WinStar // 2000 // 57 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // October 11th, 2000
Vegas has nothing on the glittering lights here.
It seems every year the Christmas season comes earlier and earlier, so it is no surprise that Winstar is already coming out with DVDs for the Yuletide season. From initial appearances, I was expecting just another Christmas music disc, and my expectations were so low as to resemble dread. Surprisingly this disc focuses more on the lights and splendor as people decorate their homes, trees, streets, and parks as the holiday approaches, and shows off nearly an hour's worth of such decorations with a background of Christmas music. If at that time of year you like to bundle the family up into the car and look at the light displays people have done, you will probably enjoy this disc. Another win for Winstar.
I grew up in one of those families who prowled the streets at night looking at the houses and streets all lit up with the abundance of bright light displays every holiday season. From the modest displays at our own home to the massive shows that seemingly use enough electricity to power a small country, they have a certain charm and comfort for people who enjoy this tradition. This disc focuses on those massive displays, with thousands and seemingly millions of lights, but boats, light tunnels, and other such displays of Christmas lights all get their showing as well.
While the show is basically the same all through, instrumental, orchestral and a couple vocal renditions of Christmas music is done in the background, and each song separates the disc into its 25 chapters. The two songs that actually have vocal tracks are also "Sing Along" selections that include subtitled lyrics, and include "Pretty Paper" sung by Willie Nelson and "Silent Night" sung by Mihalia Jackson. The rest of the selections vary from full orchestral arrangements to one or two instruments, but include virtually every classic Christmas song, from "Jingle Bells" to "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." The sound comes from a Dolby 2.0 track that stays in the front channels but is very clear, and the arrangements sound pleasing enough.
All these light show displays are done in full frame, and for the most part look lovely. The only time I noticed a real breakup of the picture was one scene that tried to show snowflakes flying by the camera, but pixel breakup made it look like a bunch of trailing square blobs. The rest of the time they are shooting things that mostly stand still and the colors are bold, vivid, and bright, looking nearly as good as being out in the cold viewing them yourself.
What I have described is pretty much all there is to the disc. The only extras are direct access to the two "Sing Along" tracks and a "Shuffle" feature that randomly plays the songs with their accompanying light displays instead of playing them in order. I'm not saying there should have been significant extra content here, but that's all you get.
I probably would have opted for a subtitle track that offered the lyrics to all the songs, so that people could sing carols at home to them, but perhaps the disc couldn't take much more. I noticed an extremely high bitrate used for virtually every second of the show; almost always maxing out my bit meter.
I mentioned my low expectations from the disc; that is because I can barely tolerate Christmas music at Christmastime, and not at all the rest of the year. In cases like mine it might be better to just watch the disc without the sound. Likewise all the disc has are those light displays, and you either like them or you don't. It may turn out to be a disc to watch once a year, perhaps more for real fans of this type of thing. I wasn't lying when I claimed that Vegas would have to work hard to compete in the glitz department with their massive use of light bulbs.
For fans of those house and street displays, this disc will serve you well, especially at night with all the lights turned off. For most people I expect it would be a once a year experience, and would probably make a better rental than a purchase. For those who don't care for either the music or the lights of Christmastime, this would be an instant pass.
Winstar gets another rare recommendation from me as they have filled this niche very well with this disc. For what it is, it does a very good job, and I won't ask for more out of it.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 57 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Two "Sing Along" Tracks
* "Shuffle" Feature