Having reviewed a great deal of children's videos over the years –everything from Teletubbies to Bratz and numerous Disney and Nickelodeon videos – I usually try to look at a DVD from both perspectives: the child's and the parent's. Let's face it. If you are the parent of a child under the age of about 14 or so, you are going to be faced with hours and hours of endless family and children's videos. Some are better than others. Hot Wheels AcceleRacers: Breaking Point is a conundrum.
Watching this disc with my 5-year-old son, it dawned on me that not all entertainment at children needs to be fun for the adults. He was clearly thrilled, intoxicated by the stunning graphics and sound effects and easily able to follow the plot, which had something to do with the AcceleRacers team avoiding the Racing Drones and the Silencerz, who chase them through various racing levels, concepts difficult for my female brain to follow, but I did try my best. These different levels give the entire DVD a video-game feel, which apparently is very exciting to little boys, given my son's reaction. In fact, due to the complex storyline, boys up to the age of about eleven or so should truly enjoy it.
Overall, the DVD comes across as a 60-minute commercial for the Hot Wheels brand, but what children's DVD doesn't do this these days? From Power Rangers to Barbie to anything Disney, merchandising is as important to the producers as the movie itself, and this one is no exception. If anything, watching this through the eyes of my own child (who was generous to explain plot points that my female brain just could not comprehend) was a terrific learning experience; children's entertainment does not have to be education or entertaining for adults. If it makes the kids happy for an hour or so, that's the most important part. And that said, I would be willing to bet that any adult who enjoys video games will also enjoy watching this DVD with their kids.
Young viewers are likely to be drawn in by the bright colors and sharp picture quality of this disc, which is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. The colors are vivid, the lines are crisp, and visually, it is a stunning presentation. The overall effect is quite stunning.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround is unbelievable; it truly enhances the viewing experience. As expected, there are a number of racing sound effects throughout the movie, so the fact that the sound quality is so crisp and clear is something viewers will truly enjoy. It should also be noted that there are English, French, and Spanish language tracks and subtitles, a fairly generous addition for a kids' DVD.
Considering the relatively short 60-minute run-time on this disc, it nice is to see several extras which make up in quantity what they lack in quality. There is a music video called "Acelorate ," which is a just-okay rap song that plays against various scenes from the DVD. There are also four, 2-minute short mini-adventures to view.
The biggest included feature is the Aceleracers Challenge, a game that requires players to answer questions in order to advance to various realms. A sample question is, "What is NOT one of the Silencerz vehicle functions?" Beats me. I watched the whole thing, and I had no clue what they were talking about (must be all the estrogen coursing through my veins that impairs my ability to remember facts about topics like baseball stats, the myriad advantages of Razr phones, and details about Hot Wheels cars). The navigation is mercifully simple, but the questions are fairly complicated, so younger viewers will need some help. After the game has been mastered, a code is given that can be used on the DVD-ROM portion of the disc in order to get a special printable.
Rent this one before you decide to buy. If the kids don't pay attention, you're only out a few dollars; if they love it and can't tear themselves away, then it's worth the investment.