Friday, February 25, 2011

Megamind Blu-ray Review

Release Date: Feb. 25th, 2011
Disc Size: 39.4 GB
Film Size: 27.1 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A
The Video
Megamind’ debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. Animation in general looks fantastic on Blu-ray. DreamWorks has done a stellar job with their previous animated Blu-ray releases and I went in with the highest of expectations.

The presentation is very good, the high-def clarity is terrific and the upgrade from DVD is obvious. Unfortunately there are some issues throughout the film which are certainly noticeable. There is some very obvious aliasing that appear on certain characters and buildings during different sequences throughout the film.

Generally I am very forgiving of a few issues in a presentation, but I have to wonder how this issue made it all the way to final product. Yes, the issue could be FAR worse, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat disappointed.

On the bright side, colors are strong and blacks are inky throughout. The comparison with the included DVD is nice to see, but that was certainly expected. I am upset about the issues, but I also hope DreamWorks fixes the issue with time.

We have seen far worse issues on Blu-ray, but it is still unfortunate to see an issue from such a large studio. Ultimately I do not know what specifically caused the issues, but I do think something went wrong when preparing the film for high-def release.

Overall I thought the majority of the presentation was fantastic, many scenes are demo quality as well. There are issues and I can’t excuse the issues, but a quick comparison to the included DVD made me so grateful for a high-def release at all. Perhaps it is settling for less, but hopefully the studio can find a fix for the issue and perhaps begin a replacement program. Ultimately it could be many reasons for the issue and I cannot speak for the studio. 7.5/10

The Audio
DreamWorks has included an English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track as the lossless option. Also included are French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks and an English Audio description track. Optional subtitles include English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

While the video presentation was disappointing, the audio mix is close to perfection. Like with most animated material especially, the film features superb clarity. Everything is basically recorded in-studio and without a flaw.

The surround use moments are also quite excellent, particularly during action sequences in the film which you will find throughout. Now, the mix isn’t among the very best mixes on Blu-ray simply due to the material not lending itself as strongly, but I think the mix worked with the material nicely and impresses throughout. 9.5/10

The Extras

Disc One (Blu-ray Disc):

Brilliant Blu-ray Exclusives (HD)
  • The Animators’ Corner
  • Trivia Track
  • Comic Creator
  • Behind The Mind
Mega Features (HD)
  • Meet the Cast of Megamind
  • Deleted Scene
  • Inside Megamind’s Lair
  • AnimatorMan
  • You Can Draw Megamind
  • Mega Rap
  • The Reign of Megamind – Video Comic Book
  • Spot the Difference
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • World of DreamWorks Animation
  • Previews
Megamind: The Button of Doom (15:52) (HD)
A bonus short film is included and is actually more entertaining than I expected, the runtime is also quite satisfying compared to previous short films from DreamWorks.

Disc Two (DVD):

DVD copy of the film

The extras included on this release are quite surprising, there is plenty to see and many features are included with younger audiences in mind. The Button of Doom short is very enjoyable and the extras for older audiences are also welcome. This is a very impressive amount of extras for an initial release of an animated film. 9/10

The Movie
Megamind’ is the latest film from DreamWorks Animation, which has become quite the respectable studio in the past few years. We have had some truly great films, such as ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and most notably ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ which is the closest to Pixar quality the studio has come.

I have to admit the previews for ‘Megamind’ did turn me off, it looked overly silly and while that can be said about most films, it didn’t look like it would live up to ‘How to Train Your Dragon.’ After seeing the film, I have to say I enjoyed it, but it does not stand out.
The superhero storyline felt very unoriginal, but works well. The characters are unique, likable and the voice talent includes Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Brad Pitt (All who do a fine job). Unfortunately the film comes at a time when okay just isn’t good enough with all the amazing animated films to release in recent years.

‘Megamind’ has heart and audiences of all ages will enjoy it, it will especially be a hit with younger audiences which was likely the intended target to begin with. The film isn’t boring and features plenty of humor and gags that will have kids wearing out the Blu-ray or DVD.

