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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 1 (1984-2007)

"Oh no, it's the Ghostlight. Ghostlight I respect thee, return to where ye came."
- Mater (Larry The Cable Guy)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: January 10, 2008

Stars: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Bob Peterson, Bret Parker, Bud Luckey, Eli Fucile, Jason Lee, Larry The Cable Guy, Owen Wilson, Michael Wallis, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman
Director: Gary Rydstrom, John Lasseter, Dan Scanlon, Bud Luckey, Roger Gould, Brad Bird, Ralph Eggleston, Jan Pinkava, Mark Andrews, Andrew Jimenez, Peter Docter

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 54m:00s
Release Date: November 06, 2007
UPC: 786936723489
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-AA B

DVD Review

Even with a strong a catalog of eye-popping animated feature films in their relatively short history, Pixar's very foundation was built on the power of the short film. This single disc collection of thirteen shorts, produced between 1984 and 2007, represents a chronological tour of groundbreaking work by Pixar that continues to twist and evolve the place of animation as an art form. Strip away the simplicity and humor of the storytelling, and we're left to marvel at all the rich textures and detail on display.

And as technologically cutting-edge as the vast background of woods and grass of 1984's rather brief The Adventures of Andre and Wally B were then, the almost three-dimensional presentation of an alien spacecraft in 2007s Lifted seems light years apart. Sure, it's twenty-some years, but it's really a lifetime when it comes to the use of shadow, shading, and movement, and viewing these shorts sequentially becomes more than just wonder and entertainment; it's a kind of geek animation history lesson. The clunkiness of the diapered human baby in 1988s Toy Story-predecessor Tin Toy—especially when played against the expressive features of the titular character—reveal limitations that eventually were overcome, as the refinements of human movement eventually made it appear much more natural and lifelike over the years.

The good news is that casual viewers with no interest of the advent of cheaper computing power or the intricacies of rendering an animated human just right will still find plenty to chuckle over here. Familiar characters like Monsters Inc. stars Mike and Sulley appear in the mechanical slapstick of Mike's New Car (2002). Similarly with Mater And The Ghostlight (2006), where the four-wheeled cast of Cars is involved in a spooky legend; there's also The Incredibles' babysitting-adventure-gone-awry short Jack-Jack Attack (2005). That's easily the measurable marquee star power of Pixar, but it's hardly the capper in terms of enjoyment.

For me, the highpoints are a pair of diverse shorts produced almost twenty years apart—beginning with the heartbreaking noir of Red's Dream (1987), about the sad life of a very forlorn unicycle. It's a weeper, a nice juxtaposition next to One Man Band (2006), a beautifully rendered bit of musical oneupsmanship that sports some wonderfully lifelike expressions and realistic moving water, all layered together in a dialogue-free bit of physical comedy. To run the gamut of emotions—and do so without dialogue—is a feat handled neatly in these two pieces, both highly stylized moments of the Pixar team completely hitting the mark.

A release like this can ostensibly appeal to youngsters—and there's certainly plenty to laugh at here—but I think the real draw is for the grown-up fan of animation. The early Pixar works were simply meant to show off what the computer wizards could do, but the eventual marriage of bright, detailed art and tight, well-crafted storytelling in evidence here is almost too good for kids.

The shorts included are:
The Adventures of André and Wally B. (1984)
Luxo Jr. (1986)
Red’s Dream (1987)
Tin Toy (1988)
Knick Knack (1989)
Geri’s Game (1998)
For the Birds (2001)
Mike‘s New Car (2002)
Boundin’ (2004)
Jack-Jack Attack (2005)
One Man Band (2006)
Mater and the Ghostlight (2006)
Lifted (2007)


Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Aspect ratios vary, but the sharpness and brilliance of the image transfers are all very solid, with the last half of this set—from For The Birds through Lifted—looking simply stunning. Colors are bright and bold, edges and lines are crisply rendered, and the level of detail at times is remarkable (I will always be amazed the lifelike movement of fur on a character like Sulley from Monsters, Inc.).

Excellent.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The audio transfers are primarily in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround— and like the obvious refinements in animation shown chronologically in this collection— the degree of complexity in the sound design improves exponentially. There are no issues with the early works, though the presentation really accelerates with more recent shorts like One Man Band, Mater And The Ghostlight, and Lifted, which have elaborate mixes that create aggressively full-bodied surround gimmicks.

French and Spanish dubs are available in 2.0 surround.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Wall-E, Return To Neverland, Santa Claus 3: The Escape Clause, Ratatouille
1 Documentaries
7 Featurette(s)
12 Feature/Episode commentaries by John Lasseter, Eben Ostby, Bill Reeves, Jan Pinkava, Ralph Eggleston, Nicholas Docter, Liam Gould, Bud Lackey, Andrew Jimenez, Mark Andrews, Michael Giacchino, Dan Scanlon, Gary Rydstrom
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Of the thirteen shorts in this collection, twelve get optional audio commentaries (the comment-free selection being Jack-Jack Attack). John Lasseter, Eben Ostby, and Bill Reeves team up for the first five shorts (The Adventures of Andre and Wally B, Luxo Jr., Red's Dream, Tin Toy, Knick Knack), with the others featuring director Jan Pinkava (Geri's Game), director Ralph Eggleston (For The Birds), the children of directors Pete Docter and Roger Gould (Mike's New Car), director Bud Lackey (Boundin'), directors Andrew Jimenez and Mark Andrews, along with composer Michael Giacchino (One Man Band), Lasseter again, paired with Dan Scanlon (Mater And The Ghostlight), and sound designer-turned-director Gary Rydstrom (Lifted). With the exception of the cute factor of having young children do the commentary Mike's New Car, the rest of the content is fairly technical, and traces a nice history of Pixar, especially the purpose and importance of those early works.

Sort of condensing the main points is The Pixar Shorts: A Short History (23m:33s), a brief but fascinating look at the creative process during Pixar's shaky beginnings, when computer processing was both expensive and limited. The focus here is how an animator like John Lasseter came to get involved with a number of computer geeks, and how their work truly impacted the direction of modern-day animation.

Also included are four brief made-for-Sesame-Street shorts, featuring the Luxo lamps in Surprise (:22s), Light and Heavy (01m:00s), Up and Down (:34s), and Front and Back (:42s). Three easy-to-find Easter Eggs run :31s, :32s, and 02m:02s, and feature pencil test work for the Luxo lamps, an experiment in motion, shade and lighting and an early CG short entitled Beach Chair.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Here's an impressive set of short films from Pixar that make this brief-but-entertaining collection a must for fans of animation. Watching them in sequence, you can see the technological advances in the art form taking place right before your eyes.

Recommended.

 


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