PictureBridge To Terabithia has a great image, folks. Arriving from fantasy-land with a rich and colourful 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer, the movie stretches across the screen with a vibrant and textured 1.85:1 aspect. Colours are nicely saturated with a purposely heightened warmth, with the woodland, the yellow school bus, the clothing of the kids and, naturally, the various fantastical creatures and settings - half shimmering fairy-glen and half reality - all looking lush and rewarding. Skin-tones are pretty natural-looking despite the transfer showing signs of overly-enhanced tinkering with the hues of faces, and the primaries filling up the picture. But, as I say, this is a production decision that imbues the film with a likeably cherubic tint that suits the narrative to a tee. Blacks are nice and deep, although the film plays out mainly in bright sunlight or well-lit rooms so the effect of bold shadow and heavy foundation to the image is not really tested all that severely. But there certainly isn't a problem with the darker portions of the screen and information within them is never lost.
Detail is very good, too. The forest and its plentiful leaves and foliage look deep and layered, and even if the environment lacks the jaw-dropping depth and intricate detail of the BD edition of The Brothers Grimm, which supplied a sheer visual revelation when it came to presenting its arboreal locale, Bridge still adds a vast amount of complexity and vividness to its image. Edges are crisp and sharp and only the occasionally soft bit of CG detracts from a picture that is bold and, at times, very nicely three-dimensional.
With a source print that is new, the transfer is impeccably clean and free from grain, and with only a very slight encroachment of edge-enhancement and a somewhat less keen overall sharpness than some other top-flight releases around at the moment, Bridge To Terabithia makes for a colourful and delightful treat for the eyes.
SoundAs well as a terrific picture, Disney's modern-day fable boasts a lively and entertaining PCM Uncompressed track, as well. Although the aggression of such a lossless audio mix is toned down with the film being firm family fare, there is very little to complain about. Dialogue is never less than distinctly sharp and clear and there is good separation of it across a front soundstage that is wide and open with spatial depth.
Once we are in Terabithia, the set-up comes to life. The rears are employed quite copiously and there are some great pans across the speakers, such as when the dragonfly assault hums and buzzes into action. Deep, low bass resonates when trees lift up their rooty-feet and there are some nice firm impacts when the children do battle with the balls of fangs and fur (whose name I have forgotten!). Ambience and discrete effects are well integrated into the mix, too, leaving the atmosphere continually bubbling with life. The music score by Aaron Zigman is quite lush and sweeping and the mix really showcases this to great advantage, with the music filling the room and lending a clarity and a warmth to the overall sound-design.
There is also a DD 5.1 track included but, unsurprisingly, this is not as enveloping, nor as warm and as open-sounding as the PCM. Overall, this is a fine track, but typically for such a Disney offering, not aggressive enough to worry the neighbours.
ExtrasAlthough the back of the box maintains that the only special features on this disc are a couple of flaky promos and a music video, there are, in actual fact, two commentary tracks squirreled away in there, too. And this is just as well, as without them, this would be quite a sorry selection for such quietly powerful film.
The first chat track features the director, screenwriter Jeff Stockwell and producer Hal Lieberman. Fast and free-flowing, the trio discuss the original book, its impact and the desire to translate it to film. The usual run of casting and production anecdotes ensue, but the chat is pleasing and full of interesting asides.
The second track is given over to producer Lauren Levine and the two main performers, Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb, who provide a genuinely warm and fondly-recalled overview of their time on the set and their feeling towards the film and what it all means. Obviously more light-hearted than the first track, this is nevertheless a great commentary that, again, adds a lot more colour and insight to the film.
Then we get the fluff. Actually, Behind The Book: The Themes of Bridge To Terabithia (14 mins) isn't all that bad. Despite being shamelessly praise-heavy for author Katherine Paterson - with cast members, librarians and other learned scholars all discussing their personal feelings towards the tale and how its effect has been so popular - the piece is better and more sincere when the author, herself, recalls the real-life events that inspired the story in the first place.
The effects making-of, entitled Digital Imagination: Bringing Bridge To Terabithia To Life is just 6 mins long and really reveals nothing that you didn't already know, or could guess. We are not talking Lord Of The Rings or Chronicles Of Narnia, here.
And then, to round things off, we get a music video of AnnaSophia Robb singing “Keep Your Mind Wide Open”. Folks, I haven't seen this, and no matter how much I like the film and admire the young actress, I can't imagine ever sitting through it. Can you?
VerdictA much better film than its poor showing at the UK box office would suggest, Bridge To Terabithia takes a bold novel and creates an important and ever-topical observation on attitude and alienation, and how imagination can, and should, be sheer liberation. The two child-leads are magnificent at bringing their characters and their fantasy world to life and the story packs an emotional punch that makes that overall “feel-good vibe” all the more important.
The transfer is terrific, too. With a sharp and colourful image and a well-designed and immersive PCM Uncompressed audio, Gabor Csupo's film looks and sounds a treat. The release contains all the special features of the SD edition, and even if they are a little light and fluffy in the promo making of department, they more than make up for it with the commentaries from the makers, and from the kids, especially. I can't help but recommend this film, wholeheartedly.
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