Some thoughts on a few other films...
Of the half dozen or so new animated pictures I've looked at in the last few weeks, this is the one I couldn't wait to check out again. Amazing animation (once you get past the initial weirdness of the mocapped movement, and very human-sounding voices coming from realistic-looking marine critters). Amazing soundtrack. Fantastic film from start to finish. If you can see it in HD, so much the better. Some scenes in this may be a little intense for younger viewers. A 1936 Chuck Jones/Tex Avery classic, "I Love to Singa", is also included in the extras.
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE
Superbly idiotic, and sublimely stupid. As far as PQ's concerned, some
have commented re edge-enhancement on the DVD edition. Detail on the BD was maybe a tad soft, and had some minor high-frequency ringing visible at times (on a Sony S300 mapped 1:1 on a 1080p LCD). That may just be the normal by-product of compressing such hard-edged graphics though. Loved some of the trailers in the extras. And there are a few easter eggs as well (on the BD version anyway):
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In the main menu, select one of the options below PLAY MOVIE. Hit the left arrow on the remote. An underline should appear. Press enter, and you'll see developmental sketches of the new characters in the film. Each menu item shows a different set of sketches.
Another animated feature that leans heavily on mocap. Excellent story though. Images have a somewhat aged filmic look which fits well with the story IMHO.
Giving this a thumb's up as well despite the somewhat more juvenile-oriented humor, mainly because the voice artists and animators do a nice job, and the more abstract look of the animation and backgrounds adds to the visual interest. Also recommend checking this out in HD to get the full effect.
MEET THE ROBINSONS
The style may not be as groundbreaking as some of the others (the characters and look of the animation remind one of The Incredibles and Robots), but the color
in the BD certainly provide some amazing eye-candy. Definite demo material in several scenes.
SHREK THE THIRD
Story-wise this is probably the weakest of the three Shrek films. But the textures and detail are amazing in HD.
OVER THE HEDGE
The quintessential furry critter film of the bunch. The characters and animation are definitely good and have alot of 3-D pop, which will surely engage some viewers (especially younger ones I suspect). Maybe my expectations were too high after reading positive reviews. Or perhaps if I hadn't seen The Ant Bully and Open Season first, I would have been somewhat more receptive, but it seemed a bit lacking in imagination/originality compared to some of the others. Probably just me though.
Superb animation (and voice performances) as usual from Pixar. As for the story, it probably depends where you stand on anthropomorphized racing and vintage (or in some cases just plain rusty) vehicles, CO2 emissions and such. Personally I rather liked it despite the somewhat "un-PC" subject matter.
I WANT A DOG FOR CHRISTMAS, CHARLIE BROWN
Solid new Schulz-inspired effort (made in 2003, released on DVD in 2005) featuring Linus and Lucy's younger brother, Rerun, from the same folks that brought you the other Peanuts shows. This is probably one of the better-looking Peanuts DVDs I've seen... except that it appears to have been edited on video, which may cause deinterlacing issues for some players. If you're using an upconverting player for example, you may have to put it in forced video mode (or switch to 480i and let the display do this) to avoid the frequent bits of combing/jaggies that occur during cuts and dissolves between scenes. If your player suffers from CUE/ICP
, that'll probably also be quite visible in places. A 2nd bonus feature, CHARLIE BROWN'S CHRISTMAS TALES, can be found in the extras along with a documentary on the making of the original Charlie Brown Xmas.
A couple more animated classics recently released on DVD...
SPACE GHOST & DINO BOY
If you were a kid in the 60's you'll probably recall these excellent circa 1966 Alex Toth cartoons. While shorter in duration than Jonny Quest (each episode of SG & DB ran a mere ~7 minutes versus ~25 for JQ), these were also among Hanna-Barbera's better animated action/adventure efforts. What these cartoons lacked in length, they made up for in wall-to-wall action. Discs in this set are 2-sided, and the PQ is definitely on the weaker side. Looks like it may have originated from older tape masters. The discs aren't well-packaged either. I went through quite a few before finding a set with minimal defects. The upside for Toth/HB fans is you don't have to tivo it off CN to compile all the episodes in one place. A good Toth documentary is also included.
THE JUNGLE BOOK
Another Disney classic partially marred by what appears to be a somewhat heavy-handed attempt to clean up the image quality. The sound is great, considering the film's 40-year old age. Unfortunately the picture on the new anamorphic DVD doesn't fare quite as well. Some scenes are better than others, but overall the picture lacks detail, definition and richness (especially compared with some of the newer releases above in crystal clear HD), and looks like it may have been run through some noise/grain reduction routines. Along with noise/grain, the processing seems to have stripped away a good bit of detail and life from the picture as well. If you've seen the original fullscreen release, you'll probably also notice a fair amount of image cropped away to fit the 16:9AR. According to imdb, the intended theatrical ratio of the film was 1.75 (the neg was 1.37). The framing feels a little claustrophobic at this wider AR though, especially if the TV has overscan. There are also thin black bars on the sides due to the slightly narrower than 16:9 ratio, which may be visible on displays with 1:1 mapping or no overscan. Excellent collection of extras. This is one of the Disney titles that'll probably go back into the vault again (until an HD edition is released?).