The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)

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Released 8-Sep-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens Main Menu Audio & Animation
Music Video-Paul Simon - Father And Daughter
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 81:43
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Cathy Malkasian
Jeff McGrath
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Lacey Chabert
Tom Kane
Tim Curry
Lynn Redgrave
Jodi Carlisle
Danielle Harris
Marisa Tomei
Rupert Everett
Flea
Case ?
RPI $31.95 Music Drew Neumann
Paul Simon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
Czech
Icelandic
Italian
Hungarian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The Wild Thornberrys Movie is the first feature length outing for the characters of the similarly titled Nickelodeon children's cartoon series. It tells the story of the adventurous Thornberry family - father Nigel (Tim Curry) makes wildlife documentaries for a living, and his wife Marianne (Jodi Carlisle) is the long-suffering camera person. They are joined on their endless nature safaris by two daughters - sulky Valley Girl Debbie (Danielle Harris) and adventurous Eliza (Lacey Chabert) - as well as Eliza's chimp Darwin (Tom Kane) and the annoying adopted jungle boy Donnie (bass player Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers).

    Eliza is the heroine of the series, and the movie. She has been given the ability to speak to animals in their own language after saving an African Shaman from magical imprisonment as a warthog. Frustratingly for Eliza, she cannot share her secret with anyone else, or she will have the ability removed. Still, it allows her to communicate with animals - especially her best friend, the ever so plummy Darwin.

    In this adventure, the family are travelling through Africa and Nigel intends to take them to a remote valley in the Congo. There they hope to witness a mythical migration of elephants during an eclipse - reputed to have happened for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, while playing with three cheetah cubs, Eliza witnesses a group of poachers making off with one of the cubs. Her grandmother, who is along for the trip, becomes concerned that Eliza is not safe in such harsh terrain and insists that she is sent to a boarding school in England.

    Needless to say, Eliza is like a fish out of water amongst the plummy English girls, and even the appearance of a stowaway Darwin cannot make her feel at home there. One night, the Shaman appears to her in a dream, telling her that the cub is still alive and she should return to Africa and rescue him from the grasp of the poachers. Eliza and Darwin are soon making their way back across Africa in search of her family and the stolen cheetah cub, Tally.

    The Wild Thornberrys Movie is an enjoyable and inoffensive romp that parents can enjoy without too much effort, and that the pre-teens of the household are likely to enjoy several times. It can veer towards over-sentimentality on occasion, but most kids will find the pro-environment stance appealing and the antics of Donnie, Darwin and the Thornberry clan genuinely funny. The voice acting is all of a high standard, and the regulars are joined in the movie by the likes of Lynn Redgrave, Marisa Tomei and Rupert Everett. The DVD has very few extras, which is a little disappointing, but the movie is certainly a worthwhile watch for young fans of the series. Recommended as wholesome family entertainment.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this disc is very good.

    The film is presented in a widescreen ratio of 2.35:1, which is the original theatrical aspect ratio. It has been 16x9 enhanced. With an average bitrate approaching 9.3 Mbps, it is not surprising that the video quality is everything we have come to expect from recent animated features.

    The overall transfer is nicely sharp. There is no distracting grain or pixelisation at any point.

    Black levels (as might be expected in an animated feature) are deep and solid, and there is never any problem making out shadow details. There is no significant low level noise on show. Colours are vivid and bright throughout, with no evidence of colour bleeding. The boarding school and jungle allow for different palettes to be featured, and they are used appropriately, with the African plains looking suitably earthy versus the greens of the English gardens. This is a warm and lively transfer indeed - you can almost feel the heat of the yellow African sun, and the glow of the purple and orange sunset radiating from the screen. Skin tones are true to those seen in the television show.

    The transfer has no MPEG artefacts. Aliasing was not in evidence at any time on my system. Edge enhancement, digital smearing and macro blocking are all absent.

    The transfer does have a very few minor film artefacts but these will pass most viewers - and all kids- unnoticed. This is a very clean transfer indeed.

    The English subtitles are very good, being well timed and easy to read. They stick fairly closely to the dialogue, with only minor edits for brevity.

    This is a dual-layer, single-sided (RSDL) format disc but I did not notice the layer change.

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

Audio

    The overall audio quality of this disc is very good.

    The English audio track is in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps and is free from any major blemishes.

    Dialogue was always crystal clear and is never drowned out by the sound effects or excellent musical score. Audio sync is constrained by the fact that this is an animated feature, but was perfectly fine in that context.

    The main Thornberrys theme is credited to Drew Neumann and the overall score is great fun. Highly reminiscent of The Lion King, it manages to evoke the rhythms of Africa perfectly well. Much of the success of the soundtrack can be credited to the fantastic Oscar nominated song Father and Daughter (by Paul Simon), and the great incidental music from Youssou N'Dour and a range of other artists (from Tom Jones and The Pretenders to P. Diddy.

    The soundstage is highly enveloping from the opening seconds of the film. Whilst much of the dialogue obviously emanates from the front speakers, the surrounds are used almost constantly to provide musical support and also some great ambient effects such as rain falling at 29:30 or chattering girls at 19:19. There are numerous examples of cross soundstage panning effects (motorbikes and cars for instance at 9:58), front to rear pans (the stampede at 4:38) and localised effects (Donny dropping down at 34:22). The storm around 60:00 allows all of the speakers to get a nice workout.

    By comparison, there isn't too much in the way of heavy LFE activity from the subwoofer, but it still sees considerable use for musical support and the occasional spot effect from the usual suspects of engines, thunder and the like. I felt it could have been used more effectively for the stampeding of animals and particularly the march of the elephants.

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

Extras

    The extras are very limited, which is disappointing for a children's DVD in particular.

Menu

    The menu is a lively, humorous, animated affair accompanied by a loop of music from the film. It allows the opportunity to play the movie, select the audio and subtitle language, one of eighteen chapter stops, or play the following extra features:

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented letterboxed at 1.78:1 and not 16x9 enhanced, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 kbps, it runs for 2:19.

Music Video

    Father and Daughter is presented fullscreen at 1.33:1 (and thus not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. It runs for 3:59 and features Paul Simon playing and singing, while letterboxed clips from the film are played, intercut with footage of real African wildlife. This is a great song, well deserving of its Oscar nomination.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 version of this DVD appears to contain an additional (Pan and Scan) full screen edition of the film and a few trailers. Unless you desperately want a 1.33:1 transfer, I would suggest you buy whichever is cheaper.

Summary

    The Wild Thornberrys Movie is a fun children's film about the adventures of a girl who can talk to animals. It conveys a wholesome environmental message without preaching, and manages to combine jungle adventure and talking chimps with more mundane family squabbles and petulant big sisters. Recommended for family viewing or for fans of the television show.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    There is a disappointing dearth of extra features.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Monday, November 17, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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