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Despicable Me 3D(2010)
Trying to outdo his main rival Vector, serial villain Gru hatches a plan to steal the moon, aided by his army of minions. About to set his dastardly plan in motion, and bristling with his arsenal of freeze-rays and sci-fi gadgetry, all goes according to plan until the arrival at his door of three little orphan girls, Margo, Agnes and Edith, in search of a father figure.
For more about Despicable Me 3D and the Despicable Me 3D Blu-ray release, see Despicable Me 3D Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 15, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig
Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
» See full cast & crew
Despicable Me 3D Blu-ray Review
There's nothing despicable about this Blu-ray 3D release from Universal.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 15, 2010
When we got adopted by a bald guy, I thought this would be more like Annie.
Ever wonder what the biggest challenge facing Hollywood is these days? There are probably dozens of "correct" answers, but near the top of the list must be, "how to keep the digitally animated film fresh and profitable?" It's amazing how studios keep finding ways to fill theater seats with films created completely in the digital realm and in the recording studio. It's been 15 years since Toy Story redefined the cinematic landscape, and since then there's been no shortage of good-to-great-to-brilliant digital adventures that manage to not only one-up their predecessors in terms of visual delights -- that's to be expected as technology improves by leaps and bounds with every flip of the calendar -- but continue to tell inventive stories that keep these sorts of films at the top of the charts, earning nearly universal critical praise while raking in untold billions of dollars and warming the hearts of young and old alike around the world. It seems like most of the great ideas are going to digital films, and why not? Not only are they still surefire profit-makers, but the modern-day magicians -- the digital artists who make it all possible -- are capable of doing anything and everything in the digital domain, including shrinking the moon to the size of a softball. With that in mind, there's no longer such as thing as a plot line that's too outlandish, a special effect that's too hard, or a character that's too difficult to bring to life. The digital era might mark the second Golden Age in Hollywood, for it's now possible to do anything and everything and put it on-screen with graphics that are as colorful and detailed and as lifelike -- or as fantastically make-believe -- as the imagination of the artists will allow. The digital realm, then, was the perfect breeding ground for another in what is becoming an incredibly long list of fine animated films. Despicable Me takes full advantage of all the bells and whistles of the 21st century -- including 3D -- to dazzle audiences with a unique story that takes place in a carefully and colorfully realized world that's populated by lovably diverse and distinctive characters involved in a plot that, yes, deals with the shrinking of the moon. In other words, it's the perfect example of what digital filmmaking is all about.
Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is the world's top Super Villain -- or so he thinks. When word reaches the airwaves that one of Egypt's prized pyramids has been stolen and replaced by an inflatable imitation, Gru assembles his troops -- an army of disposable little yellow one- and two-eyed creatures who are at his beck and call -- and laments his status as the world's second-best villain, even if he did manage to steal the Times Square jumbotron not too long ago. Gru has a plan, though; with the help of his ingenious mad scientist sidekick Dr. Nefario (voiced by Russell Brand), he's going to develop a shrink ray that he's going to use to reduce the size of the moon and steal it to prove his superiority, but there's a catch: Gru doesn't have the cash to get the job done. He heads to the Bank of Evil to take out another loan, but for the first time in a long time, he's turned down by its proprietor, Mr. Perkins (voiced by Will Arnett), who is tired of waiting for Gru to capitalize on his promises and big dreams. Instead, Perkins favors younger and smarter would-be Super Villains like Vector (voiced by Jason Segel), the man responsible for stealing the pyramid. Gru may be dejected, but he doesn't give up. He steals a shrink ray from an Asian military outfit, but Vector is right there to claim the prize from Gru's clutches. All hope of ever regaining his status as world's top villain seems to be gone when he finds Vector's secure home too tough a nut to crack, but when he spies three little orphan girls -- Margo (voiced Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (voiced by Dana Gaier), and Agnes (voiced by Elsie Fisher) -- effortlessly infiltrate Vector's lair by offering him the opportunity to purchase cookies, he schemes up a way to use the girls to his advantage. Gru convinces orphanage director Miss Hattie (voiced by Kristen Wiig) that he would be a perfect father figure and adopts the girls. All they want is to be loved, and all Gru wants is to use them to break into Vector's heavily-guarded mansion and snatch back his weapon. What he didn't count on was something he had forgotten he possessed: his heart. Will Gru follow through with his plan and discard the girls, or will he learn that love and family come before shrink rays, publicity, and even the moon?
