Nim's Island [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (16th September 2008).
The Film

In the world of films, some movies want to educate and enlighten you. Though these are nice, sometimes something light and airy is just as good and just as appropriate. 'Nim's Island' just wants to have fun, and it does a very nice job.

Nim's father (Gerard Butler), a scientist, takes his daughter Nim (Abigail Breslin) on an uninhabited island to live there and to hunt for a new kind of organism (which, incidentally, he will name after his daughter). The main plot concern the father going out in a boat to find the plankton he wants and getting shipwrecked because of a storm. Nim convinces Alexandra (Jodie Foster), her favorite writer (whom Nim thinks is also the main character in the book series she's read), who's talking to Nim's father through email, to come help her find her father.

Despite the obvious psychological and social development problems that might be arise in this girl, with living alone literally in the middle of nowhere, the movie is fairly enjoyable. Though Nim has no friends, she has an active imagination and befriends the various animals on the island. On the other side of the social scale, Alexandra has lived in the city all her life, yet is agoraphobic. As pirates discover the island and use it as a paradise destination for tourists, Nim has to defend her island, making it crappy as a vacation spot. While this is going on, Alexandra has an adventure of her own: flying from San Francisco to Nim's island.

The plot is actually very simple, which surprised me, but the writers and directors, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, have enough story to go around without things getting long. Nim learns about independence and self-reliance, while Nim has to get over her agoraphobia in order to reach Nim in time to help. Both character arcs are good enough, though because this is a family movie, these are not the most important thing.

The acting is very nice, though is somewhat surprising to see Jodie Foster doing silly slapstick the way she does in the movie, dancing the Kinka dance and hitting her head in various places. Abigail Breslin again gives a nice performance, though the focus of the movie is on fun, so she doesn't get to stretch too much. The rest of the cast (including Gerard Butler in two roles), do a functional job without bringing the energy down.

The directors didn't seem to care too much about realism, as Nim seems to talk freely to the animals, who in return understand her. However, they do manage to add in a couple of life lessons, including loss. The movie is pretty light and the lessons are never particularly explored deeply, but their inclusion is nice.

There's nothing particularly deep or revealing about this movie. It's a fun time for all, though the younger set will probably enjoy it more. It's cute and occasionally funny and sweet.

Video

2.35:1 widescreen, using the MPEG4/AVC codec. Fox's transfer is very nice. This is one of those movies where there are as many night as day scenes, making this a very good disc to see how the transfer performs. Thankfully, the light scenes are clear and open, while the darker moments are still sharp and distinct. The bright skies are white and blue, but never bloom, and the blacks are very strong while still showing nice detail. Skin tones are accurate, and the colours are vivid and as the directors intended. The picture seems to be a bit soft, but this not a very big deal. I also saw no digital work or print defects.

Audio

The primary audio track is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. English and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are also available. I heard the DTS track and was quite content. The mixing isn't stellar, but is very good to listen to. The dialogue is always clear and centered. The other elements take up the other speakers when necessary. Rain, thunder and the ocean waves come from the various, appropriate speakers. The atmosphere is nicely done, though distinction between small and important sounds isn't as expansive as it could be. However, I enjoyed the track, and most people should, as well.
English and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Extras

Fox completely packed this disc with extras, so let's start.

The first thing to hear is the Adventure Commentary with Abigail Breslin and Jodie Foster. The 'adventure' part of the commentary comes with the pair talking about the animals, the locations and their experiences during the shoot. They don't really talk too much about production, unless it includes something that has to do with adventure. They talk throughout most of the movie, and they have a nice enthusiasm for their movie. They mention things like working with animals, the island they shot the movie, and various facts about Australia. They provide a very good track and fans of the movie should enjoy this very much.

Next is another audio commentary with director/writers Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett. These two are definitely not as enthusiastic or lively as the two ladies in the other track, but they do talk throughout, as well. They offer some more technical information, such as shooting in various locations and visual effects. They also mention the symbolism in some of the movie, and the actors. They mention the characters and their journey through the movie. It's a good track, but not as interesting as the previous one.

Some Deleted Scenes are next. There are three entries but the first two are composed of many bits of extra scenes. 'Imaginary Characters' (8:46) has Nim hanging around with Tom Sawyer, Long John Silver and Alice, 'Alexandra's Assistant "Russell"' (4:19) shows the relationship between Alexandra and Russell, and 'The Great Blue Whale' (2:24) is the original way Nim meets Alexandra. None of these are necessary, especially the first set of scenes.

There are also three featurettes. 'Nim's Friends' (6:17), 'Abigail's Journey' (6:42) and 'Working on Water' (6:07), focusing on the animals, Abigail Breslin and the water sequences, respectively. They are a bit on the fluffy side, so people averse to needless praise should steer clear. The water featurette has some good information, though.

A few Start-Up Trailers are also present. 'Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs' (1:53) and 'Horton Hears a Who' (2:13) are here.

If that weren't enough, there are even some High-Definition exclusive extras, starting with 'Nim's Spyglass' Bonus View mode, which is a picture-in-picture commentary for profile 1.1 players. If you don't have a profile 1.1 player, then you can watch the clips on their own without watching the movie. There are 25 clips and the footage in here is kind of repetitive. The interview bits are taken from the three featurettes, but the behind-the-scenes footage not taken from the interview clips is very nice, showing you how various shots were done, like the opening paper montage, or the helicopter footage. Miss Breslin also takes you on a tour of her house, which is kind of neat. You also see a lot of scenes with the animals. Some storyboards round out the various different things you see.

Some Games are next. 'Write Your Own Island Adventure!' is somewhat of a mad libs story, where you choose various words in the story to make something funny, though you can read the story as you go along, so you know the outcome when you press Play My Story. 'Coconut Soccer' is a silly little game that's probably more fun if you don't play by yourself. You're Selkie and you kick coconuts onto the shore, while a counter keeps your score. 'Seaside Shuffle' is a very nice puzzle game, somewhat like Bejeweled or Diamond Mine, where you match like objects to get points in a limited amount of time.

Lastly on this set is Island Explorer Mode, which is a fact track, where you learn about various aspects of the movie, including cast and crew, behind the scenes and locations. You learn things like the names of the lizards they used in filming and various quotes about production from the cast and crew. There are tons of these little text bits, making for a very informative and entertaining track.

Overall

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

 


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