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The Fifth Estate

One of the year's most exciting movies. —Matt Anderson (review...)

Cumberbatch assumes he's the Fifth Estate

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With the multitude of dogs, and one of Disney’s more memorable cartoon villains, One Hundred and One Dalmatians is a fun romp. While the movie will appeal more to kids, most of the bonus features on this two-disc DVD set are for grown-up fans.


Cruella DeVil is one of Disney's more memorable cartoon villains
Cruella DeVil is one of Disney’s more memorable cartoon villains

Based on the children’s novel by Dodie Smith, this is the first Disney animated feature to be set in the present (in this case, it’s London of the early 1960s.) Roger and Anita are the humans brought together by their dalmatians Pongo and Perdita. Instead of a human baby, the two couples are blessed with a litter of 15 puppies.

Enter Cruella DeVil, an old schoolmate of Anita’s. She really really really loves fur, and she covets the litter. She sends her two Cockney henchmen to take the pups and add them to her collection of 84 dalmatians stashed in a barn. The bulk of the movie focuses on the efforts of Pongo, Perdita and their animal friends to rescue the youngsters.

In a movie teeming with cute and comical animals, the flamboyant Cruella steals the show. She sports a long cigarette holder, exhaling yellow clouds of smoke, and drives like a maniac, while shouting G-rated insults at her bumbling henchmen. She might be a little scary for the youngest of viewers, but mostly she’s a fun counterpoint to the pups.

DVD Extras

On disc one, there are two sets of pop-up trivia that synch with the movie. “For the Family,” concentrates more on the onscreen action — we find out how many spots the different dogs had, or the foreign language titles, for instance. “For the Fan” has more factoids about the production of the movie, such as who animated which character. Also on this disc, and skippable, is a music video of “Cruella deVil” sung by Selena Gomez.

Disc two has “Redefining the Line: The Making of The One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” a 34-minute behind-the-scenes documentary. As is typical of many of these, it’s full of people praising the movie, but also includes many details of the production of the film. Cruella DeVil: Drawn to Be Bad is seven-minutes of animators talking about what a great villain she is, with some discussion about the development of her character. This disc includes several trailers, television and radio ads as well as extensive art galleries.

In the Music & More section are a deleted sequence, abandoned songs and alternate versions of scenes. These are illustrated with storyboard drawings along with a soundtrack. This section includes several alternate versions of “Cruella DeVil.” This is the most interesting feature, as it offers a glimpse into the development of the story. The Games & Activities section, which includes DVD-ROM activities, will appeal most to younger children.

Picture and Sound

The movie is presented in 1.75:1 aspect ratio and boasts a restored print and soundtrack. The bonus features have varying aspect ratios, so settings on widescreen TVs may need to be adjusted. Everything looks and sounds very good in our home theater.

How to Use This DVD

How you use this DVD set will depend on the age group of the viewers. Adult fans should check out the features on disc two. For anyone who is really into this movie, both sets of pop-up facts are interesting. Otherwise, just let the kids do their thing.