Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
The Adventures of Mark Twain(1986)
Based on elements from the stories of Mark Twain, this feature-length Claymation fantasy follows the adventures of Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher and Huck Finn as they stowaway aboard the interplanetary balloon of Mark Twain. Twain, disgusted with the human race, is intent upon finding Halley's Comet and crashing into it, achieving his "destiny." It's up to Tom, Becky, and Huck to convince him that his judgment is wrong and that he still has much to offer humanity that might make a difference. Their efforts aren't just charitable; if they fail, they will share Twain's fate. Along the way, they use a magical time portal to get a detailed overview of the Twain philosophy, observing the "historical" events that inspired his works.
For more about The Adventures of Mark Twain and the The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray release, see the The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on December 9, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: James Whitmore, Dal McKennon, Will Vinton, John Morrison, Bill Scream, Michele Mariana
Director: Will Vinton
» See full cast & crew
The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray Review
"The man with an idea is a fool, until the idea succeeds."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, December 9, 2012
Ah, nostalgia. Both binding and blinding, we're slaves to its call. If I were to watch a little known Claymation cult classic like Will Vinton's The Adventures of Mark Twain today, somehow for the first time, would it still fill me with wonder? Would its magic still sweep over me? Would it still leave my imagination buzzing? Would the scenes that gave me nightmares as a child still creep me out? Did the years I spend watching the film as a child somehow taint my ability to look at it with fresh eyes and a clear conscience? And when it comes to nostalgia, does any of it even matter? Or is nostalgia its own reward? The last time I sat down with The Adventures of Mark Twain was years ago, when it was re-released on DVD. Six long years have passed since then, but Vinton's fantastically dark, trippy foray into feature film animation -- crafted entirely from Plasticine modeling clay, and one of the last of its kind -- still filled me with wonder, still swept over me, still left my imagination buzzing and, yes, still creeped me out. It has some wrinkles and shows some age, I'll admit. But it holds up beautifully, stands as one of the most influential milestones in stop-motion animation, and still has plenty to offer newcomers of all ages. Nostalgia may be binding, but there's a reason, and it's nearly forgotten, oft-overlook gems like this one.
Once every seventy-five years, Halley's comet pays its cosmic visit. In 1835, the comet returned and America's most famous author was born. Mark Twain, "the most conspicuous man on the planet," believed his destiny was linked to the comet. He wrote: "The Almighty has said, no doubt, 'There go those two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'" In 1910, as Halley's comet glowed again in the night sky, Twain wrote: "It is the final chapter," and he never wrote again. On April 21, 1910, he died.
The Adventures of Mark Twain starts out innocently enough as quintessentially quotable American author Samuel Clemens (voiced by James Whitmore) -- a world-weary adventurer living out the end of his days aboard an interdimensional airship -- sets out to meet his destiny, collide with Halley's Comet, and take his own life. Okay, so it doesn't start out so innocently, but chances are you won't initially notice how fatalistic the film can be. (The colorful cheeriness of the first visually stunning act is... deceiving.) The tone of Twain's twilight adventure becomes more clear, though, when a trio of characters from his stories -- Tom Sawyer (Chris Ritchie), Becky Thatcher (Michele Mariana) and Huck Finn (Gary Krug) -- stow away aboard his airship and find themselves in a precarious situation: talking down their creator before he smashes into a comet and kills them right along with himself. As they hurtle toward an uncertain end, Tom and his friends use the airship's time portal to examine the events that inspired Twain's stories and philosophy, have a run-in with mysterious stranger who claims to be an angel (in a segment that was cut from the television broadcast on numerous occasions), witness the creation and destruction of a helpless civilization, and struggle as Twain, who grows more cynical by the minute, goes fifteen intellectual rounds with his literal dark side. ("Family film" may not be an entirely appropriate label in this case. I let my son watch it, but some may not be so eager to share it with their children.)
Like the best and bleakest animated films of the '80s, The Adventures of Mark Twain distracts the kiddies with genesis of the planet tomfoolery, space-faring playfulness and jumping frogs (of Calaveras County) while appealing to their parents' subconscious fears and more cerebral sensibilities. Viewers, young and old, will experience the same shiver when the Mysterious Stranger twists words and minds with his silver tongue, but for entirely different reasons. Children will be disturbed by the unsettling visage of the formless creature. Adults will see what's really at play: a glimpse into the very heart and soul of nihilism, a careful dissection on an ancient, ever evolving war of ideas, and a vision of sentient evil that will give entire families something to share, namely nightmares. When Vinton and writer Susan Shadburne push, they demand their audience pull. Where Vinton and Shadburne challenge, they demand we respond. Little about The Adventures of Mark Twain is easy, or easy to accept at face value, and even less puts a stamp on the various questions raised or the concepts explored. Some men and women of Faith will find the film dangerously sacrilegious and gnostic in nature; some atheists and agnostics will find the film dangerously dogmatic and submissive in nature. Some believers will bristle at the film's incendiary portrait of Adam and Eve; some non-believers will bristle at the reverence and message pulsing beneath the surface. Like Twain's stories and satire, Vinton's animated feature is rife with duality, to say nothing of the clever observations of the duality that inhabits all things. In a sense, Vinton channels Twain -- using direct quotes and seamlessly integrating Twain's beloved tall tales and well-known everyman philosophies -- and allows the story to become a product of the man who started it all; the man who put pen to paper and created the very characters who are suddenly racing to assuage their creator's melancholy and despair.
