Gulliver’s Travels (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Some stories never get old. I couldn’t tell you how many adaptations of some classic children’s books there are but even if I could – would it really matter? So when I heard Jack Black was doing a remake of “Gulliver’s Travels” it did, admittedly, raise my eyebrow. First off, I like Jack Black. He’s a funny looking individual, but he’s got personality about ten times his size. And he’s talented as well. I can remember seeing him in “High Fidelity” where he essentially stole the show and the guy can sing! Of course this makes sense when you factor in that he was one half of the rock band “Tenacious D.” And we all know that Black hit his paramount with 2003’s “School of Rock.” So Black, now 42 years old is headlining a movie made for children. Hmmm, it could go either way on this one. Let’s find out…

Lemeul Gulliver isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. He’s the mail man for the past decade and is perfectly content to be neither seen nor heard by anyone working at his company. He lusts after travel editor Darcy Silverman (Amanada Peet), but hasn’t ever gotten up the nerve to ask her out. So when a new employee starts in the mail room and is subsequently promoted, a signal goes off and Gulliver decides to impress Darcy with his writing skills. Unfortunately he has none, so he plagerizes and is then assigned a trip to Bermuda where he’s to submit a story upon his return. As things go, he never ends up in Bermuda, rather the land of Liliput where everything and everyone pales in comparison (size wise). You see, Gulliver is a literal giant compared to everyone else and he’s landed smack in the middle of a civil war of sorts. We meet the cast of characters like the King (Billy Connolloy), Princess Mary (Emily Blunt) and Horatio (Jason Segal). However, despite his size, Gulliver is still subject to the whims of General Edward (Chris O’Dowd). How will Gulliver get out of this one?

Going into “Gulliver’s Travels” I really wasn’t expecting much. I knew of the story but was curious to see how Jack Black would tackle the role. Given the poor box office showing last fall (a paltry $40 million domestic gross with a budget of over $100 million) it didn’t bode well. I mean if it was really good, then more people would have seen it, right? Suffice it to say that I was pleasantly surprised as it was a bit predictable, but had a subtle charm to it as well. The cast is chock full of colorful characters and Jason Segal can do no wrong in my eyes as I love to watch him in pretty much everything he’s in. Black manages to be entertaining yet endearing in his role, though I feel Emily Blunt’s character was rather one-dimensional. Still, add it all up and “Gulliver’s Travels” is something I’d probably watch again.

Video: How does it look?

Visually “Gulliver’s Travels” is quite enticing. The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer is certainly everything that embodies a new to Blu-ray film, the colors are vivid and bold (Black’s red t-shirt practically radiates throughout the film), detail level is impressive and contrast is right on the money. Of course there was that little issue of Black being 100 feet tall and everyone else being six inches tall. To pull this effect off, they used a special camera with two points of view (it’s explained in more detail in the accompanying featurette). It’s a neat little effect and it does give a more seamless look and feel to the film.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is about what we’d expect. There are some good instances of surround sound where you’re encompassed by everything, but by and large, this is a dialogue driven movie with the meat of the action taking place in the front stage. Vocals are pure and the surrounds do add some more spice to the mix from time to time. It’s an above average mix, but nothing really stood out to me as being truly memorable.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There is a 3D Blu-ray of this movie, however this is the standard Blu-ray plus digital copy reviewed here. We start off with “I Don’t Know…with Lemuel Gulliver” which is essentially a look at the casting of Jack Black in the lead role. We get a “Gag Reel” that contains all of, wait for it…, one gag! It’s a long scene in which the car keeps rolling away. There are some deleted scenes and then we get to some of the featurettes. “Little and Large” is what I mentioned in the video portion of the review and it shows how the movie was filmed with one camera from two perspectives. “Jack Black Thinks Big” is an EPK with tidbits from the cast talking about the remake of this classic film. “Down Time” is just that, the members of the cast tell us what they did when the cameras weren’t rolling. The ending montage is explored in depth in “War Song Dance” and we get a look at the choreography involved that made it happen. “Gulliver’s Foosball Challenge” uses your remote to virtually play foosball. Careful, it’s easier said than done. We also get a duo of Fox Movie Channel features, the first with Black and the next with Jason Segal. Director Rob Letterman talks about the film and if the name looks familiar, he also directed “Monsters vs. Aliens.” We get some coverage from the world premiere as well as the theatrical trailer. The disc is also BD-Live enabled and has a digital copy on the second disc.

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