The French surround is one of the best I've ever heard, with excellent frontal separation and plenty of rear ambience, it rivals its 5.1 brother in quality and loudness, very impressive.
Next up we have Race the Black Planet which is an overall making of the film and it covers a lot of detail in its run time. A large portion is devoted to the insistence of Favreau to use practical effects, that is visual effects on set rather than rely on GC, a decision that ultimately make the film something special, with a large section apportioned to the use of the gimble on which the house was built. This meant that they never shook the camera, they moved the house and the film looks all the better for it. There are interviews with all the major cast and crew in this terrific little feature.The Right Moves concentrates on the story of the film and the adaptation of Allsburg's original story and Favreau's take on it. Again there is plenty of information here with interviews from everyone that had an input into the film.The cast featurette concentrates on the actors of the film, how they were chosen and has plenty of behind the scene information. What comes across is that the two boys really had a ball making the film and it was their chemistry that really makes it all work. Nice little segment about prosthetic teeth made for Jonah Bobo so as to keep correct continuity.
Miniatures details the large scale models that were built for the film, from the house to the Zorgon ships. I've always thought models look so much better than CG, and always look so much better when supplemented by it. This is exactly what was done on Zathura and when you see the models in the behind the scenes material you can really appreciate the skill of the artist, much information and a very worthwhile watch.
World according to Chris Allburg is an extended interview with the author and artist. He speaks very readily about his past, his inspirations and about his work. There are plenty of his pictures to view as he talks. It is an interesting listen to an interesting man.
Zorgons robots and frozen Lisa details all the work for the film completed by Stan Winston creations. The made all the practical monsters, the Zorgons and the robot, by a combination of on set practical suits and supplementary CG. It is the reason why the effects look so good, especially the movement of the robot. It has real weight when it moves, and that is because it has real weight because it is there. There is a lot of detail on the model made for Lisa when she becomes frozen, not quite so interesting this portion, but other than that this is another excellent little feature.
Making the Game details the design and manufacture of the Zathura board game, there are interviews with the concept designers and model makers whose job is was to make Favreau's vision into reality. What I find quite extraordinary is the amount of complicated mechanisms that were needed to make this relatively simple game work, after all such things did exist in a bygone age and they worked quite happily without the need for sophisticated computers! However another enjoyable extra.
Finally there are previews to recent releases and DVDs but I don't count those.
Zathura seems to be splitting its audience, much as it has split my family. There are those that adore the film and can't get enough of it (my kids) against those that think it is a little too complicated and deep for a kids film and too wild to be taken seriously and as such it remains uncomfortable in the middle ground (myself). However there is no denying the spectacle, there is much to see and if you switch off much to enjoy, the more I get to see it the less I worry about its short comings and I think Zathura may find its biggest audience in the DVD market. As a DVD package, they don't come much better, with a great picture, top notch sound and enough quality extras to keep everyone happy this has to be one of the best value DVDs out there. And because of that I do recommend this title.
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