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Featured Blu-ray Review: Lilo and Stitch Double-Shot

June 24th, 2013

Lilo and Stitch - Blu-ray Double-Shot - Buy from Amazon

A couple of weeks ago, Disney released three of their more recent animated films on Blu-ray for the first time, each of which included the direct-to-DVD sequel. This included The Emperor's New Groove Double-Shot and Atlantis: The Lost Empire Double-Shot. I was only able to get Lilo and Stitch Double-Shot. Are the two films worth checking out? And is the Blu-ray worth the money?

Lilo and Stitch

Lilo and Stitch begins on the planet Turo, the headquarters of the Galactic Federation. The leader, Grand Councilwoman, is leading the trial of Dr. Jumba Jookiba, who was the lead scientist at the Galaxy Defense Industries, until he was caught performing illegal genetic experiments. Part of the evidence against him is one of his live experiments, Experiment 626, a creation designed to destroy everything it sees. The plan is for Captain Gantu to take the experiment to a desert asteroid and exile it there. Unfortunately, he quickly escapes, steals a space ship and enters hyperspace. They calculate he will crash, on Earth. Fortunately, Experiment 626's density means he can't survive in water and Earth is covered in it. Unfortunately, they calculate he will land on an island, the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, to be exact.

Grand Councilwoman first calls for the gassing of the entire planet to deal with Experiment 626, but she is told by Agent Pleakley, the resident expert on Earth, that the planet is a nature preserve for the endangered mosquito and killing the primitive humans is against the rules, because the humans are the mosquitoes' food source. Since they can't use brute force to capture Experiment 626, they will have to outsmart it, which won't be easy, not unless they have an expert. Fortunately they do, Dr. Jumba Jookiba. The Grand Councilwoman offers Jumba a deal. If he brings in Experiment 626, she will grant his freedom. In order to make sure Jumba does his job, Agent Pleakley will escort him. Pleakley is not excited by this idea.

We then switch focus to Earth where we meet Lilo, a young girl who is an outcast. The other girls in her dance class don't want to play with her, because they think she's a little crazy. The fact that she bit one of the girls doesn't help. Her behavior is more understandable given her home life. She lives with her sister, Nani, after the death of their parents and she hasn't adjusted very well. That's an understatement. It's so bad the state has gotten involved and a social worker, Cobra Bubbles, to evaluate the situation. He's not impressed, nor is there any reason for him to be impressed. When he get there, Lilo had locked Nani out of the house and nailed the doors shut. She goes the extra mile when she's mad. It is almost like she is actively trying to sabotage the chances she will stay with her sister.

That night, the two sisters make up, but that's when Experiment 626's spaceship crashes on Earth. Lilo thinks it is a falling star and makes a wish, which Nani overhears. Lilo wishes she had a friend. Meanwhile, Experiment 626 gets out of his crashed wreck and begins to explore the area, only to be run over by a couple of semis and is thought to be killed. The drivers take him to the pound, because he kind of looks like a dog? (He has six limbs.) The next day, Lilo and Nani arrive to adopt a pet, and Lilo decides to adopt Experiment 626, which she names Stitch. By this time, Dr. Jumba Jookiba and Agent Pleakley have also found Experiment 626 / Stitch and are actively trying to capture / kill it. However, they can't be seen by the humans, nor can they cause harm to them. So as long as Stitch is by Lilo, he's safe.

That said, while Stitch is safe while he's by Lilo, he's also lost without a purpose. He was built to destroy, but there is nothing for him to destroy, at least not at the scale he requires. Lilo tries to teach him to be a model citizen, as demanded by Mr. Bubbles, while Nani tries to look for a new job. (Stitch accidentally got her fired from her previous job.) Unfortunately, Lilo's lessons for Stitch tend to interfere with Nani's attempts to get a job and it looks like their family will be torn apart, just as Stitch learns what it is to be part of a family.

The early part of the 21st century wasn't a good time for Disney Animated films. From Fantasia 2000 through Chicken Little, nearly all of Disney's animated films struggled with critics or moviegoers, sometimes both. The lone exception to this losing streak was Lilo and Stitch. The film tells the story of a family struggling to stay together under less than ideal circumstances, which is a little darker that usual. (To clarify, usually Disney films that involve dysfunctional family involve evil Step-families, and not family members that truly love each other, but fight because of the stress of the death of parent, unemployment, the prospect of social services tearing your family apart.) This darker aspect also gives the film more heart than most other similar movies. It is, at the very core, a movie about a family fighting to stay together against the odds. That's not to say is it a dreary drama. There's plenty of humor and action in addition to the family drama and it is this balance that makes the movie stand out in such a positive way.

Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch

The sequel begins with Stitch having a nightmare where he's destroying Hawaii. When Lilo wakes up Stitch, she first psycho-analyzes his dream and then gives him a goodness test before giving him a clean bill of health. With that, the pair go off for Hula dancing lessons. When they get there, their teacher, Kumu, tells them that because May Day is coming up, there will be a contest for the best new dance. At first, Lilo doesn't think she can win, but when her teacher tells her her mother won when she was her age, Lilo is determined to win for herself.

There is a problem, however. First of all, Lilo and Myrtle get into yet another fight. Kumu tells her if there is any further trouble, she won't be able to compete. Secondly, these nightmares Stitch has been having start to come true. Dr. Jumba immediately recognizes what's wrong. It takes a quick test to confirm, but he then explains to Pleakley what the problem is. When Experiment 626 was created, he wasn't fully charged on a molecular level, as the police arrested him before he was finished. Dr. Jumba can't complete the process, Stitch will, but before that, he will resort to his old destructive programming.

Most Disney direct-to-DVD sequels are terrible. Hell, a lot of them were failed TV pilots. (The stories are clearly three 22-minute long TV episodes sown into one movie. Stitch has a Glitch is one of the better examples. It actually takes the story a little farther and isn't just a rehash of what happened the first time. (That happens a surprising amount of time.) We actually learn a little more about the characters. It isn't as good as the original film is and takes a lot of the complexity out of the movie, but this is to be expected, as it is barely more than an hour long. The jokes are not quite as good and are more juvenile. The budget is obviously lower and this hurts the action scenes. On the other hand, the voice acting is strong with most of the cast returning. A couple the changes could be seen as upgrades. As I said, it isn't as good as the original, but it is good for what it is.

The Extras

There are no extras on the Blu-ray. The Blu-ray does come with the two previously released DVDs that include an audio commentary track, which really should have been on the Blu-ray. There are also some behind-the-scenes, music videos, etc.

As for the technical presentation, the film looks and sounds amazing. It is incredibly detailed film while it has very luscious colors. The blacks are very deep and the contrasts is strong. There are no significant compression issues. The 5.1 audio track is very active, especially the bass. The dialogue is clear and there is good separation, and the big action scenes have a lot of panning and directional effects. It is definitely worth the upgrade.

The Blu-ray costs $20, which is high for shovelware, but not bad for a two-movie set.

The Verdict

Of the three Blu-ray Double-Shots that came out, Lilo and Stitch is the best and the Blu-ray is worth picking up. Assuming the video and audio quality is the same with The Emperor's New Groove, then its Double-Shot is worth picking up. On the other hand, I'm not completely sold on Atlantis: The Lost Empire and its Double-Shot is probably better as a rental.

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Filed under: Video Review, Lilo & Stitch, Tia Carrere, Daveigh Chase, Dakota Fanning, Kevin McDonald, Liliana Mumy, Ving Rhames, Kevin Michael Richardson, Chris Sanders, David Ogden Stiers, Zoe Caldwell