Megamind Blu-Ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Neil Middlemiss, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    Studio: Paramount Pictures
    Year: 2010
    US Rating: Unrated

    Film Length: 95 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 – 1080p High Definition
    Audio: English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish, French and Portuguese Dolby 5.1
    Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish, French and Portuguese

     

    Release Date: February 25, 2011

    Review Date: February 26, 2011

     

    “Here's my day so far: went to jail, lost the girl of my dreams and got my butt kicked pretty good. Still, things could be a lot worse. Oh, that's right... I'm falling to my death. Guess they can't. How did it all come to this? Well, my end starts at the beginning... The very beginning!”

     

    Introduction

     

    As a genre, animated films – specifically CGI animated films – have comfortably shuffled into three tiers of quality. The top tier, which remain almost the exclusive domain of Pixar, includes films such as Finding Nemo, Happy Feet, Wall*E, Up and How to Train Your Dragon. The second is the ‘very good’ tier and abounds with terrific films such as Monsters vs. Aliens, Kung Fu Panda, and Despicable Me. The final tier is the purview of the mediocre. It is stocked with disappointing, occasionally likeable, but ultimately missed opportunities. Films like Planet 51, The Battle for Terra, Astro Boy, and Igor are occupants of this tier.

     

    CGI Animated Films, regardless of your general tastes, occupy a favored realm of the annual movie stockpile. Growing in frequency but rarely dulling in popularity, the multiplexes are treated today with a steady stream of warm, funny, technically proficient animated goodness. And that does not look likely to slow down anytime soon. Fortunately, the quality of these animated films remains quite high.

     

    But what tier does Megamind occupy?

     

    The Film: 3.5 out of 5

     

    Following the destruction of their planets, and launched into the universe before winding up on the little blue planet called Earth, two alien beings find themselves becoming rivals, destined to follow paths that would define one as the hero savior of Metro City, and the other as the arch villain. The hero, Metro Man as he is called, is handsome, suave, fawned over by citizens all, and the perpetual winner of all his fights. This is particularly troubling for Megamind, the foe of the city whose dastardly plans to destroy Metro Man and harm the city have always been defeated by the buff and loved superhero. Megamind’s evil plans, carried out with the assistance of his loyal ‘fish in a bowl for a head’ sidekick and aptly named ‘Minion’, frequently involve kidnapping city news reporter Roxanne Ritchie (much to the dismay of her adoring cameraman), who is so familiar with Megamind’s rote travails, that she is now far from a damsel in distress (if she ever were).

     

    Going through the motions of another plan of evil genius – on the day Metro City is dedicating an enormous statue and museum to the cities fair hero - Megamind exacts a vengeful and elaborate evil scheme involving a kidnapped Roxanne and a plan to destroy Metro Man using the power of the sun.

     

    And it works. Metro Man is unable to escape the trap and is destroyed.

     

    No-one is more surprised that Megamind. So now, with Metro Man gone, Megamind has the spoils of the once shining conurbation of Metro City (which he mispronounces as ‘Met-ross-ity’) fully at his disposal. He moves in to City Hall, spray paints buildings and awnings with his name and emblem, ravages the considerable art collection from the cities museums (I guess Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was on loan from the musée du Louvre), and gallivants in showers of stolen loot. But it isn’t enough. Megamind quickly realizes that he is nothing without his superhero foil. Yin is lost without Yang; alpha incomplete without Omega; Moriarty nothing without his Holmes to torment. 

     

    Megamind concocts the notion of creating a superhero with whom to do battle once again; to restore the natural order of good versus evil locked in the struggle of battles to and fro (well, more fro, than to). He creates a superhero out of Roxanne’s chubby Camera man, giving the world ‘Titan’; but when Titan enjoys the temptations of power rather than heeding the call for good, Megamind must choose whether he will use his deviously crafted intelligence to become something that he has fought his entire life; a hero.

     

    Megamind enjoys the humorous turnabout of villains and heroes taking sharp detours from their more common paths and comes to life with an all-star cast. The bulbous-brained blue villain is voiced superbly by Will Ferrell, whose knack for voicing his foibles and failures as they occur, works delightfully. He revels in the delight of playing the half-witted, evilly intelligent Megamind and his interplay with Tina Fey’s Roxanne Ritchie, a sharp-tongued, direct, and pert character, provides frequent delight.


