Oliver & Company
In the heart of New York City, Oliver, a mischievous orphaned kitten, is befriended by Dodger, a carefree pooch and his ragtag family of misfit mutts. Life gets even better for Oliver when he is adopted by a lonely little girl named Jenny. But when tough guy Sykes and his Doberman sidekicks try to keep Jenny and Oliver apart, the spirited kitten and his newfound friends discover the meaning of courage and find a home where they truly belong.
Oliver and Company (Disney’s take on Oliver Twist) comes to Blu-ray in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this dual-layer disc. The high-definition transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.
Like the other releases coming out the same day from Disney (The Sword in the Stone and Robin Hood) the film has been filtered and film grain has been scrubbed away. I believe I get why Disney does this (I figure the idea is to get it to look as close to the cell animation as possible) so despite the fact I’m usually a stickler about such things I usually give the animated releases a pass along as the filtering doesn’t cause any other issues to the image. Unfortunately this last batch of releases have all come off softer (Robin Hood less so) than I would have expected and I’m sure the digital meddling is the reason behind this.
Oliver and Company is no different and the transfer is fine at a glance on screen but like those other titles (specifically The Sword in the Stone) this one is soft, and exceedingly so in some longer shots. Lines never look that crisp and every object has a blur, however faint, around it. Detail can be decent but again those longer shots are just a mess.
The print’s fine, but that’s almost expected, as I’m assuming Disney goes through and just digitally blasts all of that away, and colours are unsurprisingly bright with excellent saturation. Contrast may have been boosted but I can’t say for sure (there’s some severe crushing in the blacks at least.) As a whole the presentation will please most but it’s really nothing spectacular. It has been over-processed and there’s no crispness to the image, and for a hand-drawn animation this should not be an issue. In fact after reaching this title I’m actually more annoyed with this batch of titles after going through all of them. Robin Hood is easily the best of the bunch, but its presentation is still far from stellar and is not as crisp as it should be. And while Oliver and Company is still probably better than The Sword in the Stone (which I should have scored lower I’m now realizing) they both look like they’ve been processed to an unneeded degree. A disappointment.
Like the other releases this one has received a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround upgrade, but unlike the other ones the surrounds are a bit more noticeable. The ambient noise of New York is probably the star here, with various city sounds like cars, vendors, horns, and more filling out the environment nicely, placed naturally and creatively in the speakers. Musical moments present excellent range and astounding clarity, while the track as a whole is of excellent quality without any distortion or noise. Of the three titles released this round by Disney, this title presents the most impressive audio.
The special features found on here may be the worst of this round of Disney titles. We first get two worthless featurettes, one called The Making of Oliver and Company, which runs over 5-minutes and is a simple PR piece about how they have turned Oliver Twist to an “All-American” tale. It shows the construction of the film, voice actors performing, and even offers what may be the disc’s only real interesting tidbit, a look at the early use of computer animation. This preview is primitive by today’s standards but Roy Disney apparently knew more could be done with it, saying that what Oliver and Company does with computer animation is really just “the tip of the ice berg.” Following this is a 1-and-half minute featurette called Disney’s Animated Animals and it is sold as being about Disney’s line of animal characters but really is another PR piece tooting this film and its animals during a re-release in theaters.
The disc at least includes more animated shorts, this time two Pluto shorts: Lend a Paw and Puss Café. Neither have been properly restored and almost (almost) look like they’ve been taken from video masters. Both are charming and easily the best items on here. They run about 7-minutes each.
You then get one TV Spot and three theatrical trailers, one for the original release, while the other two are for re-releases. You then get “Info” on the disc.
The disc then closes with what appears to be standard for these Disney releases: Sing Along with the Movie simply presents subtitle of the lyrics during the musical moments of the film.
Other than the shorts we get some unimpressive, short features.
Just another ho-hum, unspectacular transfer in this batch of Blu-rays from Disney. These films should really look so much better, but their meddling with the image has created some soft pictures, Oliver and Company being no different. Follow this with a slim selection of unspectacular features and you have an incredibly disappointing release.