|Chicken Little (3D/2D) (2005)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 07 November 2011|
At one time or another during childhood, we heard the story of Chicken Little and the coming apocalypse. Using our imagination and the illustrations from the children's book, we could all picture the scenario in our minds. Now the wonderful imagineers at Disney Pictures have brought Chicken Little and the town of Oakey Oaks to the big screen.
Just as in the fable, Chicken Little shouted to the world, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling,” causing complete mayhem throughout the town of Oakey Oaks. This sequence of events really brings the color and life of the movie to the forefront, not to mention the sound quality! With a score that rivals blockbuster actions films and a cameo appearance of Harrison Ford, there is good reason to believe you are in for a great ride. It was definitely the best way to begin, at least choosing from the other introductory sequences they considered, all viewable in the bonus features.
When Chicken Little (Zach Braff) claims a blue piece of the sky shaped like a stop sign fell and hit him on the head while he was beneath the oak tree in the town square. As he is describing this event, an acorn falls and clunks him on the head, which inevitably leads his father, Buck Cluck (Garry Marshall), and the others to presume this is what hit him on the head. So everything is blown out of proportion and Chicken Little becomes a laughing stock, seemingly to never be let down of his mistake.
Flash forward to a year later when Chicken Little is being taken to school by his ashamed father and being told to lay low and try to avoid further embarrassment. Of course after Chicken Little is dropped off, he misses the bus, has acorns tossed at him, gets stuck in gum, loses his pants, and inadvertently pulls the fire alarm.
While this movie is clearly intended for children, Disney has alwaysdone an exceptional job making the experience enjoyable to adults, andChicken Little continues this tradition. With witty jokes and cleverword play that small children might not comprehend, it’s fun to see howthe writers incorporate these details and present them to the olderviewers, such as the names of Chicken Little’s best friends, Runt of theLitter (Steve Zahn), a larger than normal pig and Abby Mallard (JoanCusack), also known as The Ugly Duckling. Don Knotts charismaticallyvoices Mayor Turkey Lurkey; always eccentric Amy Sedaris is the popularFoxy Loxy.
Afraid that he will never live up to his father’s expectations, ChickenLittle goes out for the baseball team to try and make for hisshortcomings. Unsurprisingly, he isn’t very good, but when it comes tothe big game for his team to win the pennant, he somehow manages to hitthe winning home run. Now that he is the hero, everyone has seeminglyforgotten about the incident a year before and his father is incrediblyhappy with him. That same evening Chicken Little looks up into the skyand suddenly is hit on the head by what appears to be a piece of thenight sky. He soon finds out that it is a chameleon-like device designedto blend in with its environment, which is why he wasn’t able to pointit out earlier,
When his other friend Fish Out of Water (Dan Molina) presses a button onthe back of the strange item, it leads them to the baseball field wherean alien spaceship has landed. They board it looking for Fish andnotice a map of the planets, which they interpret as signs of aninvasion and it is up to them to save the day.
It is all a big misunderstanding; the two aliens (Fred Willard andCatherine O’Hara) are just looking for their child and only attackbecause they thought he was kidnapped. Chicken Little realizes that heneeds to do the right thing in order to save the town and return thechild. He confronts his father about not believing in him and tells himthat he needs to learn how to trust him. It is a heartfelt momentbetween the two, which is mildly interrupted by Abby Mallard reportingthe ongoing alien assault outside. Chicken Little quickly admits hisfeelings for Abby before kissing her and running off to save the town.
The final sequence parallels the chaotic beginning with aliens seemingto disintegrate everything lying in their way of finding the lost child,Kirby. Buck regains his pride and helps clobber the aliens whilehelping his son to reach the top of the bell tower, where it all began.Turns out things aren’t actually disintegrated, but just transportedinto a holding cell on the ship and everything is settled as Kirby isreturned to his parents.
