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The Santa Clause The Santa Clause 2 The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
The Complete 3-Movie Collection Blu-ray Review - Page 2 of 2

The Santa Clause: The Complete 3-Movie Collection Blu-ray box art -- click to buy from Amazon.com The Santa Clause: The Complete 3-Movie Collection Blu-ray

The Santa Clause (1994),
The Santa Clause 2 (2002),
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

1.85:1 Widescreen
The Santa Clause: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Russian, Thai)
TSC2: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Russian, Thai)
The Santa Clause 3: Uncompressed LPCM 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish / Additional Subtitles:
The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2 only: Portuguese, Russian, Thai / The Santa Clause 2 only: Chinese, Korean

Not Closed Captioned; Most Extras Subtitled
Release Date: October 16, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50s)
Blue Keepcases with Side Snaps in Embossed Cardboard Box

Buy The Santa Clause: The Complete 3-Movie Collection Blu-ray at Amazon.com

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Series Overview and Film Reviews

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Santa Clause boasts excellent picture quality on Blu-ray. For someone as familiar with the film as I, the gains in detail are easily noticed. For instance,
the fine print border around Santa's business card is very easy to make out in the early shot, you'll spot a Magic School Bus book on display in the classroom scene, and the few white hairs atop Wendy Crewson's head are suddenly unmissable. This is one of those movies that never seems as old as it really is; that it was shot nearly twenty years ago sort of blows me away. It's tough to find any evidence of its age in this highly satisfying 1080p transfer.

The original movie also deserves commendation for its fine 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack, which renders dialogue crisp, clear, and weighted while doing a great job of distributing all music (especially Convertino's delectable score) and some appropriate directional sound effects. There does not seem to be any room left for an improved presentation on this format.

Jack Frost (Martin Short) tricks Santa Claus (Tim Allen) into invoking the Escape Clause while holding his personal snow globe, instantly changing the course of human history.

The Santa Clause 2 also receives an exemplary hi-def transfer. There is a small, fitting amount of fine film grain present in some shots and otherwise, the film looks brand new, with its clean, sharp, vibrant appearance and lively, directional 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. The first two films also include some uncommon dubs and subtitles (Russian! Thai! Korean!) unmentioned on the packaging.

The Santa Clause 3 may be one of Disney's earlier Blu-rays, but the presentation doesn't suffer for that. Its immaculate, vivid picture is the most flawless here. Its soundtrack offered in uncompressed LPCM 5.1 is plenty potent; just make sure you've got that selected and not the more austere Dolby Digital 5.1 English mix that for some reason plays by default.

Bernard (David Krumholtz) reads a kid's letter to Santa in "So You Wanna Be an Elf?" Santa Claus tries to avoid notice in the vintage 1933 Disney Silly Symphonies cartoon short "The Night Before Christmas."

BONUS FEATURES

The first two movies are joined by most of the same bonus features of their current DVD editions.

As one of the rare live-action Disney movies given an upgrade on DVD, the original Santa Clause's 2002 Special Edition was very disappointing. Not only did it bring little to the table, but it lost the one extra from the film's first DVD: the theatrical trailer that proved conclusively that there were at least some deleted scenes to include. The Special Edition had no trailer and no deleted scenes and the Blu-ray maintains that unfortunate tradition, missing the most obvious opportunity to correct this.

Instead, The Santa Clause is joined by just a few minor extras, all presented in standard definition

"So You Wanna Be an Elf?" (6:30) is hosted in character by David Krumholtz's Bernard on the set of Santa Clause 2, a sequel whose promotion is the purpose of this piece.
Pretending that the real Santa made this movie, the head elf trains a new crop of recruits in gift-wrapping and mail-sorting before talking about making a movie "with Santa" over 85 seconds of behind-the-scenes clips that his narration drowns out.

Next and most exciting to Disney animation fans is the 1933 Silly Symphony short The Night Before Christmas (7:55). Opening with a musical recitation of part the famous poem attributed to Clement Moore, this cartoon follows Santa Claus inside a house, where he pulls a tree and presents out of his bag to create a parade of toys and dolls. This old cartoon, Disney's fourth time depicting the holiday, remains presented in the censored form of The Santa Clause's DVD, losing around thirty seconds of racially insensitive doll depictions. Not only has the short not been upgraded to HD, but it doesn't even make use of the far cleaner windowboxed print used on 2006's More Silly Symphonies Walt Disney Treasures tin. At least you no longer have to jump through hoops to watch it; more on that below.

Wolfgang Puck teaches kids how to make pizza for Santa Claus. Recipes accompany the cooking segments so you can Live! Love! Eat! just like Wolfgang Puck.

Finally, the tenuous "Making Santa Snacks with Wolfgang" has Austrian celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck leading a group of kids in making pizza (7:12), cookies (4:42), and hot cocoa (3:47) for Santa Claus. Presumably to make the disc look fuller than it really is, the segments get individual listings and cannot be viewed as one piece. Livened up with jokes, vintage movie stock footage, video effects, clip art, painfully scripted interaction, and Puck's sacred mantra ("Live! Love! Eat") this is one of Disney's most random supplements, but at least it's memorable. Detailed recipes, complete with conversion tables! and available in all of the disc's languages, are provided for all three in pausable, self-advancing screens, adding more listings to that potentially pitiful menu.

