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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Computer Animation > Animals > Open Season (Blu-ray/Computer Animated Feature Film)

Open Season (2006/Sony Blu-ray (2D original release)/Computer Animated Feature Film)


Picture: B+     Sound: B+     Extras: C+     Feature: B-



PLEASE NOTE: This title has been reissued in a superior Blu-ray 3D edition you can read about at this link:





Now, the original text…



The computer animated feature was once a novelty, but is now (despite their costs) becoming a crowded field.  With two HD formats out there and HDTVs being sold all the time, the only way to distinguish one from the other is with an old fashioned solid script and exceptionally artistic choices with the limits of the digital technology available to the production.  Open Season (2006) is a giant step forward for Columbia Pictures and Sony in the field, becoming one of the most pleasant surprises of all such releases yet.


Boog (Martin Lawrence) is a grizzly bear with only so much bite.  He is not exactly the most able-bodied of his breed and is just getting by.  Suddenly, mule deer Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) enters his life and he is even less able to handle the wild, coming from the domesticated city.  He thinks he is going to have a great vacation, but even with Boog’s advantage of coming from there, they are both in for the kind of adventure they would rather not take.


Both wacky and with nerve issues, then they meet more fellow animals.  That’s good because they’ll need all the help they can get as the hunters are on the way for the title event!


Instead of something stupid, condescending or formulaic, the script (co-written by co-director Jill Culton of Monsters, Inc.) tries to be entertaining and offer more than just the standard family fare.  Not that this makes it groundbreaking, but it has much energy (co-directed by Roger Allers of The Lion King) and it never stops moving, yet the pace never seems futile.  Jon Favreau, Debra Messing, Patrick Warburton, Billy Connolly and Gary Sinise also add their voices and all mesh very well.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is easily one of the best on either HD format for a computer animated feature release.  Other companies are slowly catching up to Pixar, despite the fact that they are squarely in the lead in this field.  Depth is more impressive than most such productions to date and color is a little richer than most.  Still, you eventually can tell it is digital, but it is one of the best demos for this kind of material so far in HD.  The PCM 5.1 16-Bit/48kHz mix is very nice and smooth with a nice soundfield throughout, easily outdoing the Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes.  This was issued in both 8-channel (7.1) Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS) and the also-awesome Sonics-DDP digital sound system used for IMAX presentations.  The only thing holding back the sound is the PCM format’s limits, so we expect a Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio version down the line.  Otherwise, this is among the best PCM 5.1 mixes to date.


Extras include inside the animals studio, "Wheel of Fortune" Forest Edition game, a making-of featurette, Voices Behind the Stars featurette, Voice-A-Rama: See what the characters sound like with different accents, Music Video for I Want To Lose Control, deleted scenes, filmmakers commentary, Ring tales, art gallery, Beat boards, sneak peek at "Surf's Up" and exclusive to this Blu-ray, an all new HD short Boog & Elliot’s Midnight Bun Run.  Of course, the Blu-ray format offers easier navigation, altogether making this one of the best child-friendly and animated features to arrive in either HD format to date.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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