Bridge to Terabithia 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. Across the board, the movie boasted a strong transfer.
Only a few minor issues affected sharpness. I noticed very minor softness in some wife shots, but those examples occurred infrequently. The majority of the flick looked concise and detailed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized. Both edge enhancement and source flaws also appeared absent.
Bridge went with a warm, natural palette that looked very good. The tones seemed very well rendered, as the film made them glow in an appealing manner. Blacks were deep and full, while low-light shots seemed clear and well developed. This was an appealing image.
I also found much to like from the flick’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Given the character-oriented nature of the movie, much of it went with general ambience. However, all of the fantasy bits allowed the mix to broaden in a satisfying manner. The elements spread across the various channels and presented a nice sense of place and action. All the different components created a solid package.
Audio quality was quite positive as well. Speech was crisp and natural, with no edginess or intelligibility issues. Music appeared bright and dynamic, while effects came across as realistic and bold. The fantasy pieces packed a good punch, especially when they kicked deep bass into the action. Overall, I thought the audio succeeded well.
When we look at the disc’s extras, we open with two separate audio commentaries. The first presents director Gabor Csupo, screenwriter Jeff Stockwell and producer Hal Lieberman. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They discuss cast and performances, story and character issues, the adaptation of the source novel, shooting in New Zealand, visual effects and other technical elements, and a mix of other production subjects.
The three participants create a reasonably engaging commentary. They toss out a little too much of the usual happy talk, and the piece doesn’t ever become terribly deep, but it digs into appropriate topics and does so in a likable manner. This allows the track to keep us interested as it tells us a little about the flick.
For the second commentary, we hear from actors Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb and producer Lauren Levine. Those three also sit together for their own running, screen-specific chat. They cover general topics like experiences during the shoot and their impressions of various elements.
Actor commentaries often don’t work very well, and the inclusion of kids usually makes things worse. Happily, this trio offers a pretty decent discussion. No, it never becomes especially involving or rich, but it remains peppy and likable. The kids and Levine provide just enough useful info to make this one acceptable.
Two featurettes follow. Digital Imagination: Bringing Terabithia to Life runs five minutes, 56 seconds and presents movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We locate notes from Levine, Csupo, Hutcherson, author Katherine Paterson, executive producer Alex Schwartz, producer/screenwriter David Paterson, Walden Media CEO Cary Granat, digital effects supervisor Dan Lemmon, Weta Workshop’s Richard Taylor, art director for visual effects Michael Pangrazio, visual effects supervisor Matt Aitken, and lead animator David Clayton.
“Life” looks at various digital effects used in the movie. At less than six minutes, it’s way too short to offer a substantial examination of these issues. It manages to provide some interesting moments but it needs much more time to delve into the material.
Behind the Book: The Themes of Bridge to Terabithia lasts 14 minutes, 28 seconds and features Robb, Katherine and David Paterson, Hutcherson, Los Angeles Public Library Director of Children’s Services Ilene Abramson, teacher Leanne C. Marquez, Cal State University Children’s Literature adjunct professor Nonie Smith, librarian Melissa Messner, and actor Zooey Deschanel. They discuss character and story issues in Bridge.
The best parts of “Book” come from the Patersons. They offer insights into the real-life experiences that influenced the novel. Otherwise, “Book” comes short on substance and long on praise. We hear about what a fine piece of work Bridge is as a text, but we don’t gain many real insights.
We find a music video for “Keep Your Mind Wide Open” by AnnaSophia Robb. Both the song and the clip are generic and completely forgettable.
At the start of the disc, we get ads for Underdog, The Jungle Book, Meet the Robinsons and High School Musical: The Concert – Extreme Access Pass. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with promos for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Santa Clause 3, Hannah Montana and Disney Movie Rewards.
I went into Bridge to Terabithia with the expectation I’d find a low rent version of Narnia. However, I found much, much more from this rich, layered and moving tale. The DVD offers very positive picture and audio as well as a mix of acceptably useful extras. I highly recommend this excellent film.