Alvin and the Chipmunks

Struggling songwriter Dave Seville (Jason Lee) opens his home to a talented trio of chipmunks—Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. The three are funny, mischievous, adventurous, and, oh yes, they can talk and sing! When music producer Ian Hawk (David Cross) forces Dave out of the picture, he plans to make millions from the chipmunks' unique abilities.

Alvin and the Chipmunks have been a part of American culture for nearly 50 years. Created in 1958 by Ross Bagdasarian, they burst onto the scene with "The Chipmunk Song," which was the fastest-selling album in history until The Beatles came along a few years later. They had a prime-time TV show in the 1960s, a Saturday-morning cartoon in the '80s, and now they jump from their animated roots to a CGI-enhanced movie that garnered over $208 million in box-office receipts!

Seeing the trailers for this one didn't get me very excited, but with two kids (11 and 9), I didn't have much choice to watch this one on Blu-ray when it arrived. Color me impressed! The story is basic, the acting is a little over the top, but the movie itself is a lot of fun, and the chipmunks are a riot.

As much as I liked the movie, I was even more impressed with the AVC encode. Rich and luscious colors come to life and leap off the screen. Detail is equally impressive, with razor-sharp images without the need for any edge enhancement, and the shadow detail is phenomenal, providing great depth. The CGI effects blend seamlessly into the picture, and I was nearly convinced that they were real, not animated.

The audio is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, but I could only listen to the core DTS data due to the inability of my PS3 to decode the lossless track. That being said, I was still very impressed with the sound. Dialog reproduction is excellent, even with the manipulated voices of the chipmunks. Since the film is geared toward a younger audience, the mix isn't as aggressive as it could be, but that's not a bad thing. The musical numbers sound very good with ample use of the LFE channel, and the surround channels are well utilized for ambient effects.

The disc is a single-layer BD25, so the bonus features aren't as copious as they could have been if the studio had used a dual-layer disc. There are two featurettes (in standard definition)—one on the history of Alvin and the Chipmunks with the creator's son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. (who also produced the film), and another that focuses on the music in the film. We enjoyed watching them as a family, and I didn't realize how popular the franchise was or how far back its roots went.

The critics panned this film before its release, but raking in over $200 million at the box office shows that it wasn't catering to their demographic. As a father with two children, I loved this film, and I was even more impressed with the presentation on Blu-ray. If you have children (or grandchildren), be sure to check this one out. Highly recommend.

Release Date: April 1, 2008

Film: 8.0 out of 10
Picture: 9.5 out of 10
Sound: 8.5 out of 10

Review System

Sony PlayStation 3

JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector