Celebrating Mickey – Blu-ray Review

celebrating_mickey_bluray


Release Title: Celebrating Mickey
Release Date: 2018
Rating: NOT RATED
Runtime: 100 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Disney
Audio Format: Dolby Digital 2.0 / 5.1
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 & 2.35:1
Formats Available: Blu-ray
Versions Available: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 10/23/18


celebrating_mickey_1click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot

The Compilation

“Celebrating Mickey” is a collection of 12 classic animated short films, and one modern animated short, all featuring Mickey Mouse created by Walt Disney. Mickey is celebrating 90 years of existence this year, hence the title and this release from Disney. The shorts being restored in high definition and set for release was first discussed back in August when Disney unveiled an upcoming New York City interactive art exhibit celebrating the 90th anniversary – set for November. You can find out more about the art exhibit online. The shorts included on this Blu-ray Disc release are as follows:

  1. “Steamboat Willie” (1928)
  2. “The Band Concert” (1935)
  3. “Thru the Mirror” (1936)
  4. “Mickey’s Rival” (1936)
  5. “Boat Builders” (1938)
  6. “Mickey’s Trailer” (1938)
  7. “Brave Little Tailor” (1938)
  8. “Tugboat Mickey” (1940)
  9. “The Little Whirlwind” (1941)
  10. “Mickey’s Birthday Party” (1942)
  11. “Pluto’s Party” (1952)
  12. “The Simple Things” (1953)
  13. “Get A Horse!” (2013)

NOTE: I’ll be listing each short with a link to its Wikipedia entry, the feature runtime, the year it was released, and offer up a brief paragraph description of the story  below.

The first major appearance of animated character Mickey Mouse starts back in November of 1928 when creator Walt Disney released the first animated short Steamboat Willie (7:43) to the public. Before that though, the actual first animated short featuring Mickey Mouse was called Plane Crazy (also from 1928). Plane Crazy received a test screening earlier that year, but it didn’t end up getting a distributor. Hence, later that year a first short would be released featuring Mickey, although it would not be the one Walt had originally planned for it to be. It’s even more sad to say that short did not make it to this release, nor did any of the other black & white era of animated short films featuring Mickey.

Disney would go on to make five more animated short films during 1929 through 1933 involving Mickey. For the second short presented here they skipped a lot of the black & white era and went right to color. The first official color animated short featuring the character we get here in The Band Concert (9:18) from 1935 featuring Technicolor. Interesting fact here though, there actually was a color animated short before that featured Mickey done in 1932 for the 5th Academy Awards, but it was never released to the public. This gives us some excellent classical music being conducted by none other than Mickey himself, and the band includes some characters you might recognize. The performance is interrupted when “Donald Duck” comes along being pretty loud and insisting to be part of the act. This proves to be one of the most memorable early color shorts, to me personally.

Next up, as the third short, you have Thru The Mirror (8:49) from 1936, which is paying homage to Lewis Carroll‘s book “Through The Looking-Glass” that we see Mickey reading before he falls asleep. Mickey falls asleep and wakes up from a dream to walk through his mirror into a very strange world with some familiar characters. One of my favorite scenes in this short comes near the end with the “calling all cards” sequence. This short has always been one of my more memorable favorites, and I’m very glad to see that it was included.

The fourth short we get here is Mickey’s Rival (8:19) from 1936. This story involves Mickey and Minnie Mouse having a picnic, until Minnie’s old boyfriend Mortimer Mouse shows up – obviously Mickey’s rival. It plays out a tad bit similar to a “Popeye” cartoon short in ways in terms of plot, of two guys trying to show off to win the heart of the girl. Somehow, the whole show off between males manages to end in a bullfight. Yes, you read that last sentence right.

The fifth short we get on this release is Boat Builders (7:18) from 1938. In this we have Mickey, along with his buddies “Donald Duck” and “Goofy” helping, trying to put together what essentially is a mail order boat. Yeah, like you could actually order an entire boat, first off, and then secondly what’s downright hilarious is the company’s catchphrase that Mickey keeps saying: “All you do is put it together.” That really sounds easier said than done, putting an entire boat together as one, two, three or a whole group of people. We get to watch these silly guys attempt to construct a boat, which is a downright laugh.

