Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
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Whos got a nose for Christmas? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Just in time for the holidays, here comes Rudolph in the most beloved special of all time! Packed with a sleigh full of memorable songs and unforgettable characters, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer lights up the hearts of young and old alike.
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Could there be any show more deserving of a full-out, no expense spared box set with all the goodies for its 50th anniversary than this beloved holiday classic? I think not. And there are countless millions of fans--50 years worth of them!--who'd happily pay a premium price for that kind of special edition if it had been done right.
What we've gotten instead is this cynical money-grab in which the absolute minimum effort was expended to slap a "50th Anniversary Collector's Edition" label on the box. (Which begs the question: Collector of WHAT?) So here goes...
NO NEW REMASTER: This is the same blu-ray remaster from 2008, complete with the dust, scratches, wavering colors and other artifacts that they failed to remove back then, along with the "Sliver and Gold" audio glitch. Really Dreamworks? You couldn't expend the effort to finally restore Rudolph to its original, pristine condition?
AWFUL EXTRAS: They're mostly SO bad, they're an embarrassment--better to have not included them at all. You get:
* The Rudolph Pop-Up Book: A Sam the Snowman impersonator narrates a heavily abbreviated version of the Rudolph story, accompanied by super low budget animation of a pop-up book with the characters.
* Sam the Snowman's Sing-Alongs: The two scenes from the show featuring the songs Holly Jolly Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are simply replayed here, except the lyrics are superimposed on them. But it gets better: since there are two songs, this is actually listed as two separate "extras." Wow, how generous!
* Learn to Draw: Some Dreamworks animation artist teaches you how to draw three of the characters from the show. 'Cause you were really hoping for that as an extra, right?
* Rudolph Unwrapped: It looks like Dreamworks spent about a dollar to make this, but at least it's entertaining: this extra simply reveals a series of fun and little known facts about the show. Ex: do you know the five different breeds of dogs that pull Yukon Cornelius's sled? I didn't. Or that the time never changes on Sam the Snowman's watch throughout the show--it's always 2 o'clock.
THAT. IS. IT. Unfortunately, you don't have much choice if you want a blu-ray of Rudolph. The first blu-ray, which uses the same remaster, contained no extras at all and sells for more than this 50th Anniversary edition. The best version I've seen for extras is the 2002 Sony Wonder DVD, which has about 45 minutes worth of them. That's also a very good quality remaster, which looks pretty darned good when uprezzed via your blu-ray player or television to high def.
So Happy 50th Birthday, Rudolph! This is no way to treat an elderly reindeer!
Thanks for taking the time to read my review, and I hope you find it helpful in making a purchase decision.
It is true that there are several elements of this classic that are difficult to defend or even to understand - what seems to us to be poor advice (hiding Rudolph's nose) and borderline cruelty (ridiculing, bullying and ostracising Rudolph and Hermie) on the part of Donner, the Reindeer coach, the Elf Coach and Santa, is probably explained by typically accepted behavior at the time of the story's writing. The profound sadness of the misfit toys is difficult, I think, for a child to process, as is the unwillingness of the King to allow Rudolph and his friends to stay with the misfits as friends.
However, despite the fact that I am no longer in a position to raise children or grandchildren, I still do understand the argument of parents who will argue that this is not an appropriate venue for their small children anymore. Santa is supposed to be a hero figure, not a nasty man, and bullying is a no-tolerance act in our society (I must agree with this view - and in this movie, adults lead bullying behavior against two of our protagonists is disgraceful).
So if you are a parent who has courageously taken the unpopular stance of banning this flick in your home, May the force be with you.