Release Date: October 9, 2007
Rating: ½ /
Starring: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, John Goodman, John Michael Higgins, Jimmy Bennett, and Wanda Sykes
Story by: Steve Oedekerk & Joel Cohen & Alex Sokolow
Screenplay by: Steve Oedekerk
Directed by: Tom Shadyac
Evan Almighty is the intermittently entertaining sequel to the 2003 hit Bruce Almighty, this time featuring Steve Carell as a freshman congressman who gets his chance to “change the world”, but not in the manner he expected. The central plot of the movie is a cross between the story of Noah’s Ark and the 1977 hit Oh God!, and it certainly provides laughs here and there, mostly due to the collection of birds, mammals and other animals that collect around Steve Carell two by two through the course of the film. It is very much a family film, with nothing presented that couldn’t be seen by parents and kids without a problem. It’s also very much a message film, with a clear signal to the idea of trying to live a little more harmoniously with nature. If you’re looking for a huge comedy, this is probably not what you have in mind. But if you’re looking for something a little quieter and a little friendlier, this film can be a fun experience for the whole family.
VIDEO QUALITY: 3/5
Evan Almighty is presented in a vibrant anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer that comes across quite well. Flesh tones appear quite accurate, down to the variations from Lauren Graham’s paler complexion to John Goodman’s ruddy features. The multiple makeup and hair transformations given to Steve Carell come through seamlessly here. The only seam that can be seen comes in some of the bigger digital effects shots – where the digitally composited animals appear a bit paler than the rest of the material in the shot. Overall, this is a solid transfer which accurately shows us the widescreen compositions Tom Shadyac created for the film.
AUDIO QUALITY: 2 ½/5 ½
Evan Almighty is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English and Spanish, with a 2.0 mix in French, and an additional audio track in English for DVS (or Descriptive Video Service for the Blind). The English 5.1 mix is okay, but there really isn’t anything for the subwoofer or the surround channels to do for most of the film. The only thing in the surround channels for the majority of the film, is a hint of the music soundtrack. The rest of the sound lives in the front channels. As the film reaches its climax and things start to to go a little crazier on camera, the subwoofer gets a little work, but it’s really not that much. There’s enough here to remind you that you have the components for a home theatre, but not a lot of use of them.
SPECIAL FEATURES: 3/5
Evan Almighty contains just over an hour of special features, some more rewarding than others. Almost every one is introduced by Steve Carell standing in front of a mockup of the film’s Ark and himself in full Noah regalia.
Deleted Scenes– (14:32 total, Non-anamorphic) – This is a series of non-anamorphic scene extensions and deleted scenes from throughout the film, which mostly include extraneous material that really did not need to be included.
Outtakes – (2:45 total, Non-anamorphic) - This is a series of non-anamorphic blown lines and takes from throughout the film. A good chunk of these include Steve Carell ad-libbing non-profanity after pretending to whack his thumb with a hammer while attempting to build the film’s Ark.
The Ark-itects of Noah’s Ark - (6:48, Anamorphic) – This anamorphic featurette focuses on the construction of the film’s Ark, both in the real world and in the digital realm. The film’s construction of a full-scale Ark from steel and wood is documented here.
Becoming Noah - (6:26, Anamorphic) - This anamorphic featurette focuses on the makeup work done with Steve Carell throughout the film to transform him into a modern day Noah. Some footage from the makeup trailer is included to show the painstaking work necessary to put him in the beards and wigs without the seams showing. The work clearly pays off in the film, as it holds up under pretty intense on-screen scrutiny.
Steve Carell Unscripted - (3:13, Anamorphic) – This quick featurette spotlights Steve Carell’s ad-libbing ability on the set. There’s some good stuff here, usually featuring Carell between takes or after the take in progress has either completed or been broken up.
Animals on Set: Two by Two (12:50, Anamorphic) – This featurette concerns the extensive use of animals in the film, ranging from squirrels and Alpacas to lions and elephants. As much real work with real animals as possible was portrayed in the film, and this featurette shows how much work it took to actually get all the animals to work on set. As a side note, many animals could not be photographed at the same time, given that some are natural prey to others in the same shot. As a result, the animal handlers show a diagram in this featurette of how they mapped out which animals should be where in each shot and set.
Animal Roundup Game – (Anamorphic, Your Time May Vary) - This is a puzzle game for kids and adults, hosted by child actor Jimmy Bennett. To win the game, you need to not only match the animals presented on screen, but answer various trivia questions about those animals. If you make three mistakes, the game is over and you must begin again. If you need help, the game provides a Jimmy icon you can click to get a hint.
The Almighty Green Set (5:26, Anamorphic) – This featurette concentrates on how Tom Shadyac tried to make an environmentally friendly movie. The producers’ choices included donating the set wood (and the proceeds from melting and selling their steel) to Habitat for Humanity and giving the cast and crew bicycles to minimize the use of cars and vans to get from the trucks and trailers to the set each day.
It’s Easy Being Green – (4:40, Non-anamorphic) –This piece consists of several cast members reading off various recommendations toward environmentally friendly habits and lifestyles.
Acts of Random Kindness (1:47, Non-anamorphic) – This quick featurette includes brief stories from the cast and others about the acts mentioned in the title.
A Flood of Visual Effects – (7:10, Anamorphic) – This anamorphic featurette covers the work of ILM and Rhythm & Hues to create multiple major effects throughout the film, from the compositing of large numbers of animals to the creation of a digital Ark and a digital flood to carry it.
Casting Call: Serengeti (2:52, Non-Anamorphic) – This quick mockumentary covers the idea of casting directors giving directions to animals in the African wilderness. It’s not all that funny, particularly after it becomes clear that the whole thing is actually a commercial for GE.
The Almighty Forest (5:59, Anamorphic) – This is not so much a featurette as it is a thank-you list of all the individuals and groups who donated new trees to offset the carbon footprint of the production. (As part of the production’s green perspective, the planting of new trees was a major part of the planning of the film.) The fact that this list runs 6 minutes long is a testament to the environmental dedication of the filmmakers and their crew.
Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish for the film itself, as well as for the special features. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference. When the first disc is initially started, the viewer is presented with an optional series of previews including Veggie Pirates, Bring It On: In It to Win It, and the usual HD-DVD preview.
IN THE END...
Evan Almighty is a fun movie, with a more serious message tucked just inside. It’s a good idea for a family movie night, but it doesn’t hold the big laughs one might expect from the sequel to Bruce Almighty. There’s over an hour of special features included here, but there’s nothing especially earth-shaking here. If you haven’t seen the original movie, this one is worth a rental, especially if you’re looking for something appropriate for the whole family.
October 7, 2007.