The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion (2003)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Tilly, Terence Stamp, Wallace Shawn, Marsha Thomason
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Featurette, Music Video and more

Another one of Disney’s theme park rides has been turned into a movie – this time ’Haunted Mansion’ starring Eddie Murphy in the lead. Despite the promise and the good cast – which also features Jennifer Tilly as an oracle in a globe – sadly this film does not quite live up to expectations. While it is an enjoyable romp with great visuals and some cool moments, sadly the film is not particularly funny and lines like ’I see dead people’ really just add to the impression that the writers were a bit stretched for humor and content.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has prepared an anamorphic widescreen transfer of the movie for this DVD in its original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The image is absolutely clean and free of defects. Colors are rich and vibrant, also rendering flash tones very naturally. Black levels are solid, creating very deep shadows that enhance the film’s atmosphere. No distracting edge-enhancement or compression artifacts are evident, making this a wonderful presentation to view.

The audio is equally impressive with an extremely aggressive 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track that bombards the viewer with sounds and ambient noises from all directions virtually constantly. Dialogues are always understandable nonetheless and the music is also making good use of the wide, directional sound field.
An audio commentary track featuring director Rob Minkoff and other crew members can also be found on the release, adding some more in-depth information on the production. It is engaging and quite informative, so check it out.

The DVD is filled with extras, such as deleted scenes and bloopers, as well as a featurette called ’Making of the Mansion.’ It is a look behind the scenes covering many of the aspects that went into the making of this film, including interviews with the cast and crew and a look at the special effects, of course. While it is mostly promotional in nature, it is still an nice addition to the disc.

In ’anatomy of a Scene’ the DVD takes a look at the graveyard scene and explains ins simple terms how it has been created and how modern technology was used to bring it to the screen. The music video for the song ’Superstition’ by Disney Channel star Raven is also includedm as well as a virtual tour of the film’s mansion. Altogether solid family-friendly features that add to the overall release.

’Haunted Mansion’ may not be as great as one would have hoped but it is a solid release that is enjoyable and will keep you and your family entertained for some time.