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Pitch Perfect 2 (Blu-ray Review)

Pitch-Perfect 2The fabulous Bellas of Barden University are back to compete in the World Championships of A Cappella after a scandal threatens their legacy in Pitch Perfect 2. The high-spirited sequel to the movie that sparked a worldwide phenomenon is coming to Digital HD on September 1st and Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand September 22 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Pitch Perfect 2 is packed with more original musical arrangements, memorable one-liners and offbeat romance as the original’s most beloved characters fight to regain their former glory on a worldwide stage facing off against the toughest competition on the planet. Hysterical behind-the-scenes bonus features, never-before-seen deleted footage, all-new musical performances and a hilarious gag reel make Pitch Perfect 2 a must own on Blu-ray and DVD.

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Film 

Beca, Fat Amy and the Barden Bellas are back to pitch slap the world! After a scandal threatens to derail their last year at Barden, the three-time defending champs worry that they’ve lost their harmony for good. With one chance left at redeeming their legacy, they must face off against the toughest competition on the planet: German super group Das Sound Machine, and fight for their right to win at the World Championships of A Cappella. It will take the power of sisterhood to find their voice and see what it takes to be the world’s top pitches!

Despite a pretty notable narrative flaw (Or annoyance), I was a pretty big fan of the first Pitch Perfect film.  I found myself sucked into this silly little world and enjoyed the humor and mix of this A Capella world.  Pitch Perfect also featured a memorable group of side characters.  The film found itself to be a breakout success.  Plus it wasn’t a big budget film, so green lighting a sequel was easy and bringing on Elizabeth Banks to make her directorial debut was an even cooler nugget to add to it.

Unfortunately, this second effort winds up being a pretty sizable disappointment.  Its not a terrible film, but its not a good one and its a poor sequel.  This film’s ultimate message is that there really was no story left to tell, or they didn’t have the right people on board to find it or tell it.  I did find Beca’s experience at the music studio to be an interesting route, but if that was the sole focus, you drop all the side characters that everyone was wanting to see back.  So, what we get is pretty much a sloppy rendition of doing the same things again.  A movie that’s a little too confident in itself and doesn’t seem to have a focus or enough detail to drive to what should be a tense finish.

No, I’m not putting this on Elizabeth Banks.  She does pretty damn well with what she’s given, its just I’m not sure anything could have made this any better.  Everything is old school sequel-like where its pretty much a similar movie, but things that we liked before are now cranked up big time.  Side characters we laughed and enjoyed are now around a bit too much and become eye rolling and tired by the time the first act ends.  Everyone aside from Beca and her boyfriend in this movie is a complete buffoon and super cartoony rendition of what they once were.  Maybe I’m getting Rebel Wilson fatigue, but a lot of Fat Amy’s stuff felt so forced and uninspired that I went from liking the character to being done with her.

While it doesn’t so much earn them, the film does have some big moments and it absolutely nails them.  I did find myself enjoying some of the film’s major segments.  Mostly I’m talking about the Eyes Wide Shut-David Cross-Basement riff-off in the middle of the film and the finale.  Both moments are complete show stoppers.  And I mentioned I also like all the stuff with the music studio as it feels like they are at least progressing one character in this thing.  There’s enough in this movie to at least make me find it mediocre instead of flat out bad.  If you’re in for “more of the same” or just hanging with the Bellas, then you should be fine.

They are going to make another Pitch Perfect film, but I don’t know that I’d call myself a fan of this series at all (Just the first film, please).  With just this second film, before the first act even ends, it feels like this story has been squeezed dry.  It does manage to pull itself together successfully at points (including the end), but it scares me to think what they would do with a third one.  I mean, its pretty bad they already have introduced Scrappy Doo (Hailee Steinfeld’s Emily Junk) in their sophomore effort.  Maybe many don’t care and got what they expected, but the first one surprised me and was more than what I expected going in, so maybe that was my danger this time and I got what I expected the first time out.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  As expected, Pitch Perfect 2 looks rather dashing on Blu-ray.  The film features plenty of detail.  The clothing textures, patterns and threads all come through quite nicely.  Surface textures like wood grain or scuffing/glowing of metal looks quite good too.  Its a modern big studio movie and it translates to Blu-ray just as it should.

