HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Barbie: Video Game Hero
HTS Overall Score:70
Barbie is one of the most well-known and beloved names in toy history. She has been a staple in American female youth for over half a century and has branched out from dolls, to games, to movies, to coloring books and so much more. You could say the essence of Barbie is formula and repetition (no matter the medium that she’s in, the messages and themes of any coherent storylines are pretty much the same). In the case of Barbie, it’s that of love, acceptance and teamwork to work towards a common goal. The Barbie films have adapted that formula down to a science and now it’s almost like you know what is going to happen BEFORE you even watch the film. Now, that’s not a horrible thing if you really think about it. These are meant to be uplifting films for the young female audiences (and I mean YOUNG) and act as a digital babysitter of sorts. In this vein comes the latest of the toy themed movies with “Barbie: Video Game Here”.
Like ALL the “Barbie” movies there is a certain formulaic vibe to the movie. This time we have young Barbie (Erica Lindbeck) as the brilliant young video gamer coder (though as a computer technician the term “coding” is rather broad in concept here) who is having a problem with the videogame she created. It seems to be glitching out on her randomly and crashing. Inspecting the game on her sister Chelsea’s tablet Barbie is suddenly sucked INTO the game where she comes face to face with her own creation. There the video game tutorial lets her know that the entire video game is in jeopardy of total destruction. It seems a virus has infected the game emoji and that virus is spreading all over. The only way that this virus can be destroyed is Barbie is able to win every single level and defeat the game, resetting the code back to ground zero.
Easy enough it seems, but not so much in reality. Each level is comprised of NPC players who are programmed to win and nothing else. Not only that the virus is slowing taking over elements of the game and making it even HARDER for Barbie to win the levels without some sort of help. Well, this IS a “Barbie” movie so you know a heavy-handed dosing of teamwork is going to be involved somehow and this teamwork comes in the form of making friends with and recruiting the NPCs of each level into her growing circle of comrades. Together, with the help of the friendly narrator, Barbie and her new friends can work as a team and bring down the spreading emoji virus and bring happiness to the game world once again.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=89842[/img]There’s formula, and then there’s derivativeness. “Barbie: Video Game Hero” tends to lean more towards the latter than the former descriptor as we’ve pretty much seen this same storyline over and over again throughout the different “Barbie” movies. Barbie goes on new adventure (this time one that’s heavily video game based) and is required to make new friends, create team building experiences and learn from life lessons along the way, rinse and repeat. As an adult you have to roll your eyes a bit, but really its fairly innocuous fun. The kiddies are more than happy to have fun with the bright colors and cute references to Minecraft along the way. Something which had me chuckling as the ENTIRE movie feels like “Barbie: Minecraft Hero” more than anything.
While the movie is definitely meant for little girls, there’s a few chuckles long the way for the older babysitters or parents in the house to at least TRY and bridge the generational gap (there’s a few comments about chasing waterfalls, and some coding humor that will give techies at least a mild chuckle). The different game styles and changes to the animation art makes for some diversity instead of keeping with the traditional “one art style fits all” that “Barbie” is usually relegated too. The Minecraft references in the second half of the movie are obvious, but the creators make some nice usage of other gaming styles and art styles to keep you guessing.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=89850[/img]If you’ve watched one “Barbie” movie you’ve watched them all when it comes to the video and audio as well. “Barbie: Video Game Hero” fits right into the formulaic mold that the creators do oh so easily and the image looks quite nice. The animation style is heavily colored with neon shades and primaries popping off the screen at every turn. There’s some mild aliasing and color banding, but overall the simplistic animation has plenty of visual pop and excellent clarity. Pinks, purples and blues dominate the color spectrum, but there’s a fair smattering of other shades making the screen a giant sea of colors. Black levels are solid enough, and ironically most of the color banding seems to take place in really brightly colored scenes instead of the obligatory blackness. Solid transfer from Universal.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=89858[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is perky and upbeat, with the typical cornucopia of pop songs interspersed throughout the adventures of Barbie and crew. Dialog is well placed and the surrounds are usually given quite a workout with the beeps, boops and other assorted video game noises that accompany the musical numbers. Vocals are crisp and clear, and the front sound stage is given a lot to work with considering the way a video game works. LFE is tight and punchy, acts as dual support for both the pop music AND weightier effects throughout the movie (such as the rumbling of the giant emoji ball or a laser blast ).
• Change the Game - Music Video
• Barbie Video Game Hero Bonus Shorts
• Barbie Dreamtopia: "Theme Song"
• Barbie Dreamtopia: "Sweetville"
• Barbie Dreamtopia: "Sparkle Mountain"
“Barbie: Video Game Hero” should do well with the targeted 12 and under female demographic, especially with the pop culture references to Minecraft and the fact that those who are watching these films already are fans. There’s shiny colors, fun artwork, uplifting comradery between the characters as well as the obligatory pop songs throughout. If your kids have liked these films in the past, then there is no reason they won’t enjoy “Video game Hero” as well. Audio and video are par for the course for a “Barbie” movie and the extras are just enough fluffy fun if the kids want to delve into them. Recommended for the kiddie winks
Starring: Erica Lindbeck, Sienna Bohn, Shannon Chan-Kent
Directed by: Conrad Helten, Zeke Norton
Written by: Nina G. Bargiel, Jennifer Skelly
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DTS 5.1
Runtime: 72 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 31st, 2017
Buy Barbie: Video Game Hero On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Recommended for the Kids
More about Mike