Simpsons Movie (The) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (7th January 2008).
The Film

For 18 years "The Simpsons" has been a TV favorite in my household, I, like many other fans I grew up with the series, know the characters off hand and can spout endless quotes and talk about the best episodes with passion and excitement. It's a shame that the last few seasons have not been the best, and it seems that as each year passes the episodes don't seem to be a punchy or as humorous as previous seasons. Other shows like "Family Guy" (1999-Present) whose sharp wit and unafraid attitude has eclipsed "The Simpsons" in popularity of late. But the show still moves on and will likely do so for years to come.
There's been talk of a movie for many years, in fact Fox registered a movie website nine years ago, and in that time 158 drafts were written but still as each year passed the thought of a movie faded away. Until the official announcement in 2006, that the following year would finally see the release of one of the most anticipated animated film events of recent memory. The teaser trailer helped build the anticipation and every subsequent trailer released featured new and exciting footage enticing the long standing and feverishly frenzied fan base. For some the wait was worth it, the film garnered positive reviews and in a stellar opening weekend virtually made back its budget, the film went on to be become on of Fox's biggest releases of the year. And being a huge fan of the series myself I was among the many who trekked to their Cineplex on opening weekend ready to fulfill 18 years worth of pent up anticipation and when it was all over I was as happy as Spider-Pig was to trample dirt through the Simpsons home, but I wasn't entirely fulfilled. I supposed the expectation was far too high, as I expected nothing but an absolutely perfect film, what I was got was a decent film that packed enough laughs but left wanting more. Upon second viewing for this review, I watched it with a group of friends and I found myself liking the film less, laughing less and seeing all kinds of flaws that I missed originally (perhaps I was high from the hype and sheer joy of actually seeing a "Simpsons" movie for once?). I guess it doesn't really hold up upon multiple viewings...
The movie sets up the main plot, that lake Springfield is on the verge of being an eco disaster, in fact just one more piece of garbage dumped into it will end it all, so the town decide to erect a wall around the lake and stop dumping of garbage. But when Homer (Dan Castellaneta) takes home a Pig, it leads to all kinds of problems including what to do with its waste which is build-up in a makeshift silo in their backyard. Ordered to take it to a waste station by Marge (Julie Kavner), Homer is sidetracked into getting free donuts and wants an easy out for his waist and you guessed it the lake is where he goes to relinquish his silo filled with pig poo. That act immediately sends the lake's eco system into a catastrophic disaster. To react this, the US Government decide to seal Springfield inside a giant dome and when the townsfolk discover that Homer is the cause of all this, Homer, Marge, Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith) and Maggie (Nancy Cartwright) escape and become fugitives chased after by Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). They travel to Alaska to start a new life but eventually find their way back to Springfield to help rescue the town for total destruction.
The themes of the film are environmental, a popular topic of late considering the films about global warming and its impact on the planet if humans don't start reducing their carbon foot print; as usual the issue is pushed by Lisa. This aspect is used as the building block for the film's narrative. The green message aside the film is filled with oddball scenarios we've come to expect from everyone's favorite dysfunctional family including a brief shot of Bart's penis in an inspired sequence that delivers on the laughs, copious amounts of physical comedy all of which involving Homer. A hammer to the eye and of course being stuck between a rock and a hard place another prime example of a funny sequence. But for every humorous moment there are more that appear unfunny, uninspired and drag the film out. After the 30 minute mark it really does start to feel like an extended episode, and in-between the funny stuff is a lot of padding.
I really liked a lot of the pop culture references and the many visual gags that refer to events from the series (the crashed ambulance at Springfield Gorge is a good example of that). However the film just fell flat of being what I expected it to be, and perhaps my expectations were impossible considering the love I have for the series...but one thing is for sure the "Spider-Pig" song will continue to be funny.
There's a lot here for fans to gawk at, each frame is filled with information that upon multiple viewing will discover something new which is also nice, but this is sadly the only reason I'd recommend repeat viewings. It's worth seeing once, have a few laughs here and there and then reminisce about the times when the show was king of comedy and cutting edge, which seems like a long time ago.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical widescreen ratio of 2.40:1 this high-definition transfer is 1080p 24/fps and has been created using AVC MPEG-4 compression (the case states MPEG-2 but this is not the case). I'm pleased to say the image presentation is simply beautiful, the TV 2-D animation of the TV series pretty much limits the depth the show is going to have but the animation for this film retains the 2-D feel but the scope and depth is much improved especially with the use of shading and seemingly endless amounts of background information within the frame. The transfer displays this detail in crisp and vibrant presentation. The film's low runtime and the use of a 50GD disc also add to the quality of the image. Colors are what really stand out here, they are lush, bold and incredibly vibrant, blacks are deep and the print is about as flawless as they come for an animated film. The animation lines are defined and smooth without any pixilation or line breaks, there were no compression related flaws, no edge-enhancement and no grain in a word this is a brilliant transfer.

