Pigs and Pirates (Blu-ray)

Director - Jim Henson, Brian Henson

Cast - Jim Henson, Frank Oz

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs - 23

Distributor - Disney

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

Date - 12/22/13

The Films (4/5, 3/5)

   This is the Blu-ray I have been waiting impatiently for.  The Great Muppet Caper is my favorite of all Muppet films, and I never ended up purchasing the DVD, by the time Blu-ray rolled around I knew it had to come out eventually. When the Muppets hit theaters, and subsequently Blu-ray, I thought that would be the perfect time.  It didn't happen then, and I wondered if not then, would it happen at all? Then a few months ago, the Muppet Movie was released to Blu-ray, still with no indication of Caper. A little while after it was finally announced that the Great Muppet Caper would be released on Blu-ray with the another unreleased Muppet film, Muppet Treasure Island in an oddly titled collection called Pigs and Pirates, and as much as I did not care for Muppet Treasure Island as a film, I was as pleased as could be to finally get a Blu-ray release of Great Muppet Caper.

   The Great Muppet Caper is the second Muppet feature film following the Muppet Movie.  It features Kermit, Fozzy, and Gonzo as a team of journalist who miss out on a huge heist story that happened right before their very eyes, and go to England to get to the bottom of it. While in England they end up staying in the dumpy Happiness Hotel with the other Muppets, and get involved in a much larger mystery involving a diamond heist.

   Jim Hensonís studios were set in the U.K., so it is no surprise to anyone in the know that he would have gotten around to making a Muppet film in London. What is surprising is how much of tonal shift the location seems to have over the film. The filmís comedy writing is less reliant on cameos and sight gags as the previous films, and falls more in the world of situational absurdist comedy ala Monty Python.  The film itself looks more akin to something shot by the BBC in the same era (with the exception that Caper is shot on film, not video).

   The Great Muppet Caper is unique amongst the Muppet films to be the one of the only films in the original string of muppet films that actively pursues genre filmmaking without a preexisting source template. In this case the muppets are involved in both a crime film, and a mystery plot. The later films Muppet Treasure Island, Muppet Wizard of Oz, and Muppet Christmas Carol would be adaptations of existing source material while Muppets Take Manhattan and The Muppet Movie are more muppet ensemble comedies than anything that could be shoehorned into a genre.

   Muppet Treasure Island is the second film made after the passing of Jim Henson. The film is part of a cycle of Muppet literary adaptations that began with the prior Muppet film, Muppet Christmas Carol, and hopefully has reached it's conclusion with the Muppet Wizard of Oz. The film is a fairly straightforward adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island with the Muppets filling most of the major roles minus Tim Curry as Long John Silver and Kevin Bishop as Jim Hawkins. As far as adaptations go it is fine hitting all the major story beats of the original tale, however, the adding of the Muppet style humor does not tend to mix well with the material and there are parts where the film tends to drag. 

Audio/Video (3.5/5)

     Both films are presented in solid 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfers. The Great Muppet Caper has a very naturalistic grainy transfer, with very nice colors and excellent fine detail. Muppet Treasure Island on the other hand comes with a nice transfer same specs, but not as grainy, but also less colorful and not as detailed.  It is still a solid improvement from the prior DVD version.

   Both films are presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks in English. The dialogue comes across nice and clear, as do the music and effects. I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on either track.

 

Extras (2.5/5)

   The Great Muppet Caper is my all time favorite Muppet Movie, so color me disapponted when the only extra on the release was Frog-E-Oke with a few of the films songs. The majority of extras were archival extras from the DVD release of the Muppet Treasure Island release. We get a 21 minute behind the scenes featurette, a commentary with Brian Henson (featuring Gonzo and Rizzo).  There is also a music video for Let the Good Shine Out, and more Frog-E-Oke this time for the song Cabin Fever.

 

Overall

   I have to give props to Disney for FINALLY getting my favorite Muppet film out on Blu-ray the transfer is nice and solid, and quite a substantial upgrade from the DVD edition. I do wish their were extras for Caper, and I cannot say I'm a huge fan of Muppet Treasure Island thus this release is only RECOMMENDED.