Posted in: Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on February 25th, 2011
A Wild West overlord is plotting to shrink the world’s population. This evil plot is running along smoothly until a shrunken Texas ranger escapes in a whiskey bottle and finds himself saved by a plucky sibling duo named Luke and Lucy, along with their gaggle of wacky friends. The group become honourary rangers and set out to battle evil.
The character design, and over the top sense of adventure, are reminiscent of the Tintin series as these characters are based on those that appeared in Belgian comics under the same Herge banner that Tintin shares. Sadly, the CGI animation takes most all the life out of them with rigid movements and very poor lip syncing. Of course, being originally produced in Dutch, one can forgive some of the mismatched dialogue-to-mouths, but some more work could have been done to smooth it out.
The story is a standard goof vs. evil adventure that young children should enjoy, but the pacing will seem cumbersome to older viewers. When I say “young children” should enjoy this, I am referring to the under 10 bracket, yet the heavy repetition of the word “damn” and some a suggestive burlesque performer (a failed attempt to ape a Jessica Rabbit’s routing) makes me wonder who they were actually gearing this material for. I’m sure most parents don’t want their toddler spouting “damdamdamdamdam” like one of the wacky villains does at every turn, but bring in a viewer who is any older, and they’ll probably be bored quick.
My main concern was with the American voice cast. None of the actors had any conviction in their deliver, and some of their choices were odd ,such as the brute who decided to talk in broken sentences like the Hulk might. I mentioned before that the rigid animation sapped some of the life out of the film, well the lifeless delivery of the voice actors all but kills what is left.
The adventure itself runs a predictable course while a side-plot about a scientist trying to cure the shrinking condition makes for some Looney Tune Style silly distractions. Neither aids the other in interest, nor do they detract said interest. Each run their course and we all know who generally wins against evil.
Widescreen 1.85:1. Phase 4 Films have always delivered top-notch picture quality for their animations. Everything is very clean, which can be a plus as well as a hindrance as the aforementioned lifeless quality of the animation is all the more apparent with a flawless picture. The sheer LACK of detail is highlighted.
Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 in both English and the original Flemish. Like the picture quality Phase 4 offers, the sound is very much up to and above par. All the speakers are utilized, the music sounds gorgeous…but again, like the video, the great quality makes the lifeless qualities all the more apparent, namely the lackluster line delivery.
Interview with Billy Ray Cyrus: Cyrus is looking very rockstar-like with his hangover shades, arm of tattoos and generally spacey demeanor. The questions are very lowball and he ends up repeating the same three responses over and over again.
Music Videos: For two songs, “Land of Milk and Honey” and “Yellow Rose.” I’m not sure who was behind these two tunes, but they are odd. Both are alt-rock mixed with country. The performers seem out of touch with the dancy music they are meant to sing to. I was originally turned off by these songs as they appeared in the film, but in hindsight I find them almost refreshingly unique (and that I mean weird).
Downloadable Activity Sheets: Exclusive for when you place the disc into your computer.
Phase 4 Films cannot be doubted for the quality of the DVDs they produce, but greater efforts will have to be made by the filmmakers if they want to continue with this series (the rumours being that 13 are planned for production).