The One Hundred and One Dalmatians Diamond Edition is a real treat. Disney masterfully converted the film in HD, while maintaining the film’s iconic sketchy look (something it hasn’t always done in the past). On top of that, the bonus features are informative and fun, making even the biggest dog hater smile.
The Film ✮✮✮✮1/2
One Hundred and One Dalmatians tells the story of a dalmatian couple, Pongo and Perdita, who give birth to a litter of 15 puppies. One night, when the entire lot of puppies is stolen, the two dogs go on a daring quest across the countryside of England to find and bring back their pups. They soon discover that Cruella de Vil, a manic, frail women obsessed with furs, is behind the caper, and realize they must rescue the puppies quickly before she turns them and some orphan dalmatians into fur coats to add to her collection.
The film is a delight. It’s the first contemporary Disney film and also the first to use the iconic, money-saving Xerox process to replicate the animator’s drawings onto cells. As a result, One Hundred and One Dalmatians feels different than previous animated Disney films and it’s a welcomed change.
The sketchy lines are something that make this film unique and important, so I was worried that in the HD conversion process Disney would overly clean up the lines in an effort to make the film look crisp (much like it horrifically did to The Sword in the Stone, which exhibits a similar design style). Thankfully, it appears that the majority of the sketchy lines are untouched. However, the bright and vibrant colors really make this film pop.
One thing that does get me down is the fact that Disney no longer refers to this film by its full and proper name One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Instead, for convenience sake, it shortens the title to its numerical equivalent 101 Dalmatians (which is actually the title the live-action remake). While this change is nothing huge (most people won’t even notice the change), for the Disney purist it’s somewhat irksome.
Bonus Features ✮✮✮✮
Since it is a Diamond Edition release, Disney put some extra effort into creating some new Dalmatians-related bonus features. Most are winners, but a few are dogs.
- “Lucky Dogs” (9:08): A featurette highlighting Disney artists, animators and staff who worked on the film. These interviews, of course, are interspersed by random shots of real dalmatians running across the Disney lot, but it’s all fun. It’s fascinating to hear the production stories from Disney employees who were so integral to the studio at the time (some of them are even still working at the studio today).
- “The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt” (1:46): You know that cowboy TV program the puppies are watching in the film featuring old Thunderbolt? Well, this featurette expands the snippets we see on TV by showing us the full program. Granted, it’s short, but it’s still fun to see Thunderbolt in action. The animation, while doing it’s best to match the look of the original film, feels slightly out of place. Perhaps running some cells through the Xerox machine could have helped.
- “Dalmatians 101: Hosted by Cameron Boyce” (5:21): This was probably the most annoying bonus feature. Hosted by Cameron Boyce, who stars as Cruella de Vil’s son in the upcoming Disney Channel Original Movie Descendants, he gives us the “411 on 101” by walking us through some fun facts about the film. The info is pretty basic, yet interesting; however, Cameron is so over-the-top that it makes this featurette almost unwatchable.
- “The Best Doggone Dog in the World” (51:05): This is a fun featurette because it features a full episode of Walt Disney Presents, which was used to promote the release of One Hundred and One Dalmatians. This black-and-white episode focuses entirely on dogs from around the world, but does include some footage from the film (which were obviously sneak peaks at the time). It’s great to see Walt again on TV and this bonus feature, while nothing new, is well placed.
- Classic Bonus Features: These include the bonus features that can be found on previous DVD releases. We get a 30-minute making-of featurette, a discussion about the baddie Cruella de Vil, a feature about the iconic Xerox technique, original trailers, original radio promotional spots, and a Selena Gomez music video.
Notably missing is a @DisneyAnimation featurette, which I’ve grown quite fond of on Disney’s recent releases. It seems this would have been a perfect opportunity to highlight the dog-centric Feast and interview some of the creators of that short. But, oh well, overall there isn’t much to complain about for the bonus features. They hit the spot.
Overall, the One Hundred and One Dalmatians Diamond Edition is a delight. It encapsulates this Disney classic, while also providing some new (and old) material and insights about the film. For any dog lover, Disney fan, or just movie fan, this Blu-ray is a must own.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians Diamond Edition: Amazon