As the Muppets discover all sorts of materials for their feature films, in 1996 they made their mark on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic pirate novel "Treasure Island." "Muppet Treasure Island" is an adaptation of the book, featuring the Muppets as well as a live-action cast to bring to viewers a fun-filled, colorful and extravagant take on the story.
Before his death, Billy Bones (Billy Connolly) entrusts a young boy, Jim Hawkins (Kevin Bishop) and his friends Gonzo and Rizzo with the map to a legendary treasure. Soon the three find themselves aboard a vessel in search of the treasure when pirates, led by Long John Silver (Tim Curry) take control of the ship, determined to take the treasure for themselves.
Over the years, the Muppet movies had their ups and downs, and fortunately "Muppet Treasure Island" is one of the highlights of their feature film career. The film is exciting with a solid premise, stemming from the beloved Stevenson novel, and by casting and adding more muppet characters, the film captivates young and old from the outset. The movie features a wonderful cinematography and an atmospheric production design that is lavish and colorful, making sure to bring out the best of the Muppets in every shot. Clearly, the film does not feel like a small puppet production but presents viewers with the scope of a full-fledged movie and some wonderful set pieces.
The cast is a wonderful mix and Tim Curry clearly takes the cake, as he puts in another wonderful performance as Long John Silver, complete with singing numbers that show off his indelible voice. But also his facial expressions and his delivery of dialogue will remind viewers, just what a great-and underrated-actor he truly is.
Complemented by every Muppet imaginable, the film is furious and flashy, funny and exhilarating as we witness the adventures of Jim Hawkins unfold.
The second movie on the release is "The Great Muppet Caper," in which Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo play investigative journalists, traveling to London in order to crack the case of Lady Holiday's stolen diamond necklace. Much happens along the way, as you would expect, making for another enjoyable romp. Although the second bill on the release, fans will argue that "The Great Muppet Caper" is actually the better of the two films. Witty and furious, filled with Muppet-y antics and great locations, either way you look at it, it is a clear winner and together these films make one Heck of a great package together.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has created a great transfer for both movies in their original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, and presents them here in a wonderful high definition presentations that are free of blemishes or defects. The transfers are absolutely clean without a hint of a speckle. Colors are bold and vibrant, bringing out the best of the colorful productions and their masterful lighting, particularly in the case of "Treasure Island." Black levels are deep and solid, adding to the presentation quality as shadows are solid and deep, giving the image very good visual depth and truly bringing the beauty of the Muppets to life.
The audio is presented as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track that is well balanced and makes good use of the split surround channels. Frequency response is wide and offers good bass reproduction, making sure the presentation always sounds natural and pleasing. Dialogues are well integrated and firmly centered in the front of the sound stage while sound effects are promoted to the other channels, promoting an engaging listening experience.
The release contains a number of song-along features - remember the Muppets are now owned by Disney, so it's being treated like a Disney kid's title, as well as a some music videos. But for film fans, the release also contain commentary tracks featuring Gonzo, Rizzo and Brian Henson. So, what could go wrong?
The swash-buckling "Muppet Treasure Island" , directed by Jim Henson's son Brian, and "The Great Muppet Caper," directed by Jim Henson himself in 1981, the films manage to truly capture the essence and the charm of that makes the Muppets so special. Make sure to pick up a copy of this Blu-Ray release some time.