Plot: What’s it about?
Red (voiced by Anne Hathaway) has made the trek over the river and through the woods, in order to drop in on her Granny (voiced by Glenn Close). The trip was smooth and now she just wants to relax and spend time with her loved on. But as soon as she walks into the house, Red senses that something is amiss and the reason isn’t hard to understand. Under the covers in bed, someone is there, but the fur, sharp teeth, and big eyes tip off Red that it isn’t Granny. No, instead it is a Wolf (voiced by Patrick Warburton) and it becomes clear he has set this trap for Red, but for what purpose? Before he can reveal his intentions, Granny bursts from the closet, though she remains tied up in the Wolf’s bindings. Even so, she is determined to protect her granddaughter and if that means fighting while she’s encumbered, then so be it. But the Wolf gets the upper hand and seems to have the situation under control, until the Woodsman (voiced by Jim Belushi) arrives, with his ax in hand. Just as chaos is unleashed, the police pull up on the scene and everyone grinds to a halt. The case seems to be open and shut, but is there more to this situation than meets the eye?
This is another computer animated family flick, this time brought to us by The Weinstein Company, fresh off their split from Miramax. While branded to be safe for young and old alike, this is not the usual animated fare, which is good, in my opinion. Hoodwinked thinks outside the normal conventions, takes risks and while some fall short, most succeed. I suppose the more prudish parents will question the age appropriate factor, but if your kids could watch Shrek, this isn’t much worse in those respects. But if you want saccharine levels of sweetness or wholesome attitudes, Hoodwinked isn’t going to be your first choice. I thought the humor worked well and had a unique texture, it is clear this is not a cheap imitation of another studio’s hits. The animation is not as cutting edge as we’ve seen from Pixar, but has a cool and enjoyable look. A little on the simple side, but it still has a creative edge and is more than effective. In the realm of voice talent, some good decisions, some just passable, but this is the case in almost any animated feature. I always like to hear Patrick Warburton in action and Anne Hathaway is better than I had expected. I figured this would be a lame duck or mediocre feature, but Hoodwinked is quite good and earns a high recommendation.
Video: How does it look?
Hoodwinked is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is as good as we could want, a clean and sharp visual presentation with no real flaws. This is a digital to digital transfer, so print issues are not a concern, which means the image is clean and unencumbered. The detail level is high, but keep in mind, the animation here is not that complex. So the textures don’t always have the subtle touches seen in other films of this kind, but that is due to the source. No issues with colors either, as hues have a rich and bold presence, while black levels perform at an accurate, smooth clip. Even as HD-DVD begins to creep into home theaters, this is an example of how standard DVDs can still look terrific.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option offers an active, more than effective presentation, not on par with the best out there, but well above average. The full range of sound is covered here, as we have scenes that show some punch and power, as well as sequences that use more creative, subtle approaches. The surrounds are put to use often in both cases, so there is no lack of presence here. The power isn’t booming, but it is well handled and the atmosphere on the whole is quite immersive. I expected a solid effort here and overall, this soundtrack went beyond my expectations. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Up first is an audio commentary track with director Cory Edwards, as well as co-directors Todd Edwards and Tony Leech. This is at times a very candid session, as they discuss the good and bad of the production, as well as reveal the intentions behind some of the more obscure references. But then the trio can also be a little too proud at times, as no one wants to hear these guys pat each others’ backs for eighty-one minutes. But the good edges out the bad, so the track is worth a listen. This disc also includes a brief featurette, a handful of deleted scenes, and the film’s theatrical trailer.