Chicken Little appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While mostly strong, the transfer wasn’t quite as perfect as I expect from Disney’s animated films.
On the positive side, the picture came totally free from source defects, as it consistently looked clean. Colors seemed very good as well. The movie featured a gentle pastel palette that looked appropriately concise and distinctive. Blacks were deep and rich.
The minor negatives mostly related to sharpness. Although the vast majority of the flick appeared nicely delineated and crisp, some shots displayed a vague softness. These concerns didn’t overwhelm, but they gave the movie a slightly tentative feel at times. A few low-light shots also came across as a bit dense, though these remained in the minority. This was a transfer with few concerns, but the smattering of issues were enough to make it a “B+”.
I also gave a “B+” to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Chicken Little. It presented a fairly engaging soundfield. Not surprisingly, its best moments related to elements with the aliens. Those helped open up the spectrum pretty nicely. The action climax worked best, as the ships and creatures zoomed around the room well. Otherwise, we got good stereo impressions from the music along with solid environmental material. The latter reverberated in the rear speakers to positive effect.
No problems with audio quality occurred. Speech was always concise and natural, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music seemed bright and lively. Effects showed good distinctiveness, and they offered nice low-end when appropriate. The alien sequences brought my subwoofer to life and added solid depth. The track wasn’t quite immersive enough to merit an “A”-level grade, but it was very pleasing nonetheless.
I found the DVD’s extras to be less satisfying, as we get a small roster of them. We find four Deleted Scenes. We can watch these with or without introductions from director Mark Dindal and producer Randy Fullmer. Taken without the intros, they last a total of 10 minutes, 31 seconds. If you include the intros, they fill 13 minutes, 24 seconds.
The scenes include two alternate openings along with an “original opening” and a segment called “Lunch Break”. They appear in various stages of completion. We get some finished animation along with rough work and some storyreels. All of the various openings are quite interesting to see, especially since “original” casts Chicken Little as a girl. The intros offer basic notes about the sequences but fail to flesh them out particularly well.
Two Music Videos pop up next. We find “Shake Your Tail Feather” from the Cheetah Girls and “One Little Slip” by Barenaked Ladies. The former is fairly unlistenable as it presents one of the skillions of interchangeable telegenic pop acts from the Disney stable. The video is a dull mix of lip-synch antics and some dancing animated characters. “Slip” is no more memorable, and the video itself seems even more boring. It simply combines bland recording studio shots and movie clips. Does anyone actually enjoy these kinds of crummy videos?
The DVD lets us hear the tune “One Little Slip” in two other ways. There’s a Karaoke option as well as a Sing-A-Long. Both use identical visuals that show the animated characters dance in various settings. The songs differ in that the Karaoke one lacks vocals whereas the other comes with the original singing. Neither does anything for me.
A trivia game called “Where’s Fish?” follows. This requires you to answer questions about the movie and then locate Fish Out of Water in a shell game kind of deal. Nothing spectacular happens here, but the game is reasonably entertaining.
For a look behind the scenes, we get a documentary entitled Hatching Chicken Little: The Making of the Movie. This offers the standard mix of production materials, movie clips, and interviews. We hear from Dindal, Fullmer, supervising animators Tony Smeed, Doug Bennett and Jason Ryan, animation supervisor Eamonn Butler, composer John Debney, musicians Joss Stone, Patti Labelle, Steven Page, Tyler Stewart, Ed Robertson and John Ondrasik, and actors Amy Sedaris and Dan Molina. The show traces the origins of the production and the development of its story, character design and animation choices, voice acting and characters, the film’s music, and the daily duties of the director.
Expect “Hatching” to keep its focus general. It gets into a nice mix of subjects, as it touches on many of the areas we want. However, it races through them and remains awfully superficial. The show acts as a decent overview but never becomes particularly substantial.
The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for The Little Mermaid, The Wild, Dumbo, and Airbuddies. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with trailers for Cars, Howl’s Moving Castle, That’s So Raven, The Chronicles of Narnia and Brother Bear 2.
If you want to see a perfect example of a perfectly average animated film, look no farther than 2005’s Chicken Little. Formulaic and moderately entertaining, it maintains the viewer’s interest to a decent degree but it never threatens to truly enchant or delight. The DVD offers very good picture and sound but it includes only a few fairly minor extras. Disney fans will want to rent this one, but I can’t encourage anything more than that.