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DuckTales: The Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp
Disney Movie Club Exclusive DVD Review

DuckTales: The Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp poster DuckTales: The Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp

Theatrical Release: August 3, 1990 / Running Time: 74 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Bob Hathcock / Writers: Alan Burnett (screenplay); Ken Koonce, David Weimers (additional material); Carl Barks (characters)

Voice Cast: Alan Young (Scrooge McDuck), Rip Taylor (Genie), Christopher Lloyd (Merlock), Russi Taylor (Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webby), Richard Libertini (Dijon), Terence McGovern (Launchpad McQuack), Joan Gerber (Mrs. Betina Beakley), Chuck McCann (Duckworth), June Foray (Mrs. Featherby)

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By Aaron Willcott

The long title -- DuckTales: The Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp -- implied there was intent to make more films within the universe. While no such sequels were made, the plan was not without reason. "DuckTales" was a highly successful property for Disney. The television series had received acclaim and very good ratings. Merchandise, from lunchboxes and beach towels to VHS tapes and a Nintendo game, was selling.

When the film was released to theaters, Disney aired a television special hosted by Tracey Gold and Kadeem Hardison (actors from then-popular sitcoms "Growing Pains" and "A Different World", respectively). The choice of these 20-year-olds as hosts supports the notion that it wasn't just children watching these cartoons, but whole families, even cool young adults. The special wasn't a behind-the-scenes look at the film's making as much as a spotlight on the success of the DuckTales franchise, as the hosts reviewed their favorite moments from the TV series and previewed scenes from the upcoming theatrical release.

Huey, Louie, and Dewey ride on a tri-humped camel in "DuckTales: The Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp." Gene the Genie is quite ecstatic to have been released from Collie Babba's magic lamp into a Duckburg kitchen.

Treasure of the Lost Lamp follows Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webbigail, and Launchpad on a hunt for the lost treasure of Collie Baba (a clever play on the fictitious Ali Baba). After literally stumbling on the location of the treasure in a pyramid that barely breaks the surface of sand dunes, the explorers follow a map to find Collie Baba's treasure.
Escaping traps only Indiana Jones would be comfortable with, the ragtag treasure hunters reluctantly leave the booty behind and escape with only a rusty old lamp in Webby's knapsack.

Back in Duckburg, while cleaning the lamp, Webby releases a genie who quickly befriends the children and grants them wishes including making a giant ice cream sundae fall from the sky. The genie seems to enjoy granting wishes and playing with the kids as much as they enjoy requesting and reaping rewards. All of this is done in secrecy, though, so that Uncle Scrooge doesn't find out about the genie and take away the kids' newfound playmate. It doesn't take long before Scrooge finds out what's going on, though. After making several selfish wishes, he starts to feels sorry for the spirit who must spend his life in solitude and servitude.

Meanwhile, a menacing magician named Merlock is also on the trail of Collie Baba's genie. With his special talisman, Merlock can make an unlimited number of wishes, and rule the world (as evil magicians are so often bent on doing). Stealing the lamp, Merlock assumes his place on a self-made throne of evil overlooking Duckburg. Can the gang with a special appreciation for the genie overcome the most powerful sorcerer in the world with only their courage and wit?

The ending of the film is obvious to any viewer within the first fifteen minutes of the movie (especially if they’ve already seen Aladdin), however I won't spoil it here.

Menacing, talisman-wielding, Christopher Lloyd-voiced sorcerer Merlock is the villain of the film. Miserly megaquadzillionaire Scrooge McDuck experiences some turbulence from the result of his pilot Launchpad McQuack's flying.

The film itself is cheesy, cookie-cutter storytelling with no real surprises or legitimate character development. Serialized episodes of the "DuckTales" TV series are superior to this outing. Even the writing on this film was campy beyond anything Disney had ever put on screen (including Trenchcoat and Midnight Madness):

Scrooge: Launchpad, is this a stunt you learned in flight school?
Launchpad: Flight school?
Scrooge: You mean you never took flying lessons?
Launchpad: Well, I took a crash course.
Scrooge (placing his hand on his head and looking at the camera): Now he tells me.

All of the characters are paper thin
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and only Scrooge makes a trite character change toward the end of the film. It all seems so forced, though, that an ABC after school special looks subtle in comparison. There is no real depth hinted at in any character on screen, save for perhaps the villain, Merlock (voiced by Christopher Lloyd).

The animation quality is vastly subpar when compared to other Disney theatrical releases, however this is due to the fact that it was almost all animated in France and not by Walt Disney Feature Animation. This was the first film released by the television animation department that would come to be known as DisneyToon Studios (here it's dubbed "Disney MovieToons"). The division developed the story in the United States, then animation was completed overseas. The practice was similar to what Disney began doing five years earlier on "The Gummi Bears" and "The Wuzzles." The animation of Treasure of the Lost Lamp is only slightly superior to TV caliber, but as all of Disney's small screen animation at that time was high quality, that there wasn't a huge gap to fill in jumping to the big screen.

