Pitch Perfect Blu-ray delivers stunning video and great audio in this excellent Blu-ray release
Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school's all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.
For more about Pitch Perfect and the Pitch Perfect Blu-ray release, see Pitch Perfect Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on December 13, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Pitch Perfect is Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story for the Glee set. Or the anti-Glee set even, and it's in that tricky middle that director Jason Moore's quasi-irreverent musical comedy sings. It's never quite the pitch-perfect genre mashup it could be -- oh come on, you knew that one was coming -- but it pays just enough respect to raw talent, takes just enough cheap but affectionate shots at the collegiate singing competition circuit, and strikes just enough of a balance to emerge a full-fledged crowd pleaser. Add to that a well-cast ensemble that knows how to earn a laugh and belt a song and a series of a cappella arrangements primed to convert the unconverted, and you have a comedy that deserves a shot.
"Starships were meant to fly-iy-iy-iy! Hands up and touch the sky-iy-iy-iy!"
When all-female Barden University a capella group the Bellas fall on hard times, leaders Aubrey (Anna Camp, The Help) and Chloe (Brittany Snow, Hairspray) begin a search for the best and brightest singing stars the incoming freshman class has to offer. When that doesn't work out as they had hoped, they settle for a ragtag band of misfits: no-nonsense Tasmanian eccentric Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson, Bridesmaids), vocal powerhouse Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean, Rio), slutty Stacie (Alexis Knapp, Project X), mousy Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) and reluctant mix-n-mashup wiz Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air). But the Bellas style is in dire need of a makeover, and Beca looks to be the girl to make it happen. And she has a lot of work to do if she's going to get the Bellas ready to beat Barden's own Treble Makers -- whose new lead vocalist just so happens to be Jesse (Skylar Astin, Hamlet 2), the guy Beca has her eye on -- at the annual International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.
With a respectable $70 million at the box office and a possible sequel in the works, Pitch Perfect is one of the year's little films that could. It does more than ride the current wave of remixed, re-mashed and sometimes rehashed pop hits, though, taking the time to weave a decent underdog tale with a likable bunch of harmonizing losers that isn't beholden to any lasting grudge match. Even Beca and the Bellas' adversaries, both internal (Aubrey) and external (the Treble Makers), soon warm up to the talented freshman and her homespun DJ wares, and there's a happy ending on the horizon for just about everybody. Unfortunately, it's in this cozy PG-13 arena that the movie stumbles, tossing in a few grossout gags that could have easily ventured into R-rated territory (projectile vomiting, burrito bombs and other frat boy comedy unsavories) but hesitating at the last second and clinging to its teen-friendly trappings. Neither extreme is necessarily a detriment to the meat and bones of the experience -- the singing, the beat-boxing, the general a cappella gymnastics -- but Moore would have done well to choose one or the other before attempting to pound the corresponding comedy home.
Of course, that's where things get complicated. To tow the PG-13 line, Pitch Perfect is forced to play fast and loose, readily embracing the same audience it sets out to mock, if only in good fun. To push into R-rated territory, Moore would have to don a mean streak he clearly isn't willing, or perhaps able, to slip on. Mean Girls walked a finer line more gracefully, as did Bring It On, both of which heavily or at least partially influenced Moore's tone and screenwriter Kay Cannon's story and characters. Thankfully, knowing winks and telltale nods aimed at devoted Glee fans save the film from unevenness or, worse, incoherency, and make the next eruption of downbeats a thrill rather than a bad omen of things to come. There's a purpose and cleverness in everything Moore and company do, however direct or indirect, that goes beyond dim-witted parody or lazy farce and approaches, arrives and blows past salient genre satire. And it does it all with a smile, wrapping resistant pop music haters around its finger as cooly and effortlessly as it lures in those already smitten with its alleyway sing-offs and narrow competition wins. Besides, there aren't that many sharp, sassy musical comedies to be had, making Pitch Perfect something of a rarity that skips right past "guilty pleasure" and goes straight to "surprise standout."
