The Little Polar Bear (Kleine Eisbär, Der) (2001)

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Released 3-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Lars DVD Guide
Biographies-Character-About The Animated Characters
Storyboards-How Does Lars Learn To Walk?
Game-Create Your Own Polar Bear Movie
Theatrical Trailer
Music Video-No Angels: There Must Be An Angel
Game-Create Your Own Polar Bear Music
Game-Jigsaw Puzzle, Guessing Cards, Catch The Lemmings
DVD Credits
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 74:02
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (42:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Thilo Rothkirch
Piet de Rycker
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Mijail Verona
Maximilian Artajo
Jochen Busse
Mike Krüger
Bernd Stelter
Ingolf Lück
Vanessa Petruo
Jeanette Biedermann
Dirk Bach
Sandro Blümel
Harry Rowohlt
Adak Azdasht
Wolfgang Völz
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Nigel Clarke
Michael Csányi-Wills
Michael Braun


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Little Polar Bear is an animated film, mainly hand drawn but assisted using computer graphics, based on the series of children's books starring Lars (a young polar bear) written and illustrated by Hans de Beer. The plot is a combination of several of the books, and therefore comes across as a series of stories rather than one long tale. Most of the story is taken from Little Polar Bear, but there are elements of other stories like The Secret Hideout and You Can Do It!.

    The film starts with a prologue about Mika (Mike McConnohie) receiving news about the birth of his new son, Lars (Wesley Singerman). This joyful news disturbs the bears' hunt for seals, and makes three bears angry: Brutus (Daran Norris), Bert (Neil Kaplan), and Boris (Tom Fahn).

    The first story is about Lars befriending a little seal called Robby (Brianne Siddall), much to the consternation of the bear and seal communities. It also introduces Lars' family and friends:

    The second story is about Lars falling asleep on a piece of iceberg that breaks off and starts drifting. By the time he wakes up, he finds himself at sea and eventually lands in Africa. There he meets Henry (Steve Blum) the hippo, but how will he be able to get back?

    In the last story, all the fish are gone because the fishing tanker has captured them all. How will the bears, seals and fishing village find food?

    I found the film easy to watch and quite enjoyable. It should be fun for very young children, but those slightly older will quickly find the simplistic storyline too boring.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is in widescreen 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

   The source appears to be a 35mm film print in reasonable condition, although there is some grain present as well as black and white marks here and there.

    Overall, the transfer quality is good, and I did not notice any objectionable instances of macro blocking or pixelization (common on animated transfers) even though I was looking really hard. There are some instances of minor posterization, but that's about it.

    The overall look of the transfer is ever so slightly on the soft side, although detail levels are quite acceptable. There are quite a lot of instances of translucent overlays which I suspect were digitally composited. These are normally quite difficult to achieve by hand, and provide an additional level of detail for water scenes.

    Colour saturation is good, pretty close to perfect I would imagine, although the overall transfer looks slightly "flattish" in terms of contrast.

    There are multiple subtitle tracks: English, French, Italian, Dutch, English for the Hearing Impaired, and Italian for the Hearing Impaired. I engaged both English subtitle tracks and they appeared identical apart from occasional dialogue attribution in the Hearing Impaired track.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs in Chapter 8 at 42:37. It is not noticeable as it occurs at the end of a scene after a fade to black.

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

Audio

    There are 4 audio tracks on this disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), and Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s).

    The English audio track was pleasant enough to listen to. I was surprised to find that the surround channels were engaged quite frequently, and not only for background music ambience. The subwoofer channel is only minimally engaged.

    Dialogue was crystal clear and easy to understand. There were no issues with audio synchronization, and the characters' lips even appear to be mouthing in English.

    The background music is mainly orchestral instrumental (original music score by Nigel Clarke and Michael Csányi-Wills), but there are a few songs in the film that the characters sing to. The end title music is a cover of an old Eurhythmics song called There Must Be An Angel sung by No Angels.

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

Extras

    The extras on this disc are mainly geared towards a young audience.

Menu

    All menus are 16x9 enhanced but static. The main menu includes background audio.

Featurette- Lars DVD Guide (1:50)

    This is a short animated video of "Lars" giving a tutorial on how to navigate the DVD. Useful for very young children, or electronics-challenged adults! The video is presented in 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and features four audio tracks (English, French, Italian, Dutch) all in Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) as well as a number of subtitle tracks (similar to those for the main feature).

Biographies-Character- About The Animated Characters

    There are a set of short audio only voiceovers by "Lars" as he introduces the major characters in the story, accompanied by a still from the film.

    The characters introduced by "Lars" are:

Storyboards- How Does Lars Learn To Walk? (0:44)

    This is a very short featurette showing how animation is achieved through multiple frames sequenced together. Initially a set of storyboards are presented at a rapidly increasing rate until the eyes perceive the drawings as "moving." The featurette is presented in full frame and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/)s, although it is also subtitled similarly to the main feature.

Game- Create Your Own Polar Bear Movie (0:27)

    These are three short video segments, and you get to choose which order you want them presented in. "Lars" explains how to stitch the segments together in an introductory voiceover. It is presented in full frame and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/)s, although it is also subtitled similarly to the main feature.

Theatrical Trailer (1:34)

    This is presented in 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). It is also subtitled similarly to the main feature.

Music Video- No Angels: There Must Be An Angel (3:48)

    This is presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). It is also subtitled similarly to the main feature.

Game- Create Your Own Polar Bear Music

    This allows you to "mix in" up to three Foley effects to a music loop. The Foley effects are the sound of Caruso falling into the snow, Lars falling into the water, and Caruso catching a lemming.

Game- Jigsaw Puzzle, Guessing Cards, Catch The Lemmings

    These are three simple games (all in full frame):

Jigsaw Puzzle
This allows you to assemble a six piece jigsaw puzzle
Guessing Cards
This shows six pictures, and then from memory you have to remember which is which.
Catch The Lemmings
Using the cursor keys, position Caruso so that he will be able to catch ten lemmings before they fall.

DVD Credits

    This almost qualifies as an Easter egg as it is hidden within the "Languages" submenu.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    DVD Empire also mentions the presence of an audio commentary track, but I was unable to confirm this as no other site mentions it. If we ignore this, then R4 wins due to the widescreen transfer.

Summary

    The Little Polar Bear is an animated feature about the adventures of a young polar bear called Lars.

    The video transfer quality is acceptable.

    The audio transfer quality is also acceptable.

    The extras on this disc are targeted towards a young audience and includes games, featurettes and a music video.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDCustom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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