Going up against two Don Bluth Juggernauts, 'An American Tail' and 'The Land Before Time', 'All Dogs Go to Heaven' never seemed to measure up. It's a decent movie, but compared to some of the movies that came before it's not one of Bluth's best.
Burt Reynolds voices Charlie B. Barkin. A wily dog who just broke out of prison and has now come back to his old life. He used to be partners in a casino with Carface (Vic Tayback), but now Carface wants the whole business to himself. In typical Bluth fashion, Carface as the villain has a wickedly evil grin which bears his sharp pointy teeth.
Carface sets a plan into motion. He'll kill Charlie and get rid of him once and for all. With Charlie out of the picture, Carface will be free to run his own gambling empire. Kill Charlie he does, with a runaway car. When I was a kid I remember being shocked that a character actually died in a cartoon. That wasn't something that happened, especially to the main character. It was slightly traumatizing to me. Just like that, Charlie was dead, and up to heaven he went.
Charlie soon finds out that all dogs go to heaven, and that their lives or lifeforce are kept in clocks and watches. After winding his own watch backwards, Charlie is thrust back down to Earth. There he learns that Carface is using a little girl named Anne-Marie to talk to animals so he can figure out who's going to win the races. That way he has a leg up on the gambling competition. Charlie soon steals the little girl, as he also sees dollar signs in his future.
I've often wondered what a dog would do with paper money. At the beginning of the movie dog gambling consists of winning bones and steaks. Slowly though, Charlie starts winning actual money from betting on any kind of animal race he can find. What's a dog going to do with money? When it shows Charlie building his own casino later on in the movie after he's made a ton of money gambling, you wonder, did he even need money to construct that place? It's a bunch of junk cars piled on each other. I've always been baffled as to what Charlie needed actual money for.
'All Dogs Go to Heaven' is an oddly paced movie. The dialogue has a lot of lulls, and the story seems to move along at a snail's pace even though the movie doesn't even top the 90 minute mark. There's just something about it that makes it seem like it drags on there during the middle.
It's never been my favorite Bluth film, but it helps quell my hunger for more Bluth films on Blu-ray. If only for a moment.
'All Dogs Go to Heaven' comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p picture courtesy of an AVC encode. The film uses the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Let me say first that I compared this to my DVD copy of the film, and can't say that I physically saw all that much of a difference.
There are the occasional instances on the Blu-ray where the image looks a little bit sharper and the colors pop just a little more, but those are few and far between. Most of 'All Dogs Go to Heaven's transfer is a muddy affair, full of scratches, dust flecks, and film spots. Image judder happens a few times, where objects on the screen seem to jump back and forth when they should be completely stationary. Color timing is another issue. This issue cropped up in 'Anastasia,' but only a couple times. Here, it's almost a regular occurrence. From one shot to another, color shades will fade in and out creating distractions. Soft shots are peppered throughout the presentation. One point, toward the end on the ship, there's an entire shot that looks so out of focus it's almost funny. There is a heavy layer of grain here too, which for some may add to the overall effect of the movie, but more often than not it becomes far too noisy for its own good. The frequent noise softens much of the movie's animated details, and gives it a continuous soft look throughout.
Not a lot of time seems to have gone into bringing 'All Dogs Go to Heaven' to Blu-ray, which is a shame for fans who were looking to see exactly what Bluth's animation would look like in HD.
A DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track has been included. It's nice that they've stuck to the 2.0 mix and didn't feel like they had to fake a 5.1 surround sound experience, but they could have at least made those two channels sound good.
Like the video presentation, this audio presentation seems like a lackluster attempt. The dialogue is soft and hardly mixes well with its surroundings. The music and soundtrack are tame and held back. The sound effects lack depth and fidelity. Similar to the video, there isn't much that's praiseworthy about the audio.
Again, compared to the DVD, audibly it's hard to hear much of a difference.
'All Dogs Go to Heaven' doesn't look or sound nearly as good as I would have hoped. Truthfully, the upgrade from the DVD presentation seems marginal at best. The movie has never been my favorite Bluth film, but it's a Bluth film nonetheless, and I would have liked to have seen a better looking transfer. Even if you're a Bluth fanatic like me, I suggest you rent this one to see what you think about how it turned out before you spend money on it.