on December 19, 2014
ANIMALS UNITED  [3D Blu-ray + 2D Blu-ray] [UK Release] The Perfect Family Movie!
The film is set in Africa's Okavango Delta, and the main characters are a meerkat named Billy [James Corden] and a lion named Socrates [Stephen Fry]. The annual flood has failed to arrive in the Delta, water has become scarce and the native animals fiercely fight over it. Billy and Socrates set out to find more water, and during their quest they meet a rag-tag group of animals from across the world: a polar bear named Sushi [Bella Hudson], a kangaroo named Toby [Jason Donovan], a Tasmanian devil named Smiley [Pete Zarustica[, two Galápagos tortoises named Winifred [Vanessa Redgrave] and Winston [Jim Broadbent], and a chimpanzee named Toto [Jason Griffith], all of whom have had their lives ruined by humans in some way and have travelled to Africa. A German Constantin Film made CGI animated children's feature. It is based on the 1949 book of the same name by Erich Kästner.
Voice Cast: James Corden [Billy], Stephen Fry [Socrates], Andy Serkis [Charles the Cockerel], Dawn French [Angie], Vanessa Redgrave [Winifred], Jason Donovan [Toby], Omid Djalili [Bongo], Sean Schemmel [Biggie the Rhinoceros], Marc Thompson [Chino the Buffalo], Pete Zarustica [Smiley], Jason Griffith [Toto the Chimpanzee], Mischa Goodman [Junior], Bella Hudson [Sushi], Élisabeth Williams [Meerkat No.1], Jessica Owen [Meerkat No. 2], Erica Schroeder [The Polar Bear 'Sushi'], Tom Wayland [The Anteater 'Bob'], Veronica Taylor [The Mole], Ruben Lloyd [Vulture No.1], Jimmy Zoppi [Vulture No.2], Gary McHenley [Vulture No.3], Oliver Wyman [The Tasmanian Devil 'Smiley'], Oliver Green [Ken], Michael Glover [Mr. Smith], Kim Holland [Maya], Nicola Devico Mamone [Buffalo Chino], Thomas Fritsch [Löwe Sokrates], Peter Groeger [Schildkröte Winston], Christoph Maria Herbst [Hahn Charles], Oliver Kalkofe [Hoteldirektor Smith], Bianca Krahl [Giraffe Gisela], Uli Krohm [Koch], Joanna Lumley [Giselle], Bastian Pastewka [Elefantenkuh Angie], Billie Piper [Bonnie the Meerkat], Margot Rothweiler [Schildkröte Winifred], Frank Schaff [Erdmännchen], Tilo Schmitz [Nashorn Biggie], Constantin von Jascheroff [Erdmännchen], Santiago Ziesmer [Affiger Friseur Bongo], Marc Diraison [Cook] and Ben Howard [Chef de Cuisine]
Directors: Holger Tappe and Reinhard Klooss
Producers: Holger Tappe and Reinhard Klooss
Screenplay: Oliver Huzly, Reinhard Kloos, Sven Severin and Erich Kästner (book)
Composer: David Newman
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 93 minutes
Number of discs: 2
Region: Region B/2
Studio: Entertainment in Video
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: The two protagonists in this animated film are a glib meerkat named Billy [James Corden] and a disenchanted lion named Socrates [Stephen Fry], who decides to go on a quest to discover why the river in their habitat has unexpectedly dried up. Along the way, they meet other animals whose homes have been destroyed by man’s inconsiderate ways. Their journey brings them to a dam which has been constructed to supply energy for a luxury resort. They must then come up with a plan to break the dam to get water flowing back into the delta again.
You aren’t the only one who noticed something strange with the characters’ mouth movements. The lip synching seems slightly out of place, only because this is an original German production with an original German cast of unfamiliar names. Here, we have most of brilliant British actors that include James Corden as the talkative meerkat, Stephen Fry channelling a tender and gentle touch to the disillusioned lion, as well as veterans Jim Broadbent and Vanessa Redgrave lending weight to the film as a pair of loving Galápagos tortoises.
