Film Length: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 High Definition 1080p
Disc Type: BD-50 Dual Layer
Codec: AVC Mpeg-4
Audio: English Uncompressed 5.1 PCM (48KHz / 24-Bit), Dolby Digital English & French 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French & Spanish
Release Date: June 19, 2007
Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia was first published in 1977 and went on to win a number of prominent awards, including the coveted Newbery Medal. I remember reading Bridge to Terabithia at some point around my fourth grade year and being profoundly effected by it. As a matter of fact, this is a book that has had a huge effect on just about anyone under the age of 12 who has taken the time to dive into its pages. So, it was with a bit of nervousness that I revisited this story for the first time in almost 25 years.
Jesse (Josh Hutcherson) is a bit of an outsider at school. Seemingly unlike most of his peers, Jesse’s farm-living family is struggling and the stresses of not being able to make ends meet have made life a bit strained. In the midst of the near-crisis at home and school, a new girl, Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb), arrives at the beginning of the school year. As she and Jesse slowly become best friends, they find solace in the woods where they imagine being King and Queen of the land of Terabithia. Their imaginary adventures will lead Jesse to a powerful new understanding about life back in the real world.
I’ll have to tread lightly in my commentary about Bridge to Terabithia as there are a number of plot points that could easily spoil the effectiveness of the story. With that being said, this is a fine film that captures the essence of the original book magnificently. It really was a nice trip down memory lane for me as I remembered the various intricate plot points at the film played out. There are a number of fine performances in the film as well. Josh Hutcherson does a fine job as the somewhat morose Jesse, but the real standouts are AnnaSophia Robb as Leslie and Bailee Madison as Jesse’s sister Maybelle. Both are utterly convincing and manage to avoid the cliché that most child actors fall into of being too cutesy all the time. All in all, this is a stellar adaptation of a very emotionally resonant work.
NOTE: This film is rated PG for a very good reason. Some younger children might find the subject matter a bit too traumatic. Parents are stongly advised to preview this movie before sceening it for their children.
Disney has opted for a high-bitrate AVC encode for Bridge to Terabithia, and the results are nothing less than outstanding. This transfer is free from any digital noise, edge enhancement or other digital nastiness. Instead, we are treated to phenomenal image depth, outstanding detail and beautifully saturated colors. This particular Blu-ray is completely faithful to the theatrical experience except that it lacks the frequent dropouts and wear and tear that I experienced at my local theater. Disney been so consistently excellent with their releases, I’m about to run out of superlatives. This is, quite simply, another reference release.
Disney once again treats us to a completely enveloping uncompressed PCM 5.1 track. Bridge to Terabithia is interesting in its sound design, as the various settings of the film each have a very distinctive atmosphere. Scenes that take place in the real world are very subdued with a limited amount of ambient surround use and the occasional realistically placed directional effect. However, one the kids slip into the fantasy world of Terabithia, all bets are off as the surround channels spring to life and subwoofer effects literally shake your room. Pay particular attention to the scene where Jesse and Leslie are paid a visit by an evil Troll. If this one doesn’t wake up the neighbors and scare the cat, then nothing will! It’s worth noting, that in addition to these thoroughly bombastic scenes, this PCM track also delivers the subtle dialogue driven scenes with a confident and accurate elegance. Yet another first rate PCM track from Disney!
Here’s what’s included:
-“Digital Imagination –Bringing Bridge to Terabithia to Life”
-“Behind the Book: The Themes of Bridge to Terabithia”
-Director’s Commentary with Gabor Csupso, Screenwriter Jeff Stockwell and Producer Hal Lieberman
-Commentary with Producer Lauren Levine and Actors Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb
-“Keep Your Mind Wide Open” – Music Video
Disney has also delivered a pretty nice set of extras with Bridge to Terabithia. Both commentary tracks are enjoyable, with the emphasis on the kids’ track. They really seem to be enjoying the spotlight and have a ton of enthusiasm for the film. Both documentaries are nice as well. “Behind the Book” was easily the most interesting as it explores the real story that inspired the book. You might want to save the music video for “Keep Your Mind Wide Open” for the kids, though…
The Final Analysis:
Once again, Disney has truly delivered with and outstanding video and audio presentation. Bridge to Terabithia is a wonderful story that is sure to enlighten the whole family!
Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray Player
Panasonic PT-AE1000 Front Projector – 1080p
Carada 93” diagonal 16x9 Criterion Series/Brilliant White Screen – www.carada.com
Rotel RSX-1056 Surround Receiver
Rotel RB-1080 Amplifier
M&K MX-125 Subwoofer