December 20, 2007 by Marshal Rosenthal
Will Springfield survive? Will Ned Flanders finally get his comeuppance? Will Homer find a looser belt-notch? These and other earth-shaking questions pale in comparison to whether the Simpsons movie needs to be in high-def. But then you could say the same about why make a movie of the long-running animated show - and in both cases the answer is yes. The Simpsons on the big screen allows for a story that encompasses more than the TV-standardized A/B format (story A turning into story B), and allows for the myriad of characters to push against their extreme 2-D behaviors.
There’s also more room for gags and funny bits, but mostly it lets the big screen get filled with all kinds of stuff that you’d never detect on a small screen (back when the show started, that would have meant a 19”). True, the animation at times seems a bit overwrought, but overall it’s all about the characters and their interaction in a mad world we’ve come to accept and love. Besides, where else can you get government conspiracies, Alaska, “green” themes and donuts all intertwined? And I’ve nothing but contempt for anyone who doesn’t appreciate Homer’s homage to “Spider-Man,” courtesy of that other white meat (freeze-frame means you count the number of hoof prints on the ceiling).
As for being in Blu-ray, the animation comes wiith a sharper edge and greater contrast range; compared to DVD’s resolution I can see more highlights and less of a “flat” look, especially in gross scenes featuring hordes of characters. It also lessens the blur of fast-moving action, and amidst all that yellow is a broad range of colors that, while not making anything photo-realistic, goes a bit farther at times than the conventional 2D view that has been refined for over 15 years of TV viewing. It’s nothing Pixar has to worry about but at least it’s more interesting to watch.
The music and sound effects contribute to the fun of the film. Besides providing a solid platform for the dialogue, there’s pinpoint surround effects that don’t go overboard and the subtleties of the musical score play out as well as the broad sound effects do (an excellent bass response contributing to this).
But the extras are nothing out of the ordinary, with the exception of the very short and poignant “Let’s Go Out to the Lobby,” which brilliantly defines Homer’s attitude towards foodstuffs entreating him to go to the concession stand. Still the commentaries are fun to listen to and, as the back of the Blu-ray package proclaims, there are a lot of trailers to watch when you’re just too tired to get back up.
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Disc Specs and Credits
Format reviewed: Blu-ray
Video: MPEG2, bit rate 37 MBPS
Disc Size: BD-50
Aspect Ratio: 1080p, 2.40:1
Audio: DTS-HD 5.1
Director: David Silverman
Screenwriter: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti
Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt, Tress MacNeille, Pamela Hayden, Joe Mantegna, Albert Brooks, Russi Taylor, Karl Wiedergott, Maggie Roswell, Tom Hanks
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
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