If you want to read Judge David Johnson's review, click here. If you'd rather go outside and pull weeds, well, he understands.
In honor of this much overdue translation of one my favorite book series from my childhood years, I present the first ever Choose Your Own Review.
Those "Choose Your Adventure" books were all over the place back in the day. You could battle aliens, slay dragons, combat marauders in a post-apocalyptic nuclear-scorched wasteland, you name it, just by flipping back and forth through lots and lots pages. So how can this experience be replicated on DVD?
To continue reading the review, go to Paragraph 2.
To stop reading the review and investigate the odd sound coming from the bathroom, go to Paragraph 3.
The Abominable Snowman tells the story of a young group of explorers and their quest to find their lost uncle Rudy (William H. Macy, Cellular) who's disappeared after searching for the mythical Yeti in Nepal. On his trail is the ethnically diverse North family: Benjamin (Frankie Muniz, Malcolm in the Middle), Crista (Lacey Chabert) and Marco (Daryl Sabara). The adventure begins when their airplane experiences mechanical difficulty and the kids are forced to stay put or parachute out. And that's when the "choice" aspect of "Choose Your Own Adventure" kicks in.
To learn about how you make choices with the DVD, go to Paragraph 4.
To stop reading the review and run outside to grab a falafel from a street vendor, go to Paragraph 6.
You stop reading the review, grunting in disgust at the amateurish writing and complete lack of critical insight. A strange moaning sound can be heard from the bathroom. Quietly, you stand up and creep to the door, and press your ear against the door. Yes, it's definitely moaning—and it doesn't sound human! Suddenly the moaning stops and a high-pitched, unearthly squeal blasts from behind the door. You recoil in surprise. The scream stops and the moaning begins again.
To return to the review, go to Paragraph 2.
To open the door, go to Paragraph 5.
Your DVD remote is the controller for the story selection. Following about 10 minutes of story, the adventurers are confronted with a choice, and these options pop up on the screen. In addition, a timer starts to tick down; when it reaches zero, the DVD automatically selects a choice for you. To choose your own direction, you simply input the left or right directional arrow on your remote, highlighting the choice. The DVD then bounces around titles, allowing for multiple, branching storylines.
To learn about the stories, go to Paragraph 7.
To stop reading and go with your friends to the Haunted Lighthouse on Dead Man's Point to look for the Ghost Pirate, go to Paragraph 9.
You take a deep breath, clench your jaw and try the doorknob. It's locked! The moaning is loud now, and the screams are coming faster. It sounds like someone—or something—is in serious trouble.
To break down the door, go to Paragraph 8.
To leave well enough alone and go back to reading what could turn into a satisfying DVD review, go to Paragraph 2.
You're so hungry, you dash across the street without looking both ways and a Ford Expedition runs you down. You're dead. The End.
The setting always remains Nepal, but our heroes journey to all manner of locale: a mysterious shrine, a crazy old lady's house, a busy town square, a poacher-filled wildlife reserve, a network of caves, and lots of tiger and bear-infested mountains. In total there are 11 possible stories, each with different endings that may or may not involve Abominable Snowmen or William H. Macy. There really is quite a bit of content to sort through, and following the end of one story, you are automatically kicked back to a chapter menu which allows you to pursue different paths.
To learn about the technical details and bonus features, go to Paragraph 10.
To accept a CIA request for you to fly to Afghanistan and infiltrate a Taliban war camp, go to Paragraph 12.
You take a running start and throw your entire body weight against the door. The hinges splinter and the door gives away and you stumble into the ladies room, where you're just in time to see Sally Jenkins, the temp from payroll on the floor, surrounded by other women, give birth to a baby boy. She jumps in shock from your entrance and the placenta hits you in the face. You can't eat for a month without dry heaving. The End.
You, Frank, Joe and Chet pile into Joe's convertible and head over to Dead Man's Point. "This is going to be awesome!" says Chet. When you get to the Haunted Lighthouse, you and the guys jump out of the car and walk to the lighthouse. It's quiet and the sun has started to dip beneath the horizon. It's obvious no one wants to be the first one in, so you take the initiative and push through the door. Inside, it's pitch black. Frank clicks on his flashlight and pans it upward. Lots of cobwebs, rotted wood and not much else meet your eyes. All of a sudden a bright light tears through the darkness and a voice rings out, "YOU HAVE TRESPASSED IN MY HOME! YOU WILL DIE A PAINFUL, HORRIBLE DEATH!"
To run out screaming like a little girl with a skinned elbow and pick up where you left off with the harmless little DVD review you had been reading, go to Paragraph 7.
To hold your ground like a man, go toParagraph 13.
The transfer is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and the animation looks nice, full of color and fun to watch. Surprisingly, a 5.1 surround mix works the sound and it's effective. Bonus features include a burly behind-the-scenes feature highlighted by cast interviews and a half-hour educational documentary titled "In the Shadow of the Himalayas: How People Live in Nepal," which is full of learning but reminded me of those boring videos I had to watch in elementary school. A music video and an accompanying "Adventure Journal" cap the bounty.
To finish the review, go to Paragraph 14.
To fiddle with the dangerous-looking extension cord with exposed wires next to the refrigerator, go to Paragraph 11.
You get electrocuted and die, you stupid idiot. What did you expect would happen? The End.
Determined to stamp out terrorism in all its forms, you suit up in government-issue desert fatigues and embark on a night drop behind Taliban lines. Night vision activated and your Mk. 16 combat assault rifle shoulder you hit the dirt, roll up your chute, and double-time two miles to a small Taliban camp. You sit quietly and make sure no one is awake. When you're sure it's clear, you toss a flash grenade into the nearest tent. With a WHAMPF, the grenade goes out, and an elderly couple stumbles out of the camp, covering their eyes and screaming. Stunned, you check your GPS and realize that the plane slightly overshot its drop zone and you're in Yellowstone National Park. You quickly execute the couple, grab a Milky Way from the picnic table and disappear into the darkness. The End.
You're terrified. The light is glaring and the voice is booming. But when you look over at Frank and Joe, they're calm. "Don't worry," Frank says. "This type of thing happens all the time. It's probably an old man with a spotlight and a sound system. Just stand here and wait for—" He doesn't finish his sentence. The back of his head blows off, sending a fine red mist into the air. Joe doesn't have a moment to react. A hook descends from above, impales him just above his pelvis and jerks him upward violently. He screams as a stream of gore and sinew pours from his wound. You turn to run, only to see Chet blocking the door.
"Chet! Get the hell out of the way!" you scream.
But he doesn't move. Then you notice his eyes have turned yellow and his teeth have become sharpened points. "Sorry," he says in a guttural hiss. "But it's time for dinner."
You slowly turn around to see a dozen creatures, all with yellow eyes and pointy teeth, circling you. A couple of them are fighting over Joe's head. One is munching on Frank's left arm. Your screams blend in with the salt air and are carried out to sea. The End.
This interactive movie is almost certainly unlike anything your kiddos might have in their collection. It's a good idea, executed well, and should offer a good amount of entertainment for your buck. I'm surprised no one's thought of this before. The End.
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