After 2003's The Cat and the Hat, Dr. Seuss' estate put the kibosh on any future live-action adaptations of the author's works. Can you blame them? Since that fiasco, however, we've seen animated versions of Horton Hears a Who and now The Lorax.
The Lorax is a beloved, cautionary tale -- one that some people didn't appreciate seeing translated to the big screen. How can a story that preached the evils of waste and environmental devastation be turned into a big-budget Hollywood production? All it needed was a little help from Illumination Entertainment, the minions behind the blockbuster Despicable Me.
The story should be familiar, but here it has a lot of music and more pretty colors. Well, despite what those things might indicate, the town of Thneedville is a horrible, horrible place. Fresh air doesn't grow on trees, because there are no trees. But they have songs! Oh boy, do they have songs.
However, songs won't help the young Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) win the heart of dreamgirl Audrey (Taylor Swift), so he sets out in search of the Once-ler (Ed Helms) to find out just where-or-where one tree may be.
The Lorax is a gorgeous looking movie with a ton of catchy songs. In other words, it has just enough to keep its target audience in awe. Adults, however, may be slightly grinchy over what has become of their beloved Dr. Seuss. That said, my biggest problem was the casting of Ed Helms as the creepy Once-ler character. The star of The Office sounded fine as the pre-apocalyptic oaf, but just didn't have the pipes to carry on the character's present-day chatter.
Some accused The Lorax of pushing a political agenda. That didn't really bother me. In fact, it's kind of sad. Not just that the world's natural resources seem to be going to hell in a handbasket, but that the message sort of gets lost in between the music, the mayhem and the marshmallows.
Speaking of mayhem, check out Chris Boylan's theatrical review of The Lorax.
From an image standpoint, The Lorax is absolutely wonderful. The 3D version has a few flat images, but you'll barely notice. That's because practically every moment and every character is popping off the screen. Flowers and other shrubbery (when its around) stands out and the Lorax himself is detailed in his fur and his awesome 'stache. Colors are outstanding and bright throughout, and the 3D doesn't mess with any of the detail here. It's truly a feast for the eyeballs.
The DTS-HD Master Audio is even more wonderful than the imagery. It's a non-stop, immersive experience. Whether you like it or not, the film has a ton of musical numbers, which use every ounce of the soundstage. Sound effects also have great directionality, whether it's Ted's scooter speeding by, thunder rumbling, a bed floating down the rapids, or trees landing with a mighty thud.
Like The Lorax, this release's extras are geared toward the wee ones -- with the exception of the commentary track, of course. The rest should appease those with a short attention span, averaging just a few minutes for each segment. Also, there is very little overlap between the 2D and 3D discs, even though none of the extras actually appear in 3D.
When it comes to the "mini movies," they are mini indeed. Looking at the title space on the side of the Blu-ray, these new mini movies should be a much bigger deal. Featured on both the 2D and 3D discs, they're cute, colorful and will appease the kiddos. However, all three play out like deleted scenes, at no more than 3 minutes each.
Both discs also have deleted scenes, games, and an extremely short piece on how the story came to be on the big screen. The 3D disc also includes a cute tutorial on how to draw the characters, with the 2D disc getting the exclusive on a piece about Thneedville, another short, and one of the games.
The Lorax seemed to rub a lot of the people the wrong way. Either it wasn't true enough to the story, it was a little too political, or it just wasn't very good. The film certainly doesn't flow as well as Dr. Seuss' cautionary tale, but the kiddos should certainly appreciate this song-filled, eye-popping extravaganza.
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