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Alvin and the Chipmunks(2007)
Get your squeak on because "The Chipmunks" are back and bigger than ever. When struggling songwriter Dave Seville opens his home to a talented trio of chipmunks named Alvin, Simon and Theodore, they quickly become overnight music sensations. But when a greedy record producer tries to exploit the musical ensemble, Dave must use a little human ingenuity—and a lot of ’munk mischief—to get his furry family back before it’s too late.
For more about Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Alvin and the Chipmunks Blu-ray release, see Alvin and the Chipmunks Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 4, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jason Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richardson, Jane Lynch, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler
Director: Tim Hill
» See full cast & crew
Alvin and the Chipmunks Blu-ray Review
A surprisingly enjoyable family film deserves to be part of your Blu-ray collection.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 4, 2008
My life is being sabotaged by talking chipmunks!
Hollywood has a knack for ruining perfectly good ideas, recycling old stories, and reinventing or "updating" for the 21st century established, cherished, and long-standing characters from days gone by. With all that in mind, I sat down to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks with my expectations lower than the floor of the Grand Canyon, expecting a mishmash of all of the above, a putrid movie that only a small child not old enough to know any better could love. Color me surprised--I loved the movie. It's been a while since I was surprised by a family film, and Alvin and the Chipmunks managed to surprise me, in a big way. These waffle-eating chipmunks stole the show, making me forget for 90 memorable minutes that once in a blue moon a remake, a re-imagining, an updated version of a classic isn't always a bad thing. Serious films like The Fugitive and 3:10 to Yuma are two examples of remakes of television shows and an old movie, respectively, that managed to wow me, but I would never have expected to be this pleased with the results of a family-oriented film that showcases chipmunks dressed as rappers on the poster/box art (I didn't see them dressed that way at all in the movie). I don't know how they did it, but Hollywood pulled this one off, making an adorable and definitely not obnoxious film that is suitable and fun for every member of the family.
Alvin (voiced by Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard), Simon (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler, RV), and Theodore (voiced by Jesse McCartney, Horton Hears a Who!) are three chipmunks living happily in the forrest and singing Daniel Powter's wonderful song "Bad Day," completely unaware of the meaning that song is about to have in relation to their life. Before they can say "chipmunk," their tree is cut down, netted, and placed on the back of a truck. Our trio of heroes find themselves and their tree in the lobby of Jett Records, the same lobby where aspiring songwriter Dave Seville (Jason Lee, Dogma) is about to pitch his latest song to record mogul Ian Hawke (David Cross, School For Scoundrels). Seville is rejected, dejected, and ejected from the office, but not before stealing a basket full of muffins, the same basket Alvin, Simon, and Theodore jump into to escape the perils of the lobby. Winding up in Dave's garbage can before he even knows they are they, the trio escape and manage to introduce themselves to their new best friend, who isn't impressed that they have managed to infiltrate his house, even though these chipmunks can talk. After kicking them out, they win Dave over with their choral singing, and he of course smells opportunity, taking them back to Ian's office, hoping to win him over as he's sure they're the next "big thing." Indeed they are, but the crafty Ian smells the dollars as well, slowly but surely manipulating the chipmunks away from Dave and into his open arms (and bank account). Will the chipmunks realize the folly of their ways, accepting Ian for his money rather than Dave for his love, and will they let success get to their head, causing them to become something they aren't? The answer isn't hard to figure out, but it's the getting there that makes this movie loads of fun.
Perhaps the best thing about Alvin and the Chipmunks, as I noted above, is simply that it succeeds where so many others have failed before. The movie is magically fun, unbelievable yes, but very, very fun and entertaining. The cast, namely Jason Lee and David Cross, were about as good as can be expected in a movie featuring CGI chipmunks with a singing voice. They played their roles with just the right amount of lovable humor and heart (Lee) and malicious and greedy evil (Cross). Neither overplayed their roles, letting the real stars of the movie shine, and never reverting to slapstick or ridiculousness to sell a scene. Both seem perfectly cast for their roles, roles that won't win them any awards for their shelves, but roles they should look back on with pride, knowing they contributed to one of the best family films (especially not released by Pixar) to come along in years.
I was also impressed by the chipmunks themselves. Not only do they look great (save for one scene where Alvin finds himself in the dishwasher) but I never felt they ruined any of the songs they sang. It's been my impression over the years that when a film takes popular music and re- imagines it, it winds up sounding abysmally and ear-shatteringly bad, but that wasn't the case here. From the aforementioned "Bad Day" to Lipps, Inc.'s "Funkytown," each song was performed admirably and humorously by the artists contributing to the movie, bringing a smile to my face for all the songs, and especially the ones I recognized. Needless to say, I was never disappointed, bored, or angry at the movie, all emotions I fully expected to feel over the course of movie's runtime. Even a few jokes that I would normally roll my eyes at, such as a flatulence joke when Dave first encounters the chipmunks, actually didn't bother me at all, and I couldn't help but find it funny and muster a good, solid chuckle. This particular movie, from a genre that's generally a take-it-or-leave it one for me, just clicked, and I loved every minute of it. This is a movie I'll be watching again soon, this time without the pressure of having to critique the movie, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it even more the second time around.
