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The Rescuers: 35th Anniversary Edition/The Rescuers Down Under Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French & Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: G
  • Run Time: 78 Mins. (The Rescuers), 78 Mins. (The Rescuers Down Under)
  • Discs: 3 (1 x Blu-ray + 2 x DVD)
  • Studio: Walt Disney Video
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 21, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Films
The Rescuers:
[Rating:4/5]
The Rescuers Down Under:
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
The Rescuers:
[Rating:4/5]
The Rescuers Down Under:
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
The Rescuers:
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Rescuers Down Under:
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Films

The Rescuers:

[Rating:4/5]

Based on a series of books by Margery Sharp, in particular The Rescuers and Miss Bianca, Disney’s 1977 animated feature The Rescuers continued their post-Walt success with a film that perhaps seized on a topic that was just right for them – a quaint and charming adventure involving mice. The story follows the Rescue Aid Society, an international organization of mice based in New York that mirrors the United Nations and takes as their cause being responsible to always help people in need, especially children. In this particular adventure the nervous RAS janitor Bernard (Bob Newhart) and glamorous Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor) are sent to rescue a young orphan girl named Penny (Michelle Stacy) being held captive in Devil’s Bayou by the treasure hunting Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page) who’s using Penny to help her hunt for a priceless black diamond. The Rescuers as a film is perhaps a peculiar yet pleasant mix of elements from its time period. It has the rougher look of the Disney animation from the time due to the new process Disney had begun using that directly scanned the character designer’s works from the page and eliminated the cleanup middlemen. The songs on the soundtrack also reflect that mellow, 70s recession-era malaise that at once seems at odds with the film’s adventurous spirit while accurately reflecting the emotional mood of the characters and era. I can be forgiven, perhaps, for not recalling this film even existed until hearing about it when the 1990 sequel came out given my tender age of 5 at the time of its release which happened to be the same year Star Wars hit.

The Rescuers Down Under:

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Rescuers Down Under wouldn’t see release in theatres until 13-years later. By this time, Disney had gone through major changes and was already heading into an upswing again after becoming rather irrelevant for many years. It was wedged in between 1989’s hugely successful The Little Mermaid and the mammoth Beauty and the Beast of 1991. It couldn’t possibly attain the sort of success it possibly deserved being overshadowed by those two films while also being a sequel. The animation style is also different again. The newer, cleaner, more vibrant style that would define Disney hand-drawn animation of the 90s and beyond is employed here, so it loses, in my opinion, some of its character. Some of the charm of the original is gone as well. It just seems bigger, bolder, and, more obviously aimed at younger audiences, a flaw with much Western animation that just can’t seem to be overcome without becoming puerile, which makes matters worse.

With that being said, The Rescuers Down Under is still a good film. It brings back the pair of cute adventurer mice, Bernard and Miss Bianca with both Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor reprising their roles, and sends them on a wild adventure in the Australian outback to rescue a young boy named Cody (Adam Ryen) and a rare eagle and her eggs from treacherous poacher Percival McLeach (George C. Scott). While Scott as McLeach never reaches the level of scariness or memorability as a villain in Down Under as did Geraldine Page as Madame Medusa in the original, all the action and adventure is maintained here, even if this particular trip does seem to drag just a bit more in places than The Rescuers did.

Video Quality

The Rescuers: [Rating:4/5]

The Rescuers looks good for a 35-year-old animated film, but it lacks the pop of the better Disney restorations on Blu-ray. While the film has certainly been cleaned up for this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement, it looks like a bit of heavy-handed DNR has once again been applied to the overall image to get there. The result isn’t quite as bad as what was present on The Aristocats, but the flip side of that is that the image also looks a bit rougher, but much more natural, so, take your pick.  Neither reaches the heights of the best of Disney’s classics on Blu-ray.

The Rescuers Down Under: [Rating:4/5]

The Rescuers Down Under fares better in its transfer, probably due to it being a much later film of more recent vintage. The artwork looks a bit crisper and the colors a little more vibrant. While it retains a bit of its film-like quality, it has also been cleaned up and can tend toward a little softness at times.

Audio Quality

The Rescuers: [Rating:3.5/5]

The Rescuers monaural soundtrack has been remixed to 5.1 and is provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit). It sounds reprocessed more than anything discrete, with a lot of ambience in the surround channels and a boost of low frequencies via the LFE. While it works, inclusion of the original mono would have been nice.

The Rescuers Down Under: [Rating:4.5/5]

The Rescuers Down Under is also supplied with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack. While the mix for this film is also not very aggressive, it works much better than the mix for The Rescuers, with better dynamics and stereo separation, a more natural sense of atmospherics, and big, resounding low frequencies.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

There isn’t much here, but what is on the disc is of a very high quality, worth owning and worthy of repeat viewings.

The supplements:

  • “Peoplitis” – The Deleted Song (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:04:41) – Ron Clements, character animator on The Rescuers and future director of such classics as The Little Mermaid, introduces a deleted song sequence from the film.
  • “Three Blind Mouseketeers” (1.33:1; SD; 00:08:46) – Silly Symphony Animated Short
  • “Water Birds – A Walt Disney True Life Adventure” (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:30:42) – A half-hour live action documentary following the life of waterbirds around the world.
  • “Someone’s Waiting For You” Sing-Along Song (1.66:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:13)
  • The Making of The Rescuers Down Under (1.33:1; SD; 00:10:13) – A mostly promotional featurette on the production of The Rescuers Down Under.
  • DVDs

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

A strong pairing from the “house of mouse” of two feature films that both offer good levels of entertainment, The Rescuers: 35th Anniversary Edition and The Rescuers Down Under are two of the few Disney original/sequel pairings where there isn’t a huge drop-off in quality.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase The Rescuers: 35th Anniversary Edition/The Rescuers Down Under on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com


The Rescuers:

The Rescuers Down Under:

[amazon-product]B0084IHVQG[/amazon-product]

Purchase The Rescuers: 35th Anniversary Edition/The Rescuers Down Under on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Films
The Rescuers:
[Rating:4/5]
The Rescuers Down Under:
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
The Rescuers:
[Rating:4/5]
The Rescuers Down Under:
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
The Rescuers:
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Rescuers Down Under:
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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