Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups Blu-ray delivers great video and solid audio, but overall it's a mediocre Blu-ray release
When Mrs. Claus travels to Pineville, the playful Santa Pups stow away on her sled. Taking mischief to a whole new level, they begin granting joyful wishes to Pineville's boys and girls, but something goes terribly wrong - the Christmas spirit begins to disappear. Now the Santa Pups and Mrs. Claus must race to save Christmas around the world!
For more about Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups and the Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups Blu-ray release, see Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on December 7, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Be honest. Is the quality of Disney's latest direct-to-video Air Buddies outing and Santa Paws sequel, Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups, really of any concern to you? Of course not. Stocking stuffer, holiday treat or a surprise for the movie-hungry tots in your household... whatever the case, this one's for the kiddies. And frankly, that's okay. Don't get me wrong, Santa Paws 2 is dreadful, and has about as much sincere Christmas spirit as a bag of coal. But it's cute, it's cuddly, it's colorful, it's suitably winter wonderland-y, and pre-schoolers will eat up every ounce of its holiday hijinks. But make no mistake, you'll be desperate to find an excuse to get out of the room. The sequel's heart, script and performances are three sizes too small.
For your perusal and mild amusement, may I present The Santa Pups official synopsis. An all-new Disney holiday classic is born. Starring a brand new litter of the cutest talking pups ever -- Hope, Jingle, Charity and Noble -- it's perfect for the whole family. When Mrs. Claus travels to Pineville, the playful Santa Pups stow away on her sled. Taking mischief to a whole new level, they begin granting joyful wishes to Pineville's boys and girls. But something goes terribly wrong: the Christmas spirit begins to disappear. Now the Santa Pups and Mrs. Claus must race to save Christmas around the world. From the creators of Disney Buddies, this magical, heartwarming tale is brimming with hope, cheer and Christmas spirit.
Mrs. Claus ringing a silver bell or two? That's one of Charlie's original Angels, Cheryl Ladd, now in her '60s, working hard to elevate the Santa Pups sequel to "holiday classic," even though it's more than clear from her grin-and-bear-it smile that she knows exactly what she signed up for. Ladd -- in addition to reasonably (or perhaps unreasonably) enthusiastic co-stars Pat Finn (a rather trim Santa Claus), Danny Woodburn (series mainstay, head elf Eli), Richard Kind (voicing Eddy the Elf Dog), George Newbern (as a widower and father of a young singer), Ted Rooney and Obba Babatundé -- are tasked with far too much heavy lifting. Between the wooden delivery of the knee-high actors, the stiff-as-statues CG-manipulated pups, and dull, deliberate dialogue, even the most carol-addled Christmas junkie will be left scoffing, "Bah! Humbug!"
It's more than possible I'm being a bit too tough on The Santa Pups, but when a talking animal movie would be better without its talking animals, that's a big problem. The Mrs. Claus/Mary Poppins angle could've sustained its own story, minus the dogs, so why all the pound puppy misadventures? No matter how much human talent the Buddies producers assemble, the titular mutts remain the Buddies franchise weak link, and without familiar muzzles Mudbud, Buddha, Budderball, Rosebud and B-Dawg, the direct-to-video Santa Paws spin-offs are settling into an even deeper rut. Will children be entertained? Sure. There are dogs. Dressed as Santa. And they talk. Is the movie wholesome and accessible to all ages? Yep. Is it "perfect for the whole family?" Let's not get carried away. Young kids will get a kick out of the newest breed of Buddies. But moms and dads? Big brothers and sisters? I'd advise talking the tykes into richer Christmas fare. It's not like classic Christmas specials, direct-to-video releases and feature films are in short supply...
Disney's proficient 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation is more than serviceable, so long as mid-grade digital video and all the less-than-festive cheer it entails -- slightly muted skintones and black levels, somewhat diluted contrast and hit or miss detail -- don't stir up yet another case of the humbugs. The Pups' warm but wintry palette is bursting with bright splashes of color (reds, greens and golds in particular), and overall definition is decidedly decent, all things considered. Softness permeates many a shot, as does the haze of modestly budgeted green screen effects, but edges are clean, fine textures get their moment to shine and delineation doesn't disappoint. Moreover, artifacting, banding, aliasing, noise and other encoding issues aren't at work. As direct-to-video Buddies Blu-ray releases and spin-offs go, this one is comparable to most everything that's come before it.
The Santa Pups' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track isn't playful, powerful or enveloping, although it's presumably a fair representation of the movie's direct-to-video sound design. Dialogue is clear, intelligible and neatly prioritized. Voices just tend to float above the already front-heavy North Pole and Pineville soundscapes, and a flatness infects all but the busiest workshop scenes. The rear speakers are involved but not entirely involving; the LFE channel is engaged but not engaging. The various Christmas songs and Brahm Wenger's cheery score are nice and full, though, and most people will know better than to expect much more.
You know you're in trouble when the back cover of a Blu-ray release lists "Movie Plays in English, Spanish and French" as a special feature. Like Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws and The Search for Santa Paws before it, the Blu-ray edition of Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups offers a near-barebones disc. In fact, barebones might be preferred. Even kids won't get much out of this one.
Santa Pups Music Mash-Up (HD, 2 minutes): The pups celebrate Christmas with "Time to Celebrate Christmas," a mash-up of Jingle Bells and embarrassing hip hop riffs courtesy of the movie's humans.
Blooper Scooper (HD, 3 minutes): Cast and crew yuck it up, complete with yuletide cheer.
Sneak Peeks (HD, 11 minutes): Mulan, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan: Diamond Edition, Peter Pan in Return to Never Land, Finding Nemo 3D, Monsters, Inc. 3D, Planes and Disney Junior's Sofia the First.
With The Muppet Christmas Carol, Arthur Christmas and a variety of Christmas classics, old and new, available on Blu-ray -- most of which you probably already own -- there's no need to spend a chunk of Christmas change on Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups. Light but listless, young kids will enjoy it while the rest of the family will suddenly feel the urge to find something better to do. Disney's Blu-ray release is solid, if not underwhelming, though. Its video presentation is relatively strong, but its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track isn't all that remarkable and its supplemental package is dead on arrival. If Santa Paws 2 was backed by a stocking-stuffer pricepoint, I might be more forgiving. But at a premium price? There are simply too many better Christmas movies to be had.
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From the creators of the Disney Buddies franchise, comes Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups, an all-new adventure starring a brand new litter of the talking Great Pyrenees pups. Santa Paws 2: the Santa Pups premiers on Disney Blu-ray Combo Pack November 20th.
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