Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp,
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Date: April 20, 2004
Review posted: April 19, 2004
Gregory L. Amato
A successful real estate agent
(Murphy) who enjoys his work just a bit too much promises his
family a weekend away from sales. They intend to make one quick
stop at an old mansion on the way, and then must discover its
spooooooky secrets in order to escape. Based on the Disney
attraction of the same name.
Disney fans high off of the
Pirates of the
Caribbean may well be looking for another exciting and
“fun” movie. If so, look elsewhere.
It’s not that The Haunted Mansion
doesn’t deliver on any of the same premises as the infinitely more
successful Pirates, it just doesn’t do things quite as well.
The special effects look great, the story is easy to follow, and there
is comic relief any time things are about to get serious.
Unfortunately the comic relief isn’t funny, the story doesn’t make
much sense, and the film ends up feeling like an advertisement.
was not a great movie either, but at least it knew enough to make
viewers feel like they were watching an adventure story and not a cash
cow. The Haunted Mansion, which includes a number of fine
actors, most notable is Terence Stamp as Ramsley, the mansion’s
butler, who has a few decent moments. But ultimately the film isn’t
very exciting or even redeeming as a children’s movie.
combines great special effects and underused acting talent with a
boring story and flat dialog. The film starts off as if it might have
something to say about the importance of family, but by the end this
theme is completely forgotten and replaced by a simplistic disdain for
old, rigid social conventions. A fairly shallow attempt at conveying
the ability to face one’s fears is also included, but feels as if it
were tacked on to meet a “morals” quota.
plus side, the film is only 88 minutes long, I mean short.
Buena Vista presents The Haunted Mansion in 2.35:1
anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is clear and sharp, with no
visible edge enhancement and very little grain. The ghostly
special effects look especially good with such excellent quality
video. A fullscreen version of the DVD is also available
Buena Vista presents The Haunted Mansion in Dolby Digital
5.1 Surround Sound. French and Spanish tracks are also available,
as well as English Closed Captions. The film uses positional audio
to great advantage, and the sound quality is crisp and clear.
The Haunted Mansion: Secrets
(12 minutes) is a making-of featurette with an understandable
focus on the special effects (including how they put Jennifer
Tilly’s head in a ball). For a more in-depth look at how the work
was done, Anatomy of a Scene: Ghosts in the Graveyard (11
minutes) does an excellent job of showing how the individual
effects in that scene were executed.
Two audio commentaries are
available on the disc. The first includes producer Don Hahn, visual
effects supervisor Jay Redd, and screenwriter David Berenbaum, and
overlaps some of the information on the special effects in the two
featurettes. The second commentary is with director Rob Minkoff and
costume designer Mona May. The lone deleted scene is an
extension of a scene still in the film, where Emma (Dina Waters) and
Ezra (Wallace Shawn) explain what is going on.
Disney’s DVD Virtual Ride: The Haunted
is an interactive feature where you find your way through the mansion
with the help of Emma and Ezra. This can be accessed via normal DVD
players and DVD-ROM drives, whereas several Enhanced Computer
Features like the Ghostly Effects Studio and Attraction
History Video are for computers only.
The outtakes reel (five minutes)
included on the disc is probably funnier than the movie itself, though
admittedly that isn’t saying much. Raven’s music video
“Superstition” (just over three minutes) is included, as are
Despite Eddie Murphy’s presence, The Haunted Mansion is more
likely to elicit snores than laughs from adults. Lots of extras make
the disc worth checking out for Disney fans, but it’s still a very
VERDICT: ONLY FOR
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