Return To Home Page
July 5, 2008
Alvin And The Chipmunks Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
3/1/200817/6/2008FoxTim Hill
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master AudioGJason Lee

Click To Enlarge Image
Chipmunks, smile for the camera...

If you were a child born after the mid-1950 chances are that you would have heard of Alvin & The Chipmunks, and perhaps even been a fan of the music and/or cartoons. Following some legal issues the worlds smallest singing group is now on the big screen with a big-budget (for a childrens movie at least) this movie went on to gross a monsterous $US360 million. That makes it the 125th biggest movie of all time worldwide at the time of writing this. Little wonder then that this Blu-Ray release is going to have a lot of people excited.

Struggling songwriter Dave Seville opens his home to a talented trio of chipmunks named Alvin, Simon and Theodore and they become overnight music sensations. But when a greedy record producer tries to exploit the "boys", Dave must use a little human ingenuity—and a lot of 'munk mischief—to get his furry family back before it's too late!

Click To Enlarge Image
That's Jason Lee from My Name Is Earl.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this movie is the casting of Jason Lee in the lead role of David Seville. Known for his lead role in My Name Is Earl is puts in as exciting a performance as one could expect from a movie such as this. You know what is going to happen to him, you know how the movie will play out and you know the emotions to expect in each scene. An interesting choice for the role, it manages to work.

Also impressive in the movie is David Cross as the record producer Ian. He certainly has a mean streak about him, but also plays with a lighthearted tone when required - primarily in the earlier part of the movie when he befriends the Chipmunks.

There is no doubt at all that Alvin And The Chipmunks is a movie aimed at youngsters. Still, as a fan of the cartoon in the 1980's there was quite a nostalgic value for all of us that watched it together for this review (that being my wife and another friend in his 30's). Entertaining, but nothing new.

Click To Enlarge Image
Awwww, how cute...

Encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec at 1080p and in the theatrical prints original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 this movie looks pretty good for the most part. The bitrate constantly hovers above 20Mbps and the colours are bright and bold. The fur on the chipmunks looks pretty nice and their composition into the scenes is very solid as well. Having said that there are some very small issues with this transfer with some scenes appearing to be lacking some of the final detail.

It must be remembered that Alvin and the Chipmunks was produced on the relatively low budget of $US60 million and while that may sound like a lot there are a lot of visual effects in this movie. The chipmunks probably on screen for more then half of the total 92 minute runtime. Now, having said that there were some moments that looked a little worse then others. I'm not sure why but when the movie cuts to a chipmunk (Alvin) in the dishwasher it almost looks low resolution, and not quite up to the standards of other parts of the movie.

While we have been critical of some of the aspects of this transfer it must be pointed out that this is vastly superior to the DVD version. This increase in resolution makes the chipmunks, and particularly thier fur, worth the change to Blu-Ray alone.

Click To Enlarge Image
That's Uncle Ian, nice guy.

Being a movie with so much music we were hoping for something decent and indeed Fox have provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The chipmunks sound crystal clear with their high-pitched sped up voices while the music and singing numbers are a delight to listen to. Never have the chipmunks sounded so good.

There are plenty of other soundtracks on this disc including English Descriptive Audio which is encoded in Dolby Digital at 448kbps. Other languages include a French DTS 5.1 track at 768kbps and Dutch, Norweigan, Swedish, Danish and Finnish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 448kbps each.

Subtitles are provided in English for the Hearing Impaired (but no plain English), French, Dutch, Norweigan, Swedish, Danish and Finnish. Sampling the English track demonstrated accuracy to dialogue on screen. The subtitles actually mention which Chipmunk is talking when they're off screen.

Extras on this disc really are pretty light on which is disappointing given the massive worldwide take for this movie at the cinemas. Certainly not assisting would be the decision to release this on a single layer 25GB disc.

Click To Enlarge Image
Theodore, Alvin and Simon singing.
Chip-Chip-Hooray! - A Chipmunk History featurette (12:18): Presented in Standard Definition this is a brief, but interesting look at the history of Alvin and the Chipmunks with Ross Bagdasarian Jr, the producer on this movie, and also the son of Ross Bagdasarian, creator of the Chipmunks. This is certainly worth a look with some great photos and footage from very early on.

Hitting the Harmony featurette (8:55): Executive Music director Ali Dee talks about making the music for this movie, and making it to a quality one would expect on a music CD release, and not just a movie. It's pretty amusing to see the singers sing at half pace in the recording studio.

There's no denying that Alvin And The Chipmunks is firmly aimed at the younger market, but it was also a bit of a nostalga trip for myself and friends who grew up with the characters in the 1980's (and probably those who grew up with them in the 1960's as well!). Solid presentation and audio on this Blu-Ray makes it much preferred over the technically inferior DVD release.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.