Excellent movie, poor DVD release
The Pirate King | 08/03/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Although anime is beginning to change people's minds, far too many Westerners still think of animation as a genre only fit for children. The Last Unicorn ought to be high on the viewing list of anyone who believes animation is just for kids--yes, it's a "cartoon," but it's also beautifully animated, with unique and unforgettable characters, and the storyline is as true to the original source material (book by Peter S. Beagle) as any movie adaptation I've ever seen.
In her unchanging, always-spring forest lives a unicorn (voice of Mia Farrow), ageless, wise and innocent, and without regret--unicorns can feel sorrow, but it's not the same thing. One day, when men come into her forest to hunt, she discovers that she is the last of the unicorns. With snatches of help and hints from a dizzy butterfly, she sets out to find the others. On her way she picks up an incompetent magician named Schmendrick (voice of Alan Arkin), a withered woman named Molly Grue (voice of Tammy Grimes), and eventually finds the kingdom of King Haggard (voice of Christopher Lee) and his son Lir (voice of Jeff Bridges). But in the changing, aging world of humans, can the unicorn even keep track of who she is and how the story should end?
The movie version isn't perfect. There are some awkward scenes, including a terrible duet by Mia Farrow and Jeff Bridges which never should have been included, and some scenes contain material such as mild profanity, bare breasts and depictions of death which might not be suitable for children. But there is an earnestness to this film, a magic in the way ideas are expressed, that's all too rare in modern filmmaking. This quality helps many viewers overlook the film's flaws.
So if The Last Unicorn is that good of a movie, why does it only rate two stars? Because the U.S. DVD release is terrible. This is a full-frame release, ***not widescreen***. The DVD has poor cover art and offers zero special features. The actual transfer is grainy and blurry in spots, with no evidence of any kind of restoration work. The soundtrack has a distinctly tinny quality. In fact, the only reason one would purchase this DVD was if one had only a single copy of the film taped off television some 15 years ago and watched over and over until the VHS tape nearly wore out... rather like me, in fact.
Don't purchase this DVD. I wouldn't have done so if I had known what I know now. Instead, look for the 25th Anniversary edition released in 2006 by Lionsgate Entertainment."
A terrible DVD release of my favorite film.
J. Wadkins | Portland, OR United States | 11/03/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
""The Last Unicorn" has been a favorite film of mine for a good 20 years; that said, this DVD must be the worst VHS to DVD port that I have ever seen.
This DVD IS more parent friendly than the original VHS, as the release company chose to delete a few instances of the word "damn" and "hell." I can understand how parents might find this preferrable. But it is blatant alteration of a classic. Had I known this movie was edited in any way shape or form from its original form, even to make it "less offensive", there is no way I would have purchased it.
And does it really make it less offensive? To be honest, I have never found this to be much of a children's story. The subject matter is very dark and sad. The ending can hardly be considered happy. The whole theme of the story is the sadness of lost innocence. Yes, it is animated, but in my humble opinion, it never made a good children's movie to begin with. so does it really need to be edited for child friendliness?
It's not just the editing - the DVD is just crappy. I swear that the video and audio quality are even worse than on the VHS. It looks worse, it sounds heinous.
Spare yourself the money - stick with your VHS version, until a good quality DVD release.
DVD - 1 star
Movie - 5 stars
Scott Robinson | New York, NY USA | 07/13/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very good film that has yet had a decent video release here in the US. This DVD release is a disaster.This particular print has several major defects. First this movie suffers more than most when cutting it from widescreen to full screen. But the pan-and-scan job (the technique used to make a widescreen film fit on a regular television) was also totally botched leaving many scenes showing only half a face or character.There is also many color problems. The print is biased to red. Dark scenes, of which there are many, show a red tint. Related to this is that the greens are subdued. Many objects that should be green show as blue. The print is also grainy showing more video noise than normal.The soundtrack is extremely harsh sounding making it dificult to listen to.I'd recommend you seek out the widescreen version which has none of these problems."