Senior HTF Member
- Feb 24, 1999
Studio:Disney Year:2005 RunTime:68 minutes Rating:PG Aspect Ratio:16 x 9 encoded 1.78:1 (OAR) Audio:5.1 DD English, 5.1 DTS English, 2.0 DD French & Spanish SpecialFeatures:Music Video, Origin of Stitch Short, kiddie-games ReleaseDate:August 30, 2005
We know it's true...more often than not...made-for-video sequels to Disney-animated-features have that churned-out-for-the-masses feel to them and are best left to day-care workers for use as electronic-babysitting flicks. Most adult Disney/animation collectors tread a careful path far around anything that even smells like a direct-to-video sequel. Over time there have been a few exceptions, however (Lion King 1 ½ was enjoyable) and I’m very pleased to say that Lilo & Stitch – Stitch has a Glitch, is one of the rare exceptions to the rule of direct-to-video avoidance.
Stitch 2 is reasonably well animated, and though it falls just short of the “high profile” feature-film status animation quality, it’s definitely not your Saturday-morning affair. Motion rendering is smooth and fluid (the first distinguishing mark of attentive animation) and the watercolor-painted backgrounds are gorgeous. I’m not trying to make a strong comparison here so don’t jump all over me and hijack the thread to debate this: I found myself staring at the backgrounds looking at the painted detail similarly to the way I find myself looking at the painted-background scenery in Bambi.
Stitch 2 is edgy and has got a lot of grown-up humor nestled into the kid-friendly conversation. When you’ve got a drag-dressing alien cooing over a hunky Hawaiian surfer you know you’re not watching a typical Disney cartoon. Much like The Emperor’s New Groove and the original Lilo & Stitch, Stitch 2 delights more sophisticated audiences with it’s irreverent humor and unconventional style (it's rated PG so that should give you an idea). If you’re a Stitch fan and have been hoping that this 2nd feature installment would be worthwhile, you’ve been rewarded. If you’ve never seen the original Stitch movie but find yourself interested after reading this review, then I advise you to see the original movie first (also an excellent DVD)—this second film is fashioned to follow the first movie and it won’t make any sense to someone who’s not already familiar with the story and characters in the first film.
Not since The Emperor’s New Groove and Finding Nemo has a Disney animated feature caused me to laugh outloud…and uncontrollably (Dory doing the “hey there Mr. Grumpy Gills” puts me on the floor for some reason); Lilo & Stitch 2 caused me to lose it several times. The folks behind this film have got a good thing going. Now they’ve got me waiting for Stitch 3!
Stitch 2 is brought to you in glorious 1.78:1 16x9 widescreen. I guess you could say this is “OAR” but of course, being it’s first debut on any format of any kind, it would be OAR by definition whatever it was. In what I hope is a trend for Disney’s direct-to-video animation, this transfer is not 1.66:1 formatted within the 16x9 frame…it completely fills the frame from top to bottom, side to side…which is nice for viewers with plasmas and projection systems that have minimal overscan (we see no bars of any kind). They still call it “Family Friendly” on the box like they do with their 1.66:1 16x9 encoded transfers…but since both images have the same size letterboxing bars on conventional 4x3 TVs when downconverted to 4x3 lbx anyway (one reason why many of us have wondered at Disney's tendancy to pick 1.66:1 16x9 as its mystery "Family Friendly" choice on other titles when 1.78:1 16x9 would do just fine), it makes sense to just give the 16x9 viewer the full available horizontal resolution (preserving native 1.66:1 OAR images by pillar-boxing in 16x9 is something I encourage…but with a feature animated for the video realm, why not just to pure 16x9?). I'm sure that this paragraph has really confused all our non-technical readers...fear not...we're on to a new topic...
The image is very nice, and free from any MPEG noise that I can detect. Colors are actually a bit under-saturated looking for the most part which surprised me…but I think that this is intentional…the pastels and warm soft tones in many of the background scenes are part of the “feel” that the artists are trying to convey. Black level is fine and the image seems great overall except for two minor issues…it seems slightly filtered and there is noticeably ringing-edge-halos on the cell-animation (like the characters) that are superimposed on the painted backgrounds. This really bothers me, and it’s prevalent in just about every scene. I found it VERY distracting on my 106” screen (saw it with both the Momitsu v880 and my new OPPO DVD player via DVI at 720P) and it’s entirely unnecessary. Cell-animation already has natural edges defined…it’s called the outline of the characters. Adding ringing to the image is not only unneeded, but it really becomes bothersome with animation because each hard-drawn edge gets “doubled” with a halo. Not only is this a problem for big-screen/wide-angle viewers, but I can’t imagine this really making anyone’s 27” 4x3 interlaced TV image look improved. Just give us a full-resolution image with minimal filtering, and keep those fingers away from that nasty edge-enhancement dial. I thought that the guys at Disney had started to figure this out…but clearly someone or some group hasn’t quite gotten it together. Sorry to go on and on, but it really ticked me off especially given how fun this movie is and how GREAT this title COULD have looked had the mastering guy done LESS to process it.
