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The Buddies are off on an all new adventure, and this time their journey takes them all the way to the ruins of ancient Egypt where, with the help of some new friends, including Digger the Archeologist dog, Cammy, a baby camel, and a mischievous monkey named Babi, they’ll explore mysterious tombs, dodge treacherous booby traps, and race against a devious cat in search of the greatest treasure known to animalkind, the lost collar of Cleocatra.
For more about Treasure Buddies and the Treasure Buddies Blu-ray release, see Treasure Buddies Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 4, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Director: Robert Vince
Writers: Robert Vince, Anna McRoberts
Starring: Tucker Albrizzi, Adam Alexi-Malle, Tim Conway, Mason Cook, Skyler Gisondo, Charles Henry Wyson
» See full cast & crew
Treasure Buddies Blu-ray Review
Don't let your kids wander into this direct-to-video temple of doom...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 4, 2012
Another adventure, another round of G-rated talking-animal hijinks, another direct-to-video franchise pup sure to please the kiddies and leave parents desperately concocting an excuse as to why they need to step out of the room for ninety minutes. Yes, it's another Buddies movie, now with more uncomfortably mediocre CG and vague cultural stereotyping! (For added flavor maybe? I'm not sure.) With the Buddies having already invaded a haunted mansion, gone sled-dogging in Alaska, brought a band of illegal breeders to justice in wine country, walked on the moon, and trekked to the North Pole to help Santa Paws save Christmas, where else was there to go? The Middle East, of course, for an archaeological romp that steals a cursed page from The Revenge of Kitty Galore tome. And the end result is exactly what you'd expect: a fairly harmless but ultimately irritating time-sink sure to stunt young children's cinematic palates but leave them laughing, grinning and asking for more.
The Buddies -- easy-going Buddha (voiced by Charles Henry Wilson), snack-craving Budderball (Tucker Albrizzi), OMG-spewing preteen Rosebud (G. Hannelius), hip hop-lovin' B-Dawg (Skyler Gisondo) and mess-making Mudbud (Ty Panitz) -- head to Cairo to help an archaeologist (Richard Riehle!) and his grandson (Mason Cook) unravel the mystery of the lost collar of Cleocatra, a cat whose feline descendants were eternally cursed when dogs were made man's best friend. But the Buddies won't just have to contend with dangerous Egyptian tombs, ancient booby traps, and undead guardians. A greedy grave robber (Edward Herrmann) is out to swipe the legendary treasure of Cleopatra out from under their noses, while the thief's cat, a hairless Sphynx with dreams of world domination, has sinister plans of her own. With the help of Cammy the camel (Kaitlyn Maher) and Babi the capuchin monkey (Maulik Pancholy), the Buddies have to save their friends and, eventually, the world. Again, Cats & Dogs anyone?
I keep coming back to the Cats & Dogs parallels, I know, but for good reason. The Buddies movies aren't exactly known for their originality (what little there is), but Treasure Buddies doesn't even make an attempt. Raiding the graves of everything from Cats & Dogs to Indiana Jones to Aladdin, the latest direct-to-video franchise entry doesn't have an original bone in its mummified corpse. Even the dogs, who've already become a band of outdated late-nineties, early-noughts stereotypes, are upstaged by the cats, camels, monkeys and CG cobras that enter the fray, saddling the proud pups with supporting roles in their own film. The vocal performances are one-note, the jokes even more so, the fully CG creations are awful (especially the black cats), the visual effects are worse than ever (if you can see the Buddies' mouths moving, chances are they're standing still), and the green screened Egyptian backdrops call constant attention to how artificial the Buddies trip to Cairo actually is. Tossing this one to your tots is the equivalent of handing them a bowl of M&Ms slathered in chocolate syrup when you have plenty of time to prepare a nice, healthy meal. Lazy, lazy, lazy. There are just too many better films to feed your kids.
But they love these movies. What's the harm in letting them have some mindless fun every now and then? Nothing, except for the fact that there are literally hundreds of films most kids have yet to see that have more to offer, more to say and more worth treasuring than Treasure Buddies. The technical limitations of a low-budget talking-animal flick take their toll -- performances, dialogue and storytelling are sacrificed on the alter of silly stuntwork, cutesy-cuddly shenanigans, and CG -- but I refuse to believe there aren't talented writers and filmmakers out there who could do more on a dime and a Mac if given a million dollars and access to a Disney backlot. And maybe those people are even already working on the Buddies films. But the powers that be don't seem very interested in producing a quality product; just cranking out another bar of sugar for the knee-high masses to cram down their throats. There's no reason, modest budget included, that Treasure Buddies couldn't be an inspired, even clever send-up of Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade. And there's no excuse, including the tight constraints these DTV profit machines certainly involve, for serving up such soulless entertainment.
