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Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle

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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted February 14, 2001 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

It certainly seems as if there's been nearly every old series taken from history and re-worked as a new, star-loaded motion picture. Simply though, the idea of re-doing "Adventures Of Rocky and Bullwinkle" seemed to be taking things way too far. Suprisingly, it's actually not that bad, although nothing that's going to be in anyone's memory for too long before heading off to the same fate as its two leads: TV re-runs.

Anyways, the plot begins with enemies Boris and Natasha (Jason Alexander & Rene Russo) escaping from the television set with their Fearless Leader, "Fearless Leader"(Robert Deniro) thanks to a Hollywood producer (Jeanane Garofalo, in one of the films many cameos). FBI agent Karen Sympathy(Piper Perabo from "Coyote Ugly") is sent to try and take Rocky and Bullwinkle out of the animation world into the real world to stop the villians from hypnotizing the world with RBTV (Really Bad Television).

Written by Kenneth Lonergan(who recently gained more notice for writing/directing the indie drama "You Can Count On Me"), the film has a great deal of sly, fun humor that often gained a laugh or two from me, especially during the early half of the movie - a "Cops" parody was especially entertaining.

The acting is ok. Although Perabo has improved somewhat in "Coyote", here she unintentionally adds to the humor level at times with her performance. Russo and Alexander aren't bad - Alexander is perfect as Boris, even if his dialogue isn't particularly great, nor is it much of a character. Joanna Lumley of the British TV series "Absolutely Fabulous" would have been much better than Russo as Natasha. Deniro's performance, which could have easily gone too over-the-top, plays it just right - even though he's channeling a bit too much of Mike Meyers' "Dr. Evil" character from the "Austin Powers" movies.

What carries the picture even during it's slow points is the sense of humor; the movie keeps things light and fun with just enough of a little edge to keep it from being sappy. Pacing isn't bad either, and most of the 88 minute feature moves at a fairly rapid clip - even if it begins to fall apart a bit in the middle. "Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" reportedly cost 75 million and only made about 1/3rd of that. Maybe it just didn't find it's audience of kids or adults, but hopefully it'll get a bit of a second chance on video. It's nothing fantastic, but it made for some fun moments and a few good laughs.


layer - 53:56 VIDEO: "Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, much of which looks quite excellent. Sharpness and detail are excellent throughout, and never did a hint of softness entert the image. The picture remained consistently crisp and well-defined. The presentation also remained mostly free of any distracting flaws. I saw a couple of very minor print flaws briefly as the film went by, but there certainly was no real noticable wear on the movie - nothing suprising, given this is a movie that's only a few months old. Pixelation and shimmer are also thankfully absent. Colors are lively and bright, looking well-saturated and crisp. It's a very nice transfer, one of the better ones I've seen from Universal lately.

SOUND: Being the live-action cartoon that it is, one would expect "Adventures" to be a lively and agressive presentation of sound effects and effective surround use. Thankfully, the audio here lives up to expectations, at least for the most part. Continuing to increase their support for DTS, Universal thankfully offers the choice between DTS and Dolby Digital for "Adventures".

Although not a consistently an agressive presentation, the action scenes that pop up throughout the short running time provide some fun use of the surrounds for various effects, as well as the score. There were a few moments that I thought could have been even more active, but I was satisfied with the experience that the sound presented. The score is nicely integrated with the rest of the proceedings and it's obvious that the sound designers had fun with this movie. Although it's great that Universal has provided the choice of DTS or Dolby Digital, there's really minimal differences between the two versions and both offer an entertaining time.

MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, with film-themed images as backgrounds, which is somewhat dissapointing. If animated menus should be for any movie, they should be made for a movie where the two leads are actually animated.


Spotlight On Location: An approximately 20 minute "making-of" documentary, the focus here is mainly on taking the characters from the cartoon world and updating them for the contemporary world. That, and how long it took to actually get this project to the screen, as it has been worked on and developed for quite a few years. Interviews with Deniro, producer Jane Rosenthan and others involved with the production are included. I didn't much care about the discussion of the story, which is normal of this kind of production documentary with interviews. What I found more interesting was the segements about how the effects were done, although this information unfortunately isn't the focus of this program. Maybe worth a watch for those who have enjoyed the movie.

Trailer: The trailer for "Adventures" in Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Trailers: Trailers for "Dragonheart", "Babe" and "Flinstones" in the "recommendations" section.

Also: Cast and crew bios, production notes, DVD-ROM features including "Screen-Friends" - voice-activated software for your computer.

Final Thoughts:

Positive: The movie is cute and fun, although as it goes onwards towards the last half, it begins to fall apart noticably. Universal has provided fine audio and video quality, with the choice of Dolby Digital or DTS.

Negative: A commentary from the effects supervisors or the director or even the actors might have been fun for a movie like this one. Kids might enjoy this as a rental, although the youngest members of the audience might be a little scared by some of the animated violence in the PG-rated film. In other words, "Adventures" may make for a fun rental.

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