Far from perfect, but certainly in tune.
Pitch Perfect somehow balanced sending up the High School Musical series with embracing the sheer fun of superbly-staged sing-offs, but can the sequel retain the same balance?Far from the funniest film on the planet, the first outing was staggeringly popular, so a sequel (and soon a threequel) was inevitable. Retaining almost all of the original cast – and adding a few newcomers into the mix – it also marks the directorial debut of veteran actress Elizabeth Banks (who has a commentator cameo in both films), who manages to largely deliver everything fans would have hoped for from a sequel, and thus everything that could have been expected from a debut directorial effort. Whilst there’s no denying that it could have made more efforts to top the original instead of largely providing much of the same, it’s also understandable to avoid shaking things up too much in a product that’s obviously already staggeringly popular, and there’s still plenty to enjoy about this fun follow-up.Riding the high of their former successes, the Bellas soon find themselves falling apart, with disaster after disaster befalling them, and successive sing-off and riff-off defeats seeing them almost as lost as they were first time around. Will they be able to pull it together, stand up to their ultimate rivals – the German powerhouse group Das Sound Machine – and win the World A-Cappella Championship? The cast easily slip back into their roles, whilst Hailee Steinfeld makes for a plot-driving addition to the Bellas and Das Sound Machine make for not only a great nemesis for the group but also some superb new characters, hitting high notes on stage and often producing the best laughs. Whilst more of the same, there's plenty - normally surrounding Das Sound Machine - to enjoy in this solid sequel.
Picture QualityUniversal’s Region Free release of Pitch Perfect 2 hits UK shores with a tremendous 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Detail is outstanding throughout, with rich textures and picture-perfect clarity both in the close-ups and longer shots. Skin details are finely evident, as are clothing weaves, and the stage pieces spring to vibrant life.
Glossy and popping with vivid colours, Pitch Perfect 2 looks suitably standout.
The colour scheme strikes out as being amidst the broadest, most vivid you’ll likely come across, with outfits and key setpieces rich with primaries and underpinned by strong, deep black levels that provide welcome excellent shadow detail. Nigh on perfect, the image retains all of its strongest points without showing any significant signs of digital defects, and remains largely reference quality.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is every bit as excellent as you would have hoped for.
Whilst promoting the snappy dialogue up-front and centre, across the frontal array, with clarity and resounding coherence, and whilst observing atmospheric effects with precision to provide some welcome background observation, it’s the song-dominated soundtrack and underpinning score that truly drives the audio track. Dominated by sing-offs and stage performances, your living room will come alive during some of the bigger setpieces, as the crowd cheers all around, and the LFE thrums beneath, with the girls going full throttle front-and-centre. It’s as impressive as you’d have hoped for from a movie where music and song is so very important.
ExtrasThe accompanying supplemental package is excellent too, headlined by a strong commentary featuring director/producer Elizabeth Banks and two of the film’s producers, who discuss the production in some measure of detail and look into everything from the cast and characters to the costumes and sets, offering up their ideas about the sequel’s story, whilst also delivering plenty of anecdotal trivia to keep the track suitably entertaining.
A series of short featurettes offers up some further insight into the production, although are largely more fluffy than the commentary, with Elizabeth Banks: Directorial Debut spending 5 minutes looking at the actress’s first film, whilst The Bellas Are Back provides a limited 6 minute overview of the girls reunion in the sequel. Aca-Camp spends about as long looking at that location used, and the key scene therein, whilst The Making of the Riff-Off and The World Championships of A Cappella look behind other key sequences. Snoop is in the House briefly introduces his appearance on set, Legacy: Hailee Steinfeld looks behind this new character introduction, Residual Heat Internship offers up a snippet into the internship and An Aca-Love Story: Bumper and Fat Amy further details Rebel Wilson’s character’s romantic arc. Much of this might be small and bitty, light and fluffy, but as a complete package it’s still packed.
Pitch Perfect 2 boasts a broad and largely comprehensive extras package.
Of course, beyond the technical and making-of material, what many fans will be more interested in is the deleted footage, in particular the extra songs, and there’s plenty on offer. From Bonus Song Performed by The Treblemakers to the Extended Musical Performances; from Das Sound Machine Finale Breakdown to the Green Bay Rap, the extra material doesn’t stop there, with some 9 Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes, each little over a minute long, as well as a fun little Gag Reel but an outright hilarious Line-Aca-Rama. It’s a great package.
VerdictFor the most part, Pitch Perfect 2 goes through the same motions as its predecessor, but it does invest itself in some engaging new touches, and punches several high notes with a series of suitably engaging – and outright fun – singing competitions, a great sing-off challenge, and a few hilarious running gags.
With the performances - and presence - of Das Sound Machine providing a high point, this is a solid sequel and an impressive release.
Excellent video and audio, together with a comprehensive selection of extra features makes this a must-have purchase for fans of this or the original, whilst those not yet in-a-ca-augurated should pick up both.
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