Alvin and the Chipmunks Blu-ray, Video Quality
Alvin and the Chipmunks arrives on Blu-ray in a pleasing, film-like 1080p, 1.85:1 framed high-definition transfer. The look of the movie instantly reminded me of Juno, both films looking very natural and theatrical rather than slick and polished. The image does appear a bit soft and hazy at the beginning. I'm not sure if it cleared up or my eyes adjusted, but either way, it was never serious, and as the movie moved along, I came to like the look of it more and more. Flesh tones at times had a reddish tint to them, again something I noted more early in the film rather than later on. A very, very fine amount of grain permeates the film, a layer that seemed to add that last bit of "theatrical" feel to the quality of the film. Black levels are also deep here, impressing me a great deal. Color reproduction is excellent, and even though the colors aren't as eye-popping and robust as seen in some movies, they rather looked natural and clean. The colors of the chipmunks sweaters really stand out as sharp and bright, as did those of all the toys they play with throughout the length of the movie. Detail is moderately high, as is clarity. While some other recent films sported a better overall appearance, I sometimes like an image that doesn't try to look too clean. I've always liked the look employed here, and while I also appreciate the glossy, pristine appearance of a movie like I, Robot, I think that deep down, I prefer these images found here, in the aforementioned Juno, and in Employee of the Month that are slightly more drab, less glossy, a tad grainy, and more "theatrical" in appearance.
Alvin and the Chipmunks Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Alvin and the Chipmunks sing their way onto Blu-ray with a fairly impressive DST-HD MA 5.1 audio mix. Like the video, this audio mix may not be the best you've ever heard, but it gets the job done in a most impressive fashion. I was impressed by the sound of all the music heard throughout the film, from the fairly typical sounding family-fare score to a "normal" rock song heard while Dave gets ready for his interview and, of course, to all of the performances put on by the chipmunks, be they a cappella or accompanied by various instrumental tracks. The high-pitched voices of the chipmunks come across surprisingly well, the lossless audio really stepping up to the plate and making our trio of heroes sound as good as you're ever likely to hear a chipmunk sound when singing. Dialogue is fine, excellently reproduced, and focused in the center channel. Surround channels are not overly active, though there are some very good scenes to take advantage of them. Ditto the subwoofer, both coming into use in chapter 16 at the chipmunks' premiere. All in all, this is a fine track, one that definitely helps the proceedings rather than hindering them, elevating the quality of the movie a bit, just like any good soundtrack worth its salt should do.
Alvin and the Chipmunks Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, Fox has chosen not to include all that many extras on this disc. Despite its status as a new release, a digital copy is not included, though I am sure the reasoning is that the target audience isn't likely to be carrying around iPods and iPhones, although the opening for the first extra shows the movie on a portable video device. Chip-Chip-Hooray! Chipmunk History (480p, 12:18) is a nice look at the history of the Chipmunks, beginning with a discussion by Ross Bagdasarian Jr., son of the creator of The Chipmunks, Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., and his journey in creating these memorable characters. Hitting the Harmony (480p, 8:55) looks at the "Dee Town Crew," the group that brought us the music heard in the film. Not as good as the previous feature, this one will probably appeal to younger audiences, while the first feature will appeal more to adults. Finally, trailers for Ice Age: The Meltdown, Night at the Museum, and Eragon conclude this all-too-short helping of supplemental material.
Alvin and the Chipmunks Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While I may be in the minority, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Alvin and the Chipmunks. It's definitely not the best movie ever made, but it worked very well for what it is, and didn't try too hard to be just like every other family CGI movie out there. Sometimes a movie can just entertain without being too intelligent, lofty, and smart, and that's exactly what Alvin and the Chipmunks does. The quality of the Blu-ray itself is fine, the picture and the audio both slightly better than par for the course, but anyone wanting a plethora bonus materials will be disappointed. I'm not surprised this movie was such a big hit for 20th Century Fox, and while I regret having missed it in theaters, I'm more than pleased to now have it in my Blu-ray collection. Alvin and the Chipmunks is a Blu-ray disc I definitely and enthusiastically recommend!
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Alvin and the Chipmunks Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Alvin and the Chipmunks Announced for Blu-ray (Updated) - February 5, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will release the animated/live action film 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' on Blu-ray April 1st, day-and-date with the DVD release. The title will come on a BD-25 with AVC 1080p video and an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio ...
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