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DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
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Despicable Me 2 3D Blu-ray Review - Recommended3D Blu-ray Blu-ray Universal
Dec 16 2013 03:06 PM | Kevin EK in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
- Studio: Universal
- Distributed By: N/A
- Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC, 1080P/MVC
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- Rating: PG-13
- Run Time: 1 Hr. 38 Mins.
- Package Includes: Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
- Case Type:
- Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
- Region: ABC
- Release Date: 12/10/2013
- MSRP: $49.98
The Production Rating: 3.5/5Despicable Me 2 is a genuinely entertaining animated comedy, carrying former supervillain Gru and his mob of Minions into a new adventure that provides more than a few laughs along the way. Steve Carell returns to voice Gru, who is joined by nearly all of the characters from the first movie. The plot mostly centers around a new villain who is capturing bunches of Minions for a nefarious purpose that is gradually revealed. There’s also a bit of development for Gru in his personal life, and a few brushstrokes of development for the three little girls he adopted in the 2010 film. The movie hews to the established ideas of the first film – starting with a spectacular opening (complete with a Wilhelm shout to top it off) and continuing apace with gadgets, wisecracks, and of course, plenty of Minion mischief. Fans of the first film will have a good time here, although I should note that the edge is a bit duller here. Since Gru is no longer a villain but instead a doting father, there’s less of an arc to this story. But the jokes are pretty funny, and the filmmakers haven’t lost their touch for inspired musical interludes and spy movie parodies.
Along the way, there are references to multiple Bond films, including a complete lift of one sequence right out of The Spy Who Loved Me. And there’s a wonderful use of Mungo Jerry’s classic 70s song “In the Summertime” for a bit of Minion partying about midway through the adventure. New to this installment is Benjamin Bratt, playing the heavily chested El Macho with an appropriately big vocal interpretation. (It should be noted that Bratt replaced Al Pacino in this role on extremely short notice.) Kristen Wiig returns to the series in a new role, this time as Lucy Wilde, Gru’s partner in this film’s mission. As a family movie, and as a nice piece of 3D animation, the movie certainly works. Given its qualities, this is an easy title to Recommend for rental or purchase, for 3D or 2D viewing. The 3D does add to the experience – many sequences are clearly built around the ability to either have a modest pop out toward the viewer or to have deeper vistas within the screen. The closing credits sequence (echoed in the main menu) features not only some mock auditions for the upcoming “Minions” movie but also a series of 3D indulgences to parallel the fun from the first movie’s end credits. All in all, this Blu-ray should make for a fun family movie night.
Despicable Me 2 was released on 3D Blu-ray, 2D Blu-ray and DVD this past week. The 2D Blu-ray holds the movie in a solid high definition transfer, and includes a nice spread of special features, including three Mini-movies featuring the Minions and the kids, seven short featurettes totaling about 30 minutes, a deleted scene and a directors’ commentary. The 3D Blu-ray has the movie in satisfying 3D, along with all the extras from the 2D Blu-ray. One of the Mini-Movies, “Puppy” is presented in 3D, while the other materials are presented with MVC encoding but are really in 2D. The Blu-ray packaging includes the DVD edition,and instructions for obtaining a digital or Ultraviolet copy of the movie.
Video Rating: 5/5 / 3D Rating: 5/5
Despicable Me 2 is presented in a 1.85:1 1080p MVC encode (@ an average 20/13 mbps) that provides a satisfying 3D environment for the movie. There are few nice moments of elements popping out of the screen, particularly in the end credits where the Minions run wild. There are also plenty of moments of depth, specifically in the scenes in Gru’s underground headquarters and in the various mall environments presented during the movie. The 2D Blu-ray holds a solid 1.85:1 1080p AVC encode (@ an average 34 mbps) which reveals plenty of details in the animation throughout that are not as apparent when watching in 3D. (I find that the 3D effects distract me from other details – when that element comes out, I can focus on the other aspects of the picture.).
Audio Rating: 5/5Despicable Me 2 gets an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix (@ an average 4.0 mbps), which happily makes full usage of the home theater sound system. There are plenty of moments for the subwoofer to come into play, and the surround speakers get a generous amount of music and atmospheric effects. Both the 2D and 3D Blu-rays have the same sound mix, obviously. Spanish and French DTS 5.1 mixes are also included on the discs, as is an English DVS track.
Special Features: 3.5/5Despicable Me 2 includes a nice array of special features, including a commentary, an extended scene, three Mini-movies, and seven featurettes totaling about 30 minutes. The 3D Blu-ray packaging includes the 2D Blu-ray, the DVD edition and instructions for obtaining a digital or Ultraviolet copy.
All of the special features are available on all the versions of disc – from 3D Blu-ray to 2D Blu-ray to SD DVD. The only real difference is that the 3D Blu-ray presents one of the Mini-Movies in 3D, and that the SD DVD has a separate preview menu. According to the packaging, this will not be the case if you buy the DVD separately. The full boat of extras only comes if you buy at least the 2D Blu-ray combo pack.
