Friday, May 25, 2012

A Review of The Secret World of Arrietty Blu-ray Release

Listeners to the Disney Film Project Podcast might recall that we talked about the movie The Secret World of Arrietty in Episode 60.  It was originally released under the title “The Borrower Arrietty” in Japan by Studio Ghibli and is based on the book “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton.  Without a doubt the movie is one of the most visually stunning hand drawn animation pieces to be released in a number of years.

So it goes without question that I was excited to receive a review copy of the Blu-ray release of the movie to see what sort of fun might be found within.  Knowing full well that The Muppets Blu-ray release, which was exceptional in its features, would be a hard act to follow.  And while there’s nothing really outright wrong with The Secret World of Arrietty Blu-ray release it does have a very DVD feel to it, and doesn’t take full advantage of the Blu-ray platform.

Inserting the Blu-ray, you are immediately presented with a Disney All Rewards Access advertisement.  This is intended to be Disney’s future answer to Netflix, and some features are already available through Disney Movie Rewards online movie access features.  However I feel that this add, while well done visually is not really good at explaining what the service is, or rather, will be.  This ad is followed by a Brave preview and then another about the Cinderella Blu-ray Diamond Edition release.

After that you reach the Main Menu, and I was sort of disappointed with this feature.  As I implied above it was very old school and could have been more spiced up.  The moving images really screamed a need for interactivity.  The “Play Movie” choice starts the movie from either the start or where you left off.  Like many Blu-ray releases there is a pause feature, this one allows you to jump between the 12 scenes in a manner similar to that presented in the “Scene Selection” menu item.  Using the “Set Up” menu, you can pick from 3 audio languages: English, French, and Japanese.  Also available are subtitles for English, English for the hearing impaired, and French.

There are a number of Sneak Peeks available on this Blu-ray that can be watched from the “Sneak Peeks” menu.  These include the 3 startup advertisements (with slightly different interstitials) as well as an ad for Disney Movie Rewards.  Followed by Austin & Ally, Secret of the Wings, Planes (where you can clearly see the infamous 113 on a plane), the Blu-ray release of Aristocats, and something I’m super excited for: the 35th Anniversary edition of The Rescuers on Blu-ray which will also include The Rescuers Down Under.

The most interesting of the “Bonus Features” on the Blu-ray is the ability to watch the entire movie, not as an animated feature but rather using the original storyboards combined with the full audio track.  Admittedly this is not something for everyone, but the bit I did watch sold me on the idea completely.  Next up are a series of Trailers & TV Spots all of which are Japanese versions with English subtitles.  And there are a lot of them, shifting between different versions of “Arrietty’s Song” and various storm noises.  I was very jealous of the offering in Japanese markets of a free mini-book if you bought advance tickets.

The Blu-ray offers you to view the music video for Cécile Corbel’s “Arrietty’s Song”.  This song is a very haunting melody and really isn’t for everyone, but it really speaks to me personally.  I think this is why Disney Channel star Bridgit Mendler was asked to do the song “Summertime” and why they also include this music video on the Blu-ray as well.  It’s a very simple music video that has Mendler walking around at the size of a Borrower.  If you’re interested in knowing how the “Summertime” music video was made there is a clip that had been on Disney Channel that has Mendler talking about how it was made.

Overall, if you’re a Studio Ghibli fan who hasn’t seen this film, or, like me, really love the visual appeal of The Secret of World Arrietty, then this Blu-ray is for you.  If you like to play with new and nifty special features of a Blu-ray I can only recommend trying to watch the movie in sketch form.  Otherwise there are no stand-out features on this Blu-ray, and I wish there had been more to play with.

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