Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, 1.78:1 Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1, 1.85:1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1 English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 … (more)
Note: See audio review for audi...
English: Dolby Digital 5.1 English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English: DTS-HD HR 7.1 (less) Note: See audio review for audio options available for each short. 7 of the 12 shorts do not feature a lossless audio option
Pixar Short Films Collection: Vol. 2 Blu-ray delivers stunning video and solid audio in this excellent Blu-ray release
Disney and Pixar present an incredible new collection of 12 short films, featuring multiple Academy Award nominees and a host of family favorites. Includes: Your Friend the Rat, Presto, Burn-E, Partly Cloudy, Dug's Special Mission, George & A.J., Day & Night, Hawaiian Vacation, Air Mater, Small Fry, Time Travel Mater, and La Luna. Also includes seven Pixar directors' student short films.
For more about Pixar Short Films Collection: Vol. 2 and the Pixar Short Films Collection: Vol. 2 Blu-ray release, see Pixar Short Films Collection: Vol. 2 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on November 11, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
There's quite a bit of difference between the first and second volumes of the Pixar Short Films Collection. When Volume 1 arrived in November of 2007, the majority of its thirteen animated shorts weren't available on any other high definition release, making it something of a must-own for Pixar junkies. The majority of featured shorts in Volume 2, though, are already sitting in most of your Blu-ray collections. Only three -- George & A.J, Small Fry and Time Travel Mater -- aren't available on a previous release. Completists won't flinch, of course. Three new shorts... AND seven student films? Sold! So where does that leave you, the cost-conscious consumer? With a tough decision to make, that's where. Is the convenience of a compilation release and the addition of three new shorts, a host of short-maker commentaries and seven student films (from John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter) worth the price of admission?
There are twelve primary shorts in Volume 2: six that originally debuted in front of a Disney or Pixar theatrical release, four that made their original debut on Blu-ray and DVD, and two that, until now, have only been available online on iTunes, Amazon VOD, Facebook or YouTube.
Your Friend the Rat (Ratatouille): Remy and Emile (Patton Oswalt and Peter Sohn) host an educational video on the history of the human/rat conflict. Unfortunately, at eleven minutes, this hodgepodge of CG and hand-drawn animation drags on far too long; it's only saving graces being the clever upticks in writer/director Jim Capobianco's script and Oswalt and Sohn's voice work. The rest is more home video bonus feature than legitimate animated short. My score: 2.5/5
Presto (Wall-E): Still one of my all-time favorite Pixar shorts (along with Geri's Game and Small Fry), director Doug Sweetland's Presto has zero dialogue, a single location and just two characters. And yet it's full of life, laughs and magic thanks to a poor bunny's desperate efforts to score a carrot from his stingy owner, a magician who grows increasingly frustrated with his rabbit's vindictive antics. This is Pixar short-making at its finest, animation, story, comedy and all. My score: 5/5
Burn-E (Wall-E): His automated handlers know him as Basic Utility Repair Nano Engineer. But you can just call him Burn-E, diligent maintenance bot, well-intentioned welder and unwitting participant in Wall-E's adventure aboard the starship Axiom. Running parallel to the events of the film, this is a fantastic, fun-filled companion piece if there ever was one. The only downside? As a standalone short, it isn't nearly as entertaining and feels a tad erratic. My score: 4/5
Partly Cloudy (Up): Everyone knows storks deliver babies all over the world. But who gives the storks those babies? Clouds, naturally. And rain cloud Gus handles all the nasty ones: the crocs, the porcupines, the sharks and the electric eels. Gus isn't a bad cloud, though, and this is easily one of Pixar's cutest shorts. Light on substance but big on heart, it works wonders, no matter how many times you've seen it. My score: 4.5/5
Dug's Special Mission (Up): On his birthday, Dug the Golden Retriever (Bob Peterson) guards a rock at the behest of his superiors, Doberman Pinscher Alpha (a squeakier Peterson), Rottweiler Beta (Delroy Lindo) and Bulldog Gamma (Jerome Ranft). Nothing goes as planned for the three bullies, though, and tame misadventure ensues. This is another lesser short, with charm but little else of note. My score: 3/5
George & A.J. (Up): Initially an iTunes exclusive extra, this hand-drawn disappointment follows Shady Oaks Retirement Village nurses George and A.J. (Jason Topolski and A.J. Riebli III) after Carl's house lifts off into the air and floats away. Sentenced to Facebook then YouTube, the worst short in the collection should've stayed online. It's a curiosity, sure, but it's an animated short in only the loosest of terms, playing out as a pre-production storyboard reel rather than anything resembling a completed short. My score: 1/5
Day & Night (Toy Story 3): The third theatrical short on tap makes it that much clearer that Pixar's theatrical shorts are on a whole other level. Blending 2D and 3D animation to minimalistic but ingenious ends, Day & Night finds -- who else? -- Day and Night meeting, growing jealous of one another and eventually putting aside their differences. Difficult to describe but simple to fall in love with, it's unconventional charisma is infectious. My score: 4.5/5
Hawaiian Vacation (Cars 2): The first of two Toy Story mini-sequels, Hawaiian Vacation reunites all your favorite Toy Story characters and voice actors as Buzz (Tim Allen), Woody (Tom Hanks) and the gang throw Barbie and Ken (Jodie Benson and Michael Keaton) an impromptu getaway... in Bonnie's room. Yeah, it's a bit of a throwaway outing, but it's next to impossible to come away without a silly grin slathered across your face. I'll take as much Toy Story as Pixar's willing to give, especially if it's this funny. My score: 4/5
Air Mater (Cars 2): Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) weaves another too-tall-to-be-true Tall Tale with the same punchline as always: not so fast kids, it happened! It also serves as a first look of sorts at the world of Planes, the upcoming Cars direct-to-video spin-off. Still, this one's aimed squarely at children (and parents) who just love, love, love Mater's grand adventures. I actually enjoy the Tall Tale shorts more than I did Cars 2, though, so don't be quick to write it off. My score: 3.5/5
