GARFIELD A TAIL OF TWO KITTIES Distributed by: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 2006 Film Length: Full Screen Theatrical Version: 76 minutes Widescreen Extended Version 84 minutes Genre: Comedy/Family Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 theatrical ratio 1.33:1 full screen Colour/B&W: Colour Audio: English 5.1 Surround Spanish 2.0 surround French 2.0 surround Subtitles: English, Spanish Film Rating: Release Date: October 10, 2006. Rating: / Bill Murray (Voice of Garfield), Billy Connelly (Lord Dargis), Ian Abercrombie (Smithee), Breckin Meyer (Jon Arbuckle), Jennifer Love Hewitt (Liz) Written by: Joel Cohen & Alec Sokolow Directed by: Tim Hill In 2004, 20th Century Fox brought Garfield out animation and to the big screen as a live-action film. The film had measurable success as a family film featuring the lasagne-loving feline and his dog sidekick Odie. Garfield was translated from hand drawn animation to computer animation – a move that may have irked some but one that was necessary to capture the rambunctious ‘cattitude’ of this furball. The kids I know all loved Garfield: The Movie but as an adult viewer I frowned on the film. I think it lacked personality and it failed to capture my attention as being anything more than a childish film mixed with MTV culture. Generally these sorts of family films are made to entertain both children and adults which is the reason movies like Ice Age have huge success. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Garfield’s sequel, but after the film ended I was much more satisfied with the result. This film is one of those rare ones when the sequel (or continuing adventures of…) is better than the first. It’s full of childish comedy that will make both kids and adults laugh and the story is more adventurous. We learn that Jon Arbuckle is about to propose to his girlfriend Liz. When his planned evening doesn’t work out and Liz announces she’s being flown to London immediately, Jon decides to surprise her by visiting her across the Atlantic. Trying to keep Garfield and Odie at home proves to be an impossible task when Jon finds out they snuck in with the luggage. But as the film’s title suggests, there are two cats in this picture: Garfield and a look-alike cat of royalty named Prince. With a bit of a mix-up Garfield finds himself king of the castle and battling a greedy Lord who is trying to inherit the property. Full of silly fun and with the humour of Billy Connelly, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties is more satisfying than the first. My only criticism would be of the voices. I grew up watching the Garfield cartoons and Garfield always had a lazy voice and Jon always talked in a defeatist tone…neither of that has been present on both film and both characters always seem pumped on sugar. The DVD is packaged in a keepcase and covered in a cardboard sleeve. There are many advertisements inside the DVD package for Garfield promotional products, but don’t be too quick to toss them or you may find yourself missing the chapter listings paper. Two versions of this film are included: the 76-minute theatrical version (available only in FULLSCREEN) and the 84-minute DVD extended version (widescreen). It’s a compromise to limit dual-releases. I watched the 84-minute version and it could have easily been the same one in theatres. I wonder what 8-minutes were cut? Whatever it was, there was nothing slowing this film down! VIDEO QUALITY / The DVD presents this film slightly under the theatrical ratio of 1.85:1. This is a stellar transfer in my opinion considering everything I’ve viewed over the past few months. The image is clean from all film blemishes, grain, dirt, processing, intrusive compression artefacts, and edge enhancement. The only limit on this DVD appears to the standard definition format. I think this title will look great in HD and it should be one of Fox’s upcoming releases on Blu-ray. In the streets of London, the sky is a cloudy-grey but still brightly-lit in the afternoon. The DVD delivers excellent contrast in this regard with solid black levels when required (most of the film takes place in lit scenes). It never looks artificially pumped with contrast. Detail is also exceptional for SD: the floors of the castle are shiny enough to see the glittery reflection, the fine texture and pattern of the carpet in John’s hotel room is remarkably decipherable, and the cobblestone lining the streets of London can be seen with detail that seems to hit the limits of SD-DVD. The colours of this disc are also quite vivid. The greens from the castle gardens never look a shade too dull and the brown interior of this mansion looks freshly restored. This is an excellent looking DVD and will look great on any calibrated video system. AUDIO QUALITY / While I go on about praising the picture of this fine looking DVD, I’ll have to stop my praises at the audio. This is a very basic sound design that seems to have set out to please no one in particular. Dialogue is the major focus of this film. The voice of Garfield, Prince, and the rest of the animals are VERY forward and heavy sounding and are rarely spatially integrated with the room on scene. It sounds far too ‘recorded’ rather than ‘captured’ for the scene. It also doesn’t help that the music and the sound effects are bumped into 2nd place in this recording. Thankfully many sound effects are recorded in the Left and Right channels rather than being exclusive to the center channel. Since they seem to be recorded at a slightly lower volume, the result is a less dynamic presentation despite all of the action, and a weak use of the surrounds used for music only (but almost barely audible just to give the listening place a bit more width, depth, and presence). This isn’t the soundtrack to show off to friends. Use of the LFE is limited to only the bass strings of the film score. The tonality of the main channels appears neutral. I’m not sure if it’s been re-equalized for home theatres or I’m getting too used to listening to soundtrack with the X-curve intact. The believability of this soundtrack in terms of depth, detail, and spatiality is ok. I wouldn’t call this a hifi soundtrack. The encoding is lossy Dolby Digital 5.1. TACTILE FUN!! / TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: OFF There is very little LFE so you won’t miss a tactile transducer for this film. SPECIAL FEATURES / Not including the extended version of this film on this DVD, we are given five more kitty treats of special features. ”Come and Get It” Music Video by Brian Anthony - I’m not sure where this song was in the film but you can watch the video here as well as get information to his myspace.com address to view more of the artist. ”Drawing With Jim Davis” featurette - has Jim drawing Garfield, Odie, and Pooky for his young fans who want to draw. I remember seeing Davis doing this on an old Garfield special from the ’80s and I learned and remembered how to do it to this day. The techniques he shows here are no different from what I remember of the past. It shows he has great consistency in his work. Exclusive Garfield Comic Strip - is a three-box comic strip as you’d see in the comics section of the newspaper. It’s exclusive because it was most likely drawn for this DVD and deals with royalty. You view it as a ‘page view’ so you skip to each square with the advance button on your remote. Odie’s Photo Album Game - is one for the kids. Odie has snapped some pictures around London from his low point of view, but the problem is they are all distorted looking. You are timed to select one of four possible ‘corrected’ photos that match Odie’s. Good luck! Garfield’s Maze Game - you are to go through a maze and on screen all you see is the path with 8-foot high bushes. You can go left or right, depending on the arrow you choose. You have no idea where you are going unless you map out the maze in your head. Be careful of dead ends! At the end of the maze is some good lasagne. Mmmmmmm… (It’s tough!) IN THE END... Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties is the Garfield sequel that’s better than the original. The DVD sports top-notch picture quality with an average soundtrack and good-to-go special features. It’s a fun film for the family and recommended as such. Mike Osadciw September 23, 2006.