Artisan // 2003 // 79 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // November 26th, 2003
It's the Rescue Heroes team like you've never seen them before -- in CGI animation!
Just in case, you're wondering, the Rescue Heroes are a line of Fisher Price toys that for some reason are very popular with the kiddie crowd. They were so popular that an animated television series was spawned (not that I have ever seen it, usually I'm still snoring when they're being televised). Now a feature length movie has been made and it's not a bad little film.
The Rescue Heroes are a group of people devoted to making the world safe for all. Led by Billy Blazes, they find themselves in a bad situation. A volcano has emitted metallic ash into the atmosphere, causing a chain reaction of powerful lightning storms to spread throughout the world. Soon, dams are breaking, fires are blazing, and buildings are falling to pieces and the Rescue Hero squad is being spread thin. On top of that, Billy Blazes is apparently dying from a mystery disease. Can the remaining Rescue Heroes save the world and their leader before it's too late?
The above description sounds like a good story and it is. Brent Piaskoski has written a well-plotted, suspenseful story with good characterizations and dialogue. I actually found myself caring for these characters and their plight.
The major change is that the movie was made using CGI animation, compared to the hand drawn origins of the series. Herein lies the problem with Rescue Heroes: The Movie. The CGI animation is just not very good. It doesn't have the realistic feel of Final Fantasy, the urgency of Waking Life, or the lively texture of the best Pixar films. Sometimes ragged animation can work; The Point, Dirty Duck, and Heavy Traffic are proof of that. But when you keep asking yourself "Does that skin look awfully plasticlike?" you know it isn't working.
Artisan is a studio usually associated with bad transfers, but the full frame transfer actually looks quite good. Free of defects and grain, this may be due more to the digital origins of the film itself than any care in the lab. Colors are appropriately bold for a children's entertainment and no digital artifacts are to be found.
Artisan offers a choice of sound mixes: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround or 2.0 Surround. It doesn't matter which one you pick since they both sound pretty much identical (i.e. loud). Artisan hasn't been too good in the sound department in the past and nothing has changed this time around.
Some extras are included. For once, this does not include subtitles, interactive menus, or aspect ratio. Two episodes from the Rescue Heroes series are included and if this the best from this show, no wonder I'm sleeping when it's being televised. Next stop, snoozeville!
Rescue Heroes Team Profiles are your standard fluff, more for kids than anything else.
A trailer gallery is included, for this program and various other Artisan discs. Avoid it unless you never miss a trailer gallery.
I could recommend this as a rental for parents since it is harmless fun for children. Animation buffs are going to be disturbed by the poor quality of the CGI animation so I cannot recommend a purchase.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 79 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Assorted Trailers
* Rescue Heroes Team Profiles
* Two Episodes from the Rescue Heroes TV Series