In a scenic part of London, Roger and Anita have two wonderful Dalmatians, Pongo and Perdita. Their household becomes a little fuller when Pongo and Perdita have a litter of fifteen little baby dalmatians. Awwwww! The little varmints are so cute and loveable, it’s a crime. Speaking of crime, Cruella De Vil, the mean old hag herself, shows up, along with her incompentent henchmen, Horace and Jasper. Without further notice, the fifteen little scamps disappear, but the weird part is, so did all the town’s other adorable Dalamatian puppies! No! Instead of placing an ad in the local lost and found or posting photos, Pongo and Perdita call upon the animal kingdom, bringing all their friends together to find the pups. Will they rescue the pups in time, or will Cruella be wearing the little guys byt the time they arrive?
The animation in this feature is quite good, but not as intricate as some earlier Disney works. Don’t get me wrong, it is well done, but I think it lacks the depth of Fantasia or Pinocchio, the power of animation is in the details, and 101 is lacking there. The motion is fluid however, and the main characters are well done. Some detail was sacrificed on lesser characters, but overall, it’s a good job. The feel of London is not captured here, at least not to the degree some Disney classics have captured their settings, like Hercules or Mulan. The main focus in this is out story and the main group of characters. And well, if I had to animate 101 puppies, I would skimp on the details too. 101 is a well done movie, I just don’t think it’s as good as other Disney works. The voice cast is decent enough, no real names however. The only name I recognized was Lisa Davis, who was in Queen of Outer Space with Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Video: How’s it look?
As we might expect with a classic Disney tale, this has been restored for its appearance on Blu-ray. Granted, this has had a few different incarnations on various home video formats over the years, but this is Blu-ray we’re talking about! The full frame (1.33:1) AVC HD image is certainly the best the image has ever looked. It’s been cleaned up, the color are bright and little nuances are certainly present. This has never been the picture of perfection, but the animation looks a bit more smooth here. Black levels, which are fairly important in this movie, look spot on (sorry, I couldn’t resist) making way for a nice-looking picture.
Audio: How’s it sound?
There’s a bigger bark with this DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, though the original mono mix is also included. But who wants one channel when you can have 7.1 channels of dalmatian mayhem! Surrounds pack a punch in a few scenes, notably the thunderstorm and the barks resonate through the channels that put you right on the middle of the action. Granted, it’s not quite as robust as a few of the other classic Disney tales, but it’s got a lot more depth than its predecessor. It’s a nice mix.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Yes, it’s been seven years since 2008 and Disney is wasting no time putting out a new version of this animated favorite. There are some new features to boot, so we’ll take a look at what’s included. DVD Extras
Redefining the Line: The Making of 101 Dalmatians– This is the same slew of featureless that were ported over from the previously-released DVD.
Music Video – “Cruella De Vil” performed by Selena Gomez.
Deleted Song – “March of the One Hundred and One.”
Abandoned Songs – “Cheerio, Goodbye, Toodle-oo, Hip Hip!” and “Don’t Buy a Parrot from a Sailor.”
Cruella De Vil: Drawn to Be Bad – We get a look at how one of Disney’s most notorious villains was constructed.
Lucky Dogs – Artists tell of Disney’s not so bright days back when the film was being produced.
Dalmatians 101 – Some obvious and some not so obvious “facts” about the movie.
The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt – If the TV dog Thunderbolt looks a bit familiar it’s because he was seen at the beginning of the movie on television.
The Best Doggoned Dog in the World – While not specific to the film itself, this is essentially the fourth season of The Wonderful World of Disney. A nice bonus!
DisneyView – As Disney has done with some other titles, you may chance that drab blackground to some rather colorful ambiance.
The Bottom Line
101 Dalmatians is an all-time Disney classic and they know that. That’s why they keep releasing these classic Disney movies on each and every new format. Admittedly, they also make it worth our while. The audio and video are significantly improved over the previous edition, there are new supplements in this edition as well as most of those that were on the older, Platinum edition. From a personal standpoint, I don’t envision watching the movie that often, but I’ll know that if I ever want the definitive edition – it’s on my shelf…somewhere.