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The Muppet Christmas Carol – Blu-ray Review

November 5, 2012 – 8:15 PM - Posted by: Justin Sluss

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Blu-ray Disc Review

4 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has an average rating of 7.5 on IMDb
4 out of 5 starsVideo Quality 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
4 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
2 out of 5 starsBonus Materials include NEW content & a Digital Copy
Rated:G
Year: – 1992
Length: – 89 minutes
Studio:Disney
Region:Region Free (A/B/C)
This uses 27.2GB for the movie out 32.3GB total.
Street Date: November 6th, 2012


Overall VerdictFans Will Be Pleased

Buy it for $17.49 @ Amazon.com
Buy it on Blu-ray for $17.49 @ Amazon.com

or Buy the Blu-ray “Collector’s Edition” for $27.99 @ Amazon.com


— Review written by: Justin Sluss

Trailer:


The Movie Itself was the directorial debut of Brian Henson, son of The Muppets creator Jim Henson — who passed away 2 years roughly before this film was made. This also was the first major project involving The Muppets after Jim’s death in 1990. The film was executive produced by longtime Muppets performer and director Frank Oz. The screenplay was adapted by Jerry Juhl from the Charles Dickens novel “A Christmas Carol” — originally published in 1843. Juhl had worked previously as a writer on “The Muppet Movie” (1979), the TV series “The Muppet Show” (1976-1981), “The Great Muppet Caper” (1981) as well as another Henson creation, the TV series, “Fraggle Rock” (1983-1987).

The story here as stated was slightly adapted to fit the style and characters of The Muppets. The lead role here of the protagonist “Ebenezer Scrooge” was one of the few to actually be played by a human actor, Michael Caine. The only other exceptions here of roles played by humans include that of Scrooge’s nephew “Fred” (played by Steven Mackintosh), Fred’s wife “Clara” (played by Robin Weaver) and Scrooge’s young love “Belle” (played by Meredith Braun). The story is narrated by “The Great Gonzo” (portraying Charles Dickens) and “Rizzo the Rat” (as himself). The rest of the cast here of main characters played by familiar (felt) faces include “Bob Cratchit” (“Kermit the Frog“), “Emily Cratchit” (“Miss Piggy“), “Tiny Tim” (“Robin the Frog“), “Fozziwig” (“Fozzie Bear“) and lastly “Jacob and Robert Marley” (“Statler and Waldorff“) — in a role adapted from the original novel into two parts.

As in the original story Jacob Marley’s ghost and in this case his brother Robert’s ghost as well visit their former business partner Ebenezer on Christmas Eve warning him that he’ll be visited by three other ghosts. Those ghosts include “The Ghost of Christmas Past“, “The Ghost of Christmas Present” and “The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come” which are all portrayed by unusual Muppet characters. This plays very similar throughout to the original Dickens story with some slight changes made along the way to add comedic relief and be a bit more fitting for younger audiences.

The cast of Muppet performers here and the characters they portray are as follows:

  • Dave Goelz as:
    1. – “The Great Gonzo
      – “Waldorf
      – “Dr. Bunsen Honeydew

  • Steve Whitmire as:
    1. – “Kermit the Frog
      – “Rizzo the Rat
      – “Beaker
      – “Bean Bunny
      – “Lips

  • Frank Oz as:
    1. – “Miss Piggy
      – “Fozzie Bear
      – “Sam the Eagle
      – “Animal

  • Jerry Nelson as:
    1. – “Robin the Frog
      – “Statler
      – “Ma Bear
      – “Floyd Pepper
      – “Lew Zealand

The Muppet Christmas Carol on Blu-ray screenshot

The Muppet Christmas Carol“, a film now 20 years old — as hard as that is to believe — proves to be enjoyable and has a lot of that feel to it we had come to expect over the years from The Muppets. Michael Caine gives a very impressive performance as “Scrooge” that could easily work in a film with entirely other live actors instead of Muppets. It’s very worth noting that this marked the first film that the iconic role of “Kermit the Frog” (previously performed and voiced by the late Jim Henson) would be taken over by Steve Whitmire. Whitmire has continued to perform and voice Kermit in every Muppets project since this, including the films “Muppets Treasure Island” (1996), “Muppets from Space” (1999) and “The Muppets” (2011). Brian Henson would direct the next Muppets film after this and has remained the chairman of The Jim Henson Company as well as a producer on most Muppets and Jim Henson Company related projects.

Lastly I’d like to point out that this film was dedicated to the memory of both Muppets creator Jim Henson (who passed away in 1990) and Muppets performer Richard Hunt (who passed away in 1992). Hunt previously performed and provided the voices for the Muppet characters “Scooter“, “Beaker“, “Statler“, “Janice“, “Sweetums” and “Crazy Harry” as well as “Junior Gorg” on the Jim Henson created TV series “Fraggle Rock” — which ran from 1983 through 1987.

