Plot: What’s it about?
We’ve seen Buddy dominate the basketball courts and score countless touchdowns, but how will he handle the intense rigors of soccer? As always, his friend Josh (Kevin Zegers) will be by his side, but this time, he also has a few other pups behind him. You see, Buddy is now a father and with a litter of adorable little pups, he has a lot to think about, on and off the soccer field. As usual, Buddy takes to his new sport with ease and begins racking up the goals, which impresses his coach and fellow teammates. Buddy might not be a human, but he has as much skill and heart as anyone else on his team, including a few players from the U.S. Women’s soccer squad. So Buddy tries to balance his time on the field with time with his little pups, but he seems to always prefer his pups over the game. Can Buddy prove himself as a world class soccer player and keep an ever close eye on his mischievous pups?
This is the third installment in the Air Bud series and I have to be honest, I liked all three films. The series is aimed at a younger audience, but it still offers some fun to older folks as well. I know the storylines and characters aren’t up to classic level standards, but who thought they would be? I went into the first Air Bud film just to see the dog that shoots hoops, which is what I saw. I also thought the film was humorous and fun, which has been a consistent presence in this series. This third film is a direct to video release, but still packs the humor and fun I was expecting. The series has shown basketball and football, so now we’ve evolved to soccer, which works just as well. The cast includes a wealth of talented canines, as well as Kevin Zegers (Air Bud, Air Bud: Golden Receiver), Martin Ferrero (Jurassic Park), and U.S. Women’s soccer stars like Briana Scurry and Brandi Chastain. This film might not win any awards when the Oscars roll around, but fans of the series and those looking for solid family entertainment will not be let down. A rental might be in order for first timers to this series, but fans will want to add this (or the Air Bud three disc collection) to their personal collections.
Video: How does it look?
Air Bud: World Pup is presented in a full frame transfer, which preserves the intended aspect ratio of the film. This is a direct to video release, so the image isn’t as impressive as film, but this is still a nice looking presentation. Aside from some edge enhancement at times, I found little flaws to report. The colors seem bright and bold, with no distortion evident and flesh tones are consistent as well. No problems to report with the contrast either, as detail is rich and the black levels are well balanced also. Like I said, there is some edge enhancement present, but that is not enough to knock the score too much in the end. I do however wish Disney would have issued this in widescreen, as the supplements show the film as such and the framing looks much better. So come on Disney, give us the anamorphic widescreen transfer we want…
Audio: How does it sound?
I found the included 2.0 surround track to be adequate, but this material never allows much chance to shine. The music picks up the range somewhat, but for the most part, dialogue and low impact sound effects rule this mix. No complaints though, as that is how this material should be presented and I am pleased the surround use was not forced. The overall experience is a solid one, which is all I can expect from a film like this one. This disc also includes English subtitles, in case you’ll need them.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a five minute behind the scenes featurette, as well as a music video. Now, the case claims the full frame aspect is correct, but these supplements feature the film in widescreen. Since this is a direct to video edition, I will not knock the score much, but in the future, I think Disney should give anamorphic widescreen transfers to all films that could have them.