Plot: What’s it about?
The mind of Steve Oedekerk has given us such motion pictures as Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, Nothing to Lose, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and Bruce Almighty, but perhaps his most accomplished task was the creation & implementation of a new animation technique known as…Thumbation. Yes, Oedekerk has tapped the vast resource of talented thumbs in the world to conjure up all manner of thumb oriented movies. His thumbs have proved to be versatile also, with skills in dramatic, comedic, and even spooky cinematic efforts. In this six disc collection, explore the early masterworks of Thumbation, as Oedekerk and his crew work on the cutting edge, highly advanced animated productions to follow these.
1. Thumb Wars- A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there were a bunch of thumbs. I love a good spoof and Star Wars is the perfect target, since the fanbase is so rabid and oblivious to the countless flaws within. Unlike most parodies, Thumb Wars has a mean streak and takes potshots at the material, which I think is hilarious. I like Star Wars and all, but it is not a flawless series and Thumb Wars points out some of the obvious mistakes, in humorous fashion, of course. Now as far as the thumb issue, it is kind of freaky at first, but then only gets even more unsettling. The movement on the eyes and mouths is fantastic, very active and natural, much better than expected. It takes some getting used to, but Oedekerk’s crew has done some terrific work, I think. I also love the mini sets, costumes, and even the computer graphics look cool, if cheese laden at times. A very humorous and worthwhile short film, Thumb Wars is a blast.
2. Thumbtanic- Next on the hitlist is the highest grossing picture of all time, which is turned into the tale of two thumbs and their immortal love. As I am not a fan of James Cameron’s Titanic, I was pleased to see it spoofed by Oedekerk’s Thumbation series and this short delivers, with some terrific thumb moments. As with Thumb Wars, the story runs close and the attention to detail is impressive, but the real focus is on the laughs. And Thumbtanic delivers the giggles and then some, with the warped dialogue and outlandish thumb facial expression you’d expect. As always, the thumbs are creepy to watch, but you’ll be laughing so hard, you won’t be too creeped out. Another solid addition to Oedekerk’s Thumbation series.
3. The Godthumb- If you thought the other Thumbation movies were weird, wait until you see this one and of course, that’s an offer no thumb could refuse. The Godthumb is a spoof classic that plays on all the well known moments, but also manages to include some new material and rest assured, it works out here. The dialogue is perhaps the best in the Thumbation series to this point, with some lines that could be in normal pictures, let alone these insane thumb parodies. I was laughing from start to finish with The Godthumb, but this isn’t just silly dialogue, some of it is sharp and effective, a quality I hope future Thumbation releases continue. So unless you want to wake up with a horse’s head next to you, pay a visit to The Godthumb.
4. Frankenthumb- This is it, the crowning jewel of the Thumbation series, or at least of the ones released in this collection. The timeless tale of one man’s obsession with creating life is back, with a bunch of thumbs involved. This is like the Citizen Kane of thumb movies, as Oedekerk’s team has created a world that brings the story to life, one loaded with small touches that create a terrific visual atmosphere. You might not be scared, except for the freakish thumbs themselves, but Frankenthumb is a superb Thumbation production. And as I am a horror nut, I was glad to see a classic covered by this strange process of animation, especially since such care and attention to detail was shown, simply impressive work. The sets, costumes, and computer animation all look great here, in this, the apex of Thumbation cinema.
5. The Blair Thumb- You had to expect this one and believe it or not, the thumbs are much less annoying than the stars of the original picture. The thumbs are creepier of course, but I’d rather see those eerie eye and mouth movements, as opposed to hearing Heather’s whines, screams, rants, and tantrums. This Thumbation production takes square aim on its target and nails it right between the eyes, with some great satire and take-offs of things seen in The Blair Witch Project, but that’s not where it ends. No, as per usual Oedekerk’s team branches off on tangents and does so with effective results, as the laughs never cease here. Not much else you could want from a “documentary” about supernatural thumbs, if you ask me.
6. Bat Thumb- Its hard to compete without Jack Nicholson as The Joker, but when you have a cast of talented thumbs, little can oppose you. Instead of The Joker, we have No Face and if the thumbs were odd, then No Face is even more unusual, though of course, much less creepy than his brethren. Like all the other Thumbation productions, the attention to detail is superb and the sets & costumes look awesome in this installment. The dialogue is good, though not quite up to the elite level of The Godthumb. Even so, Bat Thumb is a lot of fun and Thumbation fans should be more than satisfied. So this is one wild, often hilarious ride, but for heaven’s sake, let’s hope there’s no Bat Thumb Forever, shall we?
Video: How does it look?
All six short films are presented in full frame, as intended. The images here look superb, which is impressive, since these were low budget projects shot onto video, often a recipe for visual disaster. But the images are strong at all times, starting off with pristine source prints and flawless compression work. The colors are vivid and bold, with natural “thumb” hues, while contrast is even handed and never falters. In short, this is some excellent visual work that allows all the splendor of “Thumbation” to stream across the screen. Not much else we could ask for here, as these shorts all look terrific and leave little room for complaints.
Audio: How does it sound?
These short films all boast Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes which sound good, but don’t expect too much from this kind of material. The surrounds see little action, but are fired up at times and in those instances, the channels are well used. I’d rather have a less active, but natural mix like than a gimmick laden soundtrack, so I am pleased with the results here. The dialogue, zaps, buzzes, whirrs, beeps, vocals, and even the cheese laden scores all sound good here. You can also choose a 2.0 mix, in case that better suits your home theater needs.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The discs have some cool extras too, including an audio commentary with Steve Oedekerk on each of them. The majority of the sessions are jokes of course, but some decent tech info is also covered, which is cool. I think the whole Thumbation process is interesting, so it is a nice to hear a little on the logistics of the productions. Oedekerk is joined by some members of his team on some tracks and of course, that means even more insight can be gained. The discs also include outtakes, interviews, storyboards, and promotional trailers.