The Muppet Christmas Carol on Blu-ray screenshot

Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. There’s a substantial amount of film grain visible here as this was shot on 35MM film. I’m happy to report that some things have been cleaned up and I don’t believe that DNR (digital noise reduction) was used too heavily, if perhaps at all, in the process. However, some tiny flaws such as vertical lines on the film print do remain as you’ll notice on more than a few occasions. It’s nothing at all bothersome, just worth noting. The black level here is for the most part solid, the fleshtones seem accurate on the few human actors we see in the film and the color palette can be vibrant at times, although it starts out quite subdued during the beginning of the film to set the drab London settings and mood. As the film progresses along and “Scrooge” travels back in time (roughly 34 minutes in) you’ll notice that the color palette really starts to brighten up. Some of the felt on Muppets such as “The Great Gonzo” and “Kermit” seem a lot brighter — on purpose — than other Muppet characters. There’s a pretty nice amount of detail to be found here, as you’ll notice that the felt looks just as fuzzy as you’d expect for it to in some close-ups of Muppet characters. One thing from a technical aspect worth noting here is that this seems to almost run a constant 40Mbps bitrate, only dropping below that on a few occasions. All and all, this delivers a pretty solid visual presentation, aside from a few scenes that seem a tad bit “soft” visually — as seen HERE in a screenshot. This earns itself a “4 Star Rating” for overall video quality.

The Muppet Christmas Carol on Blu-ray screenshot

Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The original music composed by Miles Goodman here sounds pretty good, as you’ll notice during the opening credits where it has a nice amount of rear channel presence and LFE (bass) to it. The music is driven primarily through the front left & right channel speakers but as mentioned does get some good use of the two rear channels as well. Dialogue and vocals (during musical numbers) are delivered distinctly through the center channel. Speaking of those musical numbers, songs, they were written by songwriter Paul Williams — most known for co-writing the song “Rainbow Connection” that “Kermit” performed in “The Muppet Movie” back in 1979. Moving right along, it’s worth noting that sound effects here at times hold a bit of “oomph” to them in terms of LFE. There is one particular moment around 1 hour 3 minutes in or so when the LFE becomes pretty intense. It’s by no means too amazing but it is definitely one solid lossless 5.1 audio presentation that does the film’s music justice and sets the vibe of the film nicely. That being said, this earns itself a “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.

The Muppet Christmas Carol on Blu-ray screenshot

Bonus Materials on this release are presented in both full 1080p Hi-Def (HD) and standard definition (SD) video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @320kbps sound.

  • Disney Intermission” (HD) is an ALL-NEW feature. When you pause the film you’ll be treated to five different Holiday-themed songs performed by Muppets characters. These total up to roughly 6 minutes or so and play at random. Below you’ll find two video clips of the songs (intermissions).

Disney IntermissionVideo Clips:

  • ALL-NEW Audio Commentary with Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, The Great Gonzo and more fan-favorite Muppets characters
  • Audio Commentary by Director Brian Henson
  • Frogs, Pigs and Humbug: Unwrapping a New Holiday Classic. A Behind the Scenes Look” (21:56 – SD) is hosted by “Rizzo the Rat“, “The Great Gonzo” and Director Brian Henson. This includes some behind-the-scenes footage on set and in the recording studio as well as interviews with Actor Michael Caine, Muppet Performer Steve Whitmore, Writer/Co-Producer Jerry Juhl, “Kermit the Frog“, Songwriter Paul Williams, Muppet Performer Dave Goelz and last but not least “Miss Piggy” herself.
  • On the Set — Blooper Reel” (2:33 – SD) proves to be pretty darn funny.
  • Pepe Profiles Gonzo: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo” (5:29 – SD) is hosted by “Pepe the King Prawn” and features interviews with “The Great Gonzo” himself, as well as interesting facts about him.
  • Christmas Around the World” (2:58 – SD) has “The Great Gonzo” and “Rizzo the Rat” discussing how the holiday is celebrated all over the planet.
  • A Digital Copy of the film is included on a DVD-ROM which is compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media portable devices as well as both Mac and PC.

Overall the bonus materials here prove to be pretty short but they are enjoyable. You get the original DVD bonus materials ported over in standard definition as well as some ALL-NEW content like the Audio Commentary featuring Muppets characters and the “Disney Intermission” featuring five different holiday-themed songs performed by Muppets in glorious Hi-Def. Plus, there’s a Digital Copy of the film to take with you wherever you go. Fans will enjoy these supplemental materials and the physical addition of a digital copy; especially family audiences. Lastly, I’d like to mentioned that if you want a DVD of the film included you’ll have opt for purchasing the “Collector’s EditionBlu-ray “combo pack” which is an EXCLUSIVE over at online retailer Amazon.


Blu-ray Disc packaging:

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Screenshots:

NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.

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