For various reasons, movie studios re-release their films for public viewing, whether it’s because to make it available on whatever new media format has come out or to commemorate a special anniversary date of the film’s original release. Disney has been doing this for years for all of their films, all of them classics worthy of the praise they’re given. And in the case of their newest re-release, The Rescuers, it’s both, as the movie is being released on blu-ray for its 35th anniversary. And not only is it a special three-disc blu-ray/DVD combo pack (common for a lot of Disney releases), but it’s a double-feature as it includes the 1990 sequel, The Rescuers Down Under, one of the few Disney sequels that was released in the theaters and not direct-to-video.
First released in 1977, The Rescuers was inspired on the books by Margery Sharp, in particular The Rescuers and Miss Bianca, another in the series. The film’s heroes are Bernard and Miss Bianca, a pair of mice who are members of the Rescue Aid Society, an international organization of mice inside the United Nations. Miss Bianca (voiced by Eva Gabor) is the Hungarian representative and an actual agent, while Bernard (voiced by Bob Newhart) is a stammering janitor with triskaidekaphobia, which is the fear of the number thirteen. One day, the Society receives a message in a bottle (literally) from Penny, an orphan girl who has been kidnapped by the greedy treasure huntress Madame Medusa (voiced by Geraldine Page). Miss Bianca volunteers to take the mission to rescue Penny, choosing the unlikely Bernard as her co-agent. Heading down to Devil’s Bayou, they team up with Orville (Jim Jordan), an albatross, and Evinrude (James MacDonald), a dragonfly, to pull off the mission before Medusa and her partner, Mr. Snoops (Joe Flynn), force Penny to help them find the Devil’s Eye, the world’s largest diamond.
Lots of things have probably already been said about The Rescuers, in all of its various release incarnations, so its hard to say something that probably hasn’t already been said. I will say that it’s a cute movie that has all the best things Disney is known for. Bernard and Miss Bianca are a pair of likeable, if not mismatched, heroes that play off each other like a comedy team, Bianca with her agent expertise and Bernard with his fears and inexperience. Penny is the cute young heroine who turns out to more resourceful than most adults (in particular the villains) that makes us root for her. And we got our villainess, Madame Medusa, who is like many classic villains of her era, openly sinister and greedy to a fault and not above using others to get what she wants. She even has a pair of alligators for pets! Add in Orville and Evinrude as the movie’s comedy relief, wonderful artwork and an engaging story, and you can see why this movie is a classic.
Of course, another good reason is the fact that this new release is a “double feature” that includes The Rescuers Down Under, the 1990 sequel in which Newhart and Gabor (in her final role before her retirement from acting in 1994 and death in 1995) return to their respective roles as Bernard and Miss Bianca. As the title implies, the duo head for the Australian Outback to rescue Cody, a young boy who has been kidnapped by poacher Percival C. McLeach (voiced by George C. Scott). McLeach wants Cody to lead him to Marahute (Frank Welker), a rare golden eagle Cody has befriended. Bernard and Bianca are joined in the new adventure by Wilbur (voiced by comedian John Candy), a new albatross who is the brother of Orville from the previous film, and Jake (Tristan Rogers), a kangaroo mouse who is the Australian operative of the Rescue Aid Society. While it received mixed reviews by critics, the sequel manages to recapture a lot of the magic of the first film, right down to the stunning visuals, such as where Cody rides through the air on Marahute’s back, and the interaction with the characters. There’s even some romantic tension to help make things interesting, as Jake falls for Bianca and flirts with her, much to the chagrin of Bernard, who has his own feelings for Bianca and wants to propose to her. And for comic relief, you can’t get any better than the late John Candy as new albatross Wilbur (see the in-joke there with the names of the two birds?), who provides plenty of laughs throughout the movie (check out the hospital scene for one good example).
And now the movie is available on blu-ray in all its HD glory. This means getting to see it again in movie theater-quality in terms of picture and sound. You can’t get any better than that. As usual, there is the question of why one should bother buying a movie one already owns again, especially when blu-ray players play regular DVDs. And, of course, the reason is to either really take advantage of the new technology, or if you’re a big fan of the movie in question. And knowing Disney, this new version will only be available for a limited time before it goes “back to the vault”. Add the fact that the new release is in a DVD combo-pack, meaning one isn’t going to be limited on where they can watch it if they only have blu-ray player (Disney does this with a lot of their movies these days), and you have plenty of reasons to buy or re-buy this movie. Disney knocks it out of the park with this piece of crisp aged eye candy!
This Disney classic comes soaring your way for its 35th Anniversary with a wonderful 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track that is soulful and the like. Who would have thought even a 7 years ago that we’d one day see this classic in eye popping 1080p quality along with blissful audio. It’s awesome to be able to experience many of these Disney classics of yester-years with today’s technology. While the track may have its faults at times it’s still the best your gonna’ get for this classic and probably more than you’ll ever need!
The extra features include the following and both titles also on DVD format.
“Three Blind Mouseketeers” – Silly Symphony Animated Short (8:46)
Water Birds – A Walt Disney True Life Adventure (30:42)
“Someone’s Waiting For You” Sing-Along Song (2:13)
The Making of The Rescuers Down Under (10:33)
”Peoplitis” The Deleted Song (4:41)
So we have a Disney classic in a new format in time for its 35th anniversary, presented in all-new HD quality, and packaged with its sequel as a bonus double feature? What’s not to like? Or why not buy this? This should be a definite must for anyone to buy, especially if one is a fan of Disney movies. Disney classics at a price everyone can like as well! 1080p goodness and 5.1 HD Master audio make this classic all the more enjoyable many years later!