Bee Movie (Blu-Ray) Studio: DreamWorks Home Video Rated: PG (mild suggestive humor) Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 HD Encoding: 1080p HD Video Codec: MPEG4-AVC Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; French, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; English SDH Time: 90 minutes Disc Format: 1 SS/DL Blu-Ray Case Style: Keep case Theatrical Release Date:2007 HD-DVD Release Date: May 20, 2008 Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) is an idea bee. In his roughly ten days of life, he like the rest of the bees has finished high school and college and he’s ready and eager to enter the workforce. But when he’s finally confronted with the monotony of daily hive work to produce the honey, he decides to do a ride along with the Pollen Jocks. These flybees are responsible for getting and dispersing pollen to the flowers and they are the heroes to both the girls and the boy bees. Barry’s ride along with the Jocks shows him what the world has to offer on the outside, but he gets separated from the group and winds up captive in a human household. He decides to violate the big bee rule of no communication with the humans and he befriends Vanessa Bloom, a local flower shop owner. She shows him the world, and Barry finally sees the seedier side of the honey biz: honey being sold by the humans, the least of which is Ray Liotta! Barry’s investigation into this outright theft of his hives hard work leads him to Honey Farms where he sees the dire work conditions of his fellow bees. He does what any self respecting bee would do to right this wrong: he decides to sue the humans for complete control of the honey. Barry’s crusade may bear fruit, but the ramifications of his actions could prove disastrous to bee and man alike. Jerry Seinfeld is the guiding force behind Bee Movie, and as such, many of the sensibilities of his brand of humor come through in the script (written by Seinfeld, Spike Feresten, Barry Marder and Andy Robin). While not vulgar by any means, the characters rants and motivations will appeal to both kids and adults alike in much the same way A Bug’s Life did. The difference between Bee Movie and A Bug’s Life comes more in the formers condemnation of mans use of technology and industry to harness nature. Barry’s outlandish idea of suing the humans shows a level of self awareness missing from Flick and crew, who was only concerned with the greater good of the one ant colony. Barry is a conceptual thinker, looking past the hive to bees in general and how their work is being ripped off by the bigger corporation, if you will. Bee Movie comes close to making a fatal misstep by showing the ramifications of Barry’s actions but then corrects that path by making Barry figure out how to put it all right. That being said, having seen A Bug’s Life and Antz I still felt like I’d visited this story before. Bee Movie still generates plenty of laughs. Seinfeld’s quick and borderline wiseguy delivery that has endeared him to us for years is a blessing and a curse. I kept thinking of Seinfeld delivering the line as opposed to Barry, a problem I didn’t have with Dave Foley in A Bug’s Life. Bee Movie stays away from adding in every pop culture reference of the day instead dealing with the humor of the things in our daily lives and how a bee may interpret our bizarre human customs. The bees remain self aware of their role in nature and make light of the fact they have little individuality and they can quickly kill themselves if they get too angry (showing us a sting hurts us and them). Several high profile names lend their voices to the supporting characters (including Renee Zellweger, Patrick Warburton and Matthew Broderick) and each seems to have a fine time in their respective roles. Video: Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment. The picture is framed at 1.85:1, and it is encoded in MPEG4-AVC at 1080p. As can be expected with fully CG pictures, this transfer is flawless without a bit of dirt or a blemish to distract us. The primarily pastel color palate is well represented throughout, with the honey looking as pure and smooth as what’s in my pantry. Sharpness and detail are excellent, especially the scene with the tennis ball and the various shots of the characters hair. The level of detail is simply amazing in HD. The picture routinely takes on a 3-D look and you feel like you’re flying through New York with Barry (although it’s a much cleaner and more colorful city on screen). Black levels were difficult to measure as there were very few dark scenes. I noticed no edge enhancement in the transfer. Audio: The English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI. The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is quite active throughout utilizing all the channels to convey a very full environment. The surrounds make Barry’s flights come to life with all the ambient noise of the city and the hives. Sound fidelity is excellent producing a crisp, clean soundtrack with good tonality across the frequency range, and vocal presentations are accurate. Panning effects are seamlessly conveyed across the channels and you may find yourself swatting at a bee as you watch. Bass effects blend in nicely with the rest of the soundtrack and show good depth during some scenes. My only complaint with the soundtrack is that the volume seemed a bit low and I had to turn it up higher than normal. Bonus Material: Jerry and Filmmaker Commentary: writers, producers, directors and editors all join in for the track. It’s a fun track that points out some of the little things you miss during the movie. The Animators Corner: Picture-in-Picture Storyboards: this option opens a box over the feature that shows the hand drawn and CG storyboards of the given scene. And interesting way to see how the picture goes from concept to execution. Barry’s Trivia Track: this option allows you to see a pop-up dialogue box that gives you fun facts about the production, characters, etc. The World of Bees: another option to utilize during the viewing of the picture. Punch the red button and, after the screen blanks out for a second and you get a “loading” menu, an overlay menu comes up that lists the characters. Choose one and it will give you information about the voice actor and some fun facts about them. For example, Seinfeld’s favorite song is Sugar, Sugar and one of his favorite books is The Right Stuff. Customizable Character Menus: this option allows you to customize the menus to your favorite character. Lost Scenes (HD) (5:00): three deleted scenes: “Barry Interview”, “The Queen” and “Liotta on a Plane”. Seinfeld introduces each scene and they contain the vocal track set to storyboards. The Liotta one is so bizarre it’s hilarious. Alternate Endings (14:39) (HD): not one but SIX alternate endings! Seinfeld again introduces each one and they contain the vocal track set to storyboards. Inside the Hive: The Cast of Bee Movie (HD) (14:41): the basic EPK for the movie, everybody loves Jerry, it’s a funny movie. You get the idea. Jerry’s NBeeC TV Juniors (23:20) (HD): these were sixteen “commercials” or shorts promoting the movie originally interspersed with NBC shows. Most of these were quite funny, especially the ones with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Brad Garrett. Live Action Trailers (HD) (4:12): imagine if Bee Movie was shot as a live action picture… Jerry’s Flight Over Cannes (HD) (3:03): a piece on Seinfeld promoting the movie at the Cannes Film Festival. The lengths Seinfeld went to promote this picture! Meet Barry B. Benson: this is kind of an odd navigational exercise. There are a bunch of questions that you can ask Barry and when you hit the “Ask Barry” option, it jumps to a clip in the movie with an alternate audio track of Barry’s answers. Tech of Bee Movie (HD) (7:33): a piece on the tech behind the making of the picture. Computers made the picture in 23 million render hours! We Got the Bee Music Video (HD) (2:13): a no name girl group modify the original for Barry and crew with Seinfeld again lending his presence. DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox: this option allows you to choose videos from the various DreamWorks animated movies. Trailers (HD): for other DreamWorks pictures. The next set of extras is under the heading “DreamWorks Kids” and is obviously geared towards the younger viewers, although I spent way too much time building a bee avatar. Included is Build a Bee Avatar, The World of Bees (HD) (7:08) talks about the scientific facts of real bees, The OW! Meter is a game to see how pain is felt for human and bee, and That’s Un-Bee-Lieveable is a live trivia game. Conclusions: Bee Movie isn’t the best animated movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s my favorite one I’ve seen in a while. Seinfeld’s personality comes through in every aspect of the picture and the excellent and funny set of extras. The video image is flawless and gorgeous with a good audio track to back it up.