The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 1.85:1 1080p 3D image and is Region free, the 2D film is on a separate standard Blu-ray. As with pretty much all CG animated films the picture is bright and bold with as much detail as the artists want you to see. As a native 3D image things get off to a great start with even the Universal logo being as such. The digital sets, themselves, aren’t particularly large, thus there isn't huge depth into the screen, but where it does excel is with the solidity to the animated characters and the layering between them. Each character as a ‘roundness’ to them, when they look at the screen their facial features, noses, eyes, mouth, have depth or project as is needed, for example when Gru places his nose through the Unicorn book, it looks like it is actually pointing through the pages; the girls themselves exhibit this same solidity, their facial features show the same three dimensionality that faces do in the real world, even in their stylistic look. Sets, though not enormous, or expansive to show landscapes, are big enough to invoke a sense of distance, look as Gru is raised on his extending pedestal up his lair to stand in front of the moon, there is tangible distance between the fore, middle and background; his silhouette in front of the moon itself shows remarkable distance. There are, of course, typically ‘point at the screen’ moments, the ping pong balls shooting sequence for one, which works very well, and watch out for the closing credits where the minions try to out stretch each other, out of the frame, this works incredibly well! But perhaps the best scene is the roller coaster ride, you really get a feel for the movement in real space of the car on its ride, shooting through the various obstacles – it’s not quite like being there, it’s too stylised for that, but it works extremely well. In all the effects are right up there with the best.
Detail wise its near perfect with plenty to catch your eye, edges are held well into the distance and you can see everything that the animators want you too, look at the wool of the finger puppets of the Kittens story book, or the material of the dance dresses, or the sheen of the metallic surfaces and check out the surface of the moon, both large and small, it, along with the 3D element, looks dusty enough that you could clean it yourself!
Colours are typically bold and strong and really shine off the screen; all the primaries are very well represented, the blues of the sky grade with perfection, the reds and oranges of the explosions or rocket exhaust are so hot as to burn your eyes, the greens of the grass and trees are slightly hyper real, but again grade perfectly, flesh tones, however stylised, look suitably healthy, or sickly, when required.
Contrast and brightness are set to give deep strong blacks, check out the night sky, or the depths in the underground lair, watch too the darkness developed beyond the disco lights; terrific stuff. There is no black crush and there is shadow detail when you are meant to see it. Whites are clean and bright and show no sign of clipping.
Digitally there are no compression problems, no edge enhancement, banding or posterization. But, and here is where it all falls apart, the whole picture is plagued with cross talk, to a point in some scenes where it is beyond distracting, it becomes normal, so that when you get a scene crosstalk free you are suddenly wowed by the 3D effect. It is such a shame because the 3D is extremely good, and the rest of the picture is reference, but this annoying problem has to be marked down.
Edit: I have now (25th June 2011) viewed this disc using an LG 47LW550T making use of passive 3D technology
And it has been a revelation; any crosstalk has been completely removed to leave a truly absorbing picture and one that now achieves a clear reference mark. This goes to show that technology has its part to play with crosstalk (as most already know) and is backed up by the numerous comments stating that there is/is not cross talk on this title – basically it depends on how you watch it. For my part, originally, the disc exhibited detrimental crosstalk that had to be noted – I did after all see it – but I am quite happy to re-look and re-score the picture based on re-viewing the material. Despicable Me is a terrific picture all round.
Of the many sound tracks that the disc carries I concentrate on the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. To compliment the visuals there is a fully immersive surround track that makes full use of all six speakers to really place you in the centre of the mayhem. Dialogue is always clear and precise, has a little directionality but always sounds natural thanks to a healthy helping of bass. Dynamically there is plenty going on with stereo effects ranging from left to right, front to back and any number or permutations in-between – listen to the rollercoaster ride for some excellent noise effects placing you in the seat next to Gru. Bass, itself, is deep and penetrating; LF effects come thick and fast with some of the best examples being the rockets taking off, or the low rumble of the pyramids deflating. The score also sets the speakers alight allowing for further stereo placement. The chatter of the minions floats around the soundscape in much the same way as the characters themselves flitter around the screen. In all a very impressive sound mix.
