Megamind Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p transfer using the AVC MPEG4 codec and is Region Free. As to be expected from Dreamworks we have another spectacular image, although due to the proliferation of CG animation now, a film has to do something very special to stand out from the crowd and sadly Megamind doesn’t. That’s not to say that it isn't incredible to look at, it has the pin sharp detail that highlights everything the animators want you to see; such as Megamind’s suit designs, the crease of leather, or the individual spikes, the hairs on Metro Man’s chin in his ‘retirement’, the intricate design of Minion’s robotic suits, or the cityscape, how glass shimmers, and later the debris from the various explosions and destruction of buildings, watch out for the dust and cloud effects too, of particular note are the crowds, wow – each contain absolute detail.
Colours too are bold and strong, showing no sign of bleed or wash, the soft blue of Megamind’s skin, the bolder blue of the sky, the various reds of the explosions, or the oranges of the prison suits, greens of the grass or Megamind's eyes, or deep within the lair – all shine from the screen with an urgency that demands attention.
Contrast and brightness are set to give superb blacks, again look to the observatory lair, or that of the leather suits. Shadow detail is well defined when detailed by the animators.
Digitally there are no compression problems, no banding or posterization, but, and here is where things go a little awry, there are a fair few instances of aliasing and moiré, which should never been seen on a CG animated film – the former is most apparent on buildings which occasionally shimmer as the edges waver (look at city hall during Megamind’s first entrance), while the latter can be seen in brickwork and clothing weaves (look at Roxanne’s shoulder when Hall is asking her to his place). Now, this is quite easily seen if you are looking for it, as I was, but those that aren’t looking with a critical eye (and with a properly calibrated setup) may never notice it. So, why is it there? Personally I think it’s an artefact left over from the 3D to 2D conversion, this film was made in 3D and is meant to be seen that way (Resident Evil: Afterlife?) and as such when properly viewed it may be as clean as a whistle; I’m guessing, of course, but it kind of makes sense when you see the problem. It’s not absolutely glaring and in your face, but it is there, so that, combined with an animation style that isn't anything out of the ordinary, last year’s How to Train your Dragon still remains the picture to beat.
Of the tracks that the disc presents, I concentrate on the English Dolby TrueHD 7.1. With what, at first, appears to be a rather quiet and unassuming track, you need to knock it up a couple of notches volume-wise in order to really bring it alive. Once done the track really shows off quite how dynamic it is containing decent stereo effects both left and right, and back and front, listen to the brainbots beeping around the sound-scape or how the various explosions whoosh from front to back and the debris scatters around as examples. Dialogue is always clear and precise, emanates from the frontal array and sounds perfectly natural. Bass, though, never really plumbs the depths that reference discs are capable off, but it keeps everything grounded nicely and the LF effects give the sub some work to do, such as the destruction of the observatory under the sun’s impact, or the various building destructions while Megamind is in his battle suit. (As to the assertion in the commentary that a certain low frequency effect blew a speaker in the mixing desk ... where?) The score gets a very good presentation and does really place you in the centre of the action, whilst other discreet effects add to the ambience and help envelope the sound field. In all a very decent track, just shy of reference.
- The Button of Doom – HD, 15.52
An all new short starring Megamind and Minion that takes place immediately after the film and sees Megamind selling off all his ‘useless’ evil inventions. That is until the pair discover the ‘Button of Doom’ which activates a forgotten about huge robot that subsequently goes on a rampage thinking that Megamind is Metro Man due to his white costume. With a widescreen 1.78:1 1080p picture and full Dolby TrueHD 7.1 sound, this looks and sounds even better than the main feature; top stuff.
- Audio Commentary
Director Tom McGrath, producers Lara Breay, Denise Nolan Cascino and writers Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons are on hand to talk us through the various productions stages of the film, from its conception and writing through to preproduction, casting, animating and development. You get the feeling that everyone is extremely passionate about the project, with plenty of information being imparted, both technical and anecdotal. In the beginning there are rarely any breaks with information coming thick and fast, inevitably this slows towards the end with gaps becoming more apparent and comments on what is happening on screen taking up the fill. On the whole, though, this one is pretty good.