It is inevitable that people will compare this animation film with more well-known animations like the Disney ‘The Lion King’  where Timon the meerkat and Simba the lion in that production were best friends too? Also in the ‘Madagascar’  weren’t the motley crew of animals in that DreamWorks hit from Africa as well? This imaginative animation film directed by Reinhard Klooss and Holger Tappe has done a very inventive job so far seen. Its 3D effects are totally brilliant at best, and the animal characters leave a warm lasting impression, while the computer generated effects in scenes involving massive numbers of rhinoceroses and buffalos are awesome. And But the animation film still deserves some brilliant credit and especially if you’ve got any heart for saving this planet we call home.
Based on a children’s storybook “The Animals’ Conference” , this animation film was first visualised in 1969 by Curt Linda. Some 40 years later, the satire in which the world’s animals unite to successfully force humans to disarm and make peace with each other may be slightly diluted, no thanks to today’s need to produce movies which are simple and digestible, but the 93 minute animation film is so upfront with its modern environmental message that you can’t help but recommend, especially young children to watch it regular, especially in schools, to hit home the message of the danger if humans are allowed to pollute and ravage this planet of ours.
It may seem ridiculously unbelievable at first, but the animation film’s highlight has to be the rather surrealistic finale where animals from all over the world march onto the streets of New York to sound out that the animal kingdom is under threat from mankind and sends a serious message that us humans cannot ignore. Yes, despite the fact that it is not an animated feature film from Hollywood’s honchos like PIXAR or DreamWorks, it still looks stunning. Call this reviewer soft hearted, but how can people criticise an animation film that promotes environmentalism and sends a strong message about man’s destruction of animal habitats?
3D Blu-ray Video Quality – Although ‘Animals United’ had a relatively modest budget, but reportedly somewhere between $40 [£50] and $50 [£60] million, computer animation has progressed to the point where a lot of value can be created for that amount, if the talent is there. The film's frames may not be as jam-packed with detail as the best of PIXARS's creations, but the creatures are sophisticated in their conception and detailed in their realisation, and the 1080p encoded Blu-ray image reproduces all the fine renderings of texture in such demanding areas as fur, moisture, gravel and dirt. Colours are appropriately saturated, blacks are black and the panther in the Valley of Death is especially well-done, and there is no video or other noise to interfere with your viewing pleasure. As with all such digital animation, the Blu-ray was presumably sourced from digital files, thereby ensuring that the end product matches what the animators created. In Europe, ‘Animals United’ was released in cinemas in 3D, and many sequences would obviously benefit from the 3D image rendering. However, ARC Entertainment in North America has not announced any plans to release a 3D version.
3D Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track fully utilises the five channels to immerse the viewer in the film's experience. Discrete effects are plentiful e.g., beer cans tossed over your shoulder, as are pans and airplane flying, and all-around activities, like stampedes and showdowns between the rhinos and the water buffalos. Bass extension is significant and substantial, because the ground trembles for several reasons, at a number of points in the film. The numerous voice performances, with their wide variety of accents and intonations, are well-reproduced and generally confined to the front centre. The underscoring by the prolific David Newman is spread across the soundstage and blended unobtrusively into the background. This may not be the subtlest of soundtracks, but it's effective and totally professional.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
DISC ONE: 3D and 2D Feature Film [1080p]
DISC TWO: 3D Feature Film [includes 3D Red/Green Anaglyptic Glasses]
Theatrical Trailer: This is the Original Theatrical Trailer ‘Animals United’ in 3D [1080p] [2.35:1] [0:48] This trailer is not in 3D.
Sneak Peaks: Arthur & The Great Adventure; Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back in 3D [Animation] and Planet 51 [Animation].
Finally, is ‘Animals United’ a great animated film? I think PIXAR and DreamWorks Animation do not need to start worrying just yet. But there's undeniable craftsmanship behind it, the kind that only improves with subsequent ventures, and next time the subject matter may not be as difficult to sell in the North American market. That the film's pro-animal slant would set off ideological trip wires and can be seen with user comments via either Amazon or IMDb. I personally enjoyed it precisely because it played like something that would never have survived a journey through the U.S. studio marketing, which almost always aims for blandness. Children, of course, won't care either way. But most important I thought it was a totally brilliant animation film and I just do not know why there have been so much negative comments about this animation film, these people should get a life and not be so up their own petard?
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
on June 6, 2012
Seriously, if you are offended by the idea that the environment is being polluted and manipulated by people, avoid this film. Animals United is nothing more or less than another mediocre animated film with high aspirations.
