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3D Blu-ray Review Chicken Little 3D Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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There is no reason why the tale of the panicky Chicken Little who claimed the sky was falling couldn’t have been turned into a charming and whimsical film. Instead, Mark Dindal’s Chicken Little has taken the tale and turned it into a rather trite film filled with alien invasions and bullying teens. It’s not much fun and isn’t nearly as funny as it thinks it is, and yet the filmmakers have the effrontery to play the pathos card four times during the movie, a certain record in terms of CGI animation. This is a movie that’s more infuriating than it is entertaining and got Disney’s in-house CGI unit off to a very nervous start with the film’s utter mediocrity.



Chicken Little 3D (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Mark Dindal

Studio: Disney
Year: 2005

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1   1080p   AVC codec  
Running Time: 81 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; PCM 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish, English
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish

Region: A-B-C

MSRP: $44.99


Release Date: November 8, 2011

Review Date: November 3, 2011



The Film

2.5/5


After alarming his town of Oakey Oaks by proclaiming that the sky was falling after a mysterious blue octagon hit him in the head, Chicken Little (Zach Braff ) is still living under the ignominy of that proclamation a year later where he’s scorned by almost the entire town apart from his school friends, plain-Jane Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack) and the enormous Runt (Steve Zahn). By lucky chance, however, he gets redeemed in the eyes of all including his embarrassed father (Garry Marshall) by helping to win the first-ever baseball championship for his town. On the night of his celebration, he gets hit in the head once again by a blue plate; only this time he sees that it has some kind of alien properties. But does he risk losing the good will of everyone by not bringing this to their attention or does he summon up his courage and insist that they listen to what he has to tell and show them?


The film, coming after impressive CGI animation hits from Pixar and Dreamworks, has an air of desperation about it. It seems the filmmakers have thrown in everything they hope might strike a chord in viewers’ hearts: allusions to everything from the movies King Kong and Raiders of the Lost Ark to a veritable list of song hits from the last forty years: “I Will Survive,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” “We Are the Champions.” They’ve hired a plethora of familiar voices for the cast (even small roles are helmed by the likes of Adam West, Don Knotts, Patrick Stewart, Patrick Warburton, all very recognizable by their voices alone), and then let screenwriters Steve Bencich, Ron J. Friedman, and Ron Anderson concoct a story that has that cheesy baseball sequence (bottom of the ninth, Chicken Little who can barely hold the bat as the last batter up scenario), an alien invasion complete with pods that resemble those from War of the Worlds, and poor little misunderstood and put-upon Chicken Little who droops and mopes because no one believes him (even scored to new songs including “It’s All I Know,” the best of the new tunes thrown into the movie). To his credit, Mark Dindal’s direction does score one impressive moment: when the alien spaceships begin their slow revelation in the skies over the town. The animation here is superb and awe-inspiring, but the hackneyed story and the lack of real humor work against the film at every turn.


It would be hard to believe in any universe that Zach Braff and Garry Marshall could be related in any way, and as hard as the two toil to establish some kind of connection, it just doesn’t work. Joan Cusack’s real warmth comes through loudly and clearly as Abby Mallard while Steve Zahn, though prone to over hyping everything about his character with his vocal calisthenics, still combines with the animators to give the film its only real moments of humor sporadic as they are. Amy Sedaris as the bullying “it girl” Foxy Loxy grows ever more tiresome the longer her character stays on screen. In addition to the already mentioned famous voices you’ll instantly recognize, Fred Willard and Wallace Shawn also lend ready support.




Video Quality

4/5

3D implementation – 4/5


The film has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Colors are bright enough and saturated well without any bleeding, but sharpness is a tad compromised by a slight haze that settles over certain scenes. Black levels are good, and there is no banding in the image. The picture, though, lacks the zest and immediacy of a reference-quality transfer. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.


3D has been implemented very nicely overall in the imagery with a fine sense of depth to the visuals established and excellent use of characters and objects on multiple planes. Forward projection is present but is usually subtle with a finger, spilled popcorn, and water from sprinklers occasionally used to heighten a particular scene. Later in the film when the aliens begin the invasion, a sharpened pod arm thrusts forward, and be sure to stay until the very last moment after the credits when a coda allows two of the film’s characters to make a final use of the 3D capabilities of the disc.



Audio Quality

4/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix isn’t quite reference quality either. Like the video, it’s a professional job all the way, but the mixers haven’t done enough with their various channels to keep the soundstage as active as the movement on-screen would seem to dictate. John Debney’s score has been orchestrated to take excellent advantage of the fronts and rears which gives the sound mix its most exemplary component. Dialogue has been well recorded and is mostly in the center channel though there are a few instances of directionalized dialogue.



Special Features

3.5/5


The 3D disc contains a 3D trailer for Cars 2.


The 2D Blu-ray disc contains the feature film and the following bonus features:


Filmmaker Q&A is an interactive series of questions and answers which plays over the main feature (though why it was done this way is anyone’s guess). Director Mark Dindal and producer Randy Fullmer answer the majority of the questions, sometimes in video featurettes and sometimes in audio only. Questions appear in a window at the bottom of the screen and can be asked in any order or an “answer all” button can prevent the viewer from wearing out his remote button. Another series of questions appears in the upper part of the screen when something specific happens in the movie that the viewer may wish to know about.


The audio commentary is by producer Randy Fullmer, director Mark Dindal, and visual effects supervisor Steve Goldberg. All three are proud of their accomplishments and share the microphone well in detailing the 5 ½ year journey of the movie from idea to finished product.


An Alien Invasion game which may remind older viewers of Space Invaders can be played with one or two players.


There are eight deleted scenes which can be played individually or in one 28 ½-minute grouping. Fullmer and Dindal’s introductions to each clip are optinal. They’re in 1080i.


“Hatching Chicken Littleis an 18-minute vignette that hits the high spots of the making of the production with talk of the original fairy tale, the casting of the voice actors, the use of music in the movie, and the director describing what he brought to the project. This is in 480i.


Two music videos are available, both in 480i: “Shake a Tail Feather by the Cheetah Girls and “One Little Slip” by Barenaked Ladies. “One Little Slip” also offers both sing along and karaoke modes for the viewer.


Two Easter eggs from the DVD release are offered. Both are brief movie promotional ads: “Runt of the Litter” runs for 1 ¼ minutes; “Foxy Loxy” runs 1 minute.


The disc comes with promo trailers for Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Lady and the Tramp, and Chimpanzee.


The third disc in the set is the DVD copy of the movie.



In Conclusion

2.5/5 (not an average)


Chicken Little even in 3D isn’t going to fly to the top of anyone’s list of outstanding CGI achievements. Fortunately Disney’s CGI animation unit has advanced from this initial misstep. 2D and 3D are both more than acceptable for the film in high definition, but this is not one of the Mouse House’s most shining moments.



Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC

 

Todd Erwin

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Matt, I actually enjoyed this film a bit more than you did, I think, and what will make this film a footnote in movie history is that it was the first film to be released in RealD Digital 3D.
 

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