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The Cinderella Trilogy on DVD: Cinderella | Cinderella II: Dreams Come True | Cinderella III: A Twist in Time

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True - Special Edition DVD Review

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Movie & DVD Details

Director: John Kafka

Voice Cast: Jennifer Hale (Cinderella), Rob Paulsen (Jaq, Grand Duke, The Baker, Sir Hugh, Bert, Flower Vendor), Corey Burton (Gus, Mert, Stable Hand), Andre Stojka (The King), Russi Taylor (Fairy Godmother, Drizella, Mary Mouse, Beatrice, Countless Le Grande, Daphne), Susan Blakeslee (Stepmother), Tress MacNeille (Anastasia, Pretty Woman), Holland Taylor (Prudence), Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Prince), Frank Welker (Lucifer, Pom Pom, Bruno)

Running Time: 73 Minutes / Rating: G / Video Debut: February 26, 2002

Songs: "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo", "Follow Your Heart", "The World is Looking Up to You", "It's What Inside That Counts", "Put it Together (Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo)", "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes"

1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / DTS 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish, French) / Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Special Edition DVD Release Date: December 18, 2007
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99 / Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
White Keepcase with Side Snaps in Holographic Cardboard Slipcover

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By Kelvin Cedeno

Disney has continued several of its animated classics via television series with mixed success. Some of these were quite popular in their own right, while others have faded away after a short run. Then there are those that were cancelled before they ever aired. Cinderella II: Dreams Come True takes the three episodes produced for a proposed Cinderella series
and connects them together with new interstitials. If that sounds like a slapdash way to make a sequel, it is. Cinderella II fails both as a movie and as an unrealized TV series.

This 2002 "film" begins with mice Jaq and Gus hurrying to hear the Fairy Godmother re-read the familiar story of Cinderella. Unfortunately, they arrive just as the tale has ended. Disappointed that there aren't more published Cinderella stories (they obviously haven't been to the Disney Princess aisle of their local bookstore), the mice decide to create a book of the events that have taken place since Cinderella became a princess.

The first of these stories is "Aim to Please." Taking place immediately after Cinderella's honeymoon, it depicts her struggles in her first days as royalty. The King unabashedly burdens Cinderella with the task of holding a royal banquet. Prudence, the royal advisor, assists, but the new princess has trouble adapting to Prudence's precise methods.

The Fairy Godmother is agreeable to Jaq and Gus' proposal for "Cinderella II" being composed of three short stories ("magical tales" in front cover talk) rather than a single coherent narrative. In "Aim to Please", Cinderella gets nagged by advisor Prudence on the proper royal ways to do everything.

"Tall Tail", the second episode, makes Jaq the main focus. With errands keeping Cinderella busy, Jaq feels left out. His attempts to help her only end in disaster. Exasperated at being a mouse, Jaq wishes to become human, which the Fairy Godmother grants. This starts off well enough, but he inevitably runs into more problems in this form than he did as a mouse.

"An Uncommon Romance" is the final tale told. In it, Anastasia falls in love with the local baker, much to the dismay of her mother, Lady Tremaine. Upon noticing, Cinderella decides to play matchmaker and bravely tries to make Anastasia look presentable. The mice attempt to do the same for Lucifer after they learn he's smitten with Pom Pom the palace cat. Both parties encounter more challenges than expected.

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True certainly does not live up to its title. Anyone who had dreamed of a sequel to the original classic most certainly wasn't expecting this. Obviously using three episodes of a discarded television series isn't going to lend itself very well to a cohesive narrative. Even with that in mind, the segments presented here just don't work. There's a blatant disregard for anything having to do with the original, whether it be characterization or art design. Using generic pop songs for montage sequences is especially glaring.

The original film handled its emotions sophisticatedly and naturally. Both approaches have been tossed out the palace window for this show. The moral of each story is hammered into the skull of the viewer and is done so in a cloying and saccharine fashion. The animation is sterile even by television standards. The characters move in the type of jerky manner that results in not enough frames of animation being used. Colors inexplicably have a dull and clinical look to them that aren't close to evoking the predecessor's palette (no matter which home video version you go by).

No, it's not the local crazy who buys tiny coats for his finger... it's Jaq in human form. Big-bottomed ugly stepsister Anastasia has a hankering for some of the baker's hot buns, if you know what I mean.

Is Cinderella II atrocious? No, it isn't. Even at its worst, it's still watchable. But it is hopelessly bland. It's obvious why this show never made it to air. In just the three episodes here, one can already see the writers running out of ideas. Each segment ends with some sort of gala event, and certain story points simply don't make sense.
For those looking for a Cinderella sequel that is more reminiscent of the original, their efforts would be better spent with this year's Cinderella III: A Twist in Time.

Nearly six years since it debuted on DVD and nearly five since going out of print, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True returned to disc earlier this week in a Special Edition. The moniker is largely unwarranted due to the complete lack of specialness. (This version just updates the sneak peeks and adds a set-top game.) For that matter, the only reason for this release is to put Cinderella II back in stores and one can question the necessity of that. Even after half a decade on moratorium, the original DVD still hasn't been fetching high prices in secondhand online markets. To add insult to injury, this new edition is only to remain in print for a month. At the end of January 2008, it gets a ceremonious return to the proverbial Disney vault along with its predecessor and follow-up.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True appears in a 1.66:1 ratio enhanced for widescreen televisions. Animation quality aside, this transfer is riddled with a single major problem: edge enhancement. Almost the exact first half of the film (the first 36 minutes) has layers of ringing surrounding every outline, resulting in a hazy mess. Once the 36-minute mark has passed, things clear up considerably, though the enhancement is still present. Colors seem to be replicated accurately, though, and the picture is completely clean of any other flaws.

