Open Season (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Boog (Martin Lawrence) is a towering beast, a grizzly bear with razor sharp claws and a mouthful of vicious teeth. But he doesn’t spend his evenings prowling the woods or fishing for his dinner in the stream, instead he watches Wheel of Fortune. Boog doesn’t live in the wild, he lives in a garage owned by Beth (Debra Messing). She has watched over him and even trained him, as he rides a unicycle in a show that delights both young and old. But the town he lives in, Timberline isn’t known for bear shows, it is known for hunting season. As the days count down to open season, the hunters descend on Timberline, except for the sadistic Shaw (Gary Sinise), since he lives in the woods. When Shaw pulls into town with a small deer on his hood, before hunting season, no one believes it was an accident. Boog sees the deer strapped the hood and thinks he is dead, until an eye opens and the deer begs Boog to set him free. Boog obliges and then heads home, thinking little of what happened. But then the deer, who Boog learns is named Elliot (Ashton Kutcher), shows up at Boog’s place and entices him outside. A sugar binge in a convenience store later, Boog is in trouble and Beth is urged to return him to the woods. She agrees and Boog is released into the wild, but can this domesticated bear survive in the dangerous woods?

The video stores are well stocked with animated feature films about talking animals, even many of the recent computer animated epics take place in the animal kingdom. Open Season is another of this kind, but it doesn’t just blend in with the others, it stands out and has some attitude. The animation here is simply gorgeous, with so much detail on screen, at times it looks if the world within the movie is real, not animated. The flood sequence in specific looks beyond words, but the animation is superb across the board, some of the coolest visuals I’ve seen. As far as voice talent, the roster isn’t as star studded as some, but the cast is well chosen and the acting seems natural. Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher have the leads, with terrific performances and the two play off each other well throughout, despite the fact that they never actually met during production. Also on deck are Debra Messing, Patrick Warburton, Billy Connolly, Jane Krakowski, Jon Favreau, and Gary Sinise, the last of which in an unexpected, but well played role. The story is rather basic, but the plot is passable and the subplots are what make it all come together. Open Season has a lot of characters, but all are needed and a lot of the smaller characters are quite memorable, such as the porcupine. I wouldn’t call Open Season the best movie of this kind, but it was a great one and a film that the entire family is sure to love. This Blu-ray release is a visual feast, with hands down the best transfer of any home video title to date, it is simply breathtaking at times. So I cannot recommend Open Season enough, the movie is a lot of fun and this Blu-ray edition is more than worth a purchase.

Video: How does it look?

Open Season is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. If you show this movie to someone, they will have a high definition television and Blu-ray player purchased within a few hours. This is the kind of movie that you pop in when HD doubters are over, as no one can argue with this transfer. This image is without question the best visual transfer available on home video, by leaps and bounds, no less. The visuals are so deep and detailed, you might think you can walk right into the woods. The detail astonishes, from each individual blade of grass to the crystal clear and realistic water to the tufts of fur to the rough bark of the trees, the woods don’t even look this good in real life. In close ups or distance shots, bright scenes or dark ones, the visuals here never waver and always look flawless. I haven’t given a perfect score to any Blu-ray releases to this point, but Open Season earns the first one, this is what Blu-ray is all about.

Audio: How does it sound?

The soundtrack of choice here is the uncompressed PCM option, though a Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also available. I found the soundtrack to be tremendous, with a good balance of power and subtle presence. The woods don’t have as much atmosphere as I expected, but there is ample surround presence. A number of scenes have a lot going on, such as the flood and final battle scenes, so the speakers often have to man up and deliver. In those more intense sequences, the power boosts and the audio goes from good to fantastic. I have no real complaints about the soundtrack outside of those scenes, but there isn’t always the depth I had hoped for, though that is more the fault of the sound design. The dialogue is crisp and easy to hear, so no volume issues to contend with and the other elements never drown out the vocals. This disc also includes French and Spanish language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I was pleased to see some of the extras presented in high definition, including the bonus animated short, Midnight Bun Run, which is a fun watch. Also in high definition, we have the Wheel of Fortune: Forest Edition game and Voice-A-Rama feature, both aimed at younger viewers. The rest of the goodies aren’t high definition, but it is still nice to have them included. In Swept Away, you can watch as the entire scene is broken down, showing us just how the creative process unfolds. Also explored are the animals in the movie and the voices behind them, in two separate, brief featurettes. Then you can listen as directors Roger Allers and Jill Culton talk about their animated creation. I haven’t listened to many commentaries on animated features outside of Pixar’s titles, but this track was a talkative and informative one. The usual production stories are heard, anecdotes about the cast, and of course, the process of bringing the concept to the screen. This disc also includes some deleted scenes, a few more promotional featurettes, production artwork, and the music video for I Want to Lose Control.

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