Chicken Little 3D [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (11th January 2012).
The Film

In 2005 it was announced that Pixar would be leaving the Disney family, their final film in their contract is "Cars" (2006). Pixar have been responsible for a massive amount of revenue coming into the house of the mouse's bank accounts. Their successful mix of heart felt stories with top pf the line CGI animation is second to none, their films continually out grossed traditional hand drawn animation films as well as Disney family films over the years. Traditional animation is now going the way of the dinosaur when Disney closed down their studio and setting up their own 3-D animation department. That venture was responsible for "Chicken Little" as well as "Valiant" (2005) and the currently in release "The Wild" (2006), "Valiant" didn't fare to well at the box office and "Chicken Little" only did slightly better but never quite reaching the Pixar ability to virtually print money. It was announced at the beginning of 2006 that Disney had bought Pixar shelling out $7.4 billion for stock making Steve Jobs the official king of the world (and now king of the heavens!). Now that they have secured one of the most creative studios, their current catalogue but also possible continued success in any future venture, so long as Pixar do what they do without too much intervention from Mickey and his high priced executives and lawyers.

Anyway, onto this film, which is not a Pixar project. "Chicken Little" tells the story of said chicken voiced by "Scrubs" (2001-2009) star Zach Braff, a scared out of his wits that the sky is going to fall chick. This chicken is known for causing widespread panic across the town of Oakey Oaks, his father is constantly embarrassed by the little guy and the towns people no longer believe him anymore about the sky falling. When one day, the sky truly falls, in the form of a hovering thingy (that's the best way I can describe it) that can change it's surface to reflect whatever is placed behind it. His friends, Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack), Fish out of water (Dan Molina) and Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn) discover that aliens have landed, after a chase sequence among some corn fields the aliens take off just when Little is about to prove to the towns folk that the sky actually did fall and aliens are among them...only problem is the aliens have left their child behind, Kirby (who appears to be voiced by three actors Sean Elmore, Evan Dunn and Matthew Michael Josten), the alien parents Melvin (Fred Willard) and Tina (Catherine O'Hara) decide they must invade Earth with a full alien armada in order to find their son. They all eventually realize it's one big misunderstanding and everything rights itself, also throughout this adventure Little plays baseball in an effort to gain his father's respect and admiration...which he does...isn't that great?

In true Disney form this film is filled with cute little talking animals and quirky over the top scenarios that never really happen in real life, but that you can almost always get away with in animation. After all this stuff's for kids and at the end of the day any child would be entertained by this film. Which, is why I have the hard job in reviewing it and I am most definitely not a child, anymore. However I still enjoy a good lighthearted animated film once in a while and "Chicken Little" is just that, light, unfortunately it's a little too light.

The film runs it's course setting up the town and its characters, however it appears as though the filmmakers didn't seem to think that an alien invasion was enough of a cool gimmick to sweep kids into and decided to throw in some family drama. You know the kind, solo parent caring for a crazy kid, that crazy kid is seen as a joke throughout the community and his own father is embarrassed by him. That crazy kid decides to join the baseball team to prove to his dad that he's worth a damn and what do you know he actually makes good by it and scores the winning run! Yay crazy kid and Dad live happily ever after. Disney in usual style know exactly how to sugar coat a story, but do kids really care about family dramas?, it's as if they needed some kind of domestic element in order for children to relate to these characters...making these characters real enough, with an array of emotion and human traits is enough to warrant that. Leave the single parent dramas to the soap operas and let's focus on the cool aliens.

To finish my rant I'll also mention the film's brief time span, you have just enough to time to meet the characters, get presented with a dilemma and as soon as as that rears itself the day is saved. I felt that a lot of elements of the story were rushed and not enough time was allocated to it. So essentially this is perfect for kids with ADHD. Other than these issues I found the film to be enjoyable, the characters were all funny in their own unique way, especially Runt, however the 'fat' pig jokes got a bit much at times. The aliens were the coolest part of this film bar none, the filmmakers spent the time to get the design and characterizations right with them you wonder why the same attention to detail wasn't utilized for the story?

