From my own experience with friends and family members, the sequel to Babe, Babe: Pig In The City, strikes everyone in a different way. Some feel the movie is too dark, while others (such as myself) find it an interesting fairy tale that keeps you attentive until the end, at which point you either love it or hate it. Nevertheless, everyone agrees that itís most certainly not a kidís movie. Iím surprised it managed to obtain a "G" rating as the story is targeted towards a more mature audience.
The story begins with a hilarious scene where Babe accidentally injures the farmer as he works in a well. While heís recovering, work doesnít get done and bills donít get paid so a pair of bankers arrive to foreclose on the mortgage. In an effort to save the farm his wife decides to take their prized pig to a large livestock fair for a paid appearance. As life would have it, a series of unfortunate events result in them stuck half-way there at a big city airport.
Technically, the film is brilliant. The fantasy city created by the designers is half Batman, half Wizard of Oz Ė in actuality itís a composite of famous landmarks from around the globe, including the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House, the Hollywood sign, the CN Tower, the Eiffel Tower and many more. The hotel that the desperate duo eventually find themselves in is situated in a part of town where the streets are canals and the architecture is, well, unique. The animalís characters are strong and endearing, each with its own unique personality traits. Lip-synched dialogue is perfect, better than any film Iíve seen before. While the majority of events that befall the cast of humans and animals are negative, thereís plenty of humor for adults plus a moral to be found around every corner. The ending is completely satisfying even for those who didnít particularly enjoy the rest of the film.
On the video front, Universal wisely chose to include both Pan & Scan and 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentations on a dual-layered disc. Video quality is quite good, though due to effects created by the particularly dark set lighting I noticed vertical line shimmering on certain objects such as staircase banners and lamps. Colors are deep and rich, while grain is nearly nil. Overall I felt the film could have been a bit brighter. Detail and sharpness, particularly on external shots, allow you to see even the smallest detail clearly.
Audio is where this disc really shines. Thereís music a-plenty and all of it sounds great with rich, deep bass and bright, crisp trebles surrounding you from all sides. The rear channels are used effectively throughout the film, but still wonít qualify the disc as a showcase for Dolby Digital split surrounds. Also, despite the excellent quality of music and sound effects some background hiss can be heard on certain portions of dialogue.
The fully animated menus are cute, with each main section featuring a different theme and audio track, but there are unnecessarily long delays between screens. The scene selection pages feature handy full-motion previews, while a total of three theatrical trailers are included for collectors. Cast biographies and other production notes can only take you so far; I really would have hoped for a "behind the scenes" featurette considering the time that was spent making this movie as visually gorgeous as it is.
After watching this DVD twice I can honestly say itís a well-mastered disc that wonít disappoint the technically savvy. If you found the film struck a right chord I can recommend this disc without hesitation.
- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on May 7, 1999.
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
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