It would be hard to argue against Despicable Me as a poster child of sorts for the digital film. It might not be the best, it's not made by Pixar, and its voice cast isn't as impressive as most, but it's an incredibly balanced feature that has everything going for it and no real drawbacks to speak of. The film excels as a masterpiece of exaggeration, and it's that off-kilter sensation, those larger-than-life visuals, an absurd plot line, wholly unrealistic characters, and all of the sheer goofiness that comes with the territory that makes Despicable Me both stand out from the crowd and represent the norm for what makes a digital film great. In a roundabout way, Despicable Me is like a 21st century Fantasy film of sorts; a hero who doesn't know he's a hero saves the damsel(s) in distress and vanquishes his foe using magical abilities to help his cause while also coming to terms with who he is and where his destiny lies. With the digital film and modern technology, Fantasy no longer needs to be exclusively at home in tales with swords and dragons and castles and knights in shining armor and an army of loyal subjects; thanks to smart scriptwriting and computer horsepower, all of that can be replaced by keyboards and freeze guns and jet-powered cars and subterranean lairs and rocket ships and little yellow Minions and still engender the same base emotions but at the same time play as an uproariously funny and family-appropriate picture that emphasizes valuable lessons that espouse doing right even in the face of wrong, amending past mistakes, and growing all the better for having conquered not only the enemy but the demons from within. Not only is the film like a modern-day Fantasy, it's built on technology that even 20 years ago seemed like nothing but fantasy, but here it is, a movie that's wholesomely fun and painstakingly crafted from the top on down; the script is ingenious, the digital production seamless, and the end result is a film that's sheer digital bliss that, no matter how one approaches it, is just a joy to behold on some many obvious and several not-so-obvious levels.
Generally speaking, then, Despicable Me does a fine job of crafting a modern Fantasy while also representing what the digitally animated film is all about. But the truth of the matter is, the target audience cares nothing about that. So long as the screen is littered with cuddly characters and bright colors, the young ones will come in droves and finance the next great thing, coming summer 2012 and beyond. Despicable Me has "hit" written all over it, and it did so from the first time someone drew up a schematic for the Minions. Gru's little yellow helpers seem like a cross between Pokemon and Doozers, those little green workers from that old TV show Fraggle Rock. They don't even have to really do anything but jump around and look cute, and that's really all they do; they're supportive characters that exist only to be slathered on the poster, bounce around on the screen, and build half a disc's worth of supplements around. For as cute and commercially important as they are -- they're the faces of the movie, even if they play no major role in it -- there still must be more than 90 minutes of sweet yellow nothing hopping all over the screen, and that's where Despicable Me really works. The plot is ingenious, really; a bad guy who wants to be the ultimate bad guy manages to find his humanity along the way as he deals with a rival arch-villain, suddenly thrusting him into the role of not-so-reluctant hero and learning that stealing hearts goes a lot further than stealing moons and headlines. Despicable Me might be a little late to the whole superhero thing, but at least it gives it a completely different spin while offering incessant laughs, big action pieces, and an underlying heart that becomes the film's center, supplanting even the countless little yellow Minions that cheerfully go about doing nothing though the entirety of the movie.