     


    Brad Pitt supplies the confident voice of Metro Man, and though his character appears relatively briefly, is quite memorably as he cheeses up to the admiring citizens of the city. David Cross provides a pitch-perfect vocal turn as Minion, an eager, if often amiss servant of Megamind. As the rotund camera man turned superhero/villain is Jonah Hill, who provides a spot-on undiscerning, obtuse and bratty Titan with the right level of dimwitted but likeable followed by dimwitted and unlikable. Rounding out the notable voice cast is J. K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson of Spider-Man) as the warden of the prison where Megamind frequently stays – and breaks out of, and Ben Stiller (who also serves as Executive Producer) as the slight Bernard. 

     

    Megamindis a gloriously produced, lavishly entertaining assemblage of parts from other films, particularly The Incredibles.  Director Tom McGraff, working from a lighthearted script by Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, takes full advantage of the CGI medium, with the story inhabiting a grand city with a scope and scale that’s impressive – it feels massive at times and achieves a level of destruction in the city that would make Roland Emmerich (director of 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow) quite proud. Fortunately this film is not about how much destruction can be crammed into 95 minutes, but rather how much fun can be had as a (somewhat) reluctant evil genius seeks to restore balance and ultimately redefine himself. The action is wildly entertaining, the humor friendly and frequent, and the experience genuinely a great time.  


     

    Megamind finds itself skirting originality but never quite diving all the way in. I considered that family-friendly films– and animated entertainment in particular – must have a hard time deriving truly original ideas that work, but it has and can be done. Just look at the trailers for the upcoming Rango – a visually arresting, darkly entertaining animated film from the creative hand of Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. Some of the characters also echo other films with Jonah Hill’s superhero-cum-villain character being incredibly reminiscent of Syndrome from The Incredibles, both visually and motivationally. Megamind’s borrows, while the product of parody and homage, tend to limit the truly original potential of this story.

     

    Megamindconfidently belongs in the second tier of ‘very good’. It doesn’t quite achieve that level of greatness to place it in the premium tier, but it’s big-chested, warm-hearted, and mammoth amusement worthy of enjoying over and over.

     

     

     

    The Video:  3.5 out of 5

     

    The 1080p High Definition transfer of Megamind (MPEG-4 AVC codec), is perhaps the brightest and most colorful animated blu-ray that I have seen in quite a while. The colors are rich, almost luminescent at times, with gorgeous blues, yellows, and silver/greys. Presented in theaters in 3D (and much of the animation designed specifically for 3D), it is a shame that a 3D version is not available for wide-release (it will be available as a Samsung exclusive).

     

    The level of detail in most of the picture is wonderful, and though most textures aren’t seeking anything approaching photorealism, they still achieve a fine level. But all is not well. I first noticed an issue (or rather, had a gut-feeling confirmed) during a scene where Megamind is standing against a backdrop of the city. For most of the film up to that point, I was pleased with the depth of image, but this scene appeared to shimmer and not feel as native to the scene. Soon I was noticing aliasing issues and these jagged edges appeared in a number of scenes. Other reviewers mention issues on building faces. The resulting mix of gloriously bright and lovely scenes with noticeable aliasing is a bit of a quandary. While I was perfectly able to enjoy the film – actually get caught up in the fun of the story and the cleanliness of the animation, I was aware that this would be an issue for many HTF readers.

     

    In short, the image for the most part looks great, but has issues that may warrant some caution.

     

     

    The Sound: 5 out of 5

     

    The audio on this Blu-ray is top-notch. With an English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD (as well as French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital) track, this audio quite literally rocks with the sounds of classic AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, and others (GnR’s Welcome to the Jungle will never tire for me). The surround sound effects are dynamic and the action in the rears is lively. Hans Zimmer’s score dominates at times, though isn’t as memorable as his protégé, John Powell’s scores for How to Train Your Dragon or even Robots.  This rumbling, vigorous, and spectacularly crisp audio is brilliantly energetic, and it is clear that a great deal of care and skill was poured into the mixing for this release.

     

     

    The Extras: 4 out of 5

     

    Disc One

     

    Megamind: The Button of Doom (15:52) (HD): A brand new adventure features the entire cast returning to their roles as Megamind and Minion enjoy their first day as protectors of the city and find themselves up against a giant robot bent on destruction (unleashed as a result of, you guessed it, someone pressing the ‘button of doom) following a yard sale of evil items. A fun little short!

     

    The Animator’s Corner (HD): BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE – A Picture-in-Picture feature with original and advanced animatics, behind the scenes and commentary provided by producers, directors, and writers. Some valuable behind the scenes information, including the origins of the film’s story, and bringing it to the screen, are provided here and is worth watching through to get a deeper understanding/appreciation for the film. Not always fascinating, but frequently interesting.

