Flying under movie goers radars, Nim’s Island is a fantastic family film, loaded with action and fun. While it does go off course, the spunk of Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster’s comedy, and a unique interplay between them is far too much to pass up.
Kid’s will remain occupied throughout this fast-paced adventure thanks to the animal antics and a free-roaming little girl who has absolute freedom on an island all to herself. The occasionally obvious visual effect doesn’t detract from the humor of watching bearded dragons flying at the camera, and a small child won’t notice anyway. Breslin is in top form as Nim, a perfect role for a kid that doesn’t require too much emotion other than looking happy.
On the other hand, Jodie Foster is surprisingly complex, if not a little crazy. She’s an author of adventure novels idolized by Nim, but suffers from agoraphobia. She also has conversations with the character she’s created for her novels (played by Gerard Butler), making her mentally unstable. It’s rather complex for a movie aimed at the young, but the parents sitting alongside will probably appreciate the abnormal complexity.
Both Breslin and Foster and have their own adventure that occurs side-by-side. Breslin grows increasingly nervous as her father disappears, and Foster braves through her condition after learning of Nim’s situation in e-mails. While the e-mail interplay grows old due to the lack of visuals, their storyline is otherwise fun to watch and uniquely directed.
A sub-plot about a group of what are supposed to apparently be settlers (it’s never completely clear) landing and creating a resort truly goes nowhere. It’s an excuse for child-like antics as Nim struggles to keep the newcomers at bay, but the entire story exists for one of the visitors to deliver a single line to Foster’s character in an incredibly contrived scenario. Also, the ending is rather abrupt, lacking the sense of danger the film conveyed wonderfully earlier.
Still, it’s hard not to be entertained by the fun of Nim’s Island. It’s beautiful island shots, cute animals, and energetic cast are impossible to resist. This is a fine way to spend a family night, and the kids will certainly want to come back for more.
Whether or not this troublesome Blu-ray transfer will affect the young ones desire to give this another spin probably isn’t debatable (it won’t), but there’s no question this looks far worse than it should. While colors are bright and bold, they also bleed, blotching out detail. Reds cause some compression issues, notably when Butler is hanging over an active volcano. Sharpness never seems consistent.
At times, this can be gorgeous. Detail is exceptional on a few close-ups, but then fades away with the next shot. Some digital noise is evident inside Foster’s home just before she leaves on her trip. Flesh tones are accurate despite the colors being overblown. Blacks are superb, and the contrast is wonderful. It’s a tough call on this disc, but the negatives far outweigh the positives before it’s over.
The only way this DTS-HD Master disappoints is in its ambience, or lack thereof. The heavily forested island lacks any of the usual animal calls other sounds, giving the film a rather flat, front-loaded feel when the action is absent. That said, the movie is loaded with action sequences that deliver.
Crashing waves, winds, and heavy rain all envelope the viewer in spectacular fashion. The surrounds always have a presence when they should, and sometimes the positional sounds are quite impressive. The LFE channel has plenty of work, especially from a noisy volcano and rocks crashing into its sides. Patrick Doyle’s soundtrack nicely fills the room when called upon.
Two commentaries seems like overkill for a kid’s movie, and it probably is. Foster and Breslin lead the first, and Breslin is enthusiastic about the shoot. The second is the more technical with the co-directors Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett. Three short featurettes detail the production in terms of the animals, water stunts, and Foster’s character. Three deleted scenes run just over 15 minutes, all of them offering a non-optional intro from the directors.
Two picture-in-picture features are included. Bonus View offers 24 brief snippets, and can also be viewed through the main menu so you don’t need to watch the entire movie to find them. Island Explorer is a variety set, included pop-up trivia, video, pictures, and more. Finally, three rather mundane games are skippable.