- Street Date:
- December 14th, 2010
- Reviewed by:
- High-Def Digest staff
- Review Date: 1
- December 28th, 2010
- Movie Release Year:
- 95 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Rated G
- Release Country
- United States
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of 'Despicable Me - 3D.'
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Boy have things in the animated movie world started to change. In the beginning, Pixar seemed to control everything. Not much existed in the way of competition. Sure, some studios like Sony Animation were able to produce some pretty animation, but they were lacking in the story department. Slowly, in the past few years, it seems the competition has started to step it up and give Pixar a little competition, particularly Dreamworks Animation.
Enter 'Despicable Me.' Universal Studios has not been a major player in the animated film department up to this point but oh how quickly things can change. 'Despicable Me' was a huge success for the studio, grossing over $250 million, and with good cause.
'Despicable Me' is the story of a mega villain named Gru (Steve Carell). For years, Gru has been the world's greatest villain. He has made his mark by stealing various monuments from around the world and just being generally evil to every person he comes in contact with. All of a sudden, Gru's title as the number one villain has been stripped by a newcomer named Vector (Jason Segel). Vector jumped onto the scene by stealing the great pyramid from Egypt. Gru decides that it's time for him to reclaim the title as number one villain by stealing the moon. To Gru's dismay, the evil bank's president, Mr. Perkins (Will Arnett) tells Gru that they won't fund his heist unless he can first steal a shrink-gun. Vector ruins Gru's plan by stealing the shrink gun from Gru right after Gru has stolen it! Gru decides to think outside the box and adopts three girls named Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). He plans to use their cookie selling ability against Vector by secretly gaining access to his fortress through the girls. As Gru grows fond of the girls, he must decide between being the worlds greatest villain or a great father.
For me, 'Despicable Me' worked because of the great characters. I really enjoyed the growth Gru went through. He started off as a singularly evil person, caring about nothing else but being the best at what he does. In the end, he learns that there is more to life than being the greatest villain in the world. Vector also proved to be a fun supporting character. In the start of the film, I almost found the relationship between Gru and Vector to be like that of Wile E. Coyote and the Road runner, Gru being the former. Also worth mentioning are some supporting characters like Gru's minions and Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand). With all these great characters, it would have been easy for this film to fall apart by trying to do too much with all the great content, but thankfully, a great balance is struck and a great movie is the end product.
The voice acting was also very strong. Steve Carell does a great job voicing Gru. He strikes a masterful balance between ruthless villain and caring father. Jason Segal also delivers a solid performance by bringing some great humor to the character of Vector. Also worth mentioning are the performances of Jule Andres as Gru's mom, Kristen Wiig as the orphanage director Ms. Hattie, and directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud as all of the minions. Overall, I found the casting decisions to be nearly perfect.
So what makes 'Despicable Me' rank among the top animation films of 2010? For me, it was the excellent story. Children and adults of all ages should easily be able to find something to love about this movie. Kids will love the humor of the minions while adults will enjoy some of the more subtle humor (like the evil bank formerly being called Lehman Brothers). If you haven't yet seen 'Despicable Me,' I would easily recommend checking this one out, you won't be disappointed.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats.
'Despicable Me' arrives on Blu-ray packaged as a three disc set. Disc one is the movie and special features spread across a duel-layer disc. Disc two is the DVD copy of the film. Disc three is the digital copy disc. Please note that 'Despicable Me' has also been released in a 4 disc 3D Blu-ray edition as well.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'Despicable Me' arrives on Blu-ray with a stunningly beautiful 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer. Simply put, this baby is flawless. Sit back and enjoy it!
Notice the vibrant color palate with colors so bright, they threaten to burst out of your screen, and blacks that appear bottomless. Enjoy every last detail, like the bright blue sky, bight yellows from the sun, each individual blade of green grass, and banana yellow of the minions. Each frame seems to look better than the last. As far as digital artifacts go, there are none, this is probably about as good as an animation film can look on the Blu-ray format.
'Despicable Me' easily ranks right up there with the top transfers of 2010. The animation style may not be as realistic as a film like 'Toy Story 3' but that is perfectly fine since what it lacks in detail it makes up for by featuring some of the brightest colors you will find anywhere. Enjoy this demo disc!
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Equally as impressive as the video quality is the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. This track will give your home theater system a great workout. All speakers will be engaged throughout, especially during some of the more action packed sequences like Gru's air fight with Vector. You'll be able to hear each missile work its way around your speaker system. The bass effects will also threaten to bring down walls in your house at times.