Feature Commentary with Directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin – This scene-specific commentary finds the directors in a chatty mood, going over plenty of detail throughout the film and having as much fun as the viewer. There’s one moment early on where there’s a joke about profanity, but this commentary is as family friendly as the movie itself. The guys discuss their choices of songs for the Minions and get into some of the finer points about the various gadgets on display. Strangely, they don’t acknowledge their lift from The Spy Who Loved Me, even though the shot selection is identical. They also do not acknowledge their falling-out with Al Pacino, which is unfortunate. They do make some interesting notes about the differing versions in animation of El Macho, and they close with a discussion of the wilder 3D animation on display during the credits.
Mini-Movies: Three short movies featuring the Minions and the kids are included on each disc. Each short film is preceded by a short voiceover introduction by Steve Carell as Gru and the same footage of two Minions being knocked over by the presentation.
Puppy (5:07, 1080p) (PRESENTED IN 3D ON THE 3D DISC) – This short subject features one of the Minions adopting an extraterrestrial as his dog, so to speak. On the 3D disc, this piece is presented in full 3D, which helps add depth to shots where the characters are drawing patterns in the sky, etc.
Panic in the Mail Room (4:46, 1080p) – This short subject builds from the idea of the “evil” Minions in the movie. For this piece, we’re presented with a pair of Minions working in the mail sorting room, where one of them gets exposed to the unfortunate formula. Mayhem results, as the infected Minion goes back and forth between eigenstates, as it were. And then there’s the matter of the box of cute kittens coming down the track…
Training Wheels (4:48, 1080p) – This short subject spotlights Agnes, the youngest of the kids in the movies. In this case, Agnes needs the Minions’ help to build a bicycle with training wheels so that she can chase after the ice cream truck like all the other kids. Suffice it to say that the Minions deliver a high tech gadget that every little girl on a bicycle could only dream of having. And yes, action scenes, chases, and general mayhem ensue.
The Making of the Mini-Movies (5:45, 1080p) – This short featurette is probably the most interesting piece to be found on the Blu-ray. The discussion here revolves around the collaborations that created the three Mini-Movies. Each short subject had two directors – one located in each of Illumination Entertainment’s primary locations – Los Angeles and Paris. The nature of co-creating animation presentations is shown here – with the various teams communicating via videoconference and Skype across a massive distance in both location and time zone.
Deleted Scene: “Gruties” (0:46, 1080p) – This is actually an extension of a flashback in the movie where a very young Gru spectacularly fails to win over a girl in the schoolyard. In the theatrical edition, everyone quickly runs away. In this version, the situation gets more involved as the students find inventive ways to hide themselves from Gru or catapult themselves out of the playground.
Featurettes: Six short featurettes on the making of the movie are included on each disc.
The Minions (3:07, 1080p) – This quick featurette discusses the return of the Minions, with various people including Steve Carell holding forth on their opinions of the little yellow guys.
Evil Minions (4:18, 1080p) – This featurette discusses the transformation of the harmless Minions into a villainous force that’s still admittedly ludicrous. The filmmakers enjoy the fact that these supposedly dangerous creatures really just wind up yelling “Baggh!!” and running around, rather than doing anything particularly menacing.
A Gru-Some Transformation (5:27, 1080p) – This featurette covers the non-villainous nature of Gru for the new movie, with multiple soundbites coming from Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and various creative staff. The notion of finding a mate for Gru, effectively expanding the series’ family, is given a brief amount of attention here.
El Hombre Malo (4:16, 1080p) – The featurette here covers the creation of El Macho, the potential antagonist of this movie. Benjamin Bratt discusses his work in creating the voice of the character, while the animators discuss the difference between the young and strong El Macho seen in flashbacks and the older, flabbier guy we encounter in the Mall. Sadly, nothing is mentioned about the initial casting of Al Pacino in this role, or about why Pacino left the production.
Gru’s Girls (5:35, 1080p) – This featurette covers the various women in Gru’s llife, including the three little girls in his charge. Happily featured here is Elsie Fisher, the actual little girl who plays Agnes in the movies.
Gadgets Galore (4:12, 1080p) – This featurette quickly gets into various of the gadgets introduced in the new movie, most prominent being Lucy Wilde’s car. There’s an opportunity lost here, frankly. I would have been interested to see them dissect down the new development between Gru’s old approach of announcing his weapons first and Lucy’s sneakier tactic of waiting to deploy the weapon and THEN announce what it is.
DVD Edition – Included in the Blu-ray packaging is the DVD edition of this movie, albeit packed with all the extras from the Blu-ray – as opposed to a separate DVD edition that may not contain everything. It presents the movie in standard definition anamorphic widescreen with a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix (@ 448 kbps). The DVD carries over all the bonus features in standard definition. The DVD also contains a “Previews” menu, with connections to trailers for Despicable Me, ParaNorman, Hop, Barbie Mariposa and The Fairy Princess, Monster High – Ghouls Rule, American Girl: Saige Paints the Sky and The Lorax
Digital/Ultraviolet Copy – The packaging has an insert that contains instructions for downloading a digital or ultraviolet copy of the movie.
The movie and special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, including a complete chapter menu.