Bee Movie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Modern animated flicks usually look great on DVD, and Bee followed that trend.
Sharpness seemed excellent. A few wide shots appeared just a smidgen soft, but those instances were rare and not problematic. The vast majority of the flick was concise and tight. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occur, and edge enhancement was absent. Source flaws were also non-existent in this clean transfer.
Colors also excelled. In the hive, the movie went with a golden look, while the rest of the world showed natural, dynamic tones. The hues always looked bright and vivid. Blacks appeared deep and firm, while shadows demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. This was a consistently terrific picture.
Any flick that involves as many flying scenes as Bee Movie should boast a pretty lively Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and the results followed the expected trends. From start to finish, the flick used the soundfield in an active and involving manner. As I alluded, the many flying sequences opened things up in a dynamic way, but plenty of other elements also created a great sense of space and place. Elements were placed accurately in the spectrum and they meshed together in a smooth way. The movie kept the action intense and involving.
I also thought the quality of the sound was excellent. Speech appeared natural and concise, as the lines suffered from no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music seemed dynamic and lively, and effects were well-rendered. Those elements came across as accurate and vivid, with clean highs and deep, tight lows. This was a strong soundtrack.
Dubbed the “Very Jerry 2-Disc Edition”, this release of Bee packs in the extras. On DVD One, we begin with an audio commentary from directors Simon J. Smith and Steve Hickner, producer Christina Steinberg, editor Nick Fletcher, co-writer Barry Marder, and actor/writer/producer Jerry Seinfeld. All of them sit together for this running, screen-specific piece that looks at alternate/abandon scenes, production, set and character design, cast and performances, and a few animation specifics.
With all those participants, you might expect a lively, involving chat. Unfortunately, this commentary tends to be heavy on praise and light on information. Especially during the discussion’s first half, we get tons and tons of praise for the flick and all its elements. Matters do improve as the session progresses, though; Seinfeld throws in some funny remarks and we get more substantial material. I like all of the statements about altered/cut sequences too. Unfortunately, these aren’t enough to make the commentary a winner. It has enough decent facts to be worth a listen, but it remains a disappointment.
Three Lost Scenes and six Alternate Endings appear. Taken together, these last a total of 19 minutes, 39 seconds. In the first category, we find “Barry Interview” (2:05), “The Queen” (1:42) and “Liotta on a Plane” (1:13). For the “Endings”, we get “Barry and Vanessa Fly Off Together” (2:36), “Tragic Love Triangle” (1:28), “Spanish Fly” (2:40), “Outer Space” (3:45), “Ken Flies Ultralight” (2:10) and “The Eagle Has Not Landed” (1:56). All of these come with introductions from Seinfeld, and they all appear as storyreels.
Of the three “Lost Scenes”, “Interview” is the least interesting just because it incorporates a lot of gags and info in the final flick. “Queen” is a decent tangent but not one that would’ve fit well into the story. “Plane” is the most fun of the lot, just because it brings back the hotheaded Liotta.
As for the “Endings”, the first four are variations on each other in which Barry addresses the weird romantic triangle of himself, Vanessa and Ken. “Outer Space” is the oddest of the bunch – and Seinfeld’s favorite – but I don’t think any of them are satisfying. The same goes for the final two, which are also similar. In those ones, Barry tries to arrange his wedding to Vanessa. It’s more than a little creepy, and neither would have ended the flick well. I’m happy with the current conclusion.
Some promotional spots called TV Juniors show up next. We locate 16 of these with a total running time of 21 minutes, 39 seconds. They purport to offer behind the scenes glimpses of the film’s creation, but they’re all staged vignettes created for comedic purposes. And they succeed in that regard. We get cameos from folks like Jeffrey Katzenberg and Brad Garrett in these amusing and clever pieces.
More ads show up under Live-Action Trailers. We get two of these: “Windshield” (1:55) and “Steven” (2:17). They show what Bee Movie would’ve been like as a live-action flick and include cameos from Chris Rock, Eddie Izzard and Steven Spielberg. Like the “Juniors”, they’re quite entertaining.
