Miracle on 34th Street (1994) Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English Dolby Digital 5.0; French Dolby Surround
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
- Region: A
- Rating: PG
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Release Date: October 6, 2009
- List Price: $34.99
BestBuy.com: Purchase Miracle on 34th Street (1947) on Blu-ray from CD Universe Shop with us for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.comOverall The Film Video Quality Audio Quality Supplemental Materials
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG and thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Lightning rarely ever strikes twice, but apparently John Hughes and co. didn’t learn that lessen when they tampered with this perennial holiday favorite in 1994. Even Macy’s knew well enough to stay away from this remake and wouldn’t allow their name to be used in the film as they had in the 1947 original. Of course, by 1994, the Gimbel’s department store was already out of business, so the department store rivalry that helped anchor the 1947 film and cast a disparaging light on the holiday’s increasing commercialism gave way to the fictional Cole’s and Shopper’s Express department stores and a thinly veiled undercurrent of religious piety.
Hughe’s Miracle lost all the lighthearted charm of the original it basically lifted from scene-for scene, give or take a few added moments pertinent to its era, and a new subplot involving the fired Santa Claus that Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough) replaced at Cole’s. The film is so heavy-handed and burdened with the weight of trying to be “nice” and family friendly, that it completely misses the point. There is none of the quaint charm inherent in 1947′s film, nor is there any of the chemistry. And, I hate to say it, but Mara Wilson, cute as she may be, is no Natalie Wood. But, you see, that’s just it, the Susan Walker character was never intended to be just “cute,” she was supposed to be a witty little girl who needed to find her ability to dream; a kid you’d actually believe wouldn’t fall for any of that Santa Claus hooey. Mara Wilson just comes across as any little kid.
This 1994 Miracle on 34th Street, believe or not, is actually the fourth remake of this story. There have been two television adaptations and a version for the stage. None of them are as memorable as the original, and Edmund Gwenn has nothing to fear. For many he will always be the one and only Kris Kringle; certainly Richard Attenborough doesn’t steal that title away from him in this version.
Given the purposely-soft focus of this 1994 Miracle on 34th Street, do not go into viewing this 1.85:1 AVC/MPEG-4 encoding expecting great detail extension or even a fine layer of film grain. The picture looks quite smooth overall, but the vibrant colors of Christmas certainly do leap from the screen in the strongly saturated palette. Flesh tone do suffer a bit, however, as faces tend to look a little too pinkish. There aren’t too many opportunities in this film to see differences in contrast and dark and light, but when there are, shadow detail is well enough.
The film’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack sounds open with clean dialogue and bombastic Christmas tunes, but high frequencies are a little tweaked and can be fatiguing after a while. The surround channels offer not much more than some low level ambience, which does help to open up the soundstage a tad, but overall this soundtrack is nothing to get excited about and your subwoofer will be able to take a good nap during playback as well.
Uh, move along please, there’s nothing to see or hear. Fox has done nothing more than slapped the movie on the disc and that’s it. There’s not even a trailer to be had.
The Definitive Word
They should have left well enough alone and not tampered with this classic. Unfortunately, they did — three times on the screen and once on the stage. For what it’s worth, this Blu-ray release of the 1994 remake looks sufficiently “Christmasy,” so if you need to pick it up alongside the classic original film on Blu-ray, at least you’ll be getting something dripping with fine holiday colors.BestBuy.com: Purchase Miracle on 34th Street (1947) on Blu-ray from CD Universe Shop with us for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com