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HTF DVD REVIEW: Horton Hears A Who! (Recommended)



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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted December 12 2008 - 07:21 PM

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Special Edition

Release Date: Available now (original release date December 2, 2008)
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Packaging/Materials: Double-disc DVD case
Year: 2008
Rating: G
Running Time: 1h26m
MSRP: $34.98

MAIN FEATURE
VideoWidescreen 1.85:1
AudioDolby Digital: English 5.1, Spanish 2.1, French 2.1 / DTS: English 5.1
SubtitlesEnglish, Spanish


The Feature: 4/5
When a random speck floats by him one day, the elephant Horton (voiced by Jim Carrey) discovers the whimsical world of the Whos, lead by the Mayor of Whoville (voiced by Steve Carell). Once the shock of their first contact wears off, the pair quickly see the significance of their interdependent worlds. Unfortunately, inhabitants on and outside the speck are skeptical; some are so threatened by the implications that they'll do anything to prove it a flight of fantasy, including destroying the speck! But Horton made a promise to the Mayor to protect the Whos and, as we quickly learn, Horton meant what he said and said what he meant. He'll do whatever it takes since an elephant is faithful 100%!

Staying true to the spirit of the beloved chidren's book by Dr. Seuss, "Horton Hears A Who!" is a charming and expertly animated work. Though employing the likes of Carrey and Carell - comedians known to overplay - their voice acting is noticeably restrained to the point that you almost forget it's them. Carrey in particular would be barely recognizable if not for some of his signature improvisational ticks. Combined with timeless messages about faithfulness and responsibility, "Horton Hears A Who!" is the perfect family film - entertaining and appropriate for both children and adults.


Video Quality: 4.5/5
The film is correctly framed at 1.85:1 and blemish-free. In general wide shots exhibit a noticeable drop in detail compared to the closeups and there are a couple moments of visible color banding. Black levels in the handful of night scenes appear stable and inky, however, with good overall contrast. The animation style seems to include a slightly diffused quality, making the plentiful furry textures less crisp than one is used to seeing in this type of animation, though fine object detail is still very good. Overall it's a pleasing image and transfer.


Audio Quality: 4.5/5
The 755 kbps DTS 5.1 audio track has some impressive moments of serious LFE (as you'd expect from an elephant) and wraparound surround effects. General atmospherics and soundtrack support are also well balanced with dialogue that is consistently clear and intelligible. Overall it's an involving track that makes a suitable companion for the visuals.

The 448 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 option exhibits similar qualities but the programming of the disc prevents on-the-fly switching between tracks, making a comparison more difficult than usual. It seems, however, the DTS track is a touch more expansive and detailed.


Special Features: 4.5/5
The extras provide a revealing look at the animation process and include a handful of kid-oriented activities and featurettes, making for a package that should please both audiences.

"Surviving Sid" (8m01s): "Ice Age" animated short about Sid's accident-prone turn as a camp counselor. Anamorphic video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Commentary with Directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino: Hayward and Martino provide an interesting and detailed track, offering plenty of background and technical information about the production.

Deleted Footage: Separated into three phases of storyboard (nine scenes, 14m50s), rough animation (two scenes, 2m40s) and "almost-final" (two scenes, 1m10s) versions with introduction and optional commentary by the directors. The scenes in their various states of completion provide a great look at the extensive animation and story editing process.

Animation Screen Tests (23m53s): Shows the initial character designs and animation of Horton (nine clips, 2m58s), the Mayor (11 clips, 3m48s) and the Whos (two scenes, 24s) with introduction by Animator Nick Bruno and optional commentary on the Horton segment by the directors. Again, another great look at the animation process.

"Bringing the Characters to Life" (5m29s): The animators talk about their animation techniques.

"That's One Big Elephant: Animating Horton" (8m08s): A closer look at developing and animating the main character.

"Meet Katie" (3m49s): The development and animation of Katie (who is a yak).

"Bringing Seuss to Screen" (8m14s): The considerations and challenges of adapting a classic book and its illustrations into a CG animated film.

"The Elephant in the Room: Jim Carrey" (4m54s): The comedian and the directors talk about the voice work.

"A Person is A Person: A Universal Message" (3m42s): The creators and talent talk about the story's overarching message.

"Our Speck: Where Do We Fit In?" (4m01s): Children talk about things we can do to help the environment.

"Elephant Fun: The Facts" (5m28s): Elephant expert Hayden Rosenaur talks about the majestic animal.

"We Are Here!" Game: A pattern and memory game played with the player's remote.

Create Your Own Animation DVD-ROM: Create your own Who. Compatible with Windows 98 or higher and requires the latest version of Flash Player.

Trailers (7m22s): Trailers for "City of Ember," "Dr. Doolittle: A Tinsel Town Tail," "Space Chimps," "Garfield's Pet Force," "Elephant Tales," and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs in Digital 3-D."

Digital Copy: Download a digital copy for playback on computer or portable video device. Compatible with both Mac and Windows.


Recap

The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5

A charming adaptation of the popular Dr. Seuss book gets great treatment across the board. The Blu-Ray release likely exceeds the DVD release in all areas, but those with only DVD playback should be quite pleased. Recommended.
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