Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Written by Senora Bicho

James and the Giant Peach
is an animated musical by the creators of The Nightmare Before Christmas based on Roald Dahl's 1961 children's book. Originally released in theaters in 1996, a new special edition Blu-ray is now available.

James is a young boy forced to live with his aunts after a mysterious rhinoceros kills his parents. His aunts turn him into a slave and he hopes of one day going to New York City where his parents always dreamed of. One day after James heroically rescues a spider, a stranger gives him magic crocodile tongues that are intended to turn his life around. As James excitedly heads home, he trips and scatters the tongues all over the ground whereby sprouting a giant peach. The aunts turn the peach into a tourist attraction and make James pick up after the onlookers. While cleaning, and out of starvation, he takes a bite of the peach, which had one last crocodile tongue in it. This transforms James and creates an opening for him to enter the peach. At this point, the film changes from live-action to stop-motion animation. Once inside the peach, James meets a group of bugs including the spider that he rescued. While the aunts are looking for James, the peach gets loose, setting James and his new friends on an amazing journey.

I had high expectations for the film based on my love of The Nightmare Before Christmas but it doesn't quite measure up. The voice casting is at its best with Richard Dreyfus (Centipede), Susan Saradon (Miss Spider), and Jane Leeves (Ladybug). Paul Terry is adorable and perfectly lovable as James. While the story and characters are interesting, my biggest problem is the songs. I am a huge Randy Newman fan but his songs are more tailored for Pixar films. Danny Elfman would have been the better choice to fit the dark elements of this tale. Each song brought me out of the story and lost my interest. The best part of the film is an underwater scene featuring a "skellington". It is clever, original and amazing to watch.

The only new bonus feature is the game "Spike the Aunts" which gives players the chance to try and hit the aunts with a rhinoceros. The features from the previous DVD release include a production featurette, "Good News" music video, still frame gallery, and original theatrical trailer.

While the "Spike the Aunts" game doesn't offer anything extraordinary to this new release, the picture and sound quality on Blu-ray are phenomenal. It is presented with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The details of the stop-motion characters are crisp and gives them added depth and life. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio really brings you into the adventure and surrounds you with action like a Hollywood blockbuster.

If you are a fan of the film, I highly recommend the Blu-Ray edition of James and the Giant Peach. It will add to your enjoyment and provide a more theatrical experience. If you have not yet seen it, spend the extra dollars to rent the Blu-Ray version.