Even if you don't feel like wandering down every path in Vinton's surreal labyrinth, the film still offers more than enough to enjoy. Twain's then-groundbreaking Claymation is worth the price of admission alone, and puts some recent stop-motion productions to shame, if only by sheer technical audacity. Everything that appears on screen has been crafted from Plasticine, including water, plant life, backdrops, ships and comets. Shape isn't sacrosanct either. Faces melt and reform, rivers flow, life rises from the ground, beasts shift and transform, and reality is sometimes subject to the author and his whims. It couldn't be better suited to Vinton and Shadburne's storytelling, truth be told, and it's easy to see how the end result went on to influence everything from Tim Burton's stop-motion classics to Stephen King's Dark Tower series. (Those familiar with The Waste Lands and Wizard and Glass will notice several striking similarities between The Adventures of Mark Twain and the ka-tet's battle to the death with a suicidal train. O Discordia!) No, Vinton's Twain isn't a perfect film. The vocal performances are stiff and stilted at times (particularly when it comes to Tom and his young companions), the more episodic sequences are just that (episodic), some of Twain's famous quotes are presented out of context for the sake of the story, and Billy Scream's synth-tastic '80s score, though fittingly bizarre, isn't as timeless or effective as a fully orchestral score might have been. That said, Vinton hits his target far more often than he shoots wide, and his Adventures continue to stir the same imaginative waters that were stirred when making the film in the first place.
The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray, Video Quality
I will continue on doing my duty, but when I get to the other side, I will use my considerable influence to have the human race drowned again. This time drowned good. No omissions. No ark.
Like the 2011 Eureka Entertainment UK Blu-ray edition before it, the Magnolia release of The Adventures of Mark Twain features an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation and overhaul, and the results can be quite spectacular. But while both appear to be minted from the same master, Magnolia seems to have made a few different adjustments to that master. (Although it should be noted that those differences are so slight that it's difficult to be entirely sure.) As far as I can tell, there's a bit more ringing in the Magnolia version -- particularly in shots where claymation models are set against bright skies -- as well as additional scratches, white specks and nicks, minor as most instances may be. Just to clarify further, the UK release exhibits the same sort of print damage as the Magnolia edition, but it looks as if Eureka effectively removed several marks and tweaked a handful of rough shots Magnolia has not.
Still, the striking far outweighs the problematic. Colors are soft and pleasant, primaries are lovely, black levels are deep, and contrast is consistent. Detail is even more impressive. A fine veneer of grain lends filmic legitimacy to the image, definition and clarity rarely falter (save the few instances in which softness is present in the original stop-motion photography), and the malleability and texture of the clay is apparent in nearly every frame. Comparisons to its DVD counterpart reveal just how much of an upgrade the film has received. Note the fingerprints in the clay, the nuances in the puppets, the personal touches in each background, and the careful attention to detail that bolsters every hat, raft, crowd, balloon, river and flight of fancy. Edges are crisp, textures are refined and the original animation has been honored just as it should. Moreover, significant artifacting, banding, aliasing and other such eyesores are kept to a bare minimum, which only bolsters the already proficient presentation. Eliminating the speckling, print damage and negligible ringing that creep in is really the only thing that would have improved matters.
The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There's no sadder sight than a young pessimist. Except an old optimist.
Twain's DTS-HD Master Audio and LPCM stereo tracks are excellent all around, two-channel soundscape or no. Voices are warm, clean and perfectly clear, prioritization is dead on, and every last sound effect and Bill Scream music cue sounds about as good as it possibly could. Even elements that would be more potent infused with some additional low-end heft boast a sense of weight and notable oomph (especially when it comes to Twain's airship), making this one of the more absorbing sonic experiences available for a classic claymation release. Yes, a flashier 5.1 remix -- with LFE support and immersive rear speaker activity -- would have certainly been a nice upgrade (or option at the very least), but the power, faithfulness and unexpected fullness of the lossless and uncompressed stereo mixes just might take you by surprise. I was swept up in the magic of it all.
The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Angelfish, it's just like piloting a river. You get to know the shape of it. Like following a hall at home in the dark. And even if you feel some fear, you know no harm can come to you because you've traveled that hallway a hundred times in nothing but bare feet and faith.
The Adventures of Mark Twain is an obscure Claymation classic that rarely gets the attention it deserves. I was lucky enough to discover the film at the ripe old age of eight and not a year has gone by that I haven't revisited it at least once, if only to marvel at the animation and production values (Twain still stands as one of the very few 100% clay-crafted feature films in existence). Magnolia's domestic Blu-ray release gives the film its just due with a strong video transfer, two terrific stereo tracks, and a generous bounty of extras including a director's commentary and nearly an hour of interviews. An extensive, newly produced production documentary would have pushed this disc over the top, but I'm not about to complain.
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to The Adventures of Mark Twain. You can also suggest completely new similar titles to The Adventures of Mark Twain in the search box below.
Similar titles suggested by members
The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray - November 1, 2012
Magnolia Pictures have officially announced and detailed their upcoming release of Will Vinton's The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985). The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the nation on December 4th.
The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to The Adventures of Mark Twain Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2014 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.