Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Blu-ray Review
PictureComputer animated films like this also tend to come across the best on the High Definition format, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is no exception, its 1080p rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 looking absolutely stunning. Detail is superb throughout, the flawless image is picture-perfect throughout, clean and sharp with no signs of softness, digital defects or over-processing. Every single animated shot has been lovingly rendered here, the film even boasting a hint of 3D pop, despite it not having that 3D option that many of its ilk are using (often as a gimmick). The colour scheme is rich and seemingly limitless in its vibrancy and range - offering a rainbow assault of colours, every one of which has depth and brilliance. There has been a great deal of attention to detail too - with the aerial shots of the snowangels being forged in the icecream showcasing the plight of every single child in great detail. And the hairs on the dad's bushy eyebrows look practically alive. This is a visually opulent feast, a tremendous release for showing off the potency of your Blu-ray equipment, and great early benchmark release for the year.
SoundThe DTS-HD Master Audio track is also a sure winner with this release, offering up this tasty effects-laden animated adventure in surely the best way anybody could possibly imagine. Dialogue gets keen presentation across the frontal array, but crowd cheers and jeers also bring the surrounds to life. The effects are pretty-much non-stop, and every single little tic is acutely observed, the surrounds picking up on the subtleties of the material, as well as bringing your living room to life during the massive food-disaster sequences. The score is pretty standard for this kind of animated family offering, but nonetheless gets decent presentation from the track, and we even get a little bass thrown into the mix, particularly when the dam finally breaks. This kind of movie - where literally anything can, and does happen - is perfect for giving your surrounds a good workout, and makes for a reference-quality High Definition release, truly showing the best of the what the Blu-ray format can offer.
ExtrasAll of the extra features are infused with the same energy and endearing playfulness that pervades the movie itself, making them much more palatable, even if they do not always stand as technically substantial.
First up we get a full-length Audio Commentary by Bill Hader, who voices the lead, Flint, as well as the Writer/Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. A hilarious actor in his own right, Hader carries most of this offering using his own inventive, improvisational energy, although the other two do get their fair chance to contribute, expanding on some of the ideas, highlighting some of the more subtle messages and often discussing their favourite aspects of the production.
The 10 minute Making-Of entitled A Recipe for Success has the main cast and crew members discuss the inception of the project, and what they thought about the original source book when they read it as children. Anna Faris looks like she is mostly just reading her words, but perhaps it was just the angle they shot her interview at, and this is a well-meaning if marginally unsubstantial offering.
The 12 minute Key Ingredients Featurette is much more involving, looking at the voice actors behind the characters. Almost all of the main cast members are discussed in turn, with interview segments from them and - most interestingly - shots of them 'performing' their vocal contributions. I know that voice actors have to gesture and make silly faces and literally act out their parts - everybody has seen this plenty of times before on similar behind-the-scenes featurettes - but seeing the likes of Mr. T and James Caan getting into character still makes for quite a revealing offering. Although I pity the fools who decided to mock Mr. T's high-pitched giggle. Lol.
We get a couple of welcome Deleted Scenes: Elevator Joke and Twister, as well as a couple of pre-animated versions of scenes: Twister and Flint's Letter to Super-Scientist Vance LaFleur, along with a Progression Reels Feature that offers up some key segments and shows their evolution from conceptual paintings to final renderings. This is a nice way of seeing the development process, and is far more revealing than any of the comments on the Making-Of or Commentary can.
The Music Video 'Raining Sunshine' by Miranda Cosgrove comes in its complete and unabridged version, together with its own Making-Of Featurette, as well as even getting an Interactive Sing-A-Long variation for those aspiring Karaoke superstars.
There are two simple 'games' that accompany the movie: a standard 'splat' feature which allows viewers to hurl food at the screen whilst watching the film (and then wipe it off), and a space-invaders-style game where you pilot Flint's craft into the sky to shoot at the food that you are being bombarded with. Finally we get a bunch of similarly-themed Trailers and a separate DVD version of the film, no doubt infinitely more useful than all those Digital Copy additions that releases often sport.
VerdictCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an often hilarious, consistently entertaining computer animated feature in the same vein as Monsters vs. Aliens and Up. Whilst perhaps not quite as engaging as either of those offerings (at least for me, personally) it is still a wild ride, packed with colourful, largely endearing characters, clever concepts and subtle in-jokes that will keep adults as amused as the kids that the film is ostensibly aimed at. On Blu-ray it really does not get much better than this, a picture-perfect image and acutely observed aural accompaniment making this a benchmark release. And with a nice set of enthusiastically-created extras to round off this Region Free UK release, there is indeed much to recommend here. If you have Monsters vs. Aliens then I suspect this will sit happily next to it in your collection. Recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.99
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