Way back in 2006, Sony Animation decided a grizzly bear and his "deer sidekick" would be the perfect screen duo for the studio's first computer animated release. Looking back, 'Open Season' was a good starting point with its nearly $85 million domestic gross.
'Open Season' is the story of a domesticated grizzly bear named Boog (Martin Lawrence) who lives with a forest park ranger named Beth (Debra Messing); together, they put on a show for visitors, introducing them to some of the forest animals. Boog lives a fairly sheltered life in Beth's garage, one you wouldn't normally associate with a full-grown grizzly bear. Everything changes for him when he meets Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) for the first time. Elliot is the unfortunate victim of the film's villain, Shaw (Gary Sinise), and is tied to the hood of Shaw's truck when Boog finds him and quickly makes the decision to cut him loose. Once free, Elliot takes it upon himself to free Boog from Beth's garage and show him how to live life. As a result, Boog and Elliot create chaos around town, forcing Beth to release Boog into the wild, fearing he has outgrown his domestication.
Once in the wild, Boog with the assistance of Elliot is on a mission to return to his sheltered life. Along the way he learns that living in the wild isn't easy; the other animals pick on him and he has no idea how to do simple things like use the bathroom or find food. In the end, Boog and Elliot, along with the rest of the forest animals come together to try and protect each other, since hunting season has started and no animal is safe.
Overall, I have to be honest. I just didn't enjoy this film very much. I was unable to find a character to relate to and found the humor extremely childish. This assessment isn't necessarily a bad thing though; I can easily see how children will be able to find enjoyment. Parents will have a hard time sitting through this one, as it lacks that special element that's included in the gold standard Pixar movies. With movies like 'Toy Story' or 'Up' people of all ages can find something to appreciate. Sure, they're loaded with gags tailored towards kids, but they also feature some added jokes for older audiences. That's where 'Open Season' fell flat for me. I feel like it had a shot at developing the Shaw character into something for adults to find humor in, but unfortunately, the movie never goes much deeper.
As far as the characters go, 'Open Season' does a nice job casting appropriate voices. Ashton Kutcher was my favorite; his personality is perfect for the voice an out of control deer. Martin Lawrence also provided a good passive/chilled out voice for Boog. I also liked the casting of some of the secondary characters such as Patrick Warburton as the "alpha deer" named Ian.
Overall, 'Open Season' is a film that kids will enjoy, but parents probably won't. This might make an O.K family movie night selection though. While the adults may feel like they're taking the bullet to please their kids, some enjoyment can still be found in the little things, like the film's beautiful animation.
'Open Season' makes its debut on the 3D Blu-ray format with a very strong 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer. First off, I loved the aspect ratio (1.85:1) used, it really created an immersive experience. Previous Sony 3D efforts have all been presented with the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, but I find this format to be better suited to 3D.
'Open Season' looks beautiful on 3D Blu-ray. Colors and textures are very realistic and full of detail. As with the 2007 2D release, I have nothing to complain about in terms of digital artifacts. This film is squeaky clean, without a hint of grain. My favorite aspect of this transfer was the level of detail, like the animation of individual hairs on the animals' coats. I also liked seeing the individual grains of pollen as Boog and Elliot walk past flowers. It's clear that a great deal of care and time was put into the animation.
As far as the 3D effects go, they were effective, but I wasn't as impressed as I've been with other releases. I found depth to be pretty good but, didn't feel like I was looking out a window as I have with movies like 'Monster House' and 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.' I think this can be chalked up to the decision to use hand painted backdrops. A good example is the scene where Boog is flown up into the mountains to be released into the wild. Notice how as the helicopter flies off into the distance it feels like it's flying towards a wall. The feeling of looking off towards the horizon is lost. Also, ghosting showed up in a few darker settings but was hardly noticeable. Other than the minor lack of depth and slight ghosting, I enjoyed the way 3D enhanced the film's animation style.
Overall, there is lots of enjoyment to be found with this transfer. The 3D definitely enhances the viewing experience, and kids will greatly enjoy watching this film.
Like with 'Monster House,' 'Open Season' is presented with a new DTS-HD master audio soundtrack. Overall, this is an upgrade over the previous PCM mix, but it still feels a bit underwhelming.
Dialogue, animal noises, and sound effects are extremely clear. Surround effects and bass are also fairly strong in some of the more action packed sequences. This is a very solid soundtrack, but it felt a bit front-heavy, and I wish a few more effects had been added to the forest sequences to create a more immersive environment.
As compared to the previous soundtrack, this one is a bit more dynamic but still missing a few things that keep it from being excellent.
'Open Season' features a fairly nice selection of special features, all of which are carried over from the 2D Blu-ray edition of the film.
Overall, 'Open Season' is a solid 3D release that kids should enjoy. The movie features very good video and audio plus a nice collection of special features. Unfortunately, adults probably won't enjoy this movie very much since, truthfully, the humor is a bit childish. If you have children, this movie comes recommended, but for adult viewers a rental would probably be best.