Mini-Review: Rolie Polie Olie: Great Defenders of Fun

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JosephMoore, Oct 28, 2002.

  1. JosephMoore

    JosephMoore Stunt Coordinator

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    For those that have never seen Rolie Polie Olie (that would be those without small kids ... otherwise he's probably a fixture in your house) it's a 3-D animated cartoon aired on the Disney Channel and based on the children's books by William Joyce.

    For TV animation it's quite good. Nelvana and Sparx have created a style that faithfully matches Joyce's books. The scripts largely keep the the innocent 50's kiche spirit, as well.

    This is Rolie's first feature-length adventure, a straight to video release. Given my daughter's love of the show, it was placed high on our NetFlix cue. I didn't expect it to be as good as say, a Pixar movie, but I hoped it to be better than most of the straight-to-video tripe. That turned out to be a pretty accurate assessment.

    STORY/SCREENPLAY
    The story is paced pretty strangely. It doesn't really have a clear 3 acts. It's more like five or six stretches between commercials. It never really peaks, or rather it peaks several times, none of them more important than the previous. My daughter didn't mind at all, she's watched it twice without squirming, but I found it made the flick drag.

    CASTING/VOICE TALENT
    The regular TV cast voices the majority of the characters, which is a good thing because they have the space-age Cleaver family thing down pat. When I heard that James Wood's was cast as the heavy I was dubious to say the least. It turns out, he does a wonderfully silly job as the pirate Gloomius Maximus, affecting a faux Brittish/pirate accent.

    ART DIRECTION/DESIGN
    The same retro look at the future that marks Joyce's work is faithfully reproduced and expanded upon here. The Polie Planet is the same as it is on the show. The new pieces of note are Gloomius' ship, and the pirate himself -- both of which are well realized.

    SOUND DESIGN
    The trademark SFX from the TV show are all present, but there's really nothing new or expanded to lend this a bigger, more theatrical sound.

    SCORE/SONG
    Lack luster to say the least. The score is way down the list of supporting characters and the couple of musical numbers are pretty forgetable. This ain't "Beauty and The Beast."

    VIDEO
    This is another pristine digital transfer along the lines of "Monsters Inc." or "Ice Age." No analog blemishes to be found. The difference here (besides the fact that it's original aspect ratio is not widescreen, but 4:3) is that this flick wasn't rendered to film resolution (2k) and downsampled (a process which results in a smoother image, but rather rendered straight to video resolution. While this is quicker, anti-aliasing (jagged diagonals) is prevalent. For some strange reason, even though this movie was never ever on film, it has went through inverse telicine. Which is to say at some point it was 24 frames per second and was converted to 30 frames per second. The cadence is unmistakeable. I didn't notice any significant compression artifacts, though, and the colors are as saturated as you would imagine.

    SOUND
    The Dolby 5.1 mix is as blah as the sound design. Nothing but the front channels gets a chance to even warm up.

    EXTRAS
    There are a couple of simple DVD games, and an episode of another Disney Channel show, and some previews contained on the same disc.


    RECOMMENDATION
    If your kids are fans of the show they'll enjoy this release. It's better than most straight-to-video releases, but it's obvious that it was done by a television production and not a feature film company.
     
  2. William Waits

    William Waits Stunt Coordinator

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    I thought that the video quality completely sucked! It was very painful to watch. I have seen MANY of the episodes with my son on Playhouse Disney, and the quality of the video over a broadcast medium (in this case DirecTV) is MUCH better than what I get on this DVD!!!

    It is so bad, I was SSOOOOO tempted to send it back for a refund, but the cost of postage to send it back to Canada just wasn't worth the hassle. Besides, I only paid like $4.50-$5.00 for it.

    I guess I got what I paid for...

    Bill
     
  3. JosephMoore

    JosephMoore Stunt Coordinator

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    William,
    I don't know how you could think that the broadcast video quality was better. Disney Channel DTV *is* one of the best channels for standard def digital, but on my calibrated system (digital pj) the DVD's picture is more solid, richer and sharper. The DVD reveals that surfaces which appear to be flat color on broadcast episodes actually have subtle texture.

    The only strange thing about the DVD video is the frame-rate. The 3:2 pulldown adds a subtle, but strange, feel to the animation. I guess they thought it would look more "film-like" this way.
     
  4. JosephMoore

    JosephMoore Stunt Coordinator

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    BTW, here's a grab:
    [​IMG]
     

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