Instead of spending so much cash on CG (that disappoints anyway), might I recommend tapping a screenwriter with a vision rather than handing someone an assigned plot synopsis and a three-week turnaround. Or hiring a director who has an idea as to how to make a Buddies film both kids and their parents will enjoy. These people are out there, busing Hollywood tables and struggling to find their next PA gig, and they aren't hard to find. My seven-year-old and his friends may laugh, grin and ask for more, but that doesn't mean Disney (or their parents) should be so anxious to give them more of this. Or this. Ooooor this. Am I being too harsh? Maybe. Is it deserved? That's for you to decide, dear moms and dads. Choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you. What? Too much?
Treasure Buddies Blu-ray, Video Quality
Treasure Buddies, like all of the Buddies Blu-ray releases before it, features a serviceable but sanitized 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer that performs its duty to the letter. While a high-gloss digital video sheen presides over the presentation, the results strike me as technically sound. Colors are warm and vivid (albeit a bit sterile, as expected), primaries are playful, skintones are nicely saturated, and black levels are imperfect but more than adequate. Contrast and clarity are crisp and consistent as well, with plenty of decently resolved fine details and clean, reasonably refined edges to go around. The film's CG is jarring and ungainly, sure, but by no fault of the encode itself. Artifacting, banding and aliasing are kept to a minimum, and the minor oddities that do amble on screen seem to trace back to the source (specifically, to the visual effects work). Treasure Buddies' high definition presentation isn't going to wow anyone, impressionable young videophiles included, but it gets the job done.
Treasure Buddies Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't earn a pass, though, despite the fact that it's presumably a fair representation of the movie's sound design. Dialogue is crammed into the center channel and given little room to roam (save those instances that voices bounce around an enclosed chamber when the Buddies take their adventure underground). Competent prioritization prevents any lines, barks or yips from being buried in the soundscape, but Egypt -- even green-screened Egypt -- has never sounded this flat and uninvolving. While the rear speakers deliver ample activity, it's strictly of the artificial variety. Directional effects are contrived and ineffective, pans are stocky, and the soundfield isn't convincing in the least (although it does get slightly better when the Buddies begin exploring Cleocatra's tomb, at which point things become a touch more immersive). LFE output is merely passable too, with rare moments of puppy power overshadowed by a distinct disinterest in properly supporting anything but the most obvious low-end elements. Brahm Wenger's score is left to its own devices too, dragged to the forefront when the Buddies are on the run and then sent packing the moment they have something to say. It all amounts to a rather one-dimensional experience that does little to enhance the adventure.
Treasure Buddies Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Two extras. A Cribs parody, "DIGS: B-Dawg Edition" (HD, 5 minutes), and a "Roam" music video (HD, 3 minutes), featuring Caroline Sunshine, Kenton Duty, Adam Irigoyen and Davis Cleveland. No more, no less.
Treasure Buddies Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
To those of you who wish someone else would review the Buddies releases and give them more of a fair shake, I can only tell you I'm probably being kinder than most of my colleagues would. I'm not opposed to a good talking-animal flick, even a direct to video one, but I grow more and more irritated with the candy-coated children's drivel being tossed onto store shelves. There's a decent film in Treasure Buddies, I'll admit. It just dies a horrible, agonizing death long before the annoying pups reach Cleocatra's tomb. Some serious franchise retooling is in order. Otherwise, the poor old dog just needs put down. On the Blu-ray front, things aren't much better. While the movie's high definition video presentation is solid, its DTS-HD Master Audio track fizzles and its supplemental package is an 8-minute waste of time. Kids may enjoy the movie for what it is -- harmless entertainment -- but parents should know better. Introduce your children to more meaningful family films and throw this direct-to-video bone to the dogs.
Treasure Buddies: Other Editions
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Treasure Buddies Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Treasure Buddies Blu-ray - November 4, 2011
Next January, Walt Disney Studios will bring Treasure Buddies to Blu-ray. The sixth entry in the popular franchise, this film follows the canine Buddies on a treasure hunt through Egypt. The two-disc Blu-ray/DVD Treasure Buddies combo pack streets on January ...
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