Lilo & Stitch appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Were it not for one problem area, the transfer would have excelled.
The main issue stemmed from edge enhancement. Moderately heavy haloes permeated the movie and caused distractions. They occasionally affected definition as well. Most of the movie showed good delineation, but some elements came across as a little blurry and tentative due to the haloes.
Otherwise, I found a lot to like about the presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects appeared absent. In regard to print flaws, I noticed none, as the movie looked clean and fresh from start to finish.
The tropical Hawaiian setting of Stitch meant that it boasted a wonderfully vivid and varied palette, and the DVD presented those hues well. The colors consistently looked dazzling. From the lush landscapes to the vibrant fish to the bold tones of the aliens, the hues always came across as lively and tight. Black levels also seemed terrifically deep and solid, while shadow detail was appropriately dense but never seemed overly murky. Though much of the image pleased, the excessive edge enhancement left this as a “B-“ presentation.
Lilo & Stitch also provided a pretty strong Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Much of the movie favored the front channels, but the mix opened up well when appropriate. It started strong in that domain due to the outer space escapades, and it also concluded with a lot of exciting sonic activity. In between, things seemed more subdued, but the soundfield matched the film nicely.
Music always demonstrated positive stereo imaging, and the effects created a realistic and involving sense of atmosphere. When the action heated up, the surrounds added a fine layer of material that contributed some lively and engaging audio. For example, when 626 escaped the prison vessel through the ventilation grid, he skittered about convincing, and all the shots that featured space flight appeared solid.
Audio quality seemed very positive. Dialogue always came across as natural and warm, and I detected no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility. Music appeared bright and dynamic, with concise highs and rich lows. Effects also were tight and realistic. Those elements betrayed no distortion, as they consistently appeared clean and accurate.
The effects provided some strong bass response as well. From laser fire to explosions to Captain Gantu’s pounding steps, the low-end sounded deep and rich without any boominess or other issues. Because much of the movie lacked a very ambitious soundfield, I nearly gave Lilo & Stitch a “B+” for audio, but the terrific climactic sequence demonstrated enough activity to bump it up to an “A-“.
The Stitch DVD offers a passable roster of supplements. We start with a DisneyPedia entry that tells us about “Hawaii – the Islands of Aloha”. Narrated by Tia Carrere and Daveigh Chase in character, these lead us through six islands individually or together via the “Play All” option. (Cutely, if you wait too long to select something, Chase starts to complain.)
Taken through the “Play All” method, these segments last a total of eight minutes and 34 seconds; additional narration shows up in the menu screen as well. These clips cover topics like volcanoes, surfing, luaus, ukuleles, leis, and other issues that connect strongly to Hawaii. They also offer a short vocabulary lesson in many native terms. Obviously oriented toward the kiddies, these pieces offer a moderately entertaining little romp through the islands.
Next we get the Create Your Own Alien Experiment Game. Narrated in character by David Ogden Stiers, this combines trivia questions and guessing contests to get you to make three different alien critters. The problems seem fairly easy, and the color sequencing activity is very forgiving. “Experiment” doesn’t go much of anywhere – it offers no reward for successful completion – but it offers a painless experience.
A novel extra, A Stitch in Time: Follow Stitch Through the Disney Years lasts three and a half minutes as it presents the notion of Stitch as a struggling actor. Narrated out of character by David Ogden Stiers, it shows stills from many Disney classics like Pinocchio and 101 Dalmatians. Not as much fun as the ads I’ll soon discuss, “Time” still presents a moderately cute extra.
The Hula Lesson provides what its title implies. We get a three minute, 35 second presentation from Mark Keali’I Ho’omalu, hula consultant and Hawaiian music composer. We learn a little about the hula and then get led through some basic steps. Brief and insubstantial, “Lesson” does at least offer a decent little overview of the dance form.
For a look at the child singers heard in Stitch, take a look at Young Voices of Hawaii. The 165-second featurette includes comments from writers and directors Chris Sanders and Dean De Blois as well as footage from the recording session. Although it doesn’t provide any real information, it offers a nice look at the talented kids behind some of the film’s music.
