Plot: What’s it about?
Casper is known as the friendly ghost and for good reason, as he is a nice fellow who values friendship over scares. Maybe he is a little too easily scared to be a ghost, but he is a keen little guy who likes to have fun and make new friends. Now this might not seem like the natural behavioral patterns, but Casper has been able to coast along with no real problems. Sure his three uncles give him some hassles about being too nice and never scaring people, but Casper takes it all in stride and keeps his head up. But now he has a problem to contend with, as the rules of ghostdom demand that each ghost scare at least one person per year. And guess who hasn’t even managed to scare one person this year? Casper did scare someone, but since it was an accident, the judges claimed it was an invalid spook in the end. So unless he scares someone by Christmas, he and his uncles will be sent into eternal darkness forever! Since the uncles doubt Casper can pull off the scare tactics, they call in his cousin Spooky, who looks just like him to do the deed. If this plan doesn’t work, then Casper must scare someone or spend the rest of eternity in total darkness.
I was looking forward to this release for several reasons, but mainly because I like these characters and I also like computer animation. I really liked the Casper feature film and while I knew this was a different type of title, I had hoped the entertainment value would be about the same. I do think this takes on more of a Saturday morning cartoon edge in terms of character development and storyline, but I still had some fun with the title and enjoyed some laughs. But, the movie as a whole just seemed lame when compared to my expectations and in truth, I don’t think the movie is good enough to market alone. Perhaps in a double feature with a similar product, but not on its own with a rather high asking price. But if your kids love this kind of stuff, the disc does have a lot of advantages over the VHS counterpart, so perhaps in that case the prince would be justified. The main flaw I have here is the low budget animation used, which falls short of even some normal weekly cartoons at times, not what I was hoping for. I didn’t expect something as advanced as Toy Story, but I wanted more than this feature offers. If this seems up your alley then give it a rent, but I think a rental will be enough for most folks.
Video: How does it look?
Casper’s Haunted Christmas is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame version also included on this dual layered disc. I am very pleased Universal has included a widescreen option for this title, but the image is still not as smooth as I would have liked. I saw no troubles with the source materials, but I did notice a few compression problems, even more so on the full frame version. These issues don’t ruin the transfer by any means, but I do think it is worth mentioning them here. The blue tints look very good though, so no blooms or smears are to be found with this presentation. I like the metallic hues seen throughout, which more than makes up for the lack of deep, rich colors. No problems with the contrast either, as black levels look sharp and no detail seems to be lost in the shuffle.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc uses a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but outside the music, you won’t hear much surround use. This isn’t a big deal though, as I couldn’t tell any instances where there should have been more activity, which means nothing has been forced within the mix. The music (by Randy Travis) sounds very alive and active here, while complimenting the on screen antics quite well. No flaws with the sound effects or dialogue either, it all comes across in fine form here. This disc also includes subtitles in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A decent fifteen minute featurette is included, which focus on how & why the film was made. This is a little too short for my tastes, but a lot of information is packed into those minutes, so no worries. Some DVD ROM content is also present, such as storybooks, puzzles, and other children’s projects.