Review: The Last Unicorn Blu-ray

The Last Unicorn Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr. | CAST: Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury
RELEASE DATE: 2/22/2011 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD combo $19.99
BONUSES: featurettes, commentary, author work, art gallery, game on DVD
SPECS: G | 93 min. | Fantasy | 16×9 widescreen | DTS-HD audio | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The Last Unicorn movie sceneThe beloved animated movie The Last Unicorn debuted on high-definition as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, and, judging by the special features, the new release is as much a promotion for author and screenwriter Peter S. Beagle as an updated edition of the movie. Not that I mind; it’s about time to see the writers get more respect in Hollywood, and for best-selling, Hugo Award-winning novelist Beagle, who can complain?

The movie itself — a charming fairy tale about a unicorn who goes on a quest to find more of her kind only to discover the others have been trapped by an evil king — looks fine in this high-def version. The animation, by Hayao Miyazaki’s (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind) Studio Ghibli, is grainy, but that preserves the original look from 1982. The test is in the colors, and the greens of the forest, blues of the sky and that terrifying red bull are bright and clean.

The sound is also clear, including the songs by 1970s band America and the delightful voices of actors Jeff Bridges (Tron: Legacy), Mia Farrow (Samantha: An American Girl Holiday), Alan Arkin (The Private Lives of Pippa Lee), Angela Lansbury (Beauty and the Beast), Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and comedian Robert Klein.

In the new “Immortal Voices” featurette, we hear how Bridges asked to join the cast, saying he’d do the role for nothing if necessary, and there’s a fun story about Lansbury walking in the studio a diva and within minutes taking on the persona of Mommy Fortuna.

But it’s Beagle who is the main subject of the special features. He provides a commentary for the Blu-ray, along with publisher Connor Cochran, and Beagle’s books are detailed in the section “Peter S. Beagle and His Work,” including some new novels that are coming out in the next month and year and are related to The Last Unicorn. If you’re not already a fan of Beagle’s books, you’ll want to check them out after going through this part.

Beagle’s also interviewed throughout the mini-documentary “The Tail of The Last Unicorn,” an interesting making-of that details the film’s production, including how every studio turned down the option for the movie until animation studio Rankin Bass, of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman fame, agreed to do it. The piece is repeated here from the movie’s 25th Anniversary Edition DVD issued in 2007.

The Blu-ray also includes the winning art pieces from a Last Unicorn art contest held last year. The pictures, inspired from either the book or movie, range from cute (a painting by an 8-year-old) to odd (a tattoo) to stunning (the set of grand prize winners).

 

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.