has an average rating of 4.8 on IMDb
1080p in MPEG-2 on a 25gb disc
PCM 5.1 Surround & Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
are in High Def and interesting
– 99 minutes
– Disney (Buena Vista)
Overall Verdict – Worth A Rental For Your Kids
— Review written by: Brendan Surpless —
The Movie Itself is based on the Disney ride of the same name. Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy), a workaholic real estate agent who never spends enough time at home or with his family decides on the eve of his wedding anniversary to do something for the whole family. Jim decides to take his wife Sara (Marsha Thomason), kids Michael (Marc John Jefferies) and Megan (Aree Davis) on a fun filled weekend adventure. But before the adventure begins, per the request of a Mr. Ramsley (Terence Stamp), Jim has to make a quick stop at a dilapidated, old, abandoned mansion. As we can tell by the title of the film, this mansion happens to be haunted. The mansion’s original owner named “Master Gracey” (Nathaniel Parker) wants what was his back, especially his long-lost wife.
The film’s stars do a serviceable job with what they’re provided with. Murphy, seemingly going to bank with all these family films lately, has a few scenes that reminded me of his older films. He and Terence Stamp (all hail General ZOD!) play off each other exchanging a few witty lines reminding us of the quality of actor they both can be. I won’t bother to address the kids as they’re annoying, rude and downright stupid throughout. Thomason as Murphy’s wife does acts in a manner that, similar to the film, never showcases that she’s in a haunted mansion.
I will say that The Haunted Mansion is a simple sign of what Disney is made of these days. Their goal is to make films that will make serious buck and will be eaten by families. Maybe because I’m not a family man yet or maybe because I know Disney is capable of much more, but I couldn’t ever get into The Haunted Mansion. Best left for the kids only.
Video Quality on this release is presented in a 1080p, MPEG-2 Encoded, 2:35:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio. The Haunted Mansion, perhaps because of Disney’s decision to use an MPEG-2 encoding, looks fine as a high-definition title, but lacks that overall ‘wow’ factor we expect out of one of the leading supporters of Blu-Ray. by no means does The Haunted Mansion contain a poor transfer. It’s just that the transfer, especially coming from a company that usually boasts some of the best SD-DVD transfers out there, never really looks that much better than the SD-DVD counterpart. The image doesn’t ever contain that 3-D look that most high-definition title contain. Overall, this was a good, but rather lackluster transfer.
Audio Quality on this release is provided with an uncompressed PCM 5.1 Surround Track, encoded at 48khz/24-bit), The Haunted Mansion, unlike the video, delivers all the levels creating a truly nice home theater experience.
Dynamic Range is also quite good here. The film’s mid’s and high’s were placed well resulting in a clear auditory experience. The bass is also exceptional with deep, strong response from the sub. The loud, booming thunder and whoosing wind really sounded perfect. I’m sure that The Haunted Mansion won’t be your first example of a film to show off to your buddies, but if nothing else, it shows us that even family films can compete with bigger action films. A first rate job Disney.
Bonus Materials are plentiful, especially when you consider that this is only a 25GB disc. We get two different commentaries, with the first being from Director Rob Minkoff, producer Don Hahn and screenwriter David Berenbaum. The commentary is informative to say the least, but isn’t really that interesting. I suppose this is because of my dislike of the film. If fans want a commentary that gives you all access to the film, this is definitely the one to watch. The second commentary is from Director Rob Minkoff and costumer designer Mona May. This is definitely an interesting choice from the folks over at Disney. I don’t really imagine many fans of the film will want to listen to this one more than once as the film’s costumes, in all honesty, weren’t that impressive.
The features continue with Anatomy of a Scene: Ghosts in the Graveyard that runs 11 minutes and covers the scene in question. We get to see how this particular sequence was accomplished via physical, blue screen and various effect statuettes. I imagine that fans will enjoy this one. THe next feature is in full HD! Grave-Spirits is another Blu-Scape short film by award-winning Louie Schwartzberg that is definitely worth watching even if you didn’t like the film. The final feature is History of the Haunted Mansion Attraction. Running 15 minutes, this one looks into the actual ride from conception to today. This one is easily the best feature on the disc as it looked at an interesting aspect that brought the film to life.