It is rare to find a sequel which outdoes the original concept, particularly in the world of Disney movies, but 102 Dalmatians
is an exception to the rule. The high jinks and action is back, with an additional puppy--the lovable Oddball, who has no spots--and of course the cruellest of villains, Cruella DeVil. After two years of rehabilitation Cruella is released into London's community once more--but this time insists on being called Ella, "Cruella just sounds so cruel"--but has the evil one really changed her ways to become not only a pillar of society, but also a dog-loving activist? Her probation officer Chloe is not convinced and added to that her dalmatians have just had puppies.
Glenn Close is back in fine form as Cruella--this may be the defining role of her career-and with a great range of costumes and hair-dos she adds fantastic menace to the character. Added to this is the joy of having two British actors in the role of dog-loving humans (Ioan Gruffudd as Kevin and Alice Evans as Chloe)--instead of having to listen to the cod Dick Van Dyke English accent that Disney seems to love. The film also offers an extrovert turn by Gerard Depardieu as the flamboyant French Fashion designer Monsieur Le Pelt. Through Le Pelt this film does make some important references to the fur trade and the "No Logo-esque" fashion production methods--adding political humour for adults. However as always the true stars of the films are the animal actors themselves, with the talking parrot Waddlesworth who thinks he is a rottweiler (voiced by Eric Idle) and of course the true star Oddball--the cutest puppy since the promotion of a certain toilet roll!
On the DVD: This disc is literally rammed with features and fun. From "Puppy Overload" (a compilation of clips to music) and trailers to educational Featurettes, set out in an easily to use menu allowing kids to stop and start the DVD and fully comprehend how the movie and the digital effects work. In addition to these features is a deleted scene offering further Cruella antics, "Dalmations 101" which will help parents across the world to wriggle out of that ultimate question "Can we get a puppy!" and a nice little commentary from the Director Kevin Lima and a multitude of dog handlers which offers lively and concise information on the movie. Finally there is a DVD-ROM connection with a game allowing budding fashion designers a mix and match activity on Cruella's clothes and a link to the Disney Web site. With Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and widescreen 1.85:1 format offering excellent viewing, this disc proves that Disney really is top of the league for educational and fun DVD packaging --Nikki Disney
Glenn Close 102 Dalmatians