Discs Are Rated
Babe: Pig In The City
review by Zach B.
Starring James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski, Mickey
Rooney and the voice of E.G. Daily as Babe
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Written by George Miller, Judy Morris and Mark
Based on the characters created by Dick King-Smith
Directed by George Miller
Retail Price: 29.99
Features: Production Notes, Cast and Crew Bios,
Theatrical Trailers, DVD-ROM: Weblinks, Screen Saver
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full Frame,
5.1 Dolby Digital English, 2.0 Dolby Surround English,
2.0 Dolby Surround French, English Captions, Chapter
Released around Thanksgiving 1998, Babe: Pig in the City
was highly acclaimed by critics all over, even making
several top ten lists. Universal was hoping for another
success like the original Babe, which was the sleeper hit of
August 1995, and which garnered seven Academy Award®
nominations, including Best Picture (it only won for visual
effects). Sadly though, the second Babe was a highly
budgeted picture, and was killed by the competition, namely
"The Waterboy" and "A Bug's Life". It even led to a few top
execs at Universal Studios resigning.
With all this aside, hopefully the film will find a much
better life on the home video market. If you enjoyed the
original "Babe" and missed the sequel in theaters, it's a
must rental, heck, it's even a good buy. George Miller,
known for the Mad Max films and who co-adapted the original
Babe helms this one, and he does an incredible job. The film
is a lot darker than the original, and may scare the little
ones (the film was originally PG, but to make it more family
friendly, Universal trimmed it and it got a G), so parents
The film follows the Hoggetts, owner of Babe, the famous
sheep pig, encounter some money trouble after Mr. Hoggett
has a really bad accident, and the farm is threatened to
close down. Babe, along with Mrs. Hoggett, are offered to
appear at a fair of sorts, and will be paid for their visit.
Of course, on their way there, they encounter many hilarious
adventures and pursuits. One thing leads to another, making
the plot of this movie hard to describe, since I don't want
to ruin it. Still, it's an excellent movie all around and is
Babe: Pig in the City is an excellent movie for kids and
adults alike, and one of the rare sequels which at least
matches up with the original, and surpasses it in some ways.
It has laughs, it is entertaining and it has a lot of heart.
The DVD is also pretty well done. It boats some near perfect
sound and video, but is a bit lacking when it comes to the
extras, which is pretty sad.
The film is presented in two aspect ratios: 1.85:1
anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full frame. The full frame
option is a good inclusion on this disc, because the main
purchasers of this disc are going to be families, and for
the most part, families do prefer the full frame aspect
ratio. Like most Universal transfers, this one is excellent
and lives up to the Universal logo.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen is really, really nice.
This film is really visual, and has a ton of excellent and
pretty things to look at, so the ability to see it all is
very nice. As far as other things go, colors are really
bold, they pop and stand out. I did not notice any
artifacts, grain or any things which get in the way of
transfers and watching the movie, which is a plus. The
fleshtones are perfect as well. This transfer is top notch,
and is near references quality. A noticeable scene is when
Babe, and his master, Mrs. Hoggett arrive in the town they
are staying in, which is a mix from famous worldwide cities.
The site of this is perfect. Not only do you see the visual
artistry, but it looks really clean and magnificent.
The full frame 1.33:1 ratio, as I said, is good for the
family viewing audience. The transfer on this is also very
nice, but of course, this being full frame, you do lose some
of the really pretty things this movie has, namely, the
scenery. Like the shot I mentioned early, when the pig and
owner arrive, it is just sort of ruined. Still, the transfer
is just as good as the anamorphic widescreen one, it's just
that, being full frame, you lose some. As said though, this
feature is for families mostly.
The sound mix is also incredible. Babe: Pig in the City
features Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Surround. The
film does have it's share of loud noises and aggressive
parts, so this fits very well with it. An excellent transfer
and excellent sound mix, who could ask for more?
