DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Meet the Robinsons - DVD Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}Disney's Digital 3-D presentation of Meet the Robinsons is immediately preceded by a 1953 Walt Disney classic short entitled Working for Peanuts that features Chip n' Dale and Donald Duck. It's not necessarily a funny cartoon nor is it really a good one. But it is quite interesting from a nostalgic point of view, as it hasn't been seen on the big screen in over 50 years. The cartoon, originally created in 3-D, was considered rather forward-thinking for its time, so it's actually a quite clever set-up for the main feature's theme of "keep moving forward" that'll hammer us over the head for the next 100 or so minutes.

The filmmakers build upon an opening title card quote from Walt Disney himself in which he declared back in the day, "We don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward." And for the first third of Meet the Robinsons, we feel like perhaps the Mouse House crew had taken Uncle Walt's words to heart and put back into their films something that's been missing for some time now a new sense of hipness and creative innovation. But as the story moves past its opening act, it unfortunately falls apart before eventually gaining some lost footing near the end. It's kind of like a freshly made, jelly-filled donut sitting on the baker's shelf. A delicious treat at first glance, but upon closer inspection, its center is rather unfulfilling, or in this case, just a jumbled mess.

The story, adapted from William Joyce's illustrated book called A Day with Wilbur Robinson, is a very ambitious tale that follows boy genius Lewis (voiced by Daniel Hansen) who constantly tinkers with gadgets and futuristic gizmos in hopes of traveling back in time to meet his birth mother who left him on the orphanage steps when he was but a young infant. But instead, Lewis' adventures take him to the future where he meets Wilbur (Wesley Singerman), probably the most normal member of the wacky Robinson family. While with the Robinsons, Lewis naturally discovers his potential and is reminded to keep looking to the future (and all that wholesome Disney stuff). But it's not until the film has been virtually ruined by numerous perplexingly disjointed events and an assortment of wacky characters that Lewis is finally able to come back to the present and we, the audience, are allowed to sit and wonder what just happened. And to ask ourselves why there were dinosaurs in the future, and why were Aardman's singing frogs in a Disney flick. The story does eventually get back on track in its third act, and becomes the enjoyable tale we thought we were in for as it opened, but it's too late.

Initially, we're wowed by the film's eye-popping animation that's really like nothing we've seen before. My viewing was at one of the 600 screens nationwide that will show the film in the new Disney Digital 3-D, so I was able to get a glimpse of how the effect should be used vs. how it's been done in the past. The spectacular 3-D effects are never distracting, gimmicky or gratuitous. So often, filmmakers feel compelled to show off the technology by throwing things at the audience as if to say, "isn't this 3-D stuff really neat"? That's so '50s! But just about the time the amazement of the animation begins to wear off, the film enters its aforementioned middle section where things fall apart for first time feature director Stephen Anderson and his band of no fewer than seven writers.

Handled differently, Meet the Robinsons could have marked a superb reawakening for a sickly Disney Animation wishing to one-up Pixar in the digital animation wars. But as it is, the film's ambitions far exceed its grasp and storytelling capabilities. The action is way too frantic for its own good, and the confusing plot might be a bit too complicated for the younger viewers. But to its credit, it is refreshing to see a slightly different slant on the future and how it can be seen as prosperous and good, rather than a dark dreary place that calls for changes in the present to alter a character's outcome.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.78:1

Subtitles: None

Language and Sound: English: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; director's commentary; making-of featurette; music videos; interactive game.

* Commentary - Feature-length commentary track with director Stephen J. Anderson.
* Featurette
* Deleted scenes - with director commentary
* Music Video
* DVD-Rom Game

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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