Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters
R1 - America - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (18th September 2007).
The Film

"Aqua Teen Hunger Force" started it's TV life back in 2000 as it appeared as one of the many programs featured on Cartoon Network's late night block of programming called Adult Swim (An early prototype version of the characters appeared on "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" (1994-2004)). The series is one of the longest running Adult Swim shows and continues to produce weekly doses of insanity to television viewers. This year they launched their big screen outing with "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters" and did moderately well considering its limited appeal and also limited theatrical run. The film garnered some publicity early in the year when an ad campaign for the film caused some panic and led to the arrest of several personnel and also the resignation of Cartoon Network's head honcho. As part of a guerilla marketing blitz dozens of electronic signs in the shape of one of the characters from the film (a Mooninite) was placed around several major US cities. The device flips the finger when turned on and also lights up, but when calls flooded into the Boston Police department reporting strange electronic devices being spotted, they responded by dispatching bomb squads and literally caused a security scare in the city. Most major news networks covered the story which saw two men who installed the Mooninites arrested and charged with 'felony counts of placing a hoax device to incite panic'. This incident obviously sheds light on the continuous paranoia of terrorism in the United States, but seriously these signs flicked the middle finger, that alone establishes some sense of humor...and as well all know terrorists have no sense of humor. So lighten up (ha! Pun), but despite this controversy the film didn't really make too big an impact, it kind of came and went but still managed to make enough scratch from it's fan base taking in over $5 million at the box office and considering the film's budget was around $1.5 million this can be considered a moderate success.
Fans of the show will likely recognize the often random and always insane brand of humor and that's pretty much what you get here for nearly 90 minutes. The film is essentially an extended origin episode of the three anthropomorphic fast food items Master Shake (Dana Snyder), Frylock (Carey Means) and Meatwad (Dave Willis) from Jersey who undertake an adventure that sees them trying to unlock the mysteries of an immortal exercise machine that rampages through the city and is somehow linked to Dr. Weird (C. Martin Croker) who apparently created our three heroes (or did he?), throughout this oddball adventure characters from the series make their appearance including their next door neighbor Carl (Dave Willis), Dr. Weird's assistant Steve (C. Martin Croker) and the aliens Emory (Mike Schatz) and Oglethorpe (Andy Merrill) among others including the very funny Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past (Matt Maiellaro).
Before I begin my critique of this film, it's important to know that I'm not a die-hard fan of the show, I love a lot of Adult Swim programming but "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" is a show that I've seen the least (perhaps a handful of episodes). It doesn't mean I dislike the show, there are some humorous moments and for a show that runs only 11 minutes seems perfect for the sometimes senseless comedy. The appeal is that it's delivered in short bursts, so the ultimate challenge would be to see if a concept that effectively works in such short bursts would also work in feature film format? Unfortunately the answer is no, almost...but no.
The film starts out well with one of the funniest openings to an animated film ever, a musical battle between snack foods that warn viewers to shut up, turn off cell phones and basically practice good movie theater etiquette and whether you like the movie or not, it doesn't matter because they have your money now. The film proceeds to follow our three main characters as they discover the insanoflex exercise machine which the Plutonian aliens want, then it sets itself loose on the city destroying everything when their origin is eventually revealed and then a flaming chicken insights some minor laughter, as does a humping robot and the occasional one liner plus anything with the Mooninites is pure gold, I could watch these two in their own movie all day. The film's initial impression doesn't last long as the film's unnecessarily convoluted plot takes effect set amid a series of totally nonsensical set pieces until the film's twist (if you can call it that) ending or rather non-ending concludes the picture with Walter Melon (Chris Kattan), a slice of watermelon that travels in a watermelon spaceship with Rush drummer Neil Peart (yes, you read that correctly). Even die-hard weren't impressed (read the many posts in the message board section of the film's listing on IMDB to see for yourself).
The film carries on the same animation style as the series, as in fairly cheap looking flash animation with the occasional low-budget-esque computer animation thrown in sporadically. While most animated shows that make the leap to feature film tend to upgrade for theaters like "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" (1998) and the recent "The Simpsons Movie" (2007) which seemed slick and cinematic while retaining the traditional look and tone of the series but "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" didn't even try. One might argue that the essence of the show is very low brow and therefore so is the animation, but if "South Park" was able to feel more cinematic while remaining low-brow then so could this film.
The film moves along at a hyper speed set at 'random' some may look closer to see method in the madness but all I see is madness with little purpose as a result there are some humorous moments dispersed throughout, it's as if a funny grenade was tossed and bits of humor were scattered. The film is mildly entertaining at best; I must admit I had more fun exploring the extra features than watching the film itself.

Video

Presented in a widescreen ratio of 1.78:1 this anamorphic transfer presents the film adequately. The film consists of flat 2-D animation so depth isn't achieved however the colors are vibrant and bright. Black levels are appropriately deep, I spotted a few instance of jagged lines but nothing too distracting. I wish there was more to say about this transfer but for the most part it holds up quite well and presents the film accurately and cleanly without any major flaws or compression problems.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included in English Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its 5.1 sound track and found it to be quite effective considering the surround channels aren't used that often, the sound mix consists of dialogue and music with very occasional sound effects but little ambient sound or aggressive surround activity. The dialogue is clear and distortion free and the film's musical cues come across well throughout the sound space.
Optional subtitles are included in English, French and Spanish.

Extras

DISC ONE:
Audio commentary by voice actor Dana Snyder, voice actor and "Saturday Night Live" cast member Fred Armisen, Onion.com writer Todd Hanson and singer Patti Smith with son Jackson Smith. I'm usually a fan of commentaries especially when cast and crew get together and reveal how the film was conceived and produced, this track has almost nothing to do with that. I suppose the DVD producers thought it would be fun to get a bunch of people who are fans of "Aqua Teen" (with a voice actor) to comment on the film and share their thoughts, Smith seems to ramble on and on while the others occasionally chime in and provide some entertaining thoughts. It's not the best track I've heard and considering a cast and crew track was recorded it's a shame it wasn't included on this DVD.