Two 5.1 tracks are included: a Dolby Digital one and a DTS one. Both sound identical, which makes the DTS mix superfluous. Dialogue, effects, and score are all exceptionally clear and crisp. Only effects utilize the surround channels, and even then only occasionally. Voices and music are fairly front heavy. This is about as good as one would expect from a film of this nature.

Between a reflective cardboard slipcover and this Race to the Royal Banquet game, original Cinderella II DVD owners are given much exciting incentive to upgrade to this new Special Edition DVD. Subtle lessons regarding friendship and forgiveness are found in the stimulating Cinderella DVD storybook. Cinderella's Enchanted Castle asks viewers what Cinderella should wear to the ball. What a nice creative activity for the kids. Oh wait, I'm being told you have to pick what's shown in the movie. Never mind.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The one supplement exclusive to this release, the game "Race to the Royal Banquet" does little to differentiate itself from the dozens of other Disney set-top games. It's broken up into three levels. The first two simply consist of pressing the enter button at the appropriate time. The last portion is a bit more interesting,
as one must navigate Jaq and Gus through the palace walls using the remote's directional arrows. It's not very fun, though, and the game is over within five minutes.

The original DVD supplements begin with a Cinderella DVD storybook entitled, "A Little Misunderstanding." Told through stills and movie clips taken out of context, the story is about Jaq and Mary giving each other the freeze treatment due to a misinterpretation. As usual, one has the option of having the story read to him or reading it alone.

"Cinderella's Enchanted Castle", like most set-top games, contains three parts to it. Players must help our heroine choose the proper ensemble to wear for certain occasions, straighten up the dishelmed dining room, and prepare a batch of cookies. It's a rather tedious way to spend several minutes.

At very close to six minutes long, the featurette "Musical Magic" is the workhorse among Cinderella II's many great bonus features. Its treats include pictured teen Brooke Allison making funny eyes at a microphone while recording end credits anthem "Put it Together." The music video for Allison's "Put it Together" inspiredly relies completely on the charms of the movie's animation. The Cinderella II: Special Edition DVD main menu comes to life with the magic of dancing couples.

Next comes the most substantial extra on the disc: the featurette "Musical Magic" (5:54). Composer Mike Tavera is interviewed, as is singer Brooke Allison who appears towards the end. The former explains his job, while the latter expresses how happy she is to be a part of the film. Obviously Allison's comments are useless, though Tavera defines film scores in a way that's understandable for children.

Finally, there's a music video for "Put It Together" performed by an unseen Allison (3:51).
The song itself is mostly harmless, as is the standard editing of Cinderella II clips that make up the entirety of the video.

The timing for this release is curious. The original film arrived on DVD October of 2005, while the third film debuted February of 2007. One would think either a 2006 re-issue would be logical, or at least a date closer to the third movie. Either way, this disc is really just a re-issue rather than a true Special Edition upgrade.

The 16x9 menus further prove the re-issue status, as they're identical to the old release. The main menu shows the ball from the third segment as the attendees dance to a waltz. The bonus features menu contains an animated fountain joined by more film score. All other menus are static images also featuring music.

As is standard of nearly any Disney animated title, this one comes in a white keepcase with the obligatory reflective slipcover over it. Inside, one finds a double-sided insert with scene selections and bonus lists plus a Disney Movie Rewards code sheet.

The disc opens up with trailers for Disney Blu-Ray, Wall-E, Snow Buddies, and The Aristocats: Special Edition. All of these can be accessed from the Sneak Peeks menu along with ads for 101 Dalmatians: Platinum Edition, Underdog, Tinker Bell, "Phineas and Ferb", Disney Movie Rewards. The promo for Disney DVDs in general that's been appearing the past few months is not present here, perhaps indicating that this title was meant for a slightly earlier release.

A now suave Lucifer leads palace puss Pom Pom out for a dance. Cinderella looks to the heavens above for an explanation over how she wound up with the really lame sequel.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True has garnered a reputation among Disney fans as one of the worst sequels to come from the studio. It would be a relief to report otherwise, but it would also be a lie. The whole production has a distinctly different feel than that of its predecessor, and the animation can't even reach the standards of the company's TV department. Picture quality would be excellent were it not for a shocking level of edge enhancement present. Both audio tracks included sound solid enough for what they are. This unnecessary Special Edition merely tacks on a mundane game to the original release's anemic roster of supplements. Those who already own the original disc are given absolutely no incentive for purchasing this one. Those who don't are encouraged to steer clear of this lackluster title.

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Related Reviews:
Cinderella (Platinum Edition) Cinderella III: A Twist in Time Cinderella and Friends (CD)
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure Return to Never Land
Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World Mulan II Bambi II The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride The Lion King 1 The Return of Jafar & Aladdin and the King of Thieves
Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
Disney Princess Party: Volume One Disney Princess Stories, Volume One: A Gift from the Heart
Disney Princess Sing Along Songs: Once Upon a Dream Disney DVD Game World: Disney Princess Edition
Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams

Related Interviews:
Ilene Woods, the original voice of Cinderella Frank Nissen, the director of Cinderella III

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Reviewed December 22, 2007.