The film isn't content to just ruin The Once-ler as a character though, they also fundamentally change The Lorax, turning him into a joke. Yes, The Lorax still speaks for the trees (for the trees have no tongues), but he—like The Once-ler—is overly softened, made more palatable, less of a hard-liner. The Lorax is, inexplicably, turned into a joke in the film. The message is still there, but it's buried under jokes and ridiculous shenanigans. It is a version of The Lorax that ought to make those familiar with the original work cringe.
The film actually suggests that for a while these two guys are friends, a concept incredibly far removed from the book. In fact, in the book, The Once-ler is not just remorseful about what he's done, but also not too happy about how The Lorax approached the situation. And, that's with hindsight. The film radically alters this concept and not for the better.
All is not bad however, the further expansion of the story to fill the runtime works surprisingly well. Here they have chosen to expand the book's frame, telling the tale of the boy (unnamed in the book, but given the name Ted here to honor Dr. Seuss, and voiced by Zac Efron) who goes to The Once-ler to hear the tale of The Lorax. Ted lives in Thneedville and, in order to impress a girl, Audrey (named to honor Dr. Seuss' wife and voiced by Taylor Swift), he goes to The Once-ler to learn how to get a Truffula seed and bring the trees back to Thneedville. He is plagued in this quest by Aloysius O'Hare, a man who has made a fortune out of selling canned air to Thneedville (because The Once-ler dirtied the air) and who worries his empire will collapse if trees can provide air for free.
O'Hare is a buffoon. He manages to be humorous and evil at the same time. He is, in short, what The Once-ler should have been for the movie. It is clear that the folks behind the movie know how to create a comic villain, but O'Hare's presence as one makes the decision to soften The Once-ler to the point where he's nearly as much a victim as anyone else that much more perplexing.
Back to the plus side, the film looks absolutely stunning. They may have gotten the tale wrong, but they got look of the world completely correct. This is a perfect Seussian world, brimming with the sort of feel he gave his books. And, on Blu-ray, it is simply fantastic to see. The level of detail, the eye-popping color, the complete saturation of every inch of screen is a marvel. Dr. Seuss' The Lorax is a beautiful movie, perfectly rendered. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, too, is a joy to behold. Seuss' world is not just visually brought to life, but sonically as well. With huge musical numbers and more discrete effects, it shows some impressive technical work.