The rest of the world also watches the family films coming out of Hollywood these days, and it was only a matter of time before other countries took a shot at duplicating the familiar formula. Delhi Safari is a CGI film produced in India. For the international market, the producers hired well-known Hollywood stars to voice the friendly cartoon animals that go a journey to save their jungle habitat from urban land development. It utilizes all the tropes of the animated genre aimed at families, from wacky animals to big musical productions, in moving the fairly generic conflict between civilization and the wild towards a predictable conclusion.
Delhi Safari is a pastiche of other movies, from The Lion King to the latest films by Pixar. Yuvi (Tara Strong) the leopard cub sees his father shot to death by human land developers, and talks a group of other animals into confronting the government of India. How will the animals communicate with the humans? Alex (Tom Kenny) the wisecracking parrot can speak both animal and human languages, since he originally lived in a movie producer’s house in the city.
The group of animals get the bright idea to force Alex into airing their grievances against humanity. Guiding Yuvi along this journey are his wise mother, Begum (Vanessa Williams), a pigeon (Christopher Lloyd), a laid-back bear (Brad Garrett), and an aggressive monkey (Carlos Alazraqui), not to mention a few other wild animals that pop up along the journey. Voice cameos by Jason Alexander, Carey Elwes and Jane Lynch also briefly appear.
The voicework by the familiar Hollywood actors is surprisingly strong for a production that was made outside the Hollywood system. The casting choices all fit their animal characters very well and the only odd thing that might be noticed are the occasional miscues in the lip-syncing of the animals’ mouths and English voices, since the animation was originally intended for the Hindi language. Most young American children will have little idea this movie was originally intended for a foreign audience, aside from a few references to Delhi and the governmental structure of India. It looks and sounds a lot like the latest animated Disney films, at least in ambition if not execution.
Parents should exercise some judgment for their very youngest children in deciding to screen Delhi Safari. Yuvi’s father is graphically killed very early in the film by a human hunter, and the scene is repeatedly referenced as the movie progresses. The one thing separating Delhi Safari from most Hollywood fare intended for families with young children is the level of graphic cartoon violence. One of the monkeys is constantly waving around accurately modeled guns and threatening to wage violence on other animals or the humans. It is mostly played for laughs but I know some parents would likely find it troubling for the kindergarten set.
Delhi Safari does not bring anything new or original to the animated family movie genre we have not seen before, but a few elements of the Bollywood tradition. In spite of that, the story and dialogue overcomes that handicap in a rousing family adventure that will entertain children and even some of their parents. Some of the jokes will go over children’s heads, as they are clearly intended for adults.
Delhi Safari runs 96:38 minutes on a BD-25, encoded in AVC at solid parameters. The CGI-animated movie was also produced in 3D, but that version is not included. The 2:35:1 framing of the 2D version is presented at 1080P in stunning clarity, though this is not flawless demo material if one is used to the wonders of the latest Pixar movies on Blu-ray.
The contrast and other normal aspects of the image are all perfect or nearly perfect. Incredible sharpness of the CGI models is only mildly impeded by a slightly softer design for the primary settings, as animals move from the jungle through the desert, eventually into the urban confines of India.
The CGI animation does not look far behind the latest Hollywood creations. The primary characters, from Yuvi the leopard cub to the rest of his ragtag group of animals, are all modeled with an extreme level of texture and refined detail. Their fur bristles and moves with realistic fluidity, at least as much as cartoon animals can move. Where the animation starts looking a little more threadbare are in the less ornate backgrounds and secondary characters. The colorful palette of the jungle terrain bursts in living color, from the inkiest black levels to brilliant primary shades of both magenta and green.
Digital animation almost always looks great in HD. Delhi Safari does have one notable problem besides infrequent aliasing that even amateur videophiles will likely notice. Some solid backgrounds of uniform color band with obvious problems. The banding is almost always confined to specific shots, but the magnitude is larger than I have seen in a few years on Blu-ray. I doubt the movie’s intended demo, children, will find much problem with the banding, but it does keep Delhi Safari from attaining a perfect score. It appears endemic to the animation master and not as a result of a poor video encode.
Animated movies always have a leg up when it comes to the audio, as everything from the music to the dialogue has been carefully recorded in a professional studio. Delhi Safari has a strong 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack, following in the tradition of other animated family films. Its musical numbers are firmly grounded in the Bollywood tradition, though there is really only one specific song that Americans will automatically associate with Bollywood music. Most of the musical performances are very similar in style and approach to something you might see in the latest family film by Disney. A sweeping sound design gives all 5.1 channels a workout at various times, though the mix is a step behind the latest Hollywood blockbusters.
Dialogue from the various Hollywood B-listers is crystal-clear and balanced well into the overall sound mix, set against a backdrop of pinpoint imaging from the surround presentation. Solid bass reproduction and an appropriate usage of surround elements add to the lively atmosphere of the movie. Delhi Safari’s soundtrack has perfect fidelity and a pleasing dynamic range that is not particularly subtle or innovative, but handles the demands of a children’s movie very well. What prevents the lossless surround mix from attaining reference status is an annoying tendency to pump up the volume of the musical numbers, far beyond the rest of the movie’s scenes. I would not characterize the musical scenes as harsh sounding, but viewers listening at reference levels will nearly be overwhelmed by the blasting volume of the singing.
Subtitles in English SDH have been provided by Arc Entertainment, displayed in a white font.
Delhi Safari is currently a retail exclusive at Wal-mart. This combo pack also includes a DVD copy and a digital copy of the movie good on VUDU, redeemable in HDX. The only extra features on the BD itself are a handful of trailers for various Arc Entertainment releases. The following trailers all precede the disc’s opening menu, presented in 1080P: Thor: Legend of the Magical Hammer, The Reef 2: High Tide, Jock the Hero Dog, Animals United and My Lucky Elephant. An embossed, glossy slipcover is included with first pressings.
Theatrical Trailer (02:11 in 1080P)
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