The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Nation Film Board of Canada - 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Feature running time: 333 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1:78.1
Resolution: 1080p/24, 1080i/60
Audio Format(s): English, French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Subtitles: English, French for the Hearing-Impaired
Directed by: Various
Music by: Various
Written by: Various
Region Code: Free
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 8, 2010
"Take a ride aboard the Animation Express"
Take a journey beyond your wildest imagination with this amazingly inventive, hugely entertaining collection of 26 animated shorts sure to delight viewers of all ages! With everything from modern masterworks such as Madame Tutli-Putli and Sleeping Betty to groundbreaking experimental shorts and classic cartoons, emerging talents join seasoned directors from the National Film Board of Canada, employing a startling palette of technologies to create animation magic.
‘Animation Express' is a collection if Canadian animated shorts that looked superb on my system. Some of the shorts were outstanding, visually striking and had captivating tales to tell; others were silly, dull and just didn't keep my interest. Seeing that there were 39 shorts and clocked in at almost 4 hours, I think there is something for everyone in this collection.
The Blu-ray is nicely laid out. The main menu gives you options of how you want to sort through the included shorts with 4 categories; For All, Humour, Visual Delights, and Social Issues. You can also sort by title and filmmaker. I found myself more engaged by the 'Visual Delights' section as it was a mix of films that were 'For All, with Humour, and Social Issues'. Upon choosing a short you get a splash screen with a write up about it, giving its length, creators, a brief synopsis, animation type (hand, stop animation, CGI etc.) as well as any achievements it received. I liked experiencing some just by its title as well as peeking through each category.
The stand out short features are Madame Tutli-Putli, Sleeping Betty, The Spine and Ryan. Responsible for both The Spine and Ryan, Chris Landreth is an amazing talent. His CGI animation looked reference quality on the Blu-ray, and his visual style really accentuated the stories he was telling. In Ryan, as a character got frustrated, of filled with emotion their face would distort or melt...it was a great use of the medium and more refreshing then just animation for a story. Sleeping Betty, which won a Genie Award (Canadian Film Awards), used tradition animation and was a satire of 'Sleeping Beauty". After watching close to 20 shorts, the one that stayed with me happened to be the first one I watched. The Academy Award nominated Madame Tutli-Putli was like a Tool video meets Jacob's Ladder. When Madame Tutli-Putli boards a train, she doesn't realize that the train is limbo as she eventually realizes she is in fact, dead. Most of what I saw on this release is geared towards adults; so don't buy this collection thinking there is some Shreky Pixar kids animation...it can get rather dark and cerebral at times.
Titles on the Blu-ray include:
Madame Tutti-Putli, Spare Change, Forming Game, The Spine, Hungu, The Man Who Slept, Rosa Rosa, How People Got Fire, Rains, Robes of War, Retouches, Drux Flux, Subservience, Sleeping Betty, Invasion of the Space Lobsters, The Necktie, Sainte Barbe, Come Again in Spring, Paradise, HA’Aki, Vive la Rose, Here and There, Land of the Heads, Flutter, Runaway, Engine 371.
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)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
‘Animation Express' comes to Blu-ray Disc from Image Entertainment featuring 1080i/p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 11 mbps and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound that has a constant bitrate of .44 and .12 mbps.
‘Animation Express' proves that size...I mean...bit-rate doesn't matter. Ok, yes of course it does, but within reason. Looking and listening to the many different short films here, some with bit-rates of 5 mbps and others hitting near 20, almost all of it looked reference quality. There were the occasional shorts that were in 1080i/60 and did showcase some compression issues which is what kept my rating under reference. The animation looked so detailed and three dimensional at times that I was in awe of what I was seeing. Inky blacks mixed with amazing details in the shadows, vivid color and fine details everywhere make this a must see collection for fans of animation as well as videophiles. The audio registered as Dolby Digital, even though the case had a DTS-HD symbol on it. Even being lossy, the tracks were sonically pleasing and had some really top notch sound on it. Most of what was being heard was music, which sounded great on my system. What stood out were the times where it was minimalistic and the clarity of drops of water or the pattering of footsteps just sounded so nice. Having so many different films with so many different animation styles, directors, sound engineers and bit-rates, I was really surprised how consistently good this presentation was.
- (HD) 13 Additional Shorts Unavailable Anywhere Else
I usually avoid shorts, especially animation as they never captivate me; for some reason I just don't focus on them and get bored easily. Out the the 20 or so I watched in this collection, I found there are gems and some amazing eye candy and am glad I gave it a chance! There are no real extras, though it contains 13 'Bonus Short Films' (they claim are extras though are just lumped in the regular track listing) that were not included on the original Canadian DVD release. If you are into Animation, CGI and showing off your system then the ‘Animation Express' comes highly recommended.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS35 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC27 Receiver (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer
Be a while before the price drops some though.
Not all animation is "lines and paint". Even if they were, some of them are still shot on film with grain. Not to mention large flat areas of color and harsh lines bring out color banding and macro-blocking far easier than the complex gradients of live action.
Is the English or French audio 448k? It would be a shame if English got 488k, while French got 192k, considering French is most likely the native language of some of these, if not most.
If you dug this, you should check out the animation collections by the Brothers Quay and Jan vankmajer... you'll see where those Tool videos got their influence.
Looking forward to checking this one out!
|Animation Express Blu Ray|