- The Animators’ Corner
A picture in picture making of sequence that run in the bottom quarter of the film; makes use of interview segments with cast and crew, behind the scenes filming, discussion with the animators about key scenes and how they were achieved, story boards and animatics – also makes use of the above film-makers commentary – in what makes up a very comprehensive feature.
- Trivia Track
Pop up windows appear throughout the film keeping you informed on such delights as a mispronunciation score, face smash score, technical aspects, animation aspects and other trivia – windows are somewhat infrequent but can be played together with the film-makers commentary.
- Comic Creator
Selecting this feature allows you to place typical comic book words (such as Bang, Whoosh, Ka-boom etc) on top of the film as it’s playing – worthless.
- Behind the Mind - HD
Four sections, entitled Hideouts, Inventions, Vehicles and Megamind: Good & Evil, house original and developmental artwork that can be navigated with the remote.
- Meet the Cast of Megamind – 09.29, HD
Behind the scenes filming of the main cast during the recording sessions, showcases how improvisation made for a more realistic and naturalistic dialogue and from this came all the word play, mispronounced words etc.
- Deleted Scene – 1.36, HD
After a brief introduction explaining why this short scene was removed (pacing) we get to see it in its few second extension – honestly would fifteen seconds of extra footage have made that much difference ...?
- Inside Megamind’s Lair – 07.17, HD
Starting off by looking at designs for Megamind’s costume, the short feature then moves onto looking at the designs behind his lair’s and the various failed experiments and equipment that make them up, contains interviews and drawing to help realise the vision – also voiced over in what was probably once an EKP feature.
- Animationman, 02.01, HD
Showcases the animator’s videoing themselves as reference points to give a greater realism to their creations – animators are failed actors perhaps? Has the same voice over as the above feature.
- You can Draw Megamind – 13.14, HD
Artist Andy Schuler draws Megamind in a running away pose, it’s a basic outline drawing and he doesn’t even finish it, very odd feature.
- Megarap – 01.01, HD
Watch scenes from the film while listening to a rap song about the film – dear god it’s bad.
- Reign of Megamind Comic Book
Scroll through the ‘pages’ of this comic book with your remote; tells, as far as I can tell, of the time when Megamind first took over the city and is using Roxanne as a spokesperson – but the remote is so slow to respond that I died before completing it.
- Spot the Difference
With three levels of difficulty you spot the difference between two nearly identical images – but that’s all, there is no instruction, the remote does nothing to highlight any differences, you just have 30 seconds to spot discrepancies and then have the option to try again, be shown the differences, or move on.
- World of Dreamworks Animation
Trailers and music from Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, Shrek and How to Train your Dragon.
For Kung Fu Panda 2, Rango and the Megamind THQ game
So, what starts off as a promising amount of extra material soon degenerates into woeful games and ordinary making of content, the short ‘Button of Doom’ is wonderful though and eclipses everything else with its presentation.
Megamind is Dreamworks' latest CG animation which tells a loose allegory of the Superman/Lex Luthor eternal struggle, only this time ‘evil’ wins. Will Ferrell voices the titular character with typical verve, in a persona that adopts an evil visage to garner attention when young and when it works sets out his life on that path. Only when the chips are down, and he wants the girl, evil has nowhere to turn except to good. It contains some clever ideas and lofty concepts for what is essentially a kids action adventure, and had it had the strength of its convictions or an emotional element that involves the audience beyond mere spectators, it may have amounted to an extremely good film, as it is it plays it soft, slapstick and ultimately lame; whilst remaining enjoyable and watchable it's basically unremarkable.
As a Region free Blu-ray package Dreamworks has provided a sumptuous set, despite a few problems that plague an otherwise spectacular picture, a sound field that envelops the room and an extras package that informs as well as entertains, even if it too runs out of steam, there is plenty here to keep you entertained until the 3D version comes out.
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