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Yogi Bear (3D/2D) (2010) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
ImageYogi Bear was never one of my Saturday morning cartoons.  However, it does seem to have a big fan base.  That base was not big enough for it to be one of the first cartoon-film adaptations, but nevertheless it has finally come to the big screen.  Or rather, should I say that the film has come to the small screen.

“Yogi Bear” lacks any of the ingenious that one would think of when it comes to a multi-million dollar box office creation.  Instead, this film seems more like it was meant for direct-to-video status.  The plot is all too formulaic and there isn’t anything individually or altogether that really screams motion picture.  This is an 80-minute adaptation of a 30-minute TV spot.

The film is riddled with lengthy segments that could have easily been excised.  However, the filmmakers somehow had to get the runtime up to 80 minutes.

For those that are unfamiliar with Yogi Bear, he tagline is “smarter than the average bear.”  Yogi is the picnic basket-snatching bear of Jellystone Park.  IN fact, his character is almost identical to Wylie Coyote.  Yogi invents contraptions that always fail to capture the basket.  His existence is known and aggravates the head park ranger, Smith (Tom Cavanagh).

So what we have in this film is the head ranger who is trying to keep Jellystone from being shutdown and sold off to loggers, a plot devised by a mayor who is trying to it to the governor’s office.  Smith must raise something like $40,000 in one week to meet the operating budget or the park will be rezoned for deforestation.

Ranger Jones (T.J. Miller) plays a menial part but one that is there out of necessity to make the plot move forward.  He is the typical lowly employee that longs for greatness but doesn’t want to take the time to pay his dues.  He wants to start at the top.  The mayor tells him he can make it happen if Jones sabotages the centennial celebration party.
Also hurting Ranger Smith is Yogi Bear, who thinks he can wow the park visitors and make them even happier.  So his plans naturally lead to disaster.  When the park finally closes Smith eventually learns of the logging going on there and is stunned.  Apparently it never occurred to him earlier to learn of the mayor’s hidden agenda.

Somehow, Rachel (Anna Faris), a documentary filmmaker fits into all this.  Her camera technology plays a brief important role and she is of course the eventual love interest for Ranger Smith.  The film basically ends where it began, but taking us on a mini journey along the way.  As I said earlier, the film could have been condensed in a half hour TV episode. Okay, an hour TV episode with commercials.

If there is one thing that this film has going for it, it is the video quality.  This is a 3D/2D combo pack of the film, giving viewers a choice in their viewing preference.  As there are still relatively few 3D titles I was excited to pop in the 3D version.  While the movie is a flop, the 3D action is top-notch.  The depth of the image is consistent and meaningful.  The forest backdrop receives magnificent layering in the 3D version.  Trees go on endlessly in the depth of the image.  Lookout points have breathtakingly real texture.  The colors are lush and vibrant.  The forest’s red and greens are a bit over exaggerated here, but pleasing nevertheless.  The black levels are impeccable, helping to define the depth of the image.  The CG and natural portions of the film are the drawback to the 3D presentation.  The blending of the two leads to some awkward, mis-matched moments.  However, this is generally the case with the 2D presentation as well.  Haloing and edges remain tight for the most part.  There are a few distracting ghosting images early on, but these seem to dissipate as the film progresses.

The 2D version of the image yields a slightly less satisfactory image once having seen the 3D presentation.  However, the 2D presentation is still pleasing to the eyes.  The color remains just as vibrant.  Black levels are a little bit weaker, but they still maintain some depth to the image.  However, depth is far less exciting in the 2D presentation.  The Jellystone Park backdrop just doesn’t cut it after seeing it in 3D.  Nevertheless, the image is free from artifacting and compression issues.

Whether you watch the 3D or 2D presentation, you are sure to be more than satisfied.  However, the 3D presentation does have the added bonus of seeing elements jut from the screen.  Just watch as Yogi and the chips fly from the screen, or as the fireworks jettison from the raft.  The 3D gimmicks are endless in this film.

The audio quality is not quite as pleasing as the 3D viewing quality, but it does provide great support.  Accuracy is the primary issue with the audio track.  Panning and directionality are not spot on when it comes to screen/aural matching.  This seems to be a haphazard job in sound design.  Still, it was distracting enough for me.  The rear channels contain good sound effects, but their movement lacks accuracy.  The rear channels seem to favor discrete effects rather than ambience, which is rare.  However, the problem here is that we are in the forest.  Ambience should be plentiful, but it is lacking, and thus the enveloping nature of the audio track is missing.  Dialogue remains upfront and audible throughout.  The stereo separation of the front channels is better than most.  The LFE channel doesn’t get a workout here, but it does have its moments.  Dynamics are better than I expected for the genre of the film.  Overall, this is a pleasant audio track, simply lacking the refined details.

In a rare move, the 3D disc actually contains some special features.  The features on this disc are in 3D.  There is a “Tour Of Jellystone Park.”  “Jellystone Park Jewel: Yogi’s Secret Hiding Spot” is a meaningless 2-minute segment.  “Jellystone Park Visitor Pic-a-nic Demo” is 3D demo used to pitch the idea of the film.  “Fun On The Yogi Bear Set” gets the cast to talk about the 3D filming experience.  Lastly, there is a Looney Tunes 3D short, “Rabid Rider.”

There are a few other bonus materials on the 2D disc.  “Spending A Day At Jellystone Park” is an interactive guide to different set locations.  “Are You Smarter Than The Average Bear?” is a memory game.  “Yogi Bear Mash-Up” is a cast discussion.  Finally, the disc also contains the same “Rabid Rider” short in 2D mode.

The package also comes with a DVD/Digital copy of the film.

“Yogi Bear” certainly is not the best film of the year.  This is just too bad since the money and effort was put forth to create this film in 3D.  For fans the 3D presentation is spectacular and will be sure to impress.  The 2D version is also of great quality, but subpar once the 3D version has been seen.  If you have a 3D setup then this is a must.  Otherwise I would say skip it unless you a fan.

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