As for the other characters, Despicable Me offers up a memorable roster made possible by both a great script and solid voice acting. The three little girls are dramatically critical to the movie but are more or less replaceable entities; their respective voice actors do a fine job breathing life into them, and the youngest of three -- the na´ve and optimistic little girl who immediately sees in Gru only a father figure to plug a gaping hole in her and her sisters' lives -- is the best of the bunch. Julie Andrews is superb as Gru's unsupportive mother, but Despicable Me is all about Gru and Vector. As to the "real" villain first, Jason Segel gives Vector a diabolical yet overconfident and perhaps even na´ve and certainly pretentious demeanor. The character is vividly drawn and well conceived; he's ridiculously over-the-top with his weapons that shoot out various forms of undersea creatures, but for as absurd as he is with his fish fetish, he still proves quite the match for the film's makeshift hero. Gru is a wonderful villain who certainly looks and acts the part -- he's like a bigger and more sanitary version of The Penguin from Batman Returns -- and he's blessed with a wonderful dynamic that sees him as a man who never earned the love he needed from his mother but found success despite her negativity, only to himself use children as props rather than give them the love they demand and deserve and want only to reciprocate in kind. Steve Carell nails the part with his dynamic but slightly jumbled accent that seems like something meshed together from French and German (which might be deliberate given the character's good guy-bad guy dual personas that present themselves through the film, the character caught in the middle between Ally and Axis, to take the comparison to its logical conclusion). Best of all, the characters are imaginative and endearing -- both hero and villain alike -- and, along with Despicable Me's wonderful story, fantastic visuals, and, yes, the little yellow Minions, makes the movie a fantastic animated flick and, sure enough, one that could easily be given the banner as most representative of what these sorts of films are all about from visual, structural, and emotional perspectives.
Despicable Me 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
The great 3D discs are the ones that are the easiest to review, and brother, Despicable Me 3D is a piece of cake. This is a fantastic inaugural 3D release from Universal that comes awfully close to perfection. Of all the transfer's fantastic features, the best might be its colors. This is easily the liveliest 3D release yet, with a color palette that's nothing short of striking in terms of vibrancy and diversity. Whether the desert tans that open the film, Vector's bright orange accents, or the Minions' banana yellow shading, Despicable Me dazzles in 3D with some of the best color around. Just as good is the disc's endless supply of wonderfully realized details. Every frame is home to striking textures that reach the pinnacle of what Blu-ray and digital animation both are currently capable of achieving. Clothing looks spectacular, with the slightest of frays and fuzzies visible on the pink woven cap worn by one of the girls plainly visible throughout, while Gru's zippered black garment reveals the most intricate of fabric textures. Gru's classic Science Fiction rocket-propelled vehicles look amazing, too; the slick metallic surface reveals not only the detailing of every nut and bolt holding the vehicles together, but also every dent and scratch that gives the machines character. Black levels are superb, and only the slightest hint of banding is visible in one or two shots. This is an amazing transfer, and the 3D attributes make it even better.
Universal's first foray into Blu-ray 3D doesn't disappoint. Although the film's title card appears outlined by heavy ghosting -- so much so that the 3D effect is almost ruined -- and several other objects feature shadows throughout the movie when the disc is replayed on Panasonic's first-generation Blu-ray 3D hardware, such anomalies are cancelled out by the superb and seamless depth offered by the added dimension of high definition goodness. The transfer is one of those where realistic depth proves a far more valuable commodity than does gimmicky 3D tricks. Depth is superb throughout, and whether viewers are looking across a room or down a city street, the television becomes a window into an animated world that places the viewer in the middle of every environment. When three Minions go shopping in chapter 10, the superstore's expansive isles seem to stretch on to infinity, the effect little more than a visual gag but one that works incredibly well in 3D. Similar shots fare quite well throughout, as does a particular shrink ray scene near the end of the film and a unique first-person view of a cookie robot scurrying around Vector's home. As noted earlier, there aren't a lot of deliberate "wow" moments in the film, though there are a few that work quite well and don't seem forced into the movie just for the sake of dazzling the 3D audience. A roller coaster ride in chapter six doesn't exactly leap off the screen, but the 3D visuals do a fair job of replicating that real life experience. The tip of a spacecraft seems to stick straight out of the television in one late scene, but there are a few obvious "misses" throughout the movie, scenes where a greater 3D effect might have benefited the experience, such as a barrage of gunfire and missile launches in chapter six that don't seem to shoot out of the screen with quite as much 3D bravado as one might hope. Still, Blu-ray 3D -- at least so far -- has been more about balance and realistic depth, and that's exactly what this disc provides. Combined with its superb coloring -- easily the best yet on a 3D disc -- and exceptional detailing, Despicable Me 3D is one top two or three Blu-ray 3D discs currently available.