DuckTales: The Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp was first released to DVD in the PAL format and Region 2 of Europe. In January of 2006, the Disney Movie Club included the film in its fourth wave of Club-exclusive DVDs. The disc seemed identical to the earlier international releases, but Americans were finally able to have a clean, legal copy of the film that started DisneyToon Studios and essentially capped off Disney's most successful animated series to date.

Buy DuckTales: The Movie on DVD from Amazon.com Marketplace DVD Details

1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Stereo (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Closed Captioned
Release Date: January 2006 (Disney Movie Club Exclusive)
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Standard Club Price: $19.95
White Keepcase


The DVD presents DuckTales: The Movie in "family-friendly widescreen" in this 16:9-enhanced 1.66:1 transfer. While the picture itself looks fine with hardly any artifacts noted, the framing raises questions. By 1990, Disney's animated films were typically exhibited in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio in theaters. It is possible the film was simply animated for the show's standard 1.33:1 aspect ratio and matted, but it neither feels cramped nor overly spacious here. It would have been nice for the studio to simply come out and say if this presentation matches the theatrical dimensions.

The disc's Dolby Stereo track is clean and without any obvious defects. David Newman's score is reminiscent of old Errol Flynn films and Saturday matinee serials. Relatively rare to find on the auction market, the soundtrack album makes for a good listen, even if the series' catchy main theme isn't on it.

Find Scrooge McDuck's Treasure. It's the only thing you can do on this DVD besides watching the movie. The magic lamp bounces around while the series theme plays in the DVD main menu.


The only bonus feature on this disc is something called "Find Scrooge McDuck's Treasure." This set-top DVD game was also on the European DVD release, further suggesting the disc was simply a reformat of the international release.
The game is extremely easy and geared toward children with an attention span the likes of which the film itself couldn't satisfy. The premise is that Scrooge's treasure has been hidden throughout the house in certain objects and Merlock has enchanted other objects to make you "start over." After finding the treasure behind three randomly selected objects, you are told "good show" and the narrator hopes you return again soon. Most children nowadays need more than a simple "good show" to want to return to something as boring as this.

The main menu is an image of Collie Baba's treasure with an animated lamp bouncing around to the tune of the "DuckTales" main theme that doesn't actually appear in the film. Other menus are silent still frames of the film. There are no previews either at disc insertion or from the menus.

Inside the keepcase, an insert supplies a chapter listing on one side and an advertisement for the unfinished Disney Afternoon cartoon DVD releases of "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers", "DuckTales", "Quack Pack", and "Goof Troop."

The boys use a wish to grant them a giant ice cream sundae. Webby crawls amidst a spider and spiderwebs.


DuckTales: The Movie is neither exceptional nor dismal. The animation is a version of the glossy afterschool animation type, and the story is about the same.
The success of this film paved the way for a number of future DisneyToon Studios films, so without it we wouldn't have the likes of A Goofy Movie to enjoy. However, Disney would tell a story of a genie, treasure, and a magic lamp to much greater effect just two years later in Aladdin. Nonetheless, fans of the "DuckTales" series shouldn't be disappointed in the film.

Most of the first seven waves of Disney Movie Club Exclusive DVDs either have gone on to receive a comparable general retail release or will do so soon. It's been nearly four years since DuckTales became available to club members, making a long wait for those unwilling to join the Club or find it second-hand. Even if Disney chooses not to keep one of its most popular exclusive titles exclusive, a nationwide DVD release of the film would likely be the same as this and tough to find in stores. Since sales figures of "DuckTales" and other late '80s/early '90s animated TV series were deemed insufficient to continue box set releases, this must not be that important an entity to the studio.

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Related Reviews:
DuckTales: Volume 1 • DuckTales: Volume 2 • DuckTales: Volume 3 • Quack Pack: Volume 1
The Chipmunk Adventure • Alvin and the Chipmunks Go to the Movies: Daytona Jones and the Pearl of Wisdom
TaleSpin: Volume 1 • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Volume 1 • Darkwing Duck: Volume 1 • Goof Troop: Volume 1
Adventures of the Gummi Bears: Volume 1 • Gargoyles: Season 1 • Gargoyles: Season 2: Volume 1 • Tales from Avonlea: Season 1
The Little Mermaid (Platinum Edition) • Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh: It's Playtime with Pooh • Peanuts: 1960's Collection
The Tigger Movie (10th Anniversary Edition) • A Goofy Movie • Teacher's Pet • Recess: School's Out • My Neighbor Totoro
New to DVD: Pete's Dragon (High-Flying Edition) • Hannah Montana: The Movie • The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete First Season

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Reviewed August 25, 2009.