Babar The Movie (1989/E1 DVD)/Chuggington:
Safari Adventure (2013/Anchor Bay DVD w/Bonus Train Toy)/Fairfield Road (2009)/Puppy Love (2011/Gaiam Vivendi DVDs)/So Undercover (2011/Millennium Blu-ray)
Picture: C/C+/C/C/B- Sound: C/C+/C/C+/B- Extras: C/B/D/D/C- Main Programs: B-/C+/D/D/D
our latest children/family titles…
Bunce’s Babar The Movie (1989) is 80
minutes long and as good an installment on the animated elephant as anything,
but this was a theatrical film release and it is not much more exciting than
the episodes we have covered before. It
is still family friendly and good enough for young children, but it should have
had more of an impact and just did not work out as Elephantland must be saved
along with a kidnapped character.
is the best offering on the list and is worth a look. The only extra is the “Monkey Business” episode of the show.
New to us
is Chuggington: Safari Adventure
(2013) which offers six episodes of the animated talking train series on one
DVD and despite the sometimes awkward music of the show, it is likeable and
child-friendly enough if not as smooth as Babar. I thought the writing was not bad, but
sometimes character talk at each other and a little louder than expected. Still, it is interesting enough that those
with children will want to give it arty to see if the young ones like it or
edition came with a Bonus Train Toy, while the DVD adds two spotlight looks at
two of the main characters, Coloring & Activity Sheets you can print
yourself and a bonus episode of the Badge
Quest series entitled Animal Helper.
are two lame TV movies that want to make one feel good, but just feel plain
dumb. Both Dove-approved Hallmark
Channel disasters are David Weaver’s Fairfield
Road (2009) about a young man (Jesse Metcalfe, now on the revived Dallas) entering Boston politics and
getting more than he expected, plus Harvey Frost’s Puppy Love (2011) about a missing big bearded collie who is found
by a family with a young girl who becomes instantly attached to the
both lightweight, silly, false throughout and very predictable, which we guess
is the point, but could these kinds of releases at least have some real heart
and energy? Guess not. Oh, and there are no extras.
least and even worse is tom Vaughan’s So
Undercover (2011) with Miley Cyrus (trying to recover from losing Disney,
thanks in part to her father) working with the FBI (here comes the next
terrorist attack!) in a college sorority where something very bad is going on…
Piven (who cannot stop with that goofy smile) is there to help her (too late)
and this just runs on and on and on and on to no good point at any point,
making it a desperate piece of lame work that is fake from scene one, is never
funny and absolutely never believable.
Why anyone would think this could work is odd, but they threw this one
together and even Cyrus’ fans are likely to be bored. Kelly Osbourne also shows up to add to the
X 1 on Babar is sadly soft and has
limited color range despite being shot on 35mm film and looking better in
theaters, while the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the other 3 DVDs
are no better save Chuggington with
color, detail and depth more like one would expect from a newer release. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition
image transfer on So is the barely
the best-looking of the releases here because Blu-ray gives it the slightest
edge, but it still has motion blur and color issues.
Dolby Digital 5.1 on the TV movies and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Babar and Chuggington are limited, but Babar
(down a few generations) and Fairfield
(badly recorded and mixed) are especially soft and sonically limited. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix on So is again a little better by default,
but it can also be too much in the front channels and not very well recorded.
- Nicholas Sheffo