Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

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Released 31-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind The Tunes
Featurette-Bang, Crash, Boom!
Deleted Scenes
Additional Footage-Whizzard Of Ow
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Looney Tunes Collection
DVD-ROM Extras
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 87:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Joe Dante
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Brendan Fraser
Jenna Elfman
Steve Martin
Timothy Dalton
Heather Locklear
Joan Cusack
Bill Goldberg
Don Stanton
Dan Stanton
Dick Miller
Roger Corman
Kevin McCarthy
Jeff Gordon
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music John Debney
John Frizzell
Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Hebrew Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Hebrew
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Finally Warner Bros. have made a feature film worthy of the Looney Tunes Characters. Several years ago I remember how bitterly disappointed I was with Space Jam and its juvenile use of Warner's animated gang. Thankfully, director Joe Dante (Gremlins 1 & 2, Innerspace, The Howling), a past master at blending adventure with comedy seamlessly integrates the legendary Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny into a live action adventure worthy of their participation.

    Hapless security guard and aspiring stuntman D J Drake (Brendan Fraser) finds himself lumbered with an unemployed Daffy after studio executives fire the rambunctious duck due to poor ratings. To make matters worse, Drake's father (Timothy Dalton), who also happens to be the biggest star in the industry, is kidnapped by the ACME corporation, run by an insane Steve Martin, in order to locate a diamond known as the Blue Monkey. With the help of Daffy, a beautiful young production executive (Jenna Elfman) and the incomparable Bugs Bunny, Drake must find his father before the evil ACME corporation locates the Blue Monkey and destroys mankind.

    Like Who Framed Roger Rabbit before it, Looney Tunes: Back In Action brilliantly combines traditional animation with live performances. Not once did I find myself distracted by the contrast - the interaction has been seamlessly combined by the talented special effects technicians. The film's storyline is unquestionably a convoluted mess of ideas and gags, but the experienced Joe Dante manages to hold it all together. Dante wisely realised that the human cast should be secondary to the animated legends and steers the production in this direction. These Looney Tunes are not the sanitised children's version that helped Michael Jordan win an intergalactic basketball game - they are the wicked, adult-oriented tunes that ran riot in the early 1950's. The film is littered with in jokes, sight gags, homages to classic films and most importantly clever humour. Dante's films always have a wickedly black thread of humour running through them and Back In Action is no exception. His talents were always suited to the Loony Tunes universe and it is to the credit of Warner Bros. that they chose Dante to helm what was one of their tent pole films of 2003. Unfortunately, the film fared poorly at the box office, but the future cult status of Dante's extravaganza will be assured by those of us who enjoy an intelligent quality production.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Warner Home Video have simply outdone themselves with this transfer. Without a doubt this is one of the finest looking prints I have ever seen brought to our beloved DVD format.

    Back In Action is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2:40:1 and is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen viewing.

    Sharpness levels are strong with no aliasing or any other deficiencies hindering this glorious transfer. Shadow details are exemplary, with strong blacks and perfectly rendered background information. There are a lot of throwaway gags to be found in this film involving the many characters from Warner's animation stable. These gags for the most part take place in the distant background, which could have been troublesome and undetectable in a questionable transfer. Luckily, this transfer has such a finely detailed image that these scenes are never lost and add so much more to this exuberant film. There are no grain or low level noise problems to be found anywhere.

    The film's colour palette is where this film reaches a higher quality level than most. I was floored by the wealth and richness of the colours on display. This is simply a moving work of art. The sequence in Las Vegas highlights the brilliance of the colour design and is a testament to the boundless skills of cinematographer Dean Cundey.

    There are no film artefacts or any blemishes to be found during the film.

   As I stated earlier this is one of the best looking DVDs on the market. Warner Home Video are to be commended.

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

Audio

    The film has been given two audio soundtracks in Dolby Digital 5.1, one in English the other in Hebrew.

    Dialogue is always clear and never loses clarity during the on screen mayhem that overflows the film's soundtrack. There are no audio sync problems with this transfer.

    The film's music is by Jerry Goldsmith, and as usual with this talented composer the material is more than appropriate and enhances the on screen action with panache.

    The 5.1 surround channel usage is excellent. Directional sound fields are given a tremendous workout. This is most apparent in the rear channels. Sound effects are hurled from one side of the room to the other with barely a lull in the action to disrupt this 87 minute audio ride. A first rate 5.1 mix.

   The subwoofer gives its all and provides a wonderful reverberation base to the proceedings. Great work.

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Snippets from the film with an animated Daffy or Bugs guiding you through the menu.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes Behind The Tunes

    Running just shy of 10 minutes, this is a disappointing brief look behind the scenes hosted by Bugs and Daffy. It actually plays like a glorified trailer and offers little real production information. Disappointing.

Featurette Bang Crash Boom

    A brief 8 minute look at the problems associated with mixing live performers with animated creations. This mini featurette also explains how some of the larger stunts were handled. There are interviews with members of the cast and crew, but on the whole this is a missed opportunity.

Deleted Scenes

Cartoon "Wizard Of Ow"

    This is more like it. We have an all-new cartoon featuring that lovable coyote and the ever elusive road runner. Anyone who enjoyed the wild antics of this pair during their childhood will relish this new adventure.

Theatrical Trailer

    The film's trailer delivered in anamorphic widescreen.

Trailer

    A trailer for the new Looney Tunes Collection being released on DVD.

DVD-ROM Extras

R4 vs R1

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

    All versions of this film currently available are the same.

Summary

    Looney Tunes: Back In Action is another solid outing for director Joe Dante. Although not in the same league as some of his earlier classics like Gremlins and Innerspace it is nonetheless an excellent family adventure that will please both old and young alike. The disc has a stupendous transfer, but the extras are sadly lacking. Hopefully sometime in the future when Back In Action's cult status is assured this will be rectified.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Monday, April 12, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

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Comments (Add)
A new 2-DVD 2-DISC version on ezydvd: http://www.ezydvd.com.au/item.zml/226213 - Loose Tongue
New 2 disc version - Anonymous
2-Disc Version Old And Probably Unavailable - Neon Kitten