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Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!(TV) (1970)
Hearing a faint cry for help from a floating speck of dust, Horton finds a tiny planet of Whos living there. Though he can't see them, he hears them for sure - and puts his safety on the line for microscopic inhabitants. Thanks to Dr. Who-Vee and Horton, Whoville is saved and a lasting friendship is created.
For more about Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! and the Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Blu-ray release, see Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 9, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Hans Conried, Chuck Jones, June Foray, Thurl Ravenscroft
Directors: Chuck Jones, Ben Washam
» See full cast & crew
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Blu-ray Review
I shrug my shoulders, I shake my head. "Skip this one promptly, watch others instead!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 9, 2009
I have fond memories of Dr. Seuss' "Horton Hears a Who," but I cannot, for the life of me, recall watching Chuck Jones' 1970 animated adaptation. Ever. I didn't even know it existed until Jimmy Hayward's 2008 CG reimagining gave Jones' original television special another shot at children's imaginations. Frankly, I wish I had stuck with Seuss' text and Hayward's film. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! is a sterile, sing-songy mess; a colorful bore that fails to capture the magic of the author's story, the wonders of his world, or the appeal of his characters. I'm not sure whether to blame Hans Conried's stilted narration or the many wince-inducing musical numbers that fill out its runtime, but I do know my son wandered away within five minutes... a telltale sign if there ever was one. Yes, it's rather harmless and arguably whimsical, and yes, it features Jones' expressive animation. Regardless, there are much stronger family releases on the market that deserve more attention and love than this flawed and flaccid film.
When a kind-hearted elephant named Horton discovers a tiny civilization of Whos nestled in a ball of dust on the tip of a flower, he does what any good-natured creature would do: he decides to protect it. Unfortunately, that doesn't sit well with a cynical kangaroo who refuses to believe Horton's story. Since she can't see or hear the Whos, she concludes they must not exist. Initially, she only torments Horton, but before long she convinces the other animals in the jungle to ostracize him, sicks a trio of apes on him, has the flower tossed in a valley of flowers and, after Horton miraculously recovers the Whovian homeworld, eventually has the elephant captured. As she tries to wrestle the flower from his grip, Horton begs the microscopic Whos to make their voices heard. Scrambling to make as much noise as they possibly can, the Whos scream for their very survival, hoping their faint cries will reach the vicious, narrow-minded beasts threatening to destroy their entire civilization.
Okay, maybe I'm being too harsh on a television special that faithfully adheres to Seuss' original tale, includes song lyrics by Seuss himself, and boasts the efforts of legendary animator Chuck Jones. Or maybe I enjoyed the 2008 feature film -- despite its many departures from the book -- even more than I thought I did. Regardless, I can't help but feel underwhelmed by the overall production. Horton lacks charisma, lumbering from scene to scene without any grounding visual weight; the Whos are soulless, so much so that Horton's Whovian friend practically yawns his way through the near-destruction of his world; the various villains that crop up aren't as menacing as they seemed in Seuss' story; and Conried doesn't boast the commanding presence or passionate vocalizations Boris Karloff brought to How the Grinch Stole Christmas four years earlier. Whatever the cause, Horton Hears a Who! is a lesser adaptation that rarely excites or entertains. Considering Warner has also released Blu-ray editions of The Grinch and A Charlie Brown Christmas, fans of classic TV animation should spend their money elsewhere.
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like the concurrently released Blu-ray editions of A Charlie Brown Christmas and Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Warner's high definition debut of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! grants the original production new life. Its colors are bold, its blacks are well resolved, its lineart is clean and sharp, and the condition of its print is impressive. Comparisons to the standard DVD showcase the many improvements featured in this Blu upgrade. However, artifacting and banding are frequent offenders, mucking up the otherwise proficient presentation. Paired with the print wear, color fill anomalies, and frame-to-frame inconsistencies -- three issues that stem from the cartoon's original print, not Warner's technical transfer -- the picture is fairly unstable and unreliable. Of course, it's difficult to discern where digital artifacts end and animation cell imperfections begin, but it's apparent that Horton Hears a Who! hasn't been given quite the same love as its more timeless animated brethren.
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! arrives alongside A Charlie Brown Christmas and Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and all three suffer strikingly similar sonic fates. Instead of offering lossless stereo mixes, Warner has simply repurposed the 192kbps Dolby Digital stereo tracks that appear on the animated specials' standard DVD counterparts. The tracks are passable and, considering their age and condition, altogether serviceable, but wavering music, at-times muffled voices, and background hiss are frequent issues. Though they'll undoubtedly earn a free pass from nostalgic fans focused on the cartoons' humble productions -- perhaps rightfully so -- I wanted more. A lossless stereo track, a more extensive audio restoration... something. Anything more than recycled mixes from previously released DVDs. No, its meager audio offering shouldn't prevent anyone from purchasing Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!, but it certainly won't leave a lasting impression.
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
A lengthy but underwhelming supplemental package accompanies Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who. While it includes a ninety-minute documentary (of sorts) and two bonus cartoons, it's all far less satisfying than the forty minutes of classy content that appears on Warner's Blu-ray release of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Perhaps I lack the nostalgia required to enjoy Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!, or maybe my son's disinterest became my disinterest, but in spite of my affection for Seuss' original story, I didn't find a lot to love about Jones' animated adaptation. The Blu-ray edition isn't much better. A solid video transfer adds some much-needed value to the release, but a bland lossy audio track and an annoying supplemental package make Warner's asking price a laughable one. Skip Horton and pick up Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas or A Charlie Brown Christmas instead.
Horton Hears a Who!: Other Editions
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