     

    Trivia Track (HD): BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE – Pop-up trivia as the film plays.

     

    Comic Creator: BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE – Create (and save) your own comic-book via this interactive special feature

     

    Behind the Mind: BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE – Page through images in 4 different photo galleries (Hideouts, Inventions, Vehicles and Megamind: Good & Evil)

     

    Meet the Cast of Megamind (9:26) (HD): Fairly standard feature featuring interviews with producers and the director, and a look at the actors in the sound booth and talking about their characters.

     

    Deleted Scene (1:36) (HD): Producer Lara Breay introduces the ‘Toothbrush’ scene with Megamind stuck in the doldrums following Metro Man’s defeat.

     

    Inside Megamind’s Lair (7:17) (HD): Director Tom McGrath discusses the more interesting realm of the villain, and also features other crew discussing the ‘bad guy’ world.

     

    AnimatorMan (2:01) (HD): This is look at how the animators brought the world of Megamind to life, often acting out certain sequences (as we have seen from other animation behind the scenes features). Like the ‘Lair’ featurette – this contains narration that must be for younger viewers benefit.

     

    Games:

    • You Can Draw Megamind
    • Mega Rap
    • The Reign of Megamind – Video Comic Book
    • Spot the Difference

     

    Filmmaker’s Commentary: Director McGrath discusses his film with writers Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, and producer Denise Nolan Cascino. The film’s origin and alternate ideas for Megamind’s beginnings on the earth, among others, are presented here. There is much love heard here for the cast, but what is missing is a more technical appreciation for the animation, or revealing details for the design of the city, or the animation marvel – though the point about crashing computers when trying to build cities for Madagascar and now 6 years later being able to build it and destroy it with such detail, was provided.

     

    Previews (HD): Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2, Megamind THQ Game.

     

    World of Dreamworks Animation (HD): An interactive look into the worlds of Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar, featuring music videos, clips, and much more

     

    Disc Two

     

    DVD version of the film with the deleted scene, ‘meet the cast’ and filmmaker’s commentary, all of which are available on the blu-ray disc, supplied as extras

     

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    Now I’ll admit, Megamind is my cup of tea – it begins with a delightful homage to Superman’s humble origins (and later invokes that homage again with a funny ode to Marlon Brando as father to Christopher Reeves’s Superman), and has most of the ingredients that I enjoy in this kind of film. Metro City is a curious cross between New York City and downtown Los Angeles, and is rich with details as the action swoops through and soars above the towering structures. Visually and technically, Megamind is extraordinary, and though it is not the most original, emotionally resonating animated film, and though it doesn’t quite achieve that top-tier quality reserved for tales that stretch beyond great animated entertainment into the realm of simply great movies (and often great art), it is still jolly good fun.

    Overall Score 4 out of 5

    Neil Middlemiss

    Kernersville, NC

     
  2. Adam Gregorich

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    Thanks for the review Neil. HTF had the chance to talk with Erik Aadahl, Supervising Sound Editor of Mega Mind this morning. He said that home video releases often use a near field mix to boost dialog and reduce the dynamic range. Mega Mind was actually mixed and release theatrically in 7.1 That theatrical 8 track went right to the Blu-ray. It has the same full dynamic range of the theatrical mix and it was put to good use here.


    We will get that conversation posted over the next few days.
     
  3. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Wow, that's surprising and unfortunate about the video quality.
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Sounds like a fun film, but regrettably, I am holding

    off for a 3D release. Thanks for the review, Neil.
     
  5. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Thanks for the review. I, too, was dismayed that this film shown in 3D in theaters is not being offered in this initial release in a 3D version. It and How to Train Your Dragon are two 2010 animated films I'm not buying in 2D but am waiting for (hopefully soon) 3D versions. (Yes, I know there's a 3D version of How To Train Your Dragon out there as an exclusive to certain 3D TV owners, but I didn't qualify for it, and I'm certainly not paying the exorbitant prices it's being offered for on Ebay.)


    Come on, Dreamworks! Get with the program!
     
  6. Adam Gregorich

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    This title like other Dreamworks titles will be exclusive to Samsung in 3D. I saw the Blu-ray at Dolby on their 18 ft screen and I didn't notice any picture quality issues. I was actually surprised at how good it looked blown up to that size, BUT I was trying to really paying attention to the audio and I also tend to get lost in a movie sometimes. What chapter was that scene in?
     
