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The Secret Life of Pets 2 - Blu-ray Review

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The Secret Life of Pets 2

One of the toughest challenges faced by screenwriters when developing a sequel – especially to a wildly popular animated film – is how to best capture the same spirit and vibe of the original while also taking the story and characters we love to new places that expand the world. There’s a fine line between too much of the same, and too much new. Unfortunately, the creators of The Secret Life of Pets 2 fell into a deadly trap of a different kind.

"The experience might have been a bit more enjoyable had it been funny. Beyond the film’s opening scene there’s little to laugh at and most of the youngsters in my screening began to grow restless thirty minutes in."


The film comes from Illumination, the creative minds behind the Minions franchise which, by the way, is one of the most profitable out there, so one would think they know a thing or two about how to successfully carry a franchise forward. But with The Secret Life of Pets 2, screenwriter Brian Lynch, who co-wrote the original, sucks the soul from the franchise by introducing us to too many new characters and putting each on too many disjointed adventures.

However, the film’s biggest problem is that it has abandoned the central conceit that made the original so charming and delightful: that we are getting a fly-on-the-wall look at what our pets do when we are away. Replacing that premise are three separate, concurrently-running storylines that feel more like half-baked elements of the television cartoon series version of the franchise – if there was one. A better title for this film would be The Disjointed Adventures of Pets. Not quite as catchy and engaging, but certainly more applicable.

The film opens with our big city canine protagonist Max (voiced by Patton Oswalt who takes over from Louis C.K. for obvious reasons) trying to adjust to his new life. In the previous installment, Max’s worries came from a new dog in the family named Duke (Eric Stonestreet), but here the wrinkle is the addition of a new baby named Liam (Henry Lynch) from Max’s owners Katie (Ellie Kemper) and Chuck (Pete Holmes).

Accustomed to being the main focus of attention, Max is initially quite perturbed at having his family spotlight stolen once again, this time by Liam. But he eventually warms up to the little bugger and even becomes a neurotically overprotective mess. The consequences of helicopter parenting seems to be one of the film’s main themes, but it is a bit outside the sphere of comprehension for most children in the audience, and a far too distant reach from what we so loved about the original.

In addition to Max’s family struggles, there’s another thread that involves squeaky Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate) who is tasked with protecting Max’s favorite chew toy at all costs. As expected, the toy gets away from her so she spends the entirety of the film trying to get it back from the old cat lady’s apartment below.

Then there’s the Shih Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) who enlists the aid of delusional superhero bunny rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart) and all her other pals on the block to save a rare white Tiger from an evil circus owner named Sergei (Nick Kroll).

While this is all going on, Max and his family take a vacation to the country where they stay for a couple of days with relatives and are introduced to a gruff herding dog named Rooster (Harrison Ford) who helps Max build his confidence and conquer his own fears. So, now we have yet another theme making itself known: developing your own independence. The Secret Life of Pets 2

Confused yet? These storylines are all taking place simultaneously as we hop back and forth between them before they ultimately collide in the finale back in the original setting of Max’s New York City apartment. To make this technique work, there needs to be a familiar connective tissue that ties them together. There isn’t. The entire film is a confusing hodgepodge of disparate storylines and broken ideas firing in all directions with no emotional authenticity tying them together.

The experience might have been a bit more enjoyable had it been funny. Beyond the film’s opening scene there’s little to laugh at and most of the younglings in my screening began to grow restless thirty minutes in.

The original bowed to the biggest opening weekend ever at the time… animated or otherwise. Think about that for a moment. Regardless, let it be no secret that this followup fails to measure up in almost every way. Take your kids if you want, but lower your expectations and consider yourself warned. The Secret Life of Pets 2 has nothing to do with what our pets do when we aren't around.

3/5 beers

The Secret Life of Pets 2

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Universal Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- August 20, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH; Spanish; French
Audio:
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1; French: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; two-disc set; DVD copy; Movies Anywhere redemption code
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Universal presents a gloriously vibrant and lively 1080p 1.85:1 transfer in this Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Code edition of The Secret Life of Pets 2 which includes a handful of bonus featurettes, music videos, a documentary, deleted scenes, and more totaling more than 80 minutes of original new content. Also included are 2 mini-movies. Universal has clearly held nothing back with this release.

The two-disc set is packaged in a blue eco-case housed within a cardboard slipcover. Included inside is a blu-ray disc, a DVD copy and a Movie Anywhere redemption card for your digital copy.

Video

Gorgeously animated with state-of-the-art visuals that boast rich colors, deep shadows, and an incredible degree of depth, this release is as near reference quality as you're likely to get. It begs for a spin in your calibrated home theater system.

Individual hairs, wrinkles, and whiskers are always perfectly visible, even in the nighttime scenes that are bathed in a blanket of deep blue darkness. The visual sharpness is most evident in the daytime city scenes that are truly stunning. Can't brag enough on the incredibly fastidious job Universal has done with this release. This is truly something to behold.

Audio

Though perfectly adequate, the English Dolby Atmos audio track plays second fiddle to what is happening visually with this release. Voices are always clear and crisp with action sounds, and the music track carrying the bulk of the surround action. You'll find yourself blissfully immersed in a dome of audio delight as there are always characters, critters and objects, moving about the Atmospheric mix.

Supplements:

Rounding out this blu-ray edition are a wealth of bonus materials. There isn't an audio commentary, however you'll hardly miss it with the additional 80+ minutes of bonus material indued on the disc.

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Mini Movies - Let's just call them cartoon shorts

  • Super Gidget (03:49) - A short mini-movie featuring Tiffany Haddish's Gidget character.
  • Minion Scouts (04:04) - in case you haven't gotten enough of the tiny yellow minions, here's a 4-minute short to tame your appetite.

Featurettes

  • The Making of the Mini-Movie
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Tapestry of a Tail - The Making of
  • How to Draw
  • Frame-By-Frame - How to make a Flip Book
  • Character Pods
  • My Buddy and Me
  • The Further Adventures of Captain Snowball
  • Pets With Jobs - A Documentary
  • A Party Fit For a Pet
  • Relax The Cat: The Secret Life of Pet Massage
  • Pops; Puppy Training School With Kevin Hart
  • Production Pets
  • Pet's Yule Log
  • Lyric Videos

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4.5/5 stars

 

The Secret Life of Pets 2

MPAA Rating: PG for some action and rude humor.
Runtime:
86 mins
Director
: Chris Renaud, Jonathan del Val
Writer:
Brian Lynch
Cast:
Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford
Genre
: Animation | Comedy
Tagline:
From the creators of Despicable Me.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Hey Max, Liam just left."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site: https://www.thesecretlifeofpets.com/
Release Date:
June 7, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Continuing the story of Max and his pet friends, following their secret lives after their owners leave them for work or school each day.

The Secret Life of Pets 2

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