I have never read the original story of 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,' so this film was my first experience with the tale. I'm glad that I was able to come into this not knowing what exactly to expect. Sony Animation has created a fun, exotic, and unique world for this film. I enjoyed every minute of it.
The story centers on Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader). Flint lives in Swallow Falls, a small island town out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The town is famous as the sardine capitol of the world, since they make pretty much every sardine product imaginable. When the world suddenly decides sardines taste really bad and don't want to eat them anymore, Swallow Falls loses its industry, and the people are left to eat the leftover sardines themselves.
Looking for relief from the non-stop sardine diet, Flint invents a machine that turns water into any type of food the people of the island can come up with. The machine needs massive amounts of power to function, so he takes it to the power plant in town and plugs it into one of the generators, where it then runs completely out of control, taking off and jetting up into the clouds. Flint thinks he has ruined everything yet again, but all of a sudden it starts to rain cheeseburgers!
This is a terrific film, one that has a little something for viewers of all ages. Kids will love the brightly colored food and slapstick comedy, while adults will appreciate the witty humor. One of the most lovable characters in the film is Steve the monkey (voiced by none other than Neil Patrick Harris!). Flint invented a thought translator so he can understand what Steve is trying to say. The only problem is that Steve is about as smart as any other animal, thinking mostly about food (Gummy Bears!). I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't seen the film, but Steve has some of the greatest one liners. Enjoy!
The voice acting is just fantastic. Voices included: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, and Mr. T, just to name a few. Each brings something unique to the film.
This movie very nearly reaches Pixar-levels of perfection. I know I will be watching it a few more times! Easily one of the best animated movies of 2009. If you haven't seen it, check it out!
'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' pops onto 3D Blu-ray with a striking 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer. Sony really aced this release. Nearly everything about it screams demo disc materiel.
The basic look of 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' is very simplistic. Sony intentionally designed the animation to look like cartoon drawing, so if you're looking for realistic computer animation, look elsewhere.
This film really seems to excel in the area of color production. These were some of the most gorgeous colors I have ever seen in an animated film. Sunlight shining through clouds created incredibly vibrant hues. Black levels were extremely deep. Detail was simply amazing. The food featured was very realistic in terms of texture and color. I wanted to jump out of my seat and grab a bite! There were a few close-up shots in which every last detail appeared perfectly animated.
The 3D effect was also noticeably better than in 'Monsters vs. Aliens.' Nearly every complaint I had in my previous review was fixed or at least greatly improved here. The best thing this picture has going for it is the added element of depth created by the 3D effect. Objects that were far apart really felt like they had space between them. My favorite example had to be Flint rushing home to try and shut off his out o control machine. The 3D was just amazing in that sequence. It felt like cars and people were being blown at me from all directions. It was also great to see a movie done without the use of 3D gimmick shots! Sure, there were a few times when images popped out of the screen, but none of them felt gimmicky. This should serve as an example to future 3D filmmakers on how to use 3D to enhance the story.
I only have a few minor complaints with the picture quality. First, there were a few instances of ghosting (most noticeably with Steve's right ear when he's sitting on Flint's shoulders at the start of the film). Again, the ghosting seemed to appear mostly in the darker scenes. There was also a bit of the background smearing problem I mentioned in my previous review. I really noticed it when Flint was looking down at his father from outside his lab above the house. His father appeared to be far away, but the ground was a little bit off, slightly blurry and out of focus at times. Again, this was not bad, only occasional, and much better than what I saw from 'Monsters vs. Aliens.' Very nearly a seamless 3D experience, I am very excited to see how Sony will top this one.One minor complaint I have is regarding the popup menu system. I noticed that while watching the film in 3D the popup menu had far fewer functions than what you get while watching the film in 2D. All you are able to do in the 3D popup menu is go back to the main menu screen. In 2D mode you can do things like look for special features, pick a chapter, or bookmark scenes. It would be nice to see those functions carried over to 3D mode as well. I did however appreciate that Sony decided to go with 2D menus, it may just be my personal preference, but I prefer to not have to wear glasses to navigate a menu.
Finally, my only other complaint is with color in 3D. I noticed after watching a few scenes in 3D and then again in 2D that colors were a bit brighter in 2D. This appears to be a dimming effect caused by the glasses. It was hardly noticeable, but nevertheless it's present and worth mentioning.
Overall I was very pleased with this presentation. The technology seems to be growing quickly, and based on what I saw from Sony with this picture, studios are learning to use the technology. I look forward to seeing how they do with the two older films due to hit the format soon ('Open Season' and 'Monster House').
Without question the audio is the most welcome upgrade we get over the 3D release of 'Monsters vs. Aliens.' Putting my fears (and ears!) to rest, Sony has included the same DTS-MA Audio 5.1 soundtrack included with the 2D release of the film. It's a huge relief to see this was done for the first commercial release. I can understand the Dolby Digital 5.1 track included with 'Monsters vs. Aliens' because that was a promotional film, but had that happened with this release, it could have been bad news for the format. People probably wouldn't like paying a premium price for inadequate audio.
Just like with the 2D release, this soundtrack is perfect. Speech is crystal clear and never overshadowed by background noise. Basically, all effects were perfect from surround sound effects down to more minor sounds like food hitting the ground or water splashing against the pier. It was great to experience top of the line 3D animation along with this stellar soundtrack, really added to the fun of this film for me.
'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' includes a decent collection of special features. Most of the features included with the 2D release have been carried over to this release except for a few items, such as the director's commentary track, interactive features, and DVD copy of movie. Here is what comes included:
'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' is a great start to the commercial availability of 3D Blu-ray movies. Almost everything I found wrong with 'Monsters vs. Aliens' in 3D has been fixed with this release by the inclusion of a lossless soundtrack, a fair amount of special features, and significantly improved visuals. I can't wait to see how much better 3D movies will look as the format develops! I also found this film to be much more user friendly due to the inclusion of features like the easy option to watch the film in 2D or 3D and the ability to play the disc in any Blu-ray player, even if it's a 2D one. The clear case is also pretty sweet! This is the type of high quality release that will set the tone for this format. Up until this point, 3D content has been virtually nonexistent. The only content available was a few 3D movies included with TV purchases and, as of the first match of the World Cup, ESPN 3D.
This release marks the beginning of commercial availability of 3D Blu-ray content to everyone. If other studios don't start releasing some films it looks as if Sony will dominate the early market for 3D Blu-ray since they already have two more titles coming soon! For anyone with a 3D TV looking to quench their thirst for more 3D content, 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' comes Highly Recommended.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.