The Magic Pudding (2000)
DVD-ROM Extras-Game - Sink or Swim
Featurette-The Baking Of The Magic Pudding (26:12 mins)
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Karl Zwicky|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This movie is not the story that has been read to generations of Australian children, because the original story was not really one suited to turning into a movie. It is a new plot, but one patterned around the familiar characters. The writers have taken only few liberties, and many of the lines are recognizable if you remember back to your childhood. This new story concerns Bunyip Bluegum's (Geoffrey Rush) search for his parents, after being raised by two uncles (one played by John Laws - a wonderfully hammy performance). As he sets out on his journey he is bowled over (pun intended) by The Pudding (played effortlessly, and perfectly, by John Cleese). He is then assaulted by Sam Sawnoff (Sam Neill) and Bill Barnacle (Hugo Weaving) - the pudding owners - who believe him to be a pudding thief.
I was delighted to note that John Cleese is the only exception to an all-Australian cast. I was also rather impressed by the array of Australian talent they assembled for this production. My favourite was Mary Coustas as Ginger, even though she sounded a lot like Effie from Acropolis Now.
I was quite impressed by how closely the animation stuck to Norman Lindsay's original drawings. I remember quite clearly what the characters looked like in the original, and every one of them is faithfully rendered here.
The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. I am fairly confident that the original aspect ratio was 1.78:1 or 1.85:1, judging by the "making of" featurette. Because it is intended for children, the DVD mastering team may have chosen to pan and scan the image, believing that they should fill the screen of the home TV. I think this is an unfortunate choice, because this movie cries out to be seen in its original aspect ratio - it was made to be seen widescreen, with its wide landscapes. If they felt so strongly that they must present a pan and scan version, perhaps they could have taken the approach seen on Region 1 discs, and put the pan and scan version on one side, and the wide-screen version on the other side.
The problem with this transfer is the variable sharpness. It is almost as if the picture wanders in and out of focus, but there are shots where one character is sharply in focus, while another is blurred - look at 4:30, for example, where Bill Barnacle is clear, but Sam Sawnoff is not. I fear this may be a problem with the source material, because I cannot see how it could be caused by a faulty transfer. Despite this flaw, I must say that this is far better quality video than, for example, The X-Men Phoenix Saga.
There is no low level noise to be seen, the colours are bright but not oversaturated, and there are no MPEG or film artefacts. There are some minor aliasing issues, but they are not particularly troublesome.
All in all, it is a shame that the sharpness is not well-controlled, because they did a nice job on everything else.
There are only two tracks on this DVD: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track (at the enhanced 448Kb/s data rate), and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded track (at the enhanced 224Kb/s data rate). I listened to the 5.1 track, which is the default. It is unusual to see a 2.0 track recorded at 224 Kb/s, but it is nice to see, because it means that someone who is listening on a stereo system can get quite decent sound.
The dialogue is clear and readily understood throughout the movie, despite the accepts of many of the characters, and despite Sam Sawnoff's speech impediment.
Animation always makes it hard to judge audio sync. I didn't spot any problems.
The score, by Chris Harriott, is quite pleasant, and well-suited to the film. The songs are cheerful, and bounce along nicely.
One aspect of the soundtrack that really blew me away was the surround and subwoofer use. I've reviewed a number of 5.1 tracks where I've wondered why they bothered using a 5.1 track. No such problem here. Lots of ambience, music, and other sounds in the rear channels, while the subwoofer lent some decent oomph to the lower register, without making itself obtrusive. Good stuff!
|Surround Channel Use|
I was disappointed with the sharpness of the video, but it was otherwise well done. It may be that on a small to medium TV screen the sharpness won't be a problem.
The audio was excellent and of reference quality.
The extra was good - a bit more than I'd expect on a children's DVD.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-737, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics matte white screen with a gain of 1.0 (280cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|