The sixth short on this release is Mickey’s Trailer (7:44) from 1938. In this Mickey, along with his pals “Donald Duck” and “Goofy” are traveling in a tiny mobile home – assumably, from the title, owned by Mickey. The trailer is being pulled by Goofy up front driving a car, who tends to not pay a whole lot of attention to the road. What could possibly go wrong? As Mickey is preparing food and Donald is having a bath, they eventually find out the hard way what could go wrong. This short is one of my personal favorites, and has always proved to me memorable with its gags.

The seventh short on the release is Brave Little Tailor (8:57) from 1938. This short has  Mickey Mouse working as a tailor in a small middle ages era kingdom. The whole kingdom is upset and on edge because there’s a giant roaming around. Mickey isn’t really too concerned, he’s just trying to do some sewing when these seven flies swarm around his head. It’s obvious that Mickey has a short patience when it comes to flies, and a bit of expertise at getting rid of them. He manages to, as he says “kill seven with one blow” which he shouts out his window after accomplishing such a feat. The only problem is that the three people that heard him were talking about the giant and assume that he meant giants. This leads to him being taken to the King and offered the hand of princess Minnie if he can slay the giant.

The eighth short here is Tugboat Mickey (7:18) from 1940. This has Mickey as the captain of a tugboat with the help of his friends “Donald Duck” and “Goofy” as the crew. The boys are working on doing some maintenance on the boat before setting out on the waters. Mickey manages to get some grief from a seagull, Donald manages to have some mechanical issues, and finally Goofy has some problems with trying to shovel coal to fuel the tugboat. Let’s just say they make it out to the waters, but it’s probably not as they had expected.

The ninth short presented on this release is The Little Whirlwind (8:31) from 1941. In this short where we first see “Minnie Mouse” cooking a cake, which she takes out of the oven and puts it out on the window to cool. Along comes Mickey walking down the street and cannot help but smell the delicious cake. He ends up at Minnie’s window and is making flirtatious attempts just to try to get a piece, of cake. Eventually Mickey offers to just clean up her yard in exchanged for a piece of the cake, to which Minnie agrees. The only problem with this is that Mickey is trying to rake up leaves from her yard, while a tiny little baby tornado (whirlwind) comes along and decides to make things difficult.

The tenth short on the release isMickey’s Birthday Party (7:50) from 1942. In this short you get to see a lot of familiar Disney cartoon characters aside from just “Minnie Mouse”, “Donald Duck” and “Goofy” who are preparing a surprise birthday party for Mickey. Minnie tries to hide everyone and keep Mickey ready to be surprised, while Goofy is attempting to cook a birthday cake. Eventually the gang come out and keep Mickey occupied with some dancing and such while they wait for the cake to be finished.

The eleventh short on this release is “Pluto’s Party” (6:27) from 1952. This short involves Mickey having a birthday party for his dog “Pluto” with a cake, guests invited, and everything. The only problem here is that Pluto could care less about Mickey’s crazy amount of nephews or the gifts he gets, because he just wants some of that delicious cake. Dogs are a lot like their owners, considering how much Mickey likes cake and what he was willing to go through for a piece – in that last short. Let’s just say poor ‘ole Pluto has to go through a tad bit of outrageousness before he can ever get to have a happy birthday.

The twelfth short on the release, the last of the classics, is The Simple Things (7:01) from 1953. In this final of the classics presented here you have a story that involves Mickey going fishing near the sea with his dog “Pluto” tagging along. Pluto and his experiences with some of the sea creatures proves to dominate most of the short with its gags, while Mickey does get in a few parts. All and all, this short always proves enjoyable and is nice to see picked for this compilation.

