Saturday, September 14, 2013

Looney Tunes Mouse Chronicles: The Chuck Jones Collection (2012)

Looney Tunes Mouse Chronicles: The Chuck Jones CollectionAfter letting their beloved "Golden Collection" DVD line end a few years back, Warner Bros is slowly redeeming itself in the eyes of fans with new-to-video collections like this on Blu-ray and DVD. And let me just say up front that if you are a true fan, Blu-ray is the ONLY way to go here. Aside from the obvious higher resolution images, the Blu set contains 11 additional mouse-themed cartoons, for a total of 30 shorts.

You probably already know if these are the kind of Looney Tunes you like. There's no Bugs Bunny here, or "the one with the singing frog." It's just what it says: mouse cartoons, and lots of 'em. Of course, the collection is also essential for fans of the great Chuck Jones. We all know that this doesn't quite represent the maverick director's funniest or most inspired work that he would achieve in his later cartoons. Looney Tunes in general, didn't exactly get, well, looney until the mid-40's anyway. But Jones was still a great visual storyteller, and even his more generic stuff (Sniffles, I'm looking at YOU), was often still colorful and charming.

My only complaint with the set is that the cartoons are not listed on the package, nor are there any helpful liner notes. The Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume One (Ultimate Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray] contained a very nice and detailed booklet, listing and describing each short. I admit this is a minor problem, but as a hardcore fan, I expected a little more in the package.

So is the "Mouse Chronicles" essential viewing? For true LT fans, of course it is. Casual viewers, however, will probably be bored by some the older, and admittedly less amusing, shorts.

Always been a big fan of the Chuck Jones Hubie and Bertie cartoons, which are seldom seen anywhere. The two mice are really unique creations, always scampering on the periphery of late 40s/early 50s Warner Bros. animation. I'm sure he had real fondness for them, although their output never challenged the big honchos at the studio, Bugs, Daffy or the Road Runner. But the films of these little rodent scamps are truly funny... something you can't always say about the output of the others. That's because there were only a handful of the H&Bs and a seemingly million of those other star vehicles. So, having all of them in a blu ray disc is a real treat. But, they also featured a lot of other Jones mouse cartoons, including all of the Sniffles collection and a smattering of others. There are one each of the Jack Benny imitations and Honeymooner parodies. I seem to remember others in both of those series, but they don't appear. Were they not all Chuck Jones? Odd they'd not include them. But what's here is beautifully presented

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Excuse me, but I don't see the great improvement Blu-Ray is supposed to give these cartoons. In fact, it seems to illuminate their flaws. Maybe my settings aren't right, but I see a lot of grain and I'm not getting the almost glass like quality I see on some HDTV broadcasts of older material. It makes me suspicious that they're not remastering these in HD, but simply throwing them onto the Blu-Ray format without proper restoration. I did a comparison and watched some cartoons from my Looney Tunes Golden Collections and they looked as good, and sometimes better, than my Blu-Ray Mouse Chronicles.

That being said, I love finally having the Sniffles cartoons I've wanted all these years, and I love the Hubie and Berty cartoons as well. Thank you. I feel like they won't make a dime on these and that I'm lucky to get them before they realized they were a bad business investment for them, but a great acquisition for me.

Read Best Reviews of Looney Tunes Mouse Chronicles: The Chuck Jones Collection (2012) Here

I have been a fan of the classic Looney Tunes since I was a kid in the 70's. I own all of the gold series boxes, and still have the old laserdiscs. I have passed on buying the Blu-Rays so far until they start releasing some of the older ones that have not been put out on DVD. When I saw that this would include the entire collection of Sniffles cartoons, I had to buy it. All I can say is WOW! I have never seen these look so good! I immediately compared the Blu-Ray and DVD versions of "Sniffles takes a Trip", and cannot believe the difference. There is so much more detail in the picture and colors, it's amazing. It's good to know that they are finally doing justice to the work of those great artists that made these short films. The Blu-Ray also has 11 bonus cartoons that are not included on the DVD set. Never cared much for the Hubie/Bertie cartoons, but they look amazing as well..

Although I am highly impressed with this release, I will probably still pass on upcoming Blu-Rays unless they offer cartoons that have not been released before. Come on Warner Bros., do a proper series with EVERYTHING and in chronological order like you did with the Laserdiscs so many years ago.

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Possibly the most exciting Looney Tunes release of the year stars some of Chuck Jones' smallest stars. Looney Tunes Mouse Chronicles: The Chuck Jones Collection gathers together a total of 19 beautifully restored classic cartoons, most of them new to DVD/Blu-Ray, comprising the entire filmographies of Sniffles the Mouse and Hubie and Bertie. Yes, it's really an entire collection devoted to relatively minor players in the Warner Bros. cartoon roster. Folks looking for Bugs or Daffy may be disappointed, but collectors will love this release.

The most exciting thing for longtime Warner cartoon buffs and collectors is the amazing uncut and restored versions of these cartoons. The restorations are eye-opening and look amazing. The use of colors and the lush backgrounds in the early Sniffles cartoons easily rival anything Disney was doing at the time. Some perfect examples would be "The Brave Little Bat" and "Sniffles Takes a Trip". "The Unbearable Bear" is another stand-out, taking place mostly at night, the colors really set the mood, which you couldn't really appreciate in the faded versions we've seen on television for decades. I am also happy to report that a total of four cartoons have their titles restored and are seen here for the first time since they were issued to theaters! The titles are "Little Brother Rat" and "Hush My Mouse" on Disc 1 and "Trap Happy Porky" and "The Hypo-Chondri-Cat" on Disc 2. The others are either still sporting their Blue Ribbon reissue titles or are ones that have always retained their original titles (due to never being reissued). You have to commend the folks in charge who went the extra mile for this release.

There is also a selection of eleven mice-themed bonus shorts on Disc 2. Since these are billed as bonus features, they are NOT restored and are presented in standard definition on Blu-Ray. It's still a fun variety that showcases mice from all eras of Warner animation, starting with early musical 1930s Merrie Melodies through the limited animated shorts from the studio's final days (with the likes of Daffy Duck/Speedy Gonzales and Merlin the Magic Mouse). There are some great gems in here that will hopefully get the royal treatment in a restored format someday (such as Chuck Jones' "Mouse Warming" and Friz Freleng's "Mouse Mazurka"). I was a little disappointed there was no "Play All" option for the bonus shorts, so you have to start each cartoon individually. My only other complaint is that contents are listed nowhere either outside OR inside the case!

If you are a Looney Tunes collector or fan, this set comes Highly Recommended!

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