Casting in any film is imperative, perhaps even more so in animated film because the voice in a way defines the character and humanizes them, in this case Disney hit the nail on the head and I was impressed with all the voice performances, it's easy to see that these actors made the characters their own. Overall "Chicken Little" makes for a decent fluff entertainment for the kiddies but lacks any substance otherwise, it's a good job but trying to fill Pixar's boots is a hard job for anyone.

Video

Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen transfer high definition 1080p 24/fps created using AVC MPEG-4 compression. Disney have been recently releasing a slew of films in 3D to take advantage of the format, it's a gamble that's looking less and less profitable, but when news of "The Lion King" success in 3D we'll probably be seeing more Disney up-converted 3D presentations of classic animated films both theatrically and on Blu-ray. "Chicken Little" is now 7 years-old and finally makes it's 3D debut. The animation still holds up and mastered from the film's original digital source. As expected the detail is excellent , the picture is sharp and it looks beautiful. The 3D conversion does add to the film but I felt that it was largely unnecessary, the 3D effect was ho-hum, some shots featured ghosting and no amount of fiddling with my settings could satisfy me. It was annoying at times but you get used to it. On the flip-side the colors are all bright, vivid and bold especially black levels. Fine detail is visible and the overall print is clean.

Audio

The 3D version of the film includes only an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track mixed at 48kHz/24-bit, Disney originally started releasing films on Blu-ray with an uncompressed PCM audio track only to dump that format for the more mainstream DTS tag. The previously released standard 2D Blu-ray (included as the second disc of this package) included a PCM track that was impressive to say the least. Having listened to the DTS track it was hard to differentiate the two, but the PCM edges out only slightly with greater depth. However, in saying that, only serious audiophiles would really pick up the difference. Dialogue is clear and distortion free, surround activity is complex and active. The track is impressively dynamic and displays a powerful range. Overall a decent track for the film.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Disney have created a very kid-centric Blu-ray disc. The offerings include an audio commentary, a filmmaker's Q&A, an interactive game, a collection of deleted scenes, some music videos and a sing-a-long clip as well a brief collection of making-of featurettes plus a bonus promo. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

DISC ONE: 3D BLU-RAY

This disc includes the film in 3D, no extras appear on this disc at all.

DISC TWO: 2D BLU-RAY

This disc features the standard 2D version of the film, plus the extras:

First up is a feature-length audio commentary with the film's director Mark Dindal, producer Randy Fullmer and visual effects supervisor Steve Goldberg. The participants share stories relating to the 5 ½ years it took to make this film. They take us through the various opening sequences conceived for the film as well as story elements such as how the title character was originally a girl chicken instead of a boy. They also comment on the development of the film's story and as well as establishing character relationships. Comments are also made about the score, working with the voice actors who recorded together rather than separately as is normally done on animated projects. A considerable amount of time is also spent talking about the animation process in getting emotion out of a CGI creature, creating an 'elastic' form for the characters, which is a Disney tradition. Although they comment on the animation and techniques it's not entirely technical and is very audience friendly. Overall it's an information packed track that should be listened to at least once, unless you're a kid because this track is made for the older animation buff.

Also on the disc is a filmmaker's Q&A this is an interactive feature that allows you to select from a series of questions to ask the filmmakers while the film plays. There are a number of questions ranging from production to animation and character related stuff. If you want to access this feature make sure that your player or Playstation 3 has the latest firmware update.

An interactive game is next entitled "Alien Invasion" which allows up to two players. You have to blast away the invading ships to beat the aliens, there are 10 levels in total and you have 4 lives. The aim is to collect as many points by zapping the ships.