Lastly, the thirteenth short on the release is a modern animated feature called Get A Horse! (5:59) from 2013, that was originally shown theatrically in 3D. It’s presented here in 2D, just to make clarification on that. This short is a combination of old traditional hand-drawn animation and computer animation. It starts out with old animation in a likeness (much like “Steamboat Willie”) where Mickey decides to hop on the back of a wagon ride with “Minnie Mouse,” “Horace Horsecollar,” and “Clarabelle Cow.” Unfortunately “Peg-Leg Pete” shows up and manages to throw Mickey right out of the old cartoon into a modern theater, where he has become computer animated in a new modern style. Mickey has to figure out a way to save Minnie with the help of his friends and stop Pete. That’s your basic premise here for this modern short. It’s obviously paying homage to the old cartoons and proves to be pretty fun.

Overall, they’ve put together a nice collection of the classics, but I really think they could have included a lot more on this release. It really brings back a lot of memories for myself, and I’m sure others, seeing these again and in high definition.

Compilation Rating: 5 (out of 5)


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Video Quality

The first twelve shorts are presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which is 4×3 with black pillar bars on the sides of the screen. The last short is presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in widescreen with black bars at the top and bottom.

Disney seems to have really went to a great deal of effort here in restoring the classics shorts that date from 1928 to 1953. Sadly, a lot of the original film grain has been “smoothed over” via DNR (digital noise reduction), but in the case of a older cartoons it actually works incredibly well. In fairness, there is a decent amount of film grain on some of the color classic shorts.

In regards to the first short here “Steamboat Willie” (in black & white) from 1928, you’ll notice it is pretty much solid colors with very little noise aside from what was on the animation cells and such. It still looks great, and proves to be a pretty nice improvement over what Disney has been showing in HD on their Mickey Mouse Video app. For its age, it really has held up nicely, but I have to mention that there are some visible vertical lines on the film print that haven’t been fully removed. I still think this looks marvelous even with that left in.

On just the second short (“The Band Concert”) from 1935 you’ll notice how rich and vibrant the color palette is thanks to the addition of Technicolor. The colors such as reds and yellows really jump off the screen at you in a very good way. This is the best I’ve ever seen this short look, and I’ve watched it a lot of times over my lifetime, from a lot of different sources. The black outlines are sharp on the color shorts, and really make a lot of newfound detail stand out here when presented in high definition. What can be said for just the second short can definitely be said for the rest of these classic color shorts: they look just remarkable, and downright the best I’ve ever seen them look.

The third short (“Thru The Mirror“) from 1936 has some of the most impressive detail in terms of complexity to the animation. The technicolor makes colors seem as vibrant as previously seen and the black outlines are very sharp. In regards to the complexity of animation here on this short, I’d suggest you pay close attention to the sequences near the end involving the cards. That for its time was just downright impressive.

From the fourth short (“Mickey’s Rival”) up to seventh short (“Brave Little Tailor”) you’ll see 1936 through 1938 era shorts that look just as much as I’ve described the two previous other color shorts as. There’s a large amount of bright colors, and a solid black level that helps emphasize the outlines on the animation and so forth. It’s around the eighth short (“Tugboat Mickey”) from 1940 that you’ll start to notice a tiny bit more visible amount of film grain, which looks great. On the ninth short (“The Little Whirlwind”) from 1941, you’ll notice that the animation style had some more toned down colors in comparison to the early color shorts. There’s still some bright colors at times, but the later animated shorts can at times have a bit of a subdued color palette on the animation style.

Around the eleventh short (“Pluto’s Party”) from 1952 you’ll really notice a change in terms of the amount of visible film grain, as well as the amount of imperfections in the film print and animation. It still looks impressive, but this [Pluto’s Party] is one of the less impressive visually of the shorts. When you get to the twelth short, the last of the classics, “The Simple Things” from 1953 you will notice that it looks rough in comparison to the eleven others presented before it. There’s much more film grain, as well as visual imperfections left in the animation and/or film print. The Simple Things is admittedly the least impressive of the shorts here on this compilation. That said though, it does still offer a good amount of detail in high definition and proves to somewhat do the short justice.