To see more movie promotion, we check out Jerry’s Flight Over Cannes. This three-minute and two-second clip shows Seinfeld as he takes a zip over water to get attention for the flick. It’s a pretty goofy stunt, so it’s interesting to see documentation of it.
For a look at the actors, we head to the 14-minute and 42-second Inside the Hive: The Cast of Bee Movie. It features comments from Seinfeld, Steinberg, Hickner, Smith, Fletcher, and actors Matthew Broderick, Renee Zellweger, Patrick Warburton, Chris Rock, Megan Mullaly, and Larry Miller. We hear a little about the flick’s genesis but we mostly get notes about the characters, the actors, the story and the recording process.
Make no mistake: this is essentially a long promo piece. However, I like the shots of the actors at work, and we get a few decent tidbits along the way. Don’t expect a lot from it, but it keeps us interested.
A few ads open DVD One. We get clips for Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar: The Crate Escape, and The Spiderwick Chronicles. These also appear in the Previews areas along with a spot for the Kung Fu Panda videogame.
Over on DVD Two, the material splits into two categories. “Special Features” starts with a featurette. Tech of Bee Movie lasts seven minutes, 33 seconds and includes notes from Seinfeld, Smith, Hickner, Fletcher, Steinberg, head of digital operations Derek Chan, technology executive Kate Swanborg, DreamWorks Animation CTO Ed Leonard, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of layout Nol Meyer, head of research and development Jeff Wike, visual effects supervisor Doug Cooper, and head of effects Mahesh Ramasubramanian.
As indicated by the title, this one looks at the technical aspects of making Bee Movie. Unfortunately, it’s way too brief and superficial. The participants discuss the challenges but only offer a cursory discussion of the solutions. It ends up more as a promotional piece than anything else.
Next comes an interactive feature called Meet Barry B. Benson. This lets you select from a list of 11 questions to ask Barry; when you choose, you’ll get the “answer” from a compilation of movie clips and some basic in-character comments from Seinfeld. It never develops into anything very interesting.
A music video arrives after this. “We Got the Bee” offers an update on the old Go-go’s song – complete with altered Bee-centric lyrics. It’s a pretty dreadful cover, and even though the video includes some shots of Seinfeld, it’s no better.
For material from other films, we can move to the DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox. This allows you to watch clips from the three Shrek flicks, Shark Tale, Flushed Away, Madagascar and
Over the Hedge. This lets us hear some musical numbers from the films. It feels like an ad to me, honestly, as it serves little real purpose.
Under “DreamWorks Kids”, we find five more components. The Buzz About Bees gives us a seven-minute and two-second featurette about those critters. It provides a basic overview of the facts and figures that relate to our buzzy little friends. The notes stay simple but it’s not a bad summary.
A weird informative piece comes via The Ow! Meter. If you select “Human”, you’ll learn the relative pain inflicted by the sting of five different bees. Choose “bee” and find out how much various swatting methods would hurt a bee. You can also discover “how to avoid being stung by a bee”. We get some decent basic facts here.
We find a quiz with That’s Un-bee-lievable. It provides a smattering of questions about bees to test our basic knowledge of bees. You can learn a bit more info here, though the piece gives you no reward for completion.
More questions come under Be a Bee. This aptitude test asks you about some traits and determines which hive job would be best for you. It’s harmless fun.
A game called Pollination Practice finishes the disc. This requires you to aim and fire at flowers. It could be more pointless and dull, but that’s tough to imagine.
No one will mistake Bee Movie for a great animated film, as it suffers from a few concerns. However, it delivers the laughs it promises, so it succeeds in the end. The DVD provides excellent picture and audio along with a long roster of extras. A lot of the supplements aren’t terribly worthwhile, but we still find a fair amount of interesting content. I think Bee Movie is a great deal of fun and I recommend this very good DVD.
Note that you can get Bee Movie as either a $29.98 single-disc version or this $36.98 two-DVD release. I don’t know if the one-platter edition includes all of DVD One’s supplements, but if it does, that’s the one to buy. The stuff on DVD Two of the “Very Jerry” release isn’t all that great; the fun extras are on the first disc. Save yourself a few bucks with the cheaper one if you can still get the commentary, the deleted scenes and the other materials.