Animation, directed by: Mark Dindal
Studio: Walt Disney 53449
Video: 1.78:1 1080p HD (some extras also 480i)
Audio: English 5.1 uncompressed PCM (48K/16bit); English/Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1 (some extras DD 2.0)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Director’s commentary with Producer & Visual Effect Supervisor; “Hatching Chicken Little” – Making of…featurette; 3 original deleted scenes with intro; 4 all-new deleted scenes; “Shake a Tall Feather” – Music video; “One Little Slip” Music video (3 versions); Instant access to scenes in movie that showcase the ultimate in HD image and sound
Length: 81 minutes
Rating: * or ****, depending on viewer
Disney once made classic animated features, as we all know. Do they still? I don’t think so, but if you’re a fan of animation such as Ice Age, Madagascar, or The Emperor’s New Groove – the latter by this director, Mark Dindal – you’ll probably find this one finger-lickin’ good.
The plot starts with the expected bop on the head of the earnest little chick by an acorn, which results in his creating a panic attack among all the town’s various animals and much embarrassment for his father. Later he has only a Fish Out of Water, a balloonish pig and an ugly Mallard duck as friends, as he tries to live down his cry of wolf. But aliens land and harass Chicken Little and he has to convince his father and everyone else again that the town is under attack from outer space. It all ends well of course.
The computer-generated characters are all rather odd and exaggerated in appearance; if I were a small child I think I would be as freaked by some of them as I once was by those disturbing forest trees in Bambi. The breaking into dance numbers left me cold, and I wasn’t familiar with any of the characters’ voice actors, so none of them broke me up as did Eddie Murphy’s donkey in Shrek. The plot revolves around a very grown-up pop psychology idea concerning improved communication between father and son and the need in it for “closure.” Gimee a break.
I’m not sure if animated features are the best demonstration of the astonishingly high resolution of either of the new hi-def formats. There is already with computer animation a reduction in the number of steps between the original shot and the final telecine transfer to DVD, which results in a more detailed and rich image and color. There are some clever little details which might be lost in a standard DVD version, but I’m afraid I lost interest in looking for the more adult-oriented references – visual or auditory – which are such fun in many family animation features today (such as Shrek) and make them truly appropriate for the entire family, unlike some of the cornball stuff foisted on us in the past.
The uncompressed six-channel PCM track sounded terrific – wasn’t its fault that I found some of the voices annoying. The Pioneer BDP-HD1 which was provided for Blu-ray reviewing was unable to access the 5.1 Dolby option for comparison.