Chicken Little was the first movie I saw theatrically in 3D, so watching it at home via Blu-ray 3D was an oddly reminiscent experience. The story — a young chicken sees the “sky” fall but tries desperately to repress it until all alien Hell breaks loose and he can’t — does feel a bit dated, but at the time of Chicken Little’s theatrical debut you could overlook that because the technology was so novel. Now the novelty of 3D has worn off to a certain degree, at least in my corner of the world, so the story triteness is a bit more obvious. But this is a review of the 3D aspects, not the plot, and Chicken Little miraculously looks better now than it did on the big screen. The film also manages to deliver a better sense of depth than many of the new-release (read: not from Disney’s archives) Blu-ray 3Ds, which is nigh inexplicable.
The clarity of the CG graphics is remarkable, especially considering the age of the film compared to Toy Story 3 and Cars 2. This clarity helps the on-screen characters and environmental elements seem all the more dimensional, as do the camera angles. As one of Disney’s first 3D theatrical releases, Chicken Little was conceived with certain 3D-inducing angles in mind, whereas many modern films have 3D tacked-on rather than as a primary objective. As such, Chicken Little is littered with objects in the extreme background as the characters get super-macro shots, which makes most of the images absolutely pop off the screen. The high-octane intro is full of dimensionality as well, and although parts of the movie drop off, by and large the sense of depth remains just as excellent throughout.
Vehicles, props, scene compositions, the camera movements from foreground to background … everything was built with 3D in mind, and it shows. Chicken Little is one of the most impressive Blu-ray 3Ds I’ve watched this year, and there’s absolutely zero crosstalk, not even when Chicken Little and his dad first encounter the Oz-like alien patriarch in a pitch-black scene that could’ve been rife with ghosting. That alone is a feather in the film’s cap, but the entire package is just as solid.
Oddly, the diversity of characters drives home the depth as well, which is something you don’t see in non-CG movies. After all, CG is the only way you’re going to see anthropomorphized characters ranging from chickens and dogs to porcupines and raccoons to pigs and geese. All of these characters, whether an “extra” or a star, have unique body styles and nuanced attributes that magnify their depth tenfold. Noses, beaks, ears, snouts, legs, etc. are all different, and the lack of body-type repetition actively draws your attention to the depth in each. Most 3D films, animated or not, are populated with the same species and thus don’t have this 3D-inducing variance. Chicken Little has it in spades, and the 3D presentation clearly benefits from it.
A few scenes were custom-made for depth, including some dodgeball and baseball sequences and some awesome battle scenes at the end, but by and large there’s nothing that screams “gotcha” about Chicken Little’s 3D effects. Instead, it all seems natural — or as natural as a talking chicken who sees aliens fall from the sky can be. The camera angles, props and character types somehow make it seem like you’re “there,” which is ultimately the goal of 3D technology. Ironically, the film’s most obvious “gotchas” — the descent and debut of alien spaceships — actually have the least impressive and cheesiest effects in terms of depth of anything else in the movie.
I realize the Chicken Little Blu-ray 3D release is going to cause some groans, but Disney really did know what it was doing on this one. Not merely a re-release to capture the burgeoning 3D TV crowd, Chicken Little is an outstanding 3D release that would make a solid showcase piece for your 3D TV setup.
Click this link to check the pricing for the Chicken Little Blu-ray 3D at Amazon.
Score: 9 — Amazing subtlety in its depth and an overall image clarity that provides one of the most crisp presentations I’ve seen on Blu-ray 3D.