I saw Magical Mystery Tour in the 90's when it was shown on the Disney Channel, and I hated it. I was curious if the new 2012 DVD made any significant improvements over this much maligned effort, and I am pleased to say that it is much better now. Visually, the film looks beautiful, unlike the poor quality prints from previous years. The colors are very bright and cheerful. This may be the best color film of the Beatles from a technical standpoint, at least until they restore the films Help or Let It Be.
The Beatles' musical numbers are of course the highlight. "I Am the Walrus" is as good as any MTV video, and both "Fool on the Hill" and "Your Mother Should Know" look and sound much better on this restored print. Although the film was Paul's idea, and John later bad-mouthed the project, it is Lennon that is the star of the film. His delightful facial expressions, fully lines, and amusing array of hairstyles and costumes make an otherwise disorganized film more watchable. In the Beatles' early Hamburg days, it was John who was the star of the show for the same reasons. Ringo has a well-acted scene at the beginning, and longtime Beatles roadie Mal Evans appears in several scenes, just as he did in Let It Be. George Harrison, on the other hand, seems bored and disinterested; he has no lines and appears in a less-than-inspiring music video to "Blue Jay Way."
The film itself is still a disorganized mess, although the edits are a bit more professional that the version I saw many years ago. There was obviously no script. The scenes appear to be out of chronological order. Near the end, there is a sequence where the passengers on the bus sing to an accordion at night, and it's spliced with a scene of Paul trying to ride a tandem bicycle with a dwarf on the beach during the daytime. Nothing really makes sense. A couple of scenes are interesting: the military scene, which starts off disturbing but becomes funny thanks to excellent acting by Victor Spinetti, and the spaghetti scene, which also was difficult to watch but becomes funny thanks to John's funny hairstyle and acting.
If they show this film on TV again, I would cut the stripper and accordion scenes entirely, change the sequence of the scenes (the Mr Bloodvessel as the Courier scene should be before his romantic beach sequence with Jessie), and add commercials, which oddly would provide a needed break between these disorganized scenes.