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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Combo Pack)

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#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted April 01 2010 - 02:33 PM

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Blu-ray Combo Pack)

Directed by Betty Thomas

Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Year: 2009
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 88 minutes
Rating: PG
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 SDH, Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
Region: A
MSRP: $ 39.99

Release Date: March 30, 2010
Review Date: April 1, 2010
The Film
As difficult as it might be to imagine, Alvin and the Chipmunks have been a part of the entertainment industry for over half a century. From their start on a Grammy-winning novelty record in 1958 through various television show incarnations and feature films, the mischievous lead chipmunk and his two adorable siblings continue to delight children from one generation to the next. Both of their recent CGI-enhanced feature films have been worldwide box-office smashes, so the appeal of the concept is one that spans the globe, incredible as that is to comprehend. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel takes the basic premise from their 2007 hit and expands on it by adding the boys’ female equivalents: The Chipettes. Apart from that and a new temporary supporting guardian for the fellows, it’s business as usual in this follow-up film. If you liked the silly, juvenile antics from the first movie, you’re likely to go right along with it again here. For those who avoided the first movie, there is really nothing here that should lure you back to the fold.
After an accident leaves Dave Seville (Jason Lee) laid up in a Paris hospital, Alvin (Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler), and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) are placed in the temporary care of Dave’s Aunt Jackie (Kathryn Joosten), but after she also finds herself incapacitated, it falls on her slacker son Toby (Zachary Levi) to take over as guardian. The three chipmunks have been enrolled in the local high school where they run afoul of the bullying school quarterback Ryan (Kevin G. Schmidt), but Alvin’s talent with the pigskin gets him accepted into the jock clique while his brothers stew on the sidelines. More importantly, the boys’ cred as rock stars gets a serious jolt when three talented chipmunk sisters Brittany (Christina Applegate), Jeanette (Anna Faris), and Eleanor (Amy Poehler) show the boys up as viable singers in their own right. Their vocal prowess comes to the attention of the villainous record producer Ian Hawk (David Cross) whose reputation was ruined when the boys abandoned him for Dave in the last film. Now, he sees the opportunity for vindication with the Chipettes, especially since Alvin is too dazzled by the popularity of footballers to worry about upholding his third of the singing trio.
The juvenile slapstick antics of the chipmunks from the first film continue here though without the anticipated slow-burn of a human father figure to try to reign them in. In addition, screenwriters Jon Vitti, Jonathan Aibel, and Glenn Berger have forged a predictable school-set scenario with the typical slights and jealousies associated with high school cliques and have added a school competition between the boys and girls for the honor of representing the school in a citywide contest to win an art program prize the school desperately needs. Created by Janice Karman, the Chipettes are not a stimulating addition to the fold, their being merely uninspired female counterparts to the original three Chipmunks but without really notable personalities to hold focus for very long, a problem since the script tends to put them in the spotlight in this movie rather than the more familiar chipmunk trio. With the expected fart and groin jokes coming right on cue, there’s precious little that’s actually fresh with the film which will no doubt delight the small fry in the house but will leave most older occupants a bit underwhelmed (with only quick references to Taxi Driver, The Silence of the Lambs, and Titanic as small recompense). The movie is stuffed with music, expectedly given the circumstances of two groups of warbling rodents, with the Chipettes being given “Let Your Hair Down” and “Single Ladies” all to themselves, and the whole group joining in with “We Are Family” at the close.
The six actors voicing the chipmunks all do nicely with their vocal chores with fans of Criminal Minds’ Matthew Gray Gubler’s vocal cadence instantly recognizable as Simon even with the heavy digital processing. Zachary Levi does his stumbling and bumbling thing (already overfamiliar for his fans from Chuck and Less Than Perfect), but David Cross as the scheming Ian gets to chew the scenery to his heart’s content with predictable comic results. Wendie Malick gets to act all silly and self conscious in the presence of the superstar chipmunks as the school principal, and Anjelah Johnson is injected into the proceedings as the not-so-surprising love interest for Levi. Kevin G. Schmidt and Chris Warren Jr. do their best jock/jerk impersonations as the football players who rule the school.
Video Quality
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 has been delivered faithfully in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Brightness is sometimes turned up a bit too high resulting in some slightly bleached out color occasionally and sharpness which is good but not always great. (One wonders if sharpness was toned down just a bit so that the CGI animals could more comfortably inhabit the real world.) Black levels are quite impressively deep. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
Audio Quality
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix gives a nice depth to all of the singing scenes with the back-up bands giving excellent surround support for the vocalists. Elsewhere, however, the surround channels are underused with long stretches where the rears are silent. The rear channels do get a workout during the three concert scenes where fan cheering and applause is included to immerse the viewer into the middle of the soundfield.
Special Features
All of the bonus material is presented in 1080p.
“Munk Music Machine” allows the viewer to jump instantly to any of the eleven musical numbers contained in the film.
“Music in a Nutshell” is a trivia track which the user can turn on so that picture-in-picture windows open up during the movie detailing facts about the songs being sung by the Chipmunks and Chipettes.
“Alvin Album Maker” is a children’s activity that allows the user to enter his age, and then put together a personalized Chipmunk album featuring his own choice of singers, album covers, and songs from the choices on the screen.
“Making History: Fifty Years of Chipmunk Mischief, Mayhem, and Music” is a 9 ¼-minute history of the franchise from its beginnings to the present day with producers Ross Bagdasarian and Janice Karman describing the changes the characters have undergone during the last half century.
“Meet the Chipettes” has producer Janice Karman describing how the Chipettes were born and introduces us to the three actresses who voice them in this movie. This runs 8 ½ minutes.
“Rockin’ Rising Stars” showcases two rock acts who appear in the film either alongside the Chipmunks or in competition with them. Both Honor Society and Chris Pamplico are interviewed about their appearances in the film in this 6 ¼-minute featurette.
“Music Maniac” is a 9-minute discussion of the climactic concert sequence with contributions from the two producers, actors Levi, Malick, Johnson, and Lee, and the film’s director of photography, choreographer, costume designer, and special effects supervisor. We also see footage of live action dancers whose moves were studied for the CGI animation of the rodents and the “stuffies,” the stuffed incarnations of the six chipmunks used to give the human actors something to talk to or to direct their eyes toward.
“The Chipmunks: Behind the Squeaking” is a faux-interview featurette with the various human stars of the movie discussing their working relationships with the Chipmunks. It runs for 9 ¾ minutes.
“A-Nut-omy of a Scene” discusses how the production team uses the “stuffies” in place of the human actors along with showing the various stages of animation used to arrive at the finished product integrated into the live action footage. It runs for 2 ¾ minutes.
“Meet the Stuffies” is another tongue-in-cheek look at the stuffed stand-ins for the six animated chipmunk characters with various interviews extolling their usefulness and hard work. It runs 3 ¼ minutes.
“Shake Your Groove Thing with Rosero” is a 9-minute dance lesson with the film’s choreographer and his dancers who teach the moves for the climactic production number in the movie.
There are five music videos, the first three of which can have sing along lyrics which can turned off or on. The songs are “Single Ladies,” “We Are Family” “Shake Your Groove Thing,” “You Really Got Me,” and “The Song.”
The disc is BD-Live active. The site includes two very brief deleted scenes: “Chipette’s Land” (½ minute) and “Poopy Pudding” (¾ minute) along with a brief teaser trailer ( ½ minute). The user may also turn on Live Look-Up which allows a user to look up characters or actors on the IMDb while the movie is playing.
Other films with current BD-Live portals that feature trailers and other bonus material available through this disc are Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Horton Hears a Who, Ice Age 3, Marmaduke, Night at the Museum 2, The Lightning Thief, Romona and Beezus, The Sound of Music, and Tooth Fairy.
There are 1080p trailers for Avatar, Marley & Me 2, Tooth Fairy, and Space Chimps 2.
The second disc is a DVD version of the movie.
The third disc is a digital copy of the film with enclosed instructions for installing it on PC and Mac devices. (There is also a brief featurette on the Blu-ray disc about digital copy.)
In Conclusion
3/5 (not an average)
Exactly what you’re likely expecting it to be, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel doesn’t transcend its genre or reach beyond its grasp. It’s a slight, silly comedy for the younger set with an agreeable number of bonus features for young and old alike along with both DVD and digital copies of the film to give the Blu-ray package added value.
Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 5 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted April 02 2010 - 09:26 AM

