The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed edition was viewed for this article. The transfer seemed fine but not exceptional.
Most of my complaints related to sharpness. While most of the film came across as concise and accurate, some shots appeared a bit ill-defined. The softness wasn’t a serious problem, but it caused mild distractions at times. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and only a little edge enhancement materialized. Source flaws seemed absent here.
As with the first two Clause flicks, this one went with a rich, lush palette. The usual Christmas tones dominated and formed a warm sense of colors. Blacks appeared deep and dark, while shadows were clear and appropriately opaque. The softness issues left this one as a “B”, but it satisfied most of the time.
No surprises came from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Escape, as it presented a pretty limited soundfield. The scenes of work at the North Pole created the most involving parts of the mix. They opened up the room to a decent degree, as the various mechanical elements emerged from all around the spectrum. The occasional action piece also contributed to the sense of atmosphere. We didn’t get a lot of these, though, so the track stayed rather subdued most of the time.
Audio quality seemed positive. Bass response was quite good, as the effects and music showed strong low-end. They also demonstrated clean, concise highs and showed solid reproduction throughout the film. Speech sounded natural and distinctive as well. Though the mix never really excelled, it worked fine.
As we shift to the extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Michael Lembeck, who provides a running, screen-specific discussion. Lembeck’s chat for Clause 2 was a disaster. He treated the characters as real. For instance, he wouldn’t discuss Spencer Breslin’s performance as Curtis; instead, he acted like “Curtis the Elf” played himself. This cutesy tone got old very quickly and made the commentary a waste of time.
To my pleasant surprise, Lembeck gives us an actual discussion of the film here. He chats about locations and set design, costumes and makeup, effects, camerawork and editing, cast and performances, and various logistical issues. Lembeck can too heavily emphasize the bigness of the production, as he seems more interested in telling us about the expansive elements more than anything else. Still, he provides some fun notes, and I like his willingness to point out different goofs. This is a pretty enjoyable track.
The requisite Blooper Reel runs two minutes, 58 seconds. We get minor amusement from a few fleet moments of Allen and Short as they riff together, but most of the reel provides the usual goofiness. Note that the movie’s end credits also include bloopers, and some of them repeat here.
Two elements appear under “Music & More”. Christmas Carol-Oke This lets you croon along with seven different Christmas classics. Clips from the various Clause movies accompany these pieces, though the tunes bear no real connection to the action on-screen. Someone might like this feature, but it does nothing for me.
We find a music video for “Greatest Time of Year” by Aly and AJ. This combines the usual mix of lip-synch performances and movie shots. Aly and AJ are reasonably attractive girls, but the song is the standard bland Disneyfied rock. It’s a dull tune and a forgettable video.
When we look inside “Backstage Disney”, we open with an Alternate Opening. This three-minute and 34-second clip acts as a recap of the first movie’s events. Since I figure 99 percent of this flick’s viewers already saw the original movie, it seems like a waste of time, so it was a wise choice of the filmmakers to cut it.
Three featurettes follow. Jack Frost and Mrs. Claus: A Very Different Look goes for four minutes and two seconds as it includes movie clips, shots from the production, and interviews. We get comments from Lembeck, producer Brian Reilly, costume designer Ingrid Ferrin, and actors Martin Short and Elizabeth Mitchell. The show views at abandoned concepts for the Frost and Mrs. Claus characters’ looks. The highlights come from early shots that let us see how the roles could have been portrayed. We would’ve had a fat Mrs. Clause and a Frost who looks suspiciously like David Bowie circa 2004. Despite its brevity, this is a useful piece.
The New Comedians: On the Set with Tim and Marty fills two minutes, 59 seconds with Lembeck, Short, director of photography Robbie Greenberg, and actors Judge Reinhold and Tim Allen. We learn how Allen and Short worked together on the film. Some interesting shots from the set emerge, but mostly the piece just tells us how much fun the pair were when together.
Finally, Creating Movie Magic runs four minutes, three seconds. It includes remarks from Lembeck, Greenberg, Furious FX executive producer Scott Dougherty, Furious FX executive visual effects supervisor David Lingenfelser, Furious FX CG supervisor Mark Shoaf, and production designer Richard J. Holland. As expected, the show looks at the movie’s visual effects, with a particular focus on the snow globe room and the magical fireplace. I’d a like a longer look at these topics, but “Magic” satisfies for what it is.
The disc includes the usual complement of ads at the start of the disc. When you pop the platter in your player, you’ll find promos for Tinkerbell, Return to Neverland, High School Musical 2 and My Friends Tigger and Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie. In addition, the Sneak Peeks domain features all of those trailers as well as an additional ad for Disney Princesses: Enchanted Tales.
Slow, plodding and generally unfunny, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause presents a tired excuse for holiday entertainment. The talents of Martin Short create sporadic amusement, but most of the time the film fails to engage or charm. The DVD presents reasonably good picture and audio as well as a small allotment of usually interesting extras. This is a decent release for a weak movie.