The aliens aren’t actually as scary as thought, but are just suits toprotect their fuzzy little bodies. The aliens explain that they travelto their town every summer to gather acorns to take to their relative’shouse; during this explanation, the camouflage panels falls off. Themother tells her husband, “one of these days it is going to fall off andhis someone on the head,” as you hear the entire crowd gasp, realizingChicken Little was right this whole time.
Peace is restored in the town of Oakey Oats; the movie about all thisdepicts Chicken Little (Adam West) as the strong hero saving Earthinstead of the crazy little chicken that thought the sky was fallingbecause an acorn hit him on the head.
Sad to say, but Disney seems to have dropped the ball on this 3Drelease. They have had a good run with probably the best four 3Dreleases on Blu-ray thus far by anyone. However, “Chicken Little” hasan inherent crosstalk issue that I could not resolve by adjusting myseating position or settings on the 3D TV. While I was able to minimizecrosstalk eventually, it still remained an issue throughout. So muchso it was difficult to overlook. I may be spoiled with the recentDisney 3D releases, but nevertheless, I believe the majority will findcrosstalk issues in this release regardless of your 3D setup. Asidefrom the crosstalk, “Chicken Little” boasts a few impressivedepth-oriented sequences. Of course these are rare in the film so theydon’t leave you with a lasting 3D impression. The detail remains stronglike its 2D release. The contrast can be a bit murky at times andshadows are heavier than in most animated releases. These last coupleissues are not really the fault of the technical video quality but stemsfrom the original production. Digital artifacting is primarily absent,though you will find some instances of aliasing. The most impressivepart of this release is the color palette. It remains fully intact likethe 2D counterpart. However, that is not enough to make this a great3D release.
“Chicken Little” is released with two audio tracks in the 3D Combopack. The original Blu-ray 2D disc included in the package is an exactcopy of the original Blu-ray release and thus has an LPCM 5.1 audiotrack. The Blu-ray 3D disc contains a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track to makemore room for the 3D video bitrate. The two tracks are identical forthe purposes of 99.9 percent of listeners out there. Unless you havedone extensive testing of the three lossless audio formats using acontrolled environment, like I have, you are not going to find anydifference between the two tracks. Even if you did the comparativelistening tests you would be hard-pressed to find a different. Anyway,“Chicken Little’s” audio quality is good but not as good as it couldhave been. This is largely attributed to the original sound design. Ina rare move, the filmmakers actually talk about their reasoning behindsome of the sound design choices since they have been questioned byaudiences. The bass is weak throughout the film, and their response isthat music was to remain the priority. Bad choice in my opinion, andapparently others as well. The dialogue is obviously a voice over, butit is much thinner than any other animated feature that I can recall. The dialogue remains clear, but it is just a bit brittle. The pop musicis nicely placed in the overall sound design, sounding better thanconventional stereo presentations. The directionality and panning ofsounds is generally good though can be spotty at times. All in all, theaudio quality is good but not great.
The Blu-ray 3D Combo pack, consisting of a Blu-ray 3D disc, a Blu-ray 2Ddisc and a DVD Copy disc, contains the same bonus materials as in theoriginal Blu-ray release in 2007. All bonus materials are located onthe Blu-ray 2D disc. There is a filmmaker audio commentary, a couplefilmmaker Q&As, a lengthy collection of deleted scenes, four musicvideos (three options for “One Little Step”), the Alien Invasioninteractive game, “Hatching ‘Chicken Little’” (a making-of), and a feweaster eggs.
“Chicken Little” isn’t going to be Disney’s most memorable CGI outing,but it is a wonderful twist on the fable we knew growing up and is agreat time for the entire family. Sadly the video quality of this 3Drelease is mediocre, paling in comparison to every other Disney 3Drelease. The audio quality is decent, but doesn’t provide the punchrequired by a 3D presentation. Of the four Disney 3D Blu-ray releaseson November 8th, I would avoid this one.