Disney is releasing two Blu-ray sets that are sure to get a lot of attention with Holiday shoppers this year. Are these great stocking stuffers or will they make our naughty list? We also have a giveaway at the end of the article!
Jeff: If you’ve ever seen a Pixar film, you know that they always show a short film before the theatrical release. And I’d say that 100% of the time, the short film is incredibly charming and heart warming. Pixar is known for their feature length masterpieces, but I have to say that their short films are what really connect with me. So, needless to say, I was happy when they announced they were releasing another short film collection.
George: The short films have been used as a training ground for up and coming directors/producers. This gives them an opportunity to stretch their wings a bit and try some new flight paths. I also love the short films because Pixar will take a lot of chances with new styles, methods of storytelling and techniques. When the review copy came in, I was thrilled to watch it!
- Your Friend the Rat (2007)
- Presto (2008)
- BURN-E (2008)
- Partly Cloudy (2009)
- Dug’s Special Mission (2009)
- George & A.J. (2009)
- Day & Night (2010)
- Hawaiian Vacation (2011)
- Air Mater (2011)
- Small Fry (2011)
- Time Travel Mater (2012)
- La Luna (2011)
Jeff: For the most part, you’ve seen all of these shorts before. They’re even included on the DVDs/Blu-Rays of the films they were packaged with. It’s nice to have them all in one place, though. But, the real star of the show here are all the extra features they jammed onto the disc. I personally thought that the audio commentaries included for each short were very informative, and showed an interesting thought process behind each one.
George: I agree that the extras were really good. I would balk at purchasing this collection just for the shorts, but the extras add enough to justify the purchase. What I noticed right away was that there were more shorts with established characters than before. The first set had three (out of twelve) shorts from feature films. Volume two has seven (of twelve) short films with established characters. Granted, the shorts helped expand the stories of the films, but it seemed like Pixar was not being as creative as before.
Jeff: I think, earlier, it was the case of trying to establish themselves as storytellers. Now, they have a vast array of story universes to choose from when it comes to making shorts. I will definitely agree that this causes them to sort of lose a bit of their creativity. That’s not to say that their animated shorts based on Toy Story or Cars (OK, well, maybe just Toy Story) aren’t good. But I really feel like their original, short films are their strongest asset to this set.
George: To me, the standout short has always been Presto. Pixar has done a great job of animating physical storytelling and they reached a new high with Presto. It was much more of a Tex Avery short than a Disney short. It is also the one that makes us laugh uncontrollably each time we watch it.
Jeff: I also think that the short student films, included in the bonus features, are a big win. Showcasing the early works of John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter, they really do show a progression of story telling and film making for each director, and it’s fun to see some of their original work. And, as expected for a Pixar collection, the Blu-Ray transfer looks incredible on HD TVs, with every line being crisp and the colors really popping. Overall, this one is a definite buy for me.
George: I’m a huge fan of this series. I was really glad to see Lasseter go back to the original idea of creating a holiday special. Before Pixar was thinking about Toy Story, they approached Disney about a holiday special. Disney pushed them into a full-length feature and the rest is history. Prep and Landing premiered on ABC in December 2009. It was an immediate hit and considered a Christmas classic by fans everywhere. This Blu-ray release includes Prep and Landing and Prep and Landing: Naughty vs. Nice, which aired in 2011.
Jeff: It’s funny, because I had never actually seen these films before popping in this Blu-Ray. When they originally aired, I had no interest in them, but after watching them, I can’t believe how much I enjoyed them. Both were half hour specials for ABC, and I was surprised at how much humor and story they packed into that small amount of time.
George: The animation and voice-acting are very well done for a television special. It was great to see newer technology applied to Santa’s operations in the North Pole. The Prep and Landing teams are set to clear the houses and make sure that everything is set for the big guy’s arrival. Of course, things don’t always go as planned.
Jeff: The story is pretty fast paced, to fit into the half hour time span, but that doesn’t take away from its charm. The specials are jam packed with Christmas puns that had me laughing at loud and wondering why I had never thought of them before myself. Kids will get a kick out of these two short tales, and they will quickly grow to be amongst their favorite.
George: There are several shorts that extend the stories. Secret Santa was a lot of fun and the recruiting films for the Prep and Landing squad were really original. The Tinsel Collection of Prep and Landing is going to stand the test of time for holiday specials. They will be on your regular holiday viewing for many years to come.
Jeff: There are also the typical behind the scenes extras, where the cast talks about the making of the film, but these aren’t as meaty as most extras, and not something your kids will really want to watch. Being a film nerd, I would have loved to have seen them dive into the animation process, but alas, we get talking heads instead.
By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
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- From the Mouth of the Mouse (Jeff)
- Communicore Weekly The Greatest Online Show ™ (Jeff and George)
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