Yogi Bear 3D Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a widescreen 1.78:1 (from the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect) 1080p transfer and is Region Free. Filmed natively in 3D with high definition digital cameras, for what is a throw away film, it really shines on the picture front with plenty of depth to frame as well as some tasteful ‘in your face’ action. Of particular delight is the distance between layers, images are framed to give a distinct fore/middle and back ground, even two shots maintain tangible distance between the actors who are themselves ‘in front of’ the background. The national part setting allows for many establishing distance shots that have a definite ‘wow’ factor; not quite as good as being there, but I’ll wager it’s close; distance tree lines and mountainous terrain behind vast meadow land looks quite spectacular. Up close, characters, CGI or otherwise, have a clear solidity and roundness to them, there is definition to faces, bodies, clothing etc., vehicles have distinct front middle and back, trees have crisp bark, their branches and leaves cascading in front; you feel you can brush them out of the way. In your face moments include Yogi front and centre surrounded by picnic food in another abortive attempt at stealing, fireworks hurtling in and out of the screen, or water splashing out during the insane water skiing or waterfall scenes; actually the waterfall itself looks incredible as the water falls down and away ‘into’ the screen. In all a terrific use of the format that showcases all the benefits of near and far 3D.
As to other picture elements, detail is superb with definition right down to skin pores and clothing weaves; I’ve mentioned tree bark that is so detailed you feel you can get splinters from it; detail is held well into the distance, with the only softening coming from the CG characters, otherwise all is very sharp.
Colours have an almost unnatural brightness to them so vivid are the greens and blues; flesh tones themselves have a ‘cartoonish’ glint to them, probably the intention, keeping in tune with the source material. The park itself fairs very well with deep blue waters and forest greens highlighting extremely well defined hues; bolder colours, such as the fireworks, or Mayor’s poster campaigns, are stronger but equally well defined with none showing any signs of wash or bleed.
Brightness and contrast are set to give decent enough blacks, though the film rarely, if ever, uses them; Yogi’s cave shows the best shadow detail and the most depth in black, though the night time shots are pleasingly blue with the black helping the depth to frame, over and above the 3D.
Digitally there are no compression problems, neither is there any edge enhancement, cross talk barely raise its head and if seen is gone within the next scene change. In all an amazingly good picture that one could argue deserves a much better film.
There are a number of foreign language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks, but I concentrate on the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the most part this is a very competent surround track; there is plenty of surround action from ambient ‘forest’ sounds, to the room shaking fireworks whizzing around the room, it’s just that it take a little while to get into its stride. From the opening logo to the first few minutes of the film are, not lacking exactly, but rather front dominated, this is emphasised when later in the film the surrounds really light up providing an excellent immersive experience; it’s not enough to ruin the track, but it’s something worth mentioning. However, once we are into the ‘meat’ of the film there is plenty to keep the surrounds happy, already mentioned are the forest ambience and firework display, but other effects such as the rapid ride and waterfall are equally as immersive. Bass is held very well, grounding everything with a nice reality, doesn’t plumb the depths as the best out there, but the aforementioned fireworks and waterfall give the sub some decent action.
Dialogue is always clear and precise, sounds very natural, given a little directionality, when needed, and is never in any danger of being drowned out by the lunacy happening onscreen. The score too comes through loud and clear, again, giving all the speakers a thorough workout. Not absolutely precise, and slightly lacking in bass and that curious warm up period give this track a strong eight out of ten from me.
Blu-ray 3D disc
- Fun on the Yogi Bear Set (HD 3D, 1.57) - A very brief featurette with sound bite interviews with cast and crew, plenty of back slapping and chat about making the film in 3D.
- Tour of Jellystone Park (HD 3D, 1.53) - Cast and crew continue to talk about the way the 3D enhanced the visual aspect of the set built in New Zealand to represent an American National Park! Clips from the film help to pad the run time....
- Jellystone Park Jewel: Yogi's Secret Hiding Spot (HD 3D, 2.06) – More of a joke than an actual feature with Ranger Jones finding random bits and bobs behind a tree.
- Jellystone Park Visitor Pic-a-Nic Demo (HD 3D, 2.39) – Perhaps the most worthwhile feature on the set; director Eric Brevig introduces us to the 3D demonstration scene created to show the viability of a Yogi Bear 3D film to the studio. The scene has Yogi, unsurprisingly, stealing food from unsuspecting visitors – for a demo it shows remarkably good 3D and rendering.
- Looney Tunes: Rabid Rider (HD 3D, 3:09) – In what seems to be a recurring feature on Warner titles we have a new Roadrunner/Wile E Coyote cartoon, this time featuring Wile E trying to catch the elusive Runner using an electric walker/rider with typically disastrous results. With excellent picture and 5.1 sound this is another demo for the 3D format.
Blu-ray 2D disc
- Spending a Day at Jellystone Park (HD) - This is a semi-interactive supplement that allows you to explore the map of Jellystone Park. Selecting any of the five locations (Redwood Valley, Jelly Jarring Rapids, Jellystone Lake, Ranger Station and Lookout Mountain) opens to a new page hiding several making of featurettes that run between two and four minutes. The titles tell you exactly what the feature holds and whilst some are reasonably informative all are rather ‘kid’ friendly and simply too bite sized to provide any significant information. The addition of a simple play all function would have made these features far more watchable. Their titles are: Everyone Wants to Be Yogi, Building Jellystone Park, Frog-Mouthed Turtle, Animated Bears, The Rapids, Stand-In Shenanigans, Ranger Jones' Real Life Audition, Baskit-Nabber 2000, Jellystone Park Jewel: Yogi's Secret Hiding Spot (again this time 2D) and Voicing Yogi & Boo.
- Yogi Bear Mash-Up (HD, 3.37) - Cast and crew discuss their fondness for the original Yogi Bear cartoon, but is basically, as the name implies a mash of film clips and original cartoon clips set to a bass heavy tune.
- Are You Smarter Than the Average Bear?- A basic memory game in three difficulty levels; match two food items and clear the picnic table before Yogi steals everything.
- Looney Tunes: Rabid Rider (HD, 3:07) - The same Road Runner/ Wile E Coyote cartoon from the 3D disc, this time in 2D.
- 2D Version – The film in 2D
- A DVD and digital copy of the film
What looks like a great deal of extra material is actually very ‘kid’ friendly promotional fluff; it’s one redeeming feature is that it is all in HD and there is some actual 3D material that is every bit as good as the film in terms of frame depth and quality; if only it could have been a little more serious.
Yogi Bear 3D is the latest in a long line of cartoon to live action adaptations and unfortunately joins their ranks as a barely passable film. Whilst it remains true to the spirit of the original cartoon it also plays extremely dumb leaving little or no emotion or empathy with the characters and thus little or no engagement from the audience; unless of course you are of a certain age when, as is clear from its box office takings, this is the best film ever made due to its talking bear and slapstick humour. With all the actors playing for laughs, even the mildly serious nature of the plot is sent up meaning any potential message is lost in a sea of idiocy. Kids films don’t have to pander in this way, Pixar have proved that time and again, if only all the studios made such efforts, we the public would have so many better films to spend time with.
As a Region Free 3D Blu-ray Warner have provided a spectacular picture and extremely good sound in what can easily be clased as a demo disc, if only the film wasn’t so bad, but is slightly let down buy a lacklustre set of extras – the Road Runner cartoon is a hoot though! With a 3D only disc, a 2D disc, DVD and digital copy this is a typically future proof buy.
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