Casper's Haunted Christmas (2000)
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Owen Hurley|
Brendon Ryan Barrett
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Casper the Friendly Ghost began life way back in the 1950s as a cartoon character. The mere idea of a ghost that can't scare anyone probably had some real appeal back in those days but the old formula that worked so successfully back then has become a bit banal in the present day. The profusion of Casper on TV, in comic books and comic strips over the years has kept him fairly well-known, and in 1995 we had a rather dismal effort at live-action combined with animation that was Casper (with Bill Pullman). Although the original movie barely broke even, they made a sequel which was done direct-to-video. Instead of leaving well enough alone, we have what you might term Casper Part 3, the Animation, but at least this is back to the more traditional roots.
Kabosh, head of the ghosts, has decided that Casper must scare one person a year or he and the Ghostly Trio are headed for the dark, a place of nothingness. He gives Casper until Christmas, and sends him off to Kriss, Massachussets, the most Christmassy place in the world to scare the pants off someone. In the meantime, he's revoked the scare licenses of the Ghostly Trio and sent along his emissary, Snivel to keep an eye on things. The problem is, Casper is so nice he only wants to make friends and not scare anyone.
Well, as you can imagine this is one of those movies full of 'jolly' fun (you'll understand the pun if you watch the movie) but suitable only for the littlies. Forget the rating on the cover too, if a child got scared watching this, then watching grass grow would cause a minor infarction! This is the sort of movie that will only appeal to those that are extremely young or very young at heart
What you get on this disc is almost precisely what you expect. This is basically block animation using wire-framed CGI and definitely isn't in the same league as Shrek, or god forbid, Final Fantasy.
A slight annoyance was that we are presented with the movie in 1.33:1 non-16x9 enhanced whereas the original was presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
As with all animation, you are basically presented with what the animators want you to see. The sharpness is good, and the ghosts are totally blurry for the most part, but they are meant to be. Shadow detail is good where it's meant to be, grain is non-existent and there is no noise.
The colour is warped, and by that I mean don't expect traditional colours for things like skin tones. Most of the colours used are blocky and overstated. There was no colour bleed but everything was saturated.
Most of the animation exhibits some blocking, but that is the nature of the animation and is not a transfer problem. There were some instances of aliasing (53:30), pixelization can be seen quite often when zooming in and there are some instances of dot crawl (13:03). For the most part though, I doubt any 5 year old is going to complain. There were none of the usual film artefacts, except for the first couple of minutes and they were all intentional!
No subtitles were presented with this single layered disc.
Surprisingly enough, this has a quite reasonable soundtrack accompanying it, presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 at a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second. For the most part you will find the front soundstage is nicely presented with decent separation of the front channels. There was some some surround work from my system that was interesting but it isn't going to blow your socks off (or ruin your kid's appetite). Decent without being exceptional is the word here.
The dialogue is fine, if you are partial to New York dialects dominating everything. I didn't find anyone particularly hard to understand, although the syncing between the spoken word and the movement of the mouth left a lot to be desired. The animators, in their wisdom, gave everyone, except the ghosts, teeth and this caused some awful mismatches with the dialogue at times.
The music is credited to Robert Buckley, with Randy Travis singing the title song and doing some incidental music for the movie. Pretty standard fare, although hearing the theme music, Casper the Friendly Ghost, sung in country and western fashion was a bit strange.
The surround channels get some work on this disc, but not excessively. Their one real claim to fame comes at 7:42 when Kibosh arrives and you get the full sound of the storm from the rears. Apart from that, they added minimally to the overall envelope with some sound effects and incidental music.
There is no .1 channel on this disc
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Region 4 misses out on:
The Region 1 version misses out on nothing!
What can I say? If you are under 8 you may enjoy this. If you have kids, then this is lightweight entertainment that they might enjoy, and it's definitely non-offensive and very mild. The video is okay, but it definitely shows this didn't have a very big budget. The audio is adequate for the job. The extras are pretty pitiful compared to the Region 1 version and almost a waste of time. With the DVD-ROM extras, this might have been good value as a computer training aid for very young children.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Rotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Rotel RB 985 MkII|
|Speakers||JBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer|