Blu-Ray Review: Cult Favorite ‘The Last Unicorn’ Gets Lavish Release

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CHICAGO – History has a funny way of distorting the quality of a film. Don’t worry. I’m not here to tell you that “The Last Unicorn” only works through the haze of memory. It still features some striking visuals and reasonably strong storytelling, but it may not be the ’80s classic you conjure up when you hear a tune that reminds you of that cheesy theme song. The legions of adoring fans should definitely check this out but be prepared for what could be a let down. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

As I watched “The Last Unicorn” for the first time in decades, I couldn’t help wonder how I would feel about the movie it came out today. A lot of the “Lord of the Rings” inspired narrative comes off pretty damn cheesy in your mid-30s as opposed to pre-puberty. And the visuals fluctuate wildly. Sometimes the hand-drawn animation strikes a beautiful chord. Sometimes it looks damn-near incomplete. Perhaps “The Last Unicorn” is just one of those movies that worked better on VHS on a small TV as opposed to blown up to HD on Blu-ray. The nostalgic nature of the movie plus some cool new extras make this a worthwhile package but, except for hardcore fantasy fans, it may not be the animated classic you remember.

Mia Farrow delicately voices the title character, a lovely creature who clearly symbolizes the end of a more peaceful time. Wherever the unicorn roams, plants and flowers bloom, birds chirp, and people are happy. But the unicorn is a dying breed and she’s curious about what happened to the rest of her one-horned friends.

The Last Unicorn was released on Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack on February 22nd, 2011
The Last Unicorn was released on Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack on February 22nd, 2011
Photo credit: Lionsgate Home Video

She begins a quest that involves a dopey magician named Schmendrick (Alan Arkin) and a terrifying creation known as the Red Bull. All of it is set to the incredibly cheesy music of America. Jeff Bridges, Robert Klein, Angela Lansbury, and Christopher Lee also provide voices.

The Last Unicorn was released on Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack on February 22nd, 2011
The Last Unicorn was released on Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack on February 22nd, 2011
Photo credit: Lionsgate Home Video

“The Last Unicorn” came about at a time when fantasy storytelling was incredibly popular, especially on college campuses. I’m not saying directly that the film played just as well to stoned undergrads as it did to elementary school kids but it’s definitely a trippy affair that I imagine works even better with a few illegal substances. It’s a “hard G,” a movie that often seems more aimed at Tolkien-loving adults than their children.

My “reassessment” of “The Last Unicorn” after decades of not seeing it probably means little to the target audience for this release — the people who have held the torch for this beloved film and turned it into something of a phenomenon. The film is arguably more popular now than ever, as evidenced by special features like a 2010 “The Last Unicorn” Art Contest Gallery. How many other films from 1982 could inspire an art contest in 2010? Whatever you get from it or whatever you think of it now, “The Last Unicorn” is still very much alive.

Special Features:
o Immortal Characters
o Audio Commentary with Writer Peter S. Beagle and Publisher Connor Cochran
o 2010 The Last Unicorn Art Gallery
o Peter S. Beagle and His Work
o The Tail of The Last Unicorn
o Schmendrick’s Magical Gallery
o Original Trailer
o Trailer Gallery
o DVD Version

“The Last Unicorn” features voice work by Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Robert Klein, Angela Lansbury, and Christopher Lee. It was released on Blu-ray on February 22nd, 2011. content director Brian Tallerico

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