Despicable Me appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. While not the greatest animated transfer I’ve seen, the image appeared solid.
Only a wee smidgen of softness occurred. A few wide shots were a tad iffy, but those were minor complaints. The vast majority of the flick seemed tight and well-defined. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I saw no signs of edge haloes or DNR. Source flaws remained totally absent as well.
Colors became a highlight. The movie enjoyed a broad palette, with a lot of purple at the core. A wide variety of other tones appeared as well, and all of them looked rich and dynamic. Blacks were dark and deep, and I thought shadows seemed smooth and clear. I felt consistently pleased with the transfer.
Though also not killer, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked well. My only complaint connected to some of the action scenes, as they didn’t always boast the expected level of activity. For instance, when Gru chased Vector in their flying machines, the track seemed surprisingly restrained; the vehicles zipped around a bit but failed to take great advantage of the possibilities.
Still, much of the movie demonstrated good range and activity. The forward channels did the most damage, as they showed nice movement and integration. The surrounds offered a reasonably solid level of involvement as well, with only the occasional exceptions like the aforementioned air chase to relatively disappoint.
Audio quality excelled. Speech was consistently natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music appeared bubbly and bright, while effects showed good power. Those elements offered positive accuracy and heft throughout the movie. Nothing here dazzled, but the track usually suited the film.
Quite a few extras accompany the film. First we find an audio commentary from directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin; the Minions also occasionally show up to interrupt. The commentary covers cast and performances, animation and effects topics, character, prop and set design, audio and music, and story areas.
Many commentaries for animated films can veer toward dry technical material, but this one’s much peppier than that. Renaud dominates and gives the piece a good energy level. We also learn a ton about story/character topics, which means we hear of changes made and alternate ideas. We still get good animation details as well, and the additional of the Minions adds a bit of comedy; they show up enough to amuse but not enough to annoy. This turns into a consistently strong commentary.
Many Universal Blu-rays offer picture-in-picture bonuses called “U-Control”. Here they retitle it as Gru-Control. While the “U-Control” options usually present interviews and other filmmaking bits, “Gru-Control” focuses on comedy. Sure, we get a few comments from producer Chris Meledandri and actors Steve Carell and Russell Brand, but those are rare.
Instead, we mostly see wacky footage of the movie characters, with an inevitable emphasis on the Minions; Vector also shows up a lot, and we see some of Gru and the kids, too. They interact with the movie and each other. This is a cute feature but not a particularly good one, mainly because you can’t really watch and enjoy the movie with “Gru-Control” activated; it’s just too intrusive.
On the other hand, the “Gru-Control” bits don’t show up often enough to create an alternate experience for you to enjoy. Since it makes it tough to either watch the flick itself or to get into on its own, the compromise doesn’t satisfy. “Gru-Control” has some moments of fun but is too inconsistent to really succeed.
Three new Mini-Movies appear. These include “Home Makeover” (4:22), “Orientation Day” (4:00) and “Banana” (3:45). Each of these offers animated shorts that focus on the adventures of the Minions. The orphan girls pop up for “Makeover” but otherwise it’s all Minions. The shorts are cute and reasonably amusing.
Two featurettes follow. The Voices of Despicable Me goes for 16 minutes, 34 seconds and offers info from Coffin, Renaud, producers Janet Healy, Chris Meledandri and John Cohen, screenwriter Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, and actors Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Jack McBrayer, and Russell Brand. “Voices” looks at cast, characters and performances. A lot of this involves gushing praise for the actors, but it’s fun to see them work, and some decent notes emerge along the way.
During The World of Despicable Me, we get a 15-minute, 16-second show. It features Carell, Cosgrove, Coffin, Renaud, Daurio, Paul, Meledandri, Segel, Healy, Brand, Andrews, and production designer Yarrow Cheney. “World” examines characters and story elements, set and gadget design, and other movie thoughts. While not unenjoyable, “World” exists as a general promotional featurette. This means it lacks much depth, so although it’s peppy and moderately engaging, it doesn’t tell us much.
For a look at the music, we head to the two-minute, 48-second Despicable Beats. It offers quite thoughts from Meledandri, Renaud, and composers Pharrell Williams and Heitor Pereira. It throws out quick thoughts about the score and songs, but it’s way too short to deliver much.
Within Super Silly Fun Land, we get three mini-games: “Feed the Creatures”, “Tin Can Alley” and “Freeze the Minions”. All are simple simulations of carnival games; none of them offer much real fun.
Another play activity arrives with Gru’s Rocket Builder. It requires you to match landmarks to acquire rocket parts; do so and you win. It’s more entertaining – and educational - than “Super Silly Fun Land”, but it remains a minor diversion at best.
Next we find Miss Hattie’s Top Secret Cookie Recipes. This teaches you how to make five of the cookie types mentioned in the film. I’ll never try out any of these recipes, but I’m sure they’re tasty.
Under A Global Effort, we learn a bit about the production. It goes for three minutes, 23 seconds and features Renaud, Coffin, Healy, Andrews, Meledandri, Cheney, McBrayer, Arnett, Segel, and animation assistant production manager Joy Poirel. “Effort” looks at the international nature of the production and tells us about how that worked. It gives us a smattering of useful bits, but as with some of its siblings, it’s too brief.
Under Game Previews, we discover two ads. These promote Despicable Me: The Game and Despicable Me: Minion Mania App. No trailer for the Despicable Me film appears.
Two additional discs round out the package. One offers a digital copy while the other provides a DVD copy. These may add value – or may not. You decide!
While I don’t view Despicable Me as a bad film, it definitely represents a disappointment. On the surface, the movie seems like it should be a witty adventure, but instead, it ends up as a vaguely dull effort with only occasional laughs. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio along with an inconsistent but often interesting collection of supplements. Though it provides moderate entertainment value, I find it tough to recommend Despicable Me; there are just too many more delightful animated adventures on the market.