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Sunday, December 19, 2010

[DVD REVIEW] Prince Valiant DVD Review

The Legend of Prince Valiant
(Review written by JiiDee)

The Show
Words cannot begin to describe how much I love this show. Oh let me count the ways.
This is one of the few shows that I am aware of that has an actual ending! Imagine that.

It is superior in every sense of the word. Excellent story, tight continuity, in truth it is a single continuous story with little side stories which culminate in a most singular, awesome finale.
The characters are all well fleshed out and all have their own stories which wind and eventually weave back into the main plot which drives all the players towards the tense climatic conclusion!

Care for a little political intrigue? patricide? civil war? love triangles, betrayal, jealousy, murder and all round adventure? Then this show is for you. Over the course of the show you'll watch Valiant and his friends rise from obscure peasantry to the dizzying heights of Camelot itself. Action and Adventure abounds.

One thing I love in particular is that due to the outstanding writing and the strength of the voice actors performances, the characters on screen FEEL like they're real people, which gives trials and tribulations they go through a real weight to them. This really comes into it's own as we draw closer to the finish line, when plots and plans start to reach their fruition and the time for the final show down approaches. The sense of tension is quite real.
As is the subtle and convincing love triangle that forms between our 3 main characters. Valiant, Rowanne and Arn. Fear not though as this is not some contrived plot convenience designed to inject some soap opera tension into what is already a packed story. Nor is it something that suddenly arises for a few episodes then disappears, but rather a thread that begins about 1/4 of the way through the series then slowly matures off and on until it has it's ultimate pay off in the final 1/4 of the show..nearly bringing the trio and by proxy Camelot itself to ruin!
I shall say no more as the story is so good that you deserve to discover it for yourself.

The cast itself is just awesome. Normally seeing big names in a cartoon would be a sign that the budget has been blown on hiring stars rather than on what's important. I.E the story and animation. I am glad to report that this is most definitely not the case.

The Soundtrack
We've not even covered the soundtrack yet..dear lord the soundtrack. Go do a search for the opening on the internet and you'll see what I'm talking about. "Where the Truth Lies" from Exchange is a singular piece of music that is just as epic as the show itself...which by the way you can ALSO buy
OK it's a bit expensive now but my point is, since when do you see a cartoon get it's soundtrack released on CD? hmm? almost never. That's when. (curse you Thundercats *shakes fist*)

Gush Mode Dis-Engage

The DVDs
The animation is pretty good for the most part. There were only a couple of episodes where I felt that things were noticeably off model, but considering the quality of the voice acting and the characterisation I can easily forgive it.

On to the set itself. This being a BCI release the quality of the audio and video is about as good as it could possibly get for a show of this era. The only place where this set falls down is in the physicals.
The discs themselves are double sided flipper discs, which is something that always irks me as it's so difficult to try and keep finger prints off of the suckers.

This release came out near the end of BCIs life so releases from this time tend to suffer from understandable cost cutting exercises. I can get over it though because were it not for the flipper discs design it would have taken 4 volumes to release rather than 2, and I suspect that had they went for a 4 volume release it would never have seen the light of day.

Another place where there is noticeable cheapness is in the case itself. The case is constructed of this hard, brittle plastic and my volume 1 set has actually broken in 2 places of which was in transit!
The other downside to this hard plastic is that the hub that the discs mount on is SO TIGHT that you fear that you're going to snap the discs before it actually releases them, and considering that this particular release is now Out of Print and you're trying to pry out double sided disc.. you'll need to be taking your brave pills before trying to extricate the discs for viewing.

Having said that these sets come with a very nice insert that gives you a good summary of each episode in the set, plus some really pretty artwork. On that subject the set itself has some really cool cover art courtesy of the talents of MVCreations' Emiliano Santalucia & Val Staples with David Levine. Although it doesn't make the set, inserts like this are becoming few and far between so to have it included (especially in this late BCI release) is appreciated.

I would most definitely recommend this set; but I would also urge you to decant your discs into some blank DVD cases to save from the inevitable snapping and crying that would ensue from repeated removal of the discs from that rock hard plastic hub.

There has been a re-release of both volume 1 and 2 from budget busters Mill Creek Entertainment, and as you'd expect it goes for budget prices.
If you consider yourself a collector I would try and get the BCI release if you can, if for no other reason than the Mill Creek release has as many episodes as possible crammed onto the discs so you know that the video quality is going to suffer.
At present I don't own that set so I cannot vouch for its quality, but I plan to just purely so I can use it as watching fodder to save my more precious BCI set. this exact moment both of the BCI sets are going for RIDICULOUSLY cheap...and I DO mean CHEAP AS CHIPS! Volume 1 and Volume 2

If you're more of a casual fan who just wants to see the show without much concern for extras or the superior video quality afforded by the BCI release, then you might be better going with the Mill Creek release...BUT considering how cheap the BCI sets are right now you'd be a FOOL not to pick them up!
However since these are Out of Print sets they will eventually go and start fetching collector prices like the rest of BCIs Out of Print series...I'm looking at you Masters of the Universe.

BCI Release - 4/5 Stars. Only losing a star for the Double sided discs and the terrifyingly hard plastic cases.

(Editors Note: Timey did a....ambitious cover to the full theme for you to rock out to. Please DON'T let him put you off the series!)

Please you your feedback to this review by visiting the forum thread HERE

You can buy the Legend of Prince Valiant DVD boxset on Amazon HERE


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