DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Robots

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Oct 3, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    ROBOTS





    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Film Year: 2005

    U.S. Rating: PG
    Canadian Rating: G

    Film Length: 89 minutes
    Genre: Animation/Comedy

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.85 Enhanced widescreen
    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:[*] English [​IMG] [​IMG] 5.1 Surround[*] English [​IMG] [​IMG] 5.1 Surround[*] Spanish [​IMG] [​IMG] 2.0 Surround[*] French [​IMG] [​IMG] 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: Spanish, French

    [​IMG] [​IMG]





    Release Date: September 27, 2005.


    Entertainment Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Voices of: Ewan McGregor (Rodney Copperbottom), Mel Brooks (Bigweld), Halle Berry (Cappy), Greg Kinnear (Ratchet). Also featuring: Paula Abdul, Amanda Bynes, Drew Carey, Lowell Ganz, James Earl Jones, Jay Leno, Robin Williams

    Directed by: Chris Wedge


    Repair for adventure![/i]


    In a little town, far away, a little robot was put together by his parents. As years went by, he went through a series of upgrades by applying hand-me-down parts from his older cousins. This little robot got bigger, and along with his metal body, his dreams grew bigger too.

    Robots is the story of Rodney, son of the dishwasher. He’s a young inventor that, with the encouragement of his father, leaves the small town to Robot City. It’s a myriad of gizmos and gadgets for robot life and transportation. The whole world is metal of course, created by robots. Rodney’s dream in Robot City is to join the team of Big Weld and his company of inventions. It’s seen on the TV as a place where the door is always open to new ideas.

    Unfortunately Rodney arrives at a time of restructuring. The number 2 robot has taken over the company eliminating the open-door and customer service business of the past in favour of a faceless mass-marketing strategy of upgrades. In his mind, replacement parts are things of the past and soon enough the rickety robots who are falling apart will no longer have an option to replace their aged parts – and it could be off to the chop shop to be melted.

    Rodney and his new group of underprivileged robots will do their best to try to change the situation, proving even to the most successful robots that giving up is not an option and that even the smallest robot can make the biggest change.

    Robots is a neat adventure movie that is full of action and has some laughs. It’s an average film with simple story telling and it contains minor influences from other films such as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars: Episode II. I was satisfied watching the movie, but I felt the characters didn’t have the same quality as other animations that many adults have grown to love easily. Still, the younger crowd will love this title and I recommend it as a quality choice for them.


    [​IMG]VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Marvellous! The video quality on this DVD is reference quality because it’s tough to find any flaw with it. You will be immediately submerged into an animated 3-D space full of colour and contrast. Blue and shades of grey are very refined looking and the image takes on a very natural appearance. The colour quality, while not eye-popping, is gentle on the eyes and picked to create a natural environment. This disc seems to show the limits of our NTSC DVD because of the smooth look it delivers. I did not see any compression artefacts on my 8-foot wide screen; that’s a good thing because there are very few films that escape a little bit of it. There is no edge enhancement on this disc – thankfully, and while the image looks a tad soft, most of it is clearly the intention of the animation, and as I’ve said before, it’s also the limit of our low-res television system. This title will look phenomenal when it get the Blu-ray treatment. But for now it’s as best as it’s going to look! Awesome job!!

    The aspect ratio is 1.85:1.


    [​IMG]AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    While the soundtrack has some good depth, I felt that there was missed creativity with the sound design of the soundtrack. For such a big title for FOX, the soundtrack is a disappointment in this regard. One scene that I’m thinking of in particular is Madame Gasket’s chop shop. The eerie sounds of gears turning and fire burning are heard faintly in the background. When our heroes arrive here they fear it because it could mean their own doom, but the sound doesn’t give us the same feeling as them. Remember, the audio is more than half of the experience!

    The Blue Man Group music is recorded very well. I like the creativity of these guys on their full-length albums and I certainly like their input on the score of this movie. There is some nice depth to the soundstage up front, but sidewall and back wall imaging, as well as left-right surround effects are kept to a minimum. In fact, I can barely remember an instance when the surrounds became highly active. Maybe the intention was to keep the soundstage up front, but this movie didn’t seem to ask for that. With its fast visuals in a virtual world, it seems like there were endless opportunities to create an interesting and unique sound environment all around the listener. It was somewhat accomplished, but most sound effects took the backseat in favour of the dialogue. Dialogue is always intelligible, possibly a bit too forward but never boxy sounding. There is a good amount of bass too for those of you who are bottom feeders. The soundtrack isn’t bright at all, suggesting that this could have been re-eq’d for home theatre playback.

    There are both DTS and Dolby Digital audio options on this disc. They are not selectable ‘on the fly’ so you’ll have to go back to the main menu and change the audio if you want to compare. My feelings when comparing the two soundtracks on this particular disc? The Dolby Digital option sounds a little livelier and the DTS soundtrack has slightly tighter bass.


    [​IMG]SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    There are several promos at the beginning of the disc. These aren’t special features in my opinion, so thankfully they can be skipped to the main menu. If you choose to play the film, you’ll see there is a quick clip of the characters in the film asking you to turn your cell phones off in the theatre. Cute.

    If you choose to go to the special features menu, there are two audio commentaries that you can select from. The first one is from director Chris Wedge and executive producer William Joyce and the second one is from a variety of technical directors and animation heads. Both are interesting and each is specific regarding their involvement in the film. These commentaries are both full of little surprises about the film. They do need to be listened to in order to find out what I mean, but I will let you know that they are worth a listen, even only for a short period of time.

