HTF UMD REVIEW: Robots

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by David Galindo, Sep 24, 2005.

  1. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    [c]Robots (UMD)
    Region 1 • G • Dolby Digital • Available Sept. 27th

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    Up till now, Fox has done little for the UMD format. They launched a wave of UMDs that were priced at $30 with no extras, bad audio and video, and an overall sense of laziness. Does Robots, Fox’s latest release, change anything?

    Why yes. Yes it does.

    Thoughts on the Movie

    I guess it’s not really fair to compare this movie, or any CGI movie for that matter, to Pixar’s movies. The only thing they share is the same methods of telling the story- through CGI. But I can say this: Robots, alas, is not really good.

    Wait, let me back up here. I can say Robots is not a good film for me, but a great film for kids. I could also argue that the Incredibles managed to be a great film for both kids and adults, and to work on two levels like that is to be a better film than most. One of my friends says he doesn’t like the Incredibles, liked Robots, and would take kids to see Robots before any Pixar film. I said he was crazy, that Incredibles is a much deeper and better film than Robots. Oh, Robots is for the kids first and foremost… the fact that there are fart jokes in the film, based ENTIRELY in a ROBOT city is proof, but maybe I’m stupid and should just go along with the notion that the Robots are human, or human enough, that they gain weight, eat, etc.

    Or do they? They eat, but it seems that they pick out their own “upgrades” to get older and taller. Then why are there fat robots when they serve absolutely no purpose than to provide some laughs? I guess I answered my question right there. (Futurama had some fat robots, but was smart enough to know that this was immensely stupid, and at least did something with it).

    Yeah, I know, it’s just a kids movie. I guess I can never empathize with an inanimate object like a robot, or for that matter a car (something that makes me very worried about Cars, the new Pixar film). I can do that with a toy, or a monster, or even a fish… but I just can’t do it with Robots.

    Which makes me ask one more question: would the film be better if it were in 2D? Looking at the sketches of some of the robots, it just looks more fantastic and like an abstract portrait of the future. Bringing this world into 3D just didn’t carry the art style over well, in my opinion.


    Video Quality

    Robots has been cropped from the original ratio of 1.85, which isn’t too bad I guess. But unfortunately the video transfer suffers from the same flaws as previous Fox releases. The picture is very sharp and detailed, but the colors… what a tragedy. The colors are dull and extremely void of any life… almost like there’s a hazy blue tint over the whole film. It was like the colors wanted to leap out of the picture, but were held back from doing so. It’s a damn shame, and really hamper this UMD.

    2/5
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    Audio Quality

    The audio is better this time around from Fox’s previous UMDs, and it sounds pretty loud and solid. The audio separation is good, but nothing about this track really bowled me over. With every UMD I’ve seen so far, there were always a couple of moments where I thought, “Man, that sounded cool!” That never seems to happen with Fox movies, for some reason. Oh, it’s a good track, but could have been better.

    3/5
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    Extras

    I expected zero from Fox in the extras department… boy oh boy, did they ever prove me wrong.

    First off, let’s get the bad news out of the way. The UMD boots up and heads directly to the menu, which is a nice touch. The menu itself is actually using some PSP power… that is, they made the menu different and used the UMD format to try something new. So the menu comes up with Play, Setup, Bonus Features and Previews, and you have the little flying robot appear on the screen. You move the flying robot around the menu until he gets close enough to a selection, and then the selection is highlighted.

    I really like the fact that Fox tried something new, but man, it just doesn’t work. The robot moves SLOW. To get him from the Play button to the Bonus Features button took exactly 6.8 seconds. Ahhh! Not only that, but the robot is a bit big, so that his “sweet spot” of hitting the selection to make it highlighted is not apparent until you get the hang of it. So… I’m both happy that Fox utilized the UMD functions, and sad that they didn’t really work to the menu’s advantage. Ah well. (Oddly enough, there is no chapter selection menu. No problem for 2.0 PSPs which allow jumping around a UMD, but for anyone not upgrading, it could be a problem.)

    On to the bonus features! First up are some deleted scenes- Tim from the TV Show (2:14), Rodney & the Husties (4:29) and Rodney’s Visitor (1:13). These all utilize either prerendered footage or storyboards to show the scene. Next is a great behind the scenes look at Robots, called ”You Can Shine No Matter What Your Made Of” (18:14). Look at some of the artwork behind the interviewees, and tell me that doesn’t look better than the final CGI. You also get some trailers for Garfield and The Sandlot, which oddly enough have much better video quality than the Robots transfer.

    The last and biggest surprise is a Full Length Technical Commentary by the Blue Sky Team. Yup, a commentary! Considering this movie had English, Spanish and French tracks, the inclusion of all these bonus features and a commentary is proof that a UMD can hold quite a bit of stuff, indeed.

    Looking at some of the future releases from Fox, it seems that they are starting to put bonus stuff on their UMDs… and that is a hugely welcome addition. Nicely done.

    4.5/5
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    Overall…

    This was a pretty hard UMD to rate. One one hand, the audio is OK but the video could have definitely used improving. On the other hand, the bonus features are plentiful and the commentary is a great addition.

    If Fox can improve their transfers, then they could become the best UMD studio on the market today. Right now, they’ve gone from being the worst to being one that has immense potential. Considering their library of movies, this is very welcome news! Hears hopin’!

    3.5/5
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  2. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    I agree whole Heartily, what happened here, were the colors this muted in the theater? Also contrast is lest than spectacular. Animated Movies should look better than this. I would be interested to see how the Toy Story UMD is. As far as the movie it had it's moments but it's not in the same league as the Pixar stuff and its probably a notch below Ice Age, which I enjoyed more. And if I see one more zany Robin Williams Cartoon performance I've seen too many. Robin Retire already.
     
  3. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    I hear the Toy Story UMD looks spectacular, but I havent recieved any Buena Vista UMDs for a while for some reason.

    Yeah, Robin is at his best in movies like Insomnia and One Hour Photo. Hearing him in this movie is just painful.
     

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