Stitch was experiment 626…meet the other 625!
If you'll recall, Stitch is a freakish blue alien that was part of an experiment run by the evil genius Jumba Jookiba (voice of David Ogden Stiers). In the movie Lilo & Stitch, the little blue monster learned that the Hawaiian term Ohana meant "family," and family means nobody gets left behind. In Stitch!: The Movie, Lilo (Zoe Caldwell) and her sister Nani (Tia Carrere) have adopted Stitch as part of their family, as well as Dr. Jumba and the slightly off-center one-eyed alien Pleakly (Kevin McDonald). Things are going smoothly for Lilo and her family, that is until the vile shark-like Captain Gantu (Kevin Michael Richardson) shows up looking for Jumba's 625 previous experiments! Sent by a diminutive scientist with a Napoleon complex, Dr. Hamsterviel (he's—duh—a hamster), Gantu kidnaps Jumba in an attempt to find the 625 other experimental creatures for the Hamsterviel's malicious plans. Now it's up to Lilo, Stitch, and the rest of their "Ohana" to save the day and prove once again that blood truly is thicker than Hawaiian pineapple juice.
Okay, I'll admit it: I had reservations going into Stitch!: The Movie. So far these straight-to-DVD Disney sequels have been as fun as sticking a lit matchstick up my nostril. Return to Neverland was abysmal and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II was pure boredom. Is it any wonder why I had preconceived notions before popping this disc into my player? Surprisingly, Stitch!: The Movie wasn't nearly as bad as anticipated—in fact, it's pretty decent, all things considered. Lilo & Stitch won over the hearts of millions of moviegoers because of its offbeat characters and goofy storyline—in the scope of all things Disney, it was a pretty weird flick. I'm happy to report that Stitch!: The Movie has the same sense of humor as the first film. How can you hate a movie that features a main character who can pick his nose with his tongue? This time around, the story is a bit blander and a lot more preposterous—it's a basic search and rescue mission that's one big set up for the upcoming cartoon show on the Disney Channel. While this is all fairly simple stuff, the fun is in the details—there are some genuinely witty lines along the way, most of them supplied by Peakley (perfectly played by ex-Kids in the Hall player Kevin McDonald). The characters are mostly likable, except for the villain, the diminutive Dr. Hamsterviel, whose grating comic accent I could have done without. Since Stitch!: The Movie comes to us via the Disney TV animators, the artwork is less than fantastic—most background shots look painfully stationary while the characters aren't half as lifelike (well, for animation that is) as the previous film. Will kids dig in and enjoy this hour-long piece of fluff? You bet! Will parents be able to tolerate it? Let's just say it's six notches up from other Disney sequels, and three notches down from any of their theatrical releases.
Stitch!: The Movie is presented in a "family friendly" 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratio, enhanced for 16x9 TV sets. Truth be told, this transfer is only so-so. Because it lacks the budget and dazzle of the first film, the backgrounds tend to look a bit fuzzy and bland. The colors are in decent shape, as are black levels (gray tinting was non-existent). Considering what this is—a quickie tie-in for the upcoming TV show—this transfer barely pasts muster. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English and French, as well as DTS 5.1 Surround in English. Neither of these tracks was overwhelming—though the film sports a few directional effects and surround sounds, there isn't a whole lot of excitement to be found here. It's almost as if the mix wasn't spaced out enough to truly distinguish itself through each speaker. However, the dialogue, music and effects are clear, making for passable mixes. Also included on this disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track in English as well as English subtitles.
The supplements included on this disc are geared mostly toward the tykes. There is a trivia challenge/pop quiz, an "Experiment Finder" where you help Dr Jumba find his lost experiments, an "Experiment Gallery" where you can look at various creatures (who will show up more often in the TV series), a music video by the group Jump 5 for the song "Aloha, E Komo Mai," and trailers for various Disney movies/DVDs (including the upcoming DVD releases of Finding Nemo and Sleeping Beauty, as well as the new animated movie Brother Bear).
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