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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

"Just close your eyes and keep your mind wide open."
- Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: June 18, 2007

Stars: Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb
Other Stars: Robert Patrick, Zooey Deschanel
Director: Gabor Csupo

MPAA Rating: PG for (thematic elements including bullying, some peril and mild language)
Run Time: 01h:35m:27s
Release Date: June 19, 2007
UPC: 786936715781
Genre: fantasy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A+A-A- B

DVD Review

Jess (Josh Hutcherson) is a young boy who faces daily problems at home and at school. His farmer father (Robert Patrick) struggles to make ends meet for Jess and his four siblings, while school involves dealing with numerous bullies, including Janice Avery (Lauren Clinton). Things start to look up when he meets his cute new neighbor, Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb), and the two instantly form a bond. They soon spend their afternoons venturing off to the woods, imagining a magical land they dub Terabithia. This escape is something that every kid dreams of, but Leslie and Jess' new world isn't without its own perils.

The movie is based on a perennially popular novel, and putting your mindset back into that of a 12-year-old makes it easy to see why kids lap up this material. Covering many of the trials of pre-teendom, the story is easy to relate to. From first crushes to dubbing a teacher "Monster Mouth," this is exactly what it's like to be a grade-school kid. Even a simple race that's a miniscule part of a "field day" becomes an event of Olympic-size proportion in these kids' eyes. Such trivial games are huge to youngsters, and such a dichotomy is brilliantly captured here. This family film has many more important things to say than most, however, and is one of the best movies of 2007 thus far.

This is one of those movies that just sneak up on you as you experience it. The overall story is engaging, but there are some set pieces that stand apart as truly special. One such scene is simple religious speak on the surface, but what is often an annoying subject, is a powerful, existential discussion here. This isn't Christian-driven fluff, simply promoting religion or God, but a chilling argument about the afterlife. To top it off, the people involved in the debate are a 13-year-old girl, 14-year-old boy and his much younger sister. These youngsters make more sense about spirituality in this five-minute span than any so-called experts have in the last 10 years.

Just over an hour in we're faced with a truly devastating plot twist that defies convention in ways that most Hollywood family movies wouldn't dare. It's best to avoid any knowledge of this development going in, but be warned that younger children might struggle to cope, let alone understand what has just happened. At this point, the movie could easily fall apart, but these filmmakers ensure that the final half-hour completes the tale in a realistic, powerful, and truly touching way.

My only real complaint about anything this whimsical tale has to offer is that there are a few too many music montages. Fortunately, they aren't as cheesy as those that drag down romantic comedies, but, aside from putting a few pop singers on the map, they really don't serve a purpose. Still, for such lighthearted fare to warrant a single trivial gripe is beyond impressive. I'll be shocked if this latest kids' book adaptation isn't eventually considered a classic.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation does a fine job presenting images that are consistently sharp and detailed. Things appear soft on a couple of occasions, but brilliant hues and clean contrast make this easy to look past. There aren't any print flaws or other blemishes; dirt and grain are kept at bay.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio excels, thanks to a great Dolby Digital 5.1 track that makes liberal use of the surrounds. Directional effects and aggressive bass help the fantasy sequences immensely, but nothing gets in the way of consistently crisp and concise dialogue delivery.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring UnderDog, The Jungle Book: 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition, Meet the Robinsons, High School Musical: The Concert, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Friendship Edition, Hannah Montana, Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
2 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1. Director Gabor Csupo, writer Jeff Stockwell, and producer Hal Lieberman2. Actors Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, and producer Lauren Levine.
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Music Video - "Keep Your Mind Wide Open" by AnnaSophia Robb
Extras Review: This is a hearty extras collection, but I can't help thinking even more bonus features are being held back for a future multi-disc release. A pair of audio commentaries is available, with the first featuring director Gabor Csupo, writer Jeff Stockwell, and producer Hal Lieberman covering acres of ground, going over each scene while talking about the amazing young cast, unforgettable story, and New Zealand locations. The track accomplishes the rare feat of being equally entertaining and informative.

The second includes actors Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, and producer Lauren Levine. This is a fun talk with the two youngsters speaking well beyond their years, often sounding more together than does Levine.

Two featurettes are also here, including Behind the Book: The Themes of Bridge to Terabithia. This 14-minute piece focuses on Katherine Paterson's children's' books, and features interviews with the cast and crew of the film, as well as talks with a school teacher, librarians, and other educators. Digital Imagination: Bringing Terabithia to Life is just under six minutes in length and finds Paterson talking about her fears that went along with seeing her book translated to film. The segment goes on to examine the movie's visual effects by showing the work being done while we hear voiceover from the people at the Weta Workshop.

There's also a music video for Keep Your Mind Wide Open by Leslie herself, AnnaSophia Robb, along with previews for other Disney DVD releases.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

One of the most amazing film experiences in years, Disney's family-friendly Bridge to Terabithia tugs at heartstrings, while simultaneously dazzling us with impressive visual effects. Parents should be warned that they might have to explain a startling development to their youngsters, but the tough life lesson is a valuable one.

 


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