on offer. Nothing terribly illuminating really and dropped for lack of necessity. It comes with an audio commentary from rent-a-director Kevin Lima if you so desire. Annoyingly there is no timing information encoded in the piece. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Technically there is nothing wrong with it.

Featurette - Puppy Overload

    This is a collection of puppy images taken from the film and behind the scenes that are presented in sort of a music video style for some reason that escapes me. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Also annoyingly there is no timing information encoded in the piece.

Featurette - Dalmatians 101

    If the preceding effort does not do the job, which it probably will not, this public service effort details exactly why the Dalmatian is not the best proposition for most families being cajoled into getting a puppy by the kids (no, they are not dangerous, they just get bored easily and so are not suited to being locked away for the day). Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Once again there is no timing information encoded in the piece.

R4 vs R1

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

    Since this is a rental only DVD, there is no relevance in a comparison with the sell through Region 1 release, which obviously is the preferred purchase version. However, given the extras package on the DVD it would seem that the eventual sell-through DVD will be the same effort as the rental DVD, in which case the slightly better specified Region 1 widescreen version would remain the version of choice.

Summary

    Even though I went into the review session for this DVD with plenty of low expectations and almost ready to condemn it any way I could, the truth is that I enjoyed 102 Dalmatians a lot more than I thought I would. It has been given a video transfer that is very good overall, but an audio transfer that could perhaps have been a little better. The extras package is a good one on paper, but ultimately leaves a little to be desired. The film itself would probably hold greater call upon the younger set, but this is as it should be, and it is well worth a rental. I would not imagine however that there would be much point in buying the DVD, even if you could, as I do not think that even the "delights" of Gerard Depardieu in leopard skin shorts, complete with leopard head codpiece, would hold much fascination in repeated viewings.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, July 09, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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