Animation Blu-ray Review

Gluten-Free Blu-ray Review: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

January 29, 2014Ben MK

  Share on Tumblr  
      Delicious Add to Delicious  

Taste the rainbow

By Ben Mk

Bigger is better, at least when it comes to sequels. So, what do you do when the previous film involves a well-meaning scientist who invents a machine that's capable of turning water into food, only to see his invention run amok when food starts raining from the heavens — eventually leading to food-weather events on a catastrophic scale? If you're the directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, then you take the next logical step — and set your sequel on an island completely overrun by food that's come to life, of course.

The sequel picks up after the conclusion of the first film (eight minutes after, to be precise) — when hero-inventor Flint Lockwood's boyhood idol, the enigmatic Chester V, descends on the island of Swallow Falls with a couple of deliciously irresistible offers. To its citizens, he offers his assistance in cleaning up the devastation left in the wake of the previous film's food-weather disaster. And to Flint, he extends an offer to join him at his company, "Live Corp", as one of its many inventors. Jumping at the too-good-to-be-true opportunity, Flint and his pals (his dad, meteorologist Sam Sparks, Steve the monkey, officer Earl Devereaux, Manny the cameraman and former Baby Brent Sardines mascot, Brent McHale) soon find themselves in San Franjose, home to Live Corp HQ. But when video footage surfaces, showing a mysterious food creature attacking Live Corp's island cleanup crew, they find themselves back on the island to investigate the strange goings-on. There, they come face to face with a menagerie of "foodimals" — shrimpanzees, mosquitoasts, flamangoes, tacodiles and more — as they attempt to get to the bottom of Swallow Falls' latest mystery.

Fans of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs should be thrilled with this sequel, which reunites the comedic cast from that film — Bill Hader as Flint, James Caan as his dad, Anna Faris as Sam, Neil Patrick Harris as Steve, Benjamin Bratt as Manny and Andy Samberg as Brent — with the exception of Earl, who's now voiced by Terry Crews. Directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, who also worked on the story elements of the original film, take the visual aesthetic established by its directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and open it up to unveil a world painted with every color imaginable. Trading the disaster movie motif of the first film for a monster movie motif (à la Mysterious Island or Jurassic Park), they populate the sequel with a plethora of funny and creative food-creature designs that should delight both the young and the young at heart alike — even if the tone of the film's humor skews more toward the younger set.

Unlike some computer animated films, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 doesn't aim for photorealism — the candy-colored visual aesthetic of the film is more akin to a cartoon come to life, overflowing with an abundance of detail and whimsy. At times, there are so many colors on-screen at once that it's almost impossible for human eyes to process everything; but the Blu-ray disc's transfer replicates the image perfectly, with nary a pixel out of place and perfect delineation among the multitude of colors. The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is the perfect sonic accompaniment to the sumptuous visuals, delivering an experience that will make viewers feel like they're right there on the island, with a giant cheesespider roaring in their faces.

The Blu-ray release serves up a full plate of special features, including a feature-length audio commentary with the film's directors, a DVD copy and a code redeemable for an Ultraviolet digital copy of the film. But the meat and potatoes of its special features are its four mini-movies (Steve's First Bath, Super Manny, Attack of the 50 Foot Gummi Bear and Earl Scouts), four deleted scenes (exclusive to the Blu-ray) and seven production featurettes (Production Design: Back in the Kitchen, Cloudy Café: Who's on the Menu, Anatomy of a Foodimal, Awesome End Credits, Building the Foodimals, Delicious Production Design and The Mysterious Sasquash), plus a music video and its making-of, altogether totaling over an hour in length. While the mini-movies — which are 2D-animated shorts bookended by 3D-animated segments — will be enjoyed the most by the film's younger fans, the rest of the extras are suitable for fans of any age. Those looking for insight into the making of the film will gravitate to the production featurettes, especially, which are brief but fairly informative — covering the gamut of behind-the-scenes topics, from the origins and designs of the foodimals to the look of the film's colorful environments.

You have to give the filmmakers behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 credit for trying something different. Instead of rehashing the formula of the original, the sequel is a kaleidoscopic homage to "monster island" films, with a twist that feels like a natural evolution of the storytelling. The A/V presentation on the Blu-ray disc is an unequivocal feast for the eyes and ears, especially when it comes to the fantastically varied color palette of the film; and the special features should sate viewers' appetites for anything "meatballs" related. The chef's recommendation of the day is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 on Blu-ray.

Disc Breakdown
The Film  —  ★★★½
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  ★★★★★
Special Features  —  ★★★★

You May Also Like