Other than the ringing…it is a great transfer/disc so don’t let this stop you from buying or renting if you’re a Stitch fan. But if you have a discriminating eye and you find the EE on Phantom Menace or Gangs of NY (not quite as bad as that but it does come to mind) to be a bother…you’ll see it here. Without any ringing, it would easily have been a 4.5 or higher score...but I think that more than just front-projection folks are gonna complain about the ringing with this one..
Picture Quality: 3.5 / 5
:star: :star: :star: 1/2
In the past I think I've been too ambiguous with my scoring or at least haven't applied it consistently from title to title, so I've endeavored to define my rating system more clearly to help make the scoring more meaningful (for all titles reviewed December 2004 and later):
SCORE Description 1-2 An absolute abomination. Hurts to watch. Think "Outland" (scan-line aliasing, chroma noise, dotcrawl)-- truly horrid. 2-3 Has some serious problems, but one can at least watch it without getting a headache despite all the problems though you might try to talk your guests into picking a different movie to watch if you have a large projection screen. Think Cold Mountain. 3-4 Good or at least "acceptable" on a big-screen, but not winning any awards and definitely room for improvement if you view the image wide-angle (though smaller-screen viewers may be quite content). Think the first extended cut of Fellowship of the Ring...decent picture but still some HF filtering and some edge-halos. 4-5 A reference picture that really makes the most of the DVD medium and shows extraordinary transparency to the film-source elements. Non-videophile observers can't help but remark "WOW". Think The Empire Strikes Back or the Fifth Element Superbit (full “5” would be sans EE).
Both the 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS tracks are simply amazing. The audio is lush and powerful, dialogue is clear and bass is robust. This is demo-quality surround track too…the soundfield is immersive and just envelops the listener into a sea of sound. The surround channels blend seamlessly with the front mains for the most part in an atmospheric sort of way, but they are also used aggressively much of the time to capture effects during the key action scenes. Music numbers are also very well presented and blend beautifully with the rest of the score. Perhaps the audio isn’t quite as sparkling as, say, the mix for Finding Nemo, but it comes close and I can assure you that there is NOTHING timid about this mix.
In my system, the DTS adds a layer of depth and realism to the sound. Sounds become “rounder”…especially voices…and the timbers just sound more natural and believable (more “analog” to use my audiophile terminology). You’ve heard me praise many DTS tracks on these Disney DVDs before and this one succeeds in capturing what characterizes those that I’ve preferred on other discs as well. None of this puts down the outstanding Dolby Digital presentation…it’s just to say that the DD audio sounds a tad flatter, less dimensional, and lacking in subtle-acoustics and micro-detail in comparison to the DTS mix (in other words, if you didn’t have the DTS mix to compare, you wouldn’t think that anything was missing).
The audio sounds even better with my new OPPO DVD player which is a real puzzler given that it’s just ripping the DD/DTS compressed bitstreams off the DVD and sending them to my receiver…but I’ve heard the effects of transport jitter in the PCM of my redbook CD audio and I can only assume that something similar must be going on with the master time-clock signals of compressed audio bitstreams (even though DD and DTS get decompressed and reclocked in the receiver, this signal is still ultimately slaved to the incoming clock signals to keep the two in-sync). Whatever the reason…all I definitively say is that as impressive as this movie sounded on the Momitsu player, it sounds even BETTER on my OPPO DVD player and it’s well deserving of the 5 / 5 score. I hope you enjoy!
Sound Quality: 5 / 5
:star: :star: :star: :star: :star:
Not too much. And darnit but I can’t pretend that the sparse extras were to maximize picture quality on the single-disc presentation. :rolleyes
However, what’s here is cute and enjoyable for fans and kids. I’m not sure if a direct-to-disc sequel like this stands a chance of a fancy 2-disc SE presentation down the road so you may not want to “hold out” for a future SE if you’re a Stitch fan.
What we have here is a Music video with a bunch of you’d-know-their-names-if-you-were-young-and-hip-enough singers running around Hawaii. It’s got decent picture and sound and I watched it all the way through so it must have not been too bad. There are also some kiddie games which I confess I carefully avoided. But the real feature that fans should enjoy is “The Origin of Stitch” short which was fun to watch. It’s 16x9 though the image quality is rather poor…very soft on detail and looks “videoish” with scan-line artifacting etc. for those of you lacking Faroudja deinterlacing. But content-wise it’s a hoot and it’s the sort of extra that after you and your friends are done watching the feature film you can say “oh hey, before I turn off the projector you’ve got to see this quick special feature…”
Stitch fans rejoice…the direct-to-disc sequel is worth the watching. In fact, it’s worth the owning if you like Stitch or enjoy the irreverent sense of humor and writing that this creative team thrives on masquerading under the guise of a “kids’ cartoon”. While video presentation is sadly marred with edge-ringing (which may be a problem for wide-angle and/or big-screen viewers), the audio is reference-quality and the DTS track elevates the experience for those who appreciate the audiophile improvements. Bonus features are minimal, but if you can find this single-disc presentation at a reasonable cost then I wouldn’t let the lack of bonus material stop you from enjoying a genuinely creative film that satisfyingly follows in the footsteps of its excellent predecessor…