SWORD IN THE STONE, THE
Reviewed July 11th, 2001 by David Colby
Disney's newest Gold Classic Collection DVD to hit the market is Sword in the Stone. This inspiring tale of a young lad named wart who is destined to become King Arthur starts out as Wart the fledgling squire. Merlin the magician soon finds his path crossed with young Arthur and begins schooling him. He learns, through the use of magic, some of life's important lessons. He becomes a fish, a bird, and a squirrel in his endeavors to learn. Poor Wart being a timid young boy falls back into his expected role as squire for Knight Hobbs, which is, by the way, dumb as a stump! The country is in turmoil because a prophecy was handed down that whomever pulled the sword from the stone would rule all of England. No one, not even the strongest of men were able to pull that sword until one day little Wart pulled the sword out since he had forgotten Sir Hobbs sword at the Inn. When it all wraps up Young King Arthur is sitting on the throne and Merlin comes to aid the young boy in his path to greatness. You definitely have room for a great sequel where you watch him move toward his eventual greatness, but to date Disney has left this film alone. So did the DVD satisfy our requirements?
The video while not as clear as a cartoon like Antz or Toy Story you have to realize several things. The video is almost 40 years old. So the awesome restoration job that was done becomes all that more amazing. Then the newer films have the advantage of not only better film, but the two mentioned above were pure digital films and could be digitally resized to be DVD compliant, thus providing a product 10x better then any cell animation could provide. Nonetheless you will notice some hints of grain here and there, some specs on the film every now and then, but truthfully that adds to the charm of this film. Only item that I know a lot of DVD fans would love to see is a widescreen remaster of all of their animated titles to mirror more closely how we saw them in the theater as children.
The audio was treated to a superb remastering to DD 5.1 which while not as powerful as some of the modern 5.1 films is a fantastic step toward providing a good quality base to preserve the movie in for future generations. The audio is clear with very few hisses or unusual noises. The level is also well balanced many times in older films you have to turn the volume up to catch the voices, but when the action starts it is startling loud. This is not the case with this DVD a nice balance between vocals and action was achieved.
Finally the extras, this DVD is packed with them. I was glad to see the continuation of the sing-along options. So many kids love to do the little ball hop thing and sing along with the great soundtrack accompanying many of Disney's movies. You will also be treated to: Concept Art, Knight for a Day (Animated Short starring Goofy), Brave Little Tailor (Animated Short starring Mickey), a Featurette “Music Magic” which dives into the song writing on this movie, All about Magic Featurette with Walt Disney himself, and Film facts a behind-the-scenes exclusive. Overall a great bunch of extras and well worth the $20. The best part of it all is this is something the whole family, young to old can enjoy.
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