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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Igor [Blu-ray]


(Tony Leonidas, 2008)






Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: MGM Pictures, Exodus Film Group & Sparx Animation Studios

Blu-ray: MGM Home Entertainment



Region: A

Runtime: 86 min.

Chapters: 24

Size: 50 GB

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 20, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 38 MBPS



English DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless. Spanish 5.1 Dolby Surround



English and Spanish



• Audio Commentary by Writer Chris McKenna, Director Tony Leonidas & Producer Max Howard

• Alternate Opening Scene in HD (3:18)

• Concept Art Galleries: Characters, Set, Production Design, Storyboards & Posters



The Film: 5
Trying too hard to be all things to all audiences the filmmakers here have succeeded in creating a movie not unlike Igor's monster, stitched together from Betty Boop eyes, Coneheads and Raggedy Anns and costumes from the Liberace Museum, among other things, that never quite gels.

In the kingdom of Malaria, once a fit and sunny place to bring up your children, storm clouds have had a stultifying effect on everyone's attitude. The king has decreed that the only way the country could stay afloat economically is if they export evil toys. Just the threat of what these things could do extorts a good living from the rest of the planet. One thing begets another, including a race of creatures, all named "Igor," bred only to "pull the switch." One such Igor (voiced by John Cusack) gets it into his head that he could make a better mad scientist than his employer, a hypothesis he is soon able to test out when Dr. Glickenstein (John Cleese) meets with an – er – accident (not Igor's doing, honest).

What Igor creates is a gigantic creature named, in a shameless and not very funny ripoff of Wall-E, "Eva." The problem is that Eva, despite Igor's intentions and instructions, can only do good. The country's number one evil mad scientist, Dr. Schadenfreude (Eddie "Lounge" Lizzard), a cross between Elton John, Marilyn Manson and Liberace, knows something is up and tries to steal Igor's plans or, failing that, Eva herself.



There's a good deal of Mickey Mouse Club (no offense) moralizing in this tale about choosing good or evil. Not content with such simplicities, the movie is filled with more remote cultural references than an earnest film student could keep track of, plus an ending that has Total Recall written all over it - something for this audience, followed for no rhyme or reason by something for that. I felt much the same way about the music, which jumps into classic retro blues with very little provocation. I didn't much care for John Cusack's impersonation of Albert Brooks either. How, I asked myself, does Nemo's dad, Marlin, figure as Igor? Moments later Cusack would try on another voice just as I becoming accustomed to the first one.

What I did like, I liked very much: the color, the characters and their costumes and most of the set designs. These all account for a great deal in any animated feature, so I wouldn't want to minimize their effect. But then, just to annoy me it seemed, another piece of inane dialogue would insult both the kid and the adult in me, and the lighting source for any character would change at the drop of a hat as the camera shifted its position (Can Dr. Seuss be far behind?)



Image: 9/10
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

I certainly can't fault the image: it's tight, sharp, highly resolved, with no weird fuzz or other distractions. The contrast demanded by the production is about as far ranging as any animation I've seen. Blacks, shadow detail, color saturation, blaring light – it's all done wonderfully. The image quality is just about right up there with the best of them, though it seems to hold on for dear life, like Mr. Toad. . . if only that key light wouldn't move around so.














Audio & Music: 8/7
While never reaching the heights or depths of a live action thriller like Wanted, the audio here is still busy with every manner of effect, musical cue, and overlapping dialogue (the latter being the only place I felt that could use more clarity). The surrounds conveyed the various locales very well, from one mad scientist's laboratory to another, to the crowd-filled stadium, to the wild ride across the mountain pass.



Operations: 8
Menus can be watched, with or without sound effects, the main menu easily returned from the self-guiding galleries, which will continue on their merry way unless you pause or skip ahead.

Extras: 4
Except for the audio commentary, the extra features are all without comment. The feature commentary is infectious and informative, if not a little self-congratulatory. I liked the Concept Art Galleries, as far as they went. And the alternate opening scene worked well too.




Bottom line: 7
O.K., so I didn't care for the movie. I found it too dark for young children, too oblique for older children, and too lame for adults. But, make no mistake: the visuals, except for the bizarre light sources, shifting or not, are fascinating, as are the character and art designs. The audio supports the ever-changing image nicely, making this Blu-ray a great demo, if only we could close our minds to the script.

Leonard Norwitz
February 10th, 2009






About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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