  7. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    the jaggies start to be noticeable right before the appearance of Tighten. From then on it's in just about every scene. the worst of it I saw was near the end when there is a good close shot of Tighten's red in the top section of his costume. I give the movie a 4 of 5 and the sound a 4.5 but the video needs to be fixed and the jaggies plus aliasing in inexcusable at this point in blu-ray, 2 out of 5. Also I just watched the short "The Button of Doom" and thought the pq was much better on that then in the movie. I did see some aliasing in the fur of Minion but not one bit of Jaggies on anything.
     
  8. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    Well that explains just how they were able to deliver such a great audio on this release. I look forward to checking out the details of that conversation when you get it posted. They should be applauded for how good the audio is - nearly brought down my living-room mirror that's hanging over the fireplace, and the directional effects (and how the sound seamlessly moves across the front channel during a scene where the camera 'pans' around Megamind) are spot-on.


     
  9. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I was at the screening with Adam and the guys and was similarly impressed with how well the movie handled being blown up onto that 18 foot screen. I probably got a bit lost in the moment while watching the movie, along with everyone else.


    The sound mix was impressive - including some clever uses of the surrounds and a few panning effects that Erik demonstrated for us before the screening began.
     
  10. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Cinematographer
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    I was at the same screening at Dolby with Adam, and I saw the aliasing issues you were referring to, Neil. They are minor and not overly distracting, but I did see them.


    I assumed the issues were artifacts of running a Blu-ray through a cinema-grade projector on a cinema-sized screen.
     
  11. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Enjoyed this in the theater and enjoyed it on blu-ray this weekend. I may not be the biggest stickler for the sharpest image, but I thought it looked great. Watched the film projected on a 108" screen, and the bonus short on a regular HDTV. Both had wonderfully lush colors and, to my eye, sharp images. Very enjoyable send-up, not only of the Superman mythology, but so much of comic book lore.


    One nice bit: the Lois Lane character is attracted, not to the superguy, but to the regular nerd

    .
     
  12. Todd Erwin

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    I think DreamWorks blew a chance at an inside joke with the BD-Java loading icon. Rather than using Megamind's gun, they should have used the "Warming Up" window from Minion's PC.
     
  13. Adam Gregorich

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    Very funny!
     
  14. Adam Gregorich

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    Watching it again this week I did notice it on "Space Dad's" hair when they were in the park and on Titan's cape in a scene towards end of the movie. It deserved the picture rating Neil gave it, but wasn't bad enough that it should dissuade people from getting the disc.


    I will have the full Dolby interview up late this weekend. In the meantime are are some stills:

    Sound Designer Erik Aadahl (R) demonstrates a device he built to make the sound of high tension guide wires on a construction crane that Metro Man flys past on his way to rescue Roxanne Ritchie Megamind's lair and the laser used for the destruction of Metro Man. (chapter 4:15:57 - 20:20).



    [​IMG]



    Erik also built a Van de Graaf generator which he used for the signature sound of Megamind's pet Brain Bots (chapter 3: 12:12-14:21 and multiple other scenes in the film).


    [​IMG]
     
  15. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Nice review! (Except for the part about Monsters Vs. Aliens being better than Battle for Terra. Are you mad?!?!?! )
     
  16. Edwin-S

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    Monsters vs Aliens very good? That makes me laugh. For all of its alleged mediocrity, at least Battle for Terra attempted to be somewhat original. That alone makes it better than M vs A could ever hope to be. As for MegaMind, I hope it is a better effort than the pedestrian, barely humourous, M vs A.
     
  17. Adam Gregorich

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  18. Paul Hillenbrand

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    FYI:


    Regarding the Samsung-exclusive Blu-ray 3D release of "Megamind 3D".


    Just finished watching this movie on a 2010 65" 3D Panasonic Viera Plasma and I have to say that the video of the 3D version IMO, is pure reference quality. No ghosting, shimmering, or aliasing of any kind. No jagged edges noted. Special attention was paid for watching problem areas specifically mentioned in the above 2D review.


    It would be interesting to learn the details of the sources used along with the quality control authoring issues for both the 2D and 3D manufacturing scenarios.


    Paul
     
  19. Paul Hillenbrand

    Paul Hillenbrand Screenwriter

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    This link is to a different forum post today where a sample picture of the 3D Megamind movie is directly compared to the same frame in the 2D Megamind release showing the difference in quality encoding.


    Paul
     
  20. Adam Gregorich

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    Interesting. Does the 3D version have the 7.1 audio mix? I may have to head to Ebay (sigh).


    Uhh at $150 I'll have to wait a bit.
     

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