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Bob Doucette
William H. Macy, Frankie Muniz, Felicity Huffman, Lacey Chabert, Mark Hamill, Daryl Sabara, Phil LaMarr, Dee Bradley Baker
Writing Credits:
Shawn Tanaka, Douglas Wood

You control the outcome! 11 different movies in one!

Benjamin, Crista and Marco North go on an adventure to the Himalayas to find their Uncle Rudy who has gone missing in his quest to find a mythical Yeti creature. At every crossroads, a choice must be made. Will they survive avalanches, keep away from evil poachers and escape hungry tigers? With 11 possible storylines, the adventure goes on and on ... where and how it ends is up to you!

Rated NR

Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 80 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 7/25/2006

• “In the Shadow of the Himalayas: How People Live in Nepal” Featurette
• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• Music Video


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 30, 2006)

Back when DVDs debuted nearly a decade ago, we heard many promises about all the special features the format would boast. Many of these haven’t panned out too well. For instance, not a lot of discs use the multi-angle element.

The format’s ability to allow for branching also rarely sees use. A new series of “interactive movies” seeks to change that. Adapted from the “Choose Your Own Adventure” line of books, the first volume offers a tale called The Abominable Snowman. In this flick, the North kids – Crista (Lacey Chabert), Benjamin (Frankie Muniz) and Marco (Daryl Sabara) – get an invite from their Uncle Rudy (William H. Macy) to venture to Nepal. There they’ll enter the Himalayas and seek the Yeti.

Once they arrive, they learn that Rudy is missing, so along with their sherpa Pa-Sang (Phillip Lamarr), they try to find him. From there, you go down a few different potential paths as you “choose your own adventure” – and possibly encounter the Abominable Snowman.

When the DVD launches, you have to choose between two options. One allows you a tutorial in how to play, while the other simply starts the “adventure”. There’s not much to the tutorial, so you’ll probably do just fine if you skip it.

At selected times, you must choose which way the story will proceed. If you’re helpless or lazy, it’ll pick for you if you wait. Assuming you decide to select your own fate, you have to pick between two choices. None of the selections will be fatal, but they’ll make the movie progress in varying ways.

That gimmick is the main attraction behind Snowman - and probably the only interesting aspect of the flick. Otherwise, the production itself boasts very little to make it unusual or compelling. The animation isn’t much better than the standard Saturday morning fare. The characters look bland and forgettable, and nothing about the settings or animation stands out as anything other than mediocre.

Snowman features a decent cast, but they don’t get to shine here. The roles are generic and fail to muster any interest in the viewer. The same goes for the story, which never turns into anything particularly involving. We get boring adventure nonsense without any spark or excitement.

This means that the whole “Choose Your Own Adventure” theme is the only thing that might allow the movie to succeed. Unfortunately, the infrequent selections don’t do much to open up the tale. Though the DVD’s case indicates the film lasts 80 minutes, I believe that’s the sum of the length of all the options. If you view one version start to finish, it’ll only last about 22 minutes at most, and it might fill less time; one cut ended around 15 minutes.

That’s awfully short, and awfully unsatisfying. Yeah, it’s cool that we can take the story where we want, but none of the options comes across as very interesting. The awkwardness of the selections doesn’t help. Depending on when you press your remote’s button, the story jumps ahead without much fluidity. This makes the movie progress roughly.

Note that not all selections are created equal. For instance, at one point, Benjamin has to choose how his life will go. Pick wrong and you’ll be forced to restart the adventure. That’s kind of lame, to be honest. I thought the film would come with options that really allowed you to pick your own route. Choices like this really act as punishments, and they’re no fun.

I like the idea behind Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman, but a clever concept isn’t enough to carry the product. This is a dull story executed without any flair or panache. Kids and the easily entertained might have some fun with it, but I saw it as a disappointment.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Much of the flick looked fine, but some concerns affected the presentation.

The most significant distractions came from definition. Many wider shots came across as rather mushy and soft. A lot of the presentation was concise and accurate, but too much of it lacked the appropriate clarity. No signs with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge enhancement. I also failed to discern many source defects. A spot or two appeared, but everything else was clean.

Colors were a strength. The movie offered a bright palette that looked very good. The hues were always dynamic and lively. Blacks seemed dark and firm, and the smattering of low-light shots appeared well-rendered. The sharpness problems were the only issue, but they were significant enough to leave this movie with a “B-“ for image.

In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Abominable Snowman was good but not great. The soundfield opened up the action to a decent degree. The track favored the forward spectrum as it displayed a reasonably broad sense of setting. The elements weren’t especially involving or precise, but it brings a fair feeling of life to the proceedings. The surrounds added decent reinforcement to the music and effects, though they lacked much presence in a larger sense.

Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded natural and concise, and music offered good range and clarity. Effects also appeared accurate and full. They never threatened to rock us, but those elements came across with more than acceptable punch. This wasn’t exactly a killer soundtrack, but I couldn’t complain about it.

When we head to the set’s extras, we start with a program called In the Shadow of the Himalayas: How People Live in Nepal. This 27-minute and 56-second show aims to educate the kiddies. It shows us images of Nepal along with narration that throws out facts and figures. We also get some glimpses of a Seattle classroom of kids who maintain a “sister class” of Nepalese youngsters. We learn the basics of Nepal in this dry but informative program. It’s probably best left to the kids, but adults will likely learn from it as well.

Next comes a Behind the Scenes featurette. In this 10-minute and 17-second piece, we go through movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and interviews. We hear from producers Jeff Norton and Michelle Crames, supervising producer Mike Young, writer Shawn Tanaka, director Bob Doucette, and actors William H. Macy, Frankie Muniz, Lacey Chabert, and Phil LaMarr. They talk about their experiences with the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series and its appeal, doing voice-over acting, and characters and story. Some of the shots of the actors at work are mildly interesting, but there’s not a lot of depth here. The show is extremely happy and fluffy, so expect to learn almost nothing about the film’s creation.

Finally, we discover a music video. The three-minute and 18-second clip accompanies the movie’s theme tune by Cassidy Ladden. It’s very generic kid pop with no life to it. The song comes with excerpts from the movie, so don’t expect anything interesting from this forgettable video.

Nor should you anticipate much pleasure from Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman. A surprisingly good cast can’t overcome a lame, bland story along and cheap production values. The DVD offers decent picture and audio as well as some mediocre extras. This is a weak product that I can’t recommend.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.25 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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