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.
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.
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.
'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.