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Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 3/20/2018
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/2/2018
Let's begin this review with a lesson in economics. (Because, why not?) The Law of Diminishing Returns states that "diminishing returns is the decrease in the marginal output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is incrementally increased, while the amounts of all other factors of production stay constant." However, the colloquial definition (and apparently, inaccurate) definition leans more towards the idea that if you do something over and over, without making any necessary tweaks to the procedure, each result will yield a lower quality product. (I don't know what this theory would be called.) This notion certainly holds true to movie sequels, which often get worse and worse as series go on and on. Today's case in point is Pitch Perfect 3.
Pitch Perfect 3 takes place a few years after the conclusion ofPitch Perfect 2, as we check in on the former members of the Barden Bellas a cappella singing group. Beca (Anna Kendrick) is working as a music producer, but she hates the no-talent performers with which she’s forced to work. She lives with Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), who is apparently unemployed. These two, along with the other former Bellas -- Aubrey (Anna Camp), Chloe (Brittany Snow), Cynthia Rose (Esther Dean), Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), Flo (Chrissie Fit), Jessica (Kelly Jakle), and Ashley (Shelley Regner) -- are reunited when they are invited to see the current Bellas, featuring Emily (Hailee Steinfeld). This makes them long to perform and Aubrey mentions that she may be able to get them on a USO tour. So, the Bellas are soon jetting off to Europe to entertain the troops. However, they quickly find themselves intimidated by the other musical acts who are performing. Meanwhile, a mysterious figure from Fat Amy’s past is about to appear.
When Pitch Perfect arrived on the scene in 2012, it wasn't necessarily groundbreaking, but it offered just enough unique qualities to make it a breakout hit. It featured musical performance, but it wasn't really a musical. It had a female-centric cast, but there was enough edgy humor to make it appealing to a wide audience. But, it was mostly the quirky characters which made the film endearing. These qualities were carried into the 2015 sequel,Pitch Perfect 2, a film which had its moments (who doesn't quote the "42 g's at D&Bs" line?) but felt like the carbon-copy cash-in sequel which it was.
So, it should be good news that the makers of Pitch Perfect 3 decided to do something different. Screenwriter Kay Cannon, who received sole credit for writing the first two films, returns for the third entry with a screenplay which is also credited to veteran Writer Mike White. So, I don't know to blame here, but someone's determination to do something different took things way too far. While we do expect some sort of story from an entry in the Pitch Perfect series, we basically come here for two things, the sassy characters and the musical performances. Pitch Perfect 3 contains those things (sort of, more on that in a moment), but we also get a story which runs from trite to convoluted. Yes, it's explained that Aubrey's dad gets the ladies a spot on the USO tour, but it still seems weird that these down-on-their-luck women are suddenly jetting around the world. If this is a thing, why didn't Aubrey make it happen sooner? This is then combined with the Fat Amy story, which turns Pitch Perfect 3 into a quasi action film, something which doesn't work at all.
And while the script tries to do something new, the core elements of the movie mirror the previous entries to the point that they have stagnated. There's a difference between bringing back characters and their eccentricities and failing to add any depth or dimension to them. Everyone here is exactly as they were in the past, for better or for worse. They say that familiarity breeds contempt and it quickly ceases to feel good to see the Bellas again. As one would expect, there are musical numbers here, but they simply don't have the passion seen in the first two movies. (And it didn't help that I didn't recognize most of the songs.) Of course, we get a "Riff-Off" here, but it fails miserably. The Bellas meet their tourmates, who make fun of them for singing a cappella, only to have those people then sing a cappella.
Pitch Perfect 3 supplies a few laughs, but overall, this feels like a fan film, as it comes across as a poor imitation of its predecessors. This is clearly an instance where money talked, as I'm not sure that anyone was asking for a third movie, and they certainly weren't asking for this one. The characters border on annoying, the music falls flat, and the story is not inspiring. And, as one could infer from this, a great cast is wasted. This is usually the point where I would say that the movie is only for die-hard fans, but given the misfires here, I think that fans may turn on this one.
Pitch Perfect 3 makes Georgia look international on 4K UHD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 70 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or light. The picture has a nice amount of depth and the level of detail is impressive. The daytime sequences show a nice crispness. The Disc carries a DTS-X audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 6.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The music, while uninspired, does sound very good, as it fills the speakers and provides significant subwoofer effects. The action sequences also deliver good surround sound and an explosion which offers nice bass. The music and effects don't overpower the actors.
The Pitch Perfect 3 4K UHD offers two extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Trish Sie. This is followed by a second COMMENTARY from Producers Paul Brooks and Max Handelman. The remainder of the extras, of which there are a lot, are found on the accompanying Blu-ray Disc. "New Musical Performances" (4 minutes) are basically two extended scenes which include songs not heard in the film. "Extended Musical Performances" (9 minutes) allow us to see more of the songs from the other three groups on the tour. These added elements are followed by one DELETED SCENE which runs about 1 minute. We get a 3-minute GAG REEL. "Competition Crescendo" (7 minutes) takes us on-set to examine this film's version of the "Riff-Off". "A Cappella Action" (3 minutes) looks at the opening sequence and the use of action in a Pitch Perfect movie. "The Women of Pitch Perfect 3" (4 minutes) looks not only at the cast, but Director Trish Sie and Producer Elizabeth Banks. Fat Amy's transformation into an action star is profiled in "Don't Mess With Rebel" (4 minutes). "The Headliner: DJ Khaled" (3 minutes) still doesn't explain why he's here. "The Final Note: John and Gail" (2 minutes) allows the film's Greek Chorus to take center stage. "Just Because He's a Bad Guy..." (2 minutes) offers an interview with John Lithgow. "The Final Performance" (5 minutes) looks at the execution and symbolism of the film's finale. We get a MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Freedom! '90 x Cups" (3 minutes). "Hollywood of the South" (2 minutes) used to mean North Carolina, but now it means Georgia.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long