The Aristocats appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.75:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although not a ton of problems emerged, the transfer wasn’t consistent enough for a high grade.
Sharpness was good, though the vagueness of much of the art lent the film a much more tentative look than usual. Nonetheless, I thought the film exhibited pretty nice definition, and I noticed no significant softness. No moiré effects or jagged edges appeared, and I saw only light edge haloes. Print flaws seemed modest. I noticed a few small specks and blotches but nothing heavy. I admit that the sketchiness of the artistic style could make it tough to differentiate source defects from sloppy clean-up work, though.
Colors were generally positive. They showed reasonable clarity and definition throughout the film, though they could be a little inconsistent. Still, they were usually nice and never created real distractions.
Dark tones appeared nicely deep, and shadow detail was usually solid. A few low-light shots suffered from a little denseness, but those instances weren’t significant. Most of the film displayed good definition in the darker scenes. Overall, the movie earned a “B-” for its generally positive but inconsistent presentation.
The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack seemed decent but unexceptional. What was originally a monaural soundtrack has been remixed into a passable surround mix, with unspectacular but acceptable results. Really, the audio remained largely monaural with little more than music coming from the side and rear speakers. A few minor effects popped up on the sides, but nothing memorable occurred. Other than the minor stereo music – which failed to develop good delineation and usually sounded like broad mono – this was essentially a one-channel track.
The quality of the audio appeared generally acceptable. Voices seemed pretty clean and natural, and effects were clear and free from distortion. Some of the foley choices were odd - such as a squeaky shoe that showed no resemblance to that noise - but they were reproduced with acceptable definition. The music occasionally came to life to a minor degree, but the score and songs usually seemed fairly thin and undefined. Ultimately, The Aristocats sounded decent for a 38-year-old movie, but it lacked much pizazz.
How did the picture and audio of this 2008 Special Edition compare to those of the original 2000 DVD? Although the new disc went with a 5.1 track instead of its predecessor’s 2.0 mix, I thought the two were very similar. If the 5.1 audio altered the 2.0 track, I couldn’t detect any improvements.
Picture quality was a different matter. The biggest change came from the aspect ratio; the old disc gave us a 1.33:1 presentation, while this one provided a 1.75:1 widescreen image. Fans continue to debate which one more accurately represents the original aspect ratio, especially since the 1.75:1 version loses some information from the old version’s top and bottom. Whether or not we were supposed to see that material is a different matter, though, and I won’t state a decided preference for one of the other. I thought the framing of the 1.33:1 image was fine, and the 1.75:1 presentation seemed more than acceptable as well.
In terms of actual transfer quality, I felt the 2008 release offered improvements. It looked a little sharper, and it also provided slightly tighter colors. Shadow detail presented more noticeable growth, though. A couple low-light shots were still a little iffy, but at least we got better delineation in the dark elements most of the time. At no point did this become a great transfer, but it seemed a bit more satisfying than its predecessor.
We get a few new extras on this Special Edition, but don’t expect a ton of quality materials. First comes a Deleted Song called “She Never Felt Alone”. In this seven-minute and 54-second clip, composer Richard Sherman discusses the cut tune and we hear a few different renditions of it. We also see where it would have fit into the final film during this satisfying presentation.
Under “Music and More”, we find Disney Song Selection. As also found on other DVDs, this allows you to watch the movie’s four songs with karaoke-style lyrics. It seems harmless.
“Games and Activities” includes two elements. Disney Virtual Kitten. This is a simple simulation piece that requires you to care for an animated kitten. It’s cute but insubstantial. Note that a DVD-ROM version also appears here along with this “set-top” edition.
Next comes the The Aristocats Fun With Language” Game. This teaches us a little about some musical instruments and then quizzes us on them. This takes you through three settings and appears to repeat them forever; it doesn’t look like there’s a conclusion or a reward for successful completion. Little kids may learn something from this, but anyone over the age of seven should skip it. (By the way, I have no clue why it’s called “Fun With Language” when it’s all about musical instruments.)
Within “Backstage Disney”, we get three components. A featurette called The Sherman Brothers: The Aristocrats of Disney Songs goes for four minutes, 23 seconds as it includes comments from composers Richard and Robert Sherman. They offer some short comments about a couple of the flick’s songs. I like their notes, but this piece is too short to offer much information.
Some stills show up under The Aristocats Scrapbook. Across 18 thumbnailed screens, we find 67 examples of concept art, storyboards, behind the scenes photos, publicity and merchandise. It’s a good little collection of elements.
An excerpt from a 1956 episode of the Disney TV show called The Great Cat Family runs 12 minutes, 50 seconds. Here Walt introduces us to an animated history of the house cat. It works better as a historical curiosity than anything else, though it provides some minor fun.
Finally, a “bonus short called Bath Day fills six minutes, 39 seconds. Minnie cleans up Figaro, a fact that leaves the cat open to the mockery of other felines. Figaro never became one of Disney’s stars, probably because he failed to present a lively personality. This short suffers from that factor, as the kitty doesn’t emerge as a winning character. It’s a relentlessly ordinary cartoon that lacks a strong story. 4/10.
A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for 101 Dalmatians, WALL-E, Sleeping Beauty, SnowBuddies and Disney Movie Rewards. These also can be accessed through the Sneak Peeks menu along with additional clips for Hannah Montana: One in a Million, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, Little Einsteins: Race for Space, Twitches Too, Tinker Bell, My Friends Tigger and Pooh, and Handy Manny: Fixing It Right.
This 2008 SE drops some components from the old DVD. We lose a trivia game, a storybook and the film’s theatrical trailer. I don’t care about the first two, but it’s a shame this disc doesn’t include the original trailer.
I'm a serious fan of Disney animation, and I'll buy every
release they see fit to throw my way. It feels idiotic at times, but that's the burden that goes with being a completist. As such, I own a copy of The Aristocats but I won’t watch it much. It’s a bland, forgettable flick. The DVD presents decent picture and audio along with some minor extras. This turns into a mediocre release for a dull movie.
Which is exactly how I described the original DVD for Aristocats, even though this one improves on the earlier package. It’s clearly the superior DVD of the two, but don’t take that as a glowing endorsement. The film itself remains ordinary, and nothing about this set stands out as remarkable. It’s a step up from the prior disc but not anything memorable.
To rate this film visit the original review of THE ARISTOCATS