L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

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


Introduction: 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.

The LensView Home Theatre:




Space Buddies [Blu-ray]


(Robert Vince, 2008)







Review by Leonard Norwitz



Blu-ray: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment



Region: A

Runtime: 84 minutes

Chapters: 12

Size: 50 GB

Case: Standard Blu-ray case w/ slipcover

Release date: February 3rd, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC



English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio



Feature & Bonus: English SDH



• Disneypedia: The Buddies' Guide to Space Travel (12:55)

• Buddy Facts

• Buddy Bloopers (2:54)

• Buddy Finder

• Disney BD-Live Network



The Film: 5
Just as in Snow Buddies, where the puppies teamed up with an Alaskan Husky puppy named "Shasta", in Space Buddies, they have the opportunity to meet a genuine canine astronaut, "Spudnick."

Five sibling puppies, owned by as many schoolmates, manage to stowaway in a rocket ship bound for a moon mission. What is supposed to make this remotely credible is that the mission is designed to be unmanned and controlled remotely from its launch station. So as long as the pups don't get in the way they could conceivably make the trip. But what plot would there be if they didn't lend a paw in their own destinies!

Back on earth the puppies are noticed missing by their owners, but have no idea where they might have gone off to. Earlier that day, the kids visited mission control as part of a school field trip and, unbeknownst to them – or anyone else – the puppies had scrambled onto the bus and eventually onto the space ship itself. A melodramatic touch - well, more than touch – is that the entire project is sabotaged by Dr. Finkel (Kevin Weisma, the technical whiz from Alias) who figures that if all goes according to plan, the ship may never reach its destination.

En route the buddies dock with a Russian space station where they meet up with Cosmonaut Yuri (Diedrich Bader) who is definitely showing signs of the space crazies. Uri's bull terrier, Spudnick, seems to know how things work and yearns to get back to Earth to his boy owner and so hitches his hopes on the buddies' return flight.

Since this movie is targeted for young kids, it is important to note that there is no evidence of animal cruelty or even serious potential danger for the critters – not even the project director's pet ferret, "Gravity." Space Buddies is kid-safe in the extreme.



Image: 6/8
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 can well imagine that no Bud or Buddy movie has ever looked this good on video, but this is not to say that the image is all that awesome. Colors are natural. Contrast is sensible. But it's soft and a little grainy. The CG of the rocket take off is artful in concept, murky in execution. The CG wire erase is good, though I think that the join to the puppies' uniforms bulges a bit.














Audio & Music: 6/7
In the right places, the surrounds do get something to do, but this is largely a dialogue-driven movie, which get me directly to the thing that made me jump out of my chair (you can tell I don't watch this sort of movie very often): the voices for the puppies are indistinguishable from their owners. I don't mean that they are the same actors but that there is no effort to lend them a unique signature. The target audience will necessarily identify with the pups even without their sounding similar to their owners, so the decision struck me as laziness. Obviously, I represent a minority opinion.


Operations: 8
Non-animated, sensibly laid out, easy to navigate menus display lots of information.




Extras: 6
It is in the 13-minute featurette "The Buddies' Guide to Space Travel" that the relative mindlessness of Space Buddies is redeemed. Interspersed between brief segments showing how the puppies are green-screened is footage of the training of actual astronauts, accompanied by a little educational voiceover. Buddy Facts is a pop up of trivia that shows up during the film, if preselected. Buddy Finder is a scavenger hunt game exclusive to the Blu-ray edition, along with the Disney BD-Live Network.



Bottom line: 6
It's likely that anyone who might be in the market for this title will already have a little history of the Buddy movies behind them. It's only to be assured that this one is very family-friendly, which means it is edgeless. The difference in price between the DVD and Blu-ray versions and the addition of BD-Live make the choice a no-brainer.

Leonard Norwitz
January 25, 2009








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