Small Fry (The Muppets): Beating Wreck-It Ralph's best gag to the punch a full year ahead of time, Small Fry is Toy Story Lite perfection. Buzz (Tim Allen) is trapped deep within the ventilation system of a fast food restaurant -- attending a support group for discarded kids' meal toys -- while a feisty, Happy Meal mini-Buzz (Teddy Newton) hitches a ride back to Bonnie's and attempts to convince everyone he's the real Lightyear. Hands down the funniest Pixar short ever, this is one of the highlights of the collection. My score: 5/5
Time Travel Mater (Exclusive): Time Travel Mater might just be the best Mater's Tall Tales short to date, or I may just be the biggest time travel sucker on the East Coast. Either way, I couldn't help but light up at the sight of Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) shooting back through time with Lightning (Keith Ferguson) in tow to ensure Stanley (John Michael Higgins) founds Radiator Springs and marries Lizzie (Katherine Helmond). Lighter fare? Yep. Good stuff? Absolutely. My score: 4/5
La Luna (Brave): A boy heads out to sea with his father and grandfather to watch the moon rise and tend to pressing responsibilities. Specifically, cleaning falling stars off of the moon's surface. Quaint but mesmerizing, simple but oh-so-expressive, La Luna left me smiling like a child, something I didn't even realize I was doing until my wife pointed it out. To top it all off, I felt a deeper connection to its silent characters than I did with the entire cast of Brave. My score: 4.5/5
The shorts and their 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfers are uniformly striking, without any serious issues of note. Yes, brief banding and extremely minor aliasing make a few fleeting appearances, but none of it amounts to a distraction. Colors are gorgeous, primaries pop beautifully, black levels are deep and inky, and contrast is vivid and consistent. It only helps that every last detail is present and accounted for, with razor sharp edges, perfectly resolved fine textures, and no noise or macroblocking to be found. And unlike Volume 1, all of the featured Volume 2 shorts are free of inherent anomalies, meaning there aren't any eyesores to overlook or contend with. Pixar fans will be delighted with the video presentation all around.
Unfortunately, not every animated short boasts a comparable audio presentation. Six shorts feature a decent but less than ideal 640kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 track, one features a strong 2046kbps DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1 audio, and five feature either a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 or Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless mix. Will most consumers care? Or even notice for that matter? Probably not. But an expectation adjustment may be in order, especially for Pixar fans trying to decide if they want to purchase a collection of shorts they already have scattered throughout their Blu-ray collection on various Pixar discs. That said, there's no real problem child in the bunch. Dialogue is clear and well-prioritized, effects are bright and playful, and music is nice and full. The lossless and high resolution tracks tend to offer more authoritative LFE output, enveloping rear speaker activity and more impressive dynamics, but the lossy mixes are no slouch. Ultimately, by raw quality or mere principle, Volume 2's audio is a bit of a mixed bag.
The following is a short-by-short breakdown of the disc's available audio tracks:
Your Friend the Rat: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Presto: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Burn-E: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Partly Cloudy: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Dug's Special Mission: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
George & A.J.: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Day & Night: English DTS-HD HR 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Hawaiian Vacation: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Air Mater: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Small Fry: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Time Travel Mater: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Even with twelve audio commentaries and seven student short films (with director introductions no less), there isn't quite as much here as there could be. It almost seems silly to complain, I'll admit, but concept art, making-of featurettes, pre-viz work, story pitches, voice recording sessions and any other available materials would have made for a much more exhaustive supplemental offering.
Audio Commentaries: A dozen commentaries are included, one for each of the featured animated shorts: "Your Friend the Rat" with director Jim Capobianco and production designer Nate Wragg, "Presto" with director Doug Sweetland, "Burn-E" with director Angus MacLane, "Partly Cloudy" with director Peter Sohn, "Dug's Special Mission" with director Ronnie del Carmen and supervising technical director Brad Winemitter, "George & A.J." with director Josh Cooley, "Day & Night" with director Teddy Newton and layout artist Sandra Karpman, "Hawaiian Vacation" with director Gary Rydstrom, story supervisor Jason Katz and supervising animator Angus MacLane, "Air Mater" with director Rob Gibbs, producer Kim Adams and production designer Bob Pauley, "Small Fry" with director Angus MacLane, "Time Travel Mater" with director Rob Gibbs, editor Torbin Xan Bullock and production designer Anthony Christov, and "La Luna" with director Enrico Casarosa and producer Kevin Reher.
Pixar Directors' Student Films (HD, 39 minutes): Seven student short films, each with a director's introduction: "Nitemare" and "Lady and the Lamp" with John Lasseter, "Somewhere in the Arctic" and "A Story" with Andrew Stanton, and "Winter," "Palm Springs" and "Next Door" with Pete Docter.
Trailers (HD): Monsters University, Planes, Peter Pan and Finding Nemo 3D.
Volume 2 isn't as much of a must-have release as Volume 1 was in 2007. Only three of the twelve shorts featured here are making their Blu-ray debut, meaning most Pixar aficionados will be purchasing a release that has nine shorts they already own (on one disc or another). Still, completists will be pleased, particularly with the video presentation and special features, as will most casual animation fans, even though seven of the featured shorts don't include a lossless audio option, which will surely be a sticking point for some.
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From Disney/Pixar, the Award-winning studio behind Toy Story 3, Up and WALL•E, comes a new collection of short films on Blu-ray. Experience the revolutionary animation and unforgettable characters with 12 short films, together for the very first time. The collection ...
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