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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ernest & Celestine Blu-ray Review

We all know that bears are the root of all evil, yes? That's sort of the cardinal rule in the world of Ernest & Celestine. However, if you continue to watch, you'll learn that these beasts can actually be quite sweet, once you get the know them.

The Oscar-nominated film follows the adventures of Celestine (voiced on the English track by Twilight's Mackenzie Foy), a mouse who lives at a mouse orphanage run by The Grey One (Lauren Bacall). She tells the kiddies some scary stories of the bears that live above the ground, but Celestine isn't really buying it. Her beliefs are pretty much reinforced when she meets Ernest (Forest Whitaker), who opts to not eat her. (Well, that was nice of him!) Soon, the two develop a sweet friendship -- even though it's not all that widely received by the world around them.

Of course, it's not just a cutesy story. Based on the Belgian book series by Gabrielle Vincent, Ernest & Celestine has some weirdness to it. For instance, Celestine is studying to be a dentist, as all of the mice do. That's because the mice collect teeth from the bear cubs, sort of like teeny minions for the Tooth Fairy. Of course, Celestine wants nothing to do with that. She's an artist. And because of the friendship, the two end up being hunted down like criminals. However, it's all of those little quirks that make this film unique, beautiful and quite entertaining.

 "Ernest & Celestine" are an unlikely, adorable pair. Photo: © 2014 Cinedigm/GKids.

The Picture

Those of you spoiled by Disney and Pixar may not appreciate the rudimentary appearance of Ernest & Celestine. That said, the 1.78:1 image is a pretty gorgeous one. The characters are hand-drawn and the film was animated using a computer. The end result is like reading a children's book, with lovely watercolors and not always a ton of detail. That said, it's definitely the type of film that benefits from Blu-ray. Just pop in the included DVD to see the difference.

The Sound

Cinedigm has included DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks in both English and French. Again, it's not quite as explosive as what you'd get from Disney or something like How to Train Your Dragon. The dialogue is the main focus here, and it's always clear. However, the soundtrack is a surprising one, with a bold score and plenty of birds, piano music, a really creepy nightmare, a thunderstorm, and general mayhem to fill the surrounds.

The Extras

The collection of extras included with Ernest & Celestine is really all about quality over quantity. There's a 52-minute making-of featurette, which is quite comprehensive, covering the book, how the film came about, the animation, the music, and more. It's also in French (with captions), so pay attention! Otherwise, there's an interview with Director Benjamin Renner, the film's theatrical trailer, and an option to watch the entire movie in storyboards, in French.

Final Thoughts
If your love for animation extends beyond some of the big-budget films currently out there, Ernest & Celestine is an absolute must, for all ages. The actual artwork and the lovely, unique story make this one a standout whether you opt for the original French soundtrack or the star-studded English dub.

Product Details
Voice Actors: Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Jeffrey WrightDirectors: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner Audio/Languages: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English, French)Subtitles: English, English SDHAspect Ratio: 1.78:1Number of Discs: 2Rating: PGStudio: CinedigmBlu-ray Disc Release Date: June 17, 2014Run Time: 80 minutesList Price: $34.95Extras: The Making of Ernest & CelestineFeature-Length AnimaticInterview with Director Benjamin RennerTheatrical TrailerMore Animation from GKidsStandard-Def DVD

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