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James and the Giant Peach Special Edition (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)) - Blu-ray / fantasy DVD / adventure DVD / adaptation DVD / family and children's DVD review
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH SPECIAL EDITION (TWO-DISC BLU-RAY / DVD COMBO) Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Featuring: Paul Terry, Susan Sarandon, Simon Callow, Pete Postlethwaite, David Thewlis
Director: Henry Selick Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD release: 03 August 2010 Runtime: 79 min. (2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p HD, Aspect ratio 1.67:1, Audio tracks (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 - English; Dolby Digital 5.1 - French, Spanish), Subtitles (English SDH, French, Spanish), Spike the Aunts interactive game, Production featurette, "Good News" music video (Randy Newman), Still frame gallery, Original theatrical trailer

Henry Selick's *James and the Giant Peach Special Edition (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)*I'm not entirely sure that Roald Dahl liked children. Some of his stories just have a cruel bent to them. Matilda's titular character is bombarded by cruelty from her parents and at least one of her teachers. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, terrible things befall selfish and rude children; James and the Giant Peach is no different.

James's loving and nurturing parents are eaten by a rhino, and James is made to stay with his cruel aunts Spiker and Sponge (Joanna Lumley and Miriam Margolyes). The orphaned James (Paul Terry) must do all the chores while his aunties lounge about and get fatter. They eat well, while James is served fish heads.

One fortunate day, James meets an old man (Pete Postlethwaite) who suggests that he take charge of his life and fulfill his dreams despite the cruel oppression of his aunts. He gives James some glowing green wormy things that magically make a dead tree sprout a gigantic peach. James is able to climb into the peach while escaping his aunts. The peach rolls free and into the sea. The peach is inhabited with many enormous insects: a grasshopper (Simon Callow), a centipede (Richard Dreyfuss), a ladybug (Jane Leeves), a glowworm (Margolyes), a spider (Susan Sarandon) and an earthworm (David Thewlis). They are perhaps made enormous by the magic wormy things (it's hard to know for sure). The lot of them are off on a grand adventure as they head to America and away from James's aunts in England.

The story is a pleasing flight of fancy once you get beyond the mean old aunties, who aren't intolerable or too troubling. They're just very cruel and might frighten small or sensitive children.

The Blu-ray edition of James and the Giant Peach is nothing to write home about. The picture is merely okay and obviously has not been touched up much, if at all. It's grainy and not as vibrant as I'd hoped for the subject matter. The extra features include a short featurette presented in full frame, the original theatrical trailer, a music video of Randy Newman's "Good News" and a new game called Spike the Aunties (a version of which is seen after the end credits).

Would it kill the Disney crew to have someone look over the print and make some corrections to grain and color, maybe add a commentary track? Maybe they'll get their act together for a platinum edition at some point in the future. I certainly hope so. I'm usually quite pleased by Disney's Blu-ray releases.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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