Perhaps it's my love of monsters, monster movies, and mad scientists that allowed me to appreciate 'Igor,' which aside from its genre trappings is a rather mediocre animated film. I'll admit it -- this movie is spliced together from borrowed parts and, aside from some sincere homages to horror greats past, is generally unimaginative. Yet, because it is so nostalgic for its roots (and so darn desperate to be a new 'Nightmare Before Christmas'), I kinda warmed to it. It's just a shame it wasn't a whole lot better, because it really could have been.
John Cusack toplines the voice cast as our title character, Igor. He's a mini-Quasimodo, one who dreams of being his own mad scientist extraordinaire, like his boss Dr. Glickenstein (John Cleese). Lucky for Igor, Glickenstein essentially obliterates himself, allowing him to pull from the doc's past inventions, the wacky Brain (Sean Hayes) and Scamper (Steve Buscemi), to create his dream monster -- Eva (Molly Shannon). She's supposed to be the Bride of Frankenstein, but ends up being nothing but a total diva -- Igor's mistakes lead her not to want to become a monster, but an actress. This bizarre story culminates in the annual Evil Science Fair, where Igor must handle his temperamental monster-actress, blundering assistants, and a rival scientist Dr. Schadenfreude (Eddie Izzard) who wants to exploit Eva for his own gain.
It's tough to describe how and why a film doesn't totally work, but something about 'Igor' just seems off. Maybe its the characters, which, if conceptually sound, never come to life, or the film's attempts at skewed humor, which kinda fall flat, boasting neither the inherent wit of Pixar (this is no 'Monsters, Inc.') or the rapid-fire pop culture references of a 'Shrek' (which went a long way towards masking that film's story deficiencies). Whatever the case, screenwriter Chris McKenna ('American Dad') and director Anthony Leondis ('Lilo & Stitch 2') never make us care about the characters or their predicament, nor do they impress us with any truly original narrative developments. 'Igor' just sort of hangs there.
Unfortunately, the film isn't all that pretty to look at. To be fair, the CGI ain't bad, and there are some cute touches (I particularly liked Eva's weird walk, and the way Izzard and Cleese both brought a cheeky, British sensibility to their mad scientists). But 'Igor' lacks visual pizzazz, and the cost-cutting shows with a lack of detailed backgrounds and overall eye-popping production designs. 'Igor' cribs its look (quite liberally) from everything from 'Rocky Horror' to 'Nightmare Before Christmas' to 'Ed Wood,' but never manages to create anything truly memorable out of such wonderful inspirations.
Ultimately, I did find 'Igor' somewhat amusing, but that's only because of the sources it attempts to Frankenstein-together, not because of what it actually does with what it has borrowed. Given the cast involved, and some of the potentially-interesting story concepts, I expected a better result. 'Igor' played OK to me because of my love for its genre, and I bet your appreciation of the film will likewise rest solely on your love for it, too.
'Igor' is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 video, framed at 1.85:1. Though the film's animation is nice, this is not top-tier CGI, and gets a transfer to match -- solid, if not spectacular, video quality.
The look of 'Igor' is generally well-done, if a bit cheap around the edges. The animation lacks the precision and fine attention to detail of the best of Pixar, or DreamWorks. That said, this is a still a good looking presentation, with sharp textures, a fair amount of depth, and rich colors. The transfer does look a bit dark, however, with shadow delineation not the best I've seen. There is also frequent motion blur, which dulls sharpness a little. The encode is clean overall, though there is some edge enhancement and a bit of noise. Still, 'Igor' looks good.
MGM/Fox provide us with a DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround track (48kHz/24-bit). Like the video, it's a fine mix, but the film's sound design does not allow it to be spectacular.
'Igor' is fairly engaging. Surrounds are generally lively and active, with substantial discrete effects, some notable sustained atmosphere, and well-integrated score bleed. The recorded voices all sound stellar, however, with excellent balance in the center channel and well-done stereo separation when needed. Low bass is strong, and dynamics solid and clean. 'Igor' never really blew me out of the water with truly immersive sound, but it is well suited to the film's relatively understated sonic charms.
There is not a wealth of bonus features on 'Igor.' Apparently, the film's lack of box office business has translated into a relatively ho-hum package. All video materials are in 1080 HD, with the same subtitle options as the main feature.
'Igor' is an interesting animated film, one with an enjoyably skewed sensibility and some memorable characters. Is it truly top-flight CGI? No. But cute enough. This Blu-ray has nice video and audio and a slim, if decent, package of extras. 'Igor' on Blu-ray is worth a rent, but definitely sample before you buy.