Bright, vibrant and flashy, Pitch Perfect hits the stage with an intense, remarkably precise 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer that never once disappoints. Colors are warm and vivid, primaries pop, skintones are beautifully saturated, black levels are deep and satisfying, and contrast is dialed in nicely and consistently. Detail is excellent too, even if it isn't always razor sharp or revealing to a fault. Edges are crisp and clean, textures are apparent and naturally resolved, and delineation delivers even when candlelight is all Beca and her fellow Bella pledges have to go on. Moreover, aside from some problematic red and purple stage-light and a slight bit of banding during the film's climactic singing competition, the encode is flawless. No macroblocking, aliasing, significant ringing or errant noise to report, and there's hardly any room for improvement.
It's all about the beats, beats, beats, and Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't miss a single note. LFE output is fierce and forceful. The rear speakers are tenacious and aggressive. The soundfield is enveloping and exhilarating... when the music kicks in. Otherwise, Pitch Perfect is a chatty, front-heavy comedy and little more. Dialogue is clear, intelligible and neatly prioritized -- no complaints here -- and the rest of the soundscape stays true to the film's sound design, leaving little to criticize other than the track's ambition (or lack thereof). When the downbeats start dropping, though? When the harmonies start unfolding? When the Bellas or the Treble Makers launch into their next great competition performance? You're in for a treat; one full of dynamic excellence, directional prowess and technical precision and proficiency. All in all, Pitch Perfect's lossless mix is engrossing, barring all those pesky conversations anchored at the center channel.
Audio Commentaries: Two informative commentaries are available, the first with producer Paul Brooks and the second with director Jason Moore and producers Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman. And it's a good thing too. Without any production documentaries or significant featurettes to be had, the disc's commentaries are the only behind-the-scenes extras on tap.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 16 minutes): Twelve deleted and extended scenes, among them "Parents Say Bye," "Radio Station," "Dad Gives Beca Incentive," "Trebles Initiation," "Trebles Tag Tonehanger Van," "Training Montage," "Welcome to the Riff Off," "Holiday Transitional," "Burritos and Benji," "Beca Goes Out with Luke," "Benji Goes to ICCA's" and "Beca Goes to Dad."
Meanwhile... (HD, 19 minutes): Additional alternate and extended sequences include "Activities Fair," "Hood Night," "Burrito Hit," "Tonehangers" and "Confessional."
Line-O-Ramas (HD, 13 minutes): Montages of alternate line deliveries. Three to be exact: "Line-O-Rama," "Line-O-Rama: The Aca-Inappropriate Version" and "Announcer Line-O-Rama."
Backstage at Barden (HD, 4 minutes): In-character college interview videos: "Benji Goes to Barden," "A Capella Beat: Gail Interviews Bumper" and "A Capella Beat: Gail Interviews Benji."
A Look Inside (HD, 3 minutes): A brief Pitch Perfect EPK.
On the Set: Burrito Drive By! (HD, 1 minutes): A series of quick burrito bomb tests.
Music Video (HD, 4 minutes): "Starships" with Mike Tompkins, the Pitch Perfect cast and fans.
I didn't expect much from Pitch Perfect. Alright, alright. I was dreading it. Much to my surprise, though, I had a bit of a blast, which is saying a lot since Glee and its ilk leave me cold. Credit goes to Kendrick and her castmates, most all of whom are terrific and terrificly enthusiastic, and Moore, who finds a nice balance between a variety of competing elements, dangerously lopsided as that balance is at times. Universal's Blu-ray release is even more carefully balanced, with a top-marks video transfer, a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track and an entertaining suite of extras that include two audio commentaries and almost an hour of deleted, extended and alternate scenes and takes. Pitch Perfect isn't perfect, but it sure is a lot of fun. Give it a try. You might be as surprised as I was.
This holiday season, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is releasing director Jason Moore's Pitch Perfect, starring Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow and Rebel Wilson. The irreverent musical comedy arrives on Blu-ray via a BD/DVD/UltraViolet digital copy ...