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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


A Little Background     Openers     


    Modus Operandi     The Scorecard:     

Emotive Connection      Audio     Operations    Extras     The Movie     Equipment




Alvin and the Chipmunks - BRD

(Tim Hill, 2007)







Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Fox 2000 Pictures & Regency Enterprises

DVD: 20th Century Fox Pictures Home Entertainment


Review by Leonard Norwitz



Aspect ratio: approx. 1.85:1

Feature film: 1080p / AVC @ 16 MBPS

Supplements: 480i

91 minutes

28 chapters



English DTS 5.1 HD Master Lossless

French DD 5.1 Surround

Spanish DD 5.1 Surround



English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean



Chip-Chip-Hooray! Chipmunk History Featurette

Hitting the Harmony Chipmunk Music Featurette


Standard Blu-ray case: 1 disc

25 GB single layer

Release Date: April 1, 2008




Perhaps you remember Harry and The Hendersons, or maybe, E.T., where some strange or alien creature is stumbled onto, then adopted into the family.  As the creature turns the household topsy-turvy, the family grows closer while they attempt to ward off those who would not understand. I Dream of Jeannie was an earlier and successful television manifestation of the idea – sort of.  Well, Alvin & the Chipmunks is not such a movie.  Nor does it have anything in common with Pixar's Ratatouille except for the size of its protagonists.  Just thought I'd clear that up right from the start.


Inspired by Ross Bagdasarian's Chipmunk Song, Ross Jr. and other devotees of the little rodents thought it would be a clever idea to flesh out their humdrum lives with a BIG movie where they rescue a struggling songwriter from obscurity (I suppose they mean: Ross, Sr.)  These cute little buggers: Alvin, Simon and Theodore are equally mischievous and talented – that is, if you can tolerate their squeaky vocalizing.  There must be something wrong with my hearing, because I required subtitles half the time.  Then, again, there must be something wrong with my brain that I actually wanted to know.




Let's see what a few of the critics say:


Peter Hartlaub/SF Chronicle: . . . there's still something mildly distressing about the production, which gets worse the more you think about it. Between the occasional amusing joke and catchy musical number, this "Alvin" update is a very soulless movie.  . . In many ways, that sums up the current state of children's cinema. Defecation and flatulence jokes are included as if there's a congressional mandate, and any morals or inspirational themes are optional. No one in "Alvin and the Chipmunks" learns any lesson; the characters just react to a series of misunderstandings, usually by running away from the problem. The movie is, at best, empty calories - the cinematic equivalent of a bowl of Lucky Charms. Speaking of which, that sugary breakfast cereal is actually pretty symbolic of the biggest problem with "Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Excerpt from SFGate located HERE


Roger Ebert/Sun-Times: The most astonishing sight in "Alvin and the Chipmunks" is not three singing chipmunks. No, it's a surprise saved for the closing titles, where we see the covers of all the Alvin & company albums and CDs. I lost track after 10. It is inconceivable to me that anyone would want to listen to one whole album of those squeaky little voices, let alone 10. "The Chipmunk Song," maybe, for its fleeting novelty. . . There are, however, Alvin and the Chipmunks fans. Their latest album rates 4.5/5 at the iTunes store, where I sampled their version of "Only You" and the original by the Platters, and immediately downloaded "The Platters Greatest Hits." I imagine people even impatiently pre-order the Chipmunks, however, which speaks highly for the drawing power of electronically altered voices by interchangeable singers. This film is dedicated to Ross Bagdasarian Sr., "who was crazy enough" to dream them up. I think the wording is about right.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's review at the Chicago Sun Times HERE



Stephen Hunter/Washington Post: I suppose the justification for this iteration of the now-familiar tale of mild-mannered songwriter Dave Seville, who becomes father to Alvin and his buddies, Simon and Diseased Scurvy Rodent -- oh, sorry, folks, I mean Theodore! -- is new computer technologies. So this film features what look like living plush toys. (It also features authentic human being Jason Lee's excessively mild posturing as Dave and David Cross's hammy over-acting as the record exec who wants to corrupt the boys; Cross is reportedly human as well.)  Compared with the wonders in "Beowulf" and "The Golden Compass," this film isn't much. But youngsters who love the shrieky singing and don't notice the tapioca of the story will probably get their money's worth. Parents: Bring earplugs.

Excerpt from Stephen Hunter's review at the Washington Post located HERE


That just about sums it up for me as well, but how does this all look on Blu-ray?  Let's have a peek.


The Score Card


The Movie : 3

When Alvin, Simon and Theodore find their tree cut down, they soon find their way to the home of frustrated songwriter, David Seville.   David is unlucky in just about everything, love and career, most notably.  But at least he kept a neat house.  Well, he used to keep a neat house – until the chipmunks arrived.  As it happens, these furry creatures have an unusual singing talent just ripe for exploitation.  David is an agreeable ally, but recording executive, Ian Hawke: not so much.  When success and glamour knocks, can family values be far from the drain?


Image : 7.5 (7.5~8.5/9)

The score of 7.5 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs on a ten point scale.  The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre.




It's like your video display is set on Vivid or Sports or whatever setting you have that boosts contrast and saturation all to hell.  I guess the producers think that kids enjoy or require this sort of manipulation.  Not satisfied with garish color, the little cuties themselves are manipulated to such a degree in order to convey motion, that they are rarely seen in sharp focus.  I suppose this is to suggest realism, since real chipmunks wouldn't sit still for such shenanigans very long.  But make no mistake, this is not a DVD you want to show off your system with.











Audio & Music : 8/5

The good news is that the audio mix is clear enough to make out those lovely little songs. The bad news is that the audio mix is clear enough to make out those lovely little songs.




Operations : 8

Fox gets to it quickly enough without long loading. Chapters are not titled, but thumbnails enlarge nicely.  I liked the menu.


Extras : 3

The two bonus features deliver the promise of their titles and go on no longer than is necessary.  The image quality, given the multiplicity of sources, is variable, though never poor.  A similar approach to color and contrast pervades.



Recommendation : 3

That's all, folks.


Leonard Norwitz
March 29th, 2008









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