Blu-ray Disc Review
Release Date: November 25, 2008.
Voices of: Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Daniels, Patrick Warburton
Written by: Kirk De Micco & Robert Moreland
Directed by: Kirk De Micco
When a probe from Earth gets sucked into a wormhole, the grandson of a legendary chimpanzee astronaut is recruited for a space mission to find it. But is Ham III, the circus monkey, really up for the challenge? To “help” him out, he teams up with the lovely chimp Lieutenant Luna and sleep-at-the-controls commander, Titan. As they are sucked into the wormhole, they aren’t prepared for what’s on the other side! They crash land on a strange planet and find that a big bully alien named Zartog has the population under control by means of the human Infinity Space Probe. Can they fix the problems created by humans, or will they drive the planet bananas? This is no Planet of the Apes, but Space Chimps is surely entertaining for youngsters because of the simple plot and animation.
VIDEO QUALITY: 4/5
We have been spoiled by animations from Pixar; they have certainly set the expectation bar very high. Space Chimps is much simpler. There isn’t as much detail in the environments giving the image a smoothed over look. There seems to be less colours offered in this picture, not to say that this image lacks colour because that is far from the truth, but it lacks the range seen in more expensive animations. They are quite as diverse, vibrant, and polished. This Blu-ray disc seems to replicate the source accurately. I did not detect any annoyances like edge enhancement or compression artefacts. I wouldn’t use this disc as a reference, either. Contrast appears a bit low giving the film a bit of a dim look overall. The aspect ratio is 2.35:1.
AUDIO QUALITY: 3/5
This animation suffers the forward dialogue effect. Integration of voices in the on-screen environment is poor. Only minor adjustments seem to have been made to give the voices a bit of air around them. Dialogue sounds upfront, dry, heavy and surrounded by sound absorbing material. It is very detached from the rest of the sound stage, which has some good creativity, but not enough to always engage the listener. Dynamics are disappointing. When the chimps enter the wormhole and come out crashing through the other side, the volume level stays about the same all of the way through. The only addition is the extra channels engaged including the LFE. Hardly what I call excitement… Although the soundtrack does have some interesting moments like when the Infinity Space Probe breaks through the foreign planet’s atmosphere in chapter 2. The sound in the rear channels gives a wallop of muffled bass, not often heard in the rear channels. It caught me a bit surprised as it did to the little aliens on screen. The LFE channel has quite a bit of support as well. The 5.1 audio encoding is lossless DTS-HD Master audio.
TACTILE FUN!!: 2/5
TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: ON
The soundtrack does improve when using a bass shaker. I found it fun while watching the animation and I’m sure the kids will love it too.
SPECIAL FEATURES: 1/5
A simple set of features is included on this disc and all are 4:3, 480i, MPEG-2 encoded. As you scroll down the tight little menu (small just for the chimps?), the first feature is a Fox Movie Channel Casting Session (8:55) including the director, producer, casting director, etc. about how the voices were chosen for this film. Quick, and to the point.
Next are a banana batch of T.V. Spots ranging from 16-32 seconds. You’ll find five in this batch. The next batch is composed of stills (HD) and there are about 30 here. Most interesting is the feature that was strangely left off of the disc’s packaging (Fox is terrible for missing a feature or two on their packaging). It is a Trivia Blast Off that is activated while the movie is playing. Simple text appears on the screen with space trivia as well as production information. This would be a tough read for kids considering whom this animation is targeted at. What would be more effective is a trivia track written simple for a child. Display it in eye-catching animation bubbles that are busy with colour and pictures that assist as a strategy for children’s literacy. It’s just an idea as a teacher of Grade 2.
IN THE END...
Space Chimps is an amusing family movie that’s G-rated through and through. There is lots of humour for children and the image and sound design will be more than enough to satisfy them. Those looking for the same animation quality of Fox’s other popular animation, Ice Age, should just stick with Ice Age. For entertainment purposes, you’ll probably pop this title in only when the kids are around.
November 28, 2008.