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The Last Unicorn – Enchanted Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Last-UnicornOne of the most beloved fantasy films of all-time, The Last Unicorn has enraptured generations of fans with its poetic tale of a brave unicorn’s journey through a mystic land seeking others of her kind.  On June 9th, 2015, rediscover this classic tale with Shout! Factory’s release of The Last Unicorn: The Enchanted Edition on Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack and standalone DVD. Fans who order their copies from ShoutFactory.com will receive a limited edition collectable 18”x 24” poster with their order, available while supplies last.

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Film 

Upon hearing that she may be the very last of her kind on Earth, a Unicorn goes in search of others like her. Her quest won’t be easy, as it leads her straight to the evil King Haggard and his infamous Red Bull! And the journey is made even more complicated when, to protect her from the envious wrath of Haggard, a spell is cast to turn the Unicorn into the Lady Amalthea, a young, beautiful, human woman. But with this new body comes new thoughts and feelings, such as love for Haggard’s son, Prince Lir. Will the Unicorn get lost inside this new body? Will she meet the fate of the other Unicorns? Or will she be able to defeat Haggard and his Red Bull with the aid of her friends, Schmendrick the bumbling magician and Molly Grue?

Based on the worldwide bestselling novel by Hugo-Award winning author Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn boasts an all-star vocal cast, featuring the talents of Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, Academy Award winner Alan Arkin, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury and Rene Auberjonois , as well as unforgettable original music by Jimmy Webb, performed by the band America, and animation by the Japanese artists who later became the core of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli.

From the minute the film starts going, you’ll notice this is a Rankin-Bass animated production.  Being familiar with their renditions on The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, it looks, feels and play right into that wheelhouse.  Complete with songs and the way their animations ticks, tocks and walks.

This is a highly praised children’s film from its era, earning good reviews as well as a strong following as a reputation. However, maybe it was my mood, maybe it was something I ate beforehand, but I just had the hardest time full getting into and investing in this one.  There were some strong voice talents helping to class this joint up.  Jeff Bridges was fun to see, er…hear when he popped in.  The film also has some decent moments that also find themselves just few and far between.

I’m happy for those that can appreciate this film.  It does have a nice premise and promise a fun fantasy adventure that I just wish I could have gotten more into. Maybe its the pacing or maybe the type of animation just doesn’t sit well with my eyes (I felt the urge to nod off at a couple of points).  I did get a kick that the villain in this is the intimidating “Red Bull”.  For me though, while I wasn’t a fan, I could appreciate seeing that what it does, it does well.  What it does well, just isn’t really my thing.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  This is a nicely clean up and restored image that has that Shout! Factory “hands off” approach to it that we all love.  The image is sharp and all the coloring, shading and strokes are all apparent and detailed here.

Depth:  Movement is fluent and as smooth as the animation allows.  Good separation of background and foreground present.

Black Levels: Blacks are accurate and as should be with good shading.  No real crushing issue to report.

Color Reproduction:  There’s a nice palette of color on display in the movie and its beautifully decked out.  Colors appear bold and strong.

Flesh Tones: n/a

Noise/Artifacts:  Some specs, dirt and grain throughout bringing a rich cinematic feel to the transfer.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  This 5.1 track is mixed as active as could be from an animation sourced back in the early 80s.  The track feels loose, free and fluid.  The sound effects come across nice and loud and distinct sound.  The songs take center stage and have good presence whenever they pop into play in the film.  There is a nice balance of the vocal track, sound effects track and the musical score in this mix.

Low Frequency Extension:  Light usage of the subwoofer.  It decently tracks action and bass in the music.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The front speakers give an accurate depiction of the movement of action and characters on the screen. Rear channels do play a part, but its mainly ambiance and lower volumed scoring.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and clear, center-focused.  A tad analogue sounding at times.

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Extras 

The Last Unicorn comes with a DVD copy and Digital Copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Author Peter S. Beagle, Associate Producers Michael Chase Walker, Connor Cochran, Terri Kempton and Travis Ashmore

True Magic: The Story Of The Last Unicorn (HD, 43:29) – Interviews with Peter S. Beagle, Connor Cochran and producer Michael Chase Walker discussing the full history of making the film.

Highlights From The Last Unicorn Worldwide Screening Tour With Peter S. Beagle (HD, 11:18) – Peter S. Beagle and Connor Cochran introduces the segment talking about the specifics and fans and then we get some footage of the event followed by some Q & A bits.

Animated Storyboards (HD, 7:23) 

Original Trailer (HD, 2:48) – Voiced by the guy who did commercials for Star Trek: The Next Generation

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Summary 

This movie wasn’t really my thing, but I can appreciate what people may see in it.  I can also appreciate the good job the folks at Shout! Factory did on the transfer and audio.  They also put together some terrific extras.  For fans of this movie, this has to be pretty high on the recommend scale and I’m not even a fan of it.  Will The Last Unicorn ever look better than this?  I’m not sure, but for right now it looks pretty darn good.  I’m not familiar with Lionsgate’s release either, so I can’t compare the two.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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