Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Santa Buddies Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 31.9 GB
Film Size: 24.9 GB
Film Rating: G
Region: A

Santa Buddies comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The release is quite impressive, but I have never liked the softer look present when a talking dog is the focus of the scene. The softer look is placed to make the computer generated mouth movements not look as fake and blend in a bit better.

Colors are strong and vibrant like almost any high-def Disney release, and black levels are always solid. Texture of environments, clothing, and human facial details are always sharp and pleasing from beginning to end.

The biggest complaint about the high-def presentation isn't even fault of the Blu-ray transfer. There are quite a few computer generated effects, from icy environments to Santa's reindeer, and the Blu-ray brings out the low quality effects so much it's distracting.

Of course the release was intended for kids mostly, so I doubt they will pay attention too much to the effects or even care. The Blu-ray transfer appears to be free of any technical issues, the cheesy effects just don't translate well to high-def. 8/10.

A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included. The mix is quite front heavy, but it never feels too limited. Dialogue on this release is fantastic, always as crisp and clear as can be. The film's score is actually not too bad either and comes through beautifully.

We even get a special performance by Kaityln Maher who plays Tiny the dog. For those who don't know of her, she was a 4 year old contestant on America's Got Talent. No offense, but the kid has nothing but the cute factor going for her, because vocally she's certainly average among children.

The quality of the DTS-HD MA track is quite impressive, particularly when compared to the DVD release. Everything just gains a significant boost in overall quality, despite being a front heavy mix. For a straight to video release, the track is actually quite strong. 7.5/10.


Disc 1:

Sing Along (3:35) (HD)
Sing along to Christmas carols with the Buddies.

"Santa Clause Is Comin' To Town" Music Video (2:33) (HD)
Performed by Steve Rushton.

Disc 2:

DVD copy of the film.

There are not very many extras at all on this release, but being a straight to video release I didn't expect too much. It would have been neat if they included a behind-the-scenes featurette to show how they did certain things in the film. The DVD copy included is extremely smart, it seems Disney has learned their lesson since Space Buddies, which had minimal sales on the Blu-ray format. 4/10.

Blu-news Summary
By now it seems the Buddies have done everything! They have played basketball and soccer, they have been on a snow adventure, traveled to space, and now helped out Santa. There comes a time when enough is enough, but clearly sales have been strong enough to warrant more and more releases.

If you are reading the review this far, it's most likely you have children. The release is intended for kids only. I can't even say it's that great of a family film necessarily, as you may find it a struggle to get through if you are an adult. On the other hand it's possible you may find it cute, or have had to sit through even cheesier things.

If your children are fans of the Buddies they will certainly enjoy this film. Aside from the extra bad special effects, there really isn't much different from the previous films. The Buddies each have their own distinct personalities, perhaps a bit stereotyped to different types of children. The film also has quite a few notable actors including Christopher Lloyd.

If your kids did not like the previous Buddies films, this really won't help change their mind. If anything the release works as the perfect babysitter for 88 minutes of relaxation time. For a kids release it's actually not too terrible, I won't be so harsh on the film score as much as others will, especially since it's not intended for adults anyway. 6.5/10.

The Blu-ray release is strong, featuring nice video and audio. Extras are quite weak, but it could have been worse. Overall this release is 'For Kids Only.'

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