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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Animated Adventure Pack: Triple Feature
Animated Adventure Pack: Triple Feature
Image // Unrated // August 18, 2009
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Patrick McCart | posted October 19, 2009 | E-mail the Author
Between 2005 and 2007, BKN (formerly Bohbot Entertainment) produced a series of CGI animated 45-minute "short features" based upon popular stories and books. This DVD collection features three: Robin Hood: Quest for the King, The Prince and the Pauper: Double Trouble, and The Three Musketeers: Saving the Crown. The "cast" is made up of anthropomorphic animals, seemingly appearing in multiple stories.

As seen in the credits, these were animated mostly in India by a team of over 50 artists. How exactly do these fare in quality?

Before getting into the animation, let's take a look at the three stories:

Robin Hood: Quest for the King is a heavily abridged and largely non-faithful adaptation of the popular legends. This begins with the archery tournament as if this is after the more familiar adventures seen in other versions. With King Richard rumored to be on his way back to England, the Sherriff of Nottingham (a wolf) and Prince John (a lion) conspire to have the morbidly obese King Leopold (a dog, I think) to hold him captive. Robin Hood and his merry men (a cat and various other animals, including a duck) travel to save the king. Along the way, Maid Marion sneaks away with them to help out. The plot culminates with a sword fight after the Merry Men trick Leopold into letting in a giant tart from within they hide. I'll have to hand it to BKN for coming up with the idea to make a Robin Hood with an all-animal cast.

The Prince and the Pauper: Double Trouble is based on the Mark Twain novel, save for toning down the darker aspects. Prince Edward (a lion) runs into Tom Canty (also a lion) in his courtyard, befriending him in order to have some company for the afternoon. They realize their nearly identical appearance, thus deciding to switch places. Of course, this doesn't go well. With Edward's chief guard clued into the switch, he plans to make sure the real prince never returns.

The Three Musketeers: Saving the Crown, originating from Alexandre Dumas' classic, follows D'Artagnan (a cat) leaving his farm to join the musketeers. Unfortunately, Cardinal Richelou (a skunk) effectively dissolves the private force and replaces with his own - making King Louis (a dog) a captive in his own palace. D'Artagnan and the musketeers plot to save the king by banding together the town against the cardinal. Along the way, his burro inexplicably makes jokes about Mexico. More strangely, there's a love subplot between D'Artagnan and his sister.

These sound like average adaptations, don't they? Well, there's several problems. The DVD case boasts "stunning," "brilliant," and "swashbuckling" CGI animation. While it's not unwatchable, the animation has a slew of problems. There's little expression in movement, often looking like there were not enough "keyframes". In closeups, it seems like a "painted" texture was applied to make up for the general lack of detail. Worse, colors are often terribly planned. Robin Hood, in a green outfit, stands in front of foilage almost the same shade of green. Or worse, D'Artagnan has green fur. Voice casts are generally good, but some parts are obnoxious. During the "Double Trouble" feature, a little furry guy named Jiffy the Jester constantly interrupts the narrative with jokes or explaining obvious plot points. I'd imagine this would irritate even the worse sufferers of ADD. There are also occasional songs used as padding, including one in the Robin Hood feature that reminded me of Neil Innes' songs from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Otherwise, the songs are repetitive and lack any sort of memorability you'd find in a Disney film.

The Visual:

All three features are presented in standard 1.33:1 interlaced video. According to BKN's website, all three of these were produced in high-definition. From what I can tell, the image tends to look oddly framed and occasional horizontal pans are noticable. I know this is "kiddie fodder" at its worst, but it's boggling to think CGI produced in HD wouldn't be replicated in its original format. Colors are somewhat good, considering the often bizarre color stylings used. Detail is probably decent, even if there's little that indicates the quality level other than the occasional overly detailed backgrounds.

The Sound:

Standard Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround tracks are the sole English audio option. Dialogue is consistently centered monaural, with only the occasional sound effect and the music score taking advantage of separation. There's also an optional Spanish audio track.

Supplements:

Nothing, unless you'd want to count a "Play All" option.

Epilogue:

Personally, I found these short features to be poorly animated and generally obnoxious. The gimmick of using all-animal casts hints at the superior efforts by other studios. However, I will hand it to them for one clever gag: making Cardinal Richelou a skunk in the Three Musketeers segment. These features dwell in mediocrity with overall unappealing animation, plus using cropped transfers. I cannot recommend this DVD. Seek other adaptations like Disney's for the first two and Richard Lester's for the Dumas.

Patrick McCart
"The Flickering Window"

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