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Blu-ray Review: Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

Posted on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 12:19 PM by Scott Jentsch

Front Cover ArtworkKit Kittredge: An American Girl
Blu-ray
New Line Cinema
100 Minutes

List Price: $35.99 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

Available 10/28/2008

Rated G

Click here for additional movie details, including the full plot summary, cast listing, trailers and videos, photos, reviews of the movie, and links to the official movie web site and more.

 TheatricalThis Disc
Video Format:
35mm 1080p VC-1
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1 1.78:1 Notice!
Audio:

Dolby Digital
DTS Digital
SDDS

Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital 5.1

Other: 

Movie: BD-25 (x1) BD-J
Digital Copy: Data DVD (x1)

Disc 1 Contents

  • No Upfront Ads!
  • Movie
  • Extras
    • Trailers for the American Girl TV Movies
      • American Girl: Felicity (SD)
      • American Girl: Molly (SD)
      • Samantha: An American Girl Holiday (SD)

Disc 2 Contents

  • Digital Copy of Movie

About the Movie

Abigail Breslin stars as Kit Kittredge, a young girl growing up during the Great Depression and facing the reality of the world as it flies in the face of her ambitions to become a newspaper reporter. When desperate circumstances befall her family and her father leaves to find work elsewhere, the boarders that her mother takes in to help pay the bills and save the house provide Kit with fodder for her journalistic aspirations. The theft of money and valuables creates a mystery where the hobos that are helping around the house are the prime suspects and Kit is determined to solve the crime.

How Does it Look?

Still from the movie (not an actual screenshot)

This movie is intentionally soft and sepia-toned, with a grainy appearance that is no doubt intended to convey the time period. While this is effective, it keeps this disc from becoming demo material and it's certainly not one that you would use to show off the higher definition picture possible on the Blu-ray format.

That said, however, there are subtle improvements in the picture over the standard definition DVD. While you aren't going to have the sharpness that you may want in demo material, the high definition picture allows the grain to be visible and not turn into noise that is evident on the DVD. If you can appreciate this subtlety, you won't be disappointed by the picture on this title.

One final note about the picture, which is the reason for the yellow warning icon in the table above. The theatrical aspect ratio of this movie was 1.85:1 and this release has the picture cropped down to a widescreen-TV-matching aspect ratio of 1.78:1. While that only represents less than a 4% loss of picture composition (unless it was open-matted to gain extra height from the original negative), I'd prefer it if movie studios didn't modify the composition of their movies on Blu-ray or DVD.

How Does it Sound?

While this is not a movie that you're going to use to show off your surround system, the dialogue is clear and there is some use of the surrounds to provide ambience to most scenes.

Given the type of movie that this is, the lack of a dynamic soundtrack is understandable, but I'd still like to see studios include lossless audio tracks whenever possible. Was there not enough room on the disc?

Extras

I like to see the theatrical trailer included with movies, so I was disappointed that one wasn't included on this disc. What we do have are standard definition trailers for the made-for-TV American Girl movies that are available on DVD.

This package features something else that is gaining traction among Blu-ray releases, which is a digital copy of the movie. One of the challenges of the Blu-ray format is that its discs cannot be played on DVD players that people have throughout their homes, portable units, and vehicles. A data DVD in this package contains a digital copy of the movie in both Windows Media and iTunes formats, presumably for downloading to your PC, iPod/iPhone, and Zune portable devices. I inserted the disc into a Windows XP computer and a welcome screen came up and offered to install either the Windows Media or iTunes format and then asked for the access code provided in the printed materials. I didn't install the movie to see if it worked, as I have no desire to watch movies on a tiny iPod screen, or even my PC.

Personally, given the DRM aspects and compatibility issues of digital copies, I'd prefer if the studios copied Disney's approach with Sleeping Beauty and just included the DVD version of the movie in the Blu-ray package.

Other Aspects

This disc is BD-J formatted, which means that our PlayStation 3 is not able to support auto-resuming the movie. This is not good, since the title itself does not support bookmarking, which allows you to mark particular scenes for future reference. This feature is also convenient when watching a movie in multiple sittings, so that you can come back to where you left off. Bookmarking/auto-resume is a feature that should be standard on all Blu-ray releases, so hopefully the Blu-ray developers at Warner Bros./New Line include it on future releases.

Conclusion

This is a good movie for families, and if you have a young girl in your family that likes the American Girl series, she will enjoy it especially. Abigail Breslin nails a performance that carries the movie, and the look and feel of the movie evokes the time period well. As such, this will most likely get multiple viewings in your house and it's just marginally worth purchasing.

However, given the intentionally soft look of the movie and the lack of any features to really show off the high definition format, you may be better off with the standard definition DVD instead if the included digital copy does not cover your needs for a non Blu-ray version of the movie (DVD player in your vehicle, for instance). If the digital copy does serve your alternative viewing purposes, however, this high definition Blu-ray title is slightly better than its standard definition DVD counterpart.

Normally, I'd like to see more extras on a disc to make it worth purchasing. Such extras reward those who choose to purchase instead of rent and it allows them to get more enjoyment from the title that goes past just watching the movie.

Releases like this make digital downloads a more viable option, and I don't think that's what the movie studios ultimately want. New Line/Warner Bros., please don't let this release become the norm for future Blu-ray releases!

Recommended Reading

Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the disc.

RentBuy


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