The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is really stunning. Dialogue
is used mainly in the front channels, but the sound effects
are used for the rear and LFE .1. There are some really nice
parts in the movie to show it all off. There is a scene
where Babe's goose friend, Ferdinand, is flying with other
birds, the flaps have this cool effect. There is a ruckus
and brilliantly planned chase scene, which does feature a
good amount of crashes and loud sounds. I could go on and on
with this, but the more the movie goes on, the better the
sounds do get, at least I think. Still, I don't want to ruin
There is also a Dolby Digital Surround track. Yes, it's
not as good as the 5.1 track, but it's there, and does sound
very good, just not as good as the 5.1.
This is where I sort of had my problem with this DVD.
This film is really good, and for some of their top notch
titles, Universal gives out some excellent features. They
give it great sound, great transfer... but no worthwhile
supplements. I guess this film was too much of a flop for
them to give it treatment in this section which it highly
deserves. Sure, it bombed, but it was loved by many. Oh
well, at least there are a few things...
First off, there are some pretty extensive production
notes. These notes are really interesting, and really did
help me learn about the pre-production and actual production
of the film. Nicely done.
Next, there is a section for cast and crew members
(actually, it's for one crew member: director/co-writer
George Miller). These are also nicely done. Some pretty
extensive biographies and filmographies.
There are three trailers on the disc. Two for Babe: Pig
in the City and one for the original Babe. The first Babe:
Pig in the City trailer is in widescreen and has two channel
sound. This is the teaser trailer. The transfer is a bit
shaky at first, but not for long and the picture quality is
really nice. The sound is also loud and clear too. The next
Babe: Pig in the City trailer is the full one, and like the
first one, has some excellent two channel audio and video.
Finally, the original Babe trailer is also in widescreen and
features two channel sound. Like the other two trailers,
there is no exception: good transfer and good sound. On a
side note, I found these trailers pretty enjoyable.
As far as DVD ROM features go, it is just a little bit
above average. Yes, there are the usual Universal weblinks
and such, but there is also a Babe screen saver, if you want
to decorate your desktop with some images from the movie.
All in all, the features are average, which really
disappointed me. Sure, the movie bombed, but it still is a
very good movie. Universal knows the acclaim, heck, they
post some all over the package. But what I would have liked
to scene is a commentary from Miller, if not for him, I bet
this movie would be another dreaded sequel. It is because of
him and his fantastic direction the movie works so well. I
also mentioned there was stuff cut from the movie, to get a
G rating. Would it really hurt Universal to comply the cut
scenes onto the disc? The movie was pretty dark as it is,
but I would have liked to scene what made it darker.
On a side note, the menus on the disc are very nicely
done. They truly capture the movie's theme. When you first
pop the disc in, you'll get the logo, some music and a lot
of flying balloons (which are featured in the movie). The
main menu is a window (which is also part of the movie)
divided into four sections: Chapter List, Bonus Materials,
Language Selection and Play. The background of the main menu
features a city, and a lot of traffic noise. When you click
on in to the bonus part, you'll be transported with some
nice effects, some nature sound, and a wood board, sort of
like what Babe's farm home has. Language (and caption)
selection features some nice, classy music and a balcony,
done in a cool transition. The chapter list features a side
of a house, with four divided sections, each show clips from
the chapter, with some city noise. And of course, play plays
the movie. These menus are really nice, and I think other
studios should take notice. They perfectly reflect the movie
and bring some life to the menus. Also, there is a section
in English and French, sort of like a glossary to see what
various functions and symbols on the DVD mean.
I heard Universal was planning a third Babe, but, I
guarantee those plans were scrapped after this delightful
sequel performed miserably at the box office. If you have
never seen Babe: Pig in the City, and enjoyed the first one,
most likely you'll love this one. Don't think it is a kiddie
film: it has a lot of charm, heart, and is actually pretty
dark, and will be enjoyed by all ages.
Hopefully this film will find a better life on the video
shelf. With excellent picture quality, enjoyable animated
menus and some amazing sound, Babe: Pig in the City is a
near perfect presentation. However, the features are a bit
lacking, and this film deserves way more. Some commentaries
and deleted scenes would have been nice, but as far as
everything goes, Babe: Pig in the City is a good purchase,
and something for the library.
(4/5, NOT included in
NOT an average)