- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
With Meet the Robinsons, it seems the Disney studio’s own CGI animation unit finally found its footing. Outstanding, detailed animation tied to a story with heart and surprising complexity marks this effort from Disney’s non-Pixar branch though looking at it four years after its release, it’s clear that tremendous strides in CGI animation have occurred since this film was first released. It may take more than one viewing to plug into the film’s vibe. Initially, the movie seems somewhat harried and rather scattered going off in many directions, but a second viewing will illuminate how well the pieces fit together and also give the viewer time to adjust to the film‘s really frenzied pace.
Meet the Robinsons 3D (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Stephen Anderson
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 95 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Review Date: November 2, 2011
Orphan Lewis (Jordan Fry) can’t seem to find a family who wants to adopt him, so he pours his soul into making inventions that tap his inner geek genius. At his school’s science fair, he meets up with Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman) who claims to have used his dad’s time machine to come to the past to save Lewis from an evil bowler-wearing villain (Stephen John Anderson aka the director of the movie) who seems intent on harming Lewis. Their battle with this shady character and his seemingly alive bowler named Doris take the boys back to the future where Lewis meets the wildly eccentric Robinson family, a clan that makes the loony Sycamores from You Can’t Take It With You seem tame in comparison.
The story is loaded with fierce battles and spirited encounters of every kind, beautifully directed by Stephen Anderson and splashed with the bright, bold Technicolor look of most of today’s animated features. It‘s definitely a visual feast that‘s pleasing eye candy for young and old alike. And the film does offer substance for both children and adults which puts it on the firm ground of all of Pixar‘s wildly successful features. The film’s message of looking to the future for one’s happiness rather than dwelling inertly in the past is one that all ages can take in and appreciate. The movie seems a bit weak in wit, though. There’s plenty of action, and the characters are all so unusual that they’ll hold your interest with no difficulty (though the members of the Robinson family might have been given a shade more development even though there are a lot of them). The use of slapstick may seem a bit overdone, and the film might have seemed tighter and less haphazard if it had wrapped up about ten minutes sooner. There’s a subplot with singing frogs, for example, that certainly has a payoff, and they’re entertaining enough in and of themselves, but their songs add unnecessary length to the movie.
And speaking of the music, the Danny Elfman score is delightful, and one song in particular, Rob Thomas’ extremely well written and well sung ballad “Little Wonders,” is among the best songs to come out of a Disney film in years. The movie is not a musical, but the songs by Rufus Wainwright, Elfman, and Thomas that serve as background commentary to the on-screen action do establish the necessary emotions for the scenes they accompany.
3D implementation – 5/5
The film’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio (on the 2D release, the aspect ratio is 1.78:1) is presented in 1080p (AVC codec), and it couldn‘t be more deliriously glorious. The amount of detail is impressive from the nap on the blanket covering Lewis‘ invention to the textures of cement, brick, wood, and grass (which contains flecks of blue totally unnoticed in the standard definition version of the film). The colors are bold and beautiful but never so intense as to bleed. Blacks are lush, and not a speck mars the pristine image presented here. There is also no noticeable banding to weaken the image. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.
From the opening moments of the movie where the layers of rain cover the screen, one knows he’s in for a visual treat, and the 3D is really used intelligently here throughout to broaden and deepen the viewing experience. Excellent use is made of layering constantly with characters and objects, and there is never a moment when the image doesn’t appear to be completely three dimensional. Forward projections are thoughtfully used throughout the film. Sometimes it’s just fingers or a foot extending slightly beyond the frame. The antenna on a control box swings outward toward the viewer, and in one memorable moment, a multi-bladed spear comes right into room, but none of these events appear gimmicky or cheap. All have been artfully built into the storytelling in the best possible way. No crosstalk of any consequence appears to mar the presentation. This is one of the 3D discs you should seriously consider if 3D has recently been added to your viewing capabilities.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (offered on the 3D disc; the 2D Blu-ray uses an uncompressed PCM 5.1 track) offers a wide ranging soundfield that makes constant use of all available channels. The T-Rex sequence and a later climactic trip to a bowler hat future are spirited and stunning in their creative use of sound, and the LFE channel gets continual use throughout the movie. Dialogue is well recorded and has mostly been placed in the center channel, but there is one terrific moment when a voice does an amazing bit of channel bouncing showing off the capabilities of the sound design in all of the soundfield’s speakers.
Disappointingly, the 3D disc does not contain any bonus features at all, surprising given all of the available 3D trailers Disney has at its disposal. The main menu is in 3D and is entertaining to watch for an extended moment or two.
The 2D Blu-ray disc contains the feature film and the following extras:
An audio commentary by director Stephen Anderson allows him to show how proud he is of this movie. Along with providing some personal information about himself and his identification with the main character Lewis, Anderson also describes the painstaking process of bringing an animated movie to the screen and goes into detail about original ideas that didn’t make it to the final film. The track also includes a funny running in-joke that is very enjoyable.
“Inventing the Robinsons” is a 17 ½-minute 1080p featurette in which the original author, the film’s director, the production designer, the voice actors, the composer, and the songwriters all comment on their contributions to the movie.
“Inventions That Shaped the World” is a slight 6-minute rundown of some of the important inventions of the past few centuries that have shaped the world we know now. It’s presented in 480i.
There are six deleted scenes presented in 1080p with director Stephen Anderson introducing each of the segments explaining why they didn’t make it into the finished film. Included among these is an alternate ending which is much weaker than the one in the finished film. The scenes are a mixture of finished footage, in betweens, and storyboard sketches.
There are two music videos, each running about 3 minutes and each presented in 480i. Rob Thomas performs the wonderful “Little Wonders” while the Jonas Brothers perform the lesser “Kids of the Future.” Each music video mixes newly shot footage with clips from the movie.
“Family Function 5000 Game” is an entertaining trivia game based on facts from the movie which little ones may need their parents’ help with.
“Bowler Hat Barrage Game” requires the player to maneuver and blast away at evil bowler hats to save the day.
A movie showcase feature chooses three scenes that the executives consider reference quality scenes.
The disc contains 1080p promo trailers for Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Lady and the Tramp, and Chimpanzee.
The third disc in the set is the DVD version of the movie.
4/5 (not an average)
Meet the Robinsons might not have the patented wit and smarts of the Pixar films, but it shows that the “other” Disney animation unit has the capability of turning out an entertaining CGI film of its own. It’s an enjoyable and even emotionally satisfying animated feature, and the 3D Blu-ray release is among the finest examples of 3D animation to be found readily available for purchase. Recommended!