The Simpsons Movie Blu-ray Review
PictureThe film itself is ultra wide, in comparison to the television series, coming in at 2.35:1 at 1080p using the MPEG-4 codec. I was fortunate enough to watch a copy of this on SD as Conor bought it before this BluRay disc was available; he's an eager fan. The images are well presented; encoding is a treat with no signs of any blocking on show whatsoever. Obviously no edge enhancement and flesh tones... well what can I say? If you're currently suffering from cirrhosis of the liver then those yellow skin tones are spot on. Truly it is the colours on The Simpsons which really stand out, especially those beautifully coloured blue and purple gradient skies.
By it's very nature the film is flat, after all even in the trailers Moe was advertising proudly that this was in 2-D. Some naturally coloured CGI assistance is on offer, Bart skateboarding through town, the mob on its way to Homer's house, the drive back from church for instance; and in these scenes there is certainly a great sense of depth and movement. Widening the frame for the theatrical release works beautifully. The Simpsons has always had areas of detail in the background and the wider screen on offer here really allows the animators to fill that space with as many characters as possible. At times it's like “Where's Wally?”. Blacks are deep, yet offering up their shadowy detail, at the other end of the scale bright scenes in are perfectly delineated. Contrast excellent, colour fidelity crisp and extremely vibrant.
In comparison with the SD release it's pretty much the same really, the few 3-D effects are much the same, if anything it's those wonderfully smooth gradients on this 1080p transfer that really hit the mark. Some styles of animation are suited to the new formats, CGI for instance as exhibited in the luscious Cars, or Anime like Tekkonkinkreet, however this style doesn't offer that much of a jump upwards. The transfer itself cannot be faulted, that much is true, but there are better examples of animation which really exploit this format and as such I'm dropping this one mark because of that.
SoundThe only English track on offer here is DTS-HD 5.1 As many will be aware that as I view all my high definition titles on a PC I only have access to the 1.5mb DTS core. Still in saying that the audio, like the video before it, is a welcome step up from the television series. The stage is wide and expansive coming mainly from the front stage. Dialogue is always crisp and perfectly clear with, mid and high tones gaining special mention.
Surrounds are in use but it's a sporadic affair, car chases, helicopter sounds as the dome is brought in or a patrol takes place, animal sounds from the woods and outdoors. These add a certain level of subtle ambiance as the sounds themselves are perfectly steers and never in your face. LFE is rarely used but does kick in every now and again, the initial Itchy and Scratchy wouldn't be the same without an explosion or two now would it? Don't be expecting a bombastic track here though, the track offers up only what it needs to.
The background score comes across well; from the opening scenes with The Simpsons soundtrack to Greenday playing "Nearer My God to Thee" as their musical barge descends into the murky depths of Lake Springfield.
ExtrasToo many Fox releases of late have skimped a little in the extras stage so I wasn't really expecting too much from this release really.
- Commentary with Matt Groening and Cast. - 01:41:27
I don't normally put a time next to any commentary because lets face it the commentary lasts the same length as the film, doesn't it? Well not here, it's longer. There's an ingenious technique used here which I really enjoyed. If a certain scene is discussed in detail then the film is actually paused whilst the filmmakers continue the commentary over the top. This works incredibly well I find, the scene in question remaining on screen rather than the viewer being distracted by other images flying about.
This is one of those soundtracks that you just love, all members are not really talking to the viewer per-se they are discussing the film between themselves. Joking with each other as they remember certain scenes, it's an engaging and enjoyable track which everyone should pay some attention to. Plot and individual scene changes were discussed (I wish they had left "Stolen Bible Amnesty Day" in on the church's notice board!), which directors are credited with what scenes, would they get Bart's do-do past the censors. Really give this a look, it's well worth it, if only for Yeardley's (Lisa) voice, that's a hoot in itself.
- Commentary with Animating Directors.
A more standard commentary with the running time this time the same as the movie. It's a good enough commentary, a little more technical than the first and still engaging enough with affable guys discussing their work. It doesn't come up to the standard of the first though.
- Deleted Scenes.
5 Deleted scenes in total, which can be played either individually or on mass. There's not really that much to be seen here but it was good to see Patty and Selma and I for one would have liked to have this scene in the film itself. The commentary discusses other scenes which alas never even made it this far and some of those actually sounded better than what was eventually turned out. It's all relative though eh?
- Homer on The Tonight Show.
Homer presenting the introduction to The Tonight Show before Jay Leno finally arrives on stage; a little weak really.
- Home and American Idol.
First Homer and family judging Simon Cowell as he auditions for a part of presenter on the American X-Factor then Homer introducing American X-Factor. Ok, X-Factor is vogue and The Simpsons have always enjoyed a good dig at what's currently in fashion but they're worth more than this.
- Let's all go to the Lobby.
It's been seen before in the episodes, now here it is on the film extras. The type of film shown in theatres which reminds you that you have one last chance to buy that sweaty hot dog before the main feature starts.
All the teaser, and full, trailers produced to promote this movie.
On first glimpse it seems like Fox have finally gone a wee bit further in providing some useful material. In the end all we get which is of any interest are the commentaries. Bar the Patty and Selma short, the deleted scenes and additional animated shorts really aren't worth the disc space and it's about time Fox woke up and smelled The Hallucinogenic Guatemalan Chilli Peppers. Most other discs are coming riddled with extras, some good, some bad, but at least they make an effort! Fox on the other hand seem content with putting in as little effort as possible.
VerdictLet's be honest, the series in recent years hasn't come up to the extremely high standards set by some episodes from series 4 though to 12, it's impossible to continue such a high standard of consistent work; I feel that the movie itself falls into the latter stages of The Simpsons history. It's enjoyable, it's funny and most, but alas not all, favourite characters have a look in; it doesn't though match any of my favourite earlier episodes.
For some it will and that's fine, after all, once a Simpsons fan always a Simpsons fan. The BluRay release is much the same as it's SD counterpart; the same extras, better sound and much the same video which is only eclipsed by some wonderful colourings. This has to be recommended to any Simpson fan, those collectors who are buying up all these boxed sets will want to have it in their collections for completeness, for everyone else I feel that a rental is probably best suited as unlike some of the episodes it doesn't have too much of that re-view factor.
I enjoyed the film, I had a great laugh at the first commentary, but as a package it comes up somewhat short, not because it's bad per-se but because you know there's been better. So gentle reader I thank you for reading this review now get out, and please come again!
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- Commentary with Matt Groening and Cast. - 01:41:27