Animals United 3D Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.39:1 1080p transfer playable in 2D or 3D. Whatever shortcomings the film may have the picture is definitely top tier missing only that sparkle to give it reference marks. Being native 3D we have some extremely good depth to the picture as well as solidity to the layers themselves. Take a look at any animal’s fir; it has its own depth from the animal, as well as the animal itself having tangible distance within its surroundings. Framing is well realised to make good use of depth, some of the best include plenty of fore, middle and background giving rise to looking into the screen. Simple overhead shots of the majestic savannah look very photorealistic, and are given that extra 3D whizz by having birds flying high (out of) the screen. Distance shots, such as looking up, or down, the dam or into the horizon have a terrific sense of scale made all the more ‘real’ from the third dimension. There are a few ‘point at the screen’ moments, such as Hunter’s gun, or water flying at you, but it’s quite tastefully done and while obviously gimmicky, never feels like it. Best scenes would be those set underwater, which use bubbles and other elements to give a superb sense of depth to the environment. Whilst this is all extremely positive the 3D never felt quite natural to the film, I was never fully immersed in the surroundings; there are better examples of the format available.
As to the rest of the picture, well, being GC it’s pretty darn fine; detail is as sharp as the artist’s pen, right down to individual hair strands on the various animals. Rhinos have tough looking skin and water eyes, as do the elephants, feathers on birds are superbly rendered. Only the humans fair rather poorly, being somewhat smooth and lacking in detail, but this is made up for by the sumptuous surrounds, take a look at the resort, or the desert sand, or best of all the water.
The colour scheme is somewhat limited to the yellows and oranges and this gives the overall colouring a light hue; this is not a bad thing, it is after all supposed be drought and this is well depicted by the colours. Individual characters fair very well, be it the grey of the mere cats, or best of all the greens and reds of the rooster. Skies have an amazing blue to them and the landscape shots at evening time showcase deep wonderful purples and oranges, with no hint of bleed or wash. But the colours don’t seem to have the ‘Pixar’ sparkle.
Contrast and brightness are set to give decent enough blacks, though the film seldom uses them, the jaguar’s coat and the vulture’s feathers look suitably sleek though.
Digitally there were no compression problems or any edge enhancement, though there was some very slight banding in some of the skies. This title also suffered quite a lot with cross talk on my system, it wasn’t unwatchable, but it was noticeable on more than a few occasions. In all it’s a pretty good picture, with plenty going for it, though it lacks that sparkle and sheen of the larger studio’s quality.
The anaglyph print displays many of the above qualities save that there is pretty much no colour due to the inherent technology used to produce the 3D; personally I found it unwatchable.
Of the two tracks the disc presents, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and an English DTS-HS Master Audio 5.1, I plumped for the latter, which for the most part is pretty good; there is a wide separation to the front giving some decent directionality to the dialogue (though this could also be a function of the dubbing) which is always clear and precise enabling easy identification of the actors voicing the parts. There is also plenty of surround action, be that ambient effects, wind or water for example, or following the action on screen, gun shots or animal charges etc., there always seems to be something for the speakers to do. Bass is well held, the aforementioned gun shots and animal charges, particularly the rhinos and buffalo, supplying some decent LF effects, though nowhere near a low as some of the best tracks out there. The score comes across well by placing you in the centre of the action and contains some nice stereo effects. As noted the dialogue is well separated, almost to the point of being out of the mix, but this is purely a function of the dubbing. The nature of the script does call for reaction shots of characters and other areas of silence, and that too comes across well. In all a decent aural offering, a bit on the quiet side, but effective none the less.
Trailer– Mercifully this was the only extra
There are many words you can use to describe Animals United, but for the sake of this review I will chose a printable one – bad. A reasonably conscious story about environmental issues and they way a group of animals band together to save themselves is ruined by a nonsensical plot, bad writing, lamentable acting and an overall feeling of nausea as horrendous characters in boring situations fail to engage or entertain. Being a ‘kids film’ is no excuse for this lazy writing. Even the 3D fails to engage. Save time and money and seek out something else instead.
As a 3D Blu-ray package Entertainment in Video has pretty decent picture and sound, though there are no extras, unless you count the anaglyph Blu-ray, which does kind of make this a future proof buy, but why bother ....
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