Living up to its subtitle, this third entry in the Chipmunks franchise is an utter disaster. And like any major catastrophe within our direct line of sight, we can't help looking at the devastation caused, hoping with a strange and somewhat sickening urge to catch a glimpse at the blood and guts left in its wake. Try as you may to fight the compulsion to see some fatalities, you know deep-down inside you want to witness it. For some bizarre, deeply instinctual reason, it justifies the reason for sitting through the long stretch of having nothing happen, of waiting for anything remotely interesting to occur. The actual carnage and mayhem makes the whole thing worth something to tell friends about for years to come.
Sadly, no such event ever takes place in 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.' There's no sense of satisfaction or payoff, no feeling of being entertained or achieving that moment of climactic resolution at the end.
Granted, I'm furthest from the intended target audience and not one to normally give this type of movie the slightest moment of consideration. But as the parent with the money to pay for watching this mess, the filmmakers should ideally offer something to keep the grownups awake. Anything, from cleverly hidden subtextual humor to some well-meaning and innocent jabs at the production, would suffice. That would have been enough to keep us invested, but the closest we come to such witty filmmaking is in David Cross churning out a few wisecracks about the chipmunks while wearing a ridiculous duck costume. There's also Jenny Slate (probably best known for her Freudian slip on 'SNL') channeling Tom Hanks' 'Cast Away' to provide some small chuckles. But these moments are not enough to rescue this rubbish for the adult audience.
What we're ultimately left with is a movie series that has been growing progressively worse since its inception. Each sequel has been shoddier and lazier than the last, which technically speaking can be expected of any franchise. However, I would contend that it shouldn't be to this degree of awfulness, at least not for theatrical releases, as if the filmmakers secretly desire to be this mind-numbingly repetitive. Sure, the story takes place on a remote island where the characters have been shipwrecked after a stupid kite accident while aboard a cruise ship, but the overall plot remains fairly identical where we see the annoying Alvin (Justin Long) cause a heap of trouble, and Dave (Jason Lee) must chase after him to show that he still loves him, in spite of his mischief. In fact, this sounds much like the cartoon series altogether.
What's really worrisome, and even serves as a troubling indicator of the general movie-going population, is the fact that each film has been a financial success, justifying Hollywood's desire to mass-produce more such garbage. When we ponder the reasons why good quality films seem to be so scarce as of late, we need only look at the box-office take of movies like 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.' The answer is right there in front us: we, as a broad audience of movie-goers, are to blame. The only positive I can imagine of this dreadful sequel is in the CG animation of the chipmunks themselves, which I can admit is pretty astounding. Still, the pretty visuals should not be the one, lone positive of any movie. An engaging and thought-provoking story should ideally accompany the image, and this includes movies aimed at younger viewers, which 'The Hunger Games' clearly proves. As a matter of fact, I recommend readers see that far-more excellent film with their kids than give this dreck a second thought.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked' to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack. The first is a Region A locked, BD50 disc while the second is a DVD-9 with a digital copy included. Both are housed in a blue eco-cutout keepcase with advertisements for children's games and a glossy cardboard slipcover. At startup, viewers can enjoy an animated short for the new 'Ice Age 4' movie and a couple trailers, followed by the normal menu selection with music and full-motion clips.
The troublemaking Munks are shipwrecked on Blu-ray with excellent and at times exceptional picture quality.
At its best, the AVC-encoded transfer is highly-detailed with terrific clarity around the fur of the creatures and great texture on the faces of the human actors. The foliage, sand and rocks scattered about the island are also amazingly well-defined and distinct. Being a family comedy, colors are vibrant and richly saturated, especially on the CG clothing of the chipmunks. At its worst, contrast seems off and on the low end of the grayscale, dulling the picture noticeably. Brightness is also wanting although blacks appear fairly accurate and consistent. The image does offer quite a bit of dimensionality, however, and visibility is never brought into question, making the transfer satisfying overall.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is surprisingly not much better considering the movie takes place on a crowded cruise ship and a remote island with tons of wildlife. That's not to suggest surrounds don't offer a few ambient effects on occasion, but rear activity feels generally lacking and fails to immerse the listener, given the locale. The music and song selections do much better at spreading into the back speakers and extending the soundfield with some satisfaction.
The lossless mix also fares better in the front soundstage with a warm and expansive image. Again, the music does the majority of the work, exhibiting a clean and detailed mid-range without any distortion. Bass adds a decent but appropriate punch to the songs, reaching some unexpected low extensions during the volcano explosions. It's nothing to really shake the house, but impressive nonetheless.
All in all, the movie lands on Blu-ray with an excellent high-rez track.
Only two of the special features package are shared with the day-and-date DVD release of 'Chipwrecked.'
The third installment in the 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' movie franchise is a dreadfully boring and exhausting motion picture meant for the whole family. 'Chipwrecked' is ultimately no different than the previous two films, except that it is set on a remote island where it should have stayed and never returned to the shore of American cinema. The Blu-ray, on the other hand, offers an excellent video and audio presentation that fans will find very satisfactory. Supplements are small but decently amusing, making the package worthwhile only for fans.