Despicable Me Blu-ray Review
‘Despicable Me’ is presented in presented in widescreen 1.85:1 with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p coding.
It should come as no surprise that this disc is absolutely sumptuous. With all recent animations, the boundaries of what BD can produce have been pushed a notch further each time and even though Illumination Entertainment are a relatively small global collective, they have spared no expense in the technical animation department; an aspect of the present which really shines through. Coupled with some razor sharp delineation, the very fine and detailed animation is clearly visible, with a wide range of materials, fabrics (such as velvet jackets and woollen scarves) and other bizarre creations, perfectly rendered. Take for example Gru’s tank like mode of transport; individual steely rivets, tiny dents and the metallic sheen all stand out with clarity on the massive hull. These facets all combine to produce a wonderfully sharp and detailed presentation, with some striking sharpness at times.
Colour fidelity, while a little OTT at times, does provide spot on colour reproduction and very bold and vivid primaries. The palette is wild and varied and really provides a visual treat. The deep red of the Bank of Evil, the brilliant sky blue during the aerial battles and the bright green of acid filled beakers standing as fine examples. Shadow detail is impeccable for the duration, with plenty of detail visible during the darker scenes. The contrast ratio is very strong indeed and really displays the depths that BD is capable of producing. The blacks and deep, deep blue’s during the space scene being standouts.
The depth of the image is generally stunning on the mid range and long shots, with all components of the scene standing against the background in a layered fashion, which is gives a real impression of three dimensionality at times. This in turn leads to plenty of moments of 3D pop that can really impress. For example, during the fun fair segment, the viewer is literally dropped into the middle of the action (especially during the ping pong spaceship shoot off). There’s also some incredibly realistic candy floss on show too!!
Overall there’s not really a whole lot to mark this presentation down on and so it gets full marks, and well deserved too.
‘Despicable Me’ comes packed with a dts-HD Master Audio surround track.
In perfect complement to the exemplary video presentation, the audio presentation is no slouch either. The surround track gets right to work during the opening credits with a nicely weighted intro score, topped off with some of the excellent Lynnard Skinnard. Vocals are crystal clear, locked to the centre channel and are never difficult to follow. Stereo separation is impressive at times with some really nice directionality.
There are quite a few action based sequences throughout, which really serve to bring the soundstage to life. The aerial battle and assault on Vector’s fortress stand as nice examples to show what the track really has to offer, with the surrounds coming into full effect and putting the viewer in the centre of the action. Bass intonations are the star of the show, with guttural rumblings that can be felt rather than heard, accompanying some of the bass heavy scenes in the movie, with the collapse of the inflatable pyramid, the rocket launch and the shrunken moon rolling around the place, kicking out some impressive bass frequencies.
The score from Pharrell Williams gets the job done but there’s nothing really special here, just a mishmash of musical clichés that we’ve all heard a million times before. At least there’s some good stereo separation but the surround bleed is a little lacking at times. That being said, there are some orchestral portions (although limited), which can really bring the sound stage to life, with some rousing bass; sadly these are few are far between.
Overall I found the presentation a little front heavy at times, with the surrounds not playing a big of a part as I would have liked. That being said, this is a very pleasing and engaging track and scores a high eight.
As is to be expected from a Universal release, the additional supplements are most certainly not lacking. The extras portion includes, in addition to the region free DVD and digital copy of the movie, Social Blu, which is a brand new feature to take advantage of the current Facebook and Twitter mania; seems rather pointless to this reviewer though. Also included is the mandatory (well at least on Universal releases anyway!) BD Live and the rather rare D-Box track.
The commentary track features directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin and it also features the minions. The interaction with the minions seems very contrived but I suppose that this track is largely aimed at the more junior audience. The directors go into plenty of detail on the design and CGI aspects of the movie and also highlight the “3D moments”. Chris has a good chuckle every time something funny happens on screen, which can get irritating, but the two at least impart plenty of knowledge on the making of ‘Despicable Me’.
“Gru Control”. This is an alternate way of viewing the movie, with the minions taking charge of the remote. They pop in and out of the picture at various points to cause chaos, with an obvious angle towards adding to the 3D aspect of the presentation (such as minions leaping out from the screen etc.). Their frequent interruption of the movie is annoying to say the least and doesn’t add a whole lot, with the viewer simply waiting for the next appearance, rather than focusing on the proceedings. There are some interesting snippets of interviews with the cast and directors included but these are also available individually on the disc.
Despicable Me Mini Movies (HD 12mins) – This feature contains three mildly amusing short features, with all your favourites from the main feature. “Home Makeover”, “Orientation Day” and “Banana” have high “minion” content and really could be seen as deleted scenes more so than anything else. I would say that 3D viewers will get more out of these than us regular 2D viewers but at least all three have a dts mix.
"The voices of ‘Despicable Me" (HD 16mins) – This feature includes behind the scenes footage of the voice cast as they record their scenes for the movie. The cast, producers, directors and screenwriters all wax lyrical about how great they all are and give their thoughts on the movie. It’s interesting to see how all the actors recorded all their parts separately, which must have been a challenge for the imagination.
"The World of ‘Despicable Me" (HD 15mins) – This feature contains a whole host of interviews and behind the scenes footage from the movie. The cast, directors and screenwriters are all interviewed to provide insight into their characters and the world of ‘Despicable Me’. Somewhat ho-hum, but watchable.
Despicable Beats (HD 2mins) –Pharrell Williams documents his progress during the recording of the score for the movie. He also produces the tracks and while I don’t think that anything spectacular was created for the movie, it most certainly does fit (although the ‘Despicable Me’ title track does get very annoying, very quickly).
Super Silly Fun Land – This interactive feature contains three fun mini-games; “Feed the Creatures”, “Tin Can Alley” and “Freeze the Minions”. They take ages load and are actually not that fun at all!
Gru’s Rocket Builder – This interactive feature educates the kids about the geography of famous monuments and rewards their knowledge with pieces to build a rocket.
Miss. Hattie’s Top Secret Cookie Recipes – Recipes for making five varieties of delicious cookies is included in this tasty extra.
A Global Effort (HD 3mins) – This feature highlights the very dispersed nature of the ‘Despicable Me’ team and how the global network allowed the team to remain in constant contact and work together from different continents.
Despicable Me Game Trailers (HD) – Two trailers for the ‘Despicable Me’ game and App are included here.
‘Despicable Me’ was released in 2010 and was directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud. With new villain on the block, Vector (Jason Segal), pulling off an amazing heist to steal the pyramids, it’s up to king of the super villains, Gru (Steve Carrell), to make his mark by stealing the moon! But with Gru adopting three cutesy orphans to carry out his dastardly plan, things begin to go awry. Like many low key animation releases, I came away from this one largely unaffected. Whilst the movie doesn’t break any new ground or stand out from the crowd in the plentiful animation market, it at least does advance the CGI techniques of the movie industry and looks very good indeed. There’s enough in the relatively short run time to keep the kids entertaining but don’t expect anything like ‘Up’ from this first time effort from Illumination Entertainment.
While the movie itself is no great shakes, the video presentation is impeccable and really shows off the capabilities of Blu-ray. The surround track adds the perfect compliment and although I found it a little front heavy at times, it’s an impressive track overall. The extras portion is simply bursting at the seams, with a huge wealth of additional supplements to keep the kids amused, although there's no real "adult" content in there (if you know what I mean...filthy minds!). As a package, the movie is the only aspect which lets the side down.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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