The good: Bits of satire and a few characters that work well. The film has a good score, and achieves some dramatic and fun moments as well as a few visually impressive scenes. Probably will keep your kids entertained. But not you.
The bad: Disjointed plot tries to preach a bit too much. The English dub probably destroys what humor and wit there once was in the film. The voices often seem at odds with the character's expressions and movements, and like most European kid's movies, no option for watching it in the original language with subtitles is offered. Many stereotypical characters. Like way too many kid movies, it tries to surf on tried-and-true character and situation themes, leaving you with a sense of déja vu.
A group of animals have lost their homes. A polar bear was displaced due to the ice floes melting, a pair of ancient Galapagos tortoises find their island slimed by an oil spill, a very French rooster escapes from a sadistic chef, and a kangaroo and flatulent Tasmanian devil must leave Australia because...um...motorcyclists burned the desert (I think.)
They end up in Africa later, where they meet the hero of the story (and thereafter become mostly irrelevant.)
The hero is a typical character--a meerkat who is kind of a screwball and slacker, and whose son thinks he's a loser. (Whopping cliché #1) His best friend is a lion who became a pacifist and vegetarian after a hunter shot his brother. So, anyway, one day they notice there's no more water in the water hole. Billy the Meerkat wanders off to find where it went, and discovers that the humans have built a dam so they can have a swimming pool at their resort hotel...where, coincidentally, a bunch of politicians are gathering for their 168th congress to discuss the climate and environment (without doing anything about it.)
I'm sure I don't need to tell you that by the end of the film, the animals all work together, the dam has been smashed, and they are aided by the token 'good' human, a little girl who 'Gets It.'
The film is hurt by the fact that there are way too many pointless or near-pointless characters. The polar bear hardly comes into the story. The Australian animals mainly fart and steal beer. (Or soda. It's clear-colored, but the cans are unmarked and the characters seem more like beer-drinkers!) The old tortoises mainly boringly tell each other how much they love each other, until they tell the other animals about all the destruction they've seen humans do in the past 700 years (admittedly a very powerful and dark scene) and then die to add a little pathos to the story. The rooster gets plenty of screen time, but frankly, he's SO annoying and stereotypical I could have done with less of him. There is an evil hunter who apparently only exists to shoot at animals with a nasty grin on his face.
On the other hand, Socrates the lion is quite likable. There is a chimp, who is clearly a wanna-be human, who I found to be quite the funniest character in the film. There are some visually impressive scenes, like the tortoise's story, the breaking dam, and the blue whale. And every now and then there will be a sequence that wakes you up and makes you feel like you are not completely wasting the time you spend watching Animals United.
But if you are looking for a gentle way to break your kids in to foreign films, PLEASE start them with something better. I can strongly recommend: A Fish Tale (AKA Help, I'm a Fish) (Swedish, I think), the Dragon Hunters movie (French), The Secret of Kells (Irish/Belgian), Spirited Away (or any other Miyazaki movie) (Japanese)
Animals United is not just a bad film (If it can even be called that. Trash is a better word for it). It is a bad bad film. It is so atrociously, unbelievably bad my stomach churns within me as I write about it. As I watched it (not willingly of course) my gut heaved and roiled, my ears shriveled, and my eyes twitched in nervous spasms.
I could tell my brain cells were committing suicide, one by one, as I watched this. So I left the room and screamed. I buried myself in Lawrence of Arabia for 4 hours.
Why this garbage is bad:
1. Awful animation. Really, it looks fake, computer generated, ugly, and at times disturbing. It's not just a disgrace to CGI, it's a disgrace to computers itself, to humanity, to the animal kingdom, to the bloody universe!
2. The story, portraying man as evil, disgusting beasts, and animals as the rulers of the world. Not appropriate for children.
3. The humor: crude, trite, tasteless, and shallow. Pass on this; it's not even worthy as toilet paper.
If you are a self-respecting human being, who loves their child, don't show this to them, don't buy it, don't even look at it. In fact, whenever you see a copy of this utter rubbish, spit on it. The world will be a better place without it. How a talented cast ever signed up to do this crap is beyond me. Maybe they were drugged or something.
So please, DON'T BUY THIS JUNK. Animals United gets ZERO stars.