James & The Giant Peach Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
The cover is appropriate and eye catching. Would I have it as a poster? No, and here’s why. It’s just too busy for me. I would love a very close up image of one of the lead character’s face, or just the peach, bold and sweet looking. I get the concept though, kind of charming and sweet and telling the story in brief. The menu is just a still background with themed navigation, so it’s not that much excitement for such a lovely movie.

Features: 4/10

  • Spike The Aunts Interactive Game – Oh, it sucks. Take my word for it, or better yet, try it and see just how right I really am.
  • Behind The Scenes Look At The Making Of The Film –I’m sorry, did they say “behind the scenes”? I disagree. This is a produced commercial for the movie with a few mentions of the fact that they were making a movie and there might be some behind the scenes happening.
  • Good News Music Video Performed By Randy Newman – Ugh
  • Original Theatrical Trailer – Trailers are only good for me if I didn’t see them originally and if I care. In this case, I don’t. I love the movie for what it is, no commercials needed for me to enjoy it.

The Movie: 8/10
I can’t help myself…it’s just so damn sweet. There ya go, I broke down and did the dirty deed, called a movie sweet! I can back it up, so bare with me. James is a young boy forced to live with horrible aunts after his parents are mysteriously killed. Does every child tale of strength and independence start with a dead or missing parent? I think the answer is yes.

This isn’t a solid classic film, the way I imagine it should be. I’m not sure why, but there are a few things floating around it that bring it down. I won’t dwell on the negative, but let’s just say the look of the film can be too dark, the live action sequences at the beginning and end are drab, boring, and should have been animated, and the musical numbers don’t excite me much.

On the good side of things the story is a lovely tale of a boy finding his independence from the evil hateful things that the adults in his life have put upon him. The lessons of confidence and true family are, um, pardon the corniness, heartwarming. I appreciate the theme of finding people, or bugs in this case, in life who build you up, give you something to live for, something to fight for against all odds. Among the bugs James encounters there is a spider who could eat everyone but doesn’t, a glow worm who is hard of hearing, a grasshopper who plays classical violin, a centipede with a Brooklyn accent, a northern England worm with lots of insecurities. They are a motley crew, but they need each other to get through the long journey they take across the big pond and when the poo hits the fan they defend and protect each other.

I think what I like about James and the Giant Peach is more than just the nice story, but on a grander scale it takes on the task of showing a person who happens to be young, or a child in other words, that they have value and can be a part of something big, something important. I think we do a lot of holding down, pushing back, discouraging, and underestimating of our younger human selves and it might just be the thing that holds us all back….bigger topic for another day.

I love the stop frame animation. It’s very lively and makes me smile. Like I mentioned though, the movie is quite dark so a lot of the magic gets lost in the shadows. Other than that it’s a lovely movie to watch, feast your eyes on, so to speak. I wish the live action parts weren’t there, but hey, I didn’t have a say in the matter..

Audio & Video: 6/10
James & The Giant Peach is three years older than A Nightmare Before Christmas and looking at these two Blu-Ray’s side by side you would think it was the other way round. While this transfer does preserve the theatrical presentation (Cidtalk saw it in Theaters when it was released) it does look very rough around the edges. From the opening scenes it’s obvious that high definition isn’t going to do the movie any favors. Plenty of issues are evident such as ringing, poor shadow detail, soft focus and a strange flickering that happens every so often. Overall while the movie does look better than the included DVD just because of the improved resolution it doesn’t look THAT much better.

Audio is a different kettle of fish so to speak,  Disney uses the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track well and unlike the picture this sounds great MOST of the time. There are a couple of occasions where Pete Postlethwaite’s narration is drowned out by the music but that was the only complaint I had.

Overall I was pretty disappointed with James & The Giant Peach on Blu-Ray. It’s odd because every other Disney release we have looked at has been outstanding. The lacking picture quality and lack of extras means I can only recommend this to die hard fans of the flick.

Value: 5/10
The extras for this “special edition” are not special at all. If you find it for like seven bucks buy it!! If it’s above that consider a rental. The only caviate is that if you have young children who will watch over and over, it might be worth a bigger investment. It’s a lovely story, lovely cast, and all the other elements all come together for a sweet movie, but this Blu-Ray doesn’t do it justice.

Overall Score 8/10