Matt Day has reviewed the Region 2 release of Stitch the movie. Disney follow up the hugely successful Lilo and Stitch with a swiftly produced straight to video sequel which will doubtless delight young fans of the original, but can it keep adults engaged in the manner of the first?
Lilo and Stitch – released in late 2001 – was a resurrection or Disney, their traditional animated features had been languishing at the box office with the only Pixar productions maintaining the Disney standard. It managed the feat of not only being the best Disney film in a very long time, but one of their best ever, with the mischievous Stich instantly becoming a Disney trademark. And sure as night follows day a Disney movie (of whatever quality) has been swiftly followed by a straight to video sequel.
When we last saw them Lilo and Stitch had overcome the galactic council, befriended Stitch’s would be captors and had been left alone by all other aliens to rebuild their home and live happily ever after. Sadly the galaxy will always be full of evil geniuses out to cause mayhem and a new one has emerged. Dr. Hamsterviel is a massive evil force, despite his diminutive stature, and is very interested in the experiments carried out by Dr. Jumba. If you recall Stitch was experiment 626, and it seems when Dr. Jumba went to Earth he took the other 625 with him, in easy to carry dehydrated form. With the help of Captain Gantu, now disgraced and forced to leave the employ of the intergalactic council, he intends to capture the experiments and build and intergalactic army.
When Captain Gantu’s kidnap attempt goes wrong and he’s left only with only Dr. Jumba and one of the experiments it’s left to Lilo and Stitch to save the doctor., they cannot consider paying the ransom – exchanging the 624 remaining experiments – because they are Stitch’s ohana, and we all know how important family is. Their only course of action is to release some of the experiments left behind in an attempt to find one that can help them, but remember, Stitch himself caused enough problems, is it wise to let more of the experiments loose on Hawaii?
It’s a testament to the original’s success that the entire voice cast has been reunited for the sequel, but sadly it’s a testament to Disney’s quick cash in mentality that the animation looks neither as detailed nor as smooth as the original. Although the writers haven’t returned Stitch the Movie arrives with the same gleefully silly sense of humour as the original had, right from the off when we see the gargantuan Gantu is forced to sit in a very small chair you know the tone of things to come. The new characters vary in quality somewhat, experiment 625 is quite frankly awful and unfunny, but Dr. Hamsterveil is fantastic, his Napoleon complex and his hatred of being called Dr. Hamsterwheel and mistaken for a gerbil are all very funny running jokes – he’s a character more than worthy of the franchise.
Sadly, be it because of the shorter running time or the speed with which the sequel was produced, the story isn’t as strong as that of the first film, and the animation really isn’t up to the excellent standards of the original but the sparkling script keeps the jokes flying, and Stitch is just as cute as ever. It’d be a cold heart he couldn’t melt when he turns down his ears, and a stony face that wouldn’t crack a smile when he lets out a belt of his loveable alien gibberish. Also be warned, despite the film carrying the tag-line “Stitch was experiment 626, meet the other 625” you’ll see barely a dozen of them, and most of those not until the end portion of the film. Slightly misleading, yes, but it’s clearly a set up for the upcoming TV series.
It’s nice to see Disney embracing the format and presenting this straight to video title in widescreen, though unusually it seems to have been windowboxed, with black bars present both at the top and sides of the image. The ones at the sides are slight, and how much you see of them will vary depending on the overscan of your television – though they are very visible if watching on a pc monitor. This was doubtlessly so there would be minimal image loss when presented in full frame, so the film was made in a ration smaller than the 1.77:1 widescreen television standard. The transfer itself is excellent, with the colours eing as vibrant as possible and there isn’t any print damage in sight, though as mentioned before the animation means it doesn’t wow in the way the original did.
Despite obviously being destined for television the disc carries a remarkably dynamic Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack which, much like the original film, makes good use of both the suround channels and the sub channel. It’s great too see the efort being made for what is not only a minor release, but a childrens film as well, though sadly the UK misses out on the DTS soundtrack that was present on the R1 disc.
Very little has been made for this releases, and what there is present is certainly aimed at a very young audience.
Hamsterveil’s Trivia Challenge
Correctly answering eight multiple choice questions about the film, by selecting pictures of the movies characters, will get you….absolutely nothing. Well apart from a screen that asks if you’d like to play again. Not fun, not worth the effort and horrendously slow going as you have to listen so unfunny soundbites in between the questions, I can see this easily boring anyone, even younger children.
Dr. Jumba’s Experiment Finder Game
Not much more fun than the first as you have to locate 4 experiments hiding in still scenes from the film, and then place them in their perfect job (which does make sense once you’ve seen the film) you’re given no clues to their location so it is simple trial and error, and again slow going.
Here you can find information on 20 of the experiments, thanks to a voice over from Dr. Jumba, though all the text was in an alien language, and some of these experiments didn’t seem to make the final cut.
Simply the song from the end credits of the film – Aloha, E Komo Mai by Jump 5 – presented to a compilation of clips from the film.
Inserting the disc also leads to trailers for Finding Nemo, Brother Bear and The Lion King. None of these trailers are available through the menu screens and they are all skipable.
While the DVD is aimed at a very young audience the film still manages to amuse adults, I guess Stitch with a chain saw will just always be funny. As is standard with Disney sequels the film is short, not quite making it past the hour mark, but there’s still a lot of laughing to do. It’s a shame Disney didn’t have the confidence in a sequel to back it with the budget of the original and make it a theatrical release as they did with The Jungle Book 2, but this is certainly one of the best sequels Disney have produced.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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