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Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009) Print E-mail
Friday, 02 April 2010
ImageOh my, oh my.  This film falls into every stereotype possible when it comes to sequels.  I'd like to start with the positives, but I just couldn't find any, not in the film anyway.  This is truly sad.

The first Alvin and the Chipmunks film didn't fair all that well that I am surprised a sequel was made.  There is no possible way this film could possibly make back what the studio spent on the animation.  Despite the disastrous first film, the sequel had a lot of potential with the idea to introduce the Chipettes.  Sadly, the writing failed to come up with anything original.  The writers could have done so much with the Chipettes and for them to choose all the stereotypes of an atrocious sequel is just pathetic.

This sequel falls blunder to every plot stereotype from alienated your family to join the jocks, to the newcomers believing a selfish A&R rep over their own species, and oh so many more including the hospitalization of the parental figure.  Oh, and let's not forget the battle of bands plot to save the music program.  Yikes.  Simply terrible.

In addition, there is no good music to speak of.  One would hope that with singing chipmunks and chipettes, that there would at least be some good music sequences.  Sadly they are brief and blundered.  Normally the pitch-shifted voices of the chipmunks don't get to me, but with nothing else to focus on the voices become grating.

The video transfer is astounding compared to the film quality.  The Blu-ray contains a 1080p/AVC encode with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Combining CGI and film is always a bit tricky but Fox pulls it off nicely.  For the most part the Chipmunks fit inwith their surroundings, though there are few instances in which they get separated from their element.  The colors are beautiful.  They are vibrant whether they are on the CGI characters or the real characters.  Black levels are adequate and no crushing occurs.  Shadow delineation is revealing.  The contrast level is on par for the most part, though there times in which the contrast boost creates blown whites and glowing background.  Details are readily apparent in both the filmed sequences and the CGI.  Overall, this is a good transfer.  Certainly it is one that will keep children glued to the screen.
The audio, oh the audio.  For the entirety of the film I kept turning my head to check the receiver to make sure that I was really listening to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.  I had to do this for several reasons.  First and foremost, the audio was super thin and the music sounded like the quality of an MP3.  The music sequences are weak.  There is no separation of the voices and the instruments.  Dialogue remains crisp and clean and well prioritized.  The LFE channel is not as strong as it could be.  When it is present it is a bit boomy.  The other reason I kept peaking at my receiver is that the mix is largely front-heavy that I wanted to make sure I wasn't listening to a stereo track.  The only thing present in the rear channels is some bled music and phased-out-sounding crown noise.  Lastly, the chipmunk voices are not done very well.  It seems that the sound designers used a common pitch shift plug-in to create the voices that it results in a lot of "birdies," artifacting common to elevating the pitch.  While all the pitch bending abilities out there, certainly the designers could have found one that resulted in less artifacting.  I deal with pitch correction and shifting nearly every day so I know shifting the pitch as high as the designers did can sound better.

"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" comes to Blu-ray in a three-disc package.  The first disc is the Blu-ray with the film and bonus materials.  The second disc is a DVD Copy of the film and the third disc is a Digital Copy version.

The Blu-ray comes with a bonus materials package that is beyond the quality of the film itself.  Still, most, if not all of the bonus features are intended for the children.  "Munk Music Machine" will play all the music sequences from the film.  "Music in a Nutshell" is a Song Trivia Pop-Up Track.  "A-l-v-i-n-n-n!!! Album Maker" is a horribly create feature that supposedly allows you to create your own album with the music in the film.  There are no directions so good luck.  Sticking with the music theme there are music videos with optional sing-along lyrics.  There are eight featurettes that average a five-minute runtime each.  Each featurette is rather dull but covers topics such as the history of the Chipmunks and more music clips and videos.  The disc is also BD-Live enabled.

"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" might keep some children entertained but adults are warned to steer clear.  It will destroy your sense of the original Chipmunks and make you want to punch a pillow due to all the ridiculously overused plots.  The video quality is strong in terms of colors, but the audio falls flat in many elements.  I would avoid this title with the exception of being possible birthday party entertainment.

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