The disc provides a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p transfer that is AVC MPEG-4 encoded. As you might expect with Pixar, and any digital CG animation, the picture is quite flawless in its presentation.
The level of detail is amazing, check out the box that the flea circus travels in, not only can you read all the text but you can see the individual dots that make up the colour, not only is that attention to detail, but that detail at its best! Look too at the texture given to the food grains, the feather detail and flakes falling from Molt (Richard Kind). Everything is well defined and sharp giving rise to some fantastic 3D pop.
Colours are bright and vivid, the blues especially, take a look at any of the ants, or better yet the sky, with absolute solidity with no hint of banding or posterization; take a look too at the shimmering to Gypsy Moth's (Madeline Kahn) wings or the carapace on Dim (Jonathan Harris), the pearlescence given to the various shades, terrific stuff.
Brightness is set to give some decent enough blacks, but the film rarely makes use of them, shadow detail is well seen, the rainstorm or inside the bird being the best examples. Contrast too is set to give strong whites without any blooming.
Of course there are no original print problems, neither are there any compression problems, this is a terrific clean presentation.
Three sound tracks to choose from: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 of which I concentrate on the former.
A very exciting sound mix is pretty much enveloping right from the off with plenty to fill the surrounds. With ambient noise opening up the surround field to include wind, grass swaying and the general clatter of ants at work. It's not overly ambitious and doesn't throw you into the centre of things but is certainly no slouch either. Surround effects are quite plentiful, witness the buzzing of the grass hoppers, or the 'crowd' noise from the circus audience, the thunder and particularly the falling rain drops. LF effects are, again, pretty plentiful with thunder, the hum of the flying bugs and the room shaking thump of the first few rain drops. Bass itself is well situated to give some reasonably deep resonance, but it's not as deep or resounding as the very best out there. Similarly, whilst the surround field is deep, it is not as all encompassing as the very best.
Dialogue is natural sounding, always audible and given directionality when needed. The score comes across using all the speakers, but it doesn't raise the roof. In all this is a terrific effort with plenty to recommend so even though it's not quite the very, very best (in this case my yardstick is Kung Fu Panda) it is still clearly a reference track.
- Audio Commentary
Starting off we have the audio commentary with director John Lasseter, co-director Andrew Stanton and editor Lee Unkrich which is, surprisingly, not quite as entertaining as it should be; Lasseter is a gifted individual and presents himself well, but here he kinda gets bogged down in trying to prove how good A Bug's Life really is. It's not a bad commentary, and the information does come pretty quickly, with the usual casting, script changes and animation discussions, but the whole thing feels a little relaxed. If you caught this on the original DVD can't see you wanting to listen again.
- Geri's Game - 0:04:55 HD
The award winning short about an old feller playing chess with himself in the park. Very enjoyable; curiously letterboxed in the centre of the screen giving boarders around all four edges though .....
- Production featurettes - 0:29:45 (in total) SD
A number of shorter featurettes under this sub-heading take a brief look at the making of the film. Behind the Scenes of A Bug's Life is an entertainment channel ad for the film with the usual praise from everyone involved; Voice Casting looks at the talent involved; Early Tests looks at the evolution of the story during the early gestation period; Progression Demo showcases the Flaming Death sequence at four stages of preparation - storyreel, layout, animation and shaders and lighting - use the angle button to swap between stages if you don't want to sit through the entire segment; each one has a short introduction to what you are going to see.
- Sound Design - 0:13:07 HD
Demonstrates the complicated procedure creating every sound effect for the film.
- Preproduction featurettes - 0:34:10 (in total) SD/HD
An introduction leads us into a series of short featurettes regarding the preproduction of the film. Story and Editorial looks at the writing process and coming up with the final draft; Storyboard to Film comparison looks at Dot's Rescue scene via the usual storyboards, final film and mix between the two; Two Abandoned Sequences are deleted scenes; Research Documentary shows us how far the animators went to capture the essence of bugs; each featurette is preceeded by an introduction.
- A Walt Disney Silly Symphony: Grasshopper & the Ants - 0:08:15 HD
The introduction suggests this was an easter egg on the DVD version. It's a 1934 original cartoon about a happy go lucky grasshopper that prefers to sing and dance and not prepare for the winter unlike the industrious ants, purportedly a direct influence on A Bug's Life. It's joyful and colourful, and in surprisingly good condition, a couple of odd colour and contrast errors notwithstanding.
- Outtakes - 0:08:18 HD
The original and alternate 'outtakes' that play over the end credits of the main feature along with a short introduction explaining the idea behind them.
After another short intro you can sift through the many different design pictures produced for the film.
- Release - 0:06:07
Here we have some posters, the tv spots, trailers and some mock interviews all used as promotion for the film upon its initial release.
- Digital Copy Disc
For your portable digital devices
- Free Ticket to Pixar's upcoming movie "UP"
A code to input into Disney's website
Interesting titles include a glimpse of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Monsters Inc.
- A Bug's Life - The First Draft - 0:10:49 HD
After a short introduction Dave Foley narrates the original story treatment accompanied by some original storyboards; its very different and if anything shows just how well the creative team know what works and what doesn't and that when drastic changes are needed, they are made; of course we all know how far they go when you look at Toy Story 2.
- Filmmakers' Round Table - 0:21:00 HD
John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and producers Kevin Reher and Darla Anderson reminisce about the making of their second feature film; think of it as a short update on the audio commentary above, but with far more vigour. Particularly entertaining.
Although slickly laid out, at the time of writing there was nothing of much interest here, the normal chat and share your scenes which may be of interest to some, but not me.
So plenty of extras to get into, it's just a shame that they are not all in HD. The new material sits well with everything ported from the DVD and barring one all encompassing retrospective I'm not sure what would be needed to make these extras any more significant.
A Bug's Life may not be the best Pixar film, but it is still a superior offering compared to its peers outside of Pixar themselves. It is a simple story well told and with dynamite graphics to boot. OK, it is aimed a little bit towards the younger audience, but there is still plenty to admire and enjoy for kids of all ages.
Once again Disney have excelled themselves in their presentation of a Blu-ray, the reference picture and sound are backed up with plenty of extras to keep you entertained, and while not as all encompassing as say the Wall-E disc there is still enough new material to warrant many re-spins.
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