Blu-ray Review: Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume Three

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Simply put, the new two-disc Blu-ray release Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume Three is an unmitigated bundle of pure joy. Fans of Bugs Bunny and the gang have plenty to absorb with this assembly of 50 classic shorts, not to mention hours of entertaining, informative features. There’s no real reason or rhyme to the way these cartoons are presented. It’s a random assembly of several hours of material ranging from the ‘30s through the ‘60s. It’s the sheer volume of classic stuff that makes it a great value, even if it could’ve been better organized.

There’s great pleasure in revisiting these shorts for those who grew up with them, but the clarity offered by this high definition presentation will likely make the more accessible to yet another new generation of fans. Some are better remembered than others, but the obscurities are often the most interesting entries in the collection. The madcap 1943 hotel adventure “Porky Pig’s Feat” is presented in its original black-and-white (the only time Bugs Bunny appeared sans color). Speaking of black-and-white, Daffy Duck’s final appearance in that format, “Scrap Happy Daffy,” is a remarkable document from the World War II era. The 1941 “Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt” opens the set with its dreadfully politically incorrect portrayal of the titular Native American (a disclaimer appears as each disc is loaded, basically pointing out that although times have changed yet it’s vital to represent this past—misjudgments included—as it actually happened).

Crisp and colorful (where applicable), these cartoons may not look brand new but they probably look as good as they reasonably can. Early shorts found here date back 70-plus years and they’re showing their age, significantly in certain cases. But that’s not any reason to complain. The restoration work is excellent and these cartoons look undeniably improved upon when compared to any previous video counterpart. For some reason, Warner Bros. has decided to stick with Dolby Digital mono rather than stepping up to a lossless HD soundtrack. Fidelity is strong and it’s quite likely that the everyday viewer isn’t even going to carp about the absence of a DTS-HD option.

Looney Tunes Plat 3 display (380x286).jpgVolume Three is packed with supplements, not the least of which being 23 audio commentaries from a wide variety of participants (mostly animators and historians). A handful of shorts are presented with isolated music or music-and-effects tracks. A wealth of featurettes and documentaries has been ported over from previous releases. However, there is a Blu-ray exclusive, “That’s All Folks! Tales from Termite Terrace,” that runs about a half hour. Split between the two discs, there’s a substantial amount of essential viewing on offer, including a feature-length documentary Mel Blanc: The Man of a Thousand Voices. Some of the other pieces clock in at around an hour (“The Boy from Termite Terrace,” “Drawn for Glory: Animation's Triumph at the Oscars”). Shorter pieces like “Daffy Duck: Ridicule Is the Burden of Genius” deftly mix humorous mockumentary elements with real information, making many of these featurettes entertaining for Looney Tunes fans regardless of age.

Warner Bros. exec Mary Ellen Thomas (Vice President Family & Animation Marketing and Partner Brands) summed up the appeal of Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume Three very succinctly: “It’s a treat to see these beloved Looney Tunes shorts after they’ve been restored, remastered, and released on Blu-ray. It’s the way optimal cartoons were meant to be seen.” That may read like standard PR hype (and it pretty much is). But it’s also the truth in this case. The collection includes a handy booklet with a guide to each cartoon short and the special features.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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