Directed by Robert Shaye
Studio: New Line
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 97 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, 2.0 English
Release Date: July 10, 2007
Review Date: June 24, 2007
Robert Shaye’s The Last Mimzy is an imaginative science fiction film for families. There are appealing performances from an impressive cast mixed with veterans and newcomers, some really excellent special effects, and a provocative-enough story. A misguided plot twist late in the game extends the film unnecessarily, but otherwise the movie has much to offer.
Noah and Emma Wilder are two young children who while on Easter vacation discover an unusual metal object on the beach. Inside they find a number of unusual items including a stuffed rabbit that seems capable of communicating with Emma, a neon green rectangular disc which contains rapidly altering shapes inside it (and which appears to be merely a rock to Noah’s mother), a seashell which makes noises that are not waves breaking, and a cone which breaks into a number of pieces when it’s removed from the container. All of these objects have been sent from the future for a special purpose that doesn’t make itself known until almost 70 minutes into the movie. By then, the contents of the metal container have begun to change both Noah and Emma in remarkable ways.
We spend most of the film with the two children, so it’s fortunate that director Shaye has found two engaging child actors for the roles: Chris O’Neil as Noah and Rhiannon Wryn as Emma. Their childlike wonder at the mesmerizing tricks these alien objects can perform is quite believable, and the rapport that these two young people have with Timothy Hutton and Joely Richardson as their parents and Rainn Wilson as Noah’s science teacher couldn’t be more realistic. Add Kathryn Hahn as Wilson’s fiancé and you’ve got a wonderfully tight ensemble of actors who put the story over with undeniable zest.
Unfortunately, scenarists Bruce Joel Rubin and Toby Emmerich have added a silly Homeland Security element to the drama to beef up the conflict quotient. It seems arbitrarily thrown into the mix and is not particularly well written. Moreover, Michael Clarke Duncan’s lordly presence as Seattle FBI division head Nathaniel Boardman pitches the film completely off balance through the ineffective and inconsequential scenes that he commands. The film isn’t ruined by these moments, but the innate conflict arising from the Mimzy’s built-in time limits don’t need further twisting from this added clashing subplot. There are also some parallels to Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass that aren’t done felicitously either. Again, not a deal breaker, but it takes a tiny bit away from the film’s general effectiveness.
The special effects work is beautifully detailed and quite enjoyable to watch. Combined with Howard Shore’s mostly engaging music and the breathtaking cinematography of J. Michael Muro, The Last Mimzy packs plenty of entertainment potential in its 97 minutes.
The film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is presented in a beautiful anamorphic transfer. Colors are vibrant, the image is very sharp, and details are solid. Blacks are rich with excellent shadow detail. No picture artifacts mar the presentation at all. The film has been divided into 18 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack is completely immersive surrounding the viewer with impressive waves of music, effects, and clear sound from all available channels. It’s a first rate achievement which can go from whisper quiet to bombastic levels instantly but never with distortion. There is also a Dolby Surround 2.0 mix on the disc, but I didn’t listen to more than a few seconds of it just to make sure it was present.
Because this is an Infinifilm experience, the DVD allows the viewer to watch the movie straight through or to select the Infinifilm branching featurettes that pause the film and offer interesting highlights and sidelights on the filmmaking process. Among the items covered in the Infinifilm featurettes are the casting of the children, the integration of special effects so the children could be believably seeing the magic that was taking place, deleted scenes, and the development of the story. The Infinifilm segments can also be viewed individually without watching the movie again, but their selection in this manner is cumbersome.
Director Robert Shaye offers a running commentary track which covers some of the same ground as the Infinifilm featurettes. Though he sounds somewhat nervous at the microphone, he does offer worthwhile information throughout the film without many long pauses, and it’s clear that he’s very proud of the final product.
In much the same way as Disney family DVD offerings, this DVD offers three interactive games that involve memory skills, eye-hand coordination, and hide-seek puzzles. The level of difficulty is a few steps above the puzzles on Disney DVDs and will likely require some parental help with younger children.
Roger Waters presents a music video version of the film’s mediocre main theme “Hello, I Love You” in anamorphic video on the disc. The theme also plays over the movie’s end credits.
The bulk of the bonus material, however, occurs elsewhere on the DVD. A section entitled “All Access Pass” presents all eleven deleted scenes (with or without director commentary) for selection. They’re in the Infinifilm section, too, but they’re easier to access here. There are also six lengthy behind-the-scenes featurettes on every aspect of the production from the special effects to the production design, the casting, the composing of the score, and a piece on the director (who also happens to be production chief of New Line Studios). These are all presented in anamorphic video with generous selections of clips from the film.
An additional section of special features is called “Beyond the Movie,” and it again offers six information packed documentaries on aspects of science and history mentioned in the movie and discussed by professors and scientists with appropriate technical credentials. Such aspects of the sci-fi story as wormholes, DNA, sound waves, the mandala, nanotechnology, and the Alice in Wonderland correlation are given fuller explanations and investigations in these beautifully produced mini-features. They’re all presented in very detailed anamorphic video and are among the best additional features I’ve ever seen produced for a DVD.
New Line has also provided for PC users (alas, no Mac compatibility) additional DVD-ROM content. Put the movie in your computer’s DVD-ROM drive, and another array of bonuses becomes available. The “Interactual” DVD player contained on the disc allows you to watch the film with behind-the-scenes photos and bits of trivia running alongside scenes in the film. You’re also able to put any spoken line in the film into the search engine and be taken to that spot in the movie. Additionally, you can bookmark your favorite scenes and have the computer replay them in any order. Of course, internet links to the Mimzy website where more content can be found are also provided.
The DVD offers the film’s theatrical trailer in anamorphic video as well as some previews of upcoming product both theatrical and on home video (Hairspray, How to Eat Fried Worms, Hoot, and the animated Superman: Doomsday).
The Last Mimzy will involve the whole family with its fanciful story, intriguing special effects, and immersive sound. I found it to be an enjoyable if occasionally bumpy ride. Still, this DVD presents everything the film has to offer in the best possible light.