Khumba: A Zebra's Tale [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (22nd July 2014).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

For Khumba, a young zebra born with only half his stripes, life is not all black and white. When his superstitious herd blame him for the sudden drought affecting their homeland, Khumba must embark on an adventure to find the legendary watering hole where the first zebras got their stripes.

His mission teams him with a sassy wildebeest and a flamboyant ostrich and together they set out on a daring quest to find the mythical watering hole. Their adventure takes them across the Great Kagoo desert where Khumba and his friends meet a host of quirky and colourful characters, including coming face-to-face with a tyrannical leopard in an epic battle to earn his stripes.

Presented in stunning 3D, Khumba: A Zebra's Tale is a fantastic family adventure with an all-star voice cast including Liam Neeson, Catherine Tate, Richard E. Grant, Steve Buscemi, Laurence Fishburne, AnnaSophia Robb and Jake T. Austin.

Video

Independent British distributor Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment have released "Khumba: A Zebra's Tale" onto a single Blu-ray housing both 2D and 3D versions of the movie. Both are 1080p and in the original aspect ratio of 2.40:1, whilst the 2D version uses an AVC MPEG-4 encode, and the 3D version uses a MVC encode.

As per most computer animated movies these days, the transfer here is excellent. Whilst the animation from Triggerfish is not quite up to the level of detail as the major animation studios such as Pixar or DreamWorks, they are certainly close. Colours are tremendously vivid throughout, with the yellows and the blues of the desert landscape and sky looking perfect. The various characters also look great, with minute details in fur and in the various luscious environments coming to the forefront of the transfer. Although the animator's have gone for a more basic style in some of the panning location shots, it still looks excellent. The 3D itself is an absolute joy. There aren't many pop outs, so if that is your preferred 3D style, you may be disappointed, but depth is solid from the start right through to the end. There is a great sense of perceived distance, with scenes that have barren dusty landscapes looking particularly strong. There is no damage here, and I didn't notice any banding, which is usually one of the bigger problems for animated films on home media.

The film is uncut and runs 85:02.

Audio

There are two audio options available here:
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- English LPCM 2.0 Stereo

For my viewing I opted for the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which was above average, but didn't quite match the high quality of the transfer. The surrounds are active throughout, with many subtle environmental noises (such as rustling, footsteps, insects), and the score makes full use of the entire sound stage. The LFE is also well used, with low-end rumblings making a particularly great impact when Phango's presence is felt. Channel separation for dialogue is consistently good throughout, and directionality of effects faultless. As should be expected with such a new feature, there are no problems such as drop outs or scratches.

Unfortunately, no subtitles have been included.

Extras

We start off the selection of extras with a short featurette entitled "Acting Out: Character Evolution" (2:52). It interviews various crew members about how some of the animals were designed and and the thoughts behind some of them. Interestingly, they touch on how fierce they made Phango, as they didn't want the character to be too scary for children.

The "Making Of (Behind the Scenes)" featurette comes in at 9:52, and is a quick look at various aspects of how the film was made. We have interview segments from various crew members who talk about the story, the characters, the moral behind the story (it's okay to be different), the origins of the name Khumba, and much, much more. It's an interesting featurette, but unfortunately, it isn't quite as in detail about some of the technical sides of things as I would have liked.

"The Karoo: A World of Difference (Great Karoo)" featurette runs 2:30. Crew members talk about the Karoo, which is the semi-desert natural region of South Africa where the main feature is based. We also hear about how the CGI of The Karoo was made, and how they added particular details.

"Nora: A Great Partnersheep (Nora the Sheep)" featurette runs 2:09. In this section, crew members tell us about the character Nora, and how she was designed. We hear about the characteristics of Nora, and see a little footage of Catherine Tate doing the voice-over. Interestingly, Nora is strongly based on the character Nan, from "The Catherine Tate Show".

Next up, we have a couple of deleted scenes:
- "Ostracized" (2:09)
- "Stripes and Boys" (0:34)
The first scene is a musical number starring Bradley the Ostrich, voiced by Richard E. Grant, whilst the second is a brief dialogue scene. Both feel as though they were rightly cut for pacing, especially the musical scene which also feels completely out of place in comparison to the rest of the feature.

The rest of the extras are self-explanatory.
Start-up Trailer:
- "Saving Santa" (1:52)
Theatrical Trailer (1:41)

Overall

Khumba is standard animated fare, but the disc looks fantastic, and the 3D is sublime. Audio quality is also well above average. Unfortunately the extras lack any real depth, but they are worth watching. Triggerfish are certainly an animation studio to look out for in the near future.

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

 


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