Curtis (Spencer Breslin) takes us inside the North Pole. Mother Nature (Aisha Tyler) opens up as part of "True Confessions of the Legendary Characters." Michael Lembeck seems to waste his cast's time with his "Director's Tour of Elfsburg."

The Santa Clause 2's all standard definition extras begin with "Inside the North Pole with Curtis" (9:46), a frothy making-of featurette that tags along with Spencer Breslin,
Disney Tabletop Christmas Tree: The Wonderful World Of Disney
who remains in character as he gets made-up and dressed, does his schoolwork and points out his castmates and crew members. This sets a tone of unusual stupidity for the disc's supplements.

"True Confessions of the Legendary Characters" (3:28) has director Michael Lembeck speaking with the fantastical characters in character. It isn't funny.

"Director's Tour of Elfsburg" (4:15) has Lembeck showing us around the sets, getting remarks from young extras and Elizabeth Mitchell, with everyone trying to blend the line between fiction and reality.

Elizabeth Mitchell and Tim Allen crack up in the gag reel. "The Santa Clause 2" director Michael Lembeck introduces deleted scenes and records an unusual audio commentary. A partially DeSantafied Scott (Tim Allen) goes on additional blind dates in this deleted scene.

A gag reel (4:16) captures flubbed lines and contagious laughter.

The one extra unhindered by the kid-oriented pretend is a collection of seven deleted scenes (11:49), each introduced by Lembeck. There's nothing you regret not extending the series' longest installment, but it's fun to see. They include more of the legendary characters, Scott's additional blind dates, more of Laura and Neil, and a Braveheart-type rally of the elves.

Finally, tucked away in the Languages menu, is an audio commentary by Lembeck. He makes the unfortunate choice to treat this as a genuine North Pole production, discussing Santa, his ancient elves, and the workshop as if they are all real and willing to help make this movie. Lembeck can't decide if he's talking to gullible young kids or people who care about filmmaking techniques. It's insulting to us, confusing to the few children who might care, and a waste of everyone's time.

The Blu-ray exclusive "Deck the Halls" lets you virtually decorate this virtual room. Martin Short and Tim Allen can't stifle their laughter whilst wrestling next to a snowman in the Santa Clause 3 blooper reel.

Though great in number, The Santa Clause 3's extras do not amount to all that much.

The film is also joined by a Lembeck audio commentary. This one thankfully finds him backing off his "Santa is real" approach to take his filmmaking process very seriously. He points out many technical subtleties and dispenses an array of figures from production, like the prop department's toy inventory and the number of pounds of fake snow used. It's quite informative, not too dry, a lot better than the other track, and easily the most substantial extra on this set.

The BD-exclusive virtual holiday decorator "Deck the Halls" is actually quite a bit of fun. In a room of tasteful computer graphics, you get to hang and personalize stockings, create a playlist from instrumental holiday songs, and trim a tree
down to precise placement of specific ornaments. Fast reacting and fluid, it's one of the few Blu-ray features I've encountered that simply couldn't be achieved on DVD and it makes for a pleasant seasonal visual, and with music to boot. Your work is even saved after leaving the activity and even after ejecting the disc!

Movie Showcase, a staple of early Disney Blu-rays, merely treats you to the three scenes designed to most show off hi-def picture and sound. Naturally, the three minute-long clips show off production design and visual effects.

The remaining extras fall under the heading "Original DVD Features", which is kind of odd since this disc was concurrently released, but nonetheless you find seven short videos, all but one of them presented in high definition.

A blooper reel (2:58) elaborates on the spontaneous hilarity shared in the closing credits. It's obvious that Allen, Short, and company had a lot of fun making this movie.

In this alternate opening, Mrs. Claus (Elizabeth Mitchell) teaches her elf pupils about the first film, using a Scott Calvin figure to demonstrate his changes. Jack Frost (Martin Short) nearly looked like this.

An alternate opening (3:34) still begins the film in Carol's elf classroom, but has her bringing her pupils (and those new to the franchise) up to speed, fulfilling Abigail Breslin's curiosities with a Scott Calvin figure with beard/hair accessories and costume changes and clips from the first film. It wouldn't have been a strong opening but it is fun to see here.

"Jack Frost and Mrs. Claus: A Very Different Look" (4:02) shares with us the more elfin, impish appearance that Jack Frost had at the beginning of the shoot, as well as the rounder, made-up Mrs. Claus that the end of Santa Clause 2 envisioned. It's fascinating to learn about makeovers, clear improvements, conducted with the film already in production and to have everyone address those design problems candidly here.

"The New Comedians: On Set with Tim & Marty" (2:59) shows us more of the playfulness that Allen and Short brought to their shared scenes.

The Hall of Snow Globes set is unsurprisingly heavy on green screen. Lucy (Liliana Mumy) and Charlie (Eric Lloyd) smile as heaven and nature sing in "Christmas Carol-oke."

