The Powerpuff Girls-Powerpuff Bluff (2000)

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Released 7-Sep-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Sheep In The Big City-22 minute amusing cartoon (no PPGs!)
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 108:38 (Case: 113)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:28) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Genndy Tartakovsky
Craig McCracken
Studio
Distributor
Hanna-Barbera
Warner Home Video
Starring Tom Kane
Tom Kenny
Tara Charendoff
Catherine Caradini
E.G. Daily
Kevin Richardson
Roger Jackson
Jennifer Martin
Jeff Glen Bennett
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Thomas Chase
Steve Rucker
James L Venable


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Romanian
Bulgarian
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, Pipe-smoking Professor Utonium
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    As everyone knows, little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice, but when Professor Utonium accidentally knocked Chemical X into his girl genesis recipe, the superpower-endowed Powerpuff girls were born. Set in the fictional city of Townsville where "anything can happen", these highlighter-coloured mutants, a cross between Betty Boop and 'pocket monsters', dedicate their lives to fighting crime and all things evil. Maybe 'Pokegirls' might have been a better description of the cartoon characters. Powderpuff Bluff contains 10 'Power-packed' episodes of Bubbles, Blossom and Buttercup doing battle with their nemesis-fiend, the evil monkey Mojo JoJo and other sundry monsters along the way. Accompanied by an irritating, inane corny commentary, I guess Powerpuff Girls sets out to prove that the Americans can match the Japanese in action Manga movies - well they can't. The cartoons are corny, low-budget, action-packed episodes which lack the grace and elegance of  the likes of Dragonballz, Pokemon or Ninja X. The minimalist cartoon style lacks visual appeal and the plots are simplistic, violent baddy-bashing, devoid  of any significant sophistication of plot or character. Having achieved a minor cult-status, the series is undoubtedly popular in the 3-7 year age group and certainly held the attention span of my three year old who rated it better than Pokemon (!) but not as good as Chicken Run (thank God for some vestige remnant of toddler-taste!). At the end of the 2 hour viewing session, however, my young son was pleading for his Nintendo 64 to be plugged back into the telly.

    The cartoons can be viewed as bubblegum, transient entertainment for the kids devoid of any significant deeper meaning or moral substance. If there was a message contained within, it was lost on me. However, serious devotees of the genre will tell you that the three supergirls all have different characters and strengths in a similar vein to the Charlie's Angels. Bubbles (the blue blond) is soft, cuddly and kissy, Blossom (the orange one with the flowing red mane) is a master of thinking and tactics whilst Buttercup (the green short-haired brunette) is a no-nonsense butt-kicking action girl - stereotypes have no business here!  I could wax lyrical about the substance of the plots and the deep and hidden meaning,  as will be found on some American review sites, but to me the humour is crass, lacking in subtlety and the plots are shallow and obvious. If you're a fan of Seinfeld, Malcolm in the Middle and American humour in general you might appreciate the finer aspects of the storylines - I did not.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The quality of the video transfer is poor and although it is just watchable on a domestic TV, viewing on larger screens is virtually unbearable.

    The transfer is taken from film stock, presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and not 16x9 enhanced.

   The transfer was sharp. Shadow detail was non-existent due to the nature of the cartoon production and there was very little in the way of low-level scenery so noise wasn't apparent.

    Colours were a curious combination of pastels with the fluorescent pinks, greens and yellows of the girls. On the whole, they were bright and attractive. Don't look for any subtle renditions of shading or air-brushing 'cos there ain't none - these are poster-like renditions of the storyboard and lack the beauty and vibrancy of Disney or Pixar productions.

    The transfer was marred on the large screen by obvious chroma  noise and less obvious posterization in the frequent expanses of plain colour, particularly evident in the large expanses of blue on buildings such as at 13:26. As previously mentioned, the transfer was sharp but there was no aliasing apparent. The film was also spoiled  by evident telecine wobble throughout the picture which at times rivalled the earth-shaking special effects. The lossy compression of the transfer (never over 5 and usually around 3 Mbps) was evident by the extreme jerkiness of scene panning which was quite nauseating at times (eg 12:10). Film artefacts were endemic throughout the picture and if the transfer had been cleaned up, as suggested by the end-credits, then the original film stock must have been of very poor quality. There were white and black flecks (eg 10:08), hairs (eg 8:02) and even a scratch (at 29:27) evident throughout the transfer.

    There is an abundance of subtitles available - 8 languages in all. The English subtitles seemed reasonably well synchronised.

    Despite the cover claim that this is a single layer disc it is in fact dual layered (RSDL-formatted) with the layer change placed at 68:28. As this is camouflaged in a black scene change, it is not visually apparent.

    For reasons not obvious to me, chapter skipping was disabled (other than to the beginning of the current chapter) which given the shortcomings of the menu (qv) made navigation of the feature tedious.

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

Audio

    The audio tracks are competent although uninspiring fare consisting of  stock crash/bang/wallops accompanied by the character voices and an inane, corny, tongue-in-cheek commentary. The soundtracks are unsophisticated plain Dolby Digital 2.0.

    There are 4 soundtracks in all with dubbed French, Italian and Dutch soundtracks available in addition to the English master.

    The dialogue was very clear and easily audible to this reviewer several rooms away whilst trying to escape the extended reviewing of his 3 year old accomplice.

    The English audio sync was spot on and seemed reasonably so for the other audio tracks

    The soundtrack consisted of a racy musical accompaniment to the action with strains of the Man from Uncle theme coming through and included appropriately synthesised Batman-style sound effects for the action

    There was no utilisation of rear surrounds nor the sub-woofer channel.

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

Extras

    Extras are just about non-existent.

Menu

    The menu is non-animated and poorly implemented. Intermittent lack of highlighting of the selected option (eg episode selection) made navigation through the menu difficult.

Featurette - Sheep in the Big City

    To me, this was the gem of this DVD and was a 22 minute cartoon about the idyllic life of Farmer John and his favourite spunky little sheep (called sheep) which is required by a diabolical General to arm his sheep-powered ray gun. Beset with black humour and snide references at the military, mad (sorry 'angry') scientists and Kiwis, not to mention sheep-loving (I use that term carefully) farmers, I found this featurette to be genuinely funny and entertaining. The feature is presented in 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks in English, French, Italian and Dutch as per the main feature.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Regions 2 & 4 release of this DVD miss out on:

    The Region 1 release misses out on:

    There is nothing compelling here to favour either version.

Summary

    This is a poorly authored, low-budget compilation of the Powerpuff Girls film cartoon series. The video transfer is of poor quality, the sound content uninspiring and the content material not attractive to this reviewer. The DVD is poorly authored and suffers some software bugs particularly in chapter navigation. This release would appear to be a low-budget (Korean-produced) attempt to cash in on the legions of kindergarten fans of this cult show who can direct their hate mail to me at the e-mail address given below. Whilst it may provide hard-pushed parents with an hour or two of relief from their demanding progeny, I would recommend that this be provided by renting a copy rather than purchasing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Sunday, October 28, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersB&W 602 front/rear. B&W LRC6 Centre / Solid (AKA B&W) 500 SW

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