Stitch! The Movie review by Mike Long

With the recent failures of Treasure Planet and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, many have proclaimed traditional 2D hand-drawn animation to be dead. Thus, in the future, we will only see computer animated films, such as the blockbuster Finding Nemo. But, those who believe this tend to forget about last summer's hit Lilo and Stitch, which brought in over $140 million at the U.S. box-office. This film proved that a 2D animated film could be successful if it had a great story. Now, due to that success, Disney has brought us the inevitable sequel, Stitch! The Movie.

Stitch! The Movie picks up not long after the ending of Lilo and Stitch. Stitch (voiced by Lilo and Stitch director Chris Sanders), the alien genetic mutation also known as Experiment 626, is settling in with Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) and getting used to life on Earth, with his new "family", Lilo's sister Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere), and fellow aliens, Jumba (voiced by David Ogden Stiers), Stitch's creator, and Pleakley (voiced by Kevin McDonald). But, even with all of these friends around him, Stitch doesn't feel as if he fits in.

Meanwhile, Captain Gantu (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson), a soldier who had been disgraced in Lilo and Stitch, is hired by Jumba's former partner Dr. Hamsterviel (voiced by Jeff Bennett), to visit Earth and retrieve the other 625 experiments that came before Stitch. Gantu's intrustion into Lilo's household sets off a chase across the island and outer space, as the forces of good and evil fight for possession of the experiments, which could be malevolent like Stitch, or uncontrollable monsters.

It will probably come as no surprise to learn that Stitch! The Movie is an inferior sequel, as are all of Disney's direct-to-video follow-ups. The movie has the distinction of having most of the original voice cast return, and this lends strength to the project. (Although, Jason Scott Lee doesn't return an Nani's friend, David. That's odd.) In fact, Stitch! The Movie does many things to remind us of Lilo & Stitch, as even the most insignificant character from the first film makes an appearance here. And the theme of Stitch seeking a family and acceptance is continued here. But, Stitch! The Movie simply doesn't have the heart or originality of the first film. Let's face it, Lilo & Stitch may be one of the weirdest "family" films ever made, with it's parade of bizarre creatures and uncomfortably realistic family crises. That feeling of something special isn't carried over to Stitch! The Movie and it simply feels like a re-tread. So, adults who enjoyed the original will be bored to tears by the sequel. Having said that, young children who loved Lilo & Stitch will most likely enjoy the familiar feeling of this new entry. (My kids certainly did.)

Stitch! The Movie comes to home video from Disney DVD. The film has letterboxed at 1.66:1 ("Family-friendly Widescreen", the box proclaims) and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. (Actually, the DVD packaging claims the framing to be 1.66:1. It sure looks like 1.85:1 to me.) The image looks very good, as the picture is very clear and the colors look fantastic. There are no major defects to be seen and no video problems. The digital transfer does reveal the crude nature of some of the animation in the film. The DVD features both a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and a DTS 5.1 track (?!). Both of these tracks provide clear dialogue and the occasional surround-sound effect (from the spaceships), but each is quite unremarkable in any other way. (Actually, I've heard Dolby 2.0 Surruond tracks which have more presence.)

The DVD features a few kid-friendly extra. In the "Experiment Finder Game", viewers can use their remote to locate four creatures and then decide which environment would be best for them. "Dr. Hamsterviel's Trivia Challenge for Trivial Earthlings" is another game in which viewers can answers questions about Stitch! The Movie or the upcoming "Lilo & Stitch" TV show (more on that in a moment). There is a gallery which offers bios on the various mutant creatures, and a music video for the song "Aloha E Komo Mai" by Jump 5, which is made up totally from footage from the movie.

The oddest (worst) thing about Stitch! The Movie is that it's essentially a pilot for "Lilo & Stitch: The Series", a show which will soon be airing on ABC and The Disney Channel. At just 64 minutes in length, Stitch! The Movie is simply a commercial for this show, and this is reflected in the DVD's extras. So, once again, kids will probably enjoy this, but parents may feel as if they've just become a cog in the media marketing machine.

4 out of 10 Jackasses

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