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Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/28/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/24/2013
You don't have to have kids to know that CG animation has ruled the big screen (and the box office) for nearly two decades now. And, during this time, we've seen some brilliant films from the various production companies which focus on this medium. However, when it's come to CG animated sequels, these have been a mixed bag. With Pixar, The Toy Story series has been good, but I found Monsters University to be lacking. Looking at Dreamworks, both the Shrek and Madagascar films have delivered very mixed results. Blue Sky continues to crank out Ice Age movies, none of which are spectacular (save for the scenes with Scrat). Sony Pictures Animation has been in a similar boat with their bizarre Open Season series and the needless Smurfs 2. Can Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 change this trend?
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 opens with the finale of the first film. Overzealous inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) has successfully stopped his machine which ran amok while converting water to food and completely covered the island of Swallow Falls with giant groceries. Flint is celebrating with weather reporter Sam Sparks (voiced by Anna Faris) and his Dad (voiced by James Caan), when his childhood hero, TV scientist and head of Live Corp, Chester V (voiced by Will Forte), appears on the scene and offers to not only house Flint and his friends while the island is being cleaned up, but he promises Flint a position at Live Corp. The group moves to San Frajose and Flint begins his quest to create an invention which will get Chester's attention. He's shocked when Chester asks him to go back to Swallow Falls to help locate the missing food-making machine. Flint jumps at this chance, roping in his old group, including Baby Brent (voiced by Andy Samberg), Manny (voiced by Benjamin Bratt), Earl (voiced by Terry Crews), and, of course, Flint's sidekick, Steve (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris). When the group arrives on the island, they are shocked to see that the food has evolved into food-like animals.
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan ofCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but the movie did have a fatal flaw. Flint Lockwood is a funny and likeable character, but he created the mess on Swallow Falls which he then recruits others to help stop. No, he didn't mean to blanket the island in food, but that change the fact that it stemmed from his creation. (And, yes, the Mayor did have something to do with it.) In this second film, the situation on Swallow Falls has grown far beyond the scope of Flint's original intentions, so the question of blame is cast aside. (Of course, I may be the only person who takes this view of the film.)
While the group's mission is to once again shut down Flint's machine in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, the whole thing has a much lighter feel, and thus, there is more of an emphasis on comedy. The first film certainly had some funny moments, but I think I laughed out loud more at the sequel. For a "family film", the movie is incredibly loose and absurd, delivering jokes that come out of nowhere. Once again, Steve steals the show in several scenes (just watch him with the celebration cake) and it's admirable the amount of work which goes into things happening in the background. (Keep in mind, the director's didn't simply tell someone to act goofy behind the main action -- these things had to be built from the ground up.) Barry the strawberry (voiced by Co-Director Cody Cameron) also brings the laughs, combining a funny voice with irresistible cuteness. This would be a good place to ask, Is the entire film just an excuse to create pun names for the food animals? Not necessarily, but the writers get a lot of mileage out of this and you'll find yourself nodding in approval as you simultaneously roll your eyes.
The only issue with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 are the new characters. Chester V is like a combination of Mr. Wizard and Steve Jobs, and his bizarre way of slithering around may him off-putting from the get-go. Chester's assistant, Barb (voiced by Kristen Schaal) is even worse. She's a purple ape with a side ponytail who is simply creepy. Yes, these two characters contribute to the film and are integral parts of the story, but it's also important that the audience like them and I felt that the film failed on this front.
That hiccup aside, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a triumphant sequel. The animation is gorgeous, the design of the "foodimals" is inspired and movie is hilarious. While most animated films today hold something for both kids and adults, few feature the unbridled insanity seen here, yet stay well within the boundaries of the PG rating. Sure, the scene with the pickles may scare some younger viewers (I certainly found it creepy), but overall this is a fun romp that will invite repeat viewings to the detailed animation and background jokes.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 shows that translating can be hilarious on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look amazing and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is excellent, as we can see the work which went into the animation, and the depth in the 2D version is impressive. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and at an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects are very detailed, and we can often pick out individual sounds in the din of the jungle. The stereo effects are nicely done and show good separation. The subwoofer effects come to life during the action scenes, but they never overwhelm the dialogue or score. This set also includes a Blu-ray 3D. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an MVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 24/12 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing on defects. Unlike some 3D transfers, this one isn't dark and the great colors aren't muted. The depth is very good, and most scenes do an excellent job of separating the characters from the backgrounds. However, there aren't many layering effects, so there's depth, but it all seems to be taking place on the same plane. The audio is the say as the Blu-ray Disc.
The Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn. We get four "Mini-Movies", "Steve's First Bath", "Super Manny", "Attack of the 50 Foot Gummi Bear" and "Earl Scouts", which run 22 minutes total. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 2 minutes. All of these are fully animated (as opposed to storyboard or animatics), but they are also incidental and simply add on to existing scenes. "Production Design: Back to the Kitchen" (7 minutes) examines how the look of this film is very different from that found in the first film. "Cloudy Cafe: Who's on the Menu" (7 minutes) individually examines the main characters, complete with interviews with the voice actors. We look at the designs and ideas behind the weird creatures in the film in "Anatomy of a Foodimal" (6 minutes), which includes reference photos of real food with eyes. "Awesome End Credits" (6 minutes) looks at the various kind of art which went into the finale. Senior Animation Supervisor Peter Nash describes how the creatures were created in "Building the Foodimals" (4 minutes), which includes some concept art. "Delicious Production Design" (5 minutes) offers commentary from Production Designer Justin Thompson who describes the style and look of the film, complete with sets and color palette. "The Mysterious Sasquash" (3 minutes) has Pete Travers, VFX Supervisor, introduces a character who is often hidden in the film. We get the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "La Da Dee" by Cody Simpson, as well as "Making Of" (1 minute) for the video.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long