Monday, January 23, 2012

Meet the Robinsons 3D / 2D Blu-ray Review

Brace yourself for an eye-popping new dimension of imagination and surprises when Disney’s fun-filled family adventure blasts off the screen and touches down in your living room.  Get ready to Meet The Robinsons – in amazing Disney 3D!  Join Lewis, a brilliant young inventor who sets off on a time-traveling quest to save the future and find the family he never knew.  With the help of the wonderfully wacky Robinson family, Lewis learns to keep moving forward and never stop believing in himself. Experience this futuristic fun-fest as it leaps to life right before your eyes!  With three ways to watch – Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD – this 3D Combo Pack lets you have the time of your life on Disney Blu-ray 3D!

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

The movies starts with a baby boy being dropped off at an orphanage and we see him grow up to be a precocious young boy named Lewis who  has become quite the inventor.  Lewis has a ton of ideas for inventions but he hasn’t really found one that anyone would want.  The drawback to his obsession with his inventions is that he’s driving future adoptive parents away and keeping his roommate Michael “Goob” Yagoobian up late at night.  Lewis isn’t really interested in impressing possible future parents, especially after Goober mistakenly points out that Lewis’ real mother is probably the only one person guaranteed to love him.  From that point on, Lewis focuses solely on creating an invention that will allow him to see events in the past by scanning his memory so he can find his mother.
Lewis manages to finish his memory scanner in time to take it to his school’s science fair, but his non-stop building has left Goober exhausted which costs their Little League the championship game when Goober falls asleep in the outfield and misses the pop fly.  While Lewis is setting up his exhibit for the science fair, he meets a young boy named Wilbur Robinson who is worried about a man wearing a bowler hat possibly being around.  The man in question is actually there and he sends his bowler hat (which looks like a small futuristic robot hat) to sabotage Lewis’ memory scanner.  When Lewis tries to present his invention to the judging team but it fails spectacularly due to the sabotage.  With everyone running for their lives, the Bowler Hat Guy has his hat (nicknamed Doris) to steal the scanner.
Wilbur catches up with Lewis back at the orphanage and finally tells him the truth that he’s from the future and that Lewis needs to fix the scanner right away.  Lewis agrees to fix it if Wilbur proves he’s from the future by taking him to the future in Wilbur’s time machines.  Once they arrive in the future and Lewis realizes that Wilbur really has a time machine, he decides there’s no point in fixing the scanner since he can just use the time machine to go back to see his mother.  The two boys get in an argument about it and thanks to their struggle, they crash the time machine.  Wilbur demands that Lewis fix the time machine but Lewis offers him a deal – he’ll fix it if Wilbur will agree to use the time machine to take them back to see his mother.  Wilbur agrees reluctantly but without really planning to follow through on his promise.
The two boys take the busted time machine back to Wilbur’s house where Lewis is supposed to stay in the garage but that doesn’t work out as planned and soon Lewis meets all of Wilbur’s eccentric yet friendly family members with the exception of Wilbur’s father Cornelius.  Lewis learns that Cornelius built two time machines but that the Bowler Hat Guy stole one of them which is how he was able to come to Lewis’ time to steal the memory scanner.  It isn’t long before Lewis discover the surprising identity of the Bowler Hat Guy and why he is so determined to change the past and future.  Lewis also learns that the bowler hat that the Bowler Hat Guy calls “Doris” is actually one of Lewis’ future inventions labeled Dor-15 that he later discarded which left the robotic hat on a quest for revenge against Lewis which is why the two villains teamed up.   To stop a dark future where the robotic hats take over the world, Lewis has to travel back to the past and the future to fix things to change the path of history.
This is a fun movie but it’s a slight one and one that probably won’t stay with you five minutes after watching it.  The story is pretty basic and the movie’s message of embracing your family no matter how weird they are is a valid one but fairly simplistic.  This movie has more in common with Chicken Little than say Toy Story.  If this movie had been done by Pixar it really could have been something, but despite it’s familiar and safe script, there are some good things to recommend about it.  The addition of the Bowler Hat Guy, a mustache-twirling villain  that’s straight out of a melodrama is something you don’t see much of anymore.  With his long spindly legs and long thin body, he moves like a spider and looks more menacing than he really is since most of his ideas don’t really work.  He is completely dependent on his hat to do all of the thinking.
The rest of the characters are pretty generic except Wilbur’s family which are made more eccentric than they needed to be since it’s unlikely that EVERY member of that family is weird in some way.  I mean there must be a cousin Bob who has to be relatively normal somewhere.  My son enjoyed the visuals of the movie which is the main highlight of the movie and a topic that I will cover below.  This is a fun movie that could have been better but one that still has enough going for it that families should enjoy it.

