One of my favorite animated DVDs!
James Fieser | Martin, TN USA | 10/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Animaland is an exceptionally clever and enjoyable collection of cartoon shorts, with the unique ability to keep the attention of both children and adults. David Hand and his production team did not simply mimic the style of Disney's cartoons, but tried to push the envelope, developing clever plots, strange characters, and sometimes surreal settings. Most of the shorts are fast-paced action stories, with minimal dialog. When the characters do speak, they often have British accents. Some of the shorts are introduced by an off-screen British narrator, who, parodying instructional nature films, gives "scientific" information about the lead animal. The original music is catchy, perfectly timed with the visuals, and provides good instrumental sound effects. The animation is sophisticated, as we'd expect from Hand's reputation as a key Disney animation director. My favorite is "The Ostrich" in which a male Ostrich steps into a two-dimensional Egyptian Hieroglyphic to pursue a female Ostrich. The vocal lyrics to that segment are hilarious, and the animation mesmerizing. A few comments on the reviews below. Comparisons with Disney characters are misleading; Animaland characters have personalities of their own - often very British. The audio to the DVD is fabulous in view of the date of the source material. Yes, the cartoons are charming and comparatively wholesome, but we're not talking Teletubbies here. The two words I'd use are "zany" and "intelligent"."
James Fieser | 11/26/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Who isn't familiar with Bugs Bunny's "What's up, Doc?", Goofy's "Garsh!" or Woody Woodpecker's grating laugh?Had British animator David Hand found an American distributor for his 1940s "Animaland" cartoons, perhaps Ginger Nutt's signature expression "Chip-a-dee! Chip-a-dee!" might have occupied a similar spot in our collective cinematic consciousness.So, who is David Hand and why is this collection of cartoons being hailed as a genuine treasure? Well, if you were enthralled by Disney's "Bambi" or captivated by "Snow White and the Seven Dwarf", you've seen David Hand's work. He was the supervising director on both features before heading back to his British homeland to set up an animation studio for the Rank Organisation. While there, he produced a series of cartoons called "Animaland" which were released theatrically on the Isles but never made it across the Pond. Most of the cartoons centered around a fiery red squirrel named Ginger Nutt and his love interest, Hazel. As cute as Thumper the rabbit from "Bambi", Ginger Nutt can, when necessary, be intimidating enough to fend off the 3 forest troublemakers Corny Crow, Loopy Hare and Dusty Mole. Think of Disney cuteness slamming into Looney Tunes madness. Also under the "Animaland" title were a few one-shots dealing with the African lion, the ostrich and the duck-billed platypus.When the Rank Organisation fell on difficult financial times, the animation studio was among the operations to be pared back. David Hand returned to America and spent much of the rest of his career producing industrial training films. The fate of the "Animaland" cartoons is shrouded in mystery. Only 4 were thought to still exist.Flash-forward 50 years. Burbank film archivist Ken Kramer pays $50 for 6 boxes of film reels, contents unknown. Screening them, he comes across a reel containing 9 "Animaland" cartoons. He calls Leonard Maltin who tells him more about David Hand. The best news of all is that the owner of the rights to the films, David Hand's son, David Hale Hand, agrees to their release on home video. There are even plans for an animated feature film starring the cast from the "Animaland" cartoons.Although the cartoons are on the "Just 4 Kids" label, anyone who enjoys classic Warner and Disney animation will not be able to stop watching them. The fascination is in seeing a glimpse of yet another cartoon world, somewhere between the sometimes sedate cuteness of Disney and the madcap mania of Looney Tunes. Ginger Nutt might be as cute as a button but he's clearly no sissy. And the production numbers in the one-shots will have you singing snatches for days after you first see them.Just 4 Kids? Cor!"
Charming, but the audio quality is very poor.
James Fieser | 09/28/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"These are classic cartoons with a wonderful romantic quality, but I find the audio quality (or lack thereof) to be distracting at times."
High class animation is great fun to watch!
James Fieser | 11/26/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a terrific title for kids and adults, full of cute characters and beautiful backgrounds. Hand has truly brought to life a magical forest. There are many different stories detailing the exploits of the animals in the forest. I am reminded of the classic period of animation back in the 30's, when Disney and Warner Brothers were the kings!"