The Secret of Kells (2009)

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Released 9-Mar-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 75:30
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tomm Moore
Nora Twomey
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Tomm Moore
Fabrice Ziolkowski
Brendan Gleeson
Liam Hourican
Mick Lally
Michael McGrath
Evan McGuire
Christen Mooney
Paul Tylack
Paul Young
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Bruno Coulais
Fabienne Alvarez-Giro
Ross Stewart


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Animated kids films are a dime a dozen at the moment and many slip by unnoticed because there is nothing to make them stand out. Others slip by because they do not have the marketing might of Hollywood behind them. One of these films is 2010 Best Animated Film Oscar nominee, The Secret of Kells. This is a wonderful animated film with a visual style and storytelling approach which is very distinct from the run of the mill Hollywood fodder like Shrek 3 or Brother Bear. It does not contain popular culture references, funny sidekicks, robots, spaceships, flying food or lots of slapstick. What it does contain is a wonderful artistic style based on the style of drawings in illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages and an adventure story based around the true history of the creation of one of the most famous illuminated books, the Book of Kells. It is a mostly hand drawn animated film which also makes it stand out from the bunch of other recent animated films.

     The story follows the adventures of a young novice monk, Brendan, who lives at the Abbey of Kells in Ireland in the Middle Ages. His uncle, Abbott Cellach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson), runs the abbey and is obsessed with fortifying the abbey against the Vikings who have begun incursions into Ireland. Many monks from all over the world live at Kells and Brendan is fascinated by their work illuminating books. The Abbott, on the other hand, is only interested in his fortifications and actively stops Brendan from getting involved in the illumination work. The arrival at the abbey of Brother Aidan of Iona, a master illuminator, only heightens Brendan's interest. He has escaped from the Vikings when they attacked the island of Iona and has brought with him a book he has worked on for many years. His ailing eyesight means that he must enlist Brendan's help which unfortunately means Brendan must defy his uncle and venture outside the abbey. Here he must face wolves, mystical beasts and Vikings and he meets a mysterious fairy, Aisling, who agrees to help him.

    The star of this film is the wonderful visuals which have a 2D style based on medieval illustrations and Celtic symbology with some beautiful and imaginative dream sequences. The use of colour is also marvellous as is the excellent, haunting and atmospheric score. The story is also a very different theme for an animated film, based as it is on history. It is a strength from a thematic perspective, however, that the story is not clearly told in some parts relying on the audience to know details of Irish legend that I certainly was not aware of. This is a minor criticism, definitely outweighed by the wonderful visuals, interesting story and very different approach to most animated films. I found that the audience I shared this film with (my 5 and 7 year old sons) were glued to the screen and enjoyed the film thoroughly despite it not being as fast moving or comedic as many kid’s films. Some of the accents may be a little challenging for the kids, however, the visuals and the story will draw them in assuming they have a decent attention span.

     If you in search of something for your kids with more depth than most Hollywood animated films this film certainly rewards young and old viewers alike. Fans of animation will definitely want to check this film out for its excellent and inventive visual style.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is very good.

     The feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced widescreen. This is the original aspect ratio.

     The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout with some MPEG artefacts during pans and fast motion such as at 4:23 and 29:02. The bitrate is lower than some films and the entire 75 minute film is on one layer.

     The colour was excellent showing off the great colours of the film.

     There were no other obvious artefacts.

     There are no subtitles which is a real problem with a film featuring strong accents like this one.

     There is no layer change.


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

Audio

     The audio is good but disappointingly only stereo.

     This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224Kb/s and an English commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224Kb/s.

     Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand throughout although some accents were quite challenging.

    The music by Bruno Coulais is wonderful adding significantly to the feel, tensions and atmosphere of this film. It features Celtic style orchestrations.

     The surround speakers added mild atmosphere when played using ProLogic II.

    The subwoofer added a little bass but only due to my amp's bass management.

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

Extras

Menu

     The menu is still but includes some of the excellent score. It allows for chapter selection.

Commentary - Directors Tomm Moore, Co-Director Nora Toomas & Art Director Rod Stewart

    Once you get past the accents there is lots of interesting information in this commentary. They discuss editing, story development over more than 10 years, artistic influences, the voice cast, small details, the research they undertook and details of the technical production across a number of countries and animation studios. Worth your time.

Theatrical Trailer (1:08)

     I believe this is the American trailer for the film. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

Other Trailers

R4 vs R1

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

    There does not seem to be a Region 1 edition of this film to date. The best version at the moment seems to be a Region 2 Irish version which includes a 5.1 soundtrack in English plus lots more extras including extended sequences, works in progress and a short film. I believe this film would really benefit from the 5.1 soundtrack. There is also a Region 2 Dutch version which includes the 5.1 soundtrack in English.

Summary

    A wonderfully different and visually excellent children's animated movie.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good.

    A commentary is the only real extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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