We actually enjoyed the first Chipmunks film (no, really!).  Any other fans of it around here have opinions on whether this one's worth picking up?

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#3 of 5 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted April 03 2010 - 02:35 AM

I can't claim I was a fan of the first one, but I thought it was better than the sequel.  I thought the sequel was a total dud without a single redeeming moment...

Colin Jacobson

#4 of 5 OFFLINE   Scamp


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Posted April 03 2010 - 03:43 AM

Originally Posted by Aaron Silverman 

We actually enjoyed the first Chipmunks film (no, really!).  Any other fans of it around here have opinions on whether this one's worth picking up?

Having been a fan of the Chipmunks in the 80's, I had my reservations about how these new live action films would be, which wasn't helped by the previews and posters I'd seen promoting the first film.  But, I was happily surprised to see that the film wasn't that bad, and I really did enjoy it as well.  I enjoyed the 2nd one, too, although personally I would have held the Chipettes back until at least the 3rd film, and it was a shame that Jason Lee's Dave wasn't as involved this time around.  Hopefully, he'll be back fully in the 3rd installment.  Anyway, I'd have to say if you enjoyed the 1st one, then you should go ahead and give the squeakquel a chance.

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   moonll



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Posted April 05 2010 - 06:17 PM

Thanks for sharing!

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