VeggieTales: Lord of the Bean appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I’ve never seen an unattractive VeggieTales production, and this one consistently looked good.
For prior DVDs, sharpness was occasionally a minor problem, but that wasn’t the case here. The program always looked nicely distinctive and well-defined. Only the smallest hint of softness ever appeared, and those instances were very insubstantial. I noticed no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement caused no concerns. Print flaws also appeared absent during this clean image.
The world of VeggieTales offered a very bright and varied palette, and Bean followed with a strong batch of colors. The tones went with a slightly soft, pastel look, and the DVD replicated these well. The hues were clear and distinctive. Black levels were also nicely deep and rich, and though shadow detail was only a minor consideration, all of those sorts of shots came across as appropriately clean and visible. Ultimately, Bean provided a very satisfying visual experience.
Also fairly strong was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Lord of the Bean. For the most part, this soundfield stayed with an emphasis on the forward spectrum, where it offered nicely broad and engaging audio. Bean provided relatively active audio when compared with most other VeggieTales. Elements moved nicely across the front and formed a good feeling of environment. The effects meshed together well, especially during the show’s action sequences. For example, the scenes with fireworks or during battles were vivid and involving.
The surrounds also added a fair amount to the mix. The rear speakers kicked in some good material at times. Again, the action sequences worked best and contributed a fun feel.
Sound quality seemed consistent with prior releases. Audio quality seemed to be fine across the board. Dialogue was consistently warm and natural, and it showed no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, and when appropriate they came to life quite vividly. Bass response was loud and deep. I almost gave this mix an “A-“ but decided it lacked the surround activity necessary for that grade. Still, it’s a quality piece of work.
When we examine the DVD’s supplements, we start with a Veggie Commentary. This includes in-character remarks from Pa Grape, Jimmy Gourd and Larry the Cucumber and lasts seven minutes, 17 seconds as we watch “Bean” scenes. Like other character commentaries, this one takes things from a comedic point of view. It does okay in that regard, as it gives us a few minor chuckles. At least it doesn’t wear out its welcome and run too long.
Next we find a quick glimpse Behind the Scenes. This nine-minute and 13-second program shows clips from the movie and includes interviews with director Mike Nawrocki, writer Phil Vischer, producer David Pitts, musical director Kurt Heinecke. The piece looks at how they chose to spoof Lord of the Rings, selecting characters for various parts, sets and visuals, ad-libbed dialogue, the music, and the show’s theme.
The VeggieTales “Behind the Scenes” featurettes offer a smattering of useful notes but fail to deliver enough information to become very valuable. This one follows that path as it runs through a number of intriguing topics. Unfortunately, it only flirts with them and never engages them to a substantial degree. This is an appetizer, not an entrée.
Creating Lord of the Beans goes for eight minutes and 31 seconds. It features information from animation director Paul Kohut, supervising compositor Alan Kennedy, and supervising SFX editor Justin Drury. They stay with technical issues connected to the art, animation and audio. They tell us about the topics and then give us nice demonstrations. Those elements help make this an informative and enjoyable piece.
A music video appears for “It’s About Love” by Wynonna. It simply runs the song on top of program shots. Since we can already hear it in the show’s end credits, this seems like a useless “video”.
Speaking of the performer, we also get an Interview with Wynonna. This lasts a mere 84 seconds as Wynonna discusses why she took on the project and what she gets out of it. This adds up to virtually no real information; it’s a puffy, pointless clip.
“Bob & Larry’s Playhouse” breaks down into many small bits. Fans can try the Video Trivia at either “easy” or “hard” levels. Actually, both seem equally difficult. The questions are pretty easy, especially since we get video clips with clues before we have to answer. You receive no reward for correct completion, unfortunately.
Next we get a Sing-Along with Larry presentation. This two-minute, 34-second clip shows Larry as he croons the song. It displays the lyrics at the bottom of the screen, and the audio button allows you to turn on or off the vocals.
The Lord of the Beans Game offers a simplistic contest. It forces you to choose various paths. Unfortunately, it’s unforgiving and will often send you back to the start. This happened so much that I bailed on it after a few minutes; it wasn’t worth the trouble.
Toto’s Family Activity provides a 108-second clip. It shows a task that kids can do with their parents as it demonstrates how to create a Play-Doh well. I’m not sure why you’d want to do this, but it’s there if you want it. We also get The Other Elf’s Secret Cookie Recipe which shows us make “secret jeweled cookies.”
After this we can learn How to Draw two characters. This teaches how to make Toto (four minutes, 44 seconds) and Leg-O-Lamb (9:23). Both offer reasonably informative and fun tutorials.
Previews boasts a whole bunch of ads. We get promos for Sheerluck Holmes, Larryboy ‘06, Minnesota Cuke, Singing Christmas Tree and Veggie Classics.
In addition, a few Easter Eggs appear on the DVD. From the main menu, highlight the jewel at the bottom of the screen. Clicking on this opens up different main menu options. If you go to the “Bonus Features” domain, click right from “Main Menu”. When you hit enter, you’ll get a four-minute, 38-second piece that shows a story reel for an alternate version of the Razzberry Forest scene.
After some hit or miss projects, Lord of the Beans returns VeggieTales back to a high level of quality. It offers a fun spoof of Lord of the Rings and delivers an understated message. The DVD provides the usual solid picture and audio, but it skimps on extras; not many of them are interesting. Nonetheless, it retails for less then 15 dollars, so it’s a good disc to get.