Lastly for the thirteenth, there’s “Get A Horse!” which is a modern 2013 short presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Get A Horse! was done as a blend of traditional hand-drawn animation (like the classics) in combination with new computer animation techniques. Oddly enough this short was originally shown in theaters in 3D but they didn’t opt to even include an option here, they decided to just opt for a 2D presentation. It still looks rather impressive and manages to visually get the job done even in 2D. The black level is very solid, the color palette starts out in black & white and transitions nicely over to the inclusion of color.

Overall, the video quality here is downright excellent and I’m very happy to see these classics done pretty much justice. It makes you long for more classic Disney animated cartoons to get this type of treatment (to be restored and released in high definition). I’ll end by saying let’s definitely hope that more Disney classic animated shorts in high def come to Blu-ray in the future.

Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)


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Audio Quality

Audio here is presented in just Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo for most of the shorts and in Dolby Digital 5.1 for one of the modern shorts. Considering the age of some of these shorts and the target audience age of consumers, they probably didn’t think going for lossless sound was even worth it, sadly. Still, it manages to present a solid presentation in terms of audio for these classic cartoons that came from a mono source, that ranged from Cinephone to RCA sound technologies over the years.

The first short here (“Steamboat Willie”) from 1928 does come with a lot more hiss in its sound quality than the other classics, that range from 1935 to 1953. They all have very impressive sound effects (foley), and dialogue that is delivered distinctly. The music is very key in all of the original classic shorts, so I’m happy to say that music sounds good on all of these. The thirteenth and final short presented here (“Get A Horse!”) from 2013 has some moments where it really uses the 5.1 to make use of the rear channels speakers for things to seem to zoom around you and such. There’s a tiny bit of bass via the subwoofer in that mix, as well as dialogue mixed primarily to the center channel speaker on it.

In all honesty here, it is nothing breathtaking in regards to the amount of restoration that has went into the sound here on the original shorts, but it is enough to leave you satisfied. As I said earlier, there are some occasions on some shorts (or some shorts in general) that offer a bit of noticeable hiss in the audio, but it’s nothing too distracting – just worth noting. Even if it is in the lossy Dolby Digital (AC3) container, instead of being in a lossless format, this proves to still be a somewhat solid audio presentation.

Audio Quality Rating: 3.75 (out of 5)


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Bonus Materials

  • Digital Copy of the film is included via Movies Anywhere, which is compatible with iTunes and other formats such as Vudu, Google Play, Prime Video and Fandango Now. You get a paper insert included in the packaging with a URL and code to redeem.
  • A DVD is included featuring the “Celebrating Mickey” collection of shorts in standard definition. It’s worth noting that this DVD disc is Region 1 locked.

Sadly, the digital copy of these shorts is the only form of bonus materials we get here aside from trailers for a upcoming Disney film and Blu-ray release. The digital copies being included, and DVD for those with children, is enough to reward the score with something, that’s for certain. It’s just a shame we don’t get any bonus materials showing what effort went into restoring these classic 12 shorts and perhaps some story behind the making of the modern short would have been nice?

Bonus Materials Rating: 0.75 (out of 5)


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Closing Thoughts

“Celebrating Mickey” proves to satisfy my inner child and bring back lots of childhood memories of watching these cartoon shorts. Disney has done these classic shorts visual justice here in this Blu-ray Disc release, and it leaves me yearning for more old original Disney animated shorts to be restored and released in high definition. These look absolutely great, and are sure to leave consumers very happy with the HD visual presentation. It’s that decision to not go with lossless audio and the the lack of bonus materials that might leave some adults a bit upset, but still happy to get a digital copy of the shorts and a DVD is nice touch – for those with kids. Let us just hope that Disney has plans to release more older “Mickey Mouse” animated shorts soon, along with other favorites like “Donald Duck”, “Goofy”, “Pluto”, and others. That’s what the fans really are wanting after getting a taste of this.

In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
3.75 (out of 5) for audio quality
0.75 (out of 5) for bonus materials


Overall Verdict:
Recommended For All Ages


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