Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Despicable Me 2
Despicable Me came out in 2010 and it was the first digitally animated film released by Universal. There was a lot of pressure to do well, because its level of success would not only determine if more Despicable Me movies would be made, but if the studio would continue to release digitally animated films in general. It beat expectations. Not only was it a great movie, but it earned more than $500 million worldwide on a $69 million budget. Needless to say, Despicable Me 2 was given the greenlight right away. However, can it live up to its predecessor? If not, is it still worth checking out?
The film begins in the arctic at a Russian scientific outpost. A giant floating magnet comes along and grabs the entire compound before flying away. We see a mysterious group, the AVL, investigating this occurrence. Since they have no leads, it is decided that they need outside help.
We then see Gru using a sinister looking device to... inflate unicorn balloons. Its Agnes' birthday party. The kids are having a great time, and so is Gru. (Well, he's having a great time except the woman who was going to show up as a fairy princess canceled and one of his neighbors, Jill, keeps trying to set him up on a date.)
Gru is really loving his new life as a father and retired super villain.This explains why when AVL asks him to help crack the case, he says no. He'd rather be a father and work on his line of jellies... and possibly jams. Also, when Agent Lucy Wilde comes to bring him to AVL HQ, she knocks him out with a Taser and kidnaps him. That's not a good first impression. However, not everyone is happy with his new life. Dr. Nefario misses the life of big crimes, which is why he's leaving Gru and will begin working with a new super villain.
When Dr. Nefario leaves, Gru realizes maybe he does need more in his life than jellies... and possibly jams. The AVL wants him to go undercover at the local mall, which is where they believe the super villain is. He immediately regrets this when he learns Agent Wilde will be his partner. She's a bit of a villain groupie and very overly enthusiastic about her job. At least they have a solid lead. One of the many suspected super villains working in the local mall, Eduardo, looks like El Macho, one of the greatest super villains in the world, but El Macho is supposedly dead. There's also another complication. Eduardo is the father of Antonio. Who is Antonio? He's the boy Margo has a crush on.
There's more to the plot than that, but this is a good place to end the plot summary without entering into too many spoilers. However, I should stress that much of the movie is spent not on the plot so much as it is on relationships and romance. This is actually a really strong asset for Despicable Me 2, as the budding relationship between Gru and Lucy gives Despicable Me 2 the heart that Despicable Me had. Perhaps not to the same level, but there's enough heart here that it really needs to rise above a goofy kids movie. It's not as good as Gru learning to be a father for Agnes, Edith, and Margo, but it is close enough. Speaking of Margo, the romance between Margo and Antonio is less developed. This is understandable, as it is only really there to give Gru something to panic about. We are not supposed to be invested in this relationship, we are supposed to empathize with Gru and he panics over Margo growing up when he's not ready.
While the romance is a large part of Despicable Me 2's success, there are other elements that are mostly assets. The film still has a strong focus on goofy humor. This is especially true if you love the Minions, who have a more prominent role this time around. (Personally, I think they are very funny as part of this movie, and in the short films, but I'm not sure they will be funny once they are the focus of a feature-length movie.) The introduction of the Anti-Villain League also allows for some James Bond-like gadgets to show up, which complement the mad scientist inventions of Gru. Because the main villain is not out in the open from the start, there isn't the same rivalry as the first time around, which is a minor complaint, but needs to be brought up.
Extras begin with three short films, Puppy, Panic in the Mailroom, and Training Wheels. Gru gives introductions to the shorts, while there is also a short making of featurette. There is a single extended scene. Under featurettes, there are a series of short featurettes on the minions, the evil minors, Gru transforming from villain to father, the three girls, etc. Most of them are only a few minutes long. Finally, there is an audio commentary track with the two directors, Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin.
Since the film is digitally animated, it goes without saying that the technical presentation is amazing. The film doesn't have the same level of details as some other digitally animated films, as it is a little more cartoonish, but you can't blame the transfer for that. On the other hand, the colors are very vivid, the blacks are inky without swallowing details, etc. I didn't notice any digital artifacts that interfere with the overall picture quality. The audio is just as strong with plenty of activity in the surround sound speakers, including pans and zooms and lots of solid activity from the bass.
I don't have the 3D version to compare.
The price of the DVD is $17 on Amazon.com, while the Blu-ray is $20. That's a great deal for this type of release. Also, the 3D version comes in at $25, which is better than most similar releases.
If you loved Despicable Me, you will likely love Despicable Me 2 as well. It's not quite as good as its predecessor, but it is close enough that it is worth owning. There are not a ton of extras on the DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or the 3D Combo Pack, but enough that it is worth the price. The bigger the combo pack, the better the deal. $3 more for high definition is a great deal and $5 more for 3D is worth it.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2013-12-09