Terrifying, charming, imaginative, and fun – there’s little that Henry Selick’s 1996 masterpiece doesn’t accomplish. Based off the classic children’s book by Roald Dahl, and utilizing the simplicity of stop motion animation, James and the Giant Peach is a movie that must be shown to every child before they reach adolescence, and again to every adult after they’ve hit their mid-life crisis.

The story of an orphaned boy who escapes from his mean aunts (via a giant peach) has charmed millions of children for generations. Legend has it that Roald Dahl had been approached about turning the story into a film a number of times, but consistently refused. It wasn’t until after his death that his wife finally granted Disney permission to bring Peach to the big screen. Thank the seagulls! What a treasure they put together, bringing to life one of our most favorite exchanges in cinematic history:

Grasshopper: You are a disgrace to your phylum, class, order, genus,
and species!
Centipede: Say it in English!
Grasshopper: You sir, are an ass!

Brilliant! The blu-ray transition gives the film a new life by doing what blu-ray does best; taking the old and making it look better than brand new. While the film lacks the crystal clarity that most new releases achieve for their blu-ray editions, it’s still far superior from the movie’s DVD release. To see the contrast you only have to watch the first special feature which includes footage from the film in its DVD form.

The only thing disappointing about this “Special Edition” is that it comes with no new special features, only the ones found on the original DVD release. It’s especially troubling given the 3 years of production this film took and the mastery of the filmmakers who created it. Even something as simple as an added director’s commentary would have been nice.

Still, this is a movie worth owning on blu-ray. Not even National Geographic could show you a rhino as scary as the one that haunts James’ dreams, or a spider as sweet as Miss Spider, or a fast-talking, pirate fighting centipede as entertaining as Centipede. It’s refreshing to watch this film after so many years and still marvel at its creativity. Its lesson still as pertinent today as it was when Dahl first set ink to paper: fear resides within you, and is only as strong as you make it.

Blu-ray Special Features:

Package includes both a regular DVD version and an Electronic Copy. There is also an interactive mini-ame, a behind-the-scenes featurette and the music video for “Good News,” performed by Randy Newman.

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