We Bought A Zoo (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
Official AVS Blu-ray Disc Reviews > We Bought A Zoo (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review
Ralph Potts's Avatar Ralph Potts 04:23 PM 04-07-2012
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 124 minutes
Genre: Family/Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johannsson, Thomas Haden Church, Patrick Fugit, Elle Fanning, John Michael Higgins, Angus McFaden, J.B. Smoove
Directed by: Cameron Crowe
Music by: Jonsi
Written by: Aline Brosh McKenna & Cameron Crowe
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 3, 2012

"Benjamin is no longer reporting an adventure story; he's living it in his own backyard"

Film Synopsis:

Oscar winner Matt Damon gives a heartfelt performance in this film which is based on a true story. When his teenage son gets into trouble, Benjamin Mee (Damon) gives up a lucrative newspaper job to move his family to the most unlikely of places: a zoo! With help from an eclectic staff, and with many misadventures along the way, Benjamin embarks on a fresh beginning to restore the dilapidated zoo to its former glory, while uniting his family.

My Take:

Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) is a Los Angeles newspaper columnist and adventure writer who, as a single father, faces the challenges of raising his two young children. Hoping that a fresh start and a new life will restore their family spirit, Mee quits his job and buys an old rural house outside the city with a unique bonus feature: a zoo named the Rosemoor Animal Park, where dozens of animals reside under the care of head zookeeper Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson) and her dedicated team. With no experience, limited time and a shoestring budget, Mee sets out with the support of his family and the local community to reopen the zoo. Now, Benjamin is no longer reporting an adventure story; he's living it in his own backyard.

We bought a zoo is based on true events/people and is a rewarding and heartwarming family drama about a loving father/widower trying to pick up the pieces. He gets more than he bargained for when he buys a new home for himself and his two kids that comes along with a rundown zoo and what's left of its support staff. Luckily it provides the spark he needs to rekindle his relationship with his teenage son as well as an incentive to look to the future. This one is pretty light and eschews melodrama, and syrupy romance in favor of well choreographed familial interaction, charming characters (including the furry ones), and a sentimental but upbeat thematic melody that plays consistently throughout. Watching the bonus feature on the real life Benjamin Mee and his children indicates that this dramatization adds a bit of schmaltz to their story but I didn't have a problem with that. I watched it with my family and we all enjoyed it. The ensemble cast is a pleasure to watch, especially young Maggie Elizabeth Jones, who is a consummate scene stealer. We bought a zoo doesn't offer any surprises but proves to be an effectively charming, and evocative film that makes for pitch perfect family entertainment.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language and some thematic elements.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 86

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

Video: 92

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

We bought a zoo comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.

This is a high quality video presentation that seems a perfect match for the source material. Colors are deeply saturated with eye pleasing vitality and delineated depth. Images are resolute, with stable sharpness, crisp detail and appreciable subtle refinement. Certain scenes appeared better resolved than others although I suspect this is related to the photography and not the encoding. Contrast is bold without being overpowering and blacks are respectable with discernible detail visible in low lighting and shadows. I didn't see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent. The lossless soundtrack competently delivers the elements present in the recording and sounds terrific. Dialogue is well intonated with crystal clarity and good room penetration. The presentation offers an open soundstage across the front with definitive channel separation and good dynamic range. Surround use is limited to spatial cues, occasional panning effects and accenting the enriching music score, all of which enhance dimension. There aren't any sub bass frequencies contained in the mix however the subwoofer is effectively used to provide emphasis that brings forth the low range content associated with the soundtrack's elements. This is a subtle yet surprisingly good audio presentation.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary with director Cameron Crowe, J.B. Smoove and editor Mark Livolsi

  • (HD) 20 Deleted/Extended scenes

  • (HD) Gag reel - 7 minutes

  • (HD) The Real Mee - 28 minute featurette

  • (HD) We shot a Zoo (5 segments)

    1. Intro/Benjamin - 5 minutes
    2. We build a zoo - 6 minutes
    3. Rehearsal/filming - 23 minutes
    4. Its a zoo! - 23 minutes
    5. Inspiration/thats a wrap! - 18 minutes

  • (HD) Photo gallery - By Neal Preston

  • (HD) Their happy is too loud - 17 minute production featurette on the films score

  • Bonus DVD - We bought a zoo

  • Digital Copy Bonus Disc

  • BD-Live

Final Thoughts:

We bought a zoo is based on true events/people and is a heartwarming drama about a loving father/widower trying to pick up the pieces. From a thematic standpoint it doesn't break new ground but in the capable hands of co-writer/director Cameron Crowe and star Matt Damon it is a rewarding and entertaining film that the whole family can enjoy. We bought a zoo makes its way to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox featuring top notch audio/video quality and a complimentary assortment of bonus material that is well worth exploring. This one should go to the top of your rental queue on family movie night.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

ozar's Avatar ozar 06:32 AM 04-08-2012
Thanks for the review, Ralph!

I've been curious about this movie and do like the cast, but it feels like one that I'd only watch once, so based on your impression I'll probably put this one in the rental queue.
spiritfox's Avatar spiritfox 07:32 AM 04-08-2012
Good review Ralph. I had hoped this one was a bit better. I was so hopeful that I did this as a blind buy. I enjoyed the movie--but agree with your rating and in hindsight would not have bought it. But in a circumstance of chance, I encountered a problem with the disc in chapter 28 where it froze and I could not get it working again until part way through 29. So I returned it to Amazon for a refund--so all is good.
Randall Morton's Avatar Randall Morton 02:46 PM 04-08-2012
Nice review, but I probably wouldn't have rated it this high. My family enjoyed it but I thought it was boring and slow. Maybe a rental but not a buy.

I also thought something didn't look right. It almost looked like video instead of film. The colors, shadow detail, etc. all looked great but to me something just looked odd. Maybe it was the high contrast.
JamE55's Avatar JamE55 08:44 AM 04-09-2012
Thought this was a great and fantastic flick and somewhat insipiring. Trying to raise two kids while opening and rebuilding a zoo you have no idea on how to run it but it's a good thing he's got some backups.

Great movie for the whole family.
GoCaboNow's Avatar GoCaboNow 03:33 PM 04-09-2012
The marketing I saw suggested this was a little more fun and light hearted. My family still enjoyed it but there is zero replay and glad it was just a rental. We all did like the young girl though, and my six year old kept saying "that's me" whenever she was onscreen and doing something. She does not look like her but acted in ways my six year old could relate to - so that was kind of cool.
taz291819's Avatar taz291819 10:06 AM 04-11-2012
I'm not normally into "family" movies, but I quite enjoyed this one.
Lloyd-TX's Avatar Lloyd-TX 02:07 PM 04-16-2012
I watched this last night and was thoroughly entertained.
Franin's Avatar Franin 04:10 AM 04-30-2012
Im hoping to rent this tomorrow.
FieldingMelish's Avatar FieldingMelish 10:53 AM 05-12-2012
I saw it on a plane flight and was glad that I didn't pay to see it as a rental for home viewing.
Franin's Avatar Franin 10:25 AM 08-19-2012
Picked this one up very cheap. I really enjoyed it.
Ralph Potts's Avatar Ralph Potts 03:19 PM 08-19-2012
Originally Posted by Franin View Post

Picked this one up very cheap. I really enjoyed it.


Great to hear it Frank. smile.gif

Tags: Blu Ray Movies , We Bought A Zoo Blu Ray Dvd Digital Copy
Mobile  Desktop