With all those powerful effects, speech remains perfectly clear throughout. Notice some of the more minor details as well, like the realistic surround effects at the amusement park; at times, it felt like standing in the middle of a crowd. Overall, the audio, like the video presentation, is perfect.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
If the stunning A/V material wasn't enough, 'Despicable Me' also features a fairly impressive number of bonus content. Here is what you can look forward to enjoying with this release:
- "Minion Mini Movies" (HD, 12 minuets) - As advertised on the slipcover of the film, 'Despicable Me' features mini movies, all of which primarily feature the minions. The first movie features the girls and the minions, they receive a call that the social worker is coming over to see if Gru's place is good for children. The girls and the minions must work together to fix it up before the inspector shows up! The second movie features new minions viewing a training video on what it takes to work for Gru Enterprises. Needless to say, they don't pay attention and chaos breaks out. The third movie is about three minions fighting over a banana that one of them is about to eat. These are fun movies that kids should really enjoy.
- "The voices of Despicable Me" (HD, 17 minuets) - Take a behind the scenes look at the voices behind the characters of 'Despicable Me.' I especially enjoyed the comments by Steve Carell.
- "The World of Despicable Me" (HD, 15 minuets) - This feature is a collection of interviews with both cast and crew members from the film. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud discuss their thought process on creating every aspect of the film from Gru's house to the contrast between Gru and Vector. Steve Carell provides some great commentary.
- "Despicable Beats" (HD, 3 minuets) - A behind the scenes look at the production of the music for 'Despicable Me.
- "Super Silly Fun Land" (HD) - Three carnival-themed interactive games. The games are called feed the creatures, tin can alley, and freeze the minions. Definitely one the kids should enjoy!
- "Gru's Rocket Builder" (HD) - Another interactive game, help Gru build a rocket to defeat Vector.
- "A Global Effory" (HD, 3 minuets) - The directors show how the production of this film was a global effort featuring offices around the world.
- "Director and Minion Commentary" - 'Despicable Me' features a pretty solid commentary track that should please fans. The main voices you will hear are those of directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, they are also joined by a few of the minions from the movie. Overall, I found the addition of the minions to the commentary track to be a bit over the top. Sure, they're fun in moderation during the movie but getting them from two angles was a bit much. I would have liked an option to switch the minions off and only hear what the directors had to say. Aside from the minions, I found the commentary to be quite enjoyable. The directors cover a wide range of topics from the production process to some of the challenges that arose making the film. Overall, this is an engaging commentary that fans of the film should enjoy, don't say I didn't warn you about the minions though!
- "Despicable Me game previews" (HD, 2 minuets) - Two previews for video games are included.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
On top of all that, there are also a few features that are exclusive to Blu-ray. Here is what else you can check out:
- "Gru-Control" - Almost another commentary track for the film, but this one seems to be squarely aimed at the kids. Gru-Control is a picture in picture track that is hosted by the minions. If you are a kid or love the minions, this is the track for you. For everyone else, I would skip this if you wish to continue to think the minions are fun and cute.
- "Miss Hattie's Top Secret Cookie Recipes" - A fun feature to test out if you enjoy cooking. This features five different cookie recipes; the recipes are for: minty mints, choco swirlies, coconutties, toffee totes, and caramel clumpies. Sounds good to me!
- Pocket BLU - rounding out the collection is Pocket BLU functionality. In my brief experimentation with this feature, I am fairly impressed. It's nice to be able to use your iphone as a Blu-ray remote.
Overall, I was very impressed with this three disc package. 'Despicable Me' is a fun movie that folks of all ages should enjoy. This is a no brainer for a family movie night selection or just a relaxing sit down for that matter. This package features demo video and audio as well as a fairly large amount of extra content. This Blu-ray comes highly recommended for both fans of the movie and anyone who hasn't seen it yet.
- BD/DVD/Digital Copy
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- French DTS 5.1
- Spanish DTS 5.1
- English SDH, French, Spanish
- * Commentary with directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, featuring the Minions!
- The World of Despicable Me
- Despicable Beats
- Gru's Rocket Builder
- A Global Effort
- Three all new, mini-movies starring the Minions (for a limited time only)
- The Voices of Despicable Me
- Super Silly Fun Land
Exclusive HD Content
- GRU-CONTROL: Through a picture-in-picture window, see the making of the film with behind-the-scenes footage and cast/filmmaker interviews
- Miss Hattie's Top Secret Cookie Recipes: Margo is proud to present the recipes for those wonderful cookies that the loveable orphans under Miss Hattie's care enjoy so much!
- My Scenes
- Pocket Blu
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