James And The Giant Peach

WSR Score4.5
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Walt Disney Home Entertainment
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Some frightening images
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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A, B & C
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Henry Selick
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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Based upon Roald Dahl's first children's book from 1961, "James And The Giant Peach" tells the fantasy tale of a young orphan named James (Terry), living like a slave with his evil aunts (Margolyes and Lumley). When he spills a bag of magic given to him by a strange man (Postlethwaite), a house-sized peach grows from a barren tree. James crawls inside and is transformed into a world of claymation where he meets six semi-human insects—Grasshopper (Callow), Centipede (Dreyfuss), Ladybug (Leeves), Glow Worm (Margolyes), Spider (Sarandon) and Earthworm (Thewlis). With the help of his new bug-buddies, James harnesses 100 seagulls to the peach and sets out to follow his heart. Look for a cameo appearance by Jack Skellington from "The Nightmare Before Christmas." (Gary Reber)

Special features include a making-of production featurette (SD 04:34), the "Good News" music video by Randy Newman (HD 02:29), a still frame gallery of concept art and puppet designs, "Spike The Aunts" interactive game, the theatrical trailer, and upfront previews.

The 1080p AVC picture is far superior to the 1.66:1 non-anamorphic DVD reviewed in Issue 44, which was a recycled transfer of the LaserDiscs reviewed in Issue 26. Then, there were only slight improvements in image quality, with increased clarity in backgrounds.Otherwise, the two versions were very similar. This new version is still problematic, especially during the live action sequences, with poor contrast and shadow delineation, a subdued color palette, and an overall grainy texture. The picture is not reference quality, exhibiting overall soft and hazy imagery. The overrall character is very dark during the interior peach stop-motion claymation scenes, but the imagery is respectable during the exterior sequences atop the peach. Still, the imagery could benefit from proper resolution clarity. Colors, at times, are rich and fully saturated with solid blacks. Dimensionality is also quite presentable. Colors are rich and fully saturated, with deep blacks. As the movie progresses, the visual dynamics improve but still the imagery is plagued by a visual "darkness." (Gary Reber)

The sound of the DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack, compared to the previous Dolby® Digital LaserDiscs and the DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack, is noticeably more resolute in the higher frequencies, as well as being a bit higher in level. The sound is a bit strigent in this respect but low frequencies are delivered with greater depth and level. As with the previous DTS® version, the DTS lossless version sounds a bit more lively and active in the surrounds. Nonetheless, the 5.1-channel listening experience is exciting and engaging, with an energetic soundfield that is consistently spacious and involving. Sound effects have been very well recorded and are effectively distributed throughout the soundstage, particularly to the split surrounds. Dialogue has been nicely produced, and spatial integration is rather good. The music is an excellent recording and its integration into the soundfield is commendable. Deep bass is used throughout, to both subtle and poignant effect, with below-25Hz extension that includes all channels and the .1 LFE. (Gary Reber/Perry Sun)