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Alice in Wonderland
Alice In Wonderland
An Artisan Entertainment Home Video Release
1999, 129 Minutes, Color, Rated G

Starring: Tina Majorino, Whoopi Goldberg, Christopher Lloyd, Miranda Richardson, Martin Short, Peter Ustinov, Gene Wilder
List Price: $19.99 USD, released 05/25/99
Packaging: Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Dual Layered (DVD-9)
Video: 1.33:1
Audio: English Dolby 2.0 Surround
Captioning: English
Features: Animated Interactive Menus, Scene Selection, Classic Illustrations, Production Notes, Cast & Crew Biographies, Trailer

There have been more than fifteenth screen adaptations of Lewis Carrol’s famous tale and this is unequivocally one of the best. When Alice slips down a rabbit hole she tumbles into the fantasy world of Wonderland, a place where the only sense is nonsense. As she travels through the increasingly bizarre land she encounters numerous characters played by a cast of famous actors: Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Short, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Lloyd, to name but a few. A sophisticated story line and a minimum of songs mean this version can even be enjoyed by adults. The numerous special effects include the memorably oversized head of the Mad Hatter, played by Martin Short, and the interesting creatures created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

Originally filmed as a three-hour television special for early 1999, Alice in Wonderland’s screen ratio is 1.33:1 full-screen. This movie exhibits a much higher level of production quality than normally goes into a movie-of-the-week and it all comes across clearly on the DVD. While the overall detail level is lower than most production films. It looks much better than the broadcast version, with no grain or noise. Considerable artistic time went into choosing the color palettes to set the mood for each scene, and it’s no surprise how well the DVD format presents this information. Colors are either vibrant and cheery or dark and gloomy as the scene dictates. Black levels, though hard to determine on a full-screen video, seem excellent. The disc is dual-layered and holds 5.9gb. It includes 34 chapter stops with the layer change occurring at 3:16 into chapter 18, or 1.14:14 into the entire film.

Audio, unfortunately, was not mastered with DVD in mind. The box lists sound only as "Dolby Digital Stereo", so it was a pleasant surprise to find that it is at least surround encoded. The range and quality is much better than can be received through TV, with no background hiss or distortion. The ProLogic rear channels are mainly used for music, however they produce a much fuller sound stage. No alternate languages or subtitles are included, though the disc is Closed Captioned.

The biggest surprise of all is the larger than expected extras complement: you’ll find the "direct to sale" trailer, detailed production notes, extensive cast and crew biographies and filmographies, animated interactive menus and a section featuring classic illustrations from the original novel. The scene selection screens even feature full-motion previews for each chapter. Impressive!

This rendition of Alice in Wonderland is great entertainment for the entire family. The disc, at the agreeable list price of $19.99 USD, presents it in the best possible way with enough extras to keep even serious collectors busy.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on June 28, 1999.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony KV-27V65 27" Television using S-Video
Nuance Spatial & Star Series Speakers

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