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Meet The Robinsons

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: G

Running Time: 95 minutes

Starring the voices of: Stephen Anderson, Laurie Metcalf, Tom Selleck, Nicol Sullivan, Adam West

Screenplay by: Jon Bernstein and Michelle Spitz and Don Hall, Nathan Greno, Aurian Redson, Joe Mateo, Stephen Anderson
Based upon the book "A Day With Wilbur Robinson" by: William Joyce

Directed by: Stephen Anderson

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Stephen Anderson, Deleted Scenes, Music Videos, Family Function 5000 Game, Inventing The Robinsons, Keep Moving Forward: Inventions That Shaped The World

Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Isolated Sound Effects Track in Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (20 Scenes)

Released: October 16th, 2007

 

 

"Meet The Robinsons" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and other than some instances of noise and shimmering, this transfer looks glorious. This is a very bright and sharp transfer, and the incredibly vibrant colors of the movie come to full life here and really pop at you (especially when the story arrives at the future). Blacks are deep, and detail is impeccable. There really isn't much else to say other than that this a near-flawless transfer.

 

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is just as good as the transfer. There is a wide sonic landscape at work here, and the plentiful surrounds are thrilling and discrete: Lewis' inventions at work, the time traveling vehicles, a Tyrannosaurs with tiny hands and even smaller sound effects, such as rain falling. With that said, imaging is fantastic, fidelity is high and there's great dynamic range. Subwoofer use is also ample. Dialogue is quite clear and easy to hear, and the music - such as Danny Elfman's score and Rufus Wainwright's number - are all creatively mixed, and bring a lot of life here. All of the sound elements are balanced too, so no one elements overpowers the others. This track is truly a treat.

Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are also available in Spanish and French, and there's subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

 

There's an Audio Commentary with Co-Writer and Director Stephen Anderson, and quite honestly, it is one of the best commentaries I have had the pleasure of listening to in a very long time. This film has a lot of meaning for Anderson (he does get personal early on about his own feelings of being adopted), and I'm as some of you know, "Meet The Robinsons" had a long production history and was re-tooled a bit in the wake of Disney's purchase of Pixar. While Anderson doesn't speak of such matters directly, they are certainly alluded to - particuarly in how parts of the film evolved. (Then again, pretty much every animated film is re-worked in some form or another.)

The beauty of this commentary is that Anderson is very passionate about his work, and keeps gushing out details. Anderson hits on everything: finding a theme for the story, re-working the script, re-juggling scenes, developing characters, what it was like to work with voice actors, and all sorts of production anecdotes. Anderson also offers a lot of praise for his hard-working crew, and seems to really sincerely appreciate all the efforts they poured into making into the film. And given the film's history, Anderson notes that the film's theme - "Keep moving forward" - took on an extra resonance.

If there's a little bit of a downside to the track, it's the "special guest" that pops up here and there: the film's villain, Bowler Hat Guy (voiced by Anderson) - who's joined by his robotic sidekick, Doris. Don't get me wrong, the Bowler Hat Guy was my favorite character in the film, and most of his schtick on this commentary (recounting his thoughts on the movie, as if he's the only one being heard) is amusing. But Anderson's comments are really fantastic, and it's a bit annoying that the filmmaker is technically interrupting his own flow - even if it is here and there. Thankfully, Bowler Hat Guy's comments often don't last for too long, and the real Anderson dominates the track. But maybe if kids turn on this commentary, Bowler Hat Guy's presence will keep them listening throughout?

Now here's a DVD feature I haven't seen in awhile: an Isolated Sound Effects Track, in beautiful Dolby Digital 5.1. "Meet The Robinsons" is a sound effects-heavy movie, and it's pretty neat to watch scenes with just the sounds. More than ever, you really hear just how crucial individual sound effects are and how they shape a film's narrative and experience. I'm not sure if everyone will want to go through the entire film with just hearing the effects, but flip it on at some point and see what you notice.

There are also three Deleted Scenes in anamorphic widescreen, and introduced by Anderson. In total, these run seven minutes. Anderson explains the scenes and the cuts. The scenes are a mix of finished computer animation, near-finished animation (in greyscale) and in some cases, storyboards. Definitely worth checking out. The scenes are: "Arriving In The Future," "Meeting Carl" and "Bowler Hat Guy's Redemption."

Two Music Videos are also included on the disc: "Little Wonders" by Rob Thomas and "Kids Of The Future" by Jonas Brothers. Both are in Dolby Digital 5.1, but how come they're in non-anamorphic widescreen? Bah.

The Family Function 5000 Game is a fun little trivia/memory game aimed at the kiddies, where basically you pick the right character in the Robinson family that matches Lewis' voiced description and some stills.

Inventing The Robinsons is a 18 minute featurette presented in anamorphic widescreen, that breaks down the film's production. The main talking heads are director Stephen Anderson, producer Dorothy McKim and story head Don Hall. It first begins with William Joyce, who's illustrated book "A Day With Wilbur Robinson" inspired the film. Stills from it are shown, and Joyce gives insight into how his characters and the story itself came from a pretty personal place. From there, Anderson talks about the film's unique history - in that it was originally meant to be live action, and then the entire film as an animated feature was storyboarded. From there, Disney would either give the go-ahead to make it or scrap it. Anderson also gets a bit personal, talking about why he connected with the story - namely because he was an adopted child. The film's wondrous design is also covered through the eyes of character designer Joe Moshier, and there's a bit on the voice casting. Music is also a focus, as Danny Elfman talks about his work, as well as the various artists who contribute songs to the soundtrack. This is a nice overview of the movie that is worth checking out.

Finally, there's Keep Moving Forward: Inventions That Shaped The World. Lasting a little over six minutes, this is meant for the kiddies. Clips from all sorts of Disney cartoons help illustrate the various inventions and discoveries that have impacted the world throughout time.

 

"Meet The Robinsons" is a step in the right direction for the Mouse House as far as internally developing their own computer animated films. The movie is not only visually wonderful, but the characters are quite likable and the story is clever - not to mention it's filled with humor that'll appeal to both kids and adults. The DVD does justice to the film's visuals and boisterous soundtrack, and the supplements are the right mix. A nice addition to anyone's DVD collection.