Next up is the featurette "The Thing We Shot Last Wednesday Night" which runs for 26 minutes 15 seconds and chronicles the making of the film in a rather aimless, unstructured manner. Much like the film itself it's like the behind-the-scenes was shot by someone that has a serious case of A.D.D. Despite this, we do get a rough understanding of the creative process and these guys seem to have a lot of fun doing what they are doing. The clip basically features footage from the table reading of the script (complete with voices and everything), plus a look at the editing as well as interviews from those involved. It's a fairly entertaining feature that's not an ordinary EPK, which is kind of nice.

Following that is an "Art and Music Gallery" featurette which runs for 16 minutes 25 seconds, this clip is probably my favorite extra on this disc, mainly because I enjoy the design elements of animated projects and the development of the style and characters. In this reel we get to see some of the art created for the film including character sketches, storyboards, animation tests and backgrounds. Some of the sketches appear in rough form with others are more elaborate and are in color. This clip is also set to music from the film's soundtrack.

The next featurette is entitled "Jon Schnepp 3D" which runs for 2 minutes 56 seconds and is a reel of CGI generated footage which looks quite vintage in it's execution and appears to be an alternate opening sequence to the film.

The disc also includes the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 29 seconds.

A much shorter alternate trailer follows that and runs for 1 minute 33 seconds.

Rounding out the extras is a "Sizzle Reel" trailer that runs for 3 minutes 46 seconds and seems to be an extended preview of the film.

DISC TWO:
The major extra on this disc is the deleted movie which runs for 79 minutes 52 seconds, this is an alternate version of the film made up of rough animation (mostly near finished shots without any mouth or body movements added), the story line is virtually the same as the finished film so in a way this is an animatic laying out the entire film for the filmmakers to make adjustments and changes before the final version is completed.

Following that are a collection of 10 fake endings, these were distributed over the Internet during the marketing push for the film and include:
- "Dr. Zod" runs for 40 seconds and it's revealed that Dr. Zod created them all, as Meatwad falls in love with Linda the body builder chick.
- "Wonderman" runs for 36 seconds and the planet is once again saved by Wonderman.
- "Blood Mountain" runs for 1 minute 20 seconds, Shake remembers the time spent on Blood Mountain.
- "Sandwich" runs for 31 seconds, sandwiches are served for lunch.
- "Sandwich Jewels" 39 seconds, Shake tries to kill Meatwad with a bologna sandwich.
- "Zombie Shake" runs for 32 seconds, Shake turns into a zombie.
- "Zombie Meat" runs for 34 seconds, Meatwad turns into a zombie.
- "Zombie Frylock" runs for 31 seconds, Frylock turns into a zombie.
- "Determinator" runs for 30 seconds, Meatwad kills Shake for refusing to give up his stuff.
- "Earth" runs for 41 seconds and the earth explodes.

Next are 8 deleted scenes which include:
- "Star-studded Xmas Spectacular" which runs for 22 minutes 56 seconds and is basically an episode of the show that presents some deleted scenes from the movie.
- "Cameo" runs for 3 minutes 2 seconds and features the band Cameo recording a track to help destroy the insanoflex.
- "Answering Machine Fight" runs for 59 seconds, the Plutonian's phone gets into a fight with the answering machine.
- "Dorm Room Extended" runs for 2 minutes 24 seconds, additional dialogue is included in this scene that takes place 70,000 years ago.
- "Meatwad Concert Extended" runs for 2 minutes 58 seconds, additional dialogue is included in this scene.
- "Pushing Insanoflex Box Extended" runs for 50 seconds, yet again another slightly extended scene with additional dialogue cut from the film.
- "Mooninites & Plutonians On Coaster Extended" runs for 23 seconds, a few seconds of dialogue before the coaster starts up.
- "Shake 'Who Created Us?' I'm The One Extended" runs for 27 seconds, this alternate ending where Shake confesses to being their creator.

A series of 9 music videos is included, they are a combination of an actual video, plus a series of BTS (or Behind-the-Scenes) of the bands recording the music plus some live performances which include:
- "Face Omelet" by Nashville Pussy and Master Shake which runs for 3 minutes 7 seconds.
- Nine Pound Hammer BTS which runs for 2 minutes 53 seconds.
- Mastodon BTS which runs for 3 minutes 8 seconds.
- Lobby Singers BTS which runs for 3 minutes 26 seconds.
- Nashville Pussy BTS which runs for 1 minute 44 seconds.
- Cameo BTS which runs for 3 minutes 50 seconds.
- "Bookworm Resin" Live performance by the band Brass Castle which runs for 2 minutes 30 seconds.
- "Carl's Theme" performed live by the band Nine Pound Hammer and runs for 2 minutes 46 seconds.
- "The Chosen" performed live by the band Unearth which runs for 4 minutes 25 seconds.

Also included are a series of pete promos which I believe were made for Adult Swim for the marketing of the film and include:
- "Dana Man-on-the-Street" promos which runs for 2 minutes 6 seconds and sees voice actor Dana Snyder interviewing people at the movies about the film and whether they know about it.
- "Overhead Projector Presentation" promos runs for 2 minutes 6 seconds and are some slick ads made for Adult Swim that tell us why we should go see the film.
- Dana Snyder/Bob Odenkirk interview runs for 4 minutes 25 seconds and appears like an amateur cable-access clip which is quite funny.

Finally the disc also includes a legal page, which is a single still page of legal information.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: B+ Audio: B Extras: A Overall: B

 


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