"Creating Movie Magic" (4:03) covers the film's visual effects, paying special notice to the Hall of Snow Globes and the Santa mouth fireplace. It's brief but sufficient.

"Christmas Carol-oke" (6:24) creates short sing-along music videos out of clips from all three films for the following seven songs: "Jingle Bells", "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", "Joy to the World", "O Come All Ye Faithful", "Silent Night", "Deck the Halls", and "The First Noel." Ornaments bounce on the lyrics, revealing them to be more religious than the selections you might expect. That coupled with the nature of these comedy films creates amusing distance at times, but it's still fun to unify the trilogy with these highlights that evenly represent all three.

The music video for Aly & AJ's film-closing song "Greatest Time of Year" (3:17) is presented pillarboxed in standard definition, without subtitles. Both the song and unremarkable video are fine and remind us of a bygone Disney Channel teen act.

Aly Michalka (of Aly & AJ) sings of the "Greatest Time of Year" in this SC3 music video. "Tour Elfsburg" lets us marvel at the crude CG representation of Santa's village.

Finally, straight from the top menu comes a chance to "Tour Elfsburg" (2:15), which moves you around the crude CGI environment for closer looks at storefronts and other sights as well as little animated gags. The bright colors, wondrous score, and slowly falling snow make it seem more magical than it should.

The original movie's disc opens with trailers for Wreck-It Ralph and The Odd Life of Timothy Green and a Pinocchio-featuring anti-smoking PSA. Its Sneak Peeks listing repeats the first two, followed by promos for Disney Movie Rewards, Finding Nemo, and Peter Pan: Diamond Edition. The Santa Clause 2 curiously goes without sneak peeks.
Unchanged from its original release, Santa Clause 3 hangs on to its less timely promotions for Ratatouille, Meet the Robinsons, and Disney Blu-ray.

WHAT'S MISSING?

The Night Before Christmas was previously relegated as an Easter egg on The Santa Clause's Special Edition DVD, a reward for mastering the set-top game "Santa's Helper", which naturally does not make the leap to Blu-ray Disc. Also not making the cut are the Special Edition's DVD-ROM features, the Advent Calendar "25 Days Till Christmas" and "Letters to Santa" (which had you write to Santa and get a response.)

It should be noted that last year, The Biography Channel aired a two-hour documentary on the original film's making as part of their "Inside Story" series. Though a bit drawn out, it was a solid retrospective that included new interviews with just about every important person behind the film (even the long-elusive Paige Tamada). It would have been well worth Disney licensing here and with them owning 50% of A&E, it probably shouldn't have been difficult. Needless to say, they didn't bother doing this.

The Santa Clause 2 also loses a set-top game ("Operation Toy Box: Save Santa" with its mini-games) and the following DVD-ROM features: the games "Holiday Rush!" and "Reindeer Games", coloring book pages, and "Santa's Libs" (holiday "Mad Libs").

It is very lame for the series' trailers to be missing, especially the original film's deletion-revealing preview (that was included on its original 1998 DVD) and this cool teaser (bad video quality warning) shot back when it was thought that Santa Clause 2 would be out Christmas 2001 (which you can also find on The Rookie's DVD).

MENUS and PACKAGING

The first two movies' simple menus play score excerpts over variations on their poster/cover artwork. The third's more creatively gives us an animated view of a CGI representation of the North Pole, with snow falling and holiday music playing. The listings are placed on gadgetry that you can make disappear to achieve a screensaver of sorts.

The Santa Clause's Blu-ray menu employs the imagery that has adorned the cover of its every home video release. The Santa Clause 3's Blu-ray menu offers a very CGI representation of the North Pole.

This 3 Movie Collection holds the same standard Blu-ray cases of the film's individual releases, binding them in an embossed, reflective red box whose design is adapted from the ill-conceived sneakily full screen 2008 Holiday Collection. Each case is individually shrinkwrapped and each contains a Disney Movie Rewards code as its only insert.

In addition to the loss of DVD-ROM content and games, the lack of disc art, and the fact that you probably can't bring these to your grandparents for Christmas, these discs are inferior to the DVDs in another way. Like all Disney Blu-rays, the discs neither resume playback nor let you place bookmarks. Like the studio's live-action catalog discs, these also do not remember where you left off watching the movie either. Disney has now been releasing Blu-rays for six years; when are they going to get this basic authoring design down as almost every other studio has?

A little girl approaches the jolly fat man in red (Tim Allen) trying to watch his son's soccer game in "The Santa Clause."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Sentimental but not saccharine, still funny and so much fun, The Santa Clause is a modern-day classic and one of the best Christmas films of its time. Its two sequels also entertain, but not to the same extent as their magical predecessor.

Though I'm not convinced you need to own the sequels, let alone on Blu-ray, it is nice to get the trilogy together in one box set at a pretty reasonable price. However, though its feature presentations dazzle, this 3-Movie Collection is another missed opportunity -- and the last for the foreseeable future -- for one of Disney's best live-action movies to get the nice edition it deserves. That makes this set less easy to recommend than it should be.

Buy The Santa Clause: The Complete 3-Movie Collection on Blu-ray at Amazon.com

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Reviewed October 10, 2012.



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