Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Walt Disney's Bambi Is Back With A Stunning HD Makeover

(Please welcome my husband Aaron for this guest review. He normally posts reviews at Comic Hero News, but realized that Bambi just doesn't fit in there.)
Like just about everyone over the age of 30, I grew up with Walt Disney's Bambi. The tale of the “young prince,” in the form of the newborn buck Bambi, is a heart-warming tale about growing up in the forest, with the first third of the film being filled with the innocent exploration of Young Bambi and his friends. Oh, sure, there's the throw-away line about the meadow not being safe by Bambi's mother, but most of the film is full of adorable animals, doing adorable things.

Only the most jaded soul can watch Bambi's early interactions with Thumper, Flower, and Faline without being charmed by the film. Which, of course, makes the later parts of the film, where the hunter takes Bambi's mother, and then the fire takes his home from him all the more terrifying and horrific.

It's funny, but in some ways, the fact that the characters of Thumper and Flower (especially) have become such icons, and the devastation of the forest and the death of Bambi's mother are regarded with such horror, have made most of us remember Bambi without actually remembering the film. And with good reason... Bambi has been in Disney's vault since 2007, and despite being universally remembered as a classic, most people I know are reluctant to see the film. (We owned the Platinum Edition DVD, and it has remained in the shrink-wrap on our shelf until I replaced it with the new Diamond Edition Blu-Ray).

And the thing is that this is really a shame. Because as I re-watched the film, I found myself remembering the entire middle of the film, where the Prince of the Forest attempts to raise Bambi. I watched the growth of Bambi and Faline, and their love story, and I took it in with a new set of eyes. From start to finish, Bambi is really a charming film, and the tale is one that I appreciated more seeing again.

The music in Bambi is richly complex, although none of the songs are remembered the way we remember classic songs from Disney's other tales. All told, I really found myself falling in love with this movie all over again, and for that, I'm grateful.

The Diamond Edition Blu-Ray/DVD set is also guaranteed to please fans. Not only is the film beautifully restored into HD (compare it to the DVD – it's almost like seeing a brand new film), but all of the bonus features from the Platinum Edition DVD remain on this set. Within this set, we have two Deleted Scenes, an enhanced view with “Inside Walt's Story Meetings,” the DisneyPedia of Bambi's forest friends, and the Disney Big Book of Knowledge Game.

But what is possibly the coolest feature – and one that is new to the Disney library of films with Bambi, is the Disney Second Screen feature. Rather than having art slides, trivia questions, or games pop up on the screen as the film plays, you can set an iPad or computer up with the Second Screen, and as the film plays, you get to see a huge wealth of bonuses from the film. Sometimes this is as simple as the storyboards and concept art for the moments on screen, but often there are games, illuminating quotes, alternate camera views and the like.

The Second Screen feature is probably a bit much for younger kids to absorb while watching the film (I actually gave up using it the first time I watched Bambi for this review, and then watched the film a second time so I could play with the Second Screen). But it is perfect for older kids who think “I'm too cool for Bambi,” or for parents to keep themselves occupied as their kids experience the wonder of the film for the first or second time.

Also, it should be noted that the Second Screen feature uses audio cues to auto-sync with the film, and in my experience you had to have the TV very loud for that to work. However, the manual sync option is very easy to use if you choose that route.

Of course, as is the case with all of Disney films, the Bambi Diamond Edition Blu-Ray/DVD Combo will only be available for a limited time, and then back into the vault it will go. No doubt, there will eventually be another release, with even more bonuses, but for now, it's hard to imagine a better way to experience Bambi than this set.

Bonus: Disney Movie Rewards currently has a $10 off coupon for the Bambi Diamond Edition Combo Pack!

Full disclosure: I received a copy of the Bambi Diamond Edition Combo Pack to facilitate this review. No further compensation was received, and no expectations were set for a positive or negative review.

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