Hoodwinked appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a terrific little transfer.
Sharpness looked excellent. The movie boasted a tight, crisp presentation from start to finish. I noticed no signs of softness on display here. Jagged edges and shimmering were absent, and I saw no examples of edge enhancement. Print flaws were also totally absent in this clean presentation.
Colors were another highlight. The storybook setting offered plenty of chances for lively, dynamic hues, and the movie capitalized on them. The hues were always vivid and vibrant. Blacks seemed deep and full. While low-light shots offered great delineation and clarity. The movie consistently looked great.
Although it didn’t live up to the visuals, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Hoodwinked seemed more than acceptable. I will admit I thought the soundfield could have boasted a more immersive sensibility, though. While it used all five channels to good effect at times, it let some prime opportunities pass without the expected level of information. For example, an avalanche stayed focused in the front and didn’t swallow up the soundfield like it should.
Nonetheless, I thought the soundscape was generally quite solid. The movie offered enough information from the various channels to make it work. Elements were appropriately placed and they blended together quite smoothly. Although I thought they could have been more active, the surrounds still helped flesh out the package. They brought a lot of good support to the mix.
Audio quality was terrific. Speech always seemed natural and concise. Effects were tight and detailed, and they boasted nice low-end when necessary; explosions and the avalanche added a lot of bass. The music also sounded full and dynamic. Some of the hip-hop tracks threatened to bust my subwoofer as they showed deep, rich low-end. This track just narrowly missed “A”-level consideration, as it was consistently quite good.
A few extras fill out the disc. We open with an audio commentary from writers/directors Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards and Tony Leech. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. Though not always heavy on details, they turn this into a fun and generally informative piece.
We get a look at the basics. The commentary covers cast and characters, story and editing, visuals and animation specifics, references and influences, sound and music, and the challenges of creating a CG feature on a very limited budget. That subject proves the most interesting as we learn how they made a movie like this on a “Pixar Lite” amount of money.
On the negative side, we get a little too much happy talk and praise here, and the track suffers from occasional gaps despite the brevity of the film. Nonetheless, the commentary usually proves lively and engaging. The directors offer a lot of quirky humor along with their information, and that helps make the track fun and enjoyable.
Five Deleted and Extended Scenes last a total of nine minutes, 35 seconds. This area comes with a misleading title, as all five clips offer extended segments. All except for “Bat Scene” present elongated songs and come in final animated form. “Bat” includes more of Wolf and Twitchy in the caves and introduces deleted bat characters. I actually like the longer songs and think those versions might have belonged in the final flick. “Bat” was a good cut, though; it just isn’t entertaining.
We can watch these with or without commentary from Cory Edwards. He gives us some basics and lets us know why they dropped these elements. His notes add decent insight.
A featurette called How to Make an Animated Film follows. This 12-minute and 50-second piece includes movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We hear from Cory Edwards as well as producers David Lovegren and Sue Bea Montgomery.
They trace the film’s origins and development along with other aspects of the production. They also go through character design, storyboards, storyreels, and their usage in the planning processes, cast and performances and animation. Though “Make” never stretches beyond the basics, it covers them pretty well. Our glimpses of the candid footage helps, especially when we see the demo reels Edwards created to help the animators. We find some nice materials in this concise little show.
Called “Critters Have Feelings”, a music video comes next. This one combines performance shots of a Cars-style tune with a minor storyline. That’s nothing special, but since the fully animated clip comes with a lot of new material, it becomes more entertaining than expected; it doesn’t just recycle film footage. Finally, the set includes the theatrical trailer for Hoodwinked and an ad for Doogal opens the DVD.
While I can’t call Hoodwinked one of the all-time great animated flicks, it offers a substantially more entertaining experience than I expected. I admit I went into this one with reluctance, but I found it to be consistently enjoyable. Frankly, I prefer it to the two Shrek films. It feels like a better-integrated story with more interesting characters and funnier gags. The DVD presents excellent picture and sound as well as a decent collection of extras. Hoodwinked deserves a look.