Next are a series of 8 deleted scenes these all have intros from the producer Randy Fullmer and director Mark Dindal, who basically give us a brief rundown on the scene. The scenes include 4 new exclusive scenes plus 4 from the previous DVD release. They include:

- "Mayor Lurkey's Pep Talk" which runs for 2 minutes 7 seconds, in this clip the mayor talks to Buck about the difficulties he must face raising a son on his own.
- "Buck's Apology" runs for 6 minutes 39 seconds, in this storyboard scene Chicken Little (as a girl) tries to reassure herself that she is not a freak, while Buck and his wife have an argument about their daughter's imagination and his wish of wanting her to be normal.
- "Something Must Be Done" runs for 1 minute 52 seconds, in this clip Chicken Little (also as a girl in this clip) tries to find ways to change and be normal by searching on the Internet.
- "Lunch Room B" runs for 4 minutes 8 seconds, this is basically the same scene that took place in the dodge ball scene in the final film, only instead takes place in the lunch room.
- "Alternate opening 1: Chicken Little storybook" which runs for 2 minutes 50 seconds and is a 2-D opening that covers the original Chicken Little story in true Disney fashion.
- "Alternate opening 2: Cooking with Klaus" runs for 6 minutes 10 seconds and is a scene where Chicken Little's dad is making breakfast for him and turns into a cooking show gag.
- "Original opening with Chicken Little as a girl" which runs for 2 minutes 5 seconds, this clip shows Chicken Little in bed hearing all sorts of scary night time sounds, in a mixture of incomplete animation and storyboards.
- "Lunch break" runs for 2 minutes and is entirely in storyboard form, here Runt struggles to get a snack from the vending machine and Fish helps him out.

Next up we have a section entitled "Music and More" there are a few music videos and interactive singing segments as well. These include:

- "Shake your tail faether" a music video performed by The Cheetah Girls, some teen pop band. This runs for 3 minutes 5 seconds.
- "One little slip" a music video by Barenaked Ladies, this is the film's title track. This runs for 2 minutes 50 seconds.
- "One little slip" a karaoke version with the music and the lyric running along the bottom set to some animation of the characters dancing. This runs for 3 minutes 1 seconds
- "One little slip" a sing-a-long version, which is basically the same as the above only the lyrics are sung in this clip. This also runs for 3 minuets 1 seconds.

Following that is the "Backstage Disney: Hatching Chicken Little the making of the movie" these are a series of 5 short featurettes that take you behind-the-scenes and include:

- "The Incubation Period: The story behind the story" which runs for 2 minutes 45 seconds and takes a look at the genesis of the story and characters.
- "Cracking new ground" which runs for 3 minutes 15 seconds and takes a look at the design of the film and its characters, and looks at the differences between 2-D and 3-D animation.
- "Birds of a feather: The voices behind the characters" this clip runs for 3 minutes and we get to meet the talent voice actors that help bring these characters to life.
- "Rock-A-Doodle-Doo: The music of Chicken Little" runs for 4 minutes 30 seconds and here we get to see the scoring process as well as take a look at the different people involved in making music for this film from Patti LaBelle and Joss Stone to Five for Fighting and Barenaked Ladies.
- "Ruling the roost: A day in the life of the director" runs for 2 minutes 45 seconds and takes a look at the director's job on this film.

Also included are two Easter egg clips. They are not hidden like on the DVD but can be accessed via the menu. The first is entitled "Runt of the Litter" and runs for 1 minute 7 seconds, Runt and Fish talks about the movie made about their friend. The second one is entitled "Foxy Loxy" and runs for 57 seconds, in this clip she talks about the movie being made about Chicken Little.

Rounding out the extras is a Blu-ray promo spot that runs for 1 minute 21 seconds and plays prior to the menu, it can be skipped.

Also included is "Movie Showcase" which jumps to three key reference scenes that show off the high-definition quality.

DISC THREE: DVD

This is a DVD edition of the film.

Packaging

Packaged in a 3-disc Blu-ray keep case housed in a cardboard slip-case that features a lenticular cover.

Overall

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

 


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