PictureNothing impresses visually as much as a well crafted animation. DreamWorks have put together a lovely clean digital 1080P AVC encoded transfer here. The clean lines, the texture and attention to detail are all highly impressive. The animators have missed nothing and as a result what you get is a visual onslaught of information that your eyes will feast upon. Colours are vibrant without being overly rich or heavily saturated. All the colours remain quite distinct with no bleed evident, which in turn enhances the sharpness. Inky blacks are order of the day coupled with a decent level of contrast. The film is brightly lit with obviously lots of yellow everywhere and there are very few dark scenes to speak of. When Barry flies into the outside world for the first time accompanied by the Pollen Jocks, the mass of colour, detail and images that burst onto the screen is a wonderful sight to behold.
SoundBee Movie comes equipped with a Dolby True HD soundtrack and thankfully it's a good one. Since the voiceovers are so important in an animation it's paramount that theses are catered for correctly. All the dialogue is directed through the centre stage and voices are always crisp, clear and concise. The voices of all the actors never appear harsh or tinny and in fact have a lovely natural sounding smoothness to them. LFE is used rarely but when used, sensibly fills out the whole soundstage in authentic fashion. For example when the Pollen Jocks fly out you can feel the depth and layers in the sound solidified by the bass. It's a reassuring feeling. The rears and multi-channel panning is also used surprisingly to good effect at key moments in the film. Take for example when Barry and Adam graduate and are suddenly taken on tour of the Honex Corporation - you get to hear all the ticks, clicks and whirring of the machinery at work all around you. It never sounds a mess and is executed quite precisely.
ExtrasThere are a host of extras to choose from that will keep you busy like a bee.
Audio commentary - (27mins 40secs) Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Hickner, Simon Smith, Christina Steinberg, Barry Marder and Nick Fletcher all gather round to provide their take on the movie. The discussion is very unfocussed and you soon lose track on who is who and what relevance their comments have to the movie. It soon becomes a bit of a get together and a general chitchat about the film rather than the detailed aspects of it.
Lost scenes and alternate endings - (19mins 39secs) There are 3 lost scenes and 6 alternate endings. There are all presented as animators sketch boards with voiceovers. It feels very incomplete as the voices simply sit over static sketches.
Inside the hive -the cast of bee movie - (14mins 51secs) This is a behind the scenes documentary about the cast and the making of the movie. It's presented in glorious HD and is edited in a fast, free flowing manner. Unlike the audio commentary this is quite worthwhile bearing with.
TV juniors - (23mins 20secs) There are 15 short TV style clips that were used to promote the film. It's all rather tongue in cheek and presented as a matter of fact. Seinfeld's brand of humour is prevalent throughout and makes it an entertaining watch.
Live action trailers - (4mins 12secs) Two non-animated trailers to promote the film 'Windshield' and 'Steven'. Both are quite funny and Seinfeld is at it again with his humour. It leaves you wondering why the movie couldn't have been more like this ?
Jerry's flight over Cannes - (3mins 3secs) What the stars must do to ensure publicity! Jerry Seinfeld dresses up in a giant bumble bee costume and flies off a hotel building on a wire in order to promote the movie at the Cannes festival.
Meet Barry B. Benson - (I hr 38mins 45secs) You are presented with a series of questions which you can ask Barry. Once you select the question the response then reverts to snippets in the movie which hold the answer. Considering that everything relates to frames from the original movie itself this appears simply to be a directive portal. Hardly any point if you've just watched the movie
Tech of Bee Movie - (7mins 38secs) A welcome extra here with the animators talking about the technical aspects of the film. It's presented in HD and it's another essential stop if you wish to know more about the film.
We got the Bee - music video - (2mins 13secs) This song was made for the movie and it's quite an uninspiring effort - one to skip for sure.
DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox - (1hr 18mins 19secs) A collection of musical clips from the various DreamWorks animations including Shrek, Madagascar, Over the Hedge, Shark Tale, Flushed Away and more. The kids will probably love this if you let it auto play, so that they can dance and sing along to the tunes. The adults will probably want to head to a quieter room and leave the kids to it.
Trailers - (5mins 58secs) Theatrical trailers for : Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar -The Crate Escape and The Spiderwick Chronicles.
DreamWorks Kids - There are 4-features here that are aimed primarily at kids, but adults can join in if they like! Firstly the feature allows children to create a Bee Avatar. The Buzz about Bees is a short but informative documentary about bees. The Ow! Meter talks about the sting a bee can give a human and how to best avoid. That's Un-bee-lievable - is a Q&A trivia quiz all about bees.
HD Additional content - In addition to the standard extras, the disc allows you to flag on three bonus content extras. Animators corner will give you a pop up box throughout the movie with rough animators drawing board sketches for each of the scenes. Barry's Trivia Track, pops up snippets of information whilst you are watching the movie. Similarly The World of Bees provides pop ups with trivia and facts about the actors and the voiceovers. My menus allows you customise the menus into three themes based upon Barry, Vanessa or Mooseblood.
VerdictJerry Seinfeld wrote and produced Bee Movie and it's clear that he's certainly been a busy bee. Not only that he's been an influential one in order to get DreamWorks to make this movie and the combination of the two should really have been a formidable one.
Bee Movie certainly explodes onto your screen and visually the film has you buzzing from the start. It's a given that any decent animation or cartoon will have a ready audience of viewers who wish to be enthralled and enveloped by weird and wonderfully colourful alternate worlds. The high definition images are wonderful but to be fair it's not DreamWorks best effort and in comparison recent Pixar productions still nick it for me. The disc is accompanied with an excellent loss-less soundtrack and for the money, technically you cannot go wrong with the disc. The host of extras also help in making it a VFM purchase should you be on the cusp of deciding whether to buy or not.
So, where does it all go wrong for Bee Movie ? It's got a whole host of stars and the voiceovers should really have put it into a class of its own but the movie fails to gel together. What should have been a standout, laugh out loud production turns into a rather overly sweet children's movie. No doubt children will like it but the accompanying adults will feel that they have sat through far better.
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