After a gaggle of stormclouds blotted out the sun in the faraway kingdom of Malaria, the locals had to step away from farming and shift to a different sort of economic system, and...oh, global blackmail sounds like a pretty profitable niche. Yup, the skyline in Malaria is pockmarked with ominous castles teeming with mad scientists, and they're all gunning to take home the big prize in the annual Evil Science Fair. Whoever's creation melts and mashes the competition gets to shake down the rest of the world for billions, but...hey! Mad scientists have a lot on their jumbo-sized noggins, and they all need someone to pick up their dry cleaning and throw the switches. There's a whole army of hunchbacked Igors skulking around Malaria, grabbing interocetors and diseased brains for their masters. It's not all that fulfilling a life, but someone's gotta do the grunt work.
Skimming through that much-too-long recap of the plot, Igor sounds like it's keyed in eerily close to my sense of humor, but the movie takes a really clever premise and a steady stream of ingenious ideas and just...never bothers to do much of anything with them. Igor really plays like a watered down version of A Nightmare Before Christmas, a movie whose skewed designs and animation style it rips off wholesale. As a character, Igor's aggressively bland, and the not-so-sly "hey, there are gags for adults scattered around in here too!" references wind up feeling shoehorned in. Certain story points are telegraphed almost obnoxiously far in advance, the voice acting is passable but not especially engaging, its overeager sense of humor sputters and stutters, and the CG animation suffers from what looks to be a spectacularly low budget. It's as if the lightning bolt crashed down but that lump of flesh on the table didn't lurch to life. Igor isn't a bad movie, but there's not much of a spark to it. Even a
Lightly letterboxed to an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and encoded with AVC, Igor sports a low-rent visual style that doesn't exactly dazzle in high-def. Really, Igor frequently looks less like a movie and more like a feature-length cutscene in a PS3 game. Some light aliasing manages to creep into the CG rendering, and one of the final shots in the movie is marred by some noticeable macroblocking. It's in a falling curtain for just a fraction of a second, but I've never seen anything like this in a day-and-date release from a major studio. There's a decent sense of texture, and it's more colorful than I'd expect for a flick set in a village where the sun has been blotted out, but the image isn't as sharp or startlingly detailed as most of the computer animated flicks that have clawed their way to Blu-ray. Igor looks okay in high definition, but its meager budget kind of drags it down.
The look of the movie may be kinda chintzy, but Igor does sport a pretty spry sound design, belted out here in a 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio track. The low-end's hefty, from Eva stomping around to room-rattling claps of thunder to one botched experiment after another. The surround channels get a decent workout too, thanks to all the whirring whatchamagadgets and chattering monkeys and all. Although the movie as a whole is a little quieter than expected -- I had to crank up my receiver a few ticks higher than usual -- all of it sounds clean, clear, and nicely balanced to me.
A Spanish dub has also been tacked on in Dolby Digital 5.1, and subtitles are served up in English (SDH) and Spanish.
Try to picture how A Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride might've turned out if Dreamworks had hammered them out, then slash the sticker price by 70%: whatever's bubbling around in your head is probably pretty close to Igor. It never really settles into a comfortable rhythm, not managing to be as cackling macabre as anything with that Tim Burton or Henry Selick stamp on it, and it's a comedy that...never really manages to score much of a laugh either. Igor is teeming with some really clever ideas, but it doesn't seem all that sure what to do with them, and you're better off sticking with the flicks it's trying to ape instead. Rent It.