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Chicken Little

List Price: $34.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Matthew Hinkley | posted March 27, 2007 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

In recent years, CG flicks have become hugely popular and in-demand. Don't get me wrong, I think the transition from 2D to 3D was critical in the way that we make movies, but I also think that a lot of computer-animated movies are rushed and thrown out to audiences only to appeal to kids and to make a quick buck. "Chicken Little," on the other hand, goes above and beyond other recent animated flicks.

"Chicken Little" takes the classic tale of "The Sky is Falling" and updates it to an entertaining movie the entire family can enjoy. Chicken Little (Zack Braff) is the joke of the town after causing a panic about a piece of the sky falling and hitting him on the head. A year later, he is still being ostracized and a movie is in the works about 'crazy Chicken Little' and his absolute stupidity. With no dignity left, Chicken Little must win back the heart of the whole town, his dad included. With the help of a few eccentric friends consisting of the ugly duckling Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack), the Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn), and Fish out of Water, Chicken Little discovers that not only is the sky really falling, but he must save the world from an alien invasion.

Disney does an incredible job bringing back to life what more and more movies are missing these days...heart. "Chicken Little" excels in many areas...but especially in its attention to detail. No matter what is going on in the main scene, there is always something going on in the background. Whether it is Fish acting like King Kong, the egg details in Chicken Little's house, dogs lapping water out of a bowl in a restaurant, or the huge variety of cars the animals drive...there is always something new that will catch your eye each time you watch the film.

The animation in "Chicken Little" is top notch. From each character and their perfectly designed attributes, to the amount of detail given to the grass, "Chicken Little" really comes alive. Each character moves seamlessly around on the screen; for example we watch Runt (who is actually quite large) look and move like he weights 400 pounds, but tiny Chicken moves completely different to reflect his small size. His feathers really look good too. The animation team really stepped it up to bring us some awesome character designs, along with some beautifully stylized scenes, and wrapped it up with extremely smooth animation.

"Chicken Little" really slipped under my radar. When I heard that it was coming out on Blu-Ray, I was a bit confused because I really didn't remember it being in theaters. "Chicken Little" is a lot of fun...even though it is geared towards kids there are some incredibly funny parts that adults will definitely enjoy. My wife and I watched this together and even though we do not have any kids, we both absolutely had a blast with it...we enjoyed the great animation, the subtle adult humor, and the incredible detail.



Disney has released an incredible transfer on this disc. Granted, it is animation, and should be pretty hard to screw up. "Chicken Little" does not disappoint in the video department. The colors are bright and vivid. Each hair, feather, and blade of grass are perfectly detailed and easily visible to us. The contrast is fairly high which makes each scene pop just enough to wow us.

One thing that I really enjoyed about "Chicken Little" is the stylization that Disney used to create this film. The 3D looks and feels like your normal 3D but because of the high contrast that they used, mixed with some really neat effects on certain scenes you get a very unique overall picture. For example: There is a scene where on of our characters is digging in the ground, and the dirt that comes up is not what you would is almost a cell-shaded look. When you mix this cell-shaded look with the great 3D of "Chicken Little," it is able to stand out from other recent 3D releases.


5.1 Uncompressed and 5.1 Dolby Digital track. One thing is for sure...Disney knows how to mix a tasty sound track. I had such a blast listening to "Chicken Little." Every scene has something other than the main dialogue going on. There is a scene where Chicken Little and his friends play dodge ball against some school bullies, and the surrounds you hear from the balls whizzing by is just perfect. Disney definitely took their time with mixing this track and allowing for a perfectly used surround sound track.

Disney pretty much went back to their roots with "Chicken Little," because the music brings us back to more of a "Fantasia" level. Most flicks these days don't have nearly as much music as "Chicken Little" does. The soundtrack in "Chicken Little" really helps us capture the emotion that Disney wanted to portray.