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

This 1080p 3D (1.85:1) transfer is the best thing about this movie since it makes an average movie even greater with its great 3D effects.  For the majority of the movie, the 3D is amazing but towards the end when the robotic hats try to take over the world it begins to have some minor ghosting issues.  The 3D adds some impressive dimensionality to the movie which makes every scene look incredible.  Shots of the futuristic city-scape, or the view of the surrounding area from the orphanage’s rooftop, all have a convincing depth and makes them look real.   Both the 3D and the 2D versions offer brilliant colors that pop off the screen and black levels that are incredibly dark and solid.  Detail is excellent, edges are sharp, and textures look impressive as if they had real substance.  The 3D in this movie is superb and I would recommend that version over the 2D version if you have the equipment to watch 3D.  If you don’t, I would still recommend buying this set since you can watch the 2D version until you are able to upgrade to the superior 3D version.

Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Meet the Robinsons arrives with two great surround tracks.  The 3D disc has a new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix while the 2D disc has the original LPCM 5.1 mix from the earlier release.  Both sound very good and there really isn’t any difference between them from my perspective.  Both mixes offer clear dialogue and a lively sound-scape across all of the channels.  The front channels offer dialogue that isn’t drowned out by all of the effects or Danny Elfman’s score.  The rear channels offer a lot of activity that includes some excellent directional effects.  Both of these mixes are up to the challenge of meeting the video quality equally. Whether it’s the sound of the time machine flying by, or the Tyrannosaurus Rex stomping up a hill, or the robotic hats subjugating humans in the future, it all sounds wonderful!

Special Features (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

This has a great commentary and two extras (“Inventing the Robinsons” and “Deleted Scenes”) in high definition and the rest in standard definition, and an interactive game as well.
  • Audio Commentary: Director Stephen Anderson talks about the changes that Meet the Robinsons went through before coming to the big screen, the story, the characters, the cast, and what he was trying to accomplish with the movie.  This is an interesting and candid talk about the movie and what had to be done before John Lasseter would be happy with it.
  • Inventing the Robinsons – An almost twenty minute look at the making of the movie that covers the start of the project to the finish and the steps in between.  There’s some good info in here for fans of the film but some of the information here is already covered in the commentary.
  • Deleted Scenes – A collection of deleted scenes that are unfinished and shown using storyboard to fill in the missing details.  It nice that these were included but most of them are just extensions of existing scenes which don’t really add that much.
  • Inventions that Shaped the World – A six minute look at the scientific elements in the movie for kids.  They might enjoy it but adults should skip it.
  • Interactive Games - Two games for the kids to play include the shooter “Bowler Hat Barrage,” and a memory game called “Family Function 5000.”
  • Music Videos – Two music videos are included: Rob Thomas’ “Little Wonders” and the Jonas Brothers’ “Kids of the Future.”

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)

This is a fun but forgettable movie that has its hear in the right place.  It’s also nice that the movie ends with a quote by Walt Disney which also serves as Cornelius’ motto: “Keep Moving Forward.”  The 3d and 2D versions both look and sound incredible but I’d recommend watching the 3D version if you have a choice.  This is another fine effort by the Disney folks!
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