Friday, June 25, 2010

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 39.2 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: ABC
The Video
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs comes to Blu-ray again with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation, available in both 2D and 3D viewing options. The 2D version of the film will play in any currently available Blu-ray player and television, while the 3D version requires a 3D Blu-ray player and 3D television to activate.

Let’s start with the 2D version of the film. The encode size of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is definitely smaller, at least 9 GB smaller than the standard edition Blu-ray. However, when comparing the two Blu-ray releases I found no noticeable difference in quality.

The animation itself is great, which always helps make a presentation stand out among the rest. It’s certainly simple but not due to laziness. Animators clearly paid attention to the big picture, as everything on screen is filled with dimension and life.

The film features every color of the rainbow, each one looking just as rich and vibrant as the other, blacks are inky as can be and everything just leaps off the screen. Detail is also very nice, whether it is hair and clothing or food and buildings, it all just shines.

The 3D version of the film is even more impressive in my eyes, adding another dimension to a film that already has so much natural 3D pop. The film really works great for 3D and I have to say I was much more impressed with this than I was with Monsters vs. Aliens (reviewed here).

Every scene in the film has a nice level of depth and it sucks us into the animated world in which the characters live. There are also plenty of moments in which the action comes out of the screen, whether it is the food experiment gone wrong and flying out of the television or the massive food overflow on the town.

Blu-ray 3D currently has very little content available, with only Monsters vs. Aliens and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs currently available. In the next couple of weeks we expect to review Coraline and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. If the experience of the upcoming two titles is anything like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, then viewers are in for a treat.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is the first retail-available release and Sony will be bringing Open Season 3D and Monster House 3D in the months to come. I have to commend Sony for presenting a stunning visual experience that goes beyond what I had imagined in 3D. The presentation is impressive viewed in either 2D or 3D, but if you have the equipment, this one is a must! 10/10.

The Audio
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio are the lossless options included, also included is a Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track. Optional subtitles include English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the same included on the standard Blu-ray release, and while it can be impressive it’s not among the best animated high-def audio mixes. Everything about the track is clear and aggressive, but I felt surround use moments could have had a bigger impact.

Dialogue was front and center, like any animated release, it’s clear and crisp and always easy to understand. The film’s effects are mostly front heavy but do feature good direction, I just wish a bit more attention was paid to the surround speakers.

One specific moment was when Flint’s rocket invention goes flying through the sky, going left and right and upside down, but it didn’t feel like it was flying around the town as it was much more front heavy than I expected.

The film’s music did expand into the surround area nicely, and when effects were placed in the surround area it was very nice. The mix is very good, but I was hoping for a demo level audio track. 8.5/10.

The Extras

Open Season 3D Sneak Peek (1:09) (HD)

Monster House 3D Sneak Peek (1:29) (HD)

A Recipe for Success: The Making of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (10:51) (HD)
The cast and crew talk about the film and how they made the book into a film.

Key Ingredients: The Voices of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (12:39) (HD)
This feature is all about the voice talent involved in the film. The cast is fantastic in this film; see them talk about working on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Extended Scenes (2:36) (HD)
Two extended scenes are included and presented in high-definition.

Early Development Scenes (5:47) (HD)
Two early development scenes are included and presented in high-definition.

Progression Reels (8:10) (HD)
Five progression reels are included with introductions by Visual FX Supervisor Rob Bredow and presented in high-definition.

Miranda Cosgrove’s “Raining Sunshine” (SD)
“Raining Sunshine” Sing-A-Long
“Raining Sunshine” Music Video
Behind the Scenes of the Music Video

BD-Live Portal
Download the latest trailers for upcoming Sony Pictures theatrical and Blu-ray releases.

Most of the extras from the previous Blu-ray release are included here. The following content however, has not been included: Audio Commentary, two interactive games, a ‘Fight Hunger’ ad, PSP Digital Copy and DVD copy.

The missing content is slightly annoying, but I bet most who will be buying Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3D already have the standard edition Blu-ray. While I could excuse this if I found the disc was too full to include anything else, unfortunately that is not the case.

There was plenty of room to include the other extras, but they were not. I don’t care that the DVD or Digital Copy were not included; people aren’t buying the 3D version for any added value.

The audio commentary is the only actual extra that I felt should have been included but was not. Why it was not included? I have no idea, there was space but perhaps they want people to own both the 2D and 3D versions of the film separately? 6/10.

The Movie
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a film I had a chance to view theatrically and I was very surprised by the quality of the film to be honest. I went in with no idea what to expect as I had never read the book by Judi Barrett. While it wasn’t Pixar quality story-telling, it was close, and the film has so much heart.

The story is about Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), a man who has been conducting experiments and inventions since he was a child. He lives in a small town called Swallow Falls, a town famous for their sardines and coming attraction Sardineland. Flint had been teased about his experiments and inventions since he was a child, but things have never gone so wrong when his latest invention destroys Sardineland.

The townspeople never really liked him, but that mishap was the final straw. Ashamed he goes to a dock near the ocean, where he runs into recently humiliated weather girl Sam Sparks (Anna Faris). While talking on the dock, pink clouds begin to form in the sky and come closer and closer to the town.

One by one, condiments from a cheeseburger begin to hit the ground, soon after entire cheeseburgers. The townspeople go crazy as everyone tries to catch one of their own, later shocked to find out this all happened because of Flint Lockwood.

Flint’s life changes from that moment, becoming a local celebrity and making it rain food on a daily basis. When two many requests begin to be filled, Flint’s invention begins to form mutated food, things go wrong like he never expected and that’s where the action really begins.

I enjoyed every minute of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The film’s story is original and features quite a bit of depth and character development. The relationship between Flint and his father, weather girl Sam Sparks recognizing her true self, among many other things. It’s a cute story and one that is very funny and enjoyable for any member of your family.

The film is primarily aimed at kids, but I think the story does a good job at appealing to adults as well, those without children may find yourself enjoying this movie as well. The amount of little details in the film are easy to appreciate, overall Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a delightful and extremely satisfying film that most will love. 9/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The 3D Blu-ray release is great, featuring a stellar video presentation, good audio mix, and a satisfying selection of extras. Overall Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on Blu-ray 3D is ‘Highly Recommended.

Additional Screenshots: (From the Blu-ray 3D Disc)

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