Release Date(s)1990 (January 13, 2015)
Studio(s)Buena Vista Home Entertainment
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: F+
If you were a kid in the early 90’s, there was hardly ever a better time to watch TV better than when The Disney Afternoon shows came along: The Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, and Darkwing Duck, among others. But no show that came out during that timeframe was more successful and more popular than DuckTales. Watching the weekly adventures of the “richest duck in the world” Scrooge McDuck; his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Lewey; and Launchpad Mcquack, Scrooge’s pilot, didn’t get any better. It was a terrific show, one that holds up quite well today. At the height of DuckTales’ popularity, Disney decided to make a movie about Scrooge’s adventures entitled DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp.
The premise of the movie follows Scrooge and his nephews to the Middle East in search of the treasure of the Collie Baba and the Forty Thieves. Once arriving, they discover the treasure, only to have it snatched away from them by the evil magician Merlock. The nephews, as well as Webby, secretly make off with a magic lamp they find amongst the treasure housing a genie that longs to be a real boy. Meanwhile, Scrooge attempts to get his treasure back from Merlock, helping to further cement his status as “richest duck in the world,” but also to help the genie and free him from imprisonment in the lamp.
What’s interesting about the backstory of this movie is that it was a project that wasn’t done in-house. It was farmed out to Disney’s French satellite company Walt Disney Television Animation (which later became DisneyToon Studios). It’s obvious from some of the aspects of the animation that it wasn’t done by the same folks that did the TV show. A lot of the facial expressions, and to some degree, the quality of the animation itself, seems less polished and unrefined. Not that it mattered all that much to young people at the time, but looking back on it years later, it certainly stands out. What also stands out is the lack of main characters from the TV show in the movie. Launchpad, for instance, takes part in the beginning of the movie and disappears for the rest of it. Even with all the characters in Duckburg that had been previously seen on the show, the producers of the film felt that going with a completely new villain with hardly any of the show’s supporting characters was the way to go. Again, young minds don’t really care about this type of thing, but as an adult, I kept wondering where characters like Gyro, Bubba, and Fenton (Gizmoduck) were at. Even the show’s villains, Glomgold, the Beagle Boys, and Magica de Spell, are nowhere to be seen. This isn’t a complaint really, but it’s just odd that none of these characters had even a small place in the movie’s story.
Then again, you have to look at it another way and realize that this wasn’t intended to be the only movie that Disney made based on the series. The show ran for four seasons before ending and going into syndication, and it lost some of its popularity along the way. Because of this, future plans for further movie adventures of DuckTales were cancelled. It’s a shame too because this isn’t exactly one of their finest adventures. But with the recent announcement of a revival series, I wouldn’t say that it was in impossibility for there to be a new movie down the road sometime.
The DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp DVD release itself is not the first time that Disney has released the film. It was previously only available as a Disney Movie Club exclusive, which was hard to snag unless you were a member. This is basically a porting over of that exact same disc with new packaging, so if you have that release and aren’t concerned about collecting, save your money. But for those that want to pick it up, there’s a very nice transfer of the film on display. The grain of the film’s print is very apparent and the color palette, while not eye-popping, is quite good. Contrast is also quite good, and you can spot the some of the imperfections from the print still left behind. Certainly the dissenting voices over Disney’s Blu-ray restorations will appreciate it. The soundtrack is available in three channels: English, French, and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital. It’s a very good soundtrack that doesn’t have much envelopment to it, being a mostly centered audio experience, but for what it is, it sounds pretty good. Dialogue is always clean and clear and both sound effects and score are surprisingly robust. Things don’t really sound muddled at all either. There are also subtitles in English for those who might need them.
The sole extra on the disc is an interactive game Scrooge McDuck’s Treasure. Hopefully we’ll see this film on Blu-ray someday and a little more light can be shed on not just the movie, but the show as well. Even the entire show hasn’t been released to home video, as of this writing. Considering that the DuckTales: Remastered video game had a wealth of extra content, it’s a shame that the movie and the show can’t get the same kind of deluxe treatment.
Personally, I’m a big fan of DuckTales, and I watched the show with a lot of enthusiasm as a kid. I didn’t get to see DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp on the big screen, unfortunately, but I think I would have enjoyed it just as much as I did the show. Watching it today, I can certainly see the flaws in it, but in no way does it detract from my enjoyment of it. It’s a fun movie to complement a terrific animated TV show, and both the movie and the show are sorely in need Blu-ray treatment (along with all of the other great Disney animated shows). Until then, this DVD copy of the movie and the show’s incomplete DVD sets will have to suffice. And for less than $10 for this DVD release, you can’t really go wrong.
- Tim Salmons