    I went over to the Discontinued Parts section to see what was cut out of the film. These 8 minutes of parts aren’t 100% finished and you can listen to an optional commentary by producer Chris Wedge.

    How about that big booty? While a little large for my liking, you can check out Aunt Fanny’s Tour of Booty (5m12s), a short animated clip presented in 16:9 and DD5.1 for this DVD.

    Next you can view a quick short called Robots original test. It’s about 2 minutes long and can be viewed with the director’s commentary on or off.

    You Can Shine No Matter What You’re Made Of is an 18-minute featurette about the making of the film and features interviews from several people involved with the movie.

    …and one of my favourites, The Blue Man Group (5m57s) featurette showing the groups work on the score. They have interesting instrumental creations although they admit they’ve never really played around with metal much. The group was chosen for their creativity and to contribute to the film.

    Nearing the end of the list, you’ll find the miscellaneous features like promotional shorts for Ice Age 2 (and others), TV Spots, and the theatrical trailer. There is also an interactive 3-D character biography called Meet the Bots. You can meet 11 of them and listen to interviews from them as well as check out their design. Very cool!

    Lastly, you can check out three interactive games (Robot dance, Invent-A-Bot and Fender Photo Shoot), X-Box racing game featuring the characters of the movie, and a DVD-ROM link. I didn’t review either of these features or go into the games so I can’t tell you about them. My DVD-ROM drive is still not activated…


    IN THE END…

    Robots is a cute movie to watch and nothing more. Its story is a little weak and I didn’t find the characters as likable as the ones in Ice Age (maybe because they are robots and not organic). It’s another film showing the advancements in computer animation with the delivery of action, comedy, and a fantastic all-star cast for the voices of the characters. While I wish the sound design was more creative, you’ll soon forget about it as the flawless image quality of this disc draws you in. It’s topped off with excellent special features and you’ll even find a few Easter Eggs if you’re lucky, making it a recommended disc. Fox has great product here that is worth a look.

    Michael Osadciw
    05.10.04
     
  2. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    I agree with you 100 percent on the video simply beautiful. The sound, I thought was robust. Anyway glad the review is in. P.S. my kids saw it again last night.
     
  3. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    I took myself to see this in the theater on a Saturday night and enjoyed it immensely. The only reason I haven't picked this up yet is because I've extremely fearful of a two disc set coming down the pike within three or four months.
     
  4. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    I enjoyed this disc quite a bit (movie and extras; I look forward to the technical commentary soon). I also appreciate discs of computer generated features that have transfers sourced directly from the original digital elements as this one also has.

    'Robot Dance' is a fun little piece featuring the street dancing robot in the movie. I enjoyed his? appearance in the movie and also like this 'Robot Dance' piece. It is essentially a gallery of different dances performed by the robot including a 'Mega Dance' that plays through the dances in random sequence endlessly until you press your menu or stop buttons.

    I've listened to the commentary with Chris Wedge and William Joyce and it sounded as though Chris would like to do a director's cut of the movie and include sequences that would 'flesh out' certain characters. It seemed to me that Chris? (sometimes I couldn't tell who was speaking) felt that some sequences didn't turn out as well as hoped though others turned out much better than expected. To me, it sounds as though they felt that the movie wasn’t all that it could have been. Whether a director's cut was mentioned in jest or this was seriously stated, I don't know.


    Just to clarify, 'Meet the Bots' features short interviews with the voice actors (as themselves) including Ewan McGregor, Drew Carey, Harlan Williams, Robin Williams, Halle Berry, Jennifer Coolidge, etc. Some other efforts have interviews with the actual animated characters press junket-style. I personally prefer the former; as done on this Robots disc. It appears that these interviews were conducted during production considering the assemblage of interviewees. I agree that this feature is very cool: I love seeing early artwork of characters on paper and how they evolved and the finished product presented as a figure on a turntable.

    Also, apparently the DVD-ROM content includes high-definition clips from the movie.
     
  5. John Sparks

    John Sparks Screenwriter

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    I'll have to pass on this and wait for the anticipated Director's Cut.
     
  6. Eric Emma

    Eric Emma Supporting Actor

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    I really liked Robots in theaters, it was a nice/short piece and I absolutely love the voice work but if there's a DC on the waY I guess I'll wait but how the heck does that work?
     
  7. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i couldnt get the hd clips to work on my hd capable laptop.

    polus you have to download a player that i didnt like and have already removed from the laptop.
     
  8. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Is there really a director's cut/2-disc SE coming?

    I REALLY want to go and get this DVD.

    Great review!!!!

    dave [​IMG]
     
  9. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

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    I bought this sight-unseen (I'm an animation nut) and loved it.
     
  10. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    About speculation regarding a director's cut: respectfully, we cannot take Chris Wedge's casual comments as definitive.

    He could change his mind, for instance.

    I did a quick search and found an interview Science Fiction Weekly did with him. However, I cannot tell when this interview was conducted. It certainly isn't proof that a director's cut is in the works.
     
  11. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Just watched last night.

    A cute movie, but definitely the writing is a step or two below the top-notch Pixar films.

    Agree with this review...Picture quality is great...but is has that slightly "soft" look like Incredibles on the big screen that says to me there's a tad of HF filtering. I've seen HD clips so I know the softness isn't the (digital high-res) source.

    Still a great picture but can't wait to get this in HD!
     
  12. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    This is one of those films that grew on me afte watching it a few times (like brother bear) I thought both the picture and especially the sound was teriffic, at least on my setup. Thanks for the revuew.
     

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