Low-Budget 1980s Animated Fare gets DVD treatment
Rienne | Hawthorne, CA | 09/11/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Customers intending to purchase this DVD should first be aware of what this product IS versus what it is NOT. Despite being released in 1999 by the now defunct "digital versatile disc" company (now merged with "NuTech"), this 45 minute animated film was actually created in the mid-1980s by a company called "Burbank Films, Australia." Burbank Films has created a number of animated versions of classic books (of which "Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne, is one example)that range from mildy impressive (such as this disc) to downright horrendous (like Burbank Films' version of J.M. Barry's "Peter Pan"). Despite being based on classic literature, most of Burbank Films' cartoon versions of famous booiks aren't very educational since critical themes in the literature are often ommitted entirely or altered beyond recognition (see Burbank Films' versions of "The Odyssey" or "The Three Musketeers" to witness for yourself).
The disc itself has a label on the case describing it as a "Collectors' Edition" DVD, though I feel this might be a bit of company windowdressing to make the product appear more impressive, as I have never seen a non-collector's edition of this or any other Burbank Films DVD or video available at any store. Additionally, each Burbank Films DVD has an "interactive quiz" game with prizes for high scores. For those seeking to use the DVD as an educational tool the interactive quiz is often useless because the questions are based on the abridged, altered video rather than the book upon which it is based. Further, the website to which quiz-takers are directed to receive their prize online is now disabled (...).
As for the movie itself, Around the World in 80 Days is surprisingly well-made and entertaining, especially considering the dismal quality of other Burbank Films releases. Finneas Fogg is depicted by an amoprphous fox and the actor who does his voice is pleasant.
Unfortunately, the movie delves into awful racial stereotypes as Fogg and his manservant travel throughout the world, especially in regards to Asian and Middle-Eastern characters. The film's depiction of a Chinese railroad employee in particular is so insulting it's embarrassing. The film follows Verne's book more closely than other Burbank films follow novels, but the racist stereotypes present in this film make it inappropriate for the classroom."