The Simpsons Movie - Blu-Ray Movie Review
|AVC MPEG-4||DTS-HD Master Audio||PG||Animated|
For long time fans of The Simpsons news that there would be a movie heading our way was cause for much excitement. While we have seen hundreds of episodes over the series' nineteen seasons it was simply the knowledge that there would be a big-screen adaptation that could provide a longer, and more detailed story as well as improved visuals that had us excited. Did it meet expectations? Well with a worldwide gross now approaching $US550 million it seems that it certainly had the fans visiting cinemas, while the movie has also been critically applauded by reviewers the world over. The movies release on Blu-Ray prior to Christmas ensured there would be massive sales, and Santa was kind enough to drop the disc off at our house too so we thought we'd take it for a spin.
|The Simpsons family.. in Widescreen!|
Homer must save the world from a catastrophe he himself created. It all begins with Homer, his new pet pig and a leaky silo full of droppings--a combination that triggers a disaster the likes of which Springfield has never experienced. As Marge is outraged by Homer's monumental blunder, a vengeful mob descends on the Simpson household. The family makes a narrow escape but is soon divided by both location and conflict. The Springfield citizenry has every reason to be out for Simpson blood. The calamity triggered by Homer has drawn the attention of U.S. President Arnold Schwarzenegger and Environmental Protection Agency head Russ Cargill. As the fates of Springfield and the world hang in the balance, Homer embarks on a personal odyssey of redemption--seeking forgiveness from Marge, the reunion of his splintered family and the salvation of his hometown.
So who would have ever thought that we would see full frontal nudity, suggestions of bestiality, men kissing and going into a hotel room together, and Bart starting to drink Whisky within the Simpsons universe? It's all here and with that comes a Simpsons that has a much more mature slant to it - hence the PG rating in Australia and PG-13 in America, but it suits the characters, and the movie, perfectly. The Simpsons Movie really can be split into three sections. The first sees the warning of impending doom, and the events that lead to it. The second being the escape from Springfield and starting a new life in Alaska while the final third sees the return to try an save the city. The movie is paced pretty well with only a few slower moments near the middle which tend to drag the pacing back a bit.
|Colouring is quite brilliant.|
I guess where there was some disappointment it was the fact that the middle section of the movie sees the Simpson family leave Springfield, and therefore all the characters we have come to love, to head to Alaska. While it allows the focus to remain on the family it really does give many of the characters extremely small amounts of screen time. Characters such as Patty and Selma, Moe, Mr Burns, Rev. Lovejoy, Principal Skinner, Apu and Barney are present, but hardly seen while Grandpa Simpson seems to go AWOL for much of the movie as well. Still, there's only so much you can do in 86 minutes I guess!
Before seeing this movie I, like so many people, were concerned that this would just be a long episode however the scriptwriters have done a great job of developing a solid storyline while the animators have been given license to go to town and make this something special. I enjoyed the movie and while I would have liked to see a bit better pacing in some parts, I actually wanted it to be a little longer with some more of the regular characters having an appearance. Still, very entertaining.
As such a recent release we expected this movie to look pretty special, but this is spectacular. Yes, the move to widescreen is most welcome, but it's the clarity and sharpness of the image that really surprises. The movie looks even better due to the improvements in animation, crowds are much larger, more background objects are animated and the characters now cast shadows upon themselves.
|Is that Bart... naked?!|
Encoded in AVC MPEG-4 this transfer often runs at a bitrate of between 30 and 40Mbps which, for a movie with so much flat colouring is quite astonishing. As one would expect there are absolutely no film artifacts or dirt present while the image is rock solid in terms of colour stability.
As with the video, the audio presentation on this disc is quite superb. On a technical level the English DTS-HD Master Audio track is simply delightful with clear voices, great effects, and some wonderful music. Having said that though The Simpsons Movie doesn’t push the envelope aurally with a pretty standard sound mix. There is some use of surround sound and bass, but this movie isn’t one which you will use to show off the audio capabilities of the Blu-Ray format.
Other languages included on this Blu-Ray disc include French German Dutch Flemish Finnish Swedish.
The Simpsons DVD box sets have always included quite a few extras worth sinking your teeth into, but have never gone over the top, and have never shown the process of actually creating an episode - presumably to keep the 'magic' hidden. I hoped that this would break from tradition - at least a little bit - to give some more insight into the movie making process, but unfortunately that was not the case. Still, we do get a couple of great commentaries as well as several other extras worth looking at.
This commentary includes James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Scully, David Silverman, and voice actors Dan Castellaneta and Yeardley Smith.
One of the most interesting things is that the movie will actually pause and go Black and While for a while as the participants explain in detail some of the scenes. In fact looking at the movie runtimes this gives you about 15 minutes of additional commentary with a runtime of 1:41:28. Impressive.
|Look, it's Harry Plopper...|
A commentary with director and producers David Silverman, Mike B. Anderson, Steven Dean Moore and Rich Moore. After listening to the first track this one was a bit more of a slog due to the same material being covered. Still, if you like your audio commentaries you will get some enjoyment from this one - but perhaps leave it for a while after listening to the first.
Deleted Scenes (5:13/HD):
Several deleted scenes which didn't make it into the movie which expand on the story a little. All are presented in High Definition, but only with Stereo Sound at 224kbps. Entertaining.
Special Stuff (3:25/HD):
|Happy times for Homer and Marge.|
Several small segments that have little, if anything really, to do with the movie. Same quality as the movie in terms of animation.
A Lot Of Trailers (6:52/HD):
Included on this disc is five trailers released for The Simpsons Movie. These trailers are pretty classic and well worth a watch if you haven't seen them.
Easter Eggs (HD):
There are several sequence showing development artwork for three new characters that appear in the movie. Simple press down on each of the three menu options and then enter. There is also a THX logo, go to the sound options press left until you see the pink donut and press enter.
The Simpsons Movie was everything we hoped for in the movie with some great comedic moments, but also a decent storyline. The transfer, both in terms of video and audio, is simply glorious and while I would have really liked to see more extras on the disc what is there is decent enough. Even if you have lost interest in The Simpsons as a TV show, The Simpsons Movie is still well worth adding to your collection. Superb.
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.