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May 16, 2010
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
26/11/20097/4/2010Sony PicturesPhil Lord
Chris Miller
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1GBill Hader

THE MOVIE
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A hamburger falling from the sky?

When it comes to CG films no company comes close to having the track record of Pixar. Not only that though, it's extremely rare that even a single CG movie from any other company could even match even the worst of Pixar's movies (which in our book is probably the still enjoyable Cars). We have to say that Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs is one of those rare movies that succeeds in matching that level of quality, and is probably up there in the mid-range of Pixar's list of hits. This is a fantastic movie. So what's it all about?

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs is loosly based on the 1978 childrens book by Judi and Ron Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. Flint Lockwood is a scientist who has never really succeeded but has a dream to solve world hunger. His experiments finally succeed, even with a bit of luck and giant pancakes and pasta fall from the sky, however, things go terribly wrong when excess amounts of food overload cities and towns.

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What is that in the field?
If ever you were define a movie as fun family friendly entertainment then Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs would fit the bill perfectly. The characters are well defined, entertaining and fun to watch - in particular Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) who as the main character gets up to all manner of bumbling not least of which is the "rocket" sequence near the start of the movie.

We must point out that this Blu-Ray disc only includes the 2D version of the film with no option to view the film 3D either through the old anaglyph format, or the new Blu-Ray 3D standard which in all liklihood won't be widly available until 2011 anyway. No doubt Sony Pictures will be holding on for a 3D version at a later date when the format becomes established.

I genuinely had fun with this movie. It's bright, colourful, unique and most importantly entertaining. The bright visuals, great voice acting, and great comedic moments makes this a movie the whole family can enjoy. Without a doubt this is one of my favourite CG movies of all time.

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Flint's disapproving father.
VIDEO
There is absolutely no excuse for a CG movie being transferred from a digital source, and not looking absolutely pristine. Fortunately this Sony Pictures release is exactly what one does hope for from a CG movie on Blu-Ray. This is a flawless transfer of the movie to Blu-Ray. Using the AVC MPEG-4 codec, and presented in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this film is given plenty of room for the transfer tos hine with a bitrate that probably averages somewhere around the 30Mbps mark.

Another aspect of this film that absolutely delighs is the gorgeous colour scheme and pallette. I don't think I've seen a more vibrant, colourful movie in years with so many moments when your jaw will simply drop in awe and amazement.

AUDIO
Audio on this disc is provided through a gorgeous DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (16-bit/48Khz) track which sounds tremendous as the filmmakers use the surround sound channels to good effect on an almost constant basis to provide some emmersion to the film. Music from Mark Mothersbaugh (Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) isn't the most memorable ever, but does sound quite lively when required. As expected the dialogue is crystal clear with the audio assisted by good sound priortization, even during more hectic scenes including that with the hurricane.

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The CG in Meatballs is fantastic.
There are several other audio tracks on this disc including an English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps track. Other languages include a French DTS-HD Master Audio track whcih is every bit as impressive as the English track - nigh on identical in fact - as well as Arabic and Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 640kbps. Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Dutch, and Hindi. We sampled the English tracks which were good with a large, clear font. Subtitles are also provided for the commentary track in English, French and Dutch.

EXTRAS
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is obviously a kids movie and as a result most extras are geared towards them.

Splat Mode (HD): This feature allows you to throw food at the screen, virtually of course, and then clean it off. It uses the coloured buttons on the remote control, so the PS3's Dual Shock controller probably isn't the best option.

Flint's Food Fight Game (HD): This is a Java based game which is essentially an Asteroids styled clone. It plays well enough so the kids may enjoy it for a little while.

Commentary with Writers/Directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, and Actor Bill Hader: As you can imagine this is a fairly lightweight commentary but it does have some good information and most importantly is quite amusing and easy to listen to.

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Is this really love in Meatballs?
A Recipe for Success: The Making of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (10:51/HD): Very much an EPK styled look at the making of this movie, which lacks any real substance to be of use, still perhaps kids will enjoy it more.

Key Ingredients: The Voices of Cloudy With A Chance for Meatballs (12:39/HD): Running for almost thirteen minutes this featurette is a somewhat interesting look at the voice cast used in this film. Interviews with the filmmakers and actors as well as some split-screen between the recording sessions and final film highlight.

Extended Scenes (2:34/HD): Two extended scenes are presented here with a short Elevator scene in unfinished form while a second scene with a fight sequence and more twister footage looks complete and was likely a late cut.

Early Development Scenes (5:21/HD): Two more scenes are presented here in early storyboard form with voiceovers and some effects.

Progression Reels with Introductions by Visual FX Supervisor Rob Bredow (8:09/HD): For visual effects junkies such as myself this is a good, albeit very brief look at creating all the CG for the film, from the tones, to lighting, using the technology from Spider-Man 3 for the volumetric clouds, and the spaghetti twister.

Miranda Cosgrove's "Raining Sunshine" (6:02): Another crappy music video to tie-in to the movie. Music video or sing-along versions are provided as well as a "Making Of" which replays more of the song. Just to add insult to injury this is only in Standard Definition too.

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Looking at the impending disaster.
Trailers (9:27/HD): Trailers for Open Season 3 (0.17), Open Season (2:14), Playmobil: The Secret of Pirate Island (1:16), Michael Jackson's This Is It (2:31), Ice Castles (2:16), and Surf's Up (0:53).

OVERALL
Not expecting too much I was genuinely surprised and entertained by this movie. The audio visual transfer is sublime and there are a few extras to keep the fun going. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is well worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
8/10
THE VIDEO
10/10
THE AUDIO
9/10
THE EXTRAS
5/10
OVERALL
8/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.