More than ten years after it premiered, "South Park" continues the raunchy adventures of grade schoolers Stan, Kyle, Kenny (well, later on Kenny comes back) and Cartman, who live in a small mountain town. Originally conceived as a small Christmas special that gained fame in Hollywood, the show eventually became the highly controversial Comedy Central show it still is today. Although the show's a bit more inconsistent now, the new seasons still offer plenty of inspired situations for the kids, great supporting characters and occasional classic lines.
"Imaginationland" is advertised on the front of the box as a "New Feature Length DVD Movie", but it is actually an extended (slightly) version of a trilogy of episodes from the 11th season. The box cover also notes that this is an "uncensored director's cut", which is accurate. As for being "new", these episodes have already aired - just not in this exact format.
"Imaginationland" opens with the South Park kids going through the forest, trying to find a leprechaun because Cartman has made a bet with Kyle that the mythical creatures exist. If they find one, Kyle will have to do something...well, lets just say he really, really doesn't want to do. When one of the little creatures appears, they trap it - although it quickly escapes. However, before disappearing, the creature warns of a terrorist attack.
While they wonder about their encounter with the creature, a man appears and asks them if they've seen the leprechaun. After they say they have, he invites them for a ride on his flying machine. After singing a song in a specific way, he takes them into Imaginationland, which is populated by pretty much every single favorite fictional character from all time. Although the boys are warmly greeted at first, the scene then turns horrifying when terrorists attack. While the boys try to escape on the back of a dragon, Butters is left behind and captured.
Meanwhile, the US Government has learned of the attack in Imaginationland, which was done because the terrorists want to attack our imaginations by breaking down a gate that keeps back the evil imaginary characters. When they succeed, it's up to Stan and Kyle to try and figure out how to get through a gate (which clearly looks like the gate from "Stargate" into Imaginationland. Meanwhile, Cartman chases Stan and Kyle to DC, desperate to try and get Kyle to make good on his bet. Meanwhile, the government takes drastic measures to stop the battle in Imaginationland and Butter learns that he may have the power to put a stop to it.
The trilogy of episodes (pulled together in a slightly extended and uncensored format) does get some good laughs, especially from Cartman's psychotic desperation to make Kyle make good on their bet. "Imaginationland" is also loaded with some amusing references, including some fun goofs on "Stargate" and some of the imaginary characters. Fans will also be pleased with the return of the wholly evil and quite insane cute woodland creatures from the "South Park" ep, "Woodland Critter Christmas".
Overall, I thought "Imaginationland" was an entertaining long episode (and the production value of the feature is higher than the usual "South Park" episode), although I think it lacks the scope of "Bigger, Longer and Uncut", the "South Park" film that did actually feel more like a film than a long episode.
As for being a trio of episodes, one does wonder how the 11th season DVD set will be handled when it does originally come out. Hopefully "Imaginationland" will also be contained in that set, and fans will not have to buy both the season set *and* this release. Fans are going to buy the set, while this release really has appeal for casual fans who may have happened upon the episodes when they ran on TV.
VIDEO: "Imaginationland" is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The show's animation is certainly quite basic, but its presented well here. Sharpness and detail are perfectly satisfactory, while no edge enhancement or print flaws are present. Compression artifacts are also not seen. Colors are well-rendered, with no smearing or other flaws.
SOUND: "Imaginationland" is given a Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. Given the several action sequences within the show, the surrounds do get a decent (for "South Park") workout, delivering effects and occasional ambience. Otherwise, the majority of the audio is spread nicely across the front speakers. Audio quality is good, with crisp dialogue, clear effects and some moments of solid bass.
EXTRAS: Commentary from Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I was rather disappointed with this track, unfortunately. The duo start things off by mentioning that the "South Park" theme song will play if they say anything that the censors won't allow on the commentary. Of course, they jokingly "test" this out. It's a little too "Oooh, aren't we outrageous?" The duo talk about how they are actually going to do a full commentary this time (instead of their usual mini-commentaries), but quit the commentary at about 45 minutes in after they decide they have nothing else to say. During the remainder of the track they manage a few decent insights, but also leave a pretty decent amount of silence on the track.
We also get two additional episodes ("Woodland Critter Christmas" and "Manbearpig") and storyboards.
Final Thoughts: "Imaginationland" has some hysterical moments, but I question whether it deserves its own release, as fans are likely more interested in buying it as part of a season set than as this separate release.