Audio Commentary: Director Mark Dindal, Producer Randy Fullmer and Visual Effects Supervisor Steve Goldberg give us their insight in the making of "Chicken Little." The commentary track is definitely the most in-depth part of all the special features. During the commentary they pretty much touch on everything that it took to make "Chicken Little." From mistakes that they made, to story variations, to how to tell the story of "Chicken Little" in a way that families could remember for years to come. They also jump into your normal commentary mode as they talk about the score, creating dynamic sound that felt right for the film, the characters, and the voice talent and how they ad-libbed a lot of the movie.

The commentary switches over to a little more in-depth with its animation process. They talk about details with the squash & stretch technique they used mostly in old Disney 2D animations, they even get into some details about how they animated and modeled the characters. Another neat detail they go into was the piece of sky that fell and how they modeled it. I really enjoyed listening to this section as they really geared it for adult audiences to give them a look at how their children's favorite movie was made.

This commentary definitely aims to please, so as to not bore the audience. I really enjoyed listening to this and going from the beginning process of "Chicken Little" to completion!

Filmmaker Q&A: This was a BD exclusive that tries to be like a lot of other Buena Vista releases. If any of you have seen the "Guardian" they have something very similar where dialogue pops up on the screen as you are watching and gives you some trivia about the movie. "Chicken Little" takes it to the next step and allows you to ask specific questions to the director and producer. The questions are obviously preset, but they allow you to choose which to ask and you can ask at any time. There is an auto play option, so it will pop up with an appropriate question or clip at the correct time in the movie. Overall, this is an okay way of getting some unique insight and they do have some nice behind-the-scenes footage and decent questions, but the load time was generally very slow (especially when loading a clip). I honestly learned more watching the commentary track, and it was much less frustrating since I didn't have to wait for the answer to my question to load.

Movie Showcase: As the description reads: "Instant Access to the Filmmakers most cinematic moments that showcase the ultimate in HD picture and sound." This is three scenes that the filmmakers picked as their favorite scenes. That's it, just a quick way to get you to the scene that is "sexy" in HD picture and sound.

Alien Invasion Game: This is another BD Exclusive and is just a Space Invaders sort of game. You get to play with some of the main characters and battle alien ships. Fun for the kids for 5 minutes.

Deleted Scenes: There are 4 deleted scenes from the DVD release and 4 BD Exclusive scenes. They range from just drawings or storyboards, to almost complete scenes that were deleted for some reason. You do have the option to turn on or off intros from Mark Dindal and Randy Fullmer.

Music & More: Here we get 2 music videos, one from the Cheetah Girls and one from the Barenaked Ladies, a karaoke track, and a sing-a-long. Maybe the kids will like it? Cause I sure didn't!

Hatching "Chicken Little": The Making of the Movie. It is broken into 5 parts: The Incubation Period: The story behind the story. Cracking New Ground: Bringing the characters to life. Birds of a Feather: The voices behind characters. Rock-A-Doodle-Doo: The music of Chicken Little. Ruling the Roost: A day in the life of a Director.

Running just under 20 minutes, we are guided through the entire process of creating "Chicken Little." From the original story, the animations, character voices, music, to direction of the film. Throughout these 5 sections, Mark Dindall and Randy Fullmer are our main guides, but there are also appearances by some of the head animation guys and even the Barenaked Ladies. This could have really been cut and I wouldn't have missed much. There was so much going on in the commentary that this doesn't give us much more information than we already had.

Easter Egg: Runt of the Litter & Easter Egg: Foxy Lady: These are 2 shorts with Runt of the Litter and Foxy that basically promote the film in their own way. Nothing to see here.

Final Thoughts:

"Chicken Little" is a great Disney picture. I really didn't know what to expect going into it and had an absolute blast watching it. There is humor for both kids and adults, mixed with some beautifully animated and modeled characters. On top of that, we get a very strong video release with an even better audio track. I highly recommend "Chicken Little" to families, but people who don't have kids can definitely enjoy it as well.

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Highly Recommended

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