Robbie the Reindeer (Hooves of Fire/Legend of the Lost Tribe) (1999)

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Released 3-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Director - Hooves of Fire and Legend of the Lost Tribe
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Hooves of Fire and Legend of the Lost Tribe
Storyboards-Animated - Hooves of Fire
Biographies-Cast & Crew-Hooves of Fire
Featurette-Time Lapse Footage - Legend of the Lost Tribe
Interviews-Crew-Peter Peake (Director) - Legend of the Lost Tribe
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 58:26 (Case: 130)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Richard Goleszowski
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Robbie Williams
Ardal O'Hanlon
Paul Whitehouse
Jane Horrocks
Steve Coogan
Caroline Quentin
Jean Alexander
Ricky Tomlinson
Rhys Ifans
Harry Enfield
Tony Anscombe
Alistair McGowan
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Mark Knopfler
Guy Fletcher


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Comic Relief is a British charity that raises money through comic activities. In conjunction with the BBC, they produced these two movies. As a charity they were able to draw on some of the best comedic talent available to voice their characters. Ardal O'Hanlon (Father Dougal McGuire in Father Ted) gives voice to our bumbling hero Robbie and is just perfect for the part. In the second film, Jeff Goldblum is the voice of the White Rabbit, and the League of Gentlemen voice the Vikings. These are just some of the actors that donated their time to this production.

    Robbie the Reindeer is similar in style to Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run in both the fact that it is stop frame animation and in the humour, though I think that Wallace and Gromit is just a little sharper overall. The stop frame animation is produced using latex style characters rather than plasticine. The issue of reindeer having very long snouts, which leads to a problem with seeing the mouth and the eyes at the same time, is solved by the mouths being moved onto the sides of their faces. This gives the characters an interesting look. The production used digital cameras which meant that they could view the scenes frame by frame as they were built up rather than having to wait for the rushes to arrive the next day. This is an obvious advantage over older production methods and also has given us what is probably a direct from digital transfer that really shines.

    There are two films on this disc; the first is Hooves of Fire and the second is the sequel Legend of the Lost Tribe.

Hooves of Fire (29:17)

    Robbie is the son of Rudolph, that most famous of red-nosed reindeers. This story is set some years after that fateful Christmas night when Rudolph saved Christmas (well, at least the toy delivery part of it). This apparently did not sit well with Blitzen who has been carrying a grudge these many years. Robbie has been sent by his father to join Santa's reindeer and Blitzen sees this as a perfect opportunity to get back at his old enemy. Robbie is a bit of a clutz and not really sure where he is going in life, but he does have a nose - not one that glows, but one that can unerringly lead him to any specified destination. The rest of the reindeer team are great characters; Vixen is the stuck-up beauty of the bunch, Prancer is a very laid back John Lennon type, Donna does not pull the sleigh but is in the support crew, and many others including an old guy who lives on a mountain and helps out called Old Jingle. Blitzen talks Santa into installing satellite navigation into the sleigh, thus leaving Robbie without a spot on the team. The only way he can get back on the team is to win the steeplechase at the local games, but to do that he is going to need some help and a lot of great jokes and funny references to a host of other films.

Legend Of The Lost Tribe (29:09)

    The reindeer are trying to make some money in the other 364 days of the year that they aren't pulling the sleigh. They decide that the best way to do this is to open a tourist park. Things are not going particularly well and they get worse when an old enemy is let out of prison early. Donna and the rest of the team are kidnapped and placed under mind control to act as exhibits in the new 'improved' theme park. Their arch enemy has returned with help from the White Rabbit in carrying out his dastardly schemes. He is the master of a thousand disguises and a downright nasty piece of work. The only hope is for Robbie to escape and find the Lost Tribe, a lost tribe of Vikings who are little more than a legend.

    The first of the two films is great, the second not quite as good but still very entertaining.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     From what I can tell, both features were shot using digital cameras. Both transfers are very good but the second is superior to the first. The second is completely clear of any problems while the first has some very minor digital noise present.

    Both movies are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced.