Depth:  This a nice free looking image as characters, objects and environments all feel on their own and well rounded.  Movements are cinematic looking in nature and no blur was witnessed.

Black Levels:  Blacks are nice and inky.  No crushing witnessed and detail on black clothing, surfaces and hair color still surrendered plenty of detail.

Color Reproduction:  There is a wide variety of color on display in this transfer.  Each of them get quite a nice vivid flash.  Blues seemed to be a bit stronger suit of them, but most are quite bold and striking.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones were set very natural with a consistency from scene to scene in the movie.  Detail on skin like wrinkles, stubble, freckles and make-up all look quite good from most camera shot distances.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Video Service

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics:  The singing on this 5.1 track is pretty glorious as to be expected.  Its loud, clean and wanders all about your living room.  Everything is well rounded with little knacks like short breaths and the like filling in nicely.  Sound effects and the score also make this mix quite a treat, but its the A Capella singing you can here for and that is pretty much nailed here.

Low Frequency Extension:  Low bass’y voices get a to rumble in the sub woofer.  Also, effects, like crashing down stars and the bump of some of the songs in the soundtrack feel a boost.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Vocal harmonies and the like swarm around the room and from speaker to speaker.  Action traveling and volume placement are top notch and a ton of fun in this mix.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are crisp and clear.  I’ve already praised the singing quite a bit in the other parts.

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Extras 

Pitch Perfect 2 comes with a DVD copy and UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director/Producer Elizabeth Banks and Producers Paul Brooks and Max Handelman

Bonus Song Performed By The Trebelmakers (HD, 3:27) – They perform “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars.

Extended Musical Performances

  • Bellas (HD, 1:58)
  • Das Sound Machine (HD, 1:23)
  • Bellas: Finale Clap-Along (HD, :44)

Das Sound Machine Finale Breakdown (HD, 2:06) – You have the ability to watch the clip with “All Vocals”, “Background Vocals Only”, “Beat Box Only”, “Lead Vocals Only”

Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes (HD, 12:14)

Gag Reel (HD, 3:08)

Line-Aca-Rama (HD, 3:36) – Various scenes with alternate improv dialogue.

Green Bay Rap (HD, :52) – The Packers players with the Das Sound Machine lead singer in their trailer freestyle rapping.

Elizabeth Banks’ Directorial Debut (HD, 5:20) – A little EPK friendly piece with Banks talking about her first time in the chair and the cast giving their thoughts on her as well.

The Bellas Are Back (HD, 6:13) – A piece about the cast excited about getting back together, being a family and features on set footage and interviews.

Aca-Camp (HD, 5:04) – A segment focusing on harmony’s return and putting them through the ringer at camp.

The Making Of The Riff-Off (HD, 6:02) – Behind the scenes of the big battle at the Eyes Wide Shut David Cross house place.

The World Championships of A Cappella (HD, 9:30) – Features on set footage and interviews during the filming of the outdoor World Championships and all the groups involved.

Snoop Is In The House (HD, 2:53) – This little portion is all about Snoop Dogg/Lion filming his scene in the movie.

Residual Heat Internship (HD, 2:26) – Focuses on the Keegan Michael Key subplot of the film.  Includes interviews and onset footage of those involved in that storyline.

An Aca-Love Story: Bumper and Fat Amy (HD, 5:26) – EPK friendly interview segment about Fat Amy and Bumper’s relationship.

Legacy: Hailee Steinfeld (HD, 6:04) – This EPK segment is about the new cast member in the film, both her and her character’s experiences.

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Summary 

Pitch Perfect 2 isn’t a bad film, but it is a pretty big disappointment following the first one.  The film is a bit of a mess and it doesn’t care, it just wants to have fun.  It kind of enjoys itself more than the audience is.  But, it does hit its bigger moments just right.  This Blu-ray hits its moments too, with terrific sight and sound in its transfer.  There are a lot of extras, but much of it is short, EPK kinda junk that may or may not suit your fancy.  For people picking this one up, they should be more than pleased.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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