- Audio Commentary
With directors Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud and the minions .... Ok, Coffin and Renaud may be first time feature directors, but they certainly know their stuff, from pacing, to story, to casting, to story dynamics and audience empathy – listening to them talk about how the story developed, what was cut to make a better flow, and how the whole project came together is really quite fascinating – they have an enthusiasm and criticism that is quite refreshing. It is such a shame then, that this chat is interrupted by the minions’ chattering and being a general annoyance – in what is supposed to be a joke, for me at least, simply got in the way of a terrific chat.
In a mock up of Universal’s U-control feature, their version on PiP, Gru-control is meant to play as a joke with the minions, and other characters, stopping the film and larking about – there is no technical information at all, because as soon as something starts (such as Carrell discussing his character) a character from the film (usually Vector) pops up and freezes him. No idea who will want to watch this, it’s a waste of disc space as far as I am concerned.
- Dispicable Me, Mini Movies – 11.67
Three all new shorts entitled Home Make Over, which sees the three girls, with the help of the minions, making the house ‘child friendly’ for a social worker visit, Orientation Day, which sees several newly hatched minions on their first day moving bombs around the factory and Banana, which sees all the minions fighting over a banana – which can be watched individually or all together using a play all function. Actually quite amusing, but aimed fairly and squarely at the young market.
- Voices of Despicable Me – 13.34, HD
A short feature concentrating on some of the voice talent, looking at the recording sessions, and how the characters were developed, accents and improvisation to improve upon the already excellent script.
- World of Despicable Me – 15.16, HD
A look at the design of the characters and environment of the film, and how the French computer animation studio gave the film a distinctive, European, ‘look’ compared to typical Hollywood styling.
- Despicable Beats – 02.48, HD
Incredibly short interviews with composers Heitor Pereira and Pharrell Williams as they discuss the music and score for the film.
- Super Silly Fun Land
Three point and click games you play with your remote; Feed the Creatures, Tin Can Ally and Freeze the Minions.
- Gru’s Rocket Builder
Another game – you choose the correct monument based on its world position and are rewarded by fitting pieces of Gru’s moon rocket together.
- Miss Hattie’s Top Secret Cookie Recipes
Instructions on how to make five different types of cookie.
- A Global Effort – 03.23, HD
Another incredibly short feature showing how many different studios that were employed over the world (East and West coast America and Europe, principally) to render this film complete.
- Despicable Me Game Previews
Trailers for Despicable Me: the game and the Minion Manic App.
- 2D Version
The film, but on a separate standard Blu-ray, houses all the extra material.
So there we have it, what looks like a huge amount of extra material really only amounts to a couple of useful features since everything else is played for ‘laughs’, personally I didn’t really like the joke – perhaps a commentary with optional minions, or a real PiP with optional minions would have proved better ... But my biggest problem with the disc is the damn loading time; no joke - over five minutes - from placing the disc in the tray to the menu, and that is with skipping all the logos and previews – I thought we’d got past these exorbitant load times, but trust Universal to bring us down with a bump.
Despicable Me is Illumination Entertainment’s first foray into the CG animated market as well as Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud’s first time as feature directors, and working together, with a passion to tell a great story, has brought us a film that is as charming, entertaining and emotional as anything the kings of animation, Pixar, have made – high praise indeed. The film tells of Gru, a gleefully evil, and despicable villain hell bent on becoming the most infamous of all time by stealing the moon, only he didn’t reckon the intervention of three orphaned girls, whose own charm and determination to be in a family might just be Gru’s greatest nemesis. With wonderful characterisation and a script that is witty, emotional and thoroughly absorbing, Despicable Me is a terrific piece of film-making to rival anything that the mega-budget studios have to offer.
As a Region free 3D Blu-ray package Universal has provided a full up set, a typically fabulous CG animated picture with quite excellent use of 3D technology enabling some wonderful moments as well as an absorbing and immersive surround track that is a blast, and whilst the extra features are plagued with child friendly ‘minion’ extras at least there is something there to keep you entertained. The set is, of course, future proof as it provides both a 3D and standard 2D Blu-ray disc.
Despicable Me, comes highly recommended from me.
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