Despicable Me 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Despicable Me's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is just as wonderful as its 1080p 3D video transfer. Universal's latest killer soundtrack offers exceptional spacing around the soundstage; separation is fantastic as every speaker works to create a seamless environment and deliver pinpoint sound effects and imaging, while music plays primarily across the front but with a rear channel support presence that practically melts away the speakers and fills the room with rich, infinitely clear, and satisfying notes. Indeed, sound effects play with a naturalism that's the equal to anything heard on the best Blu-ray discs; whether something as mundane as a doorbell ringing off to the side or far more agressive and dynamic effects such as jet-propelled vehicles and missiles zipping through the listening area, there's no shortage of sound effects, both big and small and everything in between, to bring the movie to life and satisfy even the most demanding of audiophiles to no end. This mix is perfectly balanced; the surrounds carry a large percentage of information, but only just enough to support rather than dominate the soundtrack. This a seamless listening experience that's about as rich and invigorating as they come. Bass is superb, too; it's potent but not overwhelming, every instance finding just the right volume and strength to support whatever's happening in the movie without dominating the remainder of the track or playing with even a hint of sloppiness. A dance tune in chapter nine pounds out the beats with perfect accuracy, while action scenes are supported by a potent and tight low end that add another dynamic to the experience. Dialogue is perfectly centered and crisp throughout. Universal's Despicable Me soundtrack is about as good as it gets.
Despicable Me 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Despicable Me delivers a lengthy assortment of extra content, but there's not an equal amount of substance to match. The package is highlighted by a picture-in-picture mode and an audio commentary track, supported along the way by various little odds and ends that shed some light on the making of the movie but don't go into any great detail. Most of the extras are exclusive to the 2D-only disc found in this set; only the commentary, D-Box capabilities, and BD-Live functionality are found on both discs. DVD and digital copies of Despicable Me round out this four-disc set.
Despicable Me 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Despicable Me is a joyous little film that represents the new wave of digital features about as well as any other of the now varied and approaching countless entries that have dazzled viewers wile warming hearts and tickling funny bones since Toy Story started a trend and set in motion a seemingly unstoppable freight train carrying limitless profits, ever-expanding potential, and some of the best stories of the past 15 years. Despicable Me is filled with memorable characters inserted into a fresh and exciting plot line that certainly pays homage to other films throughout -- watch for a scene in the final act that's right out of the end of The Empire Strikes Back -- but is nevertheless one of the more creative and exciting movies of its kind. Great voice acting and what passes for perfect animation in 2010 round out, surprisingly, one of the year's best films. Universal's Blu-ray 3D release of Despicable Me features a fantastic technical presentation and a slew of extra content. Highly recommended as a disc that may have very well cracked the top ten releases of the year had it come out a few weeks sooner.
Despicable Me: Other Editions
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Despicable Me 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Sharp Teams up with Universal for Despicable Me 3D Promotion - September 23, 2010
Sharp Electronics Corporation today announced that it is teaming with Illumination Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Entertainment to promote the new 3D line of Quattron LED LCD TVs (model LE925). The campaign will feature the celebrated Minions from Despicable ...
• Despicable Me Blu-ray and 3D BD Announced - September 22, 2010
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced Despicable Me for Blu-ray release on December 14, in Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray Combo Packs, with DVD and digital copy included. This action/comedy animated movie, about a wannabe super-villain whose life is unexpectedly ...
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