In a happy suburban neighborhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by an army of mischievous little minions, we discover Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon (Yes, the moon!).
Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. That is, until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad.
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 3D packaged as a four disc set in a standard blue case with a holographic slipcover. Disc one is the 2D 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. Disc four is the Blu-ray 3D version of the movie spread across a duel-layer disc. Please note that the 3D disc only has the director commentary and no other special features, it also works with 2D Blu-ray players.
'Despicable Me' arrives on Blu-ray 3D day and date with the 2D Blu-ray version of the film. How does it look? I would say pretty great!
'Despicable Me 3D' features an excellent 1080p MPEG-4 transfer that easily ranks near the top of the Blu-ray 3D catalogue. As with the 2D release, colors are very impressive and prove to be the strongest aspect of this release. Sit back and enjoy the bright blue of the sky, the "fluffy" white clouds, the lush green grass, and banana yellow of the minions.
'Despicable Me' is a stunner on Blu-ray, but does the added 3D element add anything extra to this transfer? I would say most definitely. Like other top-tier Blu-ray 3D releases, 'Despicable Me 3D' features stunning depth that greatly enhances nearly every scene. The best example was Gru floating around in space. At times, it almost seemed like Gru was floating a few inches in from of my face, It was very impressive, especially with the Earth in the background. The distance between Gru and the Earth was distinct, something not as apparent with the 2D transfer. Aside from depth, colors remained equally vibrant in 3D. Textures are also identical to the 2D transfer. Ghosting is very minor, however it does pop up a few times, especially at the very start of the film. The logo in the very start suffers from such bad ghosting that a friend of mine questioned whether or not his glasses were even turned on! Aside from that blatant occurrence, ghosting is nearly non-existent the remainder of the film.
Overall, this is an exceptional transfer that has a great deal going for it. Colors, depth, and texture are all demo worthy; If you're looking for a disc to show off your new 3D system, 'Despicable Me 3D' should be within arms reach. I really wanted to score this one as my first five star 3D video quality, but I can't look past the horrible ghosting at the start of the film. Take away the first 15 seconds and this is a five start transfer, but as it stands, it is nearly perfect.
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 excellent.
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:
Overall, 'Despicable Me 3D' is a terrific package. This four disc combo includes an excellent film, stellar audio/video, plenty of special features, and three additional ways to watch the film (2D Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy). This is the kind of release that's going to help push 3D to the next level. I know after I watched this in 3D, I would take the 3D presentation any day over the 2D. For 3D enthusiasts, this is simply a must own package that you won't be disappointed with. Of all the early releases, 'Despicable Me' belongs among the best and any collection should not be without it. Sit back and enjoy Gru's antics in the third dimension!
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.