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Snowtime! (Blu-ray Review)

SnowtimeA romp through childhood full of heart and humor, the new animated feature Snowtime!is a captivating cinematic adventure about the kids in a small village who decide to have a massive snowball fight to amuse themselves during the winter school break. An official selection of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, this tale of hope and friendship makes its home entertainment debut  on November 8th, 2016. Available as a 3D Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo pack and on DVD, Snowtime! also comes loaded with bonus features, including interviews with stars Sandra Oh, Ross Lynch and producer Marie-Claude Beauchamp, as well as interviews with Celine Dion, Simple Plan, and Walk Off The Earth, and teasers and theatrical trailers.

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Film 

To amuse themselves during the winter school break, the kids in a small village decide to have a massive snowball fight. Luke and Sophie, both 11 years old, become the leaders of the opposing sides. Sophie and her cohorts defend an elaborate snow fort against the assault of Luke’s horde. Whichever side occupies the fort at the end of the winter break, wins! But what starts out as pure youthful fun and enthusiasm deteriorates into a more serious conflict. Can joy and peace be restored, or will the kids’ friendships fall in a flurry of ice and snow?

Kids are gonna be kids, right?  Well, this is pretty much is a film that’s based around one giant snowball fight to go along with fort building.  There are hyjinx that come in both the form of action sequences and some comedic bits as rival groups of kids wage war for dominance.  Behind all of this, we are treated to a little bit of young romance, dealing with the sadness of losing a parent, being yourself and what it takes to become a good leader and the qualities of a poor one.

Snowtime! features some pretty fun animation that I found to be really enjoyable.  Its more cartoon-like than going for realisitic.  But in its approach to that, its also fully realized and very detailed. Normally from these movies, I don’t expect that, but the hair, clothing and surface detail was really impressive for a cartoon of this ilk.  Its not Pixar or Dreamworks, but its still very good nonetheless.

This Sandra Oh-voiced film is all right.  I mean, its nothing you’re missing or some deeply hidden gem, but its quite acceptable and is a decent passage of time for you if you get sucked into with little ones.  There’s enough to find charming while also maybe finding a genuine giggle or two.  As for the kids, yeah, they’re going to like it and the deep stuff isn’t too heavy handed to to deter from their enjoyment or have them not understanding.  Yeah, I guess, I’m saying its solid.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Detail is quite impressive in this sharp, crisp image.  The clothing is where the most impressive stuff comes.  There are lots of patterns, textures, stains and such that shine through in this image.  Surfaces, like wood and the like not only show things like scuffs, scrapes or grain patterns, but they also can highlight dampness and wetness of the object as well.  The dog’s fur is also a total highlight.

Depth:  Since the film also is available in 3D its got some great depth work even in 2D form.  In a lot of of scenes you can see an easy separation of the characters and their environments.  Some you can even see a difference in lighting to prep for a 3D look.  Character movements are smooth and fluid.

Black Levels:  Blacks are pretty deep and keep some good shading.  They also help to outline some things.  No real crushing to report.

Color Reproduction:  There are a lot of various whites in this and they come in different shades and hold plenty of textures.  Other colors are strong, like reds and purples.  The clothing the characters in the film wear feature a nicely illustrated palette.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:  Snowtime! features a very clean, almost quiet at times 5.1 mix that brings a full, lively sounds to the foley effects in this mix.  They are well rounded, echo and make little tinkers when necessary.  I particularly enjoy the sound of the crunching in the snow as characters walk.  Vocals are out in front, clear and plenty loud while welcoming in the rest of the environment and soundtrack.  All in all this is a good mix, with a solid balance and makes a snow fight extra fun.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer gets some solid action, highlighed by a giant snowball rolling through and crashing onto things at one point as well as a roller coaster-like riding action piece.  Whenever things pound the snow or roll on it, there’s some vibration. Footsteps or engines humming get some love too.  Also, the subwoofer helps to emphasize some big moments in the score as well.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This one features some solid movement and placement of action and characters. Things travel fluidly between the front three channels.  Rear speakers aren’t highly active, but sometimes they get their own fun as people travel off screen or an environment needs some assistance in the ambiance department.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue, is loud, crisp and clear.

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Extras 

Snowtime! is a 2-disc set that contains a Blu-ray 3D option on the Blu-ray disc, a DVD disc and a digital download of the film.

Interview with Celine Dion (HD, 3:11) – Intercut with her recording her song, Celine Dion talks about her kids and their relationship to the original film.  She talks about how it was important to a Canadian upbringing and that she hopes to continue the values in it.  Oh, and she names her favorite character (she has a weakness for him).

Interview with Sandra Oh (HD, 2:41) – Oh talks about the general synopsis and undertones of the story as well as a bit about her character “Frankie”.

Interview with Ross Lynch (HD, 2:34) – He talks his excitement about the film and goes over his thoughts on animation voice acting versus live action.  Ross compares it to singing.

Interview with Producer Marie-Claude Beauchamp (HD, 1:13) – She gushes over the film and how it represents growing up in Quebec and hopes to have this be a great film for a whole new genreation.

Musicians Promo (HD, 1:16) – Marie-Mai, Groenland, Walk Off The Earth, Simple Plan and Celine Dion all give little soundbites while scenes from the movie and clips of them recording the songs play.

Teaser (HD, 1:02) 

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:04) 

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Summary 

Snowtime! is a decent time for the young ones.  Its not too offensively kid-centric for an adult watching with them either.  No, its not Pixar or Dreamworks, but its still okay.  This Blu-ray comes with a terrific video presentation and solid 5.1 mix.  There are some pretty decent little interviews that accompany for bonus material.  All and all, at the right price, this is a solid get for the kiddos.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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