Stuart Little 2: Collector's Edition (2002)

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Released 18-Mar-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary
Active Subtitle Track-Show & Tell
Featurette-A Touch Of Evil
Featurette-Life In The Fast Lane
Featurette-Soaring
Featurette-Making Of
Read Along-Stuart Little's Big Adventures
Music Video-I'm Alive-Celine Dion
Game-Stuart's Circle Of Friends
Trailer-Stuart Little 2: The PlayStation Game
DVD-ROM Extras-Web Links; Roof Skate Game; ReVoice Studio; Read-Along
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Stuart Little; Kermit's Swamp Years
Theatrical Trailer-Stuart Little 2
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 74:33
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rob Minkoff
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Hugh Laurie
Geena Davis
Jonathan Lipnicki
Michael J. Fox
Nathan Lane
James Woods
Melanie Griffith
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Flemish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Active Subtitle Track
English
Dutch
Hindi
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Dutch
Dutch
English
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Author E.B. White was responsible for one of the most loved children's novel of all-time. The classic story of Charlotte's Web, written in 1952, has enchanted millions of children around the world, myself included when I was about ten. What you may not know is that it was not White's first children's story. That title belongs to another story featuring animals. Written in 1945, Stuart Little, the story of a mouse adopted by the Little family has also become a much-loved classic. When the story of Stuart Little was adapted for the big screen in 1999, the result was met with a somewhat mixed response from audiences around the world. Some saw the cheeky, dancing and all-round cool mouse as being just a little too hip for the ideals portrayed by White. Others thought he had been brought into the modern age and transformed to appeal to a whole new generation of youngsters who needed the smart and savvy image to be interested. What no-one could argue with was the quality of the animation that saw a CGI Stuart interacting with real life actors. For some background, you may wish to check out the original review of Stuart Little.

    Obviously buoyed by the success of the first film, the producers decided to make a sequel, even though there was only one novel from which to draw inspiration. While not following any real story from the original novel, there are some minor sequences that were in the original chapters - the rest was created by the screenwriters. Thankfully, lending some credibility to the process was the decision of the original cast members to all return for the sequel. Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis play squeaky clean parents Mr and Mrs Little. Jonathan Lipnicki returns as Stuart's big brother George, and best of all, all of the voice talents agreed to lend their tonsils to the animated characters. Michael J. Fox returns as Stuart and Nathan Lane again gets all the best lines as the Little family's pet cat Snowbell. They are joined this time round by Melanie Griffith as Margalo the Finch, and James Woods as the menacing Falcon.

    Virtually picking up from where the original film left off, Stuart is now a fully-fledged member of the Little family. He sleeps in his own bed in George's room, attends school (he drives himself), and eats with the family. He even plays soccer on the same team as George (although he spends a significant amount of each match on the bench). George and Stuart are real good mates and of course are virtually brothers. Of late though, Stuart is discovering that George is not finding the time for him that he once did. George has his own friends and interests and these often don't include Stuart. Saddened somewhat after a rejection for some after school entertainment with a Playstation, Stuart heads for home in his shiny red convertible. However, Stuart's quiet world is about to be shaken up. When a sudden visitor literally drops into his car from a great height, Stuart must take on the role of saviour. It seems it might just be Stuart's lucky day when a very sweet and pretty finch by the name of Margalo lands smack bang in his arms in her efforts to avoid the menacing Falcon. Stuart takes Margalo home after evading the evil Falcon and helps her recuperate. Margalo is quickly accepted by the Little family and she and Stuart spend quite some time together and hence grow very fond of each other. Unfortunately, when Margalo goes missing Stuart believes the Falcon has exacted revenge and kidnapped her. With the aid of a reluctant Snowbell, Stuart hits the road to track down Margalo and rescue her.

    This is pure fun and entertainment that will provide delight to both children and adults alike. The animation has been taken to another level with some superb detail and expression on the faces of the CGI animals. Pure delight all round.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a vibrant, rich, colourful, and all round wonderfully pleasing video transfer with some exquisite CGI that is absolutely seamless in its integration into the real world environment. There really isn't much to complain about.

    Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the transfer is also 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is as sharp as a tack and superbly rendered and detailed. There is no edge enhancement present on the human characters and the CGI characters are finely detailed with minute mouse hairs and scratches on beaks clearly visible. CGI has come a long way even since the original film three years ago. There are no shadow detail problems, no grain, and no low level noise.

    Colours, as mentioned above, are an absolute joy. Primary tones dominate, especially bright, solid and vivid reds and yellows. Skin tones are spot-on. This is certainly one of the more colourful transfers I have seen in some time.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. There was a little shimmer in the form of mild aliasing on a couple of surfaces, but this was very minor. As you would expect for a reasonably big budget recent film, there are virtually no film artefacts.

    I sampled the English subtitles while listening to the audio commentary and found them a little small, though placed well on the screen and mostly complete in their interpretation of the dialogue.

    This is a dual layered disc with RSDL formatting, but after three viewings I still was unable to spot the layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    While not overly aggressive in the surround stakes, this is still a clean, powerful, modern soundtrack that is a whole lot of fun to experience.

    There are four audio soundtracks on the disc. Present are English, Dutch, and Flemish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround English commentary track. I listened to both English tracks in their entirety and verified the presence of the others.

    The dialogue delivered by the human characters is excellent, with an obvious indication that the intended audience is children. There are no audio sync problems. The dialogue delivered by the animated characters is also clear and easily understood. It's a little difficult to appreciate the audio sync here, but generally the animators have done a superb job.

    The score credited to the well-known Alan Silvestri is rather understated most of the time. It allows for some menace whenever the Falcon is on screen, but retreats to the background for much of the film. There are a few songs used throughout that are far more obvious. The likes of Shawn Colvin, Mandy Moore and Celine Dion see plenty of soundtrack time.

    While not overly aggressive in its use of the surround channels, there are still plenty of opportunities where they spring into life. Probably the best example is quite early on (between 10:46 and 11:40) when Stuart flies around the house in the model aeroplane. There is some really decent 360 degree circling around the room as the little plane whizzes about. While the subwoofer is used several times throughout, it is clearly been integrated into the overall soundmix very nicely and you will barely notice its presence.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Much like the original disc, this disc features a whole swag of extra material that has been designed to appeal to both adults and children. There really is something for everyone here.

Menu Animation & Audio

    Nicely themed, these are fun menus featuring Stuart up to all sorts of antics.

Dolby Digital Trailer

    City. I haven't seen this one for a while. I still hate it.

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

Audio Commentary - Rob Minkoff (Director), Jerome Chen (Visual Effects Supervisor)

    Not sure the kiddies will find much in this commentary. It is aimed fair and square at the adults, due to it being primarily focused on shot composition, CGI effects, and the like. Running for the entire length of the film and directly relating to the action on the screen, there are a few anecdotes, such as how the baby was made to smile and throw food, but all-in-all this is a rather mundane commentary that quickly resorts to the 'this is how we did this shot' syndrome over and over. Not the best I have heard and I would have thought maybe a children's film was a perfect opportunity to try something a little original in terms of a commentary.

Active Subtitle Track - Show and Tell

    Every so often throughout the film, a small icon will appear in the bottom right of the screen. Pressing OK on your remote will invoke a small featurette that details something about the making-of for that particular scene. Examples are The Look of New York that the production designer achieved, a map of Central Park highlighting the key locations, and a making-of for Stuart's CGI car. I was unable to find a way to invoke these featurettes from the menus so you will have to watch the film right through to see them all. Most run for a minute or two.

Featurette - A Touch Of Evil

    Running for 7:19 minutes this 1.33:1 featurette is a quite detailed look at the creation of the menacing Falcon, including the selection of the bird, the animation techniques, and the casting of James Woods as the voice.

Featurette - Life In The Fast Lane

    How to make a computer animated film in a little over two minutes!  This 2:05 minute featurette is a humorous and rapid fire overview of how an animated film is made.

Featurette - Soaring

    This is a full making-of style featurette that avoids the usual fluff these things are renowned for. Included is a comprehensive and detailed examination of the CGI and animation processes. Worth a look, especially the SpyderCam system that was used for the aerial shots. Running time is 24:22 minutes.

Featurette- HBO Making Of

    Another making-of featurette, aimed slightly more at the younger viewers. This one does not go into quite so much technical detail. Running time is 23:39 minutes.

Read Along - Stuart Little's Big Adventures

    Aimed fairly and squarely at the little ones, this is a 3:34 minute running mini-featurette that allows them to read along with a brief story featuring Stuart. There is an option to turn off the narration and read themselves (or have you read it to them). Video is 1.33:1 and audio is provided by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Music Video - I'm Alive (Celine Dion)

    Running for 3:40 minutes, this is a 1.33:1 presented video clip of the main theme song that plays over the closing credits. Images from the film are intercut with Ms Dion doing her bit.

Game - Stuart's Circle of Friends

    A rather basic on-screen game that sees six riddle-style questions posed. Simply get the answers correct to complete Stuart's Circle of Friends.

DVD-ROM Extras

    I've finally found some ROM content worth mentioning. Unlike most discs which feature some pointless weblinks, this disc contains some really good, fun stuff that the kids are going to love. When inserted into your ROM drive it will automatically load the InterActual Player 2.0. It includes a game called Roof Skate and some links to Columbia-Tristar sites. The real gem is the re-voice studio, similar to that on the Shrek disc. I'd have to say this one has been conceived even better than that one. You are able to re-record one of the read-along style scenes or even better, re-record one of several scenes from the film itself. The interface is just about the most comprehensive and easy to use ROM feature that I have seen. This is actually worthwhile taking a look at.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Rather basic filmographies only for the principal cast and crew.

Trailer - Stuart Little

    The trailer for the original film, this one is presented in a pan&scan aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is provided by a rather meek Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Running time is 2:29 minutes.

Trailer - Kermit's Swamp Years

    My how the Muppets are starting to look extremely dated in this CGI-savvy world. A direct-to-video release, they really do begin to look like hands with socks on them!. This runs for 1:34 minutes and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1

Theatrical Trailer

    Running for 2:21 minutes, this is a high quality trailer that is presented in the correct aspect ratio (1.85:1) and is also 16x9 enhanced. Audio is provided by a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Let down only by some excessive grain, and the need to basically spoil the best of the film's jokes.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    From the information that I can find, the Region 1 disc misses out on the following:

    The Region 4 disc misses out on the following:

    From the summary above it can be seen that the discs are quite different, though unless the deleted scenes and French soundtrack are a bonus for you, I'd most certainly favour the Region 4 disc with the extra featurettes and superior PAL formatting.

Summary

    Stuart Little 2 is an entertaining film that will find appeal amongst children and adults alike. There are plenty of bright vivid characters to keep the littlies entertained, while some of the hilarious situations that Stuart and Snowbell find themselves in will entertain the adults. Snowbell's lines are the highlight. The film doesn't suffer too badly from the dreaded sequel syndrome that usually sees the second instalments a mere pale imitation of the original. I found this both charming and amusing.

    The video quality is superb. It is of near reference quality, with a vivid, bright, primary colour saturated palette dominating.

    The audio quality is also very good and will surely please.

    The extras are comprehensive with plenty to keep both adults and children entertained. The DVD-ROM content is particularly impressive.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Sunday, January 12, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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