DR. DOLITTLE 3 Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 2006 Film Length: 98 minutes Genre: Comedy Aspect Ratio: [*] 1.78:1 OAR[*] 1.33:1 P&S Colour/B&W: Colour Audio:[*] English 5.1 Surround [*] Spanish 2.0 Surround [*] French 2.0 Surround Subtitles: Spanish, French Film Rating: Release Date: April 25, 2006. Film Rating: / Kyla Pratt (Maya Dolittle), Ryan McDonell (Skip), Chenier Hundel (Chip), Luciana Carro (Brooklyn Webster) Story by: Hugh Lofting Written by: Nina Colman Directed by: Rich Thorne Like father like daughter. Maya Dolittle is the daughter Dr. Dolittle, the famous doctor who can talk to animals and give advice on their medical conditions. As a teenager, she has a problem fitting in; although it’s not the kind of problem that all other teenagers have. While she is experiencing difficulties being accepted by her peers, she’s constantly considered as ‘strange’ because of her ability to communicate with animals like her father can. People find it strange that she talks to animals because everyone else cannot understand what she is doing. That girl must be crazy, right!? While Maya talks to animals once in a while and people find it strange, the movie never makes these scenes funny for the audience. Still, we get the point, but I think the movie missed the boat here. Facing the pressure of acceptance, her mother and father (*note Eddie Murphy does not play in this film, but is only referenced over a telephone call) decide to send her away to Durango Ranch (shot in and around Vancouver). At first she has a fit – like, c’mon, do you think a little city girl is going to have fun at a stinky smelly ranch to “find herself?” Oh, and not to mention there are tonnes of meaty animals there to make her even more insane. Under no circumstances should the animals find out about Maya’s communication ability or else everyone at the ranch will think she is crazy too...until her dog follows her there and kinda spills the animal crackers…It’s tough being a city kid, isn’t it? So now it’s up to Maya to not be embarrassed for her abilities and be accepted for who she is because the animals will need her – the farm may be sold to a competing farm! The movie has its moments of cuteness but there isn’t many to save it from being an obvious direct-to-video production. The acting is ok and everything just looks low budget. I don’t expect big productions but I guess there are ways to hide its smallness and that is something this movie doesn’t quite do. I have to admit that even though I could guess what was going to happen in the movie I was still interested in sitting through it until the end. Adults may steer from this third instalment but children will certainly like it. VIDEO QUALITY / Shot entirely in HD, the video quality doesn’t come near to the quality that is provided with film. Even though DVD resolution does not come close to the quality of either movie mediums, there is more than resolution that matters here. It seems film still delivers better spatial depth at the source that isn’t captured with HD cameras. It’s noticeable when watching this HD movie (I’m struggling not to call it a “film” in this new world of video movies). While HD does look great when all is well, many times it doesn’t deliver as well. This is certainly the case with Dr. Dolittle 3. The video quality is unimpressive and murky looking on many occasions. The white levels are terrible because they are literally bleach-white – so much white level detail seems lost in this blooming image. It looks like somewhere in the chain the white levels weren’t checked by a QC person or there was possibly an incorrect setting or different video equipment pieced together that created this problem with incorrect settings. Who knows. All I know is that the video is unacceptable to me and I can not see this as intentional. If you imagine a greyscale step pattern off of your favourite video calibration disc, imagine all white detail 80% and up being blended into one bright white. I can’t say black level detail was much better, but it wasn’t the best that I’ve seen either. At some moments in the film, specific camera shots actually, it looked like the greyscale was completely off-target and looked too purple or some other funky colour. My guess is that this is a result of the HD camera taking in the light from these scenes which were from strange angles. Aside from my above gripes, the disc does have a natural colour quality that doesn’t look aggressive or fake. Skin tones generally look good and the dung on the farm still looks brown as can be. Resolution, as hinted before, doesn’t seem as great as what we’d see from a film source. Of course it is keeping costs down that makes the decision to shoot in HD and probably the making of this movie itself. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 although a chopped 1.33:1 version is available on the same disc. AUDIO QUALITY / Like the video, the audio isn’t very exciting. The Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding delivers a soundtrack that has a few surround effects most notably during the moment when Maya tries to fall to sleep at the barn and she hears all of the animals talking. These sound effects are nicely placed around the listener but only to that degree. They do not sound integrated with the visuals; they ping-pong around the listener with no spatial integration. You can almost feel the ‘cue’ before each sound effect happens on the recording. The rest of the film is mainly dialogue making this a talkie movie. A lot of it is more forward than I’d like and is mostly ADR to my ear. There is some music that is cued for each scene but isn’t anything special in terms of enjoyment. The recording quality is fine. The LFE channel is almost non-existent. I think it came on once during the first hour and I can’t recall much after that, and the moment I remember was just to support a little bit of music. That bass is mostly coming from the main channels. I don’t believe every movie should have an LFE active all of the time; using the main channels for bass is perfectly fine. TACTILE FUN!! ZERO / TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: OFF For that brief moment of bass in the film, I’d leave your transducer turned off. There is no point in wasting the life of the amp hooked up to it by leaving it on through this film, err, movie. SPECIAL FEATURES / The most notable feature on this disc is the audio commentary from star Kyla Pratt and director Rich Thorne. From what I listened to, it’s standard commentary about the film so Dolittle fans will undoubtedly find some value in it. It’s also nice to see that the director and actress want to participate on the DVD. There are two featurettes, Growing Up Dolittle (1.78:1 enhanced for widescreen televisions) which shows Kyla Pratt growing up over the films, and also the Making of Dr. Dolittle 3 (4:3) documenting some behind-the-scenes footage. Both featurettes are about 10 minutes each. This disc also includes its TV Spot. IN THE END... The Dolittle films are doing well for children offering family fun and a few laughs; while adults may miss Eddie Murphy as Dr. Dolittle himself, kids will still love the silliness and the concept that this movie is made for. Michael Osadciw April 10, 2006.