Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4 stars
Amazon
$26.99
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Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4.5 Stars
Supplements
3 Stars
High-Def Extras
2 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Winnie the Pooh

Street Date:
October 25th, 2011
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
October 25th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
2011
Studio:
Disney/Buena Vista
Length:
69 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

It's been nice to see Disney returning to its roots over the past few years. Pixar is still churning out the beloved CG animated features, but watching Disney circle back and pick up where they left off with 2D animation has been a real treat. It started with 'Princess and the Frog,' and has continued with this year's hour-long movie 'Winnie the Pooh.'

There's just something about the 'Pooh' stories and their simplicity. Their childlike innocence and wonder have always attracted me. Most animated features nowadays feature larger-than-life characters and death defying action that showcases well on the big screen. In a sense it's pretty brave of Disney to answer the action-packed world of modern animation with a stuffed bear from yesteryear.

Following along with the other Christopher Robin stories, Pooh and his friends find themselves embarking on a new adventure. This time Pooh, Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, and Tigger get involved with trying to find Eeyore a new tail. It seems that he's once again lost his old one, so as friends they band together to search the Hundred Acre Wood for something that could be used as a replacement. The winner gets a nice, new gleaming pot of honey.

This new 'Pooh' tale features just as much whimsy as past stories. I remember sitting down and watching 'Winnie Pooh and the Blustery Day' over and over when I was a child. If memory serves correctly we had recorded it on VHS from a broadcast on the 'Wonderful World of Disney.' It was one of my favorite movies. It didn't feature as much action and adventure as some of the Disney's other animated features, but it captured my imagination all the same.

The animation has been updated for a newer audience, but it still retains its old-time feel. It hasn't been updated so much to lose the spirit of the story's characters, but kids of today will be happy with the colorful vibrant effort of the animators.

There isn't much more to say about 'Winnie the Pooh.' It's a delightful little story from Disney that harkens back to Walt's original vision of the A. A. Milne stories. The movie seems genuinely constructed and not haphazardly like a production for the Disney Channel. It produces a sort of nostalgia that parents will enjoy, while their kids are quite possibly being introduced to Pooh for the first time in movies. Obviously they know the character just like they know who Mickey Mouse is. Like Mickey, however, kids today rarely see Pooh in a feature-length film. This is their chance to dive right into the story and find all the loveable things that made Pooh and his stories so endearing in the first place.

'Winnie the Pooh' with its brisk 60-minute runtime is one of the best family friendly movies released this year. It touches all generations, and will gently ease you into its comfy little arms full of stuff and fluff.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Disney's release of 'Winnie the Pooh' on Blu-ray comes in a combo pack including a 50-GB Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy. It's housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a swivel arm that holds two discs back-to-back. There is a slipcover provided and the back of the case purports that this release is region free.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Disney animation always looks splendid in HD, and 'Winnie the Pooh' is no different. Its 1080p picture perfectly captures the simple wonder of the Hundred Acre Wood and its inhabitants. Just like 'The Princess and the Frog' the hand-drawn animation simply shines here. Individual pencil lines are distinctly present, even Pooh's eyebrows shift around during each scene because the fine pencil lines that make them up are all drawn individually.

The colors are absolutely glorious. From the warm, nurturing palette of Pooh's home and the surrounding neighborhood, to the bright glowing musical number where Pooh swims around in glistening oceans of honey. Most likely this sequence was done with the help of CG animation, but it still retains that hand-drawn quality that's the real draw of this movie.

The carefully drawn and painted backgrounds seem like almost exact replicas of the 'Pooh' shorts of old. Like our friends are stuck in watercolor paintings, the backgrounds provide a simple yet effectively defined forest-like backdrop. 'Winnie the Pooh' is as demo-worthy as they come. You'll be delighted with the visuals just as much as your children.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Like the video, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is subtle in its charms, but nevertheless impressive in its presence. Much of the movie is centered on the simple dialogue of the narrator and the movie's characters. Their dialogue is presented cleanly and clearly through the center channel. Directionality works perfectly here as you can hear Tigger bounding up one side of the soundfield, entering the frame, and then leaving the other side just as seamlessly.

The musical numbers resonate nicely through all of the channels. Composer Henry Jackman's original music for the film fills the front and rear channels as the characters perform a medley of melodies that are all sing-a-long worthy. Pooh's honey-drenched dream features a nice bit of strong LFE, along with the scene where the characters imagine just exactly what a Backson looks like. LFE overwhelmingly loud or deep, but is satisfyingly stoic and is actually present more than I thought it would be going in.

It isn't the most action-packed audio mix, and doesn't stand up to the much more technical and impressive Pixar mixes, but on the whole this one is extremely enjoyable on all fronts.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 15 min.) – Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall provide introductions to each of the deleted scenes here. This is a nice addition because they're able to tell us why certain things were cut or paired down. Many of the scenes were taken out due to pacing issues, which they readily admit. The five scenes included are "The Tummy Song," "Rabbit's Friends and Relations," "Original Eeyore Intro," "Original Tigger Intro" and "Pooh Searches for a Tail." Some of them feature fully done animation, other scenes are in various stages of animated sketches and storyboards.

  • Bonus Shorts (HD, 8 min.) – There are two shorts provided; 'The Ballad of Nessie' and 'Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Pooh's Balloon.' 'Pooh's Balloon' features a scene from 'Blustery Day' where Pooh covers himself in mud, attaches himself to a balloon and pretends to be a rain cloud in order to steal honey from some bees. 'The Ballad of Nessie' is a fun little animated short about how Loch Ness came into being. It played along with 'Winnie the Pooh' during its theatrical run.

  • Creating the Perfect Winnie the Pooh Nursery (HD, 3 min.) – Baby planners Ellie and Melissa give a short commercial for Disney merchandising here. Letting you know just how you should set up your own baby's room complete with Pooh theme.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • Sing Along with the Movie (HD) – This feature allows you to sing right along with the songs on screen as they're happening while you're watching the movie.

  • Winnie the Pooh and His Story Too (HD, 9 min.) – This short documentary actually covers the abridged story of how the story of Pooh came to life with A. A. Milne in the first place. It subsequently covers how Pooh evolved as Walt Disney got a hold of it and started making animated features and shorts for it. It may not be lengthy, but this little featurette has quite a bit of worthwhile historical information about the beloved character.

  • Disney Song Selection (HD, 11 min.) – This option allows you to travel from song to song in the movie.

Final Thoughts

'Winnie the Pooh' is a pleasant way to spend an hour of your time. It's an animated feature that you won't mind sitting down and watching with your kids. The video and audio are both stupendous on this release. The sticker price of $29 at some stores may give you pause. After all that's a lot to pay for a movie that's only an hour long. Even then, it's still a good investment in my mind since it's sure to be a movie your kids will watch over and over. 'Winnie the Pooh' is highly recommended.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • Mini-Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: The Balloon
  • The Ballad of Nessie
  • Deleted scenes with introductions by directors Stephen Anderson (Meet the Robinsons) and Don Hall (The Princess and the Frog)

Exclusive HD Content

  • Winnie the Pooh and His Story Too behind-the-scenes featurette - hosted by John Cleese
  • Sing-Along with the Movie feature for seven song lyrics featured in the film
  • Disney Song Selection
  • Two more deleted scenes with introductions by directors Stephen Anderson (Meet the Robinsons) and Don Hall (The Princess and the Frog)

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