Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 34.6 GB
Film Size: 19.8 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A
The Video
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. I can’t say I am in love with the look of the film itself, but this is certainly a very strong high-def transfer.

The things I liked about the film include its extremely vibrant and rich colors, a good amount of detail and just overall improvement from the included DVD. I did not like how digital the film looked, it was almost distracting to me, but there isn’t much that can be done about that.

The high-def presentation is a definite improvement from DVD and younger audiences in particular will likely be entranced by the colorful visuals to be seen. The detail levels are good as mentioned, but they are definitely not among the best we have seen on the format. I do think the textures of the Chipmunks and Chipettes was a bit disappointing, I know they were trying to go for a softer look, but ultimately they just stand out much more as computer animated characters.

Overall though there are not too many complaints I have with the Blu-ray visuals. Everything appears to be accurate to intention, which brings good and bad qualities. I think most viewers will definitely be satisfied, but I don’t think it compares to the best at all. 8/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included as the lossless option. Other audio options include English 5.1 Dolby Digital Descriptive audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital audio and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. Optional subtitles include English and Spanish.

The audio is definitely a mixed bag, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the audio. I knew the film was filled with music moments and could either be an extremely front heavy mix or an immersive surround experience.

Going in the film starts off with a music number, which is extremely front heavy and dialogue levels felt a bit weak in my opinion. They weren’t distorted or anything, but felt muddy like a Dolby Digital track. After the film’s opening number the clarity gets significantly better.

During other musical moments, the mix really comes alive and adds the immersive surround experience which should have been present throughout. Dialogue levels also manage to stay much stronger in comparison to the opening number.

There are moments where dialogue did feel a bit muddy throughout, compared to your typical lossless track. It was worth mentioning, but isn’t enough to really complain about. I feel like the mix didn’t really know what it wanted to be, trying out different options throughout almost.

Overall though, the mix is fine and even impressive at times. Don’t go in expecting to be immersed by the sound mix and you will likely enjoy the track a bit more. It definitely isn’t perfect, but it’s not terrible either, but I was expecting more from a new release film with high production values. 6.5/10.

The Extras

‘Munk Music Machine (10:57) (HD)
See all the singing portions of the film via individual clips or a play all option.

Music in a Nutshell: Song Trivia
This is an optional pop-up trivia track which plays while you watch the film.

A-l-v-i-n-n-n-n!!! Album Maker
This is an interactive album maker for the kids.

Munking History: 50 Years of Chipmunks Mischief, Mayhem and Music (9:22) (HD)
This is a look at Alvin and the Chipmunks throughout the last 50 years in their many forms.

Meet the Chipettes (8:38) (HD)
This feature introduces us to the voices behind the Chipettes and the background history of the characters.

Rockin’ Rising Stars (6:22) (HD)
This is a feature about the band Honor Society and solo act Charice Pempengco. Go behind-the-scenes of how they got cast for the film as well as filming their scenes.

Music Mania (9:05) (HD)
Go behind-the-scenes of the Music Mania competition scenes. The choreographer and others talk about the process that went into the Chipmunks/Chipettes live performances.

The Chipmunks: Behind the Squeaking (9:41) (HD)
This is a slightly joke feature similar to a celebrity special you would see on E! or VH1. Luckily there is some great behind-the-scenes footage throughout.

A-NUT-omy of a scene (2:40) (HD)
Go behind-the-scenes of the extensive process of filming a scene with the Chipmunks/Chipettes.

Meet the Stuffies! (3:09) (HD)
This is a feature all about the stuffies, which are the stuff stand-in versions of the Chipmunks.

Shake Your Groove Thing! With Rosero (9:00) (HD)
Go behind-the-scenes with Choreographer Rosero and his crew. Learn how to shake your groove thing so you can shake like the Chipmunks.

Music Videos (HD)
A collection of music videos which really are just clips from the film, includes a sing-along option.

Sneak Peek (HD)
Preview trailers for Tooth Fairy and Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back, both coming to Blu-ray soon.

Disc 2:

DVD Copy of the film

Disc 3:

Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

There are definitely a lot of features on this release, especially for a family film. The extras are fun for those of all ages, some are more informative and some are more just to entertain the kids. I love that Fox chose to include a bonus DVD and Digital Copy with the Blu-ray, it definitely adds a lot of value to this release. 8.5/10.

The Movie
Alvin and the Chipmunks are back for a live-action squeakquel due to the success of the first live-action film. I still remember the day the first computer animated models of the Chipmunks were released on the internet, looking a tad too ‘hood’ and losing all the charm of the characters we have come to love throughout the years.

When the first live-action film released though, I was glad to see the characters were still quite true to their original characters. They are extremely adorable and each feature their distinct personalities which we have come to know from the various versions of the Chipmunks throughout the years

To be honest I didn’t like the first live-action movie too much, I thought the Chipmunks were cute and quite accurate, but the story itself was rather bland and forgettable. In fact, I don’t remember too much since the last time I saw it was when it released on Blu-ray.

The Squeakquel is now available and this time there is an added element, The Chipettes. This was definitely a smart move and I do think it helped drive audiences to the theatre, it actually showed potential. It also was very smart marketing to include popular songs such as ‘Single Ladies’ during advertising.

I do admit I enjoyed the Squeakquel much more than I did the first. The film is a bit too similar to the first, featuring the same aspirations to become superstars (only from the perspective of the Chipettes this time around). Alvin and his brothers become enrolled in a high school, in which the film takes all the popular high school stereotypes and adds them to the Chipmunk story.

The music choices this time around were smart, featuring extremely popular pop songs of today which younger audiences hear on the radio, TV, or their older siblings CDs. Popular songs such as Katy Perry’s ‘Hot & Cold’ which features language in the actual song, reworked for younger audiences while still managing to stay catchy.

The film is far from great and there are definitely much better family films available on Blu-ray. That being said, I don’t think the film deserved to be torn apart like it has been by critics. This is definitely a film aimed at younger audiences while still trying to appeal to a family as a whole. The movie definitely features some dumb moments and tween pop culture references, but it is humor that younger audiences will enjoy much more.

The film is not for adults, if you don’t have kids, you want to do yourself a favor and skip this Squeakquel. For those with children, I do think they will definitely enjoy it. The Chipmunks are extremely adorable and kids will fall in love with them and want to watch the movie again and again. The Squeakquel does a lot of things right, but ultimately suffers due to an extremely predictable story, perhaps triggering a bit of déjà vu. 6.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Alvin and the Chipmunks are back with a predictable but cute family film. The Blu-ray release is good, featuring a solid video presentation and decent audio mix. The extras on this release are great, particularly the DVD and Digital Copy bonus. Overall this release is ‘Recommended’ to those with children.

To Order From Amazon.com, Click Here!

No comments: