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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Animation > Sports > Soccer > Dance > Hip Hop > 3-D > Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole (2010/Warner Bros. Blu-ray 3D w/DVD) + The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film (Sony Blu-ray 3D) + Step Up 3D (2010/Disney Blu-ray 3D w/DVD)

Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole (2010/Warner Bros. Blu-ray 3D w/DVD) + The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film (Sony Blu-ray 3D) + Step Up 3D (2010/Disney Blu-ray 3D w/DVD)

 

3D Picture: B & C+/B/B & C+     2D Picture: B/x/B     Sound: B (DVDs: B-)     Extras: C/C-/C-     Films: C/B-/C-

 

 

To show that several companies are involved in issuing titles in the Blu-ray 3D format as the entire industry supports its launch, it was time to combine new releases in what is essentially a new format from three different companies to show the studios are not standing still in supporting this new format.

 

Warner Bros. has the most titles out so far and Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole (2010) is one of the oddest.  This fully computer animated feature flew by quietly at the box office, not making a dent.  I have not been happy with anything Director Zack Snyder has done, but this is odd even for him.  This is a formula tale of a world of owls, including bad owls that try to exploit and use good and vulnerable owls.  It is a dark tale done with voicing (the cast includes Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Abbie Cornish and Miriam Margolyes among others) that seems intended for a children’s audience, yet how this received a PG when it is at least PG-13 in nature is a problem and explains the commercial disconnect.  Who is this meant for?  Not for young children.  That it is only of middling interest is the ultimate problem with nothing we have not seen before in the fantasy or animal world tale genres, but Snyder has no idea (again?) what he is doing and now assigned to do the next Superman film, he had better listen to everything Producer Christopher Nolan tells him to do or he is finished.

 

Much better is The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film, a documentary about the 2010 soccer (European Football) championship in South Africa.  Lasting only 63 minutes, it never ceases to amaze me that the United States is the most underrepresented country in this great world event and no matter what anyone has done or the money they have spent, this remains sadly so.  Not only is this good, but even better, plays even better than the few samples of 3D sports I have seen from cable and Blu-ray samplers.  I think sports have been one of the biggest beneficiaries of High Definition TV and I see a further renaissance for it in 3D.  All sports fans will like this one and soccer fans will really get fired up.

 

In the four eras of 3D Hollywood has had since the early 1950s, the one genre that has been least addressed has been Musicals and after suffering through the dreadful, silly Step Up 3D (2010), I was reminded of why.  A third installment in one of the worst, most condescending franchises ever aimed at a teen audience, this wreck thinks it is taking us to “the street” but is so clean, think less Lou Reed and Public Enemy, but more of Elmo and Big Bird.

 

Nobody talks or acts like this in real life and few can dance this well, the choreography (which is a mixed bag, especially in non-backstage moments) makes the original Dirty Dancing and Grease look like an expensive MGM classics.  Who will win when the Big Apple hosts an international Hip Hop contest?  Outside of the NYC tourism board and local businesses, apparently no one in this unintentional laugh fest released by Disney that they co-produced with Summit.  Worst of all, this is as phony as all those bad, free dance contests currently littering network TV, so why bother.  The 3D here is the poorest of the three releases here.  Step Up 3D is a step down in music, dance, film and any other art you can name.

 

All three releases offer MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition images, but they vary from each other and only two offer 2D 1080p digital High Definition discs.  The lone 3D-only disc is the FIFA disc, offering a 720p, 1.78 X 1 transfer that has some motion blur, but some impressive 3D moments that were a surprise considering the nature of the production and is the best of the three here.

 

Owls has a 1080p, 2.35 X 1 transfer with some good moments of 3D throughout, but softness and other technical limits plague the performance throughout, in part because they did not have the latest CG animation technology, so some of this look dated, while other shots look fine.  The 2D version is about as good, but I give the edge to the 3D, which spares the viewer from some of the flaws.

 

That leaves Step-Up, with its 1080p, 1.78 X 1 transfer that has a few good 3D shots, but the 3D is underused, misused and is barley better than the 2D Blu-ray by covering up motion blur issues.  To be blunt, 3D (abused again) was just here to make another one of these horrible dance flicks that is as cookie cutter as the ones the preceded it, which is an insult to cookie cutters.  The anamorphically enhanced DVDs for Owl and Step-Up are 2D only and are no match for either Blu-ray version, with Owl looking particularly soft and Step-Up looking especially color-poor.

 

All three titles also feature DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mixes, but Step-Up makes the mistake of trying to offer a 7.1 48/24 mixes on the 3D and 2D Blu-rays, which only waters down a lame soundmix that is more about noise than soundfield or articulation, Hip Hop or not.  It should have stayed 5.1, though the Dolby Digital 5.1 version is not as good, it does not sound as forced.  FIFA has a 5.1 mix that is not overly lively, but is surprisingly warm and well-mixed for a special interest and sports title.  That leaves Owls, which smartly sticks with DTS-MA 5.1 on its 3D and 2D Blu-rays and has some good soundfield moments, but also has a mix that is not extraordinary by any means.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 version on the DVD is good enough, but not great and no match for the DTS on the Blu-rays.

 

Extras on all include trailers, though FIFA has two in 3D for other Sony Blu-ray 3D titles we already reviewed: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and Open Season.  Owls and Step-Up add Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices, as well as Music Videos (!?!) several behind the scenes featurettes.  Owls includes True Guardians Of The Earth, the original story that inspired the feature, four Artwork Galleries and the best feature here in 3D and 2D, another Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote short: Fur Of Flying.  Step-Up has Making The Music Videos, Extra Moves, 8 Music Videos in all (yikes!), short Born From A Boombox and lame Deleted Scenes that could have never saved the narrative with introductions by Director Jon M. Chu.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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