Watching modern day live-action movies mixed with animation, like 'Hop' for example, makes me long for the days of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit.' A movie that truly showed the sheer enjoyment of mixing animation with live actors; the type of comedy that could come from that type of situation; the zany, wacky, nutty awesomeness of it all. Nowadays, it's all 'Alvin and the Chipmunks ' and 'Hop.' Movies so unoriginal that they defy creativity at every turn. Stick in a few talking computer-generated animals, play a few pop songs and we've got ourselves a movie.
So, 'Hop.' What is there to say about this movie? Well, E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) is next in line to become the Easter Bunny. His father (voiced by Hugh Laurie) is the head honcho right now, but he'd like to hand the reigns of delivering jellybeans and chocolate eggs to kids once a year over to his son. The first question I asked myself was, "He only has one son? He is a rabbit after all." No matter, E.B. is the only one that can inherit the The Egg of Power, or was it The Egg of Candy? Maybe, it was The Egg of Chocolate Making? Hold on; let me check my notes… Okay, sorry. I meant The Egg of Destiny. Whoever possesses The Egg of Destiny is thereby crowned the Easter Bunny.
Of course all Easter-related activities building up to the big day take place in a secret bunker on Easter Island. No, really. This is the extent of the movie's creativity. Santa has the North Pole so the Easter Bunny must have… I got it… Easter Island, right? I mean, it totally makes sense because it has Easter in the name and everything. That totally explains why I've seen the Devil hanging out in Hell, Michigan so many times.
E.B. doesn't want to be the Easter Bunny, however. He wants to be a rocker. A drummer specifically. So he runs away to Hollywood where happens to meet up with Fred O'Hare (James Marsden). No I'm not joking. Stop laughing. The main character's last name is really O'Hare. It's like The Egg of Destiny led the Easter Bunny heir and a man named O'Hare together. What are the odds?
Fred is a deadbeat. He lives with his parents and doesn't have a job. When he was young he swore he saw the Easter Bunny riding on an egg-shaped sleigh held in the air by hundreds of tiny flapping chicks, but he's grown up now. He's given up on those childhood dreams.
Soon the two meet up, wreak havoc across California, all in the name of a few laughs. I'm always puzzled how willingly people accept talking animals in movies. It only takes them a few minutes to adjust to a talking animal and then it's like talking to a bunny is second nature. Not to mention the fact that E.B. constantly walks down busy streets with Fred and not one person asks, "Hey, why is your bunny walking on two feet and wearing human clothes?" We don't have any time for that kind of realistic nonsense. We've got a movie about talking animals here to take care of.
I thought, going into the movie that at least the presence of James Marsden would help me not be completely bored out of my mind. Even though he's great at feigning interest for the movie he's in, you can see that faint "I'm getting a paycheck!" glimmer in his eye.
Maybe I'm too much of a cynic when it comes to 'Hop,' or 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' or any other modern day live-action/animated movie that makes little to no sense. Or maybe I'm just thinking back to a movie that used that medium perfectly and now I'm left wondering if it'll ever happen again.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Hop' is a Universal release. It's a 2-disc combo pack. One 50GB Blu-ray Disc, and one DVD. There's also a code provided for an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the movie. A slipcover is also provided with slightly different artwork on the back as compared to the artwork found on the back of the case.
Universal has provided 'Hop' with a 1080p VC-1 encoded video transfer, which looks just as great as you might have expected. 'Hop' just came out last year and its slick, glistening look has endless amounts of detail and bright, vivid colors.
The animation here is well done. The lush computer-generated rabbit fur and fluffy chick feathers looks fantastic. There's never a hint of aliasing even though hundreds of moving animated hairs are bobbing up and down as characters walk around. Real-life details are just as good. You can see every line in Marsden's face as he contorts it in all sorts of weird expressions (the negative side effect to this is seeing each and every cosmetically-altered detail on David Hasselhoff's mug). Skin tones seem a little bronze-y for my taste, but that could be chalked up to the fact that they're in sunny Hollywood.
I was amazed by the level of detail inside the Easter Island bunker. Millions of jelly beans flow from a Willy Wonka-like waterfall. I swear each of them were visible on the screen without creating the least bit of artifacting. All these tiny colorful dots falling in the background and not a hint of blocking, I was amazed really. There was one instance, when Fred is talking to E.B. on a hill overlooking Los Angeles where Fred's head spikes with grain or noise that never makes an appearance in the movie otherwise. It isn't a flawless presentation, but it's pretty close.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix provided here is almost as impressive as its video counterpart. The ambient sound here is top-notch – whether it's the bustling Easter Island bunker where all the Easter candy is made or a busy office – the mix catches each individual sound well. I particularly liked the echoing nature of hundreds of tiny chicks peeping all at once.
LFE is fairly frequent throughout the movie. E.B. inspires to be a drummer, and releases on a few drum solos in the movie. The rhythmic beat of the bass drum rumbles out of the sub-woofer. Dialogue is always clear and centered in the front and center speakers. There are plenty of panning effects that require pinpoint directionality.
While you may not care much about the movie's sonic delights, because we all know that it'll be your kids watching this and not you, at least you'll know that your kids are getting a very well-rounded, nice sounding audio mix.
So it's Easter time and you'd like to get your kids something. How about a basket full of candy? Whatever you do, don't get them 'Hop' unless you want to have to queue up a rabbit pooping jelly beans again and again. Kids will laugh at that part. They might laugh through the entire thing, but that doesn't mean the movie is any good, just that we've come to expect less from live-action movies mixed with animation. Much, much less.