Aquamarine (2006)

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Released 21-Mar-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romance Main Menu Audio & Animation
Introduction-Director Elizabeth Allen
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Awesome Auditions
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Kickin' It On The Set
Web Links
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 99:18 (Case: 103)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Elizabeth Allen
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Emma Roberts
Joanna 'JoJo' Levesque
Sara Paxton
Jake McDorman
Arielle Kebbel
Claudia Karvan
Bruce Spence
Tammin Sursok
Case ?
RPI ? Music David Hirschfelder


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 English 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 tween market has been defoliated of its brightest stars. Hilary Duff and Anne Hathaway have graduated to late teen fare and the Olsen Twins have disappeared off the map. The less said about Lindsay Lohan the better!

Aquamarine may not have any recognised stars but it does have all the right moves for a young girl audience - kids with just enough attitude, a hunky but non threatening guy and a mermaid. As such, it delivers on all counts and whilst it won't necessarily entice adults to watch it with their kids it is a well made and enjoyable film ideal for sleepovers.

Aquamarine had its origins in a book by Alice Hoffman, who wrote Practical Magic. Although it is thrust into a market not known for its discerning viewers the script penned by John Quaintance and Jessica Bendinger has some surprising depths whilst keeping the piece suitably light.

The plot of Aquamarine is a clever combination of the pre-teen sensibilities of mermaids and all things magical with the teen awakening of boys.

In a Florida coastal town, besties Hailey (Lindsay Lohan look-alike Joanna "Jo Jo" Levesque) and Claire (Emma Roberts) are staring at the end of their wonderful friendship. Hailey's mom has decided to make a new life in, of all places, Australia. The girls spend their last days together swooning over Raymond (Jake McDorman), the hunky lifeguard at the Capri Beach Club, their favoured hangout.

One night a vicious storm floods the Club. Whilst checking out the damage the girls find a mermaid in the Club pool. She is not just any mermaid she is a cute blonde named Aquamarine (Sara Paxton).

Aquamarine has her own problems. Her father has pledged her in an arranged marriage. She has but three days to prove to her father that love exists otherwise the marriage will go ahead.

The girls are mobilised into a quest, against their own feelings, to get Aquamarine and Raymond together. The mermaid promises them a wish if they succeed and naturally they plan to wish for the Australian trip to be cancelled. The usual mermaid rules apply i.e. she has legs out of water and can't touch water without getting her tail back. Another rule is added - she has to be back in water by sundown.

As you might expect, there is many a slip along the way to true love. Not only is Aquamarine a "fish out of water" when it comes to humans but the local mean girl is always on the sidelines creating trouble.

There is a certain irony in the fact that the movie is about not wanting to come to Australia as the movie was largely shot on the Gold Coast and uses a host of local actors in the adult roles. Claudia Karvan plays Haileys mum and Bruce Spence is a treat as the scary Leonard. Even Shaun Micallef gets a look in as the mean girls' dad.

As the leads Levesque and Roberts are a good match and Paxton has a gift for physical comedy. McDorman is like a young Sam Rockwell. First time director Elizabeth Allen zeroes in on her target audience with real assurance. My 10 year old was glued to the set and appreciated the message that love is the "closest thing we have to magic".

Come to Aquamarine without great expectations and it provides substantial rewards. It is good clean fun and is suitable for kids 9 to about 14.

Although it had a poor showing at the cinema it has been a success on DVD overseas and can be counted a hit by financial standards. Whilst it may not make any new stars for the tween set it is a likeable film that amply entertains its audience. Mermaids, pre-teen girls and a hunky lifeguard. Anyone over 15 should steer clear of Aquamarine but those left in the room will find a surprisingly good comedy drama about true love and friendship that will be a sleepover favourite for years to come. Shot in Australia it looks good and sounds OK and has some nice extras.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   Aquamarine comes to DVD in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio which is consistent with its original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

The film is nicely shot and full of colour. The DVD transfer is light and bright. The flesh tones are accurate. In a few scenes I thought there was a touch too much glow but I suspect this is present in the original film.

There are no defects with the quality of the source print. I noticed a touch of aliasing on a car grille but otherwise it was free of any problems. The effects team has done a nice job on the mermaid tail as well as a few storm scenes.

There are subtitles for the hearing impaired which give a good account of on-screen action.

The layer change was brief but noticeable on my equipment at 52.45.

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

Audio

  The sound for Aquamarine is English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s).

The sound is fairly good throughout. I felt that the dialogue was a little muddy early on but I couldn't tell if this was a problem with the soundtrack or the voices of the girls. The 4% PAL speedup can do strange things with high pitched voices. Anyway, after a while I either adjusted or the soundtrack became clearer.

The music by multi-award winner David Hirshfelder is suitably upbeat with some good pop-song interludes.

Audio sync is fine considering that the windy beach scenes must have made ADR essential.

The surrounds are used sparingly and bass doesn't really have a big role to play in the film.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Some photographs from the film accompanied by some camera noises.

Introduction

Director Elizabeth Allen provides this "blink or you'll miss it" introduction to the film.

Deleted Scenes

There are 6 deleted scenes, only two of which go for more than a minute. Although it is interesting to watch the scenes it seems clear to me that they were redundant in overstating the messages of the film, such as the need to believe in themselves and the inexperience of the girls in matters of boys.

Featurette Kicking It on the Set

This is really a bloopers reel. Primarily it consists of line fluffs and giggles from the young cast. The short feature is made only less fun by having Property of Fox writ large at the top of the frame.

Featurette-Auditions

Hosted by the director and the producer this is a chance to look, albeit briefly, at the casting process. The video is raw but the segment is fun as we see these young actors working their way into the roles.

Web Links

Details the links to "cool fun" that can be found on the Studios website.

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 Aquamarine contains the same features (minus the introduction) as the Region 4 edition but also the following extra materials:

Commentary by director Elizabeth Allen

Scene specific cast commentary

"It's All About the Fashion" featurette

I can't comment on the quality of the features although one review I read suggested that the commentary was worthy. Real fans of the film should probably check out the Region 1 version.

Summary

    Aquamarine is a surprisingly good tween comedy drama. Well performed and directed it deserves the success it has achieved on DVD.

The picture quality is excellent and the sound lags only slightly behind.

The extras are brief but fun.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, February 23, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DVR 630H-S, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-50PV60A 50' Plasma. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX - SR603
SpeakersOnkyo 6.1 Surround

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