Audio

Three audio tracks are presented on this release, an English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, as well as standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its DTS-HD track, the DTS-HD track is presented at 48kHz/24-bit. The surround mix offered a lot of depth and felt very dynamic but wasn't as aggressive as I would have liked. The dialogue was presented well and came across clear and distortion free, ambient surrounds made their presence felt albeit subtly which is what they should be. Effects surrounds and directional sounds all appear natural and well mixed within the sound space and the films score adds further depth to the immersive nature of the track. It's not entirely overpower even with the more intense action-orientated sequences like the dome explosion but it's still a decent enough sound mix.

Optional subtitles are included in English, Cantonese, Korean and Spanish.

Extras

Fox has released this film with two audio commentaries, a selection of deleted scenes, some special stuff footage, theatrical trailers and a couple of bonus trailers. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by writers/producers James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Scully, producer Richard Sakai, director David Silverman, and voice actors Dan Castellaneta and Yeardly Smith. This track is screen-specific for the most part although a couple of times they veer off into other topics, the track runs a little longer than the film because they pause the film a couple of times to talk in-depth about some topics. The participants comment on original versions pf scenes through the development of the film and address the many jokes in the film, as well as various references, homage's and other trivia about the production. Some of the more interesting stuff is related to the alternate versions of scenes they developed and why they were changed or dropped in favor of what's seen in the finished film. The voice actors don't add too much aside from a moment in the middle of the film where they pause it and talk about the acting process and the privilege it is to perform these voices. Other areas of conversation include the scope of the film and what can be seen in the frame versus how it would have been done for the TV show among other things. The tone is very light and joke filled throughout, bottom line is it's a fun track to listen to.

The second feature-length audio commentary features director David Silverman and sequences directors Mike B. Anderson, Steven Dean Moore and Rich Moore, as fun as the first track the tone here is similar in tone and as a nice surprise there isn't too much repeat information here. This track is mainly from the director's point of view as they comment on what they wanted to achieve with the film as well as the look, style and flow of the sequences from one to the next. They take us through who did what, crack a lot of jokes along the way and basically have a good time watching the film and revealing some cool and interesting production information for fans.

Next up are 6 deleted scenes which feature an audio introduction by writer/producer Al Jean which runs for 23 seconds. The scenes included here are:

- "Levels" runs for 1 minute 43 seconds, Russ Cargill (as originally animated before his character's look was changed) meets with the President to discuss the dangerous levels in which Springfield has reached.
- "Springfield News" runs for 38 seconds, this is additional news footage of the effects the dome is having on the town.
- "DMV" runs for 44 seconds, an angry mod ransacks the DMV.
- "Sausage Truck" runs for 36 seconds, Homer hitches a ride on a sausage delivery truck and ends up eating the entire cargo load.
- "Emperor Moe" runs for 23 seconds, Moe explains to Marge what happened to Springfield while they were gone.
- "Slightly Alternate Ending" runs for 43 seconds, basically the same ending but with one additional shot of Santa's Little Helper, the Pig and the Multi-Eyed Squirrel painting thedog house.

A series of special stuff follows and these are TV promotional segments created for the film's marketing campaign and include:

- "Homer's Monologue on the Tonight Show" which runs for 1 minute 34 seconds and features Homer hosting the show before getting kicked out for delivering an unfunny opening monologue.
- "The Simpsons Judge American Idol" runs for 56 seconds, Simon auditions for the show and the Simpsons dish out some criticism.
- "Homer introduces American Idol" runs for 33 seconds, Homer opens the show.
- "The Lobby" runs for 19 seconds, singing-dancing snack food is attacked by Homer.

Also featured on this disc are 5 trailers for the advertising campaign for the film and include:

- Announcement Trailer - March 06 which runs for 25 seconds.
- Bunny Trailer 1 - Nov 06 which runs for 1 minute 22 seconds.
- Bunny Trailer 2 - Nov 06 which runs for 1 minute 3 seconds.
- The Line/Teaser Trailer - Feb 07 which runs for 2 minutes 13 seconds.
- Theatrical Trailer - June 07 which runs for 1 minute 47 seconds.

Rounding out the extras are bonus trailers for:

- "Alvin and the Chipmunks" which runs for 1 minute 14 seconds.
- "Futurama: Bender's Big Score" which runs for 2 minutes 3 seconds.

Overall

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

 


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