    Both transfers are sharp but the second is pin sharp and lovely to look at. There is not even any motion blur as our characters do not actually move between frames. Shadow detail is good in both transfers and there is no low level noise in the second movie. The first has some slight digital noise and a very minor amount of low level noise.

    Colours are wonderfully rendered. They are bright with excellent saturation and no problems.

    There are no MPEG artefacts in either movie nor are there any transfer or video noise problems other than those already mentioned.

    The subtitles are easy to read and accurate up to a point. They include audio cues.

    This is a dual layered disc. The layer change must be in between the various titles on the disc as it does not appear during any of the material.

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

Audio

     The first movie has an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and the second has an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track.

    Dialogue quality is excellent throughout both movies as is the audio sync.

    The music covers a range of styles and works very well for both films. I particularly enjoyed the musical jokes that are included.

    Both films have a good solid surround presence with the first film and its 5.1 soundtrack being very good. The second film is only surround encoded but still works well.

    The same applies to the subwoofer - excellent usage in the first film and good in the second.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is also stop frame animated with Robbie waiting at a sign with his suitcase. It is snowing in the background. The sign has several pointers and these are the menu selections. The first two take you to the chapter selection menus of the two films, the third is Play All and takes you straight into the first film. There is also a special features selection and a subtitles menu. The menu is presented at 1.78 and 16x9 enhanced and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Hooves of Fire: Behind The Scenes (5:38)

    A nice little promotional type featurette produced for the English children's show Blue Peter with a host giving us the rundown on the making of Hooves of Fire. Intercut with footage from the film it is short but not too bad. Presented at 1.78:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Hooves of Fire: Animated Story Boards (28:52)

    All of the storyboards scanned and played one after the other covering the entire film. Accompanied by the voices of the characters but no music. Interesting for a while and a nice inclusion but a bit hard to sit through in its entirety. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 sound track.

Hooves Of Fire: Director's Commentary

    An interesting but somewhat sparse and slow commentary by the director Richard Goleszski. There are some nuggets but they come some distance apart.

Legend of the Lost Tribe: Behind the Scenes (9:37)

    A much better look at the making of the second film with interviews and interesting information. More detailed than the first with more information about the whole process of making the film. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Legend of the Lost Tribe: Time Lapse Footage (1:33)

    This footage covers the animating of one of the characters. It is time lapsed in that we see quick excerpts of the animator at work over a period of time. Shows what the daily work of a stop frame animator involves. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Legend of the Lost Tribe: Director's Commentary

    Again a slight improvement over the first commentary. There is a little more information and a slightly more upbeat presentation but it is still a little slow overall.

Legend of the Lost Tribe: Directors Interview (13:04)

    This interview mentions the storyboard from above as a standard practice when producing this sort of film. This along with other interesting information makes this a good interview.

Cast and Writers Biography

    The usual information for the main cast voice actors and the writers. Presented as text pages at 1.78:1 with no audio.

Easter Egg: Disco Lemmings (1:26)

    On the special features menu, navigate down until the selection is on the Cast and Crew Biographies menu entry. Then press the up arrow once and a question mark appears. Hit Enter. You are taken to hand-held footage of the director and crew discussing the lemmings that appear in the disco scene in the second film. This is followed by the short scene itself. The footage is dark and shaky and presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

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

    The comparison to the R1 release is an interesting exercise in American silliness. Hooves of Fire was originally released in R1 with the same Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack as the rest of the world along with a Dolby Digital 2.0 version of the soundtrack. The second release, which includes Legends of the Lost Tribe (which is Dolby Digital 2.0 on all releases) , has been released with two re-dubbed American soundtracks as the default sound tracks. The original Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks are present but you have to select them and the 5.1 track is missing in action. Considering the great vocal talent that comprised the original soundtrack, this is just ludicrous. The R2 release appears identical to ours.

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    There is no doubt here that we have an R4 winner.

Summary

    This is a must see for those that enjoy this sort of film - the humour is great and the vocal acting cannot be faulted. I popped this on the other day when we had visitors over to keep the kids amused and all the adults ended up watching it as well - everyone enjoyed it.

    The video is excellent.

    The audio is very good.

    The extras are a nice inclusion.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Friday, January 16, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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