”Burning Love” – Behind the Scenes with Wynonna looks at that song’s recording. We watch her sing and hear from Wynonna as well as writer/director Chris Sanders during this 90-second clip. It seems very flimsy and pointless, especially since it doesn’t even bother to toss in a full performance of the tune.
After this we do find a music video for “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by A-Teens. Like most other clips of this ilk, “Falling” mixes movie clips with very cutesy lip-synch images of the performers. Clocking in at a mere 60 seconds, this video seems lame.
Up next we locate The Look of Lilo & Stitch, a four-minute and five-second featurette. It displays movie shots, archival drawings, and comments from producer Clark Spencer, writers/directors Sanders and De Blois, Walt Disney Feature Animation president Thomas Schumacher, art director Ric Sluiter, visual effects supervisor Joseph F. Gilland, and animators Ruben Aquino and Byron Howard. They discuss the look of Stitch, with an emphasis on Sanders’ influence and the general round appearance of the flick. This provides a quick but informative program.
For a little more behind the scenes material, check out Animating the Hula, a three-minute and four-second featurette. This discusses the challenges of bringing that dance to the cartoon screen. It shows behind the scenes dance footage and animation shots, movie bits, and interviews with Sanders and De Blois and producer Spencer. It doesn’t present a wealth of information, but it mentions some of the methods used to translate the dance, and it also includes a nice split-screen comparison that lets us watch real hula alongside the animated version.
The longest supplement found on Stitch, On Location with the Directors offers a 19-minute and six-second glimpse behind the scenes. A surprisingly cool program, “Location” totally avoids any form of puffiness or promotional material. Instead, it consists totally of actual material from the creation of the flick. We see footage such as discussions of story problems and character design particulars, voice recording sessions, a storyboard pitch, the painting of some backgrounds and the “photos” that run during the end credits, recording of the score and the Hawaiian children’s choir, and other details related to the art and animation. “Location” doesn’t purport to provide a real documentary, but it shows a lot of very fun and compelling snippets. The recording sessions seem especially fun, as we actually hear the directors discuss variations with the actors. “Location” gives us a totally entertaining and compelling program.
Next we get three Deleted Scenes. Each of these lasts between 84 seconds and two minutes, 58 seconds for a total of six minutes, 57 seconds of footage. Presented with introductions from writers/directors De Blois and Sanders, these snippets mix finished art, pencil animation, and a few storyboards. The unused scenes are interesting to see, and some of the material might have worked in the finished film. The intros provide some basic info about the shots, and also generally tell us why they needed to be altered or dropped.
Another very fun extra, the theatrical teaser trailers section includes four ads. Each one places Stitch within the milieu of a different Disney classic: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King. All of them seem wonderfully ingenious and amusing.
As the DVD starts, we encounter a mix of ads. We find trailers for an upcoming direct-to-video sequel called Stitch plus Sleeping Beauty, Atlantis II: Milo’s Return, The Jungle Book 2, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure, Inspector Gadget 2, The Country Bears, Walt Disney World and the Disney Channel’s Kim Possible. In addition, you’ll see these clips in the DVD’s Sneak Peeks domain.
We also get the THX Optimizer. This purports to help you set up your home theater to best present the movie on the disc in question. Apparently the Optimizer is unique for each DVD on which it’s included; unlike programs such as Video Essentials, the Optimizer should tweak your set-up differently every time. Frankly, I’ve been very happy with my already-established calibration and I’m afraid to muck with it, so I’ve never tried the Optimizer. If you lack calibration from Video Essentials or a similar program, or if you’re just more adventurous than I, the Optimizer could be a helpful addition.
While not the best of Disney’s animated films, Lilo & Stitch nonetheless provides an entertaining and unusual piece of work. It doesn’t totally reinvent the Disney wheel, but it stands as something different for them, and it generally achieves its goals as it offers a compelling experience. The DVD provides erratic picture along with very good sound and a small but decent roster of extras. The latter presents a great look behind the scenes plus some intriguing deleted scenes and some of the funniest trailers I’ve witnessed. Despite the lackluster visuals and supplements, I still recommend this delightful flick.