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Nim's Island (2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/6/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/7/2008

I could easily sit here (yes, I'm sitting) and try to glamorize or glorify what I do, but in the end, I really just tell you if I did or didn't like a movie and why or why not. After reading this, it's up to you to decide if you agree with me or if I'm full of it. For most movies, this task is really simple. However, there are some movies that I simply like, and it's difficult to articulate why. At the other end of the spectrum, it's usually very easy to pick out the low points on bad movies. But, Nim's Island is a conundrum. I know that I didn't like the movie, but I'm not 100% sure why.

Nim's Island introduces us to Nim (Abigail Breslin) and her father, Jack (Gerard Butler), who is a scientists studying oceanic microorganisms. Nim's mother died when she was young, and she and her father live on a secluded island in the South Pacific. Nim spends her day helping her father and playing with her animal friends, a sea lion, an iguana, and a pelican. She also like to pass the time reading books from the "Alex Rover" series, which detail the adventures of an Indiana Jones-like character. One day, Jack announces that he's going out to sea to experience an underwater microorganism phenomenon and invites Nim. But, wanting to witness sea turtles hatching, she declines. Meanwhile, Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), who goes by Alex when writing, is researching volcanoes and finds Jack's information on the web. When she e-mails with questions, Nim can't believe that "Alex Rover" is writing her. However, her joy turns to anxiety when Jack doesn't return on time, a storm hits the island, and "pirates" invade the beach. Alone and scare, Nim reaches out to Alex Rover for help. Can an author who lives half-way around the world get to Nim in time?

On the surface, Nim's Island seems like a perfectly enjoyable movie. For starters, this is a glossy studio, and while the budget wasn't extravagant, one wouldn't look at this and call it a cheap-looking film. The cast are no slouches either, as we've got a multiple Oscar-winner, an Oscar nominee, and an actor who is known as a great action star and singer. The sets and most of the special effects are top-notch. The story is an interesting one and it's nice to see an adventure film which has a girl as the main character. We get strong messages about family and, as a nice change of pace, intelligent characters are portrayed in a promising light.

Despite these positive attributes, the movie left me unsatisfied and ultimately, blame must go to co-directors Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin. There is simply something off about the film's pacing. The film contains only a few story elements and they could have been told in a more concise manner. As it is, this 96 minute film simply drags by. I found myself constantly checking the running time and couldn't believe that there was still ___ minutes (fill in any number) left in the movie. And this isn't simply an adult perspective -- my children grew very restless while watching the movie and cheered when it was over (and not in a good way). Pacing aside, their reactions may have had something to do with the film's content as well. The idea of a child left alone on an island didn't sit well with my kids, and the subplot of an agoraphobic author went right over their heads. ("Who wouldn't want to go outside?")

While we seem to get more family films than ever these days, truly quality ones are few and far between. Thus, it's a disappointment that Nim's Island misses the mark. The movie contains all of the elements of a good movie and it's great to see well-known actors getting involved in a project like this. But, the movie simply isn't very exciting. Perhaps if you know that going in, Nim's Island would be an OK place to visit.

Nim's Island surfaces on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 34 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing virtually no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors are very rich and striking, especially the green jungle of the island and the blue water. The image is very detailed and has a nice amount of depth. However, the image is slightly dark at times, keeping the visual impact from being perfect. The Blu-ray has a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a nice track which maintains stability and clarity during the dialogue scenes, while making itself known during the action scenes. The storm scenes in the film really show off the power of this track, as the whipping wind and booming seas create excellent surround and subwoofer effects. When Nim is in the jungle, the stereo effects are very detailed and the stereo separation is excellent.

The Nim's Island Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extra features. We start with a pair of AUDIO COMMENTARIES. The first features actors Abigail Breslin and Jodie Foster. The second commentary has Directors/Writers Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett. The Disc contains three series of DELETED SCENES which run about 15 minutes. The most interesting scenes involve Nim's imaginary friends. In the original cut of the film, Nim surrounded herself with characters from classic novels. There's a fine line between fantasy and insanity. Also cut from the film was Alexandra's assistant. Some of the stuff which was cut made me think of the mistakes made in Bridge to Terabithia. When "Nim's Spyglass" Bonus View Mode is chosen, Picture-in-Picture bonus footage appears during the film offering behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. There is also "Island Explorer Mode", which offers more insight into the cast & crew, the book, and science. "Nim's Friends" (6 minutes) looks at the animals used in the film and how they were trained to interact with the actors. "Abigail's Journey" (7 minutes) focuses on the actress and contains comments from the Directors, who talk about why they chose her for the role, and Breslin discusses the character. "Working on Water" (6 minutes) shows the tank were some scenes were shot and has the filmmakers discussing the challenges of shooting on water.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long