Ultimately I think it is a very funny film, but one that fails to deliver when it comes to being unique or just standing out in general. We will probably see a sequel or two in years to come, but unlike Pixar films or ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ I will ultimately forget all about it. 7/10

The Blu-news Summary
Megamind’ is a silly film which younger audiences will likely embrace. The video and audio presentations are good; however the issues in the video presentation are disappointing. The extras included are terrific and by far the most impressive aspect. Overall this Blu-ray release is ‘Recommended’ to fans of the film.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Paranormal Activity 2 Blu-ray Review

Release Date: Feb. 8th, 2011
Disc Size: 27.0 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: A
The Video
Paranormal Activity 2’ debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The film is made from a high-def consumer camera perspective and it looked great when viewed on my high-def projector.

The film isn’t razor sharp, nor should it be. It does however feature that undeniable high-def clarity that can never be confused with standard-definition material. Colors are strong (particularly well-lit sequences) and blacks are solid throughout.

I love the intentional look of the film and the Blu-ray presents the film like it was intended. The negative aspects of the presentation cannot be blamed on the transfer really. There was nothing that stood out to me as odd about the presentation.

Overall I was very impressed and pleased by ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ on Blu-ray. The film may not make for demo material, but it is far better than the included DVD presentation of the film. Viewers will definitely appreciate this high-def presentation. 8/10

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option included. Also included are French, Spanish, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks and an English Audio Description track. Optional subtitles include English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

The high-def audio track included is top notch considering the style of the film. Some may find the audio out of place from the film itself as it features surround use and clearer dialogue sequences than that of an actual consumer camera, but it didn’t take away from my experience.

The horror sequences feature impressive audio moments which may make you jump when you least expect it. The mix also isn’t demo material by any means, but it gets the job done nicely and I really have no complaints. 8/10

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc):

Theatrical Version (1:31:08) (HD)
The theatrical version you loved or hated is included.

Extended Version (1:38:04) (HD)
An extended version of the film is included which is almost 7 minutes longer.

Found Footage (3:49) (HD)
See some deleted footage from the film, some which was included in the trailer.

Teaser Trailer (1:08) (HD)
The teaser trailer is included in high-definition.

Return to where you left off in the film via the bookmarks feature.

Disc 2 (DVD):

DVD copy of the film
With Digital Copy on disc.

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

Like with the ‘Paranormal Activity’ Blu-ray release, there are not many extras included this time around either. The realistic aspect of the film may be a reason why they don’t want to include any making of featurettes or audio commentaries, but it would have been nice to see them included now. The Digitla Copy is a nice addition. 4/10

The Movie
Paranormal Activity 2’ is the hit sequel to the blockbuster surprise which was ‘Paranormal Activity.’ It was obvious that a sequel would happen based on the success of the first, with a third in the works as well as foreign versions.

I really enjoyed ‘Paranormal Activity,’ I loved the consumer camera perspective used for the film, which was arguably made most popular by ‘The Blair Witch Project.’ ‘Paranormal Activity’ uses the same perspective, but with more security cameras in the mix.

The sequel is connected to the first film via the family relationship storyline and takes place mostly before the first film takes place. The connection was decent, but I actually wish they didn’t try to connect the two films and instead just have two unique storylines.
‘Paranormal Activity 2’ does suffer somewhat and most of it has to do with length. The film isn’t long compared to your average film, but the first half of the film in particular just drags on. The film may be more enjoyable for those who actually thought the footage was real or something, but it just starts off boring.

The last half of the film picks up nicely and makes for one of the better comebacks in a film I have seen recently, usually films start strong and make their way downhill until the end. There are some very effective sequences towards the end that did make me jump and ultimately kept me from disliking the film.

‘Paranormal Activity’ was an enjoyable film, but it becomes even more boring with repeated viewings. ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ also suffers with replay value, but I actually find it to have better replay value than the first as the end sequences are far more intense in my eyes.

The film is not a masterpiece whatsoever, but it is fun when viewed with others who have not seen it yet. The pool cleaner scenes were plain stupid, but I guess they needed something to add to the runtime. Overall there were more positives than negatives and ultimately I would watch it again. 7.5/10

The Blu-news Summary
Paranormal Activity 2’ may be a love or hate experience for you, but the video and audio presentations are as good as one could expect from the intentionally limited sources. There are not too many extras included, but I enjoyed what was included. Overall the Blu-ray release is ‘Recommended’ to fans and ‘Worth A Look’ to those new to the film.

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