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Dr. Seuss' The Lorax 3D(2012)
A boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.
For more about Dr. Seuss' The Lorax 3D and the Dr. Seuss' The Lorax 3D Blu-ray release, see Dr. Seuss' The Lorax 3D Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 3, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, Betty White
Directors: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
» See full cast & crew
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax 3D Blu-ray Review
Could it be? Could it be? Is it better in 3D? Oh yes! Oh yes! A bit better in 3D!
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 3, 2012
Not to overstate things, but "The Lorax," Dr. Seuss' none too subtle illustrated children's book, remains one of the most succinct, poignant and timely environmental cautionary tales ever penned for a young audience. The story itself is startlingly simple: a little boy visits a remorseful hermit called the Once-ler and learns how the creature's greed, carelessness and ambition led to the destruction of the once-beautiful and thriving Truffula forest. Forty years ago, it was ahead of its time; so much so that its message was dismissed in many circles as a hyperactive doomsayer's parable. Today, the 1972 book is frighteningly relevant; so much so that Seuss' doomsaying is inching ever closer to soothsaying. In expanding Seuss' simple story into a feature length animated film, though, directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda have, in some ways, missed -- or perhaps just muddled -- the point, giving life to a bloated Seussian hybrid.
Scrap what you know of "The Lorax" and especially what you expect of Illumination Entertainment's third film. Renaud and Balda make their affection for all things Seuss clear, sure (if not from the film than certainly from their commentary). But they fill out the 45-page book with at least thirty minutes of material that detracts from the text rather than enhances it. The Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms) still shares the error of his ways with a young boy (Zac Efron), recounting the destruction of the Truffula forest at his hands, the fate of the animals who lived there, and the arrival, subsequent warnings and sad departure of a strange little beast called the Lorax (Danny DeVito). But instead of focusing on the Once-ler's struggles with the Lorax, the filmmakers dream up a story for the young boy as well, whom they promptly dub Ted Wiggins. Ted is in love with a girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift) who mentions she'll marry any man who can show her a real tree; as opposed to the inflatable trees and bushes that adorn Thneed-Ville, a seemingly idyllic corporate-run dystopia that, unbeknownst to its walled-in populous, lies at the center of a vast wasteland.
Ted, with the help of his dear grandmother (Betty White), does the unthinkable and ventures beyond the wall to speak with the Once-ler, even though it lands him in hot water with Aloysius O'Hare (Rob Riggle), a sinister bottled-air magnate desperate to keep Thneed-Ville under his thumb. The Once-ler isn't exactly forthcoming, but, over several visits, tells Ted how the Truffula trees disappeared. Apparently, in his younger, sprier days, the Once-ler arrived in the Truffula forest while searching for raw materials and promptly cut down his first tree. From that first stump appears the Lorax, a powerful creature with... no powers whatsoever. (At least none that he is willing to use.) The Lorax sets about to thwart the Once-ler's plan to use the trees' unique leaves to manufacture and sell Thneeds, soft sweater-like contraptions with a thousand-and-one uses. As time passes, the Once-ler's family arrives and makes things exponentially worse, the Once-ler is consumed by his own greed, and the Lorax watches as his precious forest is eradicated. Meanwhile, in the present, Ted slowly comes to the realization that a travesty has occurred and maybe, just maybe, he can help right the Once-ler's wrong.
Renaud, Balda and screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul bulk up The Lorax to an ungainly size, splitting the story into two distinct narratives and diminishing both in the process. And they don't stop there, cramming in too many extraneous characters and subplots, sometimes reducing the Lorax to little more than comic relief, and generally heaping so much garbage on top of the film's message that it nearly suffocates. Yes, when adapting a children's book for the big screen, filler is a necessity. But it needn't be a necessary evil. Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino struck a delightful balance between faithfulness and invention with Horton Hears a Who, and delivered one of the most satisfying and entertaining Dr. Seuss adaptations to date. The Lorax, on the other hand, nails the look of a dazzling CG-animated Seuss film (thanks to Despicable Me's Illumination Entertainment and its grasp of the fantastical worlds of author Theodor Geisel), but fails to capture the heart and soul of the book or justify its inflation into a lumbering feature film.
Some of the filmmakers' additions and expansions work, in particular the Once-ler's initial likability, his arc as both partial protagonist and antagonist, and pretty much everything about the cute-n-cuddly band of marshmallow-lovin' forest animals he eventually evicts from the Truffula Valley. Smart casting and strong voice performances only help and tend to salvage the most cumbersome characters and haphazard tangents. Some of the additions, though, are either superfluous, counterproductive or both. Too much time is devoted to Ted's family, the Once-ler's clan, O'Hare's corporate villainy, Thneed-Ville's ignorance, the singing, the dancing, more singing, more dancing, a climactic debate... in song. (The idea of making The Lorax a pseudo-musical should have been thrown out with the trash.) But the filmmakers' most egregious mistake is in making Ted a main character, or really much of a character at all. The book tells the story of the Once-ler and the Lorax. The boy is merely an observer ultimately left with a choice. But not just any choice. Your choice. The power of "The Lorax" is not in seeing what happens with the last Truffula seed, but in placing the last Truffula seed in the hand of the reader. Renaud and Balda miss the mark, feeling the need to make Ted a hero rather than make the bolder choice: presenting a cautionary tale as a cautionary tale and leaving the viewer wondering what they would do with that seed. To offer a glimmer of hope; not a twenty-plus-minute epilogue complete with a corporate shakedown, a car chase, a giant bulldozer rampage, a musical number, and one last reunion.
And that's really The Lorax from start to finish: a worthwhile message lost in translation. So much of the film has been invented that the core of the Dr. Seuss book is buried beneath the rubble. The Once-ler's flashbacks are convoluted, the Lorax's attempts to sway the Once-ler are mired in slapstick and misplaced silliness (again, typically by presenting the weary Lorax as a punchline to several jokes), and the bits of the book that have been retained are often unrecognizable. I'll admit, had Ted's part of the adventure been more coherent, the adaptation might have succeeded, regardless of its girth or deviations. But even Ted's tale is plowed over again and again. Too much happens, too many plotlines unfold, too many characters have a major stake, too many movies have been shoved under one roof. Will kids enjoy The Lorax? Absolutely. Even as my heart was breaking a bit, I would look over and notice my seven-year-old son laughing, teetering on the edge of his seat, or covering his face, unsure of whether Ted would convince Thneed-Ville to side with him rather than O'Hare. Later, when he overheard me expressing disappointment with the film to my wife, he became incensed; in utter disbelief that anyone could think The Lorax was anything other than a masterpiece. Ah well. It's more than possible I came to the film with too many expectations. That I was looking for something as refined and rewarding as Horton Hears a Who. That my lifelong love of the original Dr. Seuss book prevented me from seeing things more clearly. Or maybe The Lorax is just a mediocre movie. Whatever the case, beware adaptations promising a new take on an old classic.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Lorax is a bit more fun in 3D thanks to a wild ride of a 1080p/MVC-encoded video presentation which is, by my estimation, flawless. Thneedville rises up and wraps around its citizenry and whoever might be lucky enough to be wearing a pair of 3D glasses. The Once-ler hurtles down an all-too-deadly river with dizzying speed. Axes swing across the foreground, the Lorax's furry fingers stretch out of the screen, uni-scooters screech to a halt beyond the bounds of the display, factories loom in the distance, a citywide car chase is as dazzling as it is invigorating... the 3D is as enveloping as it is deftly employed. There also isn't a hint of aliasing or any other issue exclusive to the 3D presentation, and even those whose displays are prone to crosstalk will be pleased with the remarkable dimensionality and precision of the 3D image. Those whose displays aren't prone to crosstalk are in for an even greater treat: a 3D experience that takes full advantage of its potential and doesn't falter.
Both the 3D and AVC-encoded 2D presentations exhibit slight instances of banding, infrequent and intermittent though it all may be, but that's the only thing that holds either one back from perfection. Even then, each brief blip is so minor that I'm not entirely sure its video score should by deducted half a point. But what's done is done. Colors range from rich to decadent, with everything from vibrant to lush to splashy to vivid in between. The Truffula Valley is awash with stunning summery hues, primaries bristle with energy, black levels are deep and inky, and contrast is dialed in beautifully. Even the scenes in the desolate Truffula wasteland have trouble suppressing the film's palette, which always seems to be fighting to push back the darkness and flood the screen. Detail is flawless too. If the animators thought to add it, you'll find it showcased in all its high definition glory. Edges are crisp and clean (without any aliasing or ringing), the image is pristine, and very little appears out of sorts. In fact, without any artifacting, noise or other anomalies, The Lorax doesn't leave much room for criticism which, believe it or not, makes us just as happy as it makes all of you.
Note: the screenshots accompanying this review are of the film's 1080p/AVC-encoded 2D presentation.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Not even the slightest hesitation here. Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a fun, fulfilling and wholly enveloping blast from sing-songy beginning to sweet, redemptive end. Voices are bright, clear and perfectly intelligible, and prioritization is spot on. Chaos erupts (as chaos tends to do) with boisterous bombast, trees fall with neck-twisting believability, chase scenes crescendo in a carefully controlled delirious dervish, and The Lorax's music fills the soundfield and immerses the listener in the sonic wit, wiles and wonders of a Dr. Seuss world. LFE output isn't unruly but it isn't reserved either, throwing its bouncing, bounding weight behind every boom, thoom and throom. The rear speakers are bubbling with activity too, deploying some truly convincing pans and eerily successful directional effects to amazing ends. The trunk of a soon-to-be-toppled tree creaks and splinters in the front right speaker, slides across the side of the room as the doomed Truffula falls, and lands with a fluffy thud in the rears. To describe it seems redundant; of course a falling tree would sound like that. But to hear it as presented is to realize how inadequate some mixes really are. And that's just one example. Ax chops sound off like cannon fire. Pop-up houses and trailers unfurl with heavy flaps and flitters. Bar-ba-loots waddle from speaker to speaker, leaping across the soundfield to snatch a marshmallow out of the air. Water splashes and sloshes, and then surges and roars when the Lorax accidentally dumps the Once-ler's bed in a river. No matter the scene, no matter the story, no matter how trivial or important an effect may be, Universal's lossless track is a terrific one, regardless of how much or how little you enjoy the film itself.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not." Family films are an easy sell. They don't have to be great, just good enough to make the kids laugh, the parents pleased that the kids are laughing and... that's about it. Dr. Seuss' beloved, environmentally prescient children's book deserves more than The Lorax, though, decent as it may be. As an adaptation, it underwhelms. As a Seuss adaptation it under-delivers. As a family film, it does what it needs to do. As a 3D experience, though, it's a blast. In fact, Universal's 3D Blu-ray release is better than its 2D counterpart. It may share the same striking 2D video encode and absorbing DTS-HD Master Audio track, but its 3D presentation pushes it over the top (even if its supplemental package still only has a single notable extra in Renaud and Balda's audio commentary). Alas, in the end, 3D or 2D, The Lorax isn't all it could be. Its AV presentation and 3D experience certainly is, but that only gets the film so far.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: Other Editions
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Dr. Seuss' The Lorax 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (2012) Blu-ray - June 5, 2012
In August, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will bring The Lorax to Blu-ray. This animated adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss tale stars the voice of Danny DeVito (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as the title character, a weary woodland creature trying ...
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