Blu-ray Review: Trio of Disney Films Make HD Debut

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CHICAGO – Ready to feel old? It’s the 25th anniversary of “Oliver & Company,” 40th anniversary of “Robin Hood,” and 50th anniversary of “The Sword in the Stone.” Maybe I’m showing my age even further by admitting that I would rank the films in order of oldest to newest. “Sword” remains remarkably fun but “Robin Hood” is close behind. Only “Oliver” remains pretty much a waste of time.

Watching all three again was a trip back to my childhood although the journey wasn’t quite as I expected. I remember “Robin Hood” being a little more playful and visually striking. It’s still a decent flick but I found (and my kids agreed) “The Sword in the Stone” to have held up the best of the three. Yes, it’s an imperfect telling of the Excalibur legend but the music is fun and the film contains something too often missing from “lesser” Disney works — joy. It’s just fun. That’s something that cannot be said for “Oliver & Company,” the last movie from the dark period of the ’80s before the comeback that started with “The Little Mermaid.” It’s not funny and abrasive in its design and predictable in its storytelling.

All three films, of course, look good but the “Oliver” transfer is kind of flat. Visually, “Sword” seems to have gotten the most HD love in its restoration. All three include a nice array of special features. They may not be the first Disney Blu-rays that you reach for at the store and no one’s itching for a new theme park ride based on any of them but they have their legions of fans. In fact, like me, you may be one of them and not even know it yet.

Oliver and Company was released on Blu-ray on August 6, 2013
Oliver and Company was released on Blu-ray on August 6, 2013
Photo credit: Disney

“Oliver & Company: 25th Anniversary Edition”

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of a Disney classic with the stunning Blu-ray debut of Oliver And Company, featuring perfect picture and sound. Relive this charming animated adventure, packed with excitement, fun and unforgettable songs by Billy Joel, Bette Midler and Huey Lewis. In the heart of New York City, Oliver, a mischievous orphaned kitten, is befriended by Dodger, a carefree pooch, and his ragtag family of misfit mutts. Life gets even better for Oliver when he is adopted by a lonely little girl named Jenny. But when tough guy Sykes and his Doberman sidekicks try to keep Jenny and Oliver apart, the spirited kitten and his newfound friends discover the meaning of courage and find a home where they truly belong.

Special Features:
o Two Bonus Shorts: Lend A Paw, Puss Cafe
o Disney Sing-Along Mode
o Disney’s Animated Animals
o The Making Of Oliver And Company

Oliver and Company was released on Blu-ray on August 6, 2013
Oliver & Company was released on Blu-ray on August 6, 2013
Photo credit: Disney

“Robin Hood: 40th Anniversary Edition”

To commemorate its 40th anniversary, Disney proudly presents the unforgettable animated classic Robin Hood on Blu-ray for the first time ever. Experience all the fun, thrills and celebrated music of this legendary adventure with perfect picture and sound! Join Robin Hood, his trusted companion Little John and his hilarious band of Merry Men as they outfox greedy Prince John to save the good people of Nottingham. Dashing from one daring deed to the next, Robin won’t rest until he wins the hand of Maid Marian and restores King Richard to the throne. One of Disney’s most beloved movies is even better on Blu-ray Combo Pack!

Special Features:
o Never-Before-Seen Deleted Story Line “Love Letters”
o Alternate Ending
o Robin Hood Art Gallery
o Robin Hood Storybook
o Sing Along With the Movie
o “Do-de-lally” Sing-Along
o “Ye Olden Days” Cartoon Starring Mickey Mouse

Sword in the Stone was released on Blu-ray on August 6, 2013
Sword in the Stone was released on Blu-ray on August 6, 2013
Photo credit: Disney

“Sword in the Stone: 50th Anniversary Edition”

Disney proudly presents the 50th anniversary edition of a spellbinding and beloved animated classic. Conjure up magical family fun with the humor, adventure and Academy Award-nominated music (Best Score - Adaptation or Treatment, 1963) of The Sword In The Stone - now on Blu-ray Combo Pack for the first time ever!

Take an amazing journey with a young orphan named “Wart” and the extraordinary wizard Merlin. According to legend, only someone with the purest character and inner strength can pull the enchanted sword from the stone and claim the throne of England. Armed with newfound confidence and the power of friendship, Wart discovers his destiny and learns the best magic is the kind you find inside yourself!

Special Features:
o Never Before Seen Alternate Opening: Where Wart Meets Merlin
o Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers
o Sing Along With The Movie
o Bonus Short: A Knight For a Day
o Bonus Short: Brave Little Tailor
o Digital Copy Included

“Oliver & Company,” “Robin Hood,” and “Sword in the Stone” were released on Blu-ray on August 6, 2013. content director Brian Tallerico

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