Alvin and the Chipmunks [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (22nd April 2008).
The Film

I used to watch the 1980's television show, but I always enjoyed Chip and Dale more. Something about Alvin turned me off from 'Alvin and the Chipmunks'. Every episode he got into trouble and every episode he learned his lesson, but in the very next episode he got into the same kind of trouble, making the premise of every show pretty repetitive, Dave look stubborn and Alvin stupid.

Speaking of repetitive, what's up with Jason Lee? He seems to be mimicking Eddie Murphy's career. Starting in adult comedies like "Mallrats" and "Dogma", he's now degenerated into "Underdog" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks." All he needs is to be caught picking up a transvestite hooker cop and the transformation will be complete. He gives a perfunctory performance at best, and nobody really beats him in this department. Alvin is played by Justin Long, who probably wanted a paycheck, because it could really be anyone given the processing the voice-work has had (and his absence from the extras).

Early in the movie, Dave asks the trio why they’re always excitable and troublemaking. 'We're kids, Dave,' one of them replies. That's basically how the movie unfolds. This is a kids' movie and it exactly that this is what it is. The plot more or less follows what happened to the Chipmunks' creator's endeavor to create the trio. It follows an unsuccessful song writer, until he gets inspired and has the Chipmunks sing his songs. The rest can be inferred pretty quickly.

The animation in the various incarnations of the television shows was never top-notch, but the CG work here is pretty nice. The interaction between people and animals is pretty minimal, in that Dave never really grabs or interacts with them other than speaking with them. The Chipmunks, though, have a lot of fun running around in the various rooms and situations. The animators did a decent job making the movements look natural. For the most part, they succeed.

I didn't care much for the movie when I first saw the trailer, I didn't care much for the movie upon its release, but the movie does have its moments of charm. A few giggles are had here and there. If I had kids, I would probably show them this movie. As for me, I think I'll just hold out for a 'Chip and Dale' movie.

Video

1.85:1 widescreen, using the AVC/MPEG-4 codec. As would be expected, the movie looks very nice. The level of grain is fairly consistent, and only becomes pretty visible in a couple of shots. The colors are very strong and very accurate. The contrast is also very nice, with the picture looking smooth and natural. Print defects are never a problem, and there are never any issues with compression. The picture is quite strong all around.

Audio

The movie comes in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 choices. The DTS track is mostly low-key, and even when the music pumps out, the track is pretty front-loaded. There are some directional effects when the Chipmunks goof off, and some positional effects at the big launch party. The dialogue is always clear and the track never has any problems handling all the sound elements.
English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean subtitles are provided.

Extras

Strangely enough, there are no start-up trailers. Kudos to Fox for putting the trailer option in the menu!

Chip-Chip-Hooray! Chipmunk History (12:18) is the a very nice history of the Chipmunks. The creator's son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., talks about his father's situation and how the Chipmunks ended up being popular. He talks of the 1960s TV show, and why he personally saw to the 1980s TV show. He also talks about the movie and what he wanted to accomplish with it. It's a nice overview and pretty interesting for people who want to know how everything started.

Hitting the Harmony (8:55) is the second and the last featurette. The movie record's producer talks about what he wanted to do with the music for the film. He talks about taking the music seriously, and not as kitsch. Some of the singers also talk about singing as the Chipmunks and how they handled singing at half-speed. This is a bit fluffy, but okay I suppose.

Fox on Blu-ray finishes everything with trailers for 'Ice Age: The Meltdown' (1:21), 'Night at the